William Peter Charles Ospreay (born 7 May 1993) is an English professional wrestler who is currently signed to Japanese promotion New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW), performing under the ring name Will Ospreay, where he is a former one-time IWGP World Heavyweight Champion, a former three-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, a one-time NEVER Openweight and the winner of 2016 and 2019 Best of the Super Juniors and the 2021 New Japan Cup.
Ospreay began his career in the English independent circuit in April 2012. During several years, he worked on several independent promotions, most notably Revolution Pro Wrestling (RevPro) and Progress Wrestling, before starting to work for New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) in March 2016, following the recommendation from AJ Styles, Hiroshi Tanahashi, and Kazuchika Okada. In NJPW, Ospreay became part of Okada's CHAOS stable going on to become a three-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion and the winner of the 2016 and 2019 Best of the Super Juniors, being the first British wrestler to achieve those feats. In 2019, Ospreay began his transition to the heavyweight division, leading him to win the NEVER Openweight Championship and taking part of NJPW's premier tournament, the G1 Climax, before making fully transition to heavyweight division in 2020. In October, Ospreay turned heel, leaving CHAOS to form in own stable the United Empire, marking a major turning point for his career of Ospreay, a longtime fan favorite, who began his ascent into the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship picture, before winning the New Japan Cup in March 2021. The following month, Ospreay defeated Kota Ibushi to win NJPW's top title, the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship, becoming the first British wrestler to holder of a NJPW's premier championship, before vacating it due to an injury in May.
As part of a working relationship between NJPW and American promotion Ring of Honor (ROH), he is a former one-time ROH World Television Champion. The readers of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter voted Ospreay the Best Flying Wrestler for two consecutive years from 2016 and 2017.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Professional wrestling career
- 3 In wrestling
- 4 Championships and accomplishments
- 5 References
A fan of Light Heavyweight wrestling since his youth, Charles was a fan of Essa Rios and Eddie Guerrero as a child. He cites the three-way match between AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels and Samoa Joe at TNA Unbreakable 2005 is the match that made him want to become a wrestler. He received his training at the London School of Lucha Libre, and made his professional debut soon after.
Professional wrestling career
A fan of light-heavyweight wrestling since his youth, Ospreay was a fan of Essa Rios and Eddie Guerrero as a child. He cites the three-way match between AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels and Samoa Joe at TNA Unbreakable 2005 as the match that made him want to become a wrestler. He began wrestling on the trampoline in his garden under the name Extreme Dude and before long his mother had bought him a wrestling ring to make sure he was being as safe as possible. He also wrestled for other backyard wrestling promotions as Ace Pain and Tinkerbell.
He received his training at Lucha Britannia's London School of Lucha Libre in Bethnal Green, London. He made his professional debut at the co-promoted BritWres-Fest on 1 April 2012 as the masked character Dark Britannico, the evil twin of Lucha Britannia's signature wrestler Leon Britannico who was played by Paul Robinson, Ospreay's future tag team partner in the team The Swords of Essex. While wrestling with Lucha Britannia he twice won the Lucha Britannia World Championship. Ospreay said in his interview with the Huffington Post that his nickname, "The Aerial Assassin", is an allusion to Assassin's Creed video game series and was a persona he adopted to stand out from other British high flying wrestlers, particularly PAC.
New Japan Pro Wrestling (2016–present)
Pursuit of the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship (2016–2018)
On 3 March, Ospreay was announced as the newest member of the NJPW stable CHAOS. Appearing in a video, Ospreay challenged Kushida to an IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship match at Invasion Attack 2016 on 10 April. On 10 April, Ospreay failed in his title challenge against Kushida. Following the match, it was reported that NJPW had offered Ospreay a contract to become a regular for the promotion. On 27 April, it was reported that Ospreay had signed the contract. The following month, Ospreay entered the 2016 Best of the Super Juniors tournament. On 27 May, Ospreay faced Ricochet in the tournament in a match, which received widespread attention in the professional wrestling world. While some like William Regal praised the two, others criticized the match with the most notable criticism coming from Vader, who compared the match to a "gymnastics routine". Ospreay ended up winning his block in the tournament with a record of four wins and three losses, advancing to the finals. On 7 June, Ospreay defeated Ryusuke Taguchi in the finals to win 2016 Best of the Super Juniors, becoming the youngest winner in the history of the tournament as well as the first English and the fifth gaijin wrestler to win the tournament. Following the win, Ospreay was granted another shot at the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, but was again defeated by Kushida on 19 June at Dominion 6.19 in Osaka-jo Hall. On 20 July, Ospreay entered the 2016 Super J-Cup, defeating Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL) representative Titán in his first round match. On August 21, he was eliminated from the tournament in the second round by Matt Sydal. On 8 October, Ospreay received his first shot at the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship, but he and his CHAOS stablemates Beretta and Rocky Romero were defeated by the defending champions, David Finlay, Ricochet and Satoshi Kojima. On 11 February 2017 at The New Beginning in Osaka, Ospreay unsuccessfully challenged Katsuyori Shibata for the British Heavyweight Championship. In May, Ospreay won his block in 2017 Best of the Super Juniors tournament with a record of five wins and two losses, advancing to his second consecutive final. On 3 June, Ospreay was defeated in the final by KUSHIDA.
On 9 October at King of Pro-Wrestling, Ospreay defeated KUSHIDA to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship for the first time. With the win, Ospreay became the first British IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion. He lost the title to Marty Scurll in his first defense on 5 November at Power Struggle. Ospreay regained the title from Scurll on 4 January 2018 at Wrestle Kingdom 12 in Tokyo Dome in a four-way match, also involving Hiromu Takahashi and KUSHIDA. In May 2018, Ospreay entered the 2018 Best of the Super Juniors tournament. He finished his block with a record of five wins and two losses, failing to advance to the finals of the tournament, due to losing to Taiji Ishimori in their head-to-head match. On June 9 at Dominion 6.9 in Osaka-jo Hall, Ospreay lost the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship to the winner of the tournament, Hiromu Takahashi. Afterwards on August 20, it was announced that Ospreay would take part of a four-man single elimination tournament to crown a new champion, after Takahashi was forced to vacate the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship due to a neck injury. Ospreay was defeated by Marty Scurll in the first round.
NEVER Openweight Champion (2018–2019)
On October 8 at King of Pro-Wrestling, Ospreay pinned NEVER Openweight Champion Taichi in a non-title match and made his intentions on being the next challenger for the title. However, Ospreay suffered a rib injury and the match had to be canceled. Ospreay returned from his injury on December 9, defeating Taichi, who had lost the title to Ospreay's CHAOS stablemate Hirooki Goto, to become the #1 contender to the NEVER Openweight Championship. Later that night, Ospreay challenged newly crowned NEVER Openweight Champion Kota Ibushi to a match at Wrestle Kingdom 13 in Tokyo Dome on January 4, 2019. At the event on January 4, Ospreay defeated Ibushi to win NEVER Openweight Championship. Ospreay lost the title to Jeff Cobb on April 6 at G1 Supercard.
Return to the Junior Heavyweight division (2019–2020)
Following this, Ospreay returned to the junior heavyweight division, most notably at the 2019 Wrestling Dontaku, where he and Dragon Lee lost to Taiji Ishimori and the debuting El Phantasmo, where Phantasmo pinned Ospreay. After this, Ospreay entered the 2019 Best of the Super Juniors tournament. Ospreay ended with a record of seven wins and two losses, advancing to his third consecutive final. On June 5, Ospreay defeated Shingo Takagi to win the tournament for his second time. On June 9, Ospreay defeated Lee to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship for his third time. Afterwards, Ospreay nominated Robbie Eagles to be his first challenger for the title. Leading to the match Ospreay proclaimed that he wanted Eagles to return to his old self. On June 29 in the first night of the Southern Showdown, Ospreay defeated Robbie Eagles to make his first successful title defense. Afterwards, El Phantasmo entered the ring to show Eagles support, leading Eagles to attack him and shake hands with Ospreay. The following day, Eagles defected from Bullet Club and joined CHAOS, after he refused to attack Will Ospreay. From July 6 until August 10, Ospreay took part in the 2019 G1 Climax, where he finished the tournament with a record of four wins and five losses, failing to advance to the finals of the tournament. On August 22, Ospreay, representing CHAOS, entered the 2019 Super J-Cup, defeating Amazing Red in his first round match. On August 24, Ospreay defeated CHAOS stablemate Sho in the second round of the tournament, before being eliminated in the semifinals by Bullet Club's El Phantasmo with the help of his Bullet Club stablemate Taiji Ishimori. After Phantasmo won the tournament, he challenged Ospreay to match. On August 31 at Royal Quest, Ospreay and Eagles formed a team named "Birds of Prey" and the two defeated Phantasmo and Ishimori in a non-title match. Afterwards, Ospreay and Eagles held the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships and challenged them to a rematch for their titles, while Phantasmo challenged Ospreay to a match for his title. On September 15 at Destruction, Ospreay and Eagles unsuccessfully challenged Phatasmo and Ishimori for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. On October 14 at King of Pro-Wrestling, Ospreay defeated Phantasmo to make his second successful title defense. From October 16 until November 1, 2019, Ospreay and Eagles took part in the 2019 Super Jr. Tag League, finishing the tournament with a record of four wins and three losses, failing to advance to the finals of the tournament. Ospreay and Eagles entered their final match with a chance to reach the finals, but BUSHI who had previously challenged Ospreay to match for his title, cost them their final match against Suzuki-gun (El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru). On November 3 at Power Struggle, Ospreay defeated BUSHI to make his third successful title defense. After the match, BUSHI's Los Ingobernables de Japon stablemate Hiromu Takahashi, who was returning from an injury, challenged Ospreay to a title match at Wrestle Kingdom 14 in Tokyo Dome on January 4, 2020. In the first night, on January 4, Ospreay lost the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship to Hiromu Takahashi.
Heavyweight division (2020–Present)
Following Wrestle Kingdom 14, Ospreay began feud with compatriot Zack Sabre Jr., leading a match between the two, where Ospreay unsuccessfully challenged Sabre for the British Heavyweight Championship on February 9 at The New Beginning in Osaka. Two days later, during a eight-man tag team elimination match between CHAOS and Suzuki-gun, Ospreay eliminated Sabre from the match, leading him to challenge Sabre to a rematch. On February 14 at Revolution Pro Wrestling's High Stakes, Ospreay defeated Zack Sabre Jr., to win the British Heavyweight Championship for the first time. Afterwards, Ospreay announced he was moving into the heavyweight division.
In March, Ospreay was supposed to be part of the 2020 New Japan Cup, but NJPW was forced to suspend all of its activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The promotion eventually resumed its activities in June, travel limitations, but due to travel restritions various foreign wrestlers were prevented from returning to Japan. Ospreay made his return to NJPW in September, taking part of the 2020 G1 Climax. Ospreay started the tournament with two victories, before losing to Shingo Takagi in his third match. Ospreay bounced back with a victory over Jay White, losing then to Kota Ibushi. Afterwards, Ospreay won two successive matches, before being eliminated for the tournament, after losing to Jeff Cobb on October 13. Three days later, Ospreay faced his CHAOS stablemate Kazuchika Okada in his final round-robin match. Ospreay won the match with help from his girlfriend Bea Priestley and the returning Great O-Khan. Afterwards, Ospreay turned on Okada, announcing his departure from CHAOS, blaming Okada for "holding him back" and the creation of his own stable alongside Priestley and Great O-Khan. The first match between the Ospreay and his former CHAOS stablemates took place on the following day, where he and O-Khan defeated Okada and Sho in a tag team match. The new group was subsequently named "The Empire". Following the tournament, Okada began seeking revenge against Opsreay for his actions, leading him to face the Great O-Khan in his test in a match at Power Struggle in a winning effort. Afterwards, Ospreay claimed he had used Okada in order to achieve success, before challenged him to a match at Wrestle Kingdom 15, which he accepted. The rivalry between Ospreay and Okada culminated in a match on January 4, 2021, on the first night of Wrestle Kingdom 15 in Tokyo Dome, where Okada was victorious.
Following the event, on January 6 at New Years Dash, The Empire entered a rivalry with Tencozy (Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima). At the New Years Dash, The Empire faced Tencozy and Yota Tsuji in a winning effort. Afterwards, The Empire attacked Tencozy, with Hiroyoshi Tenzan being stretchered out of the arena. Following the attack, Ospreay officially named the stable the "United Empire". The rivalry between Ospreay and Kojima culminated into a no disqualification match at The New Beginning in Nagoya, where Ospreay defeated Kojima. In March, Ospreay took part in the 2021 New Japan Cup, which he eventually won, defeating Shingo Takagi in the finals on March 21, and afterwards challenged Kota Ibushi to a title match for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship, stating that he would do anything to win it, for the goal of becoming the top wrestler of the promotion. To prove his point, Ospreay turned on his girlfriend Bea Priestley, kicking her out of the United Empire. On April 4 at Sakura Genisis, Ospreay defeated Kota Ibushi to win the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship, becoming the first British wrestler to holder of a NJPW's premier championship. Following the match, Ospreay nominated Okada to be his first challenger. However, before Okada could answer Shingo Takagi challenged Ospreay to a title match, claiming that he had defeated Okada in the first round of the 2021 New Japan Cup, while also seeking revenge for losing to Ospreay in the finals of the tournament. This led to Ospreay accepting Takagi as his first challenger, with Okada being next in line. On May 4, on the second night of Wrestling Dontaku, Ospreay defeated Takagi to make his first successful title defense, setting up his match against Okada at Wrestle Grand Slam in Tokyo Dome. However, due to an extension to the of Japan's state of emergency, Ospreay's title match with Okada was cancelled. On May 20, it was announced that Opsreay would be vacating the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship due to a neck injury suffered in his match against Takagi and would be returning to the United Kingdom for rehabilitation.
- Finishing moves
- Signature moves
- Air Assassin (Imploding 450° splash)
- Burning Star Press (Shooting star press to an opponent hanging in the top rope)
- Chelsea Grin (Inverted headlock transitioned into a discus elbow smash to the back of the opponent's head)
- Essex Destroyer (Front flip DDT)
- Hidden Blade (High impact swinging back elbow to the back of a kneeling opponent's head, with theatrics)
- Iron Octopus (Octopus hold)
- London Has Fallen (Sitout fireman's carry facebuster)
- Lifting inverted DDT
- Multiple kick variations
- Cheeky Nandos Kick (Super to opponent on the turnbuckle)
- Handspring enzuigiri
- Hook Kick
- Jumping corkscrew roundhouse
- Robinson Special (720° to the back of the head of a rising opponent)
- Silent Whisper (Super)
- Pip Pip Cheerio (Springboard forearm smash)
- Rainham Maker (Standing moonsault side slam, sometimes transitioned from a straightjacket wrist-lock) – adopted from Kazuchika Okada
- Running knee strike to an opponent's head
- Sasuke Special (Cartwheel over the top rope suicide corkscrew moonsault)
- Short-arm lariat – adopted from Kazuchika Okada
- Standing corkscrew senton bomb
- Standing shooting star press
- Stun Dog Millionaire (Corkscrew falling stunner, as a reversal to a suplex)
- "The Assassin"
- "The Aerial Assassin"
- "The Commonwealth Kingpin"
- ¨The Sky King¨
- Entrance themes
- "The Aerial Assassin" by Yonosuke Kitamura
- "Shoot to Thrill" by AC/DC
- "Elevated" by It Lives, It Breathes
- "Bring It Down" by Yonosuke Kitamura feat. Eiki
Championships and accomplishments
- New Japan Pro-Wrestling
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- PWI ranked him #16 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2016
- Revolution Pro Wrestling
- British Heavyweight Championship (1 time, current)
- British Cruiserweight Championship (2 times)
- Undisputed British Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Paul Robinson
- Ring of Honor
- SoCal Uncensored
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter
- 5 Star Match (2016) with Matt Sydal and Ricochet vs. Adam Cole and The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson) on 3 September
- 5 Star Match (2017) vs. Kushida on June 3
- 5 Star Match (2018) vs. Marty Scurll on April 1
- Best Flying Wrestler (2016-2017)
- 5 Star Match (2018) with Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi on December 15
- 5 Star Match (2019) vs Bandido on May 23
- 5.75 Star Match (2019) vs. Shingo Takagi on June 5
- 5 Star Match (2019) vs Dragon Lee on June 9
- 5 Star Match (2019) vs Kota Ibushi on June 18
- 5.75 Star Match (2019) vs Kazuchika Okada on July 20
- 5.5 Star Match (2020) vs Hiromu Takahashi on January 4
- 5 Star Match (2020) vs Zack Sabre Jr on February 14
- Stone, Danny. "Huffington Post". Huffington Post.
- "Facebook". Will Ospreay Facebook Page.
- "25 Wrestlers Age 25 & Under Everyone Needs To Know". RunningEnzuigiri.
- "The Sword of Essex William Ospreay Interview". prowrestling.com.
- Rose, Bryan 2016-03-03. NJPW New Japan Cup results: Big announcements, first round of matches . Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved on 2016-03-03.
- Meltzer, Dave 2016-04-09. NJPW Invasion Attack live results: Kazuchika Okada vs. Tetsuya Naito for the IWGP Championship . Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved on 2016-04-10.
- Meltzer, Dave (April 25, 2016). "April 25, 2016 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Conor McGregor announces retirement, TNA sale imminent". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Campbell, California: 34. ISSN 1083-9593.
Will Ospreay has already been offered a regular contract which would make him just about the quickest guy without an international name to get one. He got the offer after one match with the promotion.
- Radican, Sean 2016-04-27. PWTorch Report – Int’l star Will Ospreay signs with New Japan . Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved on 2016-04-28.
- Caldwell, James 2016-05-29. Caldwell – Ospreay vs. Ricochet – One match captures the larger argument about today’s pro wrestling style . Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved on 2016-05-31.
- Johnson, Mike 2016-05-29. William Regal provides important insight and advice in wake of talked about Ricochet vs. Ospreay bout in NJ . Pro Wrestling Insider. Retrieved on 2016-05-31.
- Schwartz, Nick 2016-05-29. Wrestling fans are going crazy over this acrobatic match in Japan . Fox Sports. Retrieved on 2016-05-31.
- Best of the Super Jr.XXIII (in Japanese). New Japan Pro Wrestling. Retrieved on 2016-06-06.
- Rose, Bryan 2016-06-07. NJPW Best of the Super Juniors finals results: Will Ospreay vs. Ryusuke Taguchi . Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved on 2016-06-07.
- Meltzer, Dave 2016-06-18. NJPW Dominion live results: Tetsuya Naito vs Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP HW Championship . Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved on 2016-06-19.
- Super J-Cup 2016 (in Japanese). New Japan Pro Wrestling. Retrieved on 2016-07-20.
- Super J-Cup 2016 (in Japanese). New Japan Pro Wrestling. Retrieved on 2016-08-21.
- ja:New Japan Road ～がんばろう！Uonuma 2016～ (in Japanese). New Japan Pro Wrestling. Retrieved on 2016-10-08.
- Rose, Bryan 2017-10-08. NJPW King of Pro Wrestling live results: Kazuchika Okada vs. Evil . Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved on 2017-10-09.
- King of Pro-Wrestling (in Japanese). New Japan Pro-Wrestling. Retrieved on 2017-10-09.
- Currier, Joseph 2017-11-05. NJPW Power Struggle live results: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kota Ibushi . Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved on 2017-11-05.
- Renner, Ethan 2018-01-03. NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 12 live results: Okada-Naito, Omega-Jericho . Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved on 2018-01-04.
- en: The Junior IWGP throne is vacant. KUSHIDA, BUSHI, Ospreay, and Scurll have all entered the Junior Heavyweight championship tournament! (in English). New Japan Pro-Wrestling (2018-08-20). Retrieved on 2018-08-20.
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- レスリングどんたく 2016 (in Japanese). New Japan Pro Wrestling. Retrieved on 2016-05-28.
- Best of the Super Jr.XXIII (in Japanese). New Japan Pro Wrestling. Retrieved on 2016-05-28.
- 【『Super Jr.』出場メンバーが決定！】オスプレイ、ボラドール、サイダルが初出場！ "14年覇者"リコシェ！"昨年準優勝"オライリーも参戦！【SJ23】 (in Japanese). New Japan Pro Wrestling (2016-05-03). Retrieved on 2016-05-03.
- Prowrestle theme music list . RMLabel. Retrieved on 2016-07-12.
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated (PWI) 500 for 2016 . The Internet Wrestling Database. Retrieved on 2016-09-01.
- Green, David 2016-07-10. 7/10 Rev Pro in London Results – Shibata vs. Zack Sabre, Jr. dream match, Ishii, Moose, Sydal, Ospreay wins big title match, Big Damo farewell set-up . Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved on 2016-07-11.
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- BEST MOVE OF THE YEAR: WILL OSPREAY'S OSCUTTER . Ring of Honor. Retrieved on 2018-01-10.
- Meltzer, Dave 2017-01-26. Daily Update: Omega's decision, HHH conference call, Tito vs. Chael . Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved on 2017-01-26.
- Meltzer, Dave 2016-09-07. September 12, 2016 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: CM Punk Making UFC Debut, PWG Battle Of Los Angeles Review, More . Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved on 2016-09-08.
- Meltzer, Dave (June 12, 2017). "June 12, 2017 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Extreme Rules and Best of the Super Juniors finals reviewed, tons of news". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Campbell, California: 21–22. ISSN 1083-9593.
- Meltzer, Dave 2018-04-04. April 9, 2018 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Massive Wrestlemania 34 Weekend, More . Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved on 2018-04-06.
- Meltzer, Dave (March 6, 2017). "March 6, 2017 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: 2016 Awards issue, talent departing TNA, more". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Campbell, California: 10. ISSN 1083-9593.