The Fallen Goddess is ready for war and there’s very little hyperbole in that statement. Now that Athena is in AEW, she is ready to remind the world just who she is and what she can do. Fans will get a little taste on Dynamite tonight (July 20) as the second week of Fyter Fest gets underway in Atlanta.
Another stacked card put together by Tony Khan will include some trios action as Athena teams with Kris Statlander and Willow Nightingale to take on Jade Cargill, Kiera Hogan and Interim Baddie Leila Grey. Athena has had her eye on Cargill for quite sometime but this will be her first opportunity to step in the ring with the undefeated TBS Champion since signing with the company this spring.
.@AthenaPalmer_FG & @callmekrisstat have been at war with TBS Champ #JadeCargill & The Baddies; now they have a trios partner up for the fight! @willowwrestles teams with Stat + Athena vs. Jade/Kiera Hogan/Leila Grey— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) July 19, 2022
LIVE on #AEWDynamite #FyterFest!TOMORROW
8pm ET/7pm CT on TBS! pic.twitter.com/ovN1Yy2uNK
Prior to this match being announced, I had a chance to catch up with Athena on the Bleav in Pro Wrestling Podcast. She admitted that she’s been watching Jade Cargill since her first match in March of 2021, and has been very impressed by her growth over the last year plus.
“Jade Cargill is a megastar. You just look at this woman and you see her on the TV and you’re like, hold on, let me flip back a couple more channels. What was this Amazon woman I just saw right here? And she looks great doing it. And she owns that persona, which is even more fantastic. She has a character, right? A lot of women they’re like, oh I’m the good girl. I’m the bad girl. Right? I’m all attitude. I don’t know if I’m supposed to be a good guy 90% of the time. I just gotta say what I say and do what I do. And some kind of way people like me, it’s weird. But when you look at someone like Jade Cargill, it’s just like, oh that’s a challenge. That’s something I need in my life.”
The former NXT Women’s Champion was not shy at all in giving Cargill all the credit she believes she’s earned. Jade started her wrestling career on television and had to cut her teeth in front of a live audience every week. An incredibly hard task for any professional wrestler, but Cargill met that challenge head-on. And it’s pretty clear the company is behind her all the way.
Cargill has posted an impressive 34-0 win streak in AEW and been presented like the absolute star that she is, every step of the way. While Athena admits she doesn’t have the best track record with breaking undefeated streaks, she considers all that to be in the past. That was someone else. Someone who’s gone. Athena, the Fallen Goddess, is here now and she’s ready to go all in to be the first to knock Cargill off the top of the mountain and capture the TBS Championship.
“Telling stories are so important to what we do as pro wrestlers. Right? Because that’s what gets people invested. And coming into this story with Jade Cargill, that means a lot to me. So I wanna put all of my effort, all of my emotion, all of my physical wellbeing into this. To make it good,” Athena said. “I don’t care that she’s six foot-whatever. Like, I don’t care. I’m gonna knock her flat on her ass. That’s what I do. You know? And like the one thing that is stayed true throughout my entire career is that, if there’s a challenge there, it doesn’t matter how many times I get knocked down. I’m gonna beat that challenge. And I don’t think people really know that about me as a person. I’ve had so many tryouts in the former life that I was like, nah, I’m kicking this door down baby. We’re gonna get there, right? We’re gonna get there. And then I finally got there. So like that’s just the type of person I am.”
The challenge that lays ahead of Athena is, obviously, a tall one. And that’s not just just a height pun. Cargill is a total package athlete and the tale of the tape is in her favor across the board. But should this match go down in the near future, as many believe it will, Athena says win, lose, or draw, That Bitch will know she was just in That Fight.
“Even if I don’t kick her off the mountain because we all know it’s pro wrestling, right? I want people to remember what I did at the top of that mountain. That we had this epic battle on top of Olympus and lightning was striking and angels were weeping and fire from Hell was blazing up. And I want it to be that. I want it to be this epic, like rock battle.”
In a follow up to that comment, I suggested the only acceptable setting for a battle that grandiose - the Aggro Crag! Any Nickelodeon fan should immediately be on board with this idea. Athena was all about it, but the question remains to be answered if Tony Khan has the GUTS to book the match.
Whether the bout with Cargill takes place inside the ring, on a fabricated mountain, or on a real one, Athena is champing at the bit to unleash an in-ring style fans haven’t seen from her in several years.
During her time in WWE, she was limited by what she was allowed to do during her matches. Many of the moves that got her to company in the first place were taken out of her arsenal.
“In a former life. I was 5’1”. And I was required to be 5’1” as in like, I had to be a high flyer and jump around and do things. And I like doing that stuff. Right? I’m not knocking any shade. That’s just the small window of what I was given. And I took advantage of it to the nines and that was the challenge given to me. You are a high flyer. Go out and high fly and do your thing, woman. Right? Because I’m short, right? I get it. But before I got there, I was a technician. I was a powerhouse. I didn’t do any of the high flying stuff. I learned that to get a job because I saw that no one else was doing that at the time.”
Now just because Ember Moon wasn’t allowed to do those power moves, doesn’t mean you didn’t see them. She would not disclose the maneuvers or the Superstars, but Athena says she loaned out a number moves to other women in the division. Whoever wanted to learn, Athena was there to teach. Which is something that gave her a great deal of pride.
“Some people called me the woman of a thousand moves because I always had a move for something. And being at AEW gives me that freedom to explore all of these moves and get to do new things. And it’s not that I’m 5’1”. It’s that I’m a wrestler and I’m competitive. And if Riho can lift up Nyla Rose for a German, damn it, I can pop-up powerbomb whoever I want!”
Athena jokingly admitted that at 5’1”, she wouldn’t be tossing anyone very high in the air, but she’d give it her all. It’s all about changing the perception of how people see her now. After years of excelling as a high flyer in WWE, she’s ready to get back to her roots and show everyone that short women can do great big things.
“I don’t wanna be limited by the way I look. Because at the end of the day I have a 400 pound deadlift. Like I can move a lot of weight. I might not look like it at times, but I can push a lot of weight and I don’t wanna be limited by the first thought of someone looking at me and going, ‘Ah, she’s short. She can’t do anything.,” Athena said. “I can jump in the air. I can kick you in the face and I can throw a saito like nobody else.”
This is a side of herself that Athena has been missing for a very long time, but she was very clear that she holds no ill will toward WWE. Being safe and staying within a comfort zone are not bad things, but she personally prefers to push the envelope. She also finds the entertainment ceiling so much higher being able to utilize whatever works best for a match or story, instead of being confined to arbitrary constructs.
So, like Andy at the end of Toy Story 3 (spoiler alert), Athena is ready to go through her old toys that she hasn’t played with in forever. But don’t expect her to pull out everything in her bag of tricks right away. She wants the fans to keep guessing, to keep coming back for more. When the AEW faithful hear “Fallen Goddess” coming from the loud speaker, she wants them on the edge of their seats wondering what she’s going to do next.
“When I first signed it’s because I wanted to change the world of women’s wrestling. I’m not a porcelain princess. And I want people to know that. I am a warrior through and through. And I just want people to know that whatever the guys can do, I can do it and I’m gonna try to do it better than them. And that’s what my whole life in this pro wrestling world has been. I want people to see me as a performer. Not a great woman’s wrestler, a great wrestler. A great performer. And I want them to look at me and say, ‘Oh my God, Athena is one of the best in the world.’”
Please check out my full conversation with Athena in the video above where she talks more about returning to her roots, battling Jade Cargill, her chemistry with Kris Statlander and so much more. You can also listen to the Bleav in Pro Wrestling Podcast, available wherever you get your podcasts.