Wheeler Yuta has quickly become one of the most promising young talents in AEW, with his Japanese influence clear in his ring work.
Debuting first as part of the Best Friends, he left them to turn heel alongside the Blackpool Combat Club in 2022.
In his work with Jon Moxley, Bryan Danielson and Claudio Castagnoli has helped him grow as a performer, both in the ring and outside of it, with his promos and character worker getting better and better each week.
The influence of Japanese wrestling is clear in his matches, but his relationship with Japan goes much further than just in wrestling.
Wheeler Yuta Is Japanese On His Mother’s Side
Wheeler Yuta has revealed that he does have some Japanese ancestry, but only on his mother’s side.
Yuta has quickly risen into a main event spot in AEW, alongside his teammates in the Blackpool Combat Club.
Bryan Danielson and Jon Moxley have clearly been influenced by Japanese wrestling, and have been passing their knowledge along to Wheeler Yuta whenever they wrestle together in an AEW ring.
However, he has his own influence in his family, being brought up by a mother with Japanese ancestry herself.
His grandparents are Japanese, and his grandmother learned English solely so she could come to American and speak to a young Wheeler Yuta.
“These are my Japanese grandparents. My grandfather passed away when I was very young, but I have many fond memories of my grandmother. She learned English for the sole purpose of being able to communicate with my sister and I. She would visit America whenever she could, bringing all kinds of presents for the two of us.”Wheeler Yuta on AEW Unrestricted
While his real name is actually Paul Gruber, Wheeler Yuta wanted to pay tribute to his Japanese ancestry by choosing the name YUTA (all caps) as his ring-name, before he was talked out of his by Drew Gulak.
Speaking on an episode of “Under The Ring” with Phil Strum of USA Today, Wheeler Yuta said;
“Originally I just wanted my name to be ‘YUTA’ like just one name, all caps. I was actually speaking with Drew Gulak, who was helping train me at the time, and he gave me the first ‘Wheeler,’ so that’s where it came about.“
“We decided I needed some kind of first name, so that’s what it wound up being and now I love it. Now I think that it’s a very interesting, unique name, and I’m glad that I have it. At first, I wasn’t sold. I just wanted that all ‘one name’ thing.”
“Yuta was a Japanese name that I always really liked. It can mean different things depending on which Kanji (Japanese script) you pick.“
“The one I picked was very courageous, so if you write it out, that’s what it means, but that’s where that was where that name came from for me.”
He Trained In Japan For Michinoku Pro Wrestling
Going back to his roots, Wheeler Yuta spent a month training with Michinoku Pro Wrestling in Japan in 2017.
Despite not spending much time there, he learned many things about pro-wrestling while training in Japan.
In an interview with Steel Chair Magazine, Wheeler Yuta revealed that he learned both Japanese Strong Style and aspects of Lucha Libra when training in Michinoku Pro Wrestling.
I expanded on that improved my striking and submission grappling while training with Drew because of his style. I picked up Japanese and Lucha Libre influences in the Michinoku Pro Dojo in Japan. To me, studying and blending every style is how you build the wrestler of the future, which I strive to be.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.