On Wednesday night, Jon Moxley and Yuji Nagata will make history when they clash on AEW Dynamite.
The contest will mark the latest innovation in All Elite Wrestling’s evolving process of breaking down the “forbidden door.” Ahead of Wednesday night’s show, Moxley and Nagata both spoke with Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated and previewed the match. Moxley explained how he knew he wanted to face Nagata merely two seconds after he personally saw him wrestle at a New Japan Pro-Wrestling show in February 2020.
“I was watching Nagata kick the piss out of guys,” said Moxley. “Up until that point, I thought of Nagata as one of those guys where it felt like our paths would never cross and our timelines would never intersect. I’d have put him in a category of Kurt Angle or Bret Hart, where I would have loved to work with him but we couldn’t because we’re from two different eras. But as I was watching him, I thought to myself, ‘F—, Nagata can still go.’ ”
“It took me about two seconds to determine I wanted that match.”
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic made this match practically impossible, so Moxley has had to wait more than 14 months to face the legendary competitor. In the interview, Moxley described how, when the bout became more feasible, it was planned for a New Japan Strong show, but AEW president Tony Khan wanted to host it on Dynamite instead. The reigning IWGP United States Champion explained that he wanted to give Nagata the prominent platform he deserved with a match on TNT.
“Tony asked, ‘Why not do it on Dynamite?’” said Moxley. “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.”
The former AEW World Champion went on to describe how wrestlers across the industry have contacted him to express how impressive the opportunity to work with Nagata is. Moxley teased that the exciting chance to work with a NJPW star makes him curious about other possibilties in a world where “anything can happen.”
History will be made TONIGHT on #AEWDynamite LIVE 8/7c on TNT!
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) May 12, 2021
Finally, Moxley shared his mindset surrounding the in-ring action itself by offering an appropriately blunt description.
“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,” said Moxley. “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.”
As for Nagata, the well-known veteran expressed his gratitutude ahead of the match and his stance that actions speak louder than words.
“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,” said Nagata via 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.”
“…I’m going to let the match do the talking.”
Nagata encouraged fans to simply enjoy the match, and viewers will have the chance to do so Wednesday night when Dynamite comes on at 8 p.m. EST.