WWE Is More Appealing Than Ever for Free Agents Amid Will Ospreay, Giulia Rumors | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats, and Rumors
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Two premier international professional wrestlers have been linked to WWE as the company’s appeal to free-agent talent continues to intensify.
Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful Select first reported the company has “shown heavy interest” in IWGP United Kingdom Champion Will Ospreay, “and sources within the company claim that there have been conversations and contact between the two sides, though those close to Ospreay would not confirm as such.”
Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Radio said: “I mean, I know WWE is absolutely after him, and he is absolutely going to listen to WWE. I think at the end of the day, there’s a lot of different things that could happen, but I think he’s going now for the best offer possible,” (h/t WrestlingInc.com).
A few days later, Mike Johnson of PWInsider.com first reported WWE’s interest in New Japan Strong Women’s Champion Giulia, writing, “Sources in Japan have confirmed WWE is attempting to court current New Japan Strong women’s champion Giulia, 29, hoping to sign her to the company.”
Sapp added: “We can confirm that WWE has interest in her, and she was considered a ‘priority acquisition’ per one source that we spoke with.”
What is it about WWE that is making the company more appealing to two stars with ties to New Japan Pro-Wrestling who would have been nailed on to join AEW one year ago?
Besides the obvious (money, opportunity, a childhood dream), there is one clear answer: the Triple H Effect.
Triple H and Free Agents: A Long History
With Triple H firmly in control of the creative side of the WWE product, it has become a more appealing option for impending free agents. The chief content officer of wrestling’s most storied promotion has a history of attracting and highlighting free agents.
During his time at the NXT helm, he routinely recruited free agents. Sami Zayn, Finn Bálor, Samoa Joe, Shinsuke Nakamura, Kevin Owens, Drew McIntyre, Bobby Roode, Andrade El Idolo, Undisputed Era and Asuka are just a few of the high-profile competitors he signed.
There will always be the argument about wrestlers who did not make it, but more times than not, The Game worked them right into high-profile positions.
While overseeing the main roster, he has signed Superstars back to WWE who never should left in the first place, but his first real free-agency addition was Jade Cargill and we have seen the lengths to which he and the company have gone to make her arrival feel like an enormous deal:
From a creative perspective, he still books heavy talking segments and is guilty of some of the repetition that plagued Vince McMahon, but he creates opportunities for wrestlers the previous regime did not believe in and gets more competitors on TV than there were before.
Look no further than Akira Tozawa, who was highlighted on Raw and NXT this week alone after being utilized inconsistently before, if at all.
Where Triple H differs from McMahon is that the storylines, no matter how family-oriented or high-drama they may be, are still based in a wrestling environment in which titles are important.
Most of all, there is a long-term vision that was not always present under the previous creative regime, and that helps attract the attention of athletes in the prime of their careers who want to know there are actual plans for them.
There is also something to be said for a wrestler handling the booking and knowing how to communicate with others that cannot be overlooked. As The Game and The King of Kings, Triple H was in Ospreay’s position. At the start of the millennium, he was the best wrestler in North America, if not the world, and knows what a wrestler riding that wave is experiencing.
He can appeal to Ospreay in a way that Tony Khan cannot and, perhaps more significantly, in a way that a dollar figure can only enhance.
In the case of Giulia, all she has to do is look at his role in developing the Women’s Revolution and helping to champion the women’s division in WWE programming.
Even though he was responsible for questionable creative decisions early in his run as head booker, there is no denying he was highly influential in pushing Charlotte Flair, Bayley, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch in NXT, bringing in Kairi Sane and Shayna Baszler, presenting Asuka as an unstoppable force and developing Rhea Ripley and Bianca Belair during their time with the black-and-gold brand.
Giulia is among the best wrestlers in the world and Triple H will be aware of this. There would be a considerable role awaiting her, and his track record is one he can point to while selling WWE as the right fit for her.
There is no telling where either of the stars ends up.
Meltzer thinks Ospreay will ultimately join AEW while Johnson’s report claimed that talks with WWE are far enough along that Giulia may make a trip to the WWE Performance Center.
Whatever happens, WWE is again becoming the place free agents want to go to for reasons beyond the paycheck, and a lot of that starts with the guy in charge, what he did when he made wrestling cool again with NXT, and the example he has set more recently with Cargill.
That is a trend that will hopefully continue with the support of Endeavor behind him.