Wheeler Yuta Is A Made Man
When Wheeler Yuta arrived in AEW, nobody noticed. And how could they? He came in during an awkward period, when main event talent was being dropped off by the truckload. He wasn’t CM Punk or Bryan Danielson. Hell, he wasn’t even Malakai Black. He was a young Indy guy coming off a decent run in Ring of Honor. He was randomly inserted into the Best Friends stable with no explanation other than “everybody needs a stable”. His first two TV matches were against babyfaces, which made everything even more confusing when Orange Cassidy would accompany him to the ring. Needless to say, he didn’t find his footing and he found himself on Dark Duty within the month.
He would show up on TV from time to time, always in six man tags with the Best Friends. But that didn’t last long. After audiences got vehemently sick of their feud with the Hardy Family Office, Yuta was taken off TV again. It seemed that the only purpose he served was a temporarily replacement for Trent?, who was still recovering from neck surgery. Orange Cassidy and Chuck Taylor needed someone to do 6-man’s with, so he was just inserted in there. He finally got a chance at singles glory in October of last year, when he was placed in the AEW Title Eliminator Tournament. His first opponent was a violent and erratic Jon Moxley, who plowed right through him in 47 seconds. He found TV time again a month later, when Wardlow manhandled him in 134 seconds. Yet another month after that, he was brought in as storyline fodder for Adam Cole to feast on. Then he was back to taking Indy dates.
Coming off the buzz of Yuta being entered into the PWG Battle of Los Angeles and his surprising first round win against Blake Christian, they decided it was time to give him another shot. He was immediately thrusted into an opening match against a newly sober and ripped Moxley, one that went just a little better. It was clear that he was given the freedom to do a little bit more and they went over 7 minutes. The match got a lot of buzz, but not for the right reasons. People were moreso interested in the post match segment, when Danielson came down to the ring to suggest that him and Moxley form what ended up being the Blackpool Combat Club. He even spoke of taking in guys like Yuta, Lee Moriarty and Daniel Garcia. The internet lost its collective mind over the prospect, mainly because Moriarty was already over in the internet wrestling community and Daniel Garcia had just won the aforementioned Battle of Los Angeles. Once again, Wheeler Yuta was an afterthought.
With Trent? already making his triumphant return, Wheeler’s existence in the Best Friends made even less sense. so when he and Orange Cassidy lost yet another match, this time to the Blackpool Combat Club, something clicked in his brain. Instead of going backstage through the face tunnel, he turned back around and into the ring. If the Blackpool Combat Club wanted to take new members, he sure as shit wanted to be the first in line. He offered William Regal a handshake and got slapped in return.
This only made him want it more.
Two weeks later, he locked up with Bryan Danielson. Despite losing the match via chokeout, a statement was made. He transformed his fighting style to be more brutal and up the BCC’s alley. He took the American Dragon to the limit and almost got away with it. You could feel the tide turn and the crowd warm up to him. This was a story that was suddenly relatable. At the end of the day, he is a talented wrestler that just wants to fit in somewhere and learn from the masters of the business. He wasn’t going to be written off and he would eventually get their attention, whether they liked it or not. And he would soon have his rematch with Moxley, the man who had humiliated him the most.
It was late last Wednesday night. The crowd had to have been completely gassed after watching 4 hours of wrestling, including [by no stretch of exaggeration] one of the greatest tag team bouts of all-time. To get these people to care about anything after what they’ve been through was an impossible task. It was a task that Wheeler was well aware of and would use it to fuel him further. He knew he needed to get over as soon as humanly possible. So before the crowd could utter the words to “Wild Thing”, before Moxley could adjust the barricade that he entered through, Wheeler went leaping into the air, headfirst, into him.
He fought like a man possessed. No matter what Moxley dished at him, he had a response. This was not going to be like the other times. This wasn’t going to be like any match he ever had. Within minutes, he had the crowd eating out of his hand. And when a shot to the steel stairs caused him to start gushing out blood, it only made him stronger. The wounded animal had absolutely nothing to lose and nothing but respect to gain. This was when the match turned ridiculous.
When he countered the King Kong Lariat into a back body drop, the crowd reached a fever pitch. He accepted their love, slapped some blood on his chest and proceeded to kick Moxley’s head in. When Moxley nearly decapitated him with a successful King Kong Lariat and he kicked out, people started to stand up. They exchanged stiff blows, bit each other, did whatever they could to inflict pain and when Yuta kicked out of the Paradigm Shift, Taz’s only response on commentary was, “That was a ‘Holy Shit’ moment, dude”, to the dismay of the bigwigs at Warner Media. Wheeler acted on pure adrenaline and desperation, applying hold after hold, trying to take Moxley out. And Moxley couldn’t figure out why the kid wouldn’t give up. He even kicked out of a high-angle Paradigm Shift, something very few men have ever done. Left with no other option, Moxley choked Wheeler out and put him out of his misery.
As Moxley looked on in shock, trying to catch his breath in the corner of the ring, Regal and Danielson joined them. Over a short period of time, they put this kid through literal hell and he always got back up, asking for more. If there was anybody in the world more deserving of a handshake from Lord William Regal himself, it was Wheeler Yuta. And he got just that. He was finally accepted. He wiped the blood off his face and used it to write BCC on his chest. His journey is just beginning and now he’s got three of the best wrestlers that had ever lived to whip him into shape.
It’s all just so beautiful. Less than a year ago, nobody knew who Wheeler Yuta was. Less than a month ago, nobody cared who Wheeler Yuta was. But that night in Boston, every single person was chanting his name at the top of their lungs. Last Wednesday, Wheeler Yuta became a made man. It’s hard to win over fans in modern Wrestling. You can’t do it with muscles. You can’t do it with celebrity endorsements. But you can do it with grit.
Good writing also helps.