AEW's Will Ospreay Explains Why He'll Stay Under Contract With NJPW

Earlier this month, Will Ospreay signed a contract with All Elite Wrestling at AEW Full Gear. The signing was monumental news for both AEW and New Japan Pro-Wrestling, as Ospreay is currently the IWGP United States/United Kingdom Heavyweight Champion in NJPW, and his contract with NJPW isn't up until February of next year.


"My contract with New Japan has not terminated yet," Ospreay told Sports Illustrated. "That means I'll be the first wrestler to be under a dual contract with AEW and New Japan, which is fun."

Ospreay is set to defend his title at Wrestle Kingdom on January 4, 2024, against Jon Moxley and David Finlay. Whoever wins the match will hold a new belt that will replace the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship, which Ospreay re-dubbed the United Kingdom title, even fashioning a new belt. Ospreay's contract with AEW will allow him to wrestle for NJPW even after his contract with NJPW expires, which Ospreay says is important to him.

""I still need to have some sort of involvement in New Japan, especially with my faction, United Empire," Ospreay said, noting that while fellow United Empire members Aussie Open are also signed AEW wrestlers, other members like Great-O-Khan, Jeff Cobb, TJP, Francesco Akira, and Gideon Gray are New Japan talent. "That is very important to me. I grew up in New Japan. I'm not ready to let it go."


The former IWGP World Heavyweight Champion believes that any time off could lead to stagnation, and hopes that wrestling outside of AEW will keep him sharp. Ospreay has already wrestled 11 times on AEW programming, dating back as far as June 2022 — an arrangement made possible by the longstanding working relationship between AEW and New Japan.