AEW Star Was "Encouraged" to Have a WWE Tryout

Willow Nightingale signed with AEW in October 2022.

WWE has begun to populate its roster with ex-AEW talent. For the first three years of the start-up wrestling promotion's existence, just about every talent that showed up on AEW television was exclusive to AEW, barring the occasional one-off appearance from New Japan Pro Wrestling or Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide stars. That changed in April 2022 when multi-time AEW TNT Champion and co-founder of the company Cody Rhodes defected back to WWE. Names like Brian Pillman Jr. (NXT's Lexis King) and Jade Cargill would follow suit, becoming the first "homegrown" AEW stars to join WWE.

Willow Nightingale Was "Encouraged" to Attend WWE Tryout

In another timeline, Willow Nightingale might have ended up in WWE before ever competing for AEW.

Speaking on Talk is Jericho, Willow revealed that friend and current WWE superstar Chelsea Green once "encouraged" her to attend a WWE tryout during a time that she was doing extra work for the sports-entertainment giant.

"One time, I was doing extra work, and Chelsea Green encouraged me to be like, 'Why don't you just ask? It's honestly that simple. The worst thing that can happen is they say no,'" Willow recalled. "I was like, 'Alright, maybe. I'll build myself up to that. I'll get there.' Not for a contract, but a tryout. I hadn't even had a tryout."

Willow made her wrestling debut in 2015, making a name for herself across the northeast independent circuit. She caught the attention of AEW in early 2021, competing for the company on a per-appearance basis for the rest of that year. Willow was officially on AEW contract come October 2022.

"Also, around that time, there were all these talks of 'if you're over a certain age [WWE is] not really interested in you,'" Willow continued. "Around that time, I was 26 or so and I was like, 'I'm so old,' which is crazy. There was a lot of talking myself out of it."

Willow is currently enjoying her most prominent role in AEW yet. She is set to challenge Julia Hart for the AEW TBS Championship at AEW Dynasty and appears poised to enter a feud with Mercedes Moné shortly after. Willow and Mercedes previously did battle last year at NJPW Resurgence in the finals to crown the inaugural NJPW STRONG Women's Champion. Mercedes would suffer an ankle injury in that match, resulting in Willow picking up the title win.