NJPW and Willow Nightingale made a show for the history books.
Sunday, at NJPW Resurgence, New Japan Pro Wrestling crowned the first ever NJPW Strong Women’s Champion—Willow Nightingale.
The winner was decided through a one-night tournament consisting of two first round matches and one final match. In the first round, Mercedes Moné faced Stephanie Vaquer and Momo Kohgo faced Willow Nightingale.
Moné moved to final round by beating Vaquer and Nightingale defeated Kohgo to make it to the final match. In the end, Nightingale toppled Moné to become the inaugural champ.
The match marked an important moment for representation in women’s wrestling. The main event featured two Black women fighting for an inaugural title in a traditionally male company.
The new title arrives shortly after the first IWGP Women’s Championship was created last November. Moné held the title after defeating the inaugural title holder KAIRI in February at NJPW Battle in the Valley 2023.
Willow last held a belt from any company last April. She held the NYWC Fusion Championship for roughly two months before dropping it to Joey Conway. Her NJPW STRONG Women’s Championship win isn’t the first time an AEW roster member has held a NJPW title. Nightingale joins the likes of Jon Moxley, Kenny Omega and FTR.
The new belt, covered in lilac, was revealed at a press conference on May 20.
Vaquer, a mainstay for CMLL, participated as part of Team World in last year’s CMLL International Women’s Grand Prix alongside Alex Gracia, Avispa Dorada, Hikari Shimizu, Ivelisse, Lady Frost, Mei Suruga, and Tae Homna. The 47-minute match was highly praised.
Nightingale, recently signed to AEW, is widely-known to be a fan favorite among fans. Nightingale participated in the ROH Women’s World Title Tournament in 2021 and recently competed for the title against current title holder Athena.
Kohgo, joined Stardom in January last year as a member of STARS. Kohgo has previously competed in trios competition for CMLL, as well, during 2021. Before Sunday, Kohgo last won a match February 11 in the Triangle Derby versus Rina Amikura, Waka Tsukiyama and Yuko Sakurai.
No announcement has been made regarding the first defense of the new title.