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Will Ospreay Has Proven it. He’s the Kingpin.

3 years ago

Will Ospreay Has Proven it. He’s the Kingpin.

By: Mitch Wilks

Since he aligned with CHAOS in 2016, Will Ospreay’s journey to climb the ladder to NJPW Ace level has been tireless.

The hype train has followed his every move and his effort so far has yielded success, with Ospreay becoming the youngest ever winner of the Best of the Super Juniors tournament in 2016 – he’s only the fifth gaijin to do so.

The Aerial Assassin has impressed many, and his high- risk/high-reward athleticism and relentless attitude have propelled him to junior heavyweight success. Sharing a faction with royalty such as Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii and others has rubbed off on the Brit, who has endlessly dreamt of heavyweight stardom since his arrival to Japan.

And while this has always been a patient and heroic pursuit, living in the shadow of his CHAOS allies has taken its toll. A darkness has emerged in Ospreay, and it could be a good thing.

Having never succeeded in beating his ‘big brother’ Okada, a red-hot Ospreay had the chance to finally earn a win for himself in October 2020 during the G1 Climax, with the two stablemates pitted against each other. Interference from Bea Priestley and Great-O-Khan saw the Rainmaker compromised, allowing Ospreay to hit the stormbreaker and pick up a telling victory to advance. All this was followed up post-match when the IWGP heavyweight champion surprised everyone with the Hidden Blade, swiftly bringing their partnership to a sour and spiteful end.

The Commonwealth Kingpin has since embraced his darkness and used it to fuel the fire that is a new faction of his own. Together he, Priestley and O-Khan formed The United Empire, bolstered by the arrival of Jeff Cobb that November and Aaron Henare in April. Since its inception, the Empire has slowly snowballed from strength to strength throughout NJPW, providing Ospreay with a platform to say and do as he pleases.

But while arrogance and financial superiority are Ospreay’s immediate motives in 2021, winning remains at the forefront of his mind. The current RevPro British Heavyweight champion put together a run in the New Japan Cup that was nothing short of phenomenal throughout March, cutting through the field with vicious and versatile displays to dispatch his opponents.

In their first true outing in tournament competition, O-Khan and Cobb put in a formidable performance in the 2020 World Tag League. They finished with ten points, only being halted by Dangerous Tekkers, eventual winners Guerillas of Destiny, and CHAOS. The defeat at the hands of Ospreay’s old faction will continue to burn and won’t let up until the Aerial Assassin truly achieves vengeance.

In between successful tag team bouts with the Empire throughout March, Ospreay built momentum at the end of January in a no-disqualification bout against Satoshi Kojima at The New Beginning in Nagoya. Embracing his mean streak, Ospreay entered the ring equipped with a guitar, tuned up to destroy his opponent. A physical bout saw both competitors push it to the limit with no holds barred, and despite taking a beating and a guitar over the head, it was the Commonwealth Kingpin who persevered to secure victory.

For now, there are more important matters at hand. Notably, matters that propel Ospreay to reach the top of the heavyweight division and perform at the limit of his abilities, while continually reminding onlookers that he is the most valuable asset in professional wrestling today.

Will Ospreay, Great-O-Khan, Jeff Cobb and Aaron Henare - The United Empire with Ospreay holding the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship, the RPW British Heavyweight Championship and the New Japan Cup Trophy

Photo Credit: Twitter/taigaPhoto_PW

Ospreay’s turn on CHAOS and Okada is proving to be more than just a mood swing. It is a mindset. A lifestyle. A necessity in order to truly become the ace of New Japan. And while his new stablemates continue to carry out business as usual in tag action throughout the New Japan Cup, Ospreay powered towards the tournament finals. He dispatched of Hiroyoshi Tenzan in the first round, before digging deep and getting bloody to eliminate Zack Sabre Jr. in the second round. A broken nose suffered at the hands of his British counterpart wasn’t enough to deter him, and having emerged victorious yet again, Ospreay tallied up wins against SANADA and David Finlay to advance to the tournament final.

A relentless, physical and explosive bout contested over 30 minutes with Shingo Takagi. Ospreay broke boundaries once again, achieving the dream and capturing his maiden New Japan Cup tournament win. A continuous shoulder injury and a broken nose weren’t enough to derail Ospreay in his quest for dominance over Japan, and he showed the lengths he will go to for success by attacking Bea Priestley after his New Japan Cup triumph, exiling her from the United Empire.

A physical 30-minute epic at Sakura Genesis saw Ospreay do the unthinkable against Kota Ibushi. With a new IWGP Heavyweight Title introduced, the two battled for the rights to usher in a new era for the promotion. Ospreay, not interested in keeping the majority of people on his side, used the hate and the anguish felt against him to rally on for victory, striking Ibushi with a sickening V-trigger, before finishing off with a Hidden Blade/Stormbreaker combination for the three-count.

And as the Golden Star burned out, the Empire further staked its claim at the summit of NJPW. Mediocrity is no longer an option for the Commonwealth Kingpin. A precedent has been set with the help of his United Empire. The change is underway, and there have been plenty of welcome criticisms of Ospreay recently. While his attack on Priestley felt in poor taste and unnecessary, professional wrestling can be at its best when balancing on the razor’s edge between reality and theatre. Ospreay has played with fire – as has NJPW – but he has emerged from the flames to claim the reward of being the first British IWGP Heavyweight Champion, and the industry’s hottest commodity. Ospreay now holds New Japan’s ultimate prize and the keys to the kingdom. While on the surface his title reign might seem fueled by arrogance, it merely etches his name into the history books for good.

This article first appeared in Monthly Puroresu Issue #4

Written by:

Manchester-based journalist and social media expert who covers European football and professional wrestling. I graduated from the University of Huddersfield with honors, majoring in Journalism. I have contributed to Monthly Puroresu sporadically since its very first issue, and continue to hone my craft both inside and out of the magazine.