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Tougher, wiser Wheeler Yuta ready for Kenny Omega; Blood & Guts [Exclusive]

If there’s one thing that a year of training with the Blackpool Combat Club will do for a talent, it’s prepare them to deliver on the grandest stages. Wheeler Yuta has arguably the biggest opportunity of his young career tonight when he takes on the “Best Bout Machine” in professional wrestling, Kenny Omega, on AEW Dynamite.

Not only is it an opportunity for Yuta as a professional, but it’s a chance for the BCC to build some momentum and further weaken one of their potential opponents ahead of Blood and Guts III inside Boston’s TD Garden Arena on July 19.

We know that match will feature the Blackpool Combat Club taking on the Elite, but both groups have key members who are pretty banged up after last month’s Forbidden Door PPV.

Kenny Omega is among them. How could he not be?

For nearly 40-minutes he and Will Opsreay put on a wrestling spectacle that had nearly 15,000 fans, and many more watching at home, living and dying with every move. And losing their minds with every false finish. A match that once again featured Kenny getting stabbed with a screwdriver, on top of taking a Tiger Driver 91 and a bevy of other high impact maneuvers.

Wheeler Yuta had just got through a battle himself as part of a 10-man tag team match, in which he took the pinfall loss for his team, following a devastating brainbuster from NJPW’s Tomohiro Ishii. Yuta did not see all of the Omega\Ospreay match while it was happening, but he made sure to watch it back in it’s entirety.

“Just an absolutely incredible match. The risks that those guys [took], were insane,” Yuta told Cageside Seats. “I think Kenny’s gonna be a little bit banged up going into this one.”

There are many who believe that Omega and Will Ospreay put on one of, if not the, greatest wrestling match of all time. But Wheeler Yuta says he’s not feeling any added pressure as Kenny’s follow up opponent.

Ahead of tonight’s episode of Dynamite, Yuta sat down for a lengthy conversation with Cageside Seats. The third installment in our “Going Over” interview series.

“Honestly, I always just try to kind of do my own thing and focus on my own goals,” Wheeler said. “Obviously, [following the Ospreay match] definitely adds to the excitement. It adds to the feel of it. Just like, how is Kenny gonna be able to bounce back after having such a classic match? So it definitely adds a whole ‘nother element to it, but I really just have to focus on doing the best that I can do... it definitely adds a little bit more in an air of excitement. I don’t think I’d say pressure. I’d say excitement for me.”

One man we know will not be taking part in the annual Blood and Guts double cage match is Bryan Danielson. The American Dragon is expected to miss an extended period of time following his dream match with Kazuchika Okada at Forbidden Door.

Another instant classic that only further etched Bryan Danielson’s name amongst the best that have competed inside the sacred squared circle.

The aversion this author has when it comes to the classic, and somewhat tired, Mount Rushmore conversation cannot be understated. Pro wrestling is far too nuanced to even begin to nail down the best four ever to lace up a pair of boots.

With that said. If Bryan Danielson’s name is not under heavy consideration in any such discussion, then respectfully, that conversation significantly lacks merit.

And while the term - greatest of all time - has become vastly overused in today’s society, Wheeler Yuta is able to set his bias aside, and acknowledge the brilliance of his Blackpool Combat Club stablemate.

“If you make me do a Mount Rushmore, like Bryan’s on it for sure. I think Bryan is one of the greatest of all time. He’s given me so much and taught me so many lessons, even just like being with him after... breaking his arm and having one of the craziest matches I’ve ever seen,” Yuta said, almost in awe of Danielson’s demeanor following the Forbidden Door main event. “Just... smile on his face. Just a true professional. Went to the press conference after, did the media scrum with a broken arm.”

At the time of that Forbidden Door media scrum, Danielson was under the belief that he had fractured his forearm. He finished out the last 10 minutes of the main event, heavily favoring his right arm, almost unable to use it at all.

Danielson showed true composure in the biggest of moments and leaned into his technical wrestling expertise. The final moments of the match saw Bryan use his feet to apply a modified LeBell Lock, forcing Okada to submit for the first time since 2015 when he competed at the G1 Climax.

As Danielson’s wife, Brie Garcia, later informed the public, his injury ended up being much more severe than initially thought. About as clean a break of the forearm as a person can have. During our conversation, Yuta added more context to the American Dragon’s toughness.

“Me, [Danielson] and Claudio were on the way back after [the show]. And... it’s been a few hours since the match and the adrenaline’s kind of wearing off. His arm’s hurting. We’re like, oh man, are you okay? You doing all right? He’s like, ‘Yeah. On a scale of 1-10, the pain’s about a five.’”

“Bryan likes to joke that he’s invincible,” Wheeler said. “I believe it was after the MJF match, I was talking to him and he said, being invincible is not [thinking] you can’t be hurt, you can’t be injured, none of that. He said, it’s knowing that all that can happen and doing it anyways. Knowing all that can happen and fighting through it, getting through it. And I’ve seen him pull out some of the gutsiest performances I’ve ever seen, just in... the year that I’ve been a part of the BCC.”

Danielson had reportedly been working “banged up” following his Iron Man Match with MJF at AEW Revolution back in March, and had noticeably been taking fewer bumps in the lead up to his match with Okada. Even when competing in Anarchy in the Arena, Danielson’s spots were limited in that match. Most likely in an effort to keep him as healthy as possible and ensure that he didn’t miss Forbidden Door for the second consecutive year.

Whatever Danielson was going through at the time, he was still there to pass his wrestling philosophy down to Wheeler Yuta - who said Bryan’s mindset on invincibility was one of the single best lessons he’s learned during his time in the Blackpool Combat Club.

The 26 year-old is in an extremely enviable position. Having some of the top talents of the last few decades nearby to offer up advice when he’s in need of some. A wealth of knowledge and experience that Wheeler says has been extremely beneficial to his growth as a wrestler and performer.

In two weeks time, Yuta will return to the match where his training wheels as a member of the BCC, so to speak, came off — Blood and Guts. AEW’s adaptation of WarGames, but with the violence jacked up to eleven.

Angelo Parker of the Jericho Appreciate Society said in the months that followed last year’s Blood and Guts match that he lost so much blood, he felt that he was close to death.

One image from that match that will be nearly impossible for anyone to forget, was Parker being strung upside down from the cage, blood gushing down his face. Matching an image burned into my memory as a kid, when the late actor Bill Paxton’s character lost a fight for his life in Predator 2.

“That match was so chaotic. It was so insane and it hurt so bad,” Wheeler Yuta said remembering the experience. “Angelo [Parker]’s hanging upside down, bleeding down his face. If you go back and watch the match, you can see I’m beating him up. That happens. And then you just see my feet go flying. So we go to commercial break and I’m being thrown into thumbtacks. No one even saw it.”

His thumbtack spot and another table spot were apparently among several of bigger moments of the match, that much of the television audience missed out on.

“There’s so much carnage that we can’t even fit it all on television. That’s how insane those matches are. So they really do take a toll on you and they can definitely hurt. And I was definitely feeling that one for a while. I’m sure Sammy Guevara was feeling it for a very long time after that insane throw off the top of the cage. But yeah... it’s a match that really can take a lot outta you and it’s something you gotta mentally prepare for.”

Blood and Guts II was the first time in Yuta’s career that he ever wrestled in a cage match. Talk about baptism by fire. But for the youngest member of the Blackpool Combat Club, fear of the unknown actually turned out to be more of an ally than a foe.

Just a couple of months into his tenure with the BCC, Wheeler Yuta had yet to really delve into the depths of violence that teaming with the likes of Jon Moxley and Bryan Danielson can take a performer.

Blood and Guts was Yuta’s unrelenting introduction into some of the worst pain and torture he would put his body through over the next year.

“Almost not knowing [what he was getting into with Blood and Guts] was a little bit of ignorance is bliss. But I think that I’m a much tougher guy now. I think the BCC’s really, really toughened me up. So now I’m excited for it. Now, I can’t wait to get in there and do it.”

Blood and Guts III is expected to finally determine an outright winner in this war between the Blackpool Combat Club and the Elite that the AEW faithful have watched unfold over the past several months.

A conflict that can be traced back to Jon Moxley’s days as the AEW World Champion. What was a highly anticipated big title fight against Hangman Adam Page last October, served as the catalyst for Page’s eventual reunion with the Elite and their bitter rivalry with the BCC.

Hangman suffered a pretty serious concussion during a match with Moxley on AEW Dynamite: Title Tuesday in Cincinnati, OH. A heavily pro-Mox crowd watched on as their guy inadvertently came in a little high with a lariat and sent Adam Page crashing down to the mat head first as he tried to sell the maneuver with flip in through the air - a move that fans have seen wrestlers perform thousands of times to help put over the strength of their opponent.

The match was stopped with 10 minutes left in the show, which lead to an impromptu promo from Casino Ladder Match winner MJF where he teased cashing in his poker chip for a shot at Jon Moxley’s AEW World Title in front of his hometown fans.

It’s pro wrestling. Sometimes things just go wrong. For Hangman Adam Page, he would not return to in-ring action until nearly three months later. By then Mox was no longer AEW Champion, but it didn’t matter. Page’s on-screen persona was out for revenge and it wasn’t long before all the members of the Elite and Blackpool Combat Club were swept onto this personal pugilistic battleground.

The two factions have traded victories at the last two PPV’s, Double or Nothing and Forbidden Door, respectively. The biggest victory for Wheeler Yuta since he signed with AEW came at the former, when he pinned Kenny Omega to claim Anarchy in the Arena for the BCC. The most violent battle yet between these two groups, but an experience that Wheeler Yuta (initially) said could not top what he went through against the Jericho Appreciation Society at Blood and Guts.

“They were both tough, I will say. For me, I think Blood and Guts was a little bit tougher. Again, maybe it’s because I got thrown in thumbtacks at the end of it and whipped with a belt by Daniel Garcia and stuff like that. So maybe I came out on the rougher end of the Blood and Guts match, because Anarchy was insane. Obviously, Jon almost got his face blown off. There’s a lot of insanity. For me personally, Blood and Guts is a little bit tougher, but I think that, to each their own. They’re both brutal matches.”

Not ten seconds later, Wheeler changed his mind. He quickly remembered one spot from his match at Double or Nothing that was enough to proclaim Anarchy in the Arena as the tougher contest.

“I’m gonna go back and change my answer to Anarchy, because the Northern Light Suplexes down the ramp hurt a lot. I’ll change my answer. (Laughs).”

Their battles with the Elite may be winding down, but a new internal struggle may be brewing inside the Blackpool Combat Club.

Eddie Kingston’s return to AEW television has thrown a wrench into the cohesiveness of the BCC, with Kingston desperately trying to keep one of the few good friends he has in the entire company on the straight and narrow.

Or... he simply just doesn’t want Jon Moxley to pal around with Claudio Castagnoli because Kingston hates the ROH Champion, maybe, more than anyone.

Either way, the growing angst between two friends begrudgingly saw Kingston team with the Elite at Forbidden Door. A move Eddie later revealed was done as a way to protect Mox from everyone else’s fists during the match but Kingston’s.

Adding another layer of intrigue was the addition of Moxley’s wife, beloved backstage correspondent and broadcaster, Renee Paquette into the story. Renee went full Mom-mode on both Jon and Eddie last week on Dynamite, with Wheeler Yuta having a front row ticket to the show.

“Renee’s just been such a great add to the production and for everything for AEW. She’s been awesome.” Yuta said. “The fact that she has been playing it, like, the straight man and has been just the backstage correspondent, it really added something when she was like, ‘You gotta fix this.’ I felt it. When she said that, I was... Oh, oh, all right. It adds like a whole ‘nother dynamic and she’s incredible... she can do so much for the company. She already has and I know that she’ll just continue to be such an asset to AEW.

Fans will see the next chapter in the Blackpool Combat Club vs. The Elite tonight on AEW Dynamite. Wheeler Yuta goes one-one-one with Kenny Omega, an appetizer for Blood and Guts, and the headlining match on yet another stacked Wednesday night card. The show gets underway at 8pm EST on TBS; you can follow along in the Cageside Seats live blog here.

Wheeler Yuta was very generous with his time while speaking to Cageside Seats. Check out our full interview with him in the video at the top of the page as he puts over his hometown of Philadelphia, talks about three of his favorite teams losing major Championships in one year and his college days at Villanova. All that and so much more!

You can follow Rick Ucchino on Twitter and subscribe to the Bleav in Pro Wrestling Podcast Channel for more of his work.

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