The wrestling story with the most legs that’s generating the most buzz online and on the podcast airwaves isn’t necessarily what it should be. It’s not the AJ Styles heel turn, however terrifically executed it was. It’s not Matt Hardy’s new broken character, however weird. And it’s not even the upcoming WWE brand extension, although that should pick up more steam in the coming weeks. No, it’s reaction to the Ricochet and Will Ospreay match from a couple weeks ago for New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Best Of The Super Juniors.
Ever since the match, nay, a gif from the Ricochet Ospreay match was released, the whole ordeal went viral and sparked controversy throughout wrestling communities all over the world. NJPW made the match, in its entirety, available for free online as it continued trending. Fans of every wrestling organization were treated to the spectacle without any commentary to get a unique look at how Ricochet and Ospreay caught the attention of so many.
It wound up being controversial due to the polarizing reaction it spawned. Wrestling veterans like Vader and Jim Cornette called it a disgrace to the profession, while so many others lauded it for the athletic display and uniqueness of the bout. Many came to the defense of Ospreay and Ricochet (who performs under the name Prince Puma in Lucha Underground) by claiming that there is no one right way to wrestle a match, and this new approach was a refreshing take on how to perform inside a squared circle.
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin has gone on record in the past, stating that lucha-style wrestling won’t bring in top dollars, but it’s needed to fill out a card. Austin provides weekly hot takes on the industry’s top headlines, and felt compelled to react to Ricochet and Ospreay’s performance after getting a chance to watch it. You can chalk “Stone Cold” up to those who support what the two did in Japan, as he went on the record during an appearance on his podcast, The Steve Austin Show (Thanks to Wrestling Inc for the transcription).
“The athleticism, incredible. The timing [and] the precision, unbelievable! Off the charts! A 10 out of 10! How these guys pulled off some of the the stuff that they did is beyond me. As an athletic endeavor, a spectacle, it was just absolutely fantastic. I give both guys a big thumbs up for their performance. And it was almost as if this match was a little bit kind of performance art more so than wrestling, so to speak. But again, some of the moves Prince Puma or Ricochet just hit off the ropes, the kid hit him with a wheel kick in mid air. Again, the timing, the precision, the athletic ability, how they pulled this off, I have no idea.”
There were many who complained that neither Ricochet or Ospreay sold enough during the bout, one which Ospreay won after nearly 20 minutes (with a modified springboard stunner, by the way). That would be Austin’s lone criticism of the entire thing as well.
“Some of the stuff, there [were] a couple of DDTs in here that are just spot on. Not enough selling on that end. Some of the offense, as far as some of the forms, could have been delivered with a little bit more intent to hurt, you know, laid in a little bit better. Some of that lucha stuff, you know, when you drive by each other and just kind of get off the ropes, sometimes is not my thing. If these guys would’ve put in maybe four to five minutes worth of selling mixed in with all the bad ass stuff that they did, then it could have been off the charts epic. But again, that’s me nitpicking it. And if you want me to say thumbs up [or] thumbs down, I’ve got to say thumbs up. Hellacious effort by both guys.”
Austin would go on to say that the wrestling world is constantly evolving, and this match took it to another level and raised the bar for performers all over. He called Ricochet and Ospreay two of the most talented, athletic guys in the squared circle in the world right now, adding credence to the idea that at least one of them has had interest from the WWE.
“I can’t s**t on this match at all. Bad a**, unbelievable, and I recommend it. Everybody out there watch it. Shout out to both guys. Props. Throw a little bit of selling in there. For what it was, it was amazing and I’ll leave it at that.”
[Image via NJPW]