IMPACT Wrestling holds a special place in Will Ospreay’s heart. It was actually an AJ Styles match airing on TNA programming years ago that first sparked Ospreay’s inspiration to become a wrestler himself.
Yet, in a career that has seen him go all over the globe and wrestle almost anywhere and anyone you could imagine, he has only competed in IMPACT Wrestling five times, all within 2016 too. It means that he has never been able to earn a belt in the promotion or work an Ultimate X match, a stipulation he admired as a child and still hopes to compete in someday.
That will change later this month. Appearing in IMPACT for the first time in more than seven years, Ospreay will wrestle in a series of singles matches that will only add to a year that has seen him face many of the biggest names in wrestling in major matches.
His tour with the promotion will start on Saturday when he faces “Speedball” Mike Bailey in a special singles bout at Bound For Glory. Ospreay is no stranger to facing Bailey. They have faced off four times since 2015, with Ospreay winning in three of those instances. When talking about the match on Thursday, Ospreay mentioned how Bailey has a similar “world-beater” style of wrestling, traveling all around the world to compete in many promotions and face a wide variety of names.
“We’re both in our prime and we’re both ready to show people the caliber of wrestler we both are,” said Ospreay when he joined IMPACT Wrestling’s Press Pass show this week.
One day later, he will face Josh Alexander — a rare first-time matchup for him. The match currently has the stipulation that it will be for the IMPACT World Championship if Alexander successfully earns it off Alex Shelley on the previous night. Ospreay says he has never actually seen an Alexander match, stating “I just know he’s good, everyone shows me clips of what he does. Everybody preaches [about him].”
Then, Ospreay will join IMPACT for part of their U.K. tour, meeting Eddie Edwards in a singles match on October 27th from Newcastle, England.
If you could describe Ospreay’s 2023, it would be a tale of excellence around the world with a sharp focus on the U.K. The list of names that Ospreay has put on stellar matches with this year alone is long: Kenny Omega, Tetsuya Naito, Naomichi Marufuji, and the list goes on. While Ospreay has competed in North America and Japan frequently, he has constantly returned to the U.K. and given those audiences major matches as well. Along with frequent appearances in RevPro, he has been a recurring name for major promotions visiting the region.
Ospreay takes great pride in joining another promotion on their U.K. outing this year. In August, he faced Chris Jericho at AEW All In from Wembley Stadium in London, England. Just last week, he was part of NJPW’s Copper Box Arena event, where he went more than 31 minutes against Zack Sabre Jr. in an instant classic. And now with a third non-U.K. promotion coming over, he will face Edwards.
“I almost love the fact that when New Japan wrestlers come over to England, I’m the guy to challenge,” Ospreay said. “When AEW wrestlers come over to England, I’m the guy to challenge. And I think it’s no different with IMPACT … They [all] trusted me not only in my professionalism but in my performance to come over and deliver these big money matches that people keep talking about. I always hold it in the highest regard. I hold it with pride.”
Ospreay is happy about the fact that he has become an unofficial ambassador to wrestling from the United Kingdom. The positioning of him as a champion for the region is certainly intentional to some extent, with him renaming the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship to the IWGP United Kingdom Heavyweight Championship.
The 30-year-old talent is happy to be a part of major wrestling promotions appearing in the U.K. From his time as a wrestling fan, he knows first-hand that U.K. fans are passionate and always trying to push for more wrestling to visit them.
“I’m extremely proud to be waving the flag for the country in terms of the wrestling division over here. We never had the luxury of having weekly TV, so we would grow up always admiring these companies. Any time there’s something different, we always want to support it to let these companies know our wrestling fandom over here is strong as well.”
The next few days will see Ospreay in the IMPACT ring for the first time in ages, and he’ll have two first-time opponents in Edwards and Alexander. But apart from that, his upcoming IMPACT dates will be a continuation of what we have seen from him all of 2023: big matches against some of the best in wrestling, while proudly representing the U.K. scene at the same time.