HomeAEWAEW/NJPW: Who is Yuji Nagata?

AEW/NJPW: Who is Yuji Nagata?

The Forbidden Door has creaked open once again as AEW announced that New Japan Pro Wrestling star Yuji Nagata will face Jon Moxley for the IWGP United States Championship on Dynamite.

Nagata will make his way to Jacksonville for the April 12th episode of Dynamite where he will face the longest reigning IWGP United States champion, Jon Moxley, since the belts inception in 2017.

But Nagata is no stranger to wrestling in America, or in fact on TNT.

Nagata before turning Pro

Before turning his hand to professional wrestling, Yuji Nagata was an accomplished amateur wrestler, representing Japan in the Asian Championships twice, placing fifth in 1993 and placing fourth in 1994.

Along the way Nagata would also meet future rival Minoru Suzuki through amateur wrestling, with Suzuki beating Nagata first in a Tokyo high school tournament and again at the Japanese sectionals.

Going on Excursion & WCW

Yuji Nagata would turn pro in April 1992, training in the New Japan Pro Wrestling Dojo, making his debut just five months later, 15th September 1992, against Hiroyoshi Yamamoto.

WCW Nagata

As part of the NJPW Dojo system it is expected that the graduates on excursion to gain more experience and develop. Nagata would join WCW on an excursion in 1997 where he would be managed by Sonny Onoo, acting as a translator for him. He would begin feuding with Ultimo Dragon leading to the two squaring off in the opening match of Halloween Havoc 1997, which Nagata would win via submission. He would defeat Ultimo Dragon again at World War 3 1997 before competing in the 60-Man World War 3 match won by Scott Hall. Ultimo Dragon would finally get his revenge on Nagata on WCW Worldwide.

On his way out of the company, Nagata would defeat Marty Janetty and Perry Saturn before winning his final WCW match against Frankie Lancaster on WCW Worldwide.

Return to NJPW and the birth of Blue Justice

Upon his return to New Japan in August 1998, Nagata was almost immediately in the IWGP Heavyweight Championship picture, challenging Scott Norton for the vacant belt in a losing effort.

NEW JAPAN PRO WRESTLING YUJI NAGATA POSTER njpw,ajpw,wcw,wwe,wwf - £0.99 |  PicClick UK

Nagata would get his first taste of gold in New Japan, teaming with Manabu Nakanishi to defeat Tatsutoshi Goto and Michiyoshi Ohara for the IWGP Tag Team Championships. They would hold the belts for almost a year before dropping the titles to Satoshi Kojima and Hiroyoshi Tenzan on 20th July 2000.

2001 would be where Nagata began to cement his legendary career, winning the eleventh G1 Climax by defeating Keiji Mutoh via submission in the final.

Nagata was defeated again at Wrestling World 2002, the January 4th Tokyo Dome show now known as Wrestle Kingdom, this time losing to Jun Akiyama for the GHC Heavyweight Championship, the top belt in Pro-Wrestling NOAH.

He would challenge once again for the vacated IWGP Heavyweight Championship, due to Kazuyuki Fujita suffering an injury, but would lose to Tadao Yasuda in a tournament final on February 16th 2002. Nagata would finally claim the title, defeating Yasuda less than a month later holding the title for thirteen months, setting a record for most successful title defences at the time with 10, before losing the belt to Yoshihiro Takayama.

Nagata would go on to unsuccessfully challenge Brock Lesnar for his IWGP 3rd Belt Championship before losing to his former Amateur Wrestling foe Minoru Suzuki for the Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship at the first Wrestle Kingdom.

But Nagata’s fortunes would turn once again, winning the third ever New Japan Cup in 2007 and becoming the first man to win both the New Japan Cup and the G1 Climax.

Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Yuji Nagata NJPW's New Japan Cup 2006 |

Nagata made the most of the title match he earned this time, defeating Hiroshi Tanahashi to claim his second IWGP Heavyweight Championship. This reign would be somewhat less illustrious then his incredible first reign, dropping the belt back to Tanahashi 178 days later. This would be the final IWGP Heavyweight Championship reign for Nagata, but despite only having two reigns, he is seventh overall for combined reigns with the belt.

From 2010 onwards Nagata would fall more into a coaching role but would continue to wrestle, claiming another IWGP Tag Team Championship with Wataru Inoue and winning the New Japan Tag League.

In 2011 he would claim his second New Japan Cup victory, defeating Shinsuke Nakamura in the final before failing to claim the IWGP Heavyweight Championship from Hiroshi Tanahashi.

Nagata

Nagata would also add a NEVER Openweight Championship to his impressive list of accolades, holding the belt for just 47 days, defeating and then losing it to Katsuyori Shibata.

Yuji Nagata has now set his sights on Jon Moxley’s IWGP United States Championship, returning to TNT for the first time in 23 years.

You can watch Jon Moxley vs Yuji Nagata on the April 12th episode of AEW Dynamite which you can catch on Fite.TV.

Want to see more from Blue Justice? you can watch his phenomenal match against Minoru Suzuki at Summer Struggle over at njpwworld.

Jon Moxley To Defend IWGP US Title Against Yuji Nagata On Dynamite
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