Wheeler Yuta is hungry.
Hungry for gold and hungry to keeping proving himself as one of the best professional wrestlers of his generation. He’ll have a chance to take out two birds with one stone tonight at AEW Worlds End when he battles another extremely talented youngster for the FTW Championship.
Cageside Seats had the chance to catch up with Wheeler Yuta ahead of his match tonight with HOOK. Regardless of whether he is able to walk out of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum with two titles or not, Yuta is guaranteed to still be the Ring of Honor Pure Champion by the end of the night.
Wheeler is the only person to ever hold that particular title more than once, let alone three times. Being able to recapture the belt a few weeks back was a special moment for multitude of reasons.
“Obviously to be the three-time [ROH] Pure Champion, no one else has even done it twice, and it’s very special to be a record setter with such a prestigious championship. With such great past champions. But also, it was really special for me to defeat [Katsuyori] Shitbata.”
Yuta’s second reign as Pure Champion came to an end at Supercard of Honor this past March. He called his match with Katsuyori Shibata that night one of his biggest regrets. Not just because he lost his championship, but also because his performance simply didn’t live up to his standards.
Fast forward to November and Wheeler would get his shot at redemption on an episode of Rampage. Not only did he deliver by defeating Shibata, but he put on a performance that showed just how much the 27 year-old has improved at his craft.
That night in Pittsburgh was also the latest chapter in what could prove to be one of the more fruitful feuds in ROH/AEW history in the long run.
“I think that’s a rivalry that will probably continue for quite a while, especially now that he’s All Elite, but I was glad to get the win there.”
Yuta was able to successfully defend his ROH Pure Championship this week on Rampage against Matt Sydal, even if he did bend the rules a little bit.
No need to cheat tonight. It’s going to be an entirely different ballgame in New York when Yuta challenges for the FTW Championship. He can use all the closed fists he wants in this FTW Rules match. Yuta could hit HOOK with anything he likes actually. Anything goes.
A match style that Wheeler Yuta has proven himself capable of handling multiple times over since joining up with the Blackpool Combat Club.
“My confidence level going into this match with Hook is very high,” Wheeler said. “I’ve been in some crazy wars with the BBC man. I’ve been in two Blood and Gus Matches, Stadium Stampede, Anarchy in the Arena. I’ve really had to prove myself, both with pure wrestling and also just with violence. I’m very excited to dip my toe back into that. Very excited to be in his hometown. A town I hate in New York. I think it’ll be a lot of fun for me.”
Despite the hell that Wheeler Yuta has put his body through, despite all the blood and sweat that he’s left inside the ring.... another of HOOK’s fellow New Yorkers doesn’t seem to have much respect for what’s he accomplished in the ring.
Yuta caught some strays this past Wednesday on Dynamite when Eddie Kingston nonchalantly claimed he wasn’t a “B—-h boy” like Wheeler Yuta. Naturally, we had to ask him about it.
“Eddie can talk all he wants. We’ve wrestled once and he did come out on top... but I think that Eddie and I, if we come to blows, I think things would be a lot different the second time. I hope that he knows what he’s asking for and I hope that one day we get to mix it up again, because he does run his mouth quite a bit.”
Comments like the one Kingston dropped this week, certainly won’t help change the minds of some who view Yuta as the Padawan of three Jedi masters. And that’s fine as far as Wheeler is concerned.
His confidence has only grown since joining the Blackpool Combat Club in the spring of 2022 and he knows exactly the caliber of performer he is, even if others don’t see it yet. And he certainly doesn’t view his status in the BCC as a negative.
“I’d be remiss to say that they’re not my mentors. That they don’t help teach me and they don’t help guide me in the right way. But I’m definitely my own man. I’m a record setting three-time Pure Champion. I’ve really carved out a path of my own, I believe, and I think that other people can perceive that however they want. They can think about it however they want, but I know deep in my heart that I have proven myself as a professional wrestler, and I’ll continue to do that. I’ll continue to grow into the star that I know that I am.”
While Yuta will have his chance to win some more folks over tonight at Worlds End, one of his mentors will have the opportunity to shut Eddie Kingston’s mouth for him. The Mad King will face Jon Moxley in the finals of the Continental Classic with the winner being crowned the AEW Triple Crown Champion.
The CC has received rave reviews from wrestling fans and critics alike but for Wheeler Yuta, it’s been a little bitter sweet. While Moxley, Bryan Danielson and Claudio Castagnoli were all able to compete for the Triple Crown, the ROH Pure Champion was the only member of the Blackpool Combat Club not to be selected for the 12-man field.
Being a spectator for the tournament, however, has had it’s advantages. Simply from a fan perspective, Yuta has enjoyed being able to sit back and watch each match as much as anyone taking in the action at home.
He’s also been studying the film and has able to pick up a few tricks by watching Claudio, Bryan, Jon and the other nine competitors do their thing in the ring.
Tools for him to use tonight against HOOK perhaps, or maybe some time down the line in the next tournament.
“I hope that we continue to do the Continental Classic. I would love to be in it. I would love to win it one day. There’s no real animosity [on being left out of the CC], but there’s definitely a drive and a hunger that has been a result of that. It’s definitely lit a fire underneath, but I don’t see how it couldn’t, when you see the quality of those matches and how great it’s been. Especially the draw between Claudio and Bryan. That was absolutely incredible.”
Wrestling the entire tournament with the use of one good eye, and to no one’s surprise I might add, Bryan Danielson went out and put on several of the better matches of the tournament. Which is saying something.
No matter the obstacle that he needs to overcome, Bryan Danielson finds a way to endure and push through.
On the heels of suffering a broken orbital bone, an injury that required surgery, Danielson returned to action a little over a month later to compete in the Continental Classic.
Child’s play for the man who was able to make Kazuchika Okada tap out at Forbidden Door with a modified LeBell Lock. There, the man had to use his feet to apply the old because he had cracked his forearm darn near in half 10 minutes prior to the match’s conclusion.
This is the same man who came back from said broken forearm, several weeks ahead of schedule, to wrestle Ricky Starks in an absolutely brutal strap match at AEW All Out. And then followed it up with a Texas Death Match three weeks later.
He’s made the impossible, possible so many times in his career, that it’s almost taken for granted. We as a wrestling community just expect greatness from Bryan Danielson.
And he continues to deliver time and again.
As his full time wrestling career winds down over the next year, his Blackpool Combat Club stablemates hope fans soak in every second that Danielson is able to give them in the ring.
“Bryan Danielson is one of, if not the greatest, professional wrestler of all time,” Wheeler Yuta said. “We need to appreciate greatness while we have it. There’s so many times where people don’t really get their flowers, as they say, until much later. But now that we know that the end [of Danielson’s career] is near, I think that we really need to appreciate Bryan because he’s just absolutely still at the top of his game, even today. Despite all the injuries, despite all the wear and tear on his body. He’s pushing hard and he’s given everything to everyone. It’s really awesome to see and I’m just enjoying it.”
Wheeler Yuta wrestled Bryan Danielson as part of his initiation into the BCC back in March of last year. Since then, the two have beaten the holy you-know-what out of each other as sparring partners.
For a man who calls Philadelphia home, Yuta wouldn’t be fully satisfied with a Rocky III freeze frame ending. He’d like a potential rematch with the G.O.A.T to be in front of the fans.
“I would love to be able to get in there with Bryan just one more time. We already train together. He knows what I can do, but I’d love to show everyone else as well.”
First things first. Tonight Wheeler Yuta has a dance with the cold hearted handsome devil HOOK at AEW Worlds End. And given what we saw Friday night on Rampage, Danhausen shouldn’t be too far behind.
In fact, he may be coming for Yuta’s Pure Championship. You know, being a ROH legend himself and all.
Danhousen?! The Fourth Judge in this #ROH Pure Championship Match has a message for Wheeler Yuta.— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) December 30, 2023
Watch #AEWRampage #NewYearsSmash on TNT!@DanhausenAD | @WheelerYuta | @730HOOK pic.twitter.com/bPJCLMgaZt
Coverage of AEW Worlds End kicks-off tonight with the Zero Hour pre-show live stream on All Elite’s YouTube channel and Bleacher Report starting at 7pm ET. Make sure to follow along with all the action right here on Cageside Seats.
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