Mercedes Moné and Willow Nightingale: A Triumph in Women’s Wrestling

All Elite Wrestling embodies a spirit of revolution that has defined the company since its inception. With a dream to “Change The World,” AEW took to Las Vegas, going back to where it all began 5 years ago, where betting on oneself, going Double or Nothing, and pursuing dreams align with the city’s glittering landscape. It’s a place where the risk of going All In can lead to incredible payoffs and triumphant windfalls of victory. In betting on yourself, few moments capture the essence of athletic artistry and emotional storytelling quite like AEW’s Double or Nothing, particularly with the opening bout of the Triple Main Event: Willow Nightingale vs. Mercedes Moné for the TBS Championship.

The Stage is Set

From the first beats of their main event entrances, the air was thick with anticipation. This wasn’t just another match; it was a clash of titans, a meeting of two forces destined to redefine the landscape of AEW’s Women’s Division. For Willow Nightingale, it was an opportunity to solidify her meteoric rise over the past year, showcasing that her ascent to the TBS Championship was more than a fleeting moment, that she had earned her place at the top of the women’s division through grit, perseverence, luck, and an organic groundswell of support from the AEW fanbase. For Mercedes Moné, this was a chance to make an indelible mark in her AEW in-ring debut, her first match since a year-long hiatus due to injury sustained in NJPW at the hands of Willow Nightingale. It was her chance to show the world that the CEO had arrived, and that she too, would “Change The World”, elevating the women of AEW, and the company itself.

Mercedes Moné Courtesy of AEW/Ryan Loco

Mercedes Moné: Breaking Boundaries and Making History

Mercedes Moné, formerly known as WWE’s Sasha Banks, has been a trailblazer in every sense of the word. Her journey through professional wrestling has been marked by historic firsts and groundbreaking achievements. From being a part of WWE’s first all-women’s pay-per-view, Evolution, to being in the first women’s main event match WrestleMania with Bianca Belair, to joining the Star Wars universe with her guest starring role in The Mandalorian, Mercedes has continuously pushed the envelope. Mercedes and Naomi shocked the world as they left WWE, embarking on their own trail throughout the wrestling world. While Naomi found gold and excitement in TNA, Mercedes transitioned to NJPW and Stardom. Here, she further showcased her willingness to step outside her comfort zone, bringing her star power and talent to a global audience.

Her decision to join AEW was met with excitement and intrigue, signaling a seismic shift in the wrestling landscape. Mercedes’ presence in AEW isn’t just a new chapter in her storied career; it’s a testament to the company’s commitment to elevating women’s wrestling. Her debut at Double or Nothing was more than a match—it was a historic event, underscoring her role in a global revolution that empowers women wrestlers and highlights their incredible contributions to the sport.

Willow Nightingale Courtesy of AEW/JJ Williams

Willow Nightingale: The Beloved Underdog

Willow Nightingale’s journey in professional wrestling is marked by her relentless positivity and resilience. Shortly after a critically acclaimed match with Athena for the ROH Women’s World Championship, she entered the NJPW Women’s Strong tournament, defeating an injured Mercedes Moné to become the inaugural champion. In September 2023, she faced a new challenge when Julia Hart’s corrupting mist threatened to darken her spirit. Despite this, Willow’s effervescent positivity shone through, even as she navigated the manipulations of Stokely Hathaway. Her infectious enthusiasm and determination have made her one of the most beloved figures in AEW, embodying hope and resilience in the face of adversity.

The Atmosphere Electrifies

From the first clang of the bell, the arena exploded in a cacophony of chants. The crowd’s energy was palpable, their voices rising in a thunderous roar for both competitors. Willow Nightingale’s supporters, who had seen her triumph in AEW, ROH, and NJPW, were raucous and energetic, their admiration for her journey echoing through the venue. The excitement for Mercedes Moné, known globally as one of the best in the business, was equally deafening. Every strike, kick, and maneuver was met with thunderous applause and chants, the audience’s enthusiasm elevating the match to an almost mythical level.

This match was more than just a contest for a championship; it was a celebration of wrestling itself. Willow Nightingale, the embodiment of hope and perseverance, stood toe-to-toe with Mercedes Moné, a trailblazer and history maker. The encounter was a testament to their passion, skill, and the universal appeal of professional wrestling. It represented the culmination of years of hard work, the breaking of boundaries, and the dawn of a new era in AEW.

Courtesy of AEW/Scott Lesh

As the match reached its crescendo, the crowd was on its feet, their voices clamoring in deafening support and admiration for both competitors. As the story between Mercedes and Willow played out in the ring, Willow attempted to showcase her skill in brute strength and fervent optimism, while Mercedes executed a dazzling display of lucha inspired athleticism. Both focused on each other’s ankles, as Willow, even when she had previously felt guilt and remorse for Mercedes’ injury, looked to repeat history if it meant clinging on to the title she held so dearly. Mercedes in turn, looked to destroy not only the power found in Willow’s form, but return the pain and loss she had experienced over the last year, devastating Willow’s ankles and legs, in the hopes of walking out victorious while Willow lay defeated in pain and disarray.

In a display of unmatched athleticism and strategy, Mercedes Moné emerged victorious, her hand raised in triumph as she claimed the TBS Championship. The arena erupted, the moment marked by a mixture of exhilaration and respect for both competitors.

Courtesy of AEW/JJ Williams

The Aftermath

But the night held one more twist. As Mercedes basked in her victory, Kris Statlander and Stokely Hathaway, Willow’s closest allies, turned on her, leaving the valiant warrior battered and betrayed. This shocking turn of events added yet another layer of heartbreak to the evening, as Willow had lost not only her match and her championship, but her best friends as well.

This betrayal, while devastating, was a crucial narrative beat. It ensured that Willow Nightingale’s story would not end with the loss of her championship. Instead, it set the stage for a compelling arc of struggle, sympathy, and resilience, while planting the seeds for further subterfuge, and even redemption. With a tangled web of intrigue, the storytelling that had graced AEW’s women’s division was far from over, and fans could look forward to furthering Willow’s ascent to greatness.

Courtesy of AEW/JJ Williams

Mercedes Moné: A Beacon of Revolution

Mercedes Moné’s triumph at Double or Nothing isn’t just another championship win in a list of triumphant accolades; it’s a hallmark of her enduring impact on the wrestling world. By capturing the TBS Championship in her AEW debut, she reaffirmed her status as a game-changer, a boundary-breaker, and a beacon of revolution in women’s wrestling. Her journey from WWE to NJPW and now AEW has been a global odyssey, inspiring countless fans and wrestlers alike. Her victory symbolizes not only personal redemption but also the broader movement towards gender equality and representation in professional wrestling.

Courtesy of AEW

The Future of AEW’s Women’s Division

As fans, we were reminded of the beauty of wrestling storytelling—the highs and lows, the triumphs and tribulations. Double or Nothing 2024 delivered an unforgettable night, and the opening of the Triple Main Event marked the beginning of Mercedes Moné’s era as the TBS Champion, while setting the stage for Willow Nightingale’s next chapter. The story would continue, captivating and inspiring, much like the sport itself. With Mercedes Moné at the forefront, AEW’s Women’s Division is poised to reach new heights, heralding a new era of excellence and empowerment in professional wrestling.

Editor’s Note: For a detailed breakdown on the backstory of Willow Nightingale, Mercedes Moné, The NJPW Women’s Strong Championship, and The TBS Championship, refer to Crowning Glory, found here.