Blue Justice Is Coming To AEW
It was announced on Wednesday night that the Forbidden Door was being kicked open once more, and legendary Japanese grappler Yuji Nagata would be making his way to All Elite Wrestling for the May 12th edition of DYNAMITE! But Blue Justice isn't just coming to AEW to showcase the world class skills acquired over his nearly thirty year career, Nagata is coming to reclaim New Japan Pro Wrestling's IWGP United States Heavyweight Title from Jon Moxley!
It all came out of Moxley, reigning champion for 480+ days, issuing the following challenge to “Mr. IWGP”:
Nagata would respond with the following:
With championship fight now officially made for DYNAMITE on May 12th, it seems appropriate to explore just who Yuji Nagata is and what he brings to the table for this bout with former AEW World Champion.
Yuji Nagata, at 53 years old and in his twenty-eighth year as a professional wrestler, began his training under the tutelage of Hiroshi Hase and Kensuke Sasaki in the New Japan Dojo, before kicking off his in-ring career in September of 1992. Nagata competed in the Young Lions Cup tournament from 1993-1996, and although he was not able to win, Yuji made it to the finals in 'both 95 as well as '96. It was in 1997 though that Nagata experienced the biggest international exposure of his career thus far when he traveled on excursion to the United States to compete for World Championship Wrestling.
For a year and a half, Nagata competed across the brand on every television show they presented, including on TNT, and against opponents of all divisions, including a few faces quite familiar to the AEW fanbase such as Dean Malenko, Chris Jericho, Diamond Dallas Page, and Curt Hennig. And although he never became a champion in that organization, Nagata challenged for their TV Title, the Cruiserweight Title, and the United States Championship. It was not a long tenure in the United States, though certainly one that left an impact in the memories of fans, but it was merely prelude for the successes Yuji Nagata would achieve when he returned home to NJPW.
Nagata would capture the first championship of his career in August of 1999, the IWGP Tag Team Titles, alongside the man who bested him in the '95 Young Lions Cup Manabu Nakanishi. Their reign would last 327 days, the 7th longest reign in history for any team, but that would pail in comparison to Nagata's first reign as the IWGP Heavyweight Champion.
Claiming the title as his own in April of 2002, Nagata would rule as champion for a 392 days before finally being dethroned by Yoshihiro Takayama. That title reign still stands as the fifth longest in the rich history of the championship, and set a record for the most successful title defenses (10) that stood for eight years, but it would not be the last time Nagata would claim that title, nor would New Japan Pro Wrestling be the only company he would conquer in the ensuing years.
Nagata would travel to Pro Wrestling NOAH, to All Japan Pro Wrestling, and to ZERO-1 and claim championships. He would enjoy a second reign as the IWGP Heavyweight Champion in 2007, as well as a second IWGP Tag Team championship reign in 2020, and throughout his career, Nagata would secure wins in several of NJPW's signature tournaments like a win in the 2001 G1 Climax Tournament, as well as multiple victories in the G1 Tag League and the New Japan Cup (the first man to win the G1 and NJ Cup actually). That success Nagata experienced in claiming championships outside of New Japan also came to him in tournaments like the AJPW Champion Carnival 2011 and the NOAH Global League 2013. With those wins, Nagata again made history as the first man to claim victory in the G1, the Champion Carnival, and the Global League! On two occasions, Nagata even navigated the waters of MMA with fights against future legends Mirko Cro Crop and Fedor Emelianko!
Suffice to say, pretty much everywhere Blue Justice has walked success closely followed, but home is where the heart is, and that heart has always beat for New Japan Pro Wrestling. Over the last several years in that home, Nagata has also become familiar with many other faces on the AEW roster, particularly that of Lance Archer, but so to has he faced Kenny Omega, The Good Brothers, even The Young Bucks on one wild multi-man occasion.
With any of those fights, one thing has remained consistent, Yuji Nagata is NJPW through-and-through, he is “Mr. IWGP”, and so it is with that mindset that Yuji Nagata travels to Jacksonville, and enters Daily's Place, to put down Jon Moxley, claim his very first IWGP United States Heavyweight Title, and bring it back home!