Is Upcoming Free-Agent Will Ospreay A Better Fit in WWE or AEW? | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats, and Rumors
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Will Ospreay has been on the run of a lifetime this year, setting up a race to see who will sign him in 2024.
Last weekend, the IWGP United Kingdom heavyweight champion put on an excellent performance against “Speedball” Mike Bailey at Impact Bound for Glory. It was another addition to a stellar list of outings, including matches with Zack Sabre Jr., Yota Tsuji, Tetsuya Naito, Kazuchika Okada, Chris Jericho and Kenny Omega.
Ospreay has to be a front-runner for Wrestler of the Year, and his two matches with Omega are easily Match of the Year candidates. His current output will make him the most coveted free agent in pro wrestling, and he has reportedly hired Barry Bloom as his agent ahead of his contract with New Japan Pro-Wrestling expiring in February.
Although Ospreay spoke highly of his latest experience with Impact on social media, All Elite Wrestling and WWE are already his top suitors.
During an interview with Tom Hannifan, Impact president Scott D’Amore said he would “absolutely” love to sign him. However, it will be tough to outbid the two biggest companies in the industry.
It could be fun to watch The Aerial Assassin excel as a top guy for TNA, but this is a two-horse race. We already know AEW and WWE have interest in him, but where would the Englishman fit best?
It’s strange to consider WWE an option because Ospreay has been such a staunch proponent of indie wrestling for so long. He also told WrestThings podcast in May 2022 he doesn’t have any aspirations to join the company or attain that level of fame (h/t Soumik Datta of Sportskeeda).
Nevertheless, the NJPW star has seemingly softened his stance on the subject amid rumors that he could relocate to the United States. During an interview with Alistair McGeorge of Metro.co.uk, he said he was “open to all options going forward.”
Still, it’s hard to imagine what a run with WWE could look like in the long term. Obviously, The Commonwealth Kingpin would shine at WrestleMania and primary premium live events.
The largest purveyor of sports entertainment would present him as a massive star and give him a bigger audience. But it’s still difficult to determine what he would look like as a regular television wrestler.
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We already know Ospreay can deliver high-quality matches, but he thrived elsewhere because of the mystique he created working a lighter schedule. It has been a blast to watch him show up around the world, have dream matchups and give us ample time to wonder where he will appear next.
That has been the novelty of his career for so long that it’s tough to picture him in backstage and in-ring segments reading scripted promos on episodic television. Yes, he has proved to be a better talker lately, but it will be an adjustment no matter where he lands.
Still relatively young, he can adapt and have some excellent feuds with WWE’s top names. It would be awesome to see him face Gunther again after their incredible encounter for OTT Wrestling in 2018. Seth Rollins also stands as an intriguing opponent following their infamous exchange on Twitter four years ago.
Let’s face it: Seeing Ospreay wrestle under the bright lights at WrestleMania would be amazing. There are so many first-time matchups for him, and he is ready for the big stage.
Familiar Territory With AEW
Conversely, the biggest benefit to signing with AEW is that its audience is already familiar with him due to the partnership with New Japan.
Ospreay has had exceptional matches at Forbidden Door for two consecutive years, and he soared in front of his home UK crowd at All In London.
Even more, The Aerial Assassin would fit in seamlessly on a product that embraces indie sensibilities and relies heavily on high-octane in-ring performances. This atmosphere suits him, and there are so many ready-made feuds for him because of his history with both rosters.
Like Jay White, it’s easy to assume his presentation wouldn’t change much. He could likely join with his theme music and alliance with Aussie Open intact to the delight of longtime fans.
Sure, it would be intriguing to see him reinvent himself with WWE, but there’s also such a high demand to see him compete regularly on network television as he is. It’s similar to Omega’s move to AEW in that right, and the company’s main event scene could use the boost.
Some detractors may see this as another opportunity to placate niche wrestling fans and stifle the growth of the brand into a mainstream commodity. That’s a valid concern, but it would also be a nice return to its roots after signing so many ex-WWE superstars.
AEW would be a better fit for Ospreay considering all we already know about him and his style of wrestling. The British fighter already effectively has his foot in the door, and he could be integral to the company’s expansion into the international market with All In London.
That doesn’t mean WWE would be a bad option for him, but it still seems so far-fetched. It would be a completely different lifestyle and schedule than he’s used to, and he may have to drastically change his character and work rate.
That could work well for Ospreay in the long run, but it’s hard to believe he would make such a turnaround at this point in his career. Stranger things have happened, of course, but AEW seems more conducive to the performer he molded with New Japan.
Maybe that’s the safe bet, but time will tell if it’s a smart one as we enter the real bidding war of 2024.