Exclusive: YOICHI Discusses His Recent Title Win, Pro Wrestling NOAH, PROGRESS, More

(Photo Credit: PROGRESS Wrestling)

PROGRESS Wrestling left their mark on the biggest weekend in wrestling by holding Chapter 166, Freedom Walks Again, in Philladelphia. The event was very well received both online and with a capacity crowd as part of the GCW Collective set of shows.

One of the reasons it was so well received was due to an extremely hard-hitting ATLAS title match between RKJ and YOICHI, with the man from Japan coming out on top and winning the championship.


Now, with PROGRESS ready to return to their spiritual home of the Electric Ballroom, Camden, this weekend as part of their latest show, Chapter 167 – ‘One Lump or Two?’, YOICHI prepares to defend his title for the first time against PROGRESS newcomer, Robert Dreissker.

PWMania’s Lee Tarrier (@leeseedub) caught up with the new champion in preparation for this weekend’s match and spoke to him about transitioning from wrestling in Japan to the thriving UK independent scene, and becoming a champion over here.

Congratulations on becoming PROGRESS Atlas Champion. It was on a big stage in Philadelphia. How do you feel your match went against RKJ?

Thank you very much. The match against RKJ was one of the hardest matches I have been in. It was a very tough match where we hit each other with everything we had. To be on such a big stage, I had to have a strong mind to beat such a fantastic talent. RKJ held the title well and to defeat him was a great accomplishment.

Now, I want to make sure I can defend the title in a series of strong style, stand out matches.

You have been in PROGRESS a little while now, putting on very hard hitting matches. How have you found the UK independent scene and PROGRESS in particular and how does it differ to wrestling in Japan?
A hard-hitting style is my favourite style. It’s all about leaving everything in the ring and striking your opponent with everything you have. It’s a style that is appreciated here like it is in Japan.
What I love about PROGRESS Wrestling is that there are many different styles in one promotion. Wrestlers in PROGRESS fight across a number of promotions, unlike in Japan where wrestlers are signed to one company. Because of this, the wrestlers here bring different approaches and make every match different.
For me, it helps me get better, learn more about the craft of wrestling and become more adaptable. I’m loving the experience here as everyone I have come across has been wonderful. It is definitely something I look forward to each time I wrestle here, and now that I am champion, I look forward to putting on great shows for the fans.
Now you are champion, who are some of the stand out names you want to defend the title against?
As a champion, I am open to fighting whoever comes my way. It is the role of the champion to do so. However, as ATLAS champion, I want to take on the big guys, the technical ones that will offer me great challenges in the ring.
So far, in my time at PROGRESS, I have been really impressed with wrestlers such as Bullit, Axel Tischer and Big Damo from Sanity, wrestlers such as them are the ones I think can really test me and together we can put on great matches, so I would realy like to take them on in the future.
I start with Robert Dreissker and this will be a tough match that tests my skills from my very first defence. I look forward to his challenge.
You have had some stand out matches in Pro Wrestling NOAH. What are some of your most memorable?
I had some great moments in Pro Wrestling NOAH. It was where I really learned the art of the sport and developed my hard hitting style. But, for me, my most memorable moment in a Pro Wrestling NOAH ring was my match against Wagner JR.
That match was my first ever challenge for a singles title and it meant so much to me to be able to do so. It is a very different environment when you go into a title match. There is a different level of expectation from the crowd, your opponent and all your fellow wrestlers.
It is why this match, and my incredible opponent, Wagner Jr. made me stronger and ready for future title challenges in the future.
Are you excited about being involved in the PROGRESS x Pro Wrestling NOAH cards happening in the UK this September?
I am very excited about the upcoming tour. It will be great to reconnect with the great roster of Pro Wrestling NOAH where I grew up, learned so much and met so many great people.
My wish is to still be ATLAS champion when the tour comes around in September as I would love to defend the title across the UK and against some of the top Pro Wrestling NOAH talent out there.
With PROGRESS now linked with Defy, and after winning your title in the USA, do you have ambitions to wrestle in America, and if so, where would you like to wrestle?
Wrestling in the United States was a very exciting thing to do, especially during a time when so many fans from around the world got together in one place to watch the sport.
The crowds were amazing and the environment is great so, of course, i would love to wrestle in the USA again.
Defy is a great company and one I would love to defend my ATLAS title in. But I would love to travel across the country, visiting many promotions and wrestling the different rosters that are out there. I like the idea of taking on people with different ring styles and showing the American audience my hard-hitting style.
I hope to wrestle in the USA again very soon!
Catch YOICHI as part of Chapter 167: One Lump or Two, this Sunday, April 21st. Tickets for the show are available here or you can catch the action on Demand Progress Plus