Crowning Glory: The TBS Championship Battle at AEW Dynasty

Welcome to Dynasty, where legends are born.

All Elite Wrestling is embarking on an exciting new era. The recent signings of powerhouse talents like Will Ospreay and Kazuchika Okada have set the stage for an explosive future, as well as the electrifying addition of Mercedes Moné, whose presence promises to shake things up in the ring and elevate the women’s division to a worldwide phenomenon.

But amidst all the buzz, it’s the storytelling within the AEW women’s division that has truly taken hold with fans around the world. With multiple storyline arcs intertwining within the division, a rich tapestry of narratives unfolds, creating a dynamic ripple effect that resonates across the entire division. From alliances to rivalries, every twist and turn leaves an indelible mark on the competitors, shaping their journeys in ways both profound and unexpected.

Willow Nightingale and Skye Blue, courtesy of AEW

Seeds of Division: Outcasts and Originals

The story of Willow Nightingale, Kris Statlander, Julia Hart, and Skye Blue traces its roots all the way back to the summer of 2023 and The Outcasts. At the time, The Outcasts were running roughshod through the division, with (Pre-Timeless) Toni Storm, Ruby Soho, and Saraya gleefully boasting their superiority over the rest of the women of AEW. In true “Mean Girls” fashion, after they would obliterate their opponents in the ring, they would use bright green spray paint to paint an “L” on their faces and gear.

On the other hand, a group of “AEW Originals” or “Homegrown Talents,” consisting of women like Hikaru Shida, Britt Baker, Jamie Hayter, Willow Nightingale, and Skye Blue, began to stand as a united front, countering the chaotic antics of The Outcasts. However, when both Hayter and Baker were sidelined due to injury, Skye Blue and Willow Nightingale stepped up to fill the void, standing together as friends in the face of their adversaries.

Willow Nightingale, courtesy of NJPW

Champions and Challengers: The Triumphs of Willow Nightingale and Kris Statlander

Over time, the friendship between Willow and Skye grew into an unbreakable alliance, transforming them into a dominant force, slowly becoming a threat to The Outcasts. As Willow and Skye rose through the ranks of the women’s division, they faced taunts and matches from The Outcasts, all while fostering their own strengths as individual talents.

Shortly after a hotly contested and critically acclaimed match with Athena for the ROH Women’s World Championship match, Willow Nightingale found herself in the NJPW Women’s Strong tournament, facing Mercedes Moné to become the inaugural champion. Willow, the cheerful yet resilient underdog, stood opposite the electrifying, captivating presence of Mercedes Moné, setting the tone for a match that would make a star out of Willow Nightingale and put her in an international spotlight. She emerged victorious against an injured Mercedes, making history as the very first NJPW Women’s Strong Champion.

Yet, waiting in the wings, was another AEW Original talent who had been watching everything within the division unfold. Kris Statlander, who was recovering from an injury, had been observing the antics of The Outcasts from the sidelines, growing increasingly frustrated with how they’d been treating the other women in the division.

Kris Statlander, courtesy of JJ Williams/AEW

At Double or Nothing 2023, in a shocking turn of events, Kris Statlander returned from injury and immediately dethroned the unbeatable Jade Cargill, claiming the TBS Championship for her own and sending shockwaves throughout the division. In stark contrast to the antics of The Outcasts, Kris Statlander’s TBS Championship reign was fought with honor and with the idea of showcasing the strengths of the women of AEW.

Kris Statlander spent the next few months solidifying her reign as TBS Champion. Willow Nightingale, fresh off her win as the inaugural NJPW Women’s Strong Champion, also entered the Owen Hart Cup and emerged victorious through the tournament, including even defeating The Outcasts’ Ruby Soho in the finals.

Now, stronger than ever, Willow Nightingale, Skye Blue, and Kris Statlander joined forces as a dominant trio to take on The Outcasts who had been wreaking havoc throughout the women’s division of AEW. In September, things came to a head, and Ruby Soho challenged Kris Statlander to a TBS Championship match. Kris Statlander came out on top, thus getting a major win on behalf of the originals, showing them once and for all that the AEW Originals aren’t to be underestimated or dismissed any longer.

Julia Hart, courtesy of The_Real_Editor/Editorial Style

Corruption Spreads From Within The House of Black

As The Outcasts were left to pick up the pieces of their losses, a new threat began to emerge, casting a shadow of darkness over the women’s division. Over several months, Julia Hart underwent a metamorphosis of her own, becoming a silent, demonic, and deadly presence within the women’s division. She set her sights on the TBS Championship and, working as an agent of subterfuge, began to undermine Kris Statlander’s strengths, her alliances with Willow and Skye, and the bonds of the homegrown talents of the AEW women’s division.

In September of 2023, a twisted turn of events that was both eerie and unsettling saw Julia Hart unleash a mist upon Willow Nightingale and Skye Blue, both on the same day. It was a sinister act that marked the beginning of a slow corruption of Willow and Skye’s characters. Over the next few weeks, both women visibly fought the spreading corruption within themselves as the poisonous mist began to take hold. Willow Nightingale’s spirit seemed to fight against the darkness, and while her effervescent positivity won out more often than not, it became clear that the light that once burned bright, began to dim ever so slightly.

Courtesy of AEW/Lee South

Skye Blue, however, saw a prevalent darkness creeping further upon her with each passing day. Her makeup, gear, and her expressions began to darken. Once bright and bubbly, the young star began to emanate a sense of bitterness and foreboding.

After finally overcoming The Outcasts, Kris Statlander, Willow Nightingale, and Skye Blue found themselves surrounded by the poisonous nature of the House of Black. Not only was Kris Statlander threatened by Julia Hart, but she also faced distraction and subterfuge from within the ranks of her friendships. As Willow and Skye fought these battles within themselves, their emotional frustrations often burst outwards, as their fight against the darkness often pitted them against each other and Kris Statlander.

Here, the dark machinations of Julia Hart became known as she directly challenged Kris Statlander to a TBS Championship match at Wrestle Dream. Darkness collided with strength, and Kris Statlander was able defeat the imposing presence of Julia Hart, cleverly avoiding the poison mist Hart was poised to corrupt her with.

Julia Hart and Skye Bue Courtesy of Allie Mac

Darkness Reigns

Kris Statlander may have avoided the corrupting mist of Julia Hart, but Willow Nightingale and Skye Blue were stealing dealing with the aftermath. Willow Nightingale fought against the seeping corruption, which threatened to darken the light radiating from the bubbly presence of Willow Nightingale. Her effervescent spirit, although temporarily dimmed by the spreading corruption of Julia’s poison mist, continued to shine through as she harnessed her power of positivity, hope, and light.

Skye Blue on the other hand, began to descend further into darkness. Each week, her smile dampened, her eyes darkened, and her spirit dimmed. Willow, Skye, and Kris struggled to maintain their friendship in the changing dynamic, and things came to a head once again, with a triple threat match between Julia Hart, Skye Blue, and Kris Statlander, all circling around the TBS Championship.

It was during this match that Julia’s subtle plotting bore fruit. Julia and Skye teamed up together to defeat the indomitable Statlander, and while Skye Blue initially hit her finisher and went for the pin, it was Julia Hart, the dangerous and enigmatic leader, who secured the win and the championship. Not long after, Skye would officially join with Julia Hart, becoming a protege of darkness, threatening to wreak havoc, poisoning the spirits of the women of AEW.

Stokely, Kris, Willow, courtesy of AEW

Stokely Hathaway: Machinations, Friendship, and Family

As the dust settled from Julia Hart’s hard-fought victory over Kris Statlander at Revolution, the landscape of the AEW women’s division began to shift once again. With silent threats and deadly whispers, Julia Hart began her reign of darkness with a fully converted Skye Blue at her side. While Kris Statlander had lost her championship, she still had her bubbly friend Willow at her side.

However, a new face would begin to make his way into their group. With what would begin with uncertain motivations and devious machinations, Stokely Hathaway eagerly placed himself at Kris Statlander’s side. He began to try to worm his way into her heart while pushing Willow Nightingale to the wayside.

With an air of calculated charm, he began to weave himself into Statlander’s world. While he initially began hinting at romantic interest in the former TBS Champion, it quickly became apparent that what he really wanted was to manage her, becoming a dynamic duo that would take over All Elite Wrestling. He just needed to get Statlander’s bubbly friend out of the way. He set his plan into motion, with everything from canceling flights so Willow wouldn’t show up to Kris’ big matches, to spreading rumors that she was taking credit for the successes of their street fights. However, his plans hit a snag as the charms of Nightingale’s infectious enthusiasm began to chip away at every seed of doubt he sowed.

Despite the underhanded tactics of Stokely Hathaway, Willow, and Kris quickly became some of the most delightful, fun, and charming parts of AEW television.

Willow Nightingale and Kris Statlander, courtesy of AEW/Brainbuster

A Beacon of Light: Willow Nightingale’s Resilience

Over the coming weeks, Willow Nightingale’s incessant positivity and upbeat spirit began to whittle away at Stokely Hathaway. Kris Statlander began to negotiate with him. He could stand by her side, but he had to be nice, or at the very least, tolerate the presence of Willow Nightingale. As his tensions with Willow began to ease, this only fueled Willow’s insistence that, by golly, at all costs, she was going to become friends with Stokely Hathaway. With friendship bracelets, affectionate nicknames (STOOLEY!), and her bubbly personality, she finally won Stokely over. It wasn’t long until they became a dynamic trio, captivating and charming audiences all around the world.

Yet, even with all the fun and games of Stokely, Kris, and Willow, a darkness loomed across the women’s division of AEW, wrought by the poisoned presence of the now TBS Champion, Julia Hart, and Skye Blue. Rounds of tag team matches, singles bouts, and even street fights saw them continue to circle around each other, as a battle of darkness and light clashed throughout the division. Yet Willow Nightingale remained steadfast in her upbeat nature, with the strength of Kris Statlander and the cunning of Stokely Hathaway at her side.

Mercedes Moné, courtesy of AEW/Ryan Loco

Big Business, Big CEO: The Arrival of Mercedes Moné

As fate would have it, Willow Nightingale’s journey led her to a fateful encounter with Julia Hart once more. In a four-way eliminator match, Willow showcased her resilience and determination, against Anna Jay, Kris Statlander, and Skye Blue, to become the next contender for the TBS Championship. Facing her best friend, her former best friend, and the intensity of Anna Jay, Willow fought through the temultuous emotions, and the push and pull of darkness and light within her, to emerge victorious with her eyes set on the TBS prize.

Now, Willow’s resolve grew stronger, fueled by the desire to vanquish the darkness that had nearly consumed her and to restore the light within the AEW women’s division. Even if it came with a bittersweet realization that she may very well hold the coveted championship her dear friend had lost at the clever hands of Julia Hart and Skye Blue.

As if this interplay of darkness and light and friendship and bitter rivalry wasn’t enough, there was a new twist in the story for Willow Nightingale. Watching from the commentary booth during the TBS eliminator match was none other than Mercedes Moné, the newly arrived sensation who had taken AEW, and the wrestling world, by storm.

Fresh off her triumphant debut at AEW Big Business, which had sent shockwaves throughout the division and the industry as a whole, Moné had set her sights on the TBS Championship, recognizing the prestige and opportunity that the title represented. Still, she had never forgotten what she had lost when Willow Nightingale had become the inaugural NJPW Women’s Strong Champion. The seeds of that future bout had not only remained but had taken root within the mind of Mercedes Moné.

Willow Nightingale, courtesy of AEW/Ryan Loco

The Dawn of a New Era: AEW Dynasty’s Ultimate Proving Ground

Heading into AEW Dynasty, Willow Nightingale has become entangled in a complex web of subterfuge, darkness, tenacity, positivity, triumph, and rivalry. With so many intricate threads of storytelling woven over the last year, she finds herself in the middle of tension created by Julia Hart, Skye Blue, and now Mercedes Moné.

There are even twisting threads with Kris Statlander and Stokely Hathaway that could enter the fray of Nightingale’s triumph. While acting as Statlander’s manager, Stokely has repeatedly tried to sway matches in Willow or Kris’ favor by using underhanded tactics, including wielding a chain as a foreign object. Nightingale, initially opposed to such tactics, has become ever more aware of the advantages that can come into play with the clash of a steel chair, especially as she holds the record for the most street fights and hardcore matches in the women’s division of AEW.

This clash of ideals adds a layer of depth to not only the story of Willow, Kris, and Stokely but also seeds potential questions heading into this high caliber match with Julia Hart for the TBS Championship at AEW Dynasty.

With so many threads woven together, AEW Dynasty promises to be a defining moment for the women’s division. Will Julia Hart’s meteoric rise continue? Or will Willow Nightingale finally claim her spot at the top of TBS mountain? Can Willow navigate the treacherous waters of Julia Hart, Skye Blue, her moral dilemma between honor and cunning, and the ever-watchful eye of Mercedes Moné?

Only time will tell. In the meantime, Mercedes Mone has set her sights on the TBS Championship, announcing her intentions for the summer PPV, Double or Nothing. Dynasty will see who will emerge with the coveted crown, and whether Mone herself, will walk a path towards darkness or light within AEW.