AEW boss Tony Khan had promised a lot – but this reveal does the big words justice.
At Pay Per View Full Gear, in Los Angeles, the WWE competitor fulfilled the previously announced commitment of “one of the best fighters in the world”. And the name behind it is, for many fans and experts, the best one of all: it’s Will Ospreay, who decided to go to AEW instead of WWE after his contract with the Japanese league NJPW expired. (NEWS: All news about AEW)
One day after the much-talked about surprise appearance of martial arts superstar Ronda Rousey, AEW continues its current personal offensive: in recent weeks, the league has had Japanese star Kota Ibushi and top talent Mariah May firmly committed.
Will Ospreay joins AEW
The 30-year-old British Ospreay knows AEW well: as part of the cooperation with NJPW, he has already made several important appearances for the league. Protégé of arch-villain Don Callis, the “Aerial Assassin” was part of his rivalry with Chris Jericho and Kenny Omega – with whom Ospreay has already had two classics in NJPW and AEW, well at the top of several rankings of the best wrestling matches in the world. history.
Ospreay has already established itself as an independent global phenomenon over the past decade with its innovative style of show. He abandoned the reputation some fans gave him as a “low-substance monkey” until 2018 at the latest, when he moved to NJPW’s heavyweight division and proved himself to be a well-rounded wrestler who has mastered all styles.
Ospreay, who was born in London, is now No. 1 on critic Dave Meltzer’s (Wrestling Observer) list of wrestlers who received five or more stars for a match: Ospreay earned himself through duels with specialists like Shingo Takagi and Zack Saber Jr. and Japanese superstar Kazuchika Okada, now 32 – the price of this achievement is that Ospreay’s body is already severely damaged from physically intense fights at a young age, as he has admitted numerous times.
Ospreay also opened the door to WWE
Ospreay has lived in Japan for a few years, but announced months ago that he would be moving to the U.S. and reorienting himself there after his NJPW contract ended in January.
The Brit also opened the door to WWE – whether he seriously considered the option or just for negotiation reasons is his secret. Rumors have been growing in recent days that Ospreay would be AEW’s announced new signing.
It was probably no coincidence that it leaked at the same time that WWE now had a growing interest in getting rid of fellow NJPW member Okada, who was operating at the same level, and thus also taking him out of the game for AEW – Meltzer reported this in Friday in its last Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
Ospreay vs Omega 3 at All In at Wembley?
No matter how realistic the scenario: Ospreay was first officially introduced in Los Angeles by AEW commentator Tony Schiavone.
The new addition announced that he would still fulfill his contractual obligations with NJPW, and the promotion’s annual highlight is coming on January 4, 2024: At Wrestle Kingdom in the venerable Tokyo Dome, Ospreay will defend his IWGP US/UK Title against the new AEW -Colleagues Jon Moxley (Dean Ambrose in WWE) and the promising Dave Finlay, son of the legend Fit Finlay.
“After that, I belong only to you”, Ospreay explained to the enthusiastic fans and, above all, highlighted his anticipation for the second edition of the All In mega-event at Wembley Stadium, in London, next summer. In last year’s debut, he defeated his idol Chris Jericho, and the third edition of the big match series with Omega is approaching the second edition, on August 25th.
AEW Full Gear 2023 – more news and highlights:
The focus of the show was once again the currently central and most successful story in AEW, the story about the male friendship between World Champion MJF and injured friend Adam Cole.
MJF made his first appearance on the free Pay Per View opening show and defended the AEW sister league ROH tag team titles, which he actually won with Cole, against Austin and Colten Gunn. Samoa Joe, who was actually MJF’s enemy, made himself available as a replacement partner – in exchange for another world title fight.
After the fight, the Gunns attacked MJF in order to weaken him for the PPV main event against his ally Jay White, MJF ended up being taken away in an ambulance.
Cole, who was using crutches, went on a suicide mission and agreed to defend the title instead of MJF. Before that happened, MJF returned to the arena in a dramatic appearance behind the wheel of the ambulance and competed alone.
At the end of a chaotic match, he defended the title with dirty means by knocking out White with his “Dynamite Diamond Ring”.
Meanwhile, the league’s two women’s titles found new owners: “Timeless” Toni Storm, reinvented as a crazy movie diva, regained the women’s world title from Hikaru Shida, up-and-coming Julia Hart won the TBS title in three going with former titleholder Kris Statlander and the also very young Skye Blue.
Ricky Starks and Big Bill retained the tag team titles in a ladder match against multiple challengers; the “Dream Team” of Chris Jericho and Kenny Omega positioned themselves as the new main challengers in the co-main event with a victory against the Young Bucks.
Right at the beginning, the legend Sting completed one of the last fights of his career: together with Adam Copeland and his pupil Darby Allin – and supported by his old friend Ric Flair – he defeated Christian Cage, Luchasaurus and Nick Wayne and then left the fans at home longtime foster, Celebrate California.
Definitely the toughest match of the night was fought by archenemies Hangman Page and Swerve Strickland, who brutally abused each other in a “Texas Death Match” with barbed wire, a stapler, broken glass and even a brick.
Strickland, who started successfully in AEW after leaving WWE two years ago, ended up celebrating his biggest victory there to date – albeit with the help of his allies Brian Cage and Prince Nana: the two saved the “mogul” from the imminent knockout several times and allowed him to strangle the unconscious former world champion Page with an iron chain.