Wrestling News: Will Ospreay Voted Wrestling Observer's Best Flying Wrest for 2017
Take note, WWE: this is how you book a cruiserweight wrestler
What’s the story?
Will Ospreay, the 24-year-old aerial artist from the United Kingdom, has won the Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Best Flying Wrestler award for the second year in a row.
In case you didn’t know…
Cruiserweight/flying/junior heavyweight wrestling wasn’t really a popular concept until the beginning of the 1980s. At that time, the sport of professional wrestling began to evolve with the popularization of aerial moves and lucha libre.
In fact, it has been said that some of the most innovative and influential wrestlers of all time were those smaller wrestlers, i.e. those that perform in the cruiserweight style.
This award has gone to the most dazzling and mesmerizing flying wrestler that, over the course of a calendar year, demonstrates the greatest degree of aerial skill and high-flying performance.
Previous winners of this award include: Rey Mysterio (Jr.) [who won it six times], Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger (who won it five times), Kota Ibushi (who won it four times), Ricochet (who won it three times), Tiger Mask I and II (who won the award twice each) and A.J. Styles (who once it once).
The heart of the matter
In terms of voting in a winner for 2017, it wasn’t even that much of a contest. Will Ospreay won the award by a landslide, getting over five times as many votes as Ricochet, the first runner-up.
Unfortunately for fans of WWE’s cruiserweight division, not a single wrestler from there was anywhere near the top, as all of the runners-up and the winner were either from Japan, Mexico, the American independent scene, or Europe.
Ospreay is likely to remain on the independent scene for the foreseeable future. His incredible high-flying style has turned him into a tremendous draw, which means that he won’t have to worry about booking anytime soon.
He appears regularly for various British and American independent promotions, and also makes regular appearances for both Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro-Wrestling, so it’s not like he doesn’t have exposure to a large audience.
Will Ospreay is a perfect example of letting someone work in a style they find comfortable without having so many restrictions put on them. While his style is indeed high-risk, that’s the whole point: he makes up for his small stature and lack of musculature by using speed and death-defying acrobatics.
The matches that Ospreay has put on with the likes of Ricochet, Kushida, and the Young Bucks are all ones that WWE’s bookers should take notice of if they ever hope to give their cruiserweight division any hope of succeeding.
Vince McMahon was noted to have placed so many restrictions on the cruiserweight wrestlers, mainly because he’s still of the mind that their show and division should be character-driven.
However, the failure of 205 Live and much of its ‘characters’ has shown that this isn’t the case anymore, and the cruiserweight wrestlers cannot hope to connect with fans if they end up wrestling just like their bigger counterparts albeit with smaller bodies.
Indeed, cruiserweight wrestling needs to come back to the cruiserweight division if WWE ever hopes of having a cruiserweight wrestler that’s even half as successful as Will Ospreay.