In a recent in-depth conversation with Fightful, the esteemed former New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) STRONG Women's Champion, Willow Nightingale, she expressed her struggle with coming to terms with her burgeoning success in the dynamic world of All Elite Wrestling (AEW) and Ring of Honor (ROH).
Looking back at her journey, Nightingale admitted that it feels outlandish to be recognized as an ascending powerhouse in the women's division, given her status as a perennial underdog. "With a wrestling career that spans nearly a decade, it's still a bit strange to me.
I've often been viewed as the up-and-comer, the one still trying to find solid ground," she said.
Her recent wave of victories and growing prominence has altered the public's perception. Nightingale has gone from being the rookie to a competent contender who has repeatedly proven herself in the ring.
"For people to be recalibrating their perspective of me — viewing me as a dedicated performer who has earned these accomplishments — it still feels dreamlike. I'm still acclimating to this newfound reality, trying to understand its depth, but I'm doing so with a heart full of gratitude," she added.
Peers' Praise Bolsters Nightingale's Journey
Nightingale went on to discuss the significant impact of industry recognition, explicitly highlighting her appreciation for the commendations from her peers. A standout endorsement came from Deonna Purrazzo, a highly respected figure in the wrestling realm and a former three-time Knockouts Champion.
"Receiving such praise is incredibly fulfilling," said Nightingale. "As much as the acclaim from fans is important, the respect and acknowledgment from my colleagues — those who fully comprehend the wrestling business, witness every step of my journey both inside and outside the ring — carries a bit more weight." Nightingale expressed particular appreciation for the commendation from Purrazzo, who has been with her since her early career days.
"During my initial days in the wrestling world, Deonna was the person I competed against the most. So, to have her hold me in such high regard warms my heart, especially when I grapple with my self-doubt and question the validity of my success," Nightingale confessed.
It's clear that Nightingale's rise to the top is both exhilarating and overwhelming, but with the support and respect of her peers, she's on a promising path in professional wrestling.