For the past eight years, Will Ospreay has performed with New Japan Pro Wrestling, becoming one of its biggest stars and even one of its former World Champions. Early in his New Japan tenure, the performer appeared under the moniker the “Aerial Assassin,” complete with gear inspired by Assassin’s Creed protagonist Ezio. Now, as he wraps up his time in NJPW, Ospreay revisited his former personality recently with a new elaborate costume inspired by Assassin’s Creed Syndicate’s Jacob Frye during his marquee match at Wrestle Kingdom.
The outfit was complete with a top hat and hidden blade on display. It was more than that, though, as even the game’s theme music blasted through Japan’s iconic Tokyo Dome, before switching to Ospreay’s traditional theme “Elevate.”
Talking to GameSpot, Ospreay–soon to be an AEW wrestler once his contract ends in New Japan–revealed that the collaboration was the work of New Japan publicist Farbod Esnaashari and Ubisoft’s Chris Navalta. For Ospreay, it was a lifelong dream come true.
“I mean Farbod worked it all out. He found ways of doing it and was able to communicate alongside Ubisoft and New Japan to collaborate together to get the theme song from Assassin’s Creed,” he said. “I have him to thank for that. He helped me literally live out a dream. I’ve said this so many times, man, that when I came through wrestling my trainer Greg Burridge was like ‘you have to get something that people connect with.'”
For the last 11 years I’ve modelled myself around the games you guys have produced.
To have yours & Ubisoft blessing and to collaborate of the entrance was truly incredible
Without those games I don’t think I would have a roof over my head.
— Will Ospreay • ウィル・オスプレイ (@WillOspreay) January 4, 2024
In the world of wrestling, Ospreay has been synonymous with Assassin’s Creed for years now, as the game helped him figure out his character as he evolved. “That’s always been like my thing, right? I really connected with Assassin’s Creed. I don’t know why. I think it was because of his freerunning, the parkour, the way he moved…I feel like I associated the way he moved with my wrestling ability. So, I wanted to be the ‘Aerial Assassin.’ That was going to be my whole character, based my whole look around Ezio, because he was the first guy I played as.”
The first Assassin’s Creed game hit shelves back in 2007 and has spawned 12 sequels, With the most recent being Assassin’s Creed Mirage, which dropped last year. Ospreay’s own history with the franchise starts somewhere in between.
“I first played it when I was 18. It was Brotherhood and then Revelations, so that’s where I connected with it,” he recalled. After he finished those, he then went backward to play the games in chronological order. “Ever since then, I’ve become the guy that looks forward to any of the new games that come out every single time. I get so excited. Mainly for the trailers. I feel like those cinematic trailers hooked me as well. Every trailer they had done had this movie feel to it. Every single [Assassin’s Creed] game I’ve owned I’ve never been disappointed with.”
The Assassin’s Creed entrance follows Kenny Omega’s Final Fantasy 7-themed entrance last year where the AEW star and former IWGP Heavyweight Champion donned the armor and sword of Sephiroth. Omega’s finisher is called the One-Winged Angel, and after years of grand entrances, he finally made it to the Tokyo Dome as one of video games’ greatest villains. As one of Omega’s greatest rivals, Ospreay wasn’t bothered that Kenny was able to achieve that sort of collaboration first.
“I didn’t know this was a possibility for me,” he laughed. “I didn’t realize there were avenues of collaboration with gaming and wrestling. You’d see people dress up like movie characters or video game characters, or just cosplay. I’ve done that before but in terms of official collaboration, I had never heard of that before. So this was like a genuine treat, man.”
Now looking at his future, Ospreay has two big matches left with New Japan–a singles match against his former mentor Kazuchika Okada and a 10-man tag cage match, the first cage match in New Japan in over 20 years. Ospreay will team with his United Empire teammates against David Finlay and his Bullet Club War Dogs on February 11 at The New Beginning in Osaka.
For the match against Okada, which is taking place at NJPW’s Battle in the Valley this weekend in California, Ospreay is coming full circle.
“I could tell you guys stories about the first tour I was in Japan. One time my [debit] card for some strange reason just deactivated. I guess it was because it was abroad and they saw a large sum of money come out of my account and my bank just shut it down. I couldn’t get a hold of my bank to turn it back on, so Okada took care of me,” he said. “It’s those kinds of stories you hear and then people wonder why I turned my back on him, but the reality is I was never going to become the man I was standing side by side with Okada. If I wanted to be the best, I had to beat the best.”
Ospreay said he wanted to prove something to Okada and without that first win against him back in 2019, he couldn’t be the man he is now.
“I honestly feel like I’m the last guy that went around the world, testing himself against the best, and beating them,” he continued. “It’s like that Ric Flair run that everyone talks about where he would travel from town to town, country to country, with no sleep and putting on these legendary 30-minute matches.”
“This is for me to show Okada the man I have become. We’re both rested up from Wrestle Kingdom by the time this match comes around, so there are no excuses. I just have to find out if all of this was worth it.”
After those matches with New Japan, Ospreay is ready for what may become the biggest step in his career, joining All Elite Wrestling full-time. He’s not the same man he was back on that first trip to Japan, though.
“I’m grizzled, I understand who I am as a man,” he said. “My aerial ability is still there, but it’s mixed with strong style. I feel like I’m ready to be the main guy.”
According to Ospreay, though, AEW wasn’t always a guarantee. He said there was an offer from WWE on the table. Ultimately, AEW had a better offer and Ospreay trusts Tony Khan. He has worked under Khan about 10 times now, including being part of the first Forbidden Door event where he defended the now-defunct IWGP United States Championship against Orange Cassidy.
He said Khan respects him and gives him the time he wants for his matches. “I want to know what I’m doing within the ring, and the rest, for me, is easy,” he said. “What more could you want from a boss?”
Joining AEW and leaving the New Japan world behind, Ospreay has an ongoing list of things to check off his personal bucket list. At the top? Main eventing Wembley Stadium as part of AEW’s All Out in 2024. Of course, there are always more ways to challenge himself.
“There’s something for me to climb, there’s something for me to build upon,” he said. “That first match with Chris Jericho, who is one of the biggest wrestling stars in the world, was probably the biggest star in the company at that time. I want to progress from that. I want to see what other bucket [list items] I can tick. I want to go for championships. I want to go for world titles. I want to see what I can actually do because I’ve never been put in these situations. New Japan is a sports-based wrestling product, it isn’t really known for its on-screen personalities. So this is all new for me and I just want to test myself. I want to try my very best to swim in waters I’m not very sure of, so for me, this is all a challenge.”
An official start date for Ospreay working with AEW full-time is not currently known.
Image credit: New Japan Pro-Wrestling
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