AEW star Jon Moxley and NJPW star Yuji Nagata will make history during tonight’s AEW Dynamite show on TNT as they do battle for Moxley’s IWGP United States Title.
Tonight’s match will be the AEW debut for the 53 year old Nagata, and his return to TNT after wrestling more than 50 matches for WCW in 1997 and 1998. Nagata’s last match on TNT came during the July 20, 1998 WCW Nitro episode, where he defeated Perry Saturn.
Nagata spoke with Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated and talked about respecting Moxley, and being grateful for the match.
“I’m very grateful to Jon Moxley for wanting to fight me so much that he made this challenge and invited me to America and AEW,” Nagata said through a translator. “I have a lot of respect for him, and what I respect most is that he understands the level of competition that takes place in New Japan Pro-Wrestling.”
It was noted that the Nagata vs. Moxley match was originally planned to take place on NJPW Strong. New Japan Pro Wrestling and AEW officials were both pleased with the working relationship after Kenta appeared on Dynamite in February, and then wrestled Moxley on NJPW Strong.
The AEW – NJPW momentum has continued, and the Nagata vs. Moxley match was planned for Strong until AEW President, CEO, General Manager and Head of Creative Tony Khan wanted it on Dynamite. Moxley told SI that he learned of NJPW’s Gedo planning to fly Nagata to the United States for the match on Strong. Moxley thought that plan was “f—ing awesome” but he informed Khan of the news, and Khan immediately shared his enthusiasm. Khan then asked the question that led to tonight’s Dynamite match being booked.
“Tony asked, ‘Why not do it on Dynamite?’” Moxley said. “And I said, ‘If we can, then f— yeah, that would be bigger, especially for a legend like Nagata.’ We both loved that it would be a chance for Nagata to be back on TNT. Before I knew it, Tony talked to New Japan, and now it’s happening. And it’s a chance to celebrate his career.”
This will be the first singles match between Moxley and Nagata, but last week’s NJPW Strong saw Moxley and Chris Dickinson defeat Nagata and Ren Narita. Moxley pinned Narita to get the win, but Nagata then applied his Nagata Lock III to Moxley after the bell.
Moxley revealed that people from every pro wrestling company have messaged him about tonight’s match.
“You would not believe the amount of texts I received from people in every company, every single one, even people that don’t normally text, saying, ‘I can’t believe you get to work with Nagata,’” Moxley said. “That’s only reinforced what a privilege it is to share the ring with him on Strong and Dynamite. We’re at a point here where anything can happen. We have the opportunity to see a legend here in Nagata. It makes me think of what else is possible.”
Moxley also commented on what to expect tonight.
“When you get down to the brass tacks, what this comes down to is two guys that are going to stand in the ring and try to f—— kill each other,” Moxley said. “This dude is the definition of fighting spirit, what New Japan’s all about, and I don’t roll over for anybody. We’re going to take our shots and see who falls down first, and it could very well be me. But to be dropped by one of the greatest to ever do it, then what a way to go out. If this is the end of my U.S. title run, then I’m going out in a blaze of glory, trading shots with a legend, live on Dynamite. He doesn’t f— around, I don’t f— around. I’m pretty stoked about it.”
Nagata added, “I’m going to let the match do the talking. Experience it for yourself, and enjoy.”
History will be made TONIGHT on #AEWDynamite LIVE 8/7c on TNT!
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) May 12, 2021