Will Ospreay details why he thought he would be fired from NJPW after relinquishing IWGP World Heavyweight Title

Originally published at Will Ospreay details why he thought he would be fired from NJPW after relinquishing IWGP World Heavyweight Title

Ospreay thought his time with NJPW was going to be done. 

When the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championships were unified to form the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship in 2021, the first champion was Kota Ibushi. One month later, 2021 New Japan Cup winner Will Ospreay bested Ibushi to become champion

Ospreay’s title reign lasted for one month as he relinquished the title due to injury. In a new interview with Chris Jericho for the Talk Is Jericho podcast, he dove into the injury that caused him to vacate the title and the circumstances surrounding it. Ospreay performed a Shooting Star Press and blew out two discs in his back. He finished the bout but afterwards, he wanted to get treated for his pain but could not get to a hospital because of COVID-19 shutdowns. 

On top of dealing with back pain, the pandemic and personal matters, he felt he had to step away. Ospreay said he handed the IWGP World Title over to Gedo. After returning to England and getting himself sorted, he began to think that he’d lose his job seeing as how NJPW trusted him to be champion and he could not power through. 

He thought about his options in the U.K. but he did not want to go the route of NXT UK. Ospreay did speak with Chris Jericho about AEW but those conversations did not advance to the next stage. Ultimately, NJPW gave Ospreay room to recover mentally and physically and they asked him could he do NJPW STRONG shows which he was fine with doing.

By (20 minutes) into that match (against Shingo Takagi at Wrestling Dontaku 2021), I hit a Shooting Star Press on Shingo and my back f*cking exploded. I never felt pain like it. I was in agony. My boy HENARE was ringside and he saw it and like… I start crouching down. He’s like, ‘You good?’ I’m like, ‘Dude, I think I broke my back.’ I was in agony. Continue with the match, was able to finish it. I don’t know how but I was able to finish it. Did my promo and then went straight to the doctor, ‘I think I need to go to the hospital. I’m in pain’ and I was met with, ‘Sorry, COVID.’ They wouldn’t take me to the hospital. Because it was COVID. They were doing emergency shutdowns all over and it’s not New Japan’s fault but, I was in agony dude. But like, what could they do? So our hands are kind of tied together at this point. But we was able to go back to Tokyo. Meanwhile, we knew six of the guys on the roster got COVID. So we have no idea if any of us got COVID. So then, they transport us to a Tokyo hospital but not a… almost like a tent where we’re getting the COVID tests done. Thankfully, I didn’t come out with any symptoms. Nothing from me, nothing on the rest of the roster. But then it was like, ‘Hey guys, we’re gonna cancel the rest of the shows’ but we’re all still out here. So now, all the gaijins are kind of like, ‘Well, do we get to go home?’ And they’re like, ‘Ah, we might have house shows’ and it was like, f*ck house shows. Send us home and meanwhile, I was in agony dude. I was in so much pain. I couldn’t bare the f*cking pain of it and then it was just a case of being like, there was the injury, I was going through a messy breakup and it was just like there was so much going on and then they went, ‘Hey, don’t go outside. Stay in your room. Don’t go to the gym, don’t do anything’ and I was in my apartment pacing up and down like a tiger and I went, ‘You know what? F*ck this. I’m out.’ It broke my heart. It f*cking did. I handed the belt back and I was just like, ‘Dude, I’m hurt, I’m injured, my head’s all over the f*cking place. I need to go home.’ Gedo completely understood. He’s heartbroken over it but he understood that I needed to go home. I went home, I sorted myself out but, that’s when I called you (Chris Jericho) and I was just like, ‘Dude, I feel like I might lose my job’ because it was the case of like, they trusted me with this belt and I don’t think I’m ever gonna get that trust back but it was just like, I feel like I was gonna get fired and I was kind of like, what do I do? Because the only option in England at the time was NXT U.K. and while I respected all the guys that did that, I was like, f*ck that. I don’t wanna go there. I wanna be a New Japan wrestler or I wanna wrestle like I’m a New Japan wrestler… You obviously had said, ‘Of course there will be something here but not right now. We couldn’t open the doors yet’ but New Japan being New Japan, thankfully, allowed me to stay home, work out all my sh*t, get healthy. They even said, ‘Could you go do the American shows?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, it’s cool’ and I got therapy and I got my MRIs back and I blew out two of my discs in my back. I got my therapy done, I was good to go in August. So that’s how good it was. I got hurt in May, I was back in August. That’s how good the therapy was.

Ospreay is now a member of All Elite Wrestling and he’s 2-0 as a contracted talent. He main evented the 3/6 Dynamite and scored a win over Kyle Fletcher. 

He shared that backstage, Orange Cassidy told him to be aware in the main event slot because there can be time cuts so try not to plan too much. Ospreay shared that note as he was speaking about adjusting to wrestling on television. 

This is gonna be the test now and you know what it is? I believe I can walk the walk. But there’s still things that I’m not aware of. Orange Cassidy walked past me and was just like, ‘Be aware of the main events because they sometimes cut you on time.’ He said, ‘Don’t plan as much. Don’t plan for eight minutes. Plan six instead’ so I was just kind of like, ‘Okay, I understand it a little bit more’ but, once again, this is all really new to me. I’ll happily say it now: I’m gonna make mistakes. I’m gonna make a bunch of ‘em and it’s up to you fans, if you guys wanna say, you f*cked up, I applaud you for saying, you f*cked up. You’re more than welcome to. I am nothing more than a walking f*ck up. But the f*ck ups are the things that make us human. So that’s the thing, I’m willing to go on this f*cking journey and I’m willing to show people my vulnerability in this and this is now the biggest test of my life now. Can I hang on national TV week after week after week? And honestly right now, I think I can.

With the years he spent in Japan, he feels a lot of talents could benefit from going over, including talents on AEW’s roster if they are not week-to-week with the company. 

I think so many people could actually benefit from doing it though (wrestling in Japan). It would be so good if certain guys from AEW weren’t on like a week-to-week to just go over and just learn how to be part of a team, learn how to be a part of it, like, whatever the booker says goes. Just being a part of that. I loved it man. I can’t sit here and flaw it. Are there certain things that I didn’t like about it? Yeah, but like, all in all, all together, I couldn’t ask for being accepted by the fan base, being accepted by the roster. They literally took me as a young man that didn’t know anything and then developed me into a man. I have a mortgage now, I look after everybody. It’s everything I wanted and more at my time there.

Next up on the docket for Ospreay is a singles match against Bryan Danielson at AEW Dynasty on April 21st. 

If the quotes in this article are used, please credit Talk Is Jericho with an H/T to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.