Wheeler Yuta becoming AEW’s breakout star seemingly happened overnight. Before making his way to AEW, Yuta had a run on the independent scene. He competed in several promotions including NJPW STRONG, Ring of Honor, and Beyond Wrestling. In May 2021 he defeated Lee Moriarty to win the IWTV Independent Wrestling Championship. He would defend this championship across different promotions. His most notable defense came against Daniel Garcia at the IWTV 100 event, the match ended in a 60-minute time limit draw. Yuta would lose the championship to Alex Shelley in October 2021.
Yuta made his AEW debut on the June 29, 2021, episode of AEW Dark: Elevation in a losing effort against Karl Anderson. He would soon join the group known as ‘Best Friends’ which featured Orange Cassidy, Chuck Taylor, Trent Beretta, and Kris Statlander. Let’s take a look at the AEW rise of Yuta.
Wheeler Yuta AEW’s Breakout Star
The Making of a Star
Things started to change for Yuta when he faced off in a trilogy of matches against Jon Moxley. Their first match took place on the October 16th episode of Saturday Night Dynamite and the match lasted under 2 minutes. Moxley defeated Yuta in 1 minute and 11 seconds. Their second match took place on the February 2nd episode of Dynamite. Moxley once again defeated Yuta, this time in 7 minutes and 20 seconds.
After the Revolution pay-per-view in March, Moxley along with Bryan Danielson and William Regal came together to form the Blackpool Combat Club. On the March 16th episode of Dynamite, Moxley and Danielson faced off against Chuck Taylor and Wheeler Yuta. Yuta showed out in this match and even had the crowd chanting his name against fan favorites, Moxley and Danielson. After Moxley and Danielson won the match and celebrated in the ring with Regal, Yuta re-entered the ring in an attempt to shake Regal’s hand. Regal then proceeded to slap Yuta in the face (just as he had done to Moxley and Danielson at Revolution). Regal then told Yuta, “Go away and prove yourself a little more, Sunshine”.
Yuta would have the chance to prove himself when he faced Danielson on the March 30th episode of Dynamite. The crowd was behind Yuta as he took the fight to Danielson. Despite his effort, Yuta would lose the match. On April 1st, Yuta would win the ROH Pure Championship when he defeated Josh Woods at the Ring of Honor pay-per-view, Supercard of Honor XV.
On the April 6th episode of Dynamite, a backstage interview was conducted with the Blackpool Combat Club ahead of the third Moxley vs. Yuta match. Regal stated that now Yuta had already impressed himself and Danielson, he must also impress Moxley. On that same episode, another backstage interview was conducted this time with Wheeler Yuta and his Best Friends stablemates. This interview highlighted the tension between the Best Friends team. More so the tension between Yuta and Beretta, which had been building for weeks.
On the April 9th episode of Rampage, Yuta and Moxley would meet for the third time in singles competition. Yuta made his entrance first and then dived through the ropes onto Moxley during Moxley’s entrance. The pair would then fight outside the ring and into the crowd before the match could officially begin inside the ring. A few minutes into the match, Moxley threw Yuta into the steel ring steps which caused Yuta to bleed, profusely. After kicking out of not one but two of Moxley’s finishers, the paradigm shift, the fans were firmly behind Yuta to win. However, despite his hard-fought effort, he lost the match.
After the match, Danielson and Regal entered the ring where Regal finally shook Yuta’s hand. Yuta would then take his own blood and write the initials ‘BCC’ on his chest. His initiation into the Blackpool Combat Club was complete.
Bound By Blood
On the April 15th episode of Rampage, the BCC would have their first trios match together as they defeated The Gunn Club. Yuta gained the win by pinning hall of famer, Billy Gunn. The following weeks would see the BCC trio gain more trios wins building to their current 4-0 record in trios matches.
The BCC would soon enter a rivalry with the Jericho Appreciation Society and the two teams faced off in a 5-on-5 ‘Anarchy in the Arena’ match at the Double or Nothing PPV. At this time Yuta was in Japan competing in the Best of the Super Juniors tournament. Whilst competing in the tournament, Yuta finished with five wins and four losses while failing to advance to the finals.
When Yuta returned to AEW weeks later, the BCC and JAS rivalry was continuing. Matches had been set up for the NJPWxAEW PPV, Forbidden Door, and the special Dynamite episode ‘Blood and Guts‘. The build-up for these matches saw both teams brawling on several Dynamite and Rampage episodes. At Forbidden Door, Yuta teamed up with Eddie Kingston and Shota Umino vs Chris Jericho, Sammy Guevara, and Minoru Suzuki with the winning team gaining the advantage for the Blood and Guts match. One of the most memorable moments of this match was when Yuta performed a series of German suplexes to Jericho causing the fans in attendance to stand up and cheer. Jericho’s team won and so the JAS held the advantage heading into ‘Blood and Guts’.
Just days after Forbidden Door came the special Dynamite episode, ‘Blood and Guts‘. A blood and guts match usually involves two teams of four, five, or more wrestlers locked inside a steel cage that encompassed two rings. This particular match saw, Moxley, Yuta, Eddie Kingston, Santana, Ortiz, and the new member of the BCC, Claudio Castagnoli vs the JAS (Chris Jericho, Daniel Garcia, Sammy Guevara, Jake Hager, Matt Menard, and Angelo Parker). The BCC and their partners won this bloody and violent match and finally triumphed over the JAS.
It had been announced that Yuta would defend his ROH Pure Championship JAS’s Daniel Garcia at ROH’s Death Before Dishonor PPV on July 23rd. This singles match had been highly anticipated since the start of the BCC/JAS rivalry.
The July 20th episode of Dynamite saw Yuta teamed up with Jon Moxley against the Best Friends, Chuck Taylor and Trent Beretta. Orange Cassidy was on commentary along with William Regal. Yuta would pick up the win for his team using his favored ‘seatbelt’ pin to pin Chuck Taylor. Orange Cassidy then stated the pin was taught to Yuta by Taylor, adding another layer to this already compelling story.
Yuta successfully defended his ROH Pure Championship against Daniel Garcia at Death Before Dishonor. These two future main event stars had a classic pure rules match that was praised by the audience in attendance as well as the fans at home. The rivalry between Yuta and Garcia is going to be one of the great rivalries of the future.
Wheeler Yuta AEW’s Breakout Star: In Conclusion
In just a few weeks AEW made a star out of Wheeler Yuta, who despite his consecutive losses was able to rally the crowd behind him by proving he could hang with the top stars in AEW. His popularity has continued to increase week by week. With all of his recent success, the future continues to get brighter and brighter for Wheeler Yuta. When you look at the future of AEW and professional wrestling, he is at the forefront.
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world. As well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. You can catch AEW Dynamite Wednesday nights at 8 PM ET on TBS and AEW Dark: Elevation (Monday nights) and AEW: Dark (Tuesday nights) at 7 PM ET on YouTube. AEW Rampage airs on TNT at 10 PM EST every Friday night.