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Yuya Aoki Closes in on One Year as Big Japan’s Top Champion

5 months ago Photo c/o Masahiro Kubota

Photo c/o Masahiro Kubota

Yuya Aoki Closes in on One Year as Big Japan’s Top Champion

By: Lewis Carlan

It’s been nearly eight years since Yuya Aoki walked into the Big Japan Pro-Wrestling dojo and began training with the promotion. Aoki joined BJW in April 2016 after being scouted by a familiar face within BJW, Yuji Okabayashi. Okabayashi recognized the potential of Aoki while he was still in high school and it amounted to Aoki becoming one of the top stars in BJW.

Following an exhibition match in November 2016, Yuya Aoki made his official debut on January 17, 2017 against the very man who brought him into BJW, Yuji Okabayashi. Despite losing in his debut, Aoki had a very busy 2017 as he competed in 144 more matches for Big Japan Pro-Wrestling. BJW had to have known that they had a potential major star within their ranks in Aoki and getting him the in-ring experience in his rookie campaign was obviously the plan. That plan has paid off for BJW.

Yuya Aoki won his first major title when he defeated Tajiri on September 15th 2019 for the BJW Junior Heavyweight Championship. Aoki held that title for 402 days and made four successful title defenses before losing the title to Tatsuhiko Yoshino in October 2020. After spending his first three years as a junior heavyweight, Aoki announced after his defeat to Yoshino that he would be moving up to the BJW Heavyweight Division.

The top heavyweight prize in Big Japan Pro-Wrestling is the BJW World Strong Heavyweight Championship. Some of the names that have held the championship include Manabu Soya, Hideki Suzuki, Daisuke Sekimoto & Daichi Hashimoto. Yuya Aoki got his first shot at the title on July 4th 2021 against Yasufumi Nakanoue but was unsuccessful in winning the gold. Aoki showed how far he had come as a wrestler up until that point and gave it his all but was unable to walk away with the championship. Fans that watched that match knew they were looking at a future champion in Aoki.

On February 2nd 2022, Daisuke Sekimoto faced Yuya Aoki in an Ikkitousen Strong Climb 2022 Block B match at Korakuen Hall.  Very early in the match, Aoki attempted a suicide dive onto Sekimoto and suffered a serious injury in the process. Aoki was counted out at the 2 minute mark and had to leave the arena on a stretcher. Aoki suffered a broken left tibia and left fibula which forced him to miss six months of in ring action. Following the devastating injury, Aoik took to social and proclaimed that his bones may be broken but his heart was not. He vowed to return to the ring and he made that return on August 7th 2022 at the same venue where the injury occurred, Korakuen Hall..

It would be eight months following his return from injury that Aoki would receive another shot at the BJW World Strong Heavyweight Championship. While the injury derailed his momentum, he was able to bounce back and get another opportunity at the top BJW championship. Fans could feel that a title change may be in the air.

There was one small problem: his mentor Yuji Okabayashi was enjoying his fourth reign as the champion and was a huge roadblock for Aoki in his quest to become heavyweight champion. On May 4th 2023, Aoki had come full circle facing his debut opponent Yuji Okabayashi, only this time he had seven years more experience and the BJW World Strong Heavyweight Championship was at stake.

The May 4th 2023 match between champion Yuji Okabayashi and challenger Yuya Aoki turned out to be a masterpiece. Numerous fans referred to it as a match of the year candidate. The two waged war against each other and when the smoke cleared it was Yuya Aoki who emerged victorious and became the 21st BJW World Strong Heavyweight Champion, the first title reign of his career. A jubilant Aoki took to social media and thanked the fans for all their support.

Now that Yuya Aoki was in possession of the richest prize in BJW, it was very important for him to be a fighting champion to demonstrate that he is in fact the top competitor within the promotion. Aoki, who was now the target of the entire BJW Heavyweight roster, made six successful defenses of his championship. In his second defense of the title, he got his win back from Yasufumi Nakanoue who defeated Aoki in his first attempt at the title. Aoki defeated top names including Daisuke Sekimoto, Hideyoshi Kamiyani and Kazumasa Yoshida as he retained his title over and over again.

Aoki kicked off his 2024 campaign on January 2nd as he defended the BJW World Strong Heavyweight Championship against a very game Leyton Buzzard. The two had a terrific match but in the end it was Aoki with his arm raised in victory and the championship belt still in his possession. It appears from the latest developments occurring in BJW that Yuya Aoki’s next challenger could be very well be Kazumi Kikuta.

January 4th, 2024 marked eight months that Yuya Aoki has held the top prize in BJW. As Aoki is a champion who defends his title often, we most likely will see one or two more championship defenses before May 2024. Aoki is closing in on his one year anniversary, which occurs on May 4th 2024, of being the BJW World Strong Heavyweight Champion.

Six competitors have tried to take his title but all six have failed. If you are a gambling man or woman, put your money on Yuya Aoki because the odds are extremely high that he will reach May 4th 2024 with his BJW World Strong Heavyweight Championship belt firmly around his waist.

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