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Say what you will about AEW and the decisions the promotion has made throughout much of 2024, Tony Khan’s wrestling company did make one of the best pick-ups in recent history when it signed British wrestling phenom Will Ospreay. For those not too familiar with the former New Japan Pro Wrestling standout, this guy has been killing it in the ring for the better part of the past decade, putting on must-watch matches in Europe, Asia, North America, and pretty much everywhere else. I mean, this is a once-in-a-generation type of talent we’re talking about.

I’ve been a fan for years and will go out of my way to watch his highly decorated matches (I was at AEW Dynasty and witnessed his historic contest against Bryan Danielson), but I recently started reading and listening to interviews where he was open and honest about his struggles with anxiety. As someone who’s battled anxiety for most of my life, hearing that one of the modern-day gods of the squared circle was in the same boat immediately made me an even bigger fan. Allow me to explain… 

Will Ospreay vs. Kenny Omega at Forbidden Door 2023

(Image credit: AEW / NJPW)

Will Ospreay Has Been One Of The Best Wrestlers In The World, And One Of My Favorites For A Few Years Now

I know, I know, wrestling is a subjective art form, but if you look at the top 10 matches of all time on ProFightDB, Will Ospreay was in six of those contests (three wins, three losses). Over the years, he has fought living legends like Bryan Danielson, Kenny Omega, Tetsuya Naito, Kazuchika Okada, Chris Jericho, and countless others in all-time great matches, and he’s barely a decade into his in-ring career.

It’s not like Ospreay is being carried by these great opponents, either, as his athleticism, incredible high-flying acrobatics, and punishing offense (his Hidden Blade and Storm Breaker finishing moves are deadly) make him one of the most well-rounded wrestlers on the planet. The way he can tell a story in the ring is something that should be marveled at and one of the main reasons I’m obsessed with the guy.

Will Ospreay at NJPW The New Beginning

(Image credit: NJPW)

But I Became An Even Bigger Fan When Ospreay Opened Up About His Struggles With Anxiety 

Though it wasn’t the first time he addressed his history with mental health, Will Ospreay’s comments during an October 2023 Metro interview made me an even bigger fan simply because he was so honest about his battle with anxiety, saying:

My mental health, my depression, my anxiety are huge factors into my performance – especially when you’re away from your family, and you’re left in the hotel rooms. … You gotta keep moving forward. If you don’t, you’re just gonna sit in that pit of sadness, and that’s when it creeps in. Go out, keep walking, keep doing what you’re doing. The moment you sit still, that’s when you’re done.

It’s not quite the same as Hulk Hogan telling Hulkamaniacs to eat their vitamins and say their prayers, but Ospreay’s comments are powerful, uplifting, relatable, and most of all, important to anyone going through anxiety attacks or moments of severe depression.

Will Ospreay on Hey! (EW)

(Image credit: AEW)

A little more than a year before he finally signed full-time with AEW, he opened up to Fightful about his anxiety and how his mental health struggles had almost gotten in the way of his success. When talking about coming to America (he was primarily wrestling in the UK and Japan at the time), the former IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion said he had “mad anxiety” before explaining how it led to him not sticking around but instead he would “arrive and leave.”

Honestly, I’ve never related to a wrestler more than I did with Ospreay in that moment. Social anxiety can be crippling and prevent us from reaching our full potential, and that’s not a knock on him or anyone else going through it. He admitting this made me feel less alone in my own battle with anxiety. When I’m watching AEW Dynamite and other shows knowing that someone on top of the world is going through something similar to me, it just makes it all the better.

Will Ospreay and Bryan Danileson on AEW Collision

(Image credit: AEW)

The British Wrestler Even Made The Brave Decision To Reveal He Came ‘Very Close’ To Committing Suicide, And That Should Be Commended

The COVID-19 pandemic, especially those first few months where none of us had any idea what was going to happen, was really, really tough, and pushed a lot of us to our breaking points and it was an extremely and frighteningly close time. That was the case for Ospreay, who in a July 2020 Instagram story (via Ringside News), revealed that he was “very close to something” he knew he would have regretted. 

After saying he was “still smiling, barely, but a smile nonetheless” and that he was still dragging his feet but getting better, the decorated wrestler said this:

Suicide isn’t an option even when you feel like you’ve dropped the world, learning and pushing forward to be better is an option. Thank you to the people that have ever made me smile or laugh and been there to pick me up. Because of you my heart still beats.

Ospreay didn’t have to say anything or admit to anything (he didn’t owe anyone anything), but he said something and didn’t shy away from telling the truth. This is something that should be applauded and celebrated in wrestling and the world in general.

Will Ospreay on AEW Collision

(Image credit: AEW)

After Learning Of Will Ospreay’s Battles With Anxiety And Depression, It’s Hard Not To Root For The Guy

After hearing about his battles with anxiety and reading his honest comments about depression, I’m honestly having a hard time not rooting for him, even if he has technically been a heel in AEW. There have been a lot of changes in wrestling over the past decade, and conversations like these are why the sport is better than ever. Wrestlers like Ospreay, Becky Lynch, Bryan Danielson, and Alexa Bliss, who have all opened up about their past troubles with mental health, are becoming heroes to those who need it the most, and that’s really, really cool.

Yeah, I’ll still boo the crap out of bad guys, and cheer the good guys, Ospreay included, but knowing that he and other wrestlers are facing the same battles I do every single day makes me want to celebrate them all.

Though some longtime fans might bail on AEW, wrestlers like Will Ospreay, with his openness and honesty surrounding anxiety and mental health, should be more than enough reason to keep watching Tony Khan’s product for the foreseeable future. 

Do you think you may suffer from Anxiety and live in Florida, California or New York?

If so, please consider scheduling a proper virtual online ADHD and Anxiety diagnosis with one of our physicians. Although we have an online ADHD and Anxiety diagnosis tool, a proper diagnosis from a Board-Certified Medical Doctor will help you know for sure. If appropriate, a customized treatment program will be recommended at the conclusion of that initial visit.

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