Thursday, January 25, 2007

WCW: Yuji Nagata

WCW: Yuji Nagata
Yuji Nagata (born April 24, 1968) is a Japanese professional wrestler. He is known for his perennial 'tweener status and his stiff, shoot style wrestling technique.

Before turning professional, Nagata was a successful amaresu (amateur) wrestler. Competing in the Greco-Roman style, Nagata represented Japan in the Asian Championships twice (1993, placing fifth, and 1994, placing fourth), in one World Cup at the Espoir level in 1988, and in the 1991 World Championships, placing twenty-first.

Nagata joined New Japan Pro Wrestling in April 1992 and trained in the New Japan Dojo. He debuted on September 14 of that year, facing Hiroyoshi Tenzan. Nagata increased in stature during the 1995 inter-promotional angle pitting NJPW loyalists against UWF International wrestlers. Taught the shoot-style by Kazuo Yamazaki, who had returned to NJPW after leaving UWFI, Nagata learned the style that has been his trademark ever since.

Nagata joined the American World Championship Wrestling promotion in February 1997 as an arrogant heel. He was managed by Sonny Onoo, who also acted as his translator. He began feuding with Ultimo Dragon, with Nagata repeatedly injuring Dragon's shoulder. The two rivals faced one another at Halloween Havoc on October 26, with Nagata forcing his smaller opponent to submit with an arm submission hold. They faced one another in a rematch at WCW World War 3 on November 23, with the added stipulation that, should Dragon win, he would receive five minutes alone in the ring with the interfering Onoo. Nagata was able to pin Dragon following a distraction by Onoo, thus ending their feud.

In 1998 Nagata teamed with Kensuke Sasaki and entered a tournament for the number one contenderships to the WCW World Tag Team Championships. The partners won the tournament, but were unable to win the titles in their subsequent title match. Nagata left WCW in August 1998 and returned to Japan.

Upon his return, Nagata began challenging for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship. On September 23, 1998, Nagata fought Scott Norton for the vacant title (the previous champion, Masahiro Chono, had suffered a neck injury) in Yokohama, but was defeated.

On August 28, 1999 in Tokyo, Nagata and Manabu Nakanishi defeated Shiro Koshinaka and Kensuke Sasaki for the IWGP Tag Team Championships. They held the title untils July 20, 2000, when they lost to Satoshi Kojima and Hiroyoshi Tenzan in Sapporo, Hokkaido. Nagata and Nakanishi feuded with Kojima and Tenzan for several months, but were unable to regain the titles. In January 4, 2000, his old mentor Kazuo Yamazaki retired and Nagata served as his final opponent, winning the match.

In March 2000 Nagata formed an ill-fated stable known as Fighting Club G-EGGS, with all the stable member having legitimate sporting backgrounds. The stable included Manabu Nakanishi, Nagata's tag team partner and co-IWGP Tag Team Champion at the time, Masakazu Fukuda, Yutaka Yoshie and Brian Johnston. Fukuda died in April 2000 from a brain hemorrhage suffered during a match with rookie Katsuyori Shibata, and was honoured with a ten-bell salute and a tribute show in September of that year. Johnston's participation in the group was largely limited after he suffered a stroke, and Nagata eventually disbanded G-EGGS on June 16, 2001.

In August 2001, Nagata won the eleventh annual G-1 Climax tournament, defeating Keiji Mutoh in the finals by submission. Nagata had entered the tournament twice before, but was eliminated in semi-final matches on both instances. Nagata challenged for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship once again after it was vacated by the injured Kazuyuki Fujita on January 4, 2002, but lost to Tadao Yasuda on February 16, 2002, in a tournament final. Nagata defeated Yasuda for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship on April 5, 2002 in the Nippon Budokan. Immediately following his victory, Nagata was attacked by Pro Wrestling NOAH mainstay Yoshihiro Takayama. He held the title for thirteen months before losing to Takayama on May 2, 2003 in the Tokyo Dome.

In April 2005, Nagata formed Team JAPAN, a group of former amateur wrestlers with a grudge against the younger generation of wrestlers in NJPW.

On June 28, 2006, Nagata was announced as a participant in the 2006 G-1 Climax, his eighth appearance in the tournament.

Nagata challenged for the AJPW Triple Crown at the January 4th Tokyo Dome show against the current Triple Crown champion, Minoru Suzuki. Nagata was submitted very quickly in a very dissapointing match.

Yuji Nagata always gives a salute before applying the Nagata Lock I on his opponents. ( see: Smackdown vs Raw 2006)
Nagata's motto is "Be Ambitious" which is usually written on his wrestling tights.
Nagata is the 3rd longest reigning IWGP Champion, with a reign of 392 days

Popular Posts