Originally posted on Shorthand Social to test out all of the cool features there, re-published here.
Will Ospreay doesn’t cut the most imposing figure. The gangly Englishman can walk the streets without fanfare and doesn’t turn heads as he shops for groceries. Truthfully, it’s hard to imagine that behind the wiry frame, boyish grin and tufts of developing facial hair that there’s anything spectacular about the twenty-two year old from Essex.
But for years, Ospreay has been walking into gyms, small theatres and inner city bingo halls and demonstrated that he is very spectacular. Tapped as a future star in the world of professional wrestling, Will Ospreay is already leaving quite an impression.
What makes Ospreay so special is his otherworldly athletic ability. His reflexes and sheer jumping power are up there with the very best. His short tenure in the independent wrestling scene has already seen him score marquee matches with almost every big name out there – AJ Styles, Matt Sydal, Zach Sabre Jr., Roderick Strong, Trevor Lee, Kenny Omega and the list keeps growing. Although he’s booked to lose more often than not, his acrobatic offence means Ospreay frequently walks away looking better than his esteemed opponents.
To find a turning point which transformed Ospreay from well-liked to a special talent, watch his 2015 Revolution Pro Wrestling clash with AJ Styles. For the uninitiated, Styles is widely regarded as one of the best pro wrestlers in the world. After carrying second-tier North American promotion TNA for over a decade, Styles jettisoned to the premier New Japan Pro Wrestling. Styles’ career reached new heights in NJPW, starting with winning the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and concluding with a legendary match against all-time great Shinsuke Nakamura. A few months later, Styles debuted in the biggest league of them all, the WWE, and has made himself a star there.
Just watch Will Ospreay jump into a handstand, bounce against the ring ropes, land on his feet and then backflip over a crouched Styles. He ducks under a flying arm, runs back into the ropes and then jumps towards AJ, locking his legs around his opponent’s head and flipping him over in a hurricanrana. It’s breath-taking to see such clean, athletic wrestling from somebody who’s been competing for only two years.
The two combatants spent the match one-upping each other: Ospreay slides under the ropes, Styles slides under the barricade. Styles leaps from the top turnbuckle, Ospreay flips from the top turnbuckle. It was Styles who got the win but the two left the ring looking like equals, a staggering notion given the twenty year difference in experience and the stature of Styles in the world of wrestling.
This is an exciting time to be a follower of Will Ospreay. Still a cult figure amongst his followers, the young Brit is on the cusp of stardom. This month, Ospreay made his debut for New Japan Pro Wrestling, the same promotion which sent AJ Styles’ profile through the roof. Ospreay’s debut match was at a major NPJW show, Invasion Attack, in a title shot against the IWGP Junior Heavyweight champion KUSHIDA.
Scoring a championship match on debut, especially as a foreign wrestler in a Japanese promotion, is a clear statement on just how highly NJPW rate Ospreay. Although he was booked to lose, the match received extended time, invigorated the audience and the formidable champion was pushed to his limit by the plucky twenty-two year old.
It wasn’t just fans who sat up and took notice, either. Ospreay has been booked to tag team with NJPW’s top talents, including former world champion Kazuchika Okada as their team seeks revenge on new champion Naito at the next show. The push up the card is evidence that New Japan management see potential for Ospreay to be the top foreigner in the promotion.
If that happens, the world is his oyster. The end goal for most wrestlers is to be at the top of the WWE, and one would imagine Ospreay will at least be given the chance to star on the biggest stage in the world at some point in his career.
Don’t get it twisted, there’s still some way to go before Ospreay is headlining WrestleMania. The WWE won’t look twice until he adds some muscle mass and improves his promotional charisma. But Ospreay has considerable talent, perhaps the most of any young wrestler in the world today. A constant improver, Will Ospreay should savour these months that he can walk the streets and pass for unspectacular. At the rate he’s going, that won’t last long.