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Wrestling / Yuji Nagata

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Yuji Nagata (born April 24, 1968) is a Japanese Professional Wrestler, famous for his work in New Japan Pro-Wrestling. A former national wrestling champion, he debuted in the company in 1992 and revealed himself as a promising freshman, having matches with and against future inseparable partner Manabu Nakanishi. After Kazuo Yamazaki came to NJPW, Nagata learned shoot-style wrestling under his tutelage and became New Japan's resident shooter, gaining a new attitude. He had a stint in United States as part of World Championship Wrestling and returned to Japan to fight nWo Japan, eventually founding the Fighting Club G-EGGS to ride the Mixed Martial Arts boom. However, Yuji's shooting credentials led the NJPW head Antonio Inoki to send him to a MMA event to fight Mirko Cro Cop, who defeated Nagata and shattered his escense. Though he won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship the same year and got a long reign, Nagata had to struggle to heal his credibility, which received a new hit after being defeated again in MMA by the feared Fedor Emelianenko. It was not until Inoki's exit from the company that Nagata could settle down as an high midcarder in New Japan, remaining until today as one of its best veterans.

Nagata's other accomplishments include winning the IWGP Heavyweight Championship again, the IWGP Tag Team Championship twice (once with Nakanishi and once with Wataru Inoue), the NEVER Openweight Championship, the G1 Climax, the G1 Tag League twice (once with Takashi Iizuka and once with Inoue), the New Japan Cup twice and Pro Wrestling NOAH's GHC Heavyweight Championship.

Nagata has also wrestled for All Japan Pro Wrestling and Pro Wrestling ZERO1-MAX.

He has a brother named Katsuhiko Nagata who is also a wrestling champion, as well as a more fortunate MMA fighter.

"Blue Justice Tropes":

  • Aborted Arc: Before his match against Tsuyoshi Kohsaka, Kohsaka's pal Yoshihisa Yamamoto came to the arena with BML guys Kazunari Murakami, Katsuyori Shibata and Fumihiko Uei, and brawled with Nagata after the match, anticipating a bout between Nagata and Yamamoto. However, it never had place.
  • Arch-Enemy: Minoru Suzuki, Masahiro Chono and Takashi Iizuka. In WCW, Último Dragón. Also politically Akira Maeda and everybody he feels follows the Maeda-ism (like Katsuyori Shibata ot Kazunari Murakami).
  • Ax-Crazy: Especially, but not limited to, as Killer Nagata. He once destroyed Kazunari Murakami's face with nine stiff knee strikes, and thirteen in another match.
  • Beat Them at Their Own Game: As the best native shoot-style wrestler, Nagata has been in charge to wrestle every shooter or mixed martial artist who came to New Japan during the 2000s. Unfortunately for him, this was the reason Inoki sent him to fight for real in MMA bouts against Cro Cop and Fedor.
  • Bash Brothers: With Manabu Nakanishi.
  • Blank White Eyes: Nagata rolls his eyes into the back of his head when he applies a seated armbar. The moment is called "Shirome" ("white eyes").
  • Captain Ersatz: Frequently makes "appearances" in Fire Pro Wrestling.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: While normally a serious wrestler, Yuji has a rather bizarre sense of humor. His most known antic is the "special training" he undergoes before every G1 Climax, which typically sees him learning aerobics, hula hoop spinning, cooking ramen, Japanese dances and TV science.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: His trademark color is blue.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Suffered these in his very brief MMA career. The total time of both his losing efforts was 1:23, which is not odd considering he faced Mirko Cro Cop and Fedor Emelianenko, against which he can thank the Shinto gods for having come out alive.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: His high knee to a cornered opponent is a forbidden move in Muay Thai, but he learned it specifically to battle Masahiro Chono.
  • Defeat Means Respect: Nagata initially scoffed at the infamous porn star/wrestler Chocoball Mukai's attempts to get a match with him, as Mukai was a former NJPW Dojo dropout, but gained a large amount of respect for him after the fighting spirit Mukai showed in their match.
  • Diving Kick: He had his own version, called Nagata Rocket Kick.
  • Double Knockout: Once had one with Kensuke Sasaki, via enzuigiri and lariat respectively.
  • Finishing Move:
    • When going for a sub, he has the Nagata Locks. The original one is a reverse figure four leglock similar to Yoji Anjo's version, but he added the Nagata Lock II (seated crossface) in 1997 while in WCW, the Nagata Lock III (double underhook crossface) in 2003 as a special move against Osamu Nishimura, and the Nagata Lock IV (chickenwing over the shoulder crossface) in 2006 for a match against Togi Makabe. He also used the STF while in WCW.
    • As for high-impact moves, he has the backdrop suplex or Tsuruta II (a name he used in his youth as a reference to Jumbo Tsuruta), the Thunder Death Driver (twisting brainbuster) and the Drive Screw (vertical suplex into a swinging neckbreaker). In 2013 he added the Exploder of Justice (wrist-clutch exploder suplex) to defeat Minoru Suzuki.
  • Gang of Hats: Team JAPAN. It was a stable composed by amateur wrestlers who opposed Chono's Black New Japan.
  • How Much More Can He Take?: He invoked the trope by proposing Toshiaki Kawada a duel of kicks in the face.
  • Hypocritical Humor: He was vocal against The Great Muta and supernatural/theatrical elements in pro wrestling just before unveiling his "Killer Nagata" alter ego.
  • I Know Amateur Wrestling: A multiple time national champion. He also trained in shoot wrestling under Kazuo Yamazaki and Muay Thai in the Ihara Dojo, from which he got his signature knee to the corner.
  • Odd Friendship: With actor Daisuke Shima.
  • Power Copying
    • He copied Yoshihiro Tajiri's blue mist to counter his, albeit Nagata mostly used simple water and not blue liquid, supposedly because he was not trained to endure the blue mist's "toxins" in his mouth. He brought back the mist against MAYBACH Taniguchi in NOAH with a blue taint left behind but not a very strong one.
    • His Nagata Lock II was copied from Carl Malenko's crossface.
  • Power Stable:
    • Seigigun (Blue Justice Army).
    • Team JAPAN
  • Red Baron: "Blue Justice", "Nekketsu Puroresu Kyoshi" ("Hot-Blooded Wrestling Master").
  • Ring Oldies: In his 50s and he can still keep up with wrestlers still in their prime.
  • Still Got It: Started to show in the 2015 G1 Glimax, especially in his match with Kazuchika Okada. American fans got to see what Nagata had left when he came to All Elite Wrestling in 2021 to challenge Jon Moxley for the IWGP United States Championship.
  • Superpowered Evil Side: His "Killer Nagata" or "Darkside Nagata" character.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: His quiet but unmistakable reaction to Matt Morgan tearing away his own shirt to reveal his muscles in response to Nagata's mockery.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With Nakanishi. They have turned against each other more than once, but always come together when they need it.
  • Wild Card: For the majority of his career in New Japan, his only regular ally being Nakanishi.
  • The Worf Effect: His loss to Kurt Angle after New Japan and the Inoki Genome Federation solved the Brock Lesnar problem, to make the "third IWGP belt" seem important and make Shinsuke Nakamura look that much better for putting an end to it and becoming undisputed IWGP Heavyweight Champion.
  • Wrestling Family: His younger brother, Katsuhiko Nagata is a silver medalist at the 2000 Olympics in Greco-Roman Wrestling and a more fortunate MMA fighter than Yuji.