Will Ospreay, one of New Japan Pro Wrestling‘s most accomplished junior heavyweight active performers and one of the best wrestlers in the world today, added another accolade to his trophy case on Wednesday. Will Ospreay defeated Shingo Takagi to win his second Best of the Super Juniors (BOSJ) tournament in the last four years and with it, a title opportunity for Dragon Lee‘s Junior Heavyweight Championship, set for the Dominion event in just a few days.
In 2016, Will Ospreay made his BOSJ debut, winning the tournament in his first attempt by defeating Ryusuke Taguchi, making him both the first British born wrestler as well as the youngest wrestler to win, aged just 22 years old. He finished with eight points, picking up notable victories over Ricochet, Bobby Fish and Volador Jr. The following year, Ospreay reached the finals again, losing to KUSHIDA. He finished the tournament with 10 points, picking up wins against Dragon Lee, Hiromu Takahashi, Jushin Thunder Liger, Ricochet and Taka Michinoku. Will Ospreay matched his point total the following year to tie Taiji Ishimori atop Block A, but by nature of Ishimori winning their head-to-head, 2018 marked the first time in his previous three attempts, that Ospreay didn’t reach the BOSJ finals. In his block, he had victories over ACH, Flip Gordon, Tiger Mask, Yoh and Yoshinobu Kanemaru.
— LARIATOOOO!! (@MrLARIATO) June 5, 2019
With a record 20 participants in the Best of the Super Juniors 26, Will Ospreay picked up a career-high 14 points to win his block with victories over Bandido, Bushi, Douki, Ren Narita, Rocky Romero, Ryusuke Taguchi and Yoh, en route to winning the B Block. His two losses came against El Phantasmo and Robbie Eagles. Shingo Takagi won Block A with 18 points – a clean sweep- defeating all of his opponents: Jonathan Gresham, Dragon Lee, Marty Scurll, Sho, Taiji Ishimori, Taka Michinoku, Tiger Mask, Titan and Yoshinobu Kanemaru. His only loss of the tournament came in the finals as Will Ospreay managed to defeat him in a 33+ minute affair that featured the best of both competitors and is being considered by many, a Match of the Year candidate.
With his second BOSJ victory, Ospreay joins KUSHIDA (2015, 2017), Prince Devitt (2010, 2013), Tiger Mask IV (2004-05) and Jushin Thunder Liger (1994, 2001) as the only two-time winners of the tournament. Only Koji Kanemato (1998, 2002, 2009) has won BOSJ more. As mentioned above, the victory brings with it a future title opportunity, where if Will Ospreay wins, he will become a three-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, the first since KUSHIDA accomplished the feat in 2016. It would be his third win in under two years as well, as Ospreay first captured the title in October 2017 at King of Pro-Wrestling. His second victory came a few months later at Wrestle Kingdom 12, where he went on to hold the belt for 156 days, ultimately losing it at last year’s Dominion to last year’s BOSJ winner, Hiromu Takahashi.
Throughout this entire tournament, @WillOspreay has proved that every critic, every doubter and every cynic was entirely wrong.
This tournament has been a showcase for everything that we knww about Will.
He is entirely transcendent.#BOSJ26 pic.twitter.com/ypnzf7aB7j
— James Musselwhite (@Y2jimbob) June 5, 2019
Takahashi was injured shortly afterward, holding the belt for just over two months. It marked Takahashi and Ospreay’s last match (their first-ever meeting of the two came at BOSJ in 2017), before the former left to recover and the latter moved forward to pursue time in the heavyweight division, winning the NEVER Openweight Championship, in his first attempt, against Kota Ibushi at Wrestle Kingdom 13. His match at Dominion against Takahashi, also served as the last time Ospreay contended for the junior heavyweight title, until now.
The 26-year-old Will Ospreay and 24-year-old Dragon Lee, two of NJPW’s young, rising stars, first met in Ring of Honor in a triple threat with Marty Scurll, over Scurll’s television title. They’ve only wrestled against each other a handful of times since then as most recently, Ospreay and Lee have actually been teaming up as Lee has joined alongside Ospreay’s CHAOS to wrestle Bullet Club over the past two months. Their last head-to-head meeting was just their second NJPW match ever, and it came during the 2017 BOSJ tournament. Both the match and tournament that year, were won by Ospreay.
— ᵂⁱˡˡ ᴼˢᵖʳᵉᵃʸ • ウィル・オスプレイ (@WillOspreay) June 5, 2019
If Will Ospreay can defeat Dragon Lee, the second dragon he’d be tasked to slay (Shingo Takagi is known as “The Dragon”), it sets up an incredibly exciting potential first title defense, against Hiromu Takahashi, who recently tweeted alluding to his return, one which many thought would happen on the final night of BOSJ. It didn’t however, but that’s not to say that after Ospreay claims the title at Dominion, that Takahashi won’t be there. In fact, it’s the perfect story as things for these two started at that very event a year prior, when Takahashi defeated Ospreay for the championship.
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