New Japan Pro Wrestling issued the following press release announcing the return of the Young Lions Cup, an eight-man single elimination tournament, for the Road to Destruction Tour beginning September 22nd. Entrants will be representing the New Japan, LA, and Fale dojos and include: Michael Richards, Ren Narita, Alex Coughlin, Karl Fredericks, Clark Connors, Yuya Uemura, Yota Tsuji, and Jon Moxley’s apprentice, Shota Umino. Check out the details below.
12th Young Lion Cup to feature in the Road to Destruction tour; eight competitors to wrestle in single block league culminating in Kobe on September 22.
While hot young prospects have long emerged from New Japan’s Dojo system, the competition among Young Lions has arguably never been fiercer than at current. Adding to competition has been a budding rivalry between the New Japan and LA Dojos that saw fiery moments during the G1 Climax and Super J-Cup 2019 tours. The New Zealand based Fale Dojo has also seen prospects rise and be featured during the recent Southern Showdown tour in Melbourne and Sydney.
Now, eight promising Young Lions will compete in the 12th running of the Young Lion Cup. The cup’s history dates back to 1985, where Shunji Kosugi took victory, the final match being part of the first ever wrestling event in Ryogoku Sumo Hall. The last New Japan Cup was held in the winter of 2017, and was won by Katsuya Kitamura.
The 12th Young Lion Cup will consist of a single block, eight participant league. All matches will be 15 minutes long, with two points for a win, one for a time limit draw and zero for a loss or no-contest. The top point scorer by league’s end in Kobe will be the winner.
12th Young Lion Cup entrants
Umino is one of two entrants with Young Lion Cup experience, having logged a 2-3 record in the six man field of 2017.
Having undergone phenomenal growth in the months since, he was taken under Jon Moxley’s wing during the G1 Climax 29 tour, and will bring an aggressive attitude to the league.
Narita was also part of the 2017 Young Lion Cup, and although he only scored one point off a time limit draw to end 0-4-1, he benefitted greatly off the experience. Since gaining a reputation for fearsome bridging suplexes, Narita was entered into the Best of the Super Juniors as a late substitute, and consistently impressed, albeit in defeat.
The powerhouse of the New Japan Dojo, Tsuji has impressed with powerslams and impressive strikes. The former American football player attributes his strong arm to experience on the football field, and his lariats and chops bear testament to that.
Uemura and Tsuji have been locked in a rivalry with one another ever since their debuts over a year ago, while simultaneously trying to overthrow their Dojo senpai in Narita and Umino. Like Narita, Uemura has fearsome suplexes, and a huge amount of fire, as he seeks to make his mark.
One of Katsuyori Shibata’s top prospects in the LA Dojo, Connors was impressive in the G1 Climax, especially when teaming with Fredericks. His efforts were noticed and respected enough that he earned a place in the 2019 Super J-Cup, and started an upward trend that he hopes to continue.
Fredericks formed a solid tag team with Connors during the G1 Climax 29 tour, but it’s every man for himself in the Super J-Cup. This spectacular young athlete is a dangerous one to bet against in the league.
Another Shibata LA Dojo prospect, Coughlin did not join his fellow trainees in the G1 Climax 29 tour, but his absence only motivated this young man. Making an appearance on the last night of the Super J-Cup in Walter Pyramid, Coughlin managed to defeat Shota Umino, instantly making him a respected competitor in this tournament.
Richards is the sole representative of the Fale Dojo in this tournament. Fans last saw him at Southern Showdown in Melbourne when he was on the losing side of a six man tag teaming with other Fale Dojo members mark Tui and Andrew Villalobos. Richards was nonetheless impressive, and has shown outstanding work ethic at home, and when he trained with New Japan Dojo members last winter.