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Will Ospreay believes AEW will ‘come back swinging’ in pivotal year for the promotion

Written by on June 28, 2024

The landscape of All Elite Wrestling has rapidly changed in its brief but eventful five-year history. Critically acclaimed matches and storylines have been produced and new marquee names have emerged.

AEW’s success is sometimes unrecognized. Interest in the company has waned since its hot start in 2019 but it remains the largest alternative to WWE since World Championship Wrestling (WCW) folded in 2001. Its flagship show AEW Dynamite is one year shy of outliving WCW Monday Nitro, continues to sell thousands of tickets weekly and pulls strong viewership numbers on cable. That being said, some concerns are valid. The June 19 episode of AEW Dynamite registered the lowest rating in the show’s history, according to Programming Insider.

One of the headliners from that night was AEW international champion Will Ospreay, who is slated to challenge AEW world champion Swerve Strickland in the main event of the Forbidden Door pay-per-view this weekend. Ospreay spoke with CBS Sports this week and reflected on that alarming rating.

“That one did suck to see when it came out because, for me, that was a home run Dynamite,” Ospreay said. “It was an excellent show. There weren’t any down points in it for me.”

Ospreay is part of a recent wave of top-tier talent — alongside former Mercedes Mone and Kazuchika Okada — recruited to carry the company into the future. It’s a crucial year for the company as it looks to lock down a new media rights deal by the end of the year. Ospreay proudly waves the AEW flag and says it’s his mission for the company to thrive.

“It sucks that it was such a low rating but it’s just motivating me and I’m sure it’s motivating others to try and think out of the box and come back swinging,” Ospreay said. “I’m not someone who ignores that type of s—. I see it and I take note of it. I put it in the checkbook and I make sure whatever we do next week, we come back swinging. We shouldn’t ignore criticism or shy away from it. We’re still a five-year company and we’re still hitting the ropes with these things. For me, AEW still has lots of growing pains to go through.”

The former New Japan Pro-Wrestling star views AEW’s current incarnation as a challenging rebuilding phase, something that’s common in the industry.

“As a wrestler, you find yourself hitting a plateau five years in,” Ospreay said. “Whether that’s within your character or your ability or trying to get booked elsewhere. There’s always that five-year growing pain. I think every company goes through it. If we look back five years to what WWE was doing, they were at a low. But the way they’re thriving right now is inspiring to everyone. It should be something to hit. We need to change the bar and see what we must do to change things up. Like I said, I’m not the type of person to shy away from it. I enjoy criticism.”

Struggles aside, there’s still plenty to be excited about as an AEW fan or performer. That’s especially true for Ospreay as he looks ahead to the company’s All In pay-per-view at Wembley Stadium in London on Aug. 25. Last year’s show attracted more than 72,000 fans and this year’s event has reportedly sold more than 40,000 tickets already. Ospreay defeated Chris Jericho at last year’s show in his home country, but this year marks his first All In as an official AEW star.

“The fact that I get to say that I’m going back to Wembley Stadium — even that sentence alone — it’s crazy,” Ospreay said. “The who’s who of professional wrestling, some of them haven’t even wrestled at Wembley Stadium. It’s such a historic venue. It’s the largest venue in the United Kingdom. 

“It’s such an incredible feeling knowing I get to be an hour away from one of the greatest venues of all time. Being in there with some of the most incredible roster ever known to professional wrestling, I can’t believe how lucky I am to live in this generation of professional wrestling.”

Forbidden Door 2024 takes place this Sunday at the UBS Arena in Elmont, N.Y.

The post Will Ospreay believes AEW will ‘come back swinging’ in pivotal year for the promotion first appeared on CBS Sports.

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