Will Ospreay Beats Kota Ibushi to Win NEVER Openweight Title at WK 13

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJanuary 4, 2019

TOKYO, JAPAN - OCTOBER 08: Kota Ibushi gestures prior to the 3 Way match between Kenny Omega, Cody and Kota Ibushi during the King of Pro-Wresting at Ryogoku Kokugikan on October 8, 2018 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)
Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

Will Ospreay defeated Kota Ibushi in an exciting clash at New Japan Pro-Wrestling's Wrestle Kingdom 13 on Friday to win the NEVER Openweight Championship for the first time.

With the win, the 25-year-old became the first British and only the second non-American wrestler to hold the title.

Ibushi and Ospreay's remarkable talent was on full display at the Tokyo Dome.

TDE Wrestling @totaldivaseps

Unbelievable match to start the night. Congrats @WillOspreay! https://t.co/Nc1brxBLW3

Both men are former IWGP junior heavyweight champions who entered Friday's event aiming to show they are capable of being more than just cruiserweights.

Ospreay entered Wrestle Kingdom having been in pursuit of the NEVER Openweight Championship for quite some time.

He was originally supposed to face Taichi Ishikari for the title at Power Struggle in November, but an injury resulted in Hirooki Goto replacing the Englishman, and Goto went on to win the title.

Just over a month later at World Tag League, Ibushi beat Goto for the NEVER Openweight Championship to set up the Wrestle Kingdom showdown with Ospreay.

While Ibushi and Ospreay have faced each other on numerous occasions in multi-man tag team matches, Friday's match was the first time they had gone one-on-one on a stage of significance.

The Japanese wrestler is seemingly closer to getting into the IWGP Heavyweight Championship conversation than Ospreay due to his history with Kenny Omega, and the fact he may have a bigger following stateside after his involvement in WWE's Cruiserweight Classic in 2016.

Also, Ibushi has come close to the heavyweight title before, which suggests New Japan officials already view him on the same level as some of the company's top stars.

The fact he dropped the title at Wrestle Kingdom may mean his time is coming, and if that is the case, then NJPW made a smart decision by giving Ospreay a big win in the process.


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