I first discovered Will Ospreay in What Culture Wrestling, in his faction The Swords of Essex, and later in the Pacitti Club. It wasn’t too long after that, that the picture accompanying this article was taken, at a Ring of Honor show, in Philadelphia. Will was pleasantly surprised when I told him that I enjoyed his work in Swords of Essex, and we spoke about that a little bit. At the time Will was mostly known as a spot monkey style wrestler, by harsh critics such as myself, but I thought I saw something in him that could be more than that. I’ll admit, I started backing off of my fandom of Ospreay as the years went on because he didn’t seem to be coming out of the “spot monkey” stuff at all. However, I saw him take a beating from Matt Riddle in the midst of those years, selling so well for the former MMA star, that he won me over a little bit once again. When Kazuchika Okada took a strong interest in Ospreay, my interest was piqued once again, thinking that one of my favorite wrestlers saw what I saw in the young high flyer, and started paying attention to him again. It was at this time that Ospreay got caught up in a ton of social media drama, and while it didn’t cause me to stop liking him, it did deject me to some degree. Wrestling also was overly silly (in this authors opinion) during this time as well, and I was hardly enjoying anything.
When I learned that Ospreay had turned heel on Okada, and formed his own stable called “The United Empire,” in New Japan Pro Wrestling, my interest in Ospreay returned, and I especially enjoyed him defeating the beloved Kota Ibushi for the IWGP World Championship. I was still not fully invested in any professional wrestling at that time, but this did start nudging me toward being a bigger fan once again. Finally in January of this New Year, 2022, I decided to embrace New Japan Pro Wrestling, watching Wrestle Kingdom with undivided attention. All of this short article to say that Will Ospreay is no longer a spot monkey. While I am not here to say his matches are always “fiver star classics,” or that his main event with Okada was one of the best matches ever (both kicked out of too many things imo) I am here to say that Will Ospreay has arrived at the top of the professional wrestling world as a solid worker in the ring, and on the mic. The United Empire is one of the most “fun” factions in the business today, and I always enjoyed Will as a heel, more than a baby face, and I will argue that I saw shades of the United Empire is his early work in Swords of Essex. I can’t even say that Will Ospreay is one of my favorite wrestlers (think Jon Gresham, Shibata, Okada, Ishii, etc) but Will Ospreay is worthy of his place in New Japan, and I hope he is in line for an eventual long reign as the IWGP World Champion, and that The United Kingdom lasts for many, many, years.