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The World's Best Wrestler Who Owes His Career to Assassin's Creed

Meet Will Ospreay, a 30-year-old Assassin’s Creed fan who many consider to currently be the best professional wrestler in the world. Will’s not just a fan of
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though, his entire career has been built on the foundation of the Ubisoft series, and since his early wrestling days he has gone by the Ezio-inspired moniker ‘The Aerial Assassin’.

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“I love [the phrase] ‘work in the dark to serve the light’,” explains Ospreay. “It spoke volumes [to me] for some strange reason. It just felt like a superhero [mantra I wanted to adopt] weirdly, and I love being the good guy. I love it.

“I went on eBay and bought a cosplay outfit of Assassin's Creed.” he shares. “Everyone knew it was a cosplay jacket, [but] people understood what I was going for.”

It’s been over ten years since Will Ospreay first donned the iconic Assassin’s hood, and despite its humble cosplay beginnings, the look has been a permanent fixture for a decade. It’s taken him from bingo halls to the big-time of WWE’s rival promotion,
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. Along the way, Will spent eight years in New Japan Pro Wrestling, honing not only his craft but also his Assassin’s Creed-inspired persona.

“It opened up gateways in my brain with wrestling,” Ospreay says. “It made me think so much deeper about the entrance [and] the way I presented and carried myself on camera. Without Assassin's Creed, I don't think I would be as far in my wrestling career as I would be right now.”

Will’s obsession began with Ezio Auditore da Firenze, but strangely not his appearance in Assassin’s Creed 2, but rather in his third adventure,
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. After enjoying that game so much, Ospreay quickly revisited all of the previous games and truly fell in love with the series. He then began to transition Assassin’s Creed influences into his future wrestling career.

I look like I work at Tesco, so I needed something to stand out.

"You've got about six seconds to win a crowd over,” explains Ospreay. “The moment you walk through that curtain, you have to have something about you. Whether you are a freak, or you've got long hair, you've got to have something about you.”

“I look like I work at Tesco, so I really [needed] something to stand out. I loved the Assassin's Creed games. The way [the assassins] moved was so captivating for me.”

For those familiar with Will Ospreay, you’ll instantly recognise his unquestionable athletic prowess. Ezio’s free-running movement and Will’s natural ability was an instant match, and exactly what he was looking for.

“Me and my friends would watch parkour and free running videos,” recalls Ospreay. “To see it utilized in a video game [by a] guy who’s kicking ass as well, it was, ‘Okay, I have an attachment to this character.’”

Ospreay’s wrestling style evolved with his character, and the Aerial Assassin’s love for utilising Assassin's Creed continued to grow. The next logical step, then, was to name one of the impressive moves in his arsenal after the series’ most iconic element.

“I believe it was 2019 when I faced Ibushi, [the move] got so much of a reaction from people,” Ospreay explains, referring to his deadly swinging back elbow that’s since been labelled the ‘Hidden Blade’. “My friends were saying in a WhatsApp group chat ‘You should call it the ‘Hidden Blade.’ I put it out there into the world, and everyone liked the idea. Some fans were tweeting it as well. So I was like, ‘Oh, you know what? I'm going to stick with it. I'm going to call it The Hidden Blade.’ I thought it fit perfectly for me anyway.”

But the Hidden Blade isn’t the only Assassin’s Creed inspired move in his repertoire.

“I started doing a move name called the Infrared, which is a 540 degree corkscrew move - it was invented by The Amazing Red. But I started calling that the Leap of Faith.” explains Ospreay. “The main reason I called it that is because I generally can't see where they are. It is me hoping for the best. I have no idea if that motherf**ker's behind me or not!”

Taking inspiration from a video game character for your wrestling persona may seem unique (and it is!), but wrestlers regularly search in unusual corners of the world for character development and inspiration.

“My upbringing in wrestling was with Lucha Britannia,” Ospreay says, referring to the London-based, cabaret-like, fantastical lucha libre-inspired show. “They would put a mask on you and say; ‘Today you're a lizard.’ And you’re like, ‘Well, what does the lizard do?’ It was for you to work out. So there is parts of me that understands you have to become a character, and get outside of your comfort zone.”

Lucha Britannia taught Ospreay not only to be comfortable in his own skin, but also in the character he would go on to personify. Like an assassin, putting on a mask was a way of working in the dark to serve the light – a light represented by the endless hours of entertainment both wrestling and video games can provide.

A Japanese Assassin's Creed is exactly what I've been waiting for my entire life.

“We play video games and [watch] wrestling for the same reasons, to escape the real world,” Ospreay says. “The real world sucks sometimes, but we have to live in it. But for those few hours we can have a little bit of a break from the real world. We don't have to look at our tax brackets, we don't have to deal with our governments, we don't have to listen to people just spouting off lies constantly, and we can just sit there and enjoy something that we love.”

Being the best wrestler in the world doesn’t come easy, so it’s understandable that Ospreay doesn’t always have a great amount of time spare to play video games anymore. Although he admits to having fallen behind on his recent gaming knowledge, the Assassin’s Creed series is still of great interest to him.

“They're doing a new one. I think it's set in Japan as well,” Ospreay mentions with a huge smile on his face. “ A Japanese Assassin's Creed is exactly what I've been waiting for my entire life. I'm so excited for that one to come out.”

In a world where wrestling superstars like The Rock, John Cena, and Dave Bautista have taken over Hollywood, could Ospreay ever see himself one day living out his Assassin’s Creed fantasies on the silver screen?

“I was in New Japan when the Assassin's Creed film came out.” recalls Ospreay. “They wanted to use some of my photos from New Japan to help advertise the movie coming over!”

“They said if there was going to be an Assassin's Creed 2, I might be able to do some stunt work in it and I got excited. Nothing ever came of it but I'd love to be a part of Assassin's Creed.”

Although another Assassin’s Creed movie feels unlikely to arrive anytime soon, Ospreay has already developed an excellent relationship with the series’ creators, Ubisoft. That includes a partnership that saw him dress as Assassin Creed Syndicate’s The Ripper during his entrance at Wrestle Kingdom 18 (New Japan’s equivalent of Wrestlemania) complete official Assassin’s Creed music.

“After getting the go ahead from Ubisoft to have their theme playing for my last Tokyo Dome match, they said that there are options for me to explore with Assassin's Creed now,” shares Ospreay. “So if there ever was a movie, or a game, or even a downloadable Aerial Assassin [character], I'm completely open for it. I love the Assassin's Creed franchise and honestly, it would be an honour.”

Perhaps even just a Will Ospreay-themed skin in the next game?

“Yeah mate, that would be sick!” agreed Ospreay. ”Especially the outfit I've got now [in AEW]. I look like an Elton John Power Ranger, mate. I look great!”

Dale Driver is IGN's Executive Producer of Video Programming, a lifelong wrestling fan, and a very happy boy after Will Ospreay repeatedly called him "bruv". Follow him on
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