We take a look at Will Ospreay’s return to France, as he took on Tristan Archer for Rixe Catch in late February.

We’ve written a fair amount about Tristan Archer, what with him having been a two-time wXw Unified World Wrestling Champion in the last 12 months, having become a part of wXw during the pandemic, while Will Ospreay’s been collecting awards from pundits for fun lately.

The commune of Dreux in northern France, a little over an hour west of Paris, probably wasn’t the first place you’d expect to see Will Ospreay in between dates in Cardiff and Birmingham… but there you go! With Ospreay as one half of the main event of Rixe’s episode 12, the French promotion had perhaps the most eyeballs its ever had on it in its three years of existence… so let’s take a look.

Entrances start at around 1h 53m into the VOD as we come live-on-Twitch from the Palais des Sports in Dreux – and Rixe’s presentation must be commended here. Pyro and steam for all the big stars, plus a lovely customised stage with video screens and neon lights forming the x in the company’s name. It quite literally screams “Rixe” – with few other promotions going this route…

Tristan Archer vs. Will Ospreay
The crowd’s hot for Archer… but they literally melted down for the opening notes of Will Ospreay’s extended theme. If they can sustain this level of noise, then this is going to be one of those “memorable just for the reactions” kind of matches.

Duelling chants, albeit mostly in Ospreay’s favour, got us going as the crowd literally drowned out the ring bell. The opening lock-up gets a roar almost akin to a cup final-winning goal as the early feeling out processes saw both men take the other into the ropes for clean breaks. Sort-of. Ospreay cheapshots Archer on his break, then sidestepped to throw him outside ahead of a faked-out dive. Back inside, Archer clobbers Ospreay with a clothesline, before a drop toe hold and a diving kick earned the first pinning attempt of the contest. A stalling suplex gives me a chance to recall my few GCSE French classes, but barely got Archer an “un” from the pinning attempt before a floatover gets caught as Ospreay hotshotted the Frenchman into the ropes, then booted him outside for a plancha. My word, the NOISE from the crowd for the landing of that…

Staying on the outside, Ospreay elbows Archer in the neck, then hurled him into the guard rails, before the pair returned to the ring for some blistering chops. Mostly blistering Archer’s chest. Have they turned the mics up for this, because this was REAL loud. A simple slam and an elbow drop gets Ospreay a nonchalant-but-quick two-count, prompting the Dreux crowd to try and get behind Archer… only for Ospreay to retain control with a hammerlocked armbar a la Zack Sabre Jr. Breaking via the ropes, Archer tries to turn things around, but his hiptoss is instantly stuffed as Ospreay trapped him with a Cobra twist, which is eventually hiptossed away before Ospreay’s charge into Archer was caught and turned into an Exploder. A single-leg Codebreaker has Ospreay rolling onto the apron for respite, where Archer eventually joined him as the pair traded blows… before Archer tripped Ospreay off the apron, then followed in with a side Russian legsweep into the side of the ring, and a Tiger feint kick to the back.

Archer hits the ring for a tope to Ospreay… then took things back inside as a back elbow and a twisting Fisherman suplex earned a solid two-count. Ospreay tries to turn it back around quickly, low bridging a charging Archer outside… but got caught with a stunner through the ropes instead as Archer added a flying clothesline back inside for a near-fall. Ospreay finally returns with a handspring enziguiri, knocking Archer down… as did a springboard forearm. Archer blocks a possible Storm Breaker attempt, but instead got chopped before he rolled through a sunset flip… landing a Northern Lights suplex for a two-count as I thought they might have been doing for Ospreay’s old Essex Destroyer. A Coup d’Etat attempt’s escaped as Ospreay instead hits a wall-flip enziguiri to Archer, then a springboard forearm to the back of the head.

Ospreay pulls off the elbow pad as he tees up for a Hidden Blade, but had to make do with a hook kick and a standing Spanish Fly instead. A Storm Breaker’s teased, but Archer slips out and lands La Terreur… only for Ospreay to instantly respond with a hook kick and a Falcon arrow.

Heading up top, Ospreay rolls back the clock to hit a 450 splash for a near-fall, with the Dreux crowd getting increasingly-loud, as a follow-up Hidden Blade cracked into Archer for another near-fall. Ospreay tries to pull up Archer for a Storm Breaker, but he’s dead weight at this point as Ospreay instead kicked Archer into the corner, eliciting boos from the crowd as he went. Archer attempted to fight back with elbow strikes, but he’s running on fumes, getting knocked down to his knees with singular shots as Ospreay absorbed blows. A rolling elbow drops Archer, as another Hidden Blade looked to follow, but Archer rolled backwards to pick Ospreay’s leg, eventually bringing him down with a Saito suplex that bought some time. Finding a second wind, Archer’s own rolling elbow sets up for the Coup d’Etat… but Ospreay slips out into a Euro clutch for a near-fall, before seeing an OsCutter get blocked and turned into the Coup d’Etat for a near-fall and another LOUD reaction.

A trip up top from Archer teased an avalanche Olympic Slam, but Ospreay fought free, headbutting Archer away as a sunset bomb looked to lead to a Hidden Blade, but Archer countered with a backslide to nearly nick the win. From there, Archer’s caught with a Ligerbomb as they were digging deep here… before an OsCutter planted Archer for another near-fall. Off comes the elbow pad as a leaping Hidden Blade wipes out Archer… and that’s your lot!

Result: Will Ospreay pinned Tristan Archer in 21:24 (****½)

Rewatching this back after the Ospreay/Jacobs match the next day at Rev Pro, there’s a lot of common themes between the matches, but the constantly loud Rixe crowd for me put this ahead of that match, in addition to the feeling that just maybe, Archer could sneak a win out, even if Ospreay was in control for large periods. Not every Rixe show’s going to have a name like Ospreay on their cards, but if the crowds are as hot throughout the show as they were here, I suspect there’ll be a lot more attention paid to the promotion to see just how they are outside of these special moments.