Back in 2016, two men killed wrestling, mutilating it beyond all recognition. Well, at least according to people like Jim Cornette or Vader. A match between Will Ospreay, a young up and coming English wrestler and Ricochet, an American wrestler whose high flying wrestling style amazed all who saw him. The pair tore up the Best of the Super Juniors tournament that year, and put themselves firmly on the map in NJPW.
Will Ospreay & Ricochet
Ricochet would go on to sign for WWE, eventually being lost in the shuffle on Monday Night Raw. He is an afterthought in the world of wrestling nowadays. Fans weep, wishing for better for Ricochet, but he seems content wrestling on Main Event and cashing his monthly cheque whilst his legacy slowly slips through his fingers like sand through an hourglass that’s doing a double Moonsault.
The other was Will Ospreay. Seen as a spot monkey at the time, his in ring style was impressive but, as some called it, dangerous. Veteran wrestlers complained about him setting the business back years, and even managed to enter into a twitter feud with former WCW Champion Vader. Somehow, Ospreay even faced the 61 year old in a match at Rev Pro, with the old grumpy man picking up the victory.
IWGP Heavyweight Champion
Since them, Ospreay toned down his high flying ways. Instead, he helped hone his craft in NJPW. He slowed down, focusing on a more grounded, hard hitting style which Japanese fans always appreciate.
Ospreay became one of the best wrestlers in Japan, not just one of the best Junior Heavyweights. He is acknowledged as one of the best British wrestlers in the world, and the only one to ever hold the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
He won the championship from Shingo Tagaki earlier this year, but due to injury was forced to vacate the championship. However, he retained ownership of the belt, and when he returned to NJPW in August 2021, he rejected Shingo Tagaki’s claim to be the IWGP Heavyweight champion. Ospreay claimed that because he was never defeated for the championship and is the best heavyweight in NJPW.
Ospreay has wrestled on New Japan Strong in recent months, not travelling to Japan due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, he is booked to wrestler in Japan for the first time since injury at Wrestlekingdom 16. He will face the winner of Kazuchika Okada, winner of the G1 Climax, and Shingo Tagaki, the IWGP Heavyweight Champion, on night two of the event. The winner of that match will be proclaimed as the true IWGP Heavyweight champion and the best wrestler in New Japan.
Will Ospreay AEW Matches
vs Kenny Omega
In the meantime, Will Ospreay has hinted that a run in AEW may be in his future. In an online meet and greet back in November, Will Ospreay was asked about the idea of stepping through the Forbidden Door. Ospreay noted that he would “love to face Kenny Omega” and that he was “Always open to (wrestling in AEW) and it does interest me”.
“I would love to face Kenny. There is nothing in the works but if given the opportunity i would sink my teeth into it”Will Ospreay, on potentially working in AEW
With that interview, he confirmed that Kenny Omega could be the first man he faces in AEW. Omega was the AEW Champion for almost a year and was the longest reigning AEW Champion of all time. Both Kenny Omega and Will Ospreay are former IWGP Heavyweight Champions and became huge stars as the top gaijans in Japan.
Both are known as being some of the best wrestlers in the world. Omega’s series of matches against Kazuchika Okada, brought huge interest from the west to NJPW, and he has continued that trend with some brilliant matches in AEW against the likes of Adam Page, Orange Cassidy and Bryan Danielson.
Omega is currently out due to a number of injury problems that have been building over the years. His current return date is unknown and it is beyond speculation to say when he could return. Ospreay himself suffered from injuries recently so will know what it feels like. With both men fully healed it could be one of the best matches of all time, hopefully in an AEW ring.
vs Bryan Danielson
It was no secret that one of the reasons Bryan Danielson left WWE was due to wanting to wrestle abroad. His dream to wrestle in NJPW was one that was unlikely to be made true by Vince McMahon, so signing for AEW seemed like the obvious way to achieve that.
And Danielson has reportedly been a huge fan of Will Ospreay. It has been reported that the American Dragon “really wants” to work with Will Ospreay. At the time of the news coming out, Danielson had yet to debut with AEW while Ospreay was still out with his neck injury.
Since then, Ospreay has healed and Danielson has become a top star in AEW, so the chance that this match could happen in AEW is high, should Ospreay pen a deal with Tony Khan’s promotion.
vs CM Punk
CM Punk once said, prior to returning to wrestling, that Will Ospreay was someone who could bring him back. Now we’re four months into CM Punk’s return, he has exceeded fans expectations with some brilliant matches. His match vs Eddie Kingston was one of the matches of the year and his bout with MJF is sure to be even better.
Ospreay even challenged Punk to a match in the past, so if both men are up for the match Tony Khan would be stupid to miss out on the big money match.
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.