To the shock of many fans, Will Ospreay made his return to NJPW at their Resurgence event in Los Angeles on Saturday. The leader of the United Empire made it clear that he was none too pleased with New Japan Pro Wrestling's decision to strip off the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship and showed that he still had possession of the original title.
In a scathing promo, Ospreay called AEW and their forbidden door a bunch of dorks and questioned why NJPW never stripped Jon Moxley of the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship when he didn't defend it for a year during the pandemic. He also declared that Shingo Takagi was an interim champion.
Will Ospreay also made it clear that he wasn't returning to Japan despite being medically cleared. Instead, he will be defending his IWGP World Heavyweight Championship in the United States at NJPW Strong. He called out the New Japan LA dojo students and confronted TJP before leaving the ring.
Following his return, Will Ospreay has injected a great deal of intrigue and instantly becomes the top star of New Japan Pro Wrestling of America. With that in mind, let's take a look at five potential opponents for Ospreay's IWGP World Heavyweight Championship at NJPW Strong.
#5 Will Ospreay vs. TJP
During Will Ospreay's return promo, he made disparaging remarks about the LA Dojo students. This brought out Karl Fredericks and Clark Connors to confront the self-proclaimed "real" IWGP World Heavyweight Champion. After security failed to hold the two men back, former LA Dojo graduate TJP came down to talk reason to the students.
Following Ospreay's trash talk about TJP, the former WWE Cruiserweight Champion went face-to-face with the Aerial Assassin and appeared to set up a showdown between the two men. TJP has been a standout in IMPACT Wrestling, winning the X-Division Championship and putting on a Match of the Year candidate against Josh Alexander in an Iron Man bout earlier this year.
This could be a battle of premier athletes. Both Will Ospreay and TJP would be considered junior heavyweights, but they can mix it up and beat the very best heavyweights due to their vast array of skills.
Ospreay is the better high flyer and striker, while TJP might have an advantage in the technical wrestling and submission department. It will be an excellent clash that will be a show stealer.
#4 Will Ospreay vs. Brody King
As previously mentioned, Will Ospreay has emerged through the heavyweight ranks and had one of his best years yet in 2021. Winning the New Japan Cup this year saw him take that victory and propelled him to beat Kota Ibushi to win the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship at Sakura Genesis 2021. He has clashed with many of the heavy hitters in the division, from Minoru Suzuki to Lance Archer.
There aren't many as big and versatile in NJPW Strong as Brody King. The Violence Unlimited leader has been a consistent performer for the New Japan Pro Wrestling of America brand. He made it to the finals of their first major title tournament for the NJPW Strong Openweight Championship, losing to Tom Lawlor.
With Will Ospreay's arrival in the United States branch of NJPW, he brings with him his "real" version of the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship and will look at the top stars in NJPW Strong for challengers. Brody King presents an intriguing opponent who could cause trouble to the United Empire leader.
Brody King is a big man who is extremely agile. His athleticism surprises and catches his opposition off guard regardless of how prepared they think they are for him. Will Ospreay has bulked up, but he can't contend with the size and hard-hitting arsenal that King possesses. This could prove to be the most formidable challenge for Ospreay in NJPW Strong.
#3 Will Ospreay vs. Juice Robinson
Despite making the jump up to the heavyweight division two years ago, there are plenty of competitors that Will Ospreay hasn't faced as of yet. Juice Robinson is one of NJPW's most popular stars. He has experienced success in singles and tag team action. The former IWGP United States Heavyweight Champion has seen his stock rise in 2021.
Juice Robinson formed the FinJuice tag team with his fellow New Japan Dojo graduate David Finlay a few years back. The duo won the 2019 World Tag League and went on to win the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championships. This year, they took their act on the road and defeated The Good Brothers to win the IMPACT World Tag Team Titles at Sacrifice 2021.
Juice Robinson defeated Hikuleo at NJPW Resurgence in the company's return to live events in front of fans. He could use this victory to stake claim to an opportunity at Will Ospreay for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship. Despite coming to New Japan Pro Wrestling after an unsuccessful stint in WWE back in 2015, he has never got a shot at the top prize in the promotion.
Will Ospreay has become one of the biggest heels in NJPW and could find a perfect babyface foil in Juice Robinson. Ospreay could beat down Juice with his stiff strikes and focused body attack to set up for the Stormbreaker, which in turn could lead to a spirited comeback from Robinson. This could make for a simple story that gets the most out of both men and the crowd they perform in front of.
#2 Will Ospreay vs. Lio Rush
Will Ospreay staying in the United States for an extended time opens the door for matches that may have happened before, but never under the NJPW banner. At the top of that list would be a clash with Lio Rush. The former WWE superstar has found a home with New Japan Pro Wrestling since his release from Vince McMahon's company last year.
Lio Rush first appeared back in the New Japan Pro Wrestling of America brand in the 2020 Super J Cup and then made regular appearances for NJPW Strong. He was a featured talent and even went through the forbidden door to be the joker card in the AEW Double Or Nothing 2021 Casino Battle Royale. However, that surprise appearance put his career in question.
Rush suffered an injury that led to him prematurely retiring from the business, but he has recently said that his rehab was successful and would be fulfilling his obligations for NJPW. This creates an amazing opportunity for Lio to face a former opponent and tag team partner in Will Ospreay.
The two men have faced and teamed with one another on the UK independent scene. However, that was nearly five years ago. Both men have matured and have only gotten better in the ring since then. This history would only extra layers to what would be an outstanding battle between two stunning performers in Will Ospreay and Lio Rush.
The IWGP World Heavyweight Championship would be the cherry on top. Lio Rush has never earned an opportunity at the top prize in NJPW and facing someone that he knows so well in Will Ospreay would be quite interesting. It has all the makings of a classic battle.
#1 Will Ospreay vs. Jon Moxley
In addition to the current IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Shingo Takagi of NJPW, Will Ospreay specifically mentioned one other competitor in which he had some resentment. The Commonwealth Kingpin was upset that New Japan chose to strip him of his championship, while Jon Moxley was able to hold the IWGP United States Title for a year without defending and keep his.
This double standard has fueled Will Ospreay and motivated him for vengeance. With Ospreay being medically cleared, he even said that he was more than open to walking through the forbidden door to AEW.
If this was a list of the best matchups in Tony Khan's promotion for Will, Jon Moxley would be at the top of it. The former AEW World Champion has made a name for himself in NJPW Strong as well.
As the IWGP US Champion, Moxley made his return to NJPW by making his way to the New Japan Pro Wrestling of America brand on Strong. He successfully defended his title in wins over KENTA. Moxley then retained the gold over NJPW's Yuji Nagata and IMPACT Wrestling's Karl Anderson on AEW Dynamite. However, this all came after the title remained dormant during the pandemic.
While Ospreay makes valid points in that regard, he can't take away from Moxley defending that championship more than any other champion before him. Will Ospreay has never stood across the ring from someone as dangerous as the Purveyor of Violence before. This would be new territory for the United Empire leader.
Jon Moxley has met extraordinary athletes such as Seth Rollins and Kenny Omega in the past, but none may be as gifted as Will Ospreay. Moxley will have to use his heart and ruthlessness to wear down the faster Ospreay and utilize his size advantage to get the win. Ospreay would have to use his speed and agility to keep Mox reeling and strike when he can to get the victory.
This would also mark Jon Moxley's first opportunity at the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship. That has to be one of the only accomplishments left for the former AEW World Champion to achieve. A win for Ospreay would widen the forbidden door and lead to bigger matches against the top stars of AEW. That's why Jon Moxley would be the best opponent for Will Ospreay in NJPW Strong.