wrestling / News

Willow Nightingale On Working In Japan, Getting Advice From Claudio Castagnoli

January 30, 2023 | Posted by Jonathan Hunter
Willow Nightingale Image Credit: AEW

AEW wrestler Willow Nightingale recently dropped by The Sessions for a chat with host Renee Paquette. Willow revealed some of her key wrestling influences, and talked about how meaningful her recent wrestling excursion in Tokyo Joshi Pro was. Highlights below:

On some of her wrestling influences: “I remember watching a lot of Victoria. I always loved her when I was a kid. My trainer specifically recommended that I watch Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels matches to get my execution down. I was starting to get very into joshi around that time in my life. I had watched a lot of indie wrestling around that time, too. Sarah Del Rey, Sarah Amato, was like my everything. I was like: ‘I want to be this good!’ And I’m still like, I want to be that good.”

On Sarah Amato’s partner, Claudio Castagnoli, offering her advice: “As energetic and like, bubbly as Willow the character is? I’m kind of shy. But fortunately, he has come up to me and been like ‘is it okay if I give you some advice, or give you feedback on what I’ve seen?” Of course, please, tell me!”

On her first wrestling tour in Japan: “I was very worried that the language barrier would be overwhelming, in terms of the wrestling. But it wasn’t! Wrestling really is the universal language. Which I’ve heard in interviews, which I’ve heard from other people when I asked for advice about going over. You don’t really recognize that until you’re in the situation where you’re doing it.”

On working with the women in Tokyo Joshi Pro: “All of those women I worked with at Tokyo Joshi Pro had varying levels of degrees of how good their English was. But no matter what, they were sweet to me. I’m a vegetarian also? So everybody was being so sweet in helping translate to the chefs for me. I’m like, guys! You don’t have to… I very much appreciate it. Working together was great. I was happy with the matches that I had out there. That was another dream come true for me, cos I’ve always wanted to go overseas and wrestle in Japan. Being someone who is really influenced by Bull Nakano and Aja Kong, I was like — it’s time! It’s happening!”

On the trip to Tokyo giving her an opportunity to reflect: “When I wasn’t having a show day, or hanging out with the Tokyo Joshi Pro girls, I was exploring Tokyo by myself. Coming from a big family, having very close relationships with the friends I do, I don’t know that I had ever gone on an adventure of that by myself and got to spend that time with myself. So it felt like this really profound self-discovery, having this opportunity to take everything that was going on in my life in. Because right before I went to Japan was when I had that match with Leila [Grey] where I was signed [to AEW]. I got to sit in it and be like, this is real. A great moment of gratitude and being able to just soak that in before I took a step forward into whatever was next.”

If using any of the above quotations, please credit The Sessions h/t 411mania for the transcription.