Photo credit: AEW
Jon Moxley beat Yuji Nagata on Wednesday night’s episode of AEW Dynamite to retain the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship.
Moxley hit Nagata with a German suplex and a lariat in quick succession during the match but could not get the pin:
Nagata later responded with the Avalanche Exploder suplex from the top rope, but he couldn’t pin Moxley down either.
Eventually, Moxley earned the win after hitting Nagata with the Paradigm Shift:
After the show-opening match, the two men showed each other great mutual respect:
The match was surprisingly announced a couple of weeks ago on Dynamite and marked a continuation of AEW and New Japan Pro-Wrestling breaking down the so-called “forbidden door.”
There was first an inkling of a partnership between AEW and NJPW back in January and February when KENTA showed up on Dynamite and attacked Moxley. KENTA then teamed with Kenny Omega to beat Moxley and Lance Archer in a tag team match.
That set the stage for Moxley vs. KENTA for the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship at NJPW Strong in Port Hueneme, California. Moxley and KENTA headlined Night 2, and Moxley won the match to retain the title.
Moxley has primarily continued to work for AEW with limited involvement in NJPW since then, but bringing Nagata over from Japan was a smart move for both companies in terms of creating some cross-promotion.
The 53-year-old Nagata is one of the all-time greats in Japan, having held the IWGP Heavyweight Championship twice and Pro Wrestling Noah’s GHC Heavyweight Championship once.
He also made a name for himself in the United States in the 1990s when he wrestled for WCW from 1997-98. Nagata never won a title in WCW, but he had a memorable feud with Ultimo Dragon and challenged for both the United States and Television Championships.
Wednesday marked Nagata’s first match on TNT since beating Perry Saturn on an episode of WCW Nitro nearly 23 years ago.
Moxley was heavily favored going into the match, although there was some thought that Omega or The Young Bucks could get involved since Mox and Eddie Kingston have been embroiled in a rivalry with them.
Even so, Moxley retained in a match that few could have anticipated coming to fruition when Dynamite debuted on TNT less than two years ago.
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