Two of my absolute faves in the division; Toni Storm vs Willow Nightingale. The longer this overarching storyline in the women’s division of the
Outsiders Freelancers vs Homegrown, I feel like sentiment is trending a bit more positively towards it because the story beats are cogent and logical, it’s just more than a lot of the execution hasn’t been ideal and/or I think AEW fans are getting tired of seeing WWE get referenced and would rather see AEW just do its thing and pay no mind to what they’re doing “on the other channel”. But Tony Khan and Warner Bros-Discover seem pretty gung-ho about pushing AEW as a “challenger brand” but I really think the best way to do that is to show audiences why you’re better and not tell them.
A perfect booking
Your own feelings on the storyline aside; This story beat was a well conceptualized heat spot. Ruby Soho and Saraya are both in the triple threat at Revolution and their closest associates faced off in this match and what better way to draw heat on Saraya than to threaten to spray paint the beloved Willow Nightingale? This has been thought out.
Toni Storm comes in with sweet pink gear. Willow comes out and the fans delight in her but Toni jumps her before the bell. I liked how they put over Willow’s power that even though she was in recovery, a mere sudden shoulder thrust while standing still was enough to take down a running Toni Storm. We see this a few times where Willow is able to equalize Toni’s viciousness by essentially just flexing her power advantage. Toni must be quicker and more violent. We get a great spot right before commercial break of Toni whipping Willow into the barricade with a loud and satisfying crash.
Toni kicks Willow’s ass throughout the commercial break. Saraya holds Willow’s hear against the corner while Toni distracts Ref Aubrey. This is where we get Saraya saying into the camera “She broke a nail”. Saraya’s way better in this heel role.
Back from commercial break, Toni dodges a Canonball and then hits the Hip Attack on Willow and then a Tornado DDT for two. Willow eventually hits a Cannonball and then a Death Valley Driver for two. Down come Willow’s straps. Onto the apron comes Saraya. You know the trope. Willow abandons doing the Doctor Bomb to got attack Saraya. Toni chop blocks Willow, hits Storm Zero for the win.
The match was strong without being great. It felt like Willow was selling for 75% of the time and of that 75%, there seemed to be a higher than normal amount of strikes from Toni Storm so it wasn’t the typical large collection of exciting moves that you get from these two nor were there many sustained babyface dominated sequences to really get behind Willow. Strong not great.
As I mentioned, Saraya threatens to spraypaint Willow which even I verbally expressed at my TV in the moment “Don’t you dare!” That’s just how beloved Willow is so I have to give a lot of credit to the decision for this story beat. Ruby comes out for the save. Britt and Toni come out at the end to cut off the heel’s escape and we get some physicality as JR and Excalibur put over the three-way at Revolution. A tidy piece of business and yet, it’s still a little hard for me personally to feel much for this story but they are trying and they are executing some well thought out ideas.