Will Ospreay has revealed that of the criticism of his 2016 bout against Ricochet was “right”, as he discussed the match which helped put both men on the map. Will Ospreay vs Ricochet took place during the 2016 Best of Super Juniors Tournament and is credited as being one of the most controversial matches in history, given the amount of backlash and criticism that bout received.
The match itself is either one of the best ever or one of the worst, depending on your view on wrestling. It showcased a new style of wrestling, one more acrobatic and spot-based than previous matches had been. It featured very clearly planned moves, reversals and acrobatic moments, which some wrestling purists not considering it to be “real wrestling”, with the term “gymnastics” being thrown around by the likes of Jim Cornette.
One man who was quick to call out the match was the late Vader. The wrestling legend, who was inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame after his death, was incredibly critical of the bout, likening it more to “dancing” than professional wrestling. This attack on the match even led to a match between himself and Will Ospreay in Rev Pro Wrestling, which the former WCW Champion inexplicably ended up winning.
However, six years on the match has become an incredible influence on the current generation of wrestling. Many wrestlers have been inspired by the pair and their incredible, athletic style of wrestling. They will be seen in the future in the same way as previous innovators in the Junior Heavyweight Division, alongside the likes of Justin “Thunder” Liger, Tiger Mask and Chris Benoit.
Both men went from strength to strength, Ricochet signing for the WWE while Will Ospreay remained in New Japan and became a world champion, as well as wrestling occasionally for All Elite Wrestling in the United States.
Will Ospreay vs Ricochet
Will Ospreay has recently spoken about his match versus Ricochet at Best of the Super Junior XXV. It was considered the best match in the tournament and one of the matches of the year for 2016 as a whole. Ospreay spoke about it in an interview with Chris Van Vliet, revealing that he can see that, years down the line, that some of the criticism they received was “right” and he has changed his wrestling style over the years to accommodate this.
“If you didn’t know about me, that was the best way to introduce the first chapter in my New Japan story. Me and Ricochet were mirror images. It was like, ‘You’ve met your match.’ If you’re going to put Ricochet and Will Ospreay in the ring together, that’s the type of match you want to see. The backlash was the main thing. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it. ‘This is what we do on the Indies.’ But because it was such a large scale, everyone had an opinion on it.
It was a conversation that needed to be had and this was the right match to start that conversation. I took a bunch of things that people said about it and thought, ‘They are right to an extent.’ But I didn’t grasp it until I wrestled [Katsuyori] Shibata. I wrestled Ricochet and wrestled that same style. When I got in the ring with Shibata and I was like, “I wanna do this and this’ and he’s like ‘No.’ I was so scared of him. At first I was defiant against it, but as time went on, I was like, ‘Okay, they do have a point.’ Marty [Scurll] told me something ages ago before my second match against Ricochet, ‘The fans will go crazy if you just wrestle for five minutes.’ He was right. A lot of people saw that we can wrestle, we just wanted to do what we’re known for.”
The pair met again a year later, in a match with was won by Ospreay. Will Ospreay won both matches against Ricochet and went on to achieve much more in wrestling than Ricochet. With rumours of Ricochet moving to AEW once his WWE contract has expired, we could see them face one more time in All Elite Wrestling during one of the most anticipated “Forbidden Door” matches of all time.
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.