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Wrestling / Will Ospreay

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The Aerial Assassin.
The Commonwealth Kingpin.
Billy G.O.A.T.

William Peter Charles "Will" Ospreay (born 7 May 1993) is a British professional wrestler currently signed to All Elite Wrestling and best known for his tenure with New Japan Pro-Wrestling, following and adjacent to appearances with Pro Wrestling Guerilla, Progress Wrestling, Rev Pro, and other indy wrestling promotions. He is primarily known for his aerial style and quickly became one of the rising stars on the independent scene before being signed to NJPW and ascending to be one of its top international stars. He has been a PROGRESS Wrestling Champion, a 2x Best of the Super Juniors winner, 3x IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, NEVER Openweight Champion, the 2021 New Japan Cup winner, and the second-ever IWGP World Heavyweight Champion.

Previously a member of NJPW's famous CHAOS faction, Ospreay is currently the leader of The United Empire (formerly "The Empire"), a heel faction that he founded in 2020 shortly after his heel turn as "The Commonwealth Kingpin". Under his leadership, the United Empire has become one of the company's most prominent and recognized multi-national stables since Bullet Club.

He's widely considered to be among the best wrestlers from the English-speaking world currently active in the business, having wrestled in more than two dozen matches that were awarded five or more stars by Dave Meltzer. For perspective: that's even more than Kenny Omega, who's been wrestling more than a decade longer than him. In 2023, he would surpass the late Mitsuharu Misawa on having the most five or more stars out of any wrestler.

"Aerial Assassin" Tropes:

  • Always Someone Better: No matter how talented he is, he always ends up falling behind Okada, with Okada always defeating him in all their matches. One of the reasons that he betrayed CHAOS was that he was sick of always being in Okada's shadow. Will finally defeated Okada in the G1 Climax 2020 with the help of Bea Priestley and Great-O-Khan, although in the G1 Climax 2022's Finals he acknowledged that he'd never beaten Okada clean, that Okada had really beat him in all their matches and this time Will wants to beat him clean, but Okada defeated Will again and proved once again that he's the best wrestler in all world.
  • Arch-Enemy:
    • Matt Sydal in Rev Pro.
    • Jimmy Havoc in PROGRESS.
    • Marty Scurll in NJPW during his time as a junior.
    • Shingo Takagi after Ospreay handed Shingo his first defeat within the company and they both transitioned to heavyweights.
    • Kazuchika Okada after Ospreay betrayed him.
    • Kenny Omega once Omega defeated him at Wrestle Kingdom for the IWGP United States Championship.
  • Autobots, Rock Out!: Used "Shoot to Thrill" by AC/DC as entrance music in PROGRESS until his heel turn.
  • Badass Creed: In the Swords of Essex:
    "If you live by the sword, you'll die by the Swords of Essex."
  • Big Bad: Will Ospreay became this to NJPW very quickly after forming the United Empire.
  • Commuting on a Bus: Between Evolve, NJPW and Defiant Wrestling.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: The Hidden Blade, an absolutely brutal unprotected elbow to the back of the neck he debuted at Wrestle Kingdom 13 against Kota Ibushi, is treated as a potential injury causer that Will only busts out when he absolutely needs to win a match.note 
    • He also has used the Tiger Driver 91, which he dubs The Storm Driver 93.
  • Call-Back: At Wrestle Kingdom 17 in January 2023, Kenny Omega smashed Will's head into the announcer's table, making him bleed. At Forbidden Door 2023, Ospreay reciprocated the same upon Kenny.
  • Darker and Edgier: Played a borderline psychotic character in Progress in every appearance after Chapter 41. This eventually bled over into his New Japan incarnation around the time he became the "Assassin" and switched out his old high flying moveset for a high speed striking game.
  • Defeating the Undefeatable: At the Best of Super Juniors 2019 finals, he ended Shingo Takagi's undefeated streak by giving him his first singles defeat in New Japan Pro Wrestling, proclaiming himself as the "Dragon Slayer". Since then he's been established as the one person in the company to generally have Shingo's number, extending into his heel Commonwealth Kingpin run.
  • Evil Former Friend:
    • Paul Robinson serves as this after joining Regression and becoming an out and out psycho, even becoming The Corrupter by clearly getting in Will's head, telling him that playing nice had never gotten him anywhere.
    • Will himself became this to Kazuchika Okada upon his betrayal of Okada and defection from CHAOS to form The United Empire.
  • Face/Heel Double-Turn: After Jimmy reformed himself towards the end of 2016, and asked for Ospreay's help, Will wasn't going to forget Jimmy coming at him with an axe.
  • Face–Heel Turn:
    • At the go-home show before WCPW, he was reunited with the Swords of Essex, making Pacitti Club a reality.
    • At the last show of 2016 in Progress, after deciding that he wasn't going to forgive Jimmy Havoc for everything he'd done to him.
    • Pulled one in NJPW by attacking Okada after Bea Priestley convinced him that he'd been held back as a lackey in Chaos.
  • Fragile Speedster: He can bring the pain to his opponents, but can't physically take it as well as his other CHAOS mates (though he does have times where he shows plenty of willpower).
  • Finishing Move: Ospreay Originally a 630 senton and a flipping DDT called The Essex Destroyer. Starting in 2016, he used a springboard cutter called the OsCutter. Before upgrading to a spinning Canadian Neckbreaker called the "Stormbreaker" and his "Hidden Blade" elbow to the back of a kneeling opponent's head.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: His 2020 Face–Heel Turn was motivated by resentment and envy towards Okada for being the biggest star in NJPW.
  • Heel–Face Return: Returned to Progress after 10 months away basically ignoring his previous 2 month psycho heel run. Possibly due to Jimmy Havoc turning heel again in the interim, and Paul Robinson legitimately retiring. Eventually revealed to have been averted when he started interacting with Jimmy again, at which point he turned back into an even bigger bellend than before and Jimmy was turned face again by default.
  • I Am the Noun: In his promo at AEW Big Business, Ospreay mentions that the moment he signed into AEW, there was a phrase Tony Khan and the locker rooms used in the media to describe the state of the promotion heading into 2024, "Restore the feeling"; he declares, "Bruv, I am the feeling!"
  • Irony: Formed a group called The United Empire off the back of an act of treason against his brothers in CHAOS.
  • It's Personal: Between Ospreay and Kazuchika Okada. Mainly because Ospreay is an Ungrateful Bastard to the man that brought him into NJPW in the first place and supported his continuous rise to becoming its top foreign star, instead being plain out envious that Okada would always be the greatest instead of him as long as they ran together. Even while celebrating his victory of the IWGP World Heavyweight Title, Ospreay used the championship as bait to draw Okada into another match, wanting revenge for his Wrestle Kingdom loss to The Rainmaker.
  • Leitmotif: Started using "Elevated" by It Lives, It Breathes, a loud and high-energy version of his initial NJPW theme "Aerial Assassin".
    • Switched to the more aggressive "Bring It Down" after his 2020 heel turn, and later updated it with the "Zenith of God" Boss Remix in 2021. After returning to the Aerial Assassin moniker in 2023, he returned to using "Elevated".
  • Lightning Bruiser: In 2019, Will officially graduated from being a Fragile Speedster into one of these. He's just as agile as he's always been, but is noticeably more muscular, can pull off high impact power moves with frightening ease and he's become a more dangerous striker, evidenced by the introduction of the Hidden Blade into his arsenal. His entry into that year's G1 Climax, where he took on some of New Japan's top heavyweights, says it all.
    • In 2020 he slid even further into this after announcing his move to the Heavyweight division, and during his enforced time off over lockdown he bulked up to around 230 pounds.
  • Made of Iron: You wouldn't think this due to his size, but Ospreay can take a LOT of punishment and still get back up. He's tanked a Burning Hammer onto a chair from Jimmy Havoc, along with getting hit by Havoc's Finishing Move umpteen times, and still went on to win the match and become champion. At Sakura Genesis 2018, he fell directly on his head as the result of an apron spot - and still went on to finish the match!
  • Power Stable:
    • Formerly a part of CHAOS in New Japan Pro-Wrestling, and in storyline is explicitly said to have been brought into the company via Kazuchika Okada himself.
    • The Swords of Essex: Ospreay, Bea Priestley, Scott Wainwright and Paul Robinson. They later joined the Pacitti Club in WhatCulture Pro Wrestling to form an even bigger stable. Broke up after Paul retired due to health reasons, Scott was blacklisted for various reasons, and Will shifted focus to Japan.
    • The United Empire, following his defection from CHAOS, whose members include Bea Priestley, The Great O-Khan, Jeff Cobb, Aussie Open, Gideon Grey, TJP, Francisco Akira and Callum.Newman.
    • The Don Callis Family in AEW whose members include Konosuke Takeshita, Powerhouse Hobbs, Kyle Fletcher and the aforementioned Callis.
  • Power Trio: The Swords of Essex with Paul Robinson and Scott Wainwright.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • His Twitter feud with Vader boiled over into an actual match between the two of them in August 2016, which Vader won. Vader won again posthumously as Ospreay changed his wrestling style, the very thing Vader had criticized him over, to avert a future Game-Breaking Injury and become a heavyweight.
    • He unexpectedly attacked Bea Priestley during a promo, which was to write her off as she stated in Stardom a week later that she had to leave Japan urgently to deal with unspecified family issues back in England. From a storyline perspective, we can presume she let Ospreay know about this, and part of why he so coldly struck her out of the group may have been so he wouldn't be distracted whatsoever by her issues. (It also helps that it was her idea.) From a comparative real life situation, Ospreay, who is a huge Stardom fan in his own right, has had a go at Sadie Gibbs in the past because she left Japan mid-tour over a family emergency without telling Stardom.
  • Red Baron:
    • The Aerial Assassin. Dropped the "Aerial" part after taking out Ibushi in 2019, marking the official start of his shift into power wrestler. He keeps his Assassin moniker in Revoluton Pro Wrestling. While he mostly went other different monikers following his heel turn and formation of the United Empire, he returned to being billed as the Aerial Assassin once more in 2023 during and after his feud with Kenny Omega, complete with the return of "Elevated" as his theme.
    • In New Japan, following his Face–Heel Turn and forming The United Empire, he is now The Commonwealth Kingpin, AKA Billy GOAT.
  • Rogues Gallery: In PROGRESS, Ospreay has: Jimmy Havoc, Paul Robinson, Marty Scurll and Zack Gibson (Which possibly brings the other members of Gibson's stable The Origin; Nathan Cruz El Ligero and Dave Mastiff).
  • Shout-Out:
    • His "Assassin" nickname, entrance attire, and finishing moves "The Hidden Blade" and "The Leap of Faith" are ones for Assassin's Creed. By Ospreay's own account, he's been a fan of the series since Revelations and replayed the older games out of sheer enjoyment for how the Assassins blend combat and acrobatic together. He eventually made an Assassin's Creed-themed official entrance during Wrestle Kingdom 18.
    • When watching one of Okada's victories over him during a vignette as "The Commonwealth Kingpin", Ospreay's slicked-back blonde hair, nice suit and glasses, and calmly furious frown made a great pass for an Albert Wesker alternate costume.
  • Spot Monkey: Averted. Despite being primarily known for his aerial attacks, Ospreay combines it with a good knowledge of Wrestling Psychology and grappling ability.
  • Start My Own: Will Ospreay defected from CHAOS to start his own faction with Bea Priestley and The Great-O-Khan.
  • Take That!: After Vader insulted his matches as being glorified stunts, Ospreay did the Vader Bomb in his next few matches... and never got more than a 1 count off it.note 
  • Tag Team: With Paul Robinson as the Swords of Essex. Outside of Progress there's more than 2 members, and they've even made their own "British Triangle Championship" to defend against other trios.
  • Taught by Experience: Critics of his recklessly spectacular aerial wrestling style had warned for years that at some point he would have a terrible accident that would forever handicap if not outright end his career. While this did not happen, two close shaves came in the form of bumps landing directly on his head. After the second one he finally came to the conclusion that the danger was real and began to alter his wrestling style to be more power- and mat-based, which actually made him a deeper threat as well as allowed him to finally make a clean break from the junior heavyweight division. While he was later sidelined with a neck injury anyway, it wasn't until after he'd become the second-ever IWGP World Heavyweight Champion as a result of his efforts.
  • Three-Point Landing: At the 2016 Best of the Super Juniors, getting sick of Ricochet doing so, Ospreay took to landing them in the exact same manner at the exact same time to get him to cut it out. This sequence went memetic after someone turned it into a gif.
  • Token Good Teammate: Became this to the Don Callis family after making a Heel–Face Turn upon officially signing on to All Elite Wrestling. Ospreay treats his opponents and the audience with respect, while the rest of the stable will pull any dirt tactic in the book to get what they want. Despite this, Ospreay still gets along well with the other members of the Don Callis Family.
  • Tournament Arc: He was a participant of New Japan Cup 2019 despite being classified as a Junior Heavyweight under a loophole as a NEVER Openweight Champion where he defied the odds of defeating Bad Luck Fale and Lance Archer before losing to Kazuchika Okada.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: If Bullet Club are this for Ospreay's once-idol AJ Styles, then The Swords of Essex are this for Will Ospreay. Paul Robinson corrupted him in PROGRESS and got him to turn heel there; the others all joined him in the Pacitti Club in WCPW/Defiant as they all turned heel there; and after Robinson and Scott Wainwright's careers wound down, the long-bubbling controversy surrounding the group's issues with UK female wrestler Pollyanna burst to the surface at the same time as Will bulked up to fully transition in NJPW from a junior heavyweight sensation to a Darker and Edgier Jack of All Stats heavyweight, resulting in Bea Priestley joining his side and pushing him to turn heel there.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Kazuchika Okada invited him into CHAOS after being impressed with him in a match, continuously supported his rise through NJPW for years, to the point he was accepted as one of The Rainmaker's closest brothers-at-arms. Every time they faced each other in a friendly contest, Okada would close out by affirming that he loved Ospreay as both wrestler and brother. The moment Ospreay found himself in position to beat Okada, he joined with his girlfriend Bea Priestley and The Great O-Khan to clinch the victory in questionable fashion, then stabbed him in the back of the neck with the Hidden Blade and declared his intention to end Okada, describing it as "stopping the rain so the sun can rise on [his] empire". Made worse by the fact that had he simply asked to leave and form his own faction without the treachery, Okada and CHAOS would've approved and supported it.
  • Verbal Tic: "Bruv".
  • Worthy Opponent: In WCPW, Martin Kirby. After "Bad Attitude" defeated him, Ospreay said he'd be back for a rematch.
  • Would Hit a Girl: To prove that he loved being a champion above anything or anyone, he knocked out his girlfriend Bea Priestley with an unexpected OsCutter during his confrontation with Kota Ibushi after the New Japan Cup 2021 final.