Some matches you cannot believe ever happened, and this one of them. Ospreay was a young, innovative talent who changed wrestling with his incredible high-flying style.
Meanwhile, Vader was in his 60s, and had a career of world titles in him from all across the world. However, he was well past his sell-by-date, and wrestle very occasionally on small independent scenes.
His career was effectively over, but found a way back in after an incredible, yet controversial, match between Will Ospreay and Ricochet in New Japan.
Will Ospreay vs Ricochet Polarised The Wrestling World
The catalyst for the unlikely rivalry between Will Ospreay and Vader was a match with a much different style.
When Will Ospreay clashed with Ricochet at the Best of the Super Juniors tournament in 2016, the world stood still and watched.
It was a fantastic encounter, or it ruined wrestling forever – depending on how you view wrestling. The match featured fast-paced, high-flying action, with less selling than normal and moves that most people could only dream of.
Some people felt the match was the best thing they’d ever seen. It signalled a peak into the future of what wrestling could be, and Ricochet and Will Ospreay inspired a new generation of wrestler, seemingly overnight.
However, some people did not like the match. They likened it more to gymnastics than pro-wrestling, while others lamented where the business went for this to be considered “real” wrestling.
Vader Bullied Ospreay On Social Media
One of those men was Vader, the former WCW Champion who was a legend in Japan. His debut in Japan against Antonio Inoki caused literal riots, and the character of Vader has become something of legend inside NJPW.
After watching the match, Vader took to Twitter to give his opinion on the bout. He called the match “blatant acrobatics”, and accused Ospreay and Ricochet of having “no story” in their match.
Blantant acrobatics,no story,is there anything done in this video that relates to winning u could get 2 high school gymnast and put ona show
Vader also shared the clip with many different comments, to which Ospreay cheekily replied “cheers for the share mate”. However, he took offence when Vader claimed that he and Antonio Inoki did more in one night than Ospreay and Richochet would do in their entire careers.
Will Ospreay spoke about the Twitter beef between the two, revealing how he had to block Vader, because the WWE Hall of Famer was “bullying him”.
He also revealed in an interview with High Spots that he did a Vader Bomb in NJPW, and let his opponent kick out at one – just to annoy Vader.
“And this, I was so offended by it, so I just was like, ‘F*** this’ and blocking you like this. I’m done with you, you F****** rejects, right? So that’s it. I think that’s the thing that made me love him because he was so unhappy about how wrestling was these days. And it’s just changed. Deal with it. It’s how I express my art form, so please just shut the F*** up and leave me alone.
But then fans would keep tweeting me, asking, ‘Oh, Vader’s calling you out. What are you gonna do about that?’ So I unblocked him to find out what the F*** he was saying. He was generally calling me out, trying to provoke me. So I was like, ‘Mate…’
And he was saying, ‘Oh, I’m gonna F*** you up. Pray up, shoot style.’ I was like, ‘Jesus, what the F*** is this guy’s problem? Is it because I’ve done a Vader bomb?’
In New Japan, obviously, I let him kick out one.”
Vader Challenged Will Ospreay To A Match In Rev Pro
While many may have thought the whole thing was a work, it was not.
Will Ospreay was not on board with Vader “bullying” him online, and wanted nothing to do with the legend.
However, he soon received an email from Vader, who thought that the pair could sell out venues with a match against each other, capitalising on the buzz on social media.
Ospreay quickly accepted, jumping at the chance to take on a wrestling legend like Vader.
“And then, like, he emailed me, saying, ‘We’ve got to talk.’ I was skeptical, but generally, he was like, ‘Oh, we’re f*****. Have you thought about it, not as f*** men, but I mean, it was like, I’ve got my problem with you. I want to do a match. I think we can sell this place out, yadda yadda yadda. What do you think?’
I was like, ‘Cool, yes, let’s do it.'”
So the match was booked for RevPro Uprising 2016.
Will Ospreay vs Vader
1000 English fans packed into York Hall in London to see one of Britain’s fastest rising stars take on a legend of American and Japanese wrestling.
The match was booked for RevPro Uprising 2016, which took place on August 12th, 2016.
Despite the keen fan interest in the match, nobody was under any illusuion it would be anything like Will Ospreay’s previous matches. He was a lot smaller than he is now, and worked a high-risk style that many hard warned him to tone down.
Meanwhile, Vader was a 400lb, 61-year-old man with 40 years of experience in the wrestling business. He was in no shape to wrestle, and his days of moonsaults and Vader bombs were so, so far behind him.
The match was always going to be short, and almost exclusively see Ospreay bumping around for Vader. Despite this, fans were excited to see the match, which headlined a card featuring stars like Jay White, Chris Hero, Ricochet and Zack Sabre Jr.
The match was barely a match in itself. Luckily, both men knew that Vader simply could not go any more. Instead, they opened the bout by brawling on the ramp, before Vader slammed Ospreay through a table with a vicious chokeslam.
As security tried to intervene and allow Ospreay to get medical care, the Aerial Assassin saw his opportunity to dive off the ramp and onto Vader, to one of the biggest pops of the night.
Ricochet then ran in, and he and Ospreay both hit their finishing moves on the larger man. However, Vader kicked out of them both, to the shock of those 1000 paying fans.
This seemed like the perfect way to make Vader look strong and give Ospreay the win, but Big Van Vader had other ideas.
Ospreay’s rival Pete Dunne then ran into the ring, attacking him and allowing Vader to nail him with two more chokeslams. Vader then pinned Will Ospreay, and the air left the room as the ref counted to three and raised the hand of the former WCW Champion.
The match lasted a little more than six minutes, and the result was ultimately disappointing. While fans were happy to see Vader vs Will Ospreay, the ending of the match made little sense.
Vader was 61, at the end of his career and barely mobile. The win did nothing for him, and it seemed simply out of spite that he took the victory – especially as he started the fight with Ospreay in the first place.
Meanwhile, Will Ospreay was in his early 20s and was a rising star in the business. Getting a scalp from a legend like Vader would do wonders for him, and would have gained him immediate credibility in places like New Japan Pro Wrestling.
Luckily, Will Ospreay managed to pick himself up and become one of the world’s best wrestlers, despite Vader refusing to lose to him (his post match promo revealed as much).
Meanwhile, Vader sadly passed away in 2018, and never agreed to a rematch to put over Will Ospreay before his untimely death.
Will Ospreay “Hated” His Match With Vader
One man who did not enjoy his match against Vader was Will Ospreay, who called the former WCW Champion a “horrible dude”.
Speaking with Fightful, Will Ospreay revealed that he “hated” his match against Vader, calling it a “horrible experience with a horrible dude”.
“I really don’t like speaking ill of the dead, but that Vader match, I f**king hated,” he said. “It was just a horrible experience with a horrible dude. I wish nothing ill on him and I hope his family are well, but he just wasn’t kind to work with. That’s all, that’s it.”
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.