AEW’s Will Ospreay: The 10 songs that changed my life

As he prepares for the homecoming of all homecomings at AEW’s All In at Wembley Stadium this August, Essex-born Aerial Assassin Will Ospreay takes us through the songs that shaped him, from ABBA and Oasis to Busted and ONE OK ROCK…

AEW’s Will Ospreay: The 10 songs that changed my life
Sam Law

Will Ospreay is a man on the move. After a whistle-stop press day in London, we catch up with wrestling’s favourite Essex Boy – and reigning AEW International Champion – in the executive suite at Heathrow, 36 hours before he’s due to team with AEW World Champion Swerve Strickland against The Gates Of Agony in New York. True to form, if he’s feeling even a hint of fatigue, he’s not showing it. And every one of our questions about his musical upbringing is welcomed with fiery enthusiasm (albeit with disappointingly few bruvs) and that trademark Billy Goat smile.

Already talked about as one of the greatest in-ring performers of all-time, the self-styled Aerial Assassin can pull off countless tricks between the ropes, boasting more brutalist attack and acrobatic skill than arguably any of his peers. With a career that's seen him wrestle in every corner of the globe, it's fitting that when he takes us on a tumble down memory lane, it spans everything from Swedish pop and Japanese rock to American country and Dutch EDM – with a little on-brand Britpop for good measure. And with August’s return to Wembley Stadium in front of 50,000+ fans at All In London Looming, there’s never been a better time to hit play on the songs that changed Will’s life...

The first song that I remember hearing…ABBA – Mama Mia

“My mum used to love ABBA and play them all the time. I just remember her singing and dancing to their music in our kitchen. I don’t mind a bit of ABBA myself. I probably know all their songs, but I wouldn’t say I live and die by them. I’ve seen the musicals and the film. I actually got my mum tickets to see the ABBA Voyage show for Christmas, too, but I’ve not been myself. I’d be well up for going along to it, though, especially if my mum wanted to go again!”

The song that reminds me of being at school…Busted – Year 3000

“Mate, when I was at school, it felt like everyone was just a hyperactive child who wanted to listen to rock music – does Busted count as punk rock? – and this was one of the songs that we’d play all the time. I remember the video being on TV constantly, too, and when they sang that line, ‘Stood there was my neighbour called Peter / With a flux capacitor,’ we’d all point at my dad because his name was Peter. What do I think we’d see if we went to the year 3000? Maybe self-driving Ubers. Well, we’ve got those now, but self-driving Ubers would definitely be the standard...”

The song that reminds me of my first love…Jim Johnston – I Won’t Do What You Tell Me

“This is the classic entrance theme for Stone Cold Steve Austin and it just reminds me of falling in love with wrestling. From the first time I heard that glass breaking as a kid, and saw the audience go crazy as this guy just ran to the ring and beat everybody up, I was like, ‘Oh, wow, wrestling is cool!’ I don’t actually remember when the first time was that I heard that track specifically, but it was during the Austin vs. McMahon era. I’ll always remember the time in 2001 when [the old] WWF bought WCW [with the ensuing Invasion storyline] and Austin being a big part of that.”

The song that reminds me of the first show I went to…ONE OK ROCK – Eye Of The Storm

“It’s funny because I’ve only been to one concert in my life, and it was ONE OK ROCK over in Japan. They had just released [2019 album] Eye Of The Storm and they started off with the title-track. Seeing it in Japan, the pageantry was enormous. They were playing to the audience, and the audience were responding to every single song. I remember looking out at this huge crowd all with their arms moving together. They just seemed so united. The fans were just as important as the instruments. People talk about how reserved Japanese audiences can be; the culture and the people are reserved, but there’s a moment where, when they can really be part of something, they will show their support and not be afraid to vocalise their love and excitement.

“I understand why western wrestling fans always comment on how Japanese fans will just quietly watch a match and then give some polite applause, but that’s because they’re studying what’s going on in the ring. I remember being told when I first started there that just because they’re not making a lot of noise doesn’t mean they’re not paying attention. And when you hit those points in a wrestling match that you have to, they always respond. It becomes like a challenge to bring [the noise level] up!”

The song that pumps me up before getting in the ring…Oasis – Live Forever

“I didn’t really know who Oasis were when I was a young boy, but I remember that a lot of the older people in my mum’s drama group would listen to this song. Then when I was coming up in wrestling, people like Noam Dar would come out to Oasis’ Morning Glory. Although I’d always been aware of their existence, it wasn’t until around 2018 that I properly ‘discovered’ Oasis and really got into all of their albums. Live Forever is a song that never fails to get me pumped. I remember watching it at one of their Wembley concerts on YouTube as everyone lost their minds and thinking, ‘That is Britain!’ For all this country’s flaws, that’s what the British people are all about!”

The song that cheers me up when I’m feeling down…Purple Disco Machine – Fireworks (feat. Moss Kena & The Knocks)

“The first time I ever heard that song, me and my buddy were up in the clouds in Japan and I just thought that it was one of the most fun things I’d ever heard. Then I brought it home to my mates. I remember playing it at a birthday party they were throwing me when I took over the speaker. We were all drunk out of our minds, just vibing. Since then, it reminds me of the sun and all the happiness that I felt with my closest friends.”

The song I like to sing along to…Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers – Islands In The Stream

“Really, the answer to this should probably be Oasis’ Live Forever again, and I don’t want to pick Wonderwall because everyone and their mum picks that song, so I’ll go with Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers’ Islands In The Stream. Just as I’m talking about it, it reminds me of how I played it to my missus recently, and we were just dancing in the garden singing along. It’s a great song to just sing along to and bond with your friends. Am I a good singer? No! You’re having a laugh if you say that. But I did karaoke with my friends when I was in Japan – we’d all just be snatching the mic from each other to have a go at singing along!”

The song I’d like to have as an entrance theme…Yonosuke Kitamura and Eiki – Bring It Down (Zenith Of God)

“My current entrance theme is Elevated by It Lives, It Breathes, but this was my other New Japan Pro Wrestling theme. The first version was cool, but the moment they added the operatic build at the start really helped to elevate my persona. It always felt like ‘an event’ was about to take place when that music played. I think my favourite memory of that song was probably walking out to this version of it for the first time at Wrestle Kingdom 16 in the Tokyo Dome. Also, coming out at RevPro High Stakes in Bethnal Green for the second of my three matches against Michael Oku – I remember feeling really like I was properly in enemy territory for that one. No-one there wanted me to win that title. So this was the song to shove down every single person’s throat!”

The song that really gets on my nerves…Vicetone & Tony Igy – Astronomia

“I honestly barely even know the name of this, but that tune is constantly in my head. My five-year-old won’t stop singing it. It got famous as the music from that viral Coffin Dance video, but I don’t know where he heard it. Do I suffer from a lot of kids’ music around the house? Not really! Generally, his music taste is quite good. He listens to AC/DC’s Thunderstruck a lot. And he likes Travis Scott and Drake, for some reason. I have no idea where that came from. I think I’ll wait a little longer, though, before I introduce him to Kendrick Lamar!”

The song I’d like to have played at my funeral…Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg – Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead

“On such a sad day, I’d just want to make everyone laugh. I can picture it with everyone looking sad, everyone crying. Then this starts playing in the background to pop all the boys. That’s all I care about. I don’t have any real memories of the song beyond The Wizard Of Oz. I just think it’s funny. Beyond that? I guess they could try to come up with a comedy alternate version of Escalated to play as they’re lowering me down. What would that be? De-escalated? Doodoo-doo-doo! Doo-doo-doo-doo! Dah (laughs)!”

AEW All In takes place at Wembley Stadium in London on August 25. Get your tickets now.

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