The Young Lion Cup (ヤングライオン杯, Yangu Raionhai) is an infrequent professional wrestling tournament promoted by New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) as a means of showcasing the younger talent on their roster. The tournament is the successor to the Karl Gotch Cup that NJPW promoted in the 1970s. NJPW has held the tournament eleven times since 1985.[1] After the 2005 tournament, NJPW did not hold another Young Lion Cup for 12 years, until reviving the tournament in 2017 and again in 2019.

The Young Lion Cup is a round-robin tournament in the same style as NJPW's annual G1 Climax tournament. Wrestlers traditionally earn two points for a victory, one point for any sort of draw and zero points for a loss. In some years, the two wrestlers with the most points at the end of the round-robin tournament would then face off in a singles match for the Young Lion Cup trophy, while in other years, the wrestler with the most points would be declared the winner.[2] The winners of the Young Lion Cup would also be rewarded with a learning excursion overseas.[3]

In 2020, another tournament featuring young lions, Lion's Break Crown, was organized by NJPW, this time as a single-elimination tournament.

Winners

Tournament Year Winner Total won Reference
Young Lion Cup 1985 Shunji Kosugi 1 [4]
Young Lion Cup 1986 Keiichi Yamada 1 [4]
Young Lion Cup 1987 Masahiro Chono 1 [4]
Young Lion Cup 1989 Naoki Sano 1 [4]
Young Lion Cup 1993 Hiroyoshi Yamamoto 1 [4]
Young Lion Cup 1994 Satoshi Kojima 1 [4]
Young Lion Cup 1995 Manabu Nakanishi 1 [4]
Young Lion Cup 1996 Tokimitsu Ishizawa 1 [4]
Young Lion Cup 2000 Kenzo Suzuki 1 [5]
Young Lion Cup 2004 Ryusuke Taguchi 1  
Young Lion Cup 2005 Hirooki Goto 1 [6]
Young Lion Cup 2017 Katsuya Kitamura 1 [7]
Young Lion Cup 2019 Karl Fredericks 1

1985

Final standings
Shunji Kosugi Winner
Keiichi Yamada Runner up
Tatsutoshi Goto Unknown
Hirokazu Hata Unknown
Masahiro Chono Unknown
Masaharu Funaki Unknown
Keiji Muto Unknown
Naoki Sano Unknown
Final
Keiichi Yamada Pin
Shunji Kosugi 21:00[4][8]

1986

Final standings
Keiichi Yamada Winner
Tatsutoshi Goto Runner up
Akira Nogami Unknown
Hirokazu Hata Unknown
Masahiro Chono Unknown
Masaharu Funaki Unknown
Shinya Hashimoto Unknown
Naoki Sano Unknown
Final
Keiichi Yamada Pin
Tatsutoshi Goto 12:49[4]

1987

Final standings
Masahiro Chono 38
Shinya Hashimoto 37
Yuji Funaki 30
Akira Nogami 25
Yoji Anjo 20
Tatsuo Nakano 20
Kenichi Oya 5
Osamu Matsuda 5
Akira Katayama 5
Young Lion Cup Chono Hashimoto Funaki Nogami Anjo Nakano Oya Matsuda Katayama
Chono X Draw (20:00) Funaki (11:49) Chono (11:02) Chono (9:35) Chono (9:08) Chono (9:41) Chono (8:24) Chono (9:41)
Hashimoto Draw (20:00) X Hashimoto (11:36) Hashimoto (8:52) Hashimoto (7:48) Hashimoto (8:52) Hashimoto (8:19) Hashimoto (8:23) Hashimoto (11:33)
Funaki Funaki (11:49) Hashimoto (11:36) X Nogami (10:32) Funaki (15:04) Funaki (5:51) Funaki (9:26) Funaki (10:27) Funaki (9:13)
Nogami Chono (11:02) Hashimoto (8:52) Nogami (10:32) X Anjo (??:??) Nogami (9:42) Nogami (8:57) Nogami (11:17) Nogami (7:44)
Anjo Chono (9:35) Hashimoto (7:48) Funaki (15:04) Anjo (??:??) X Nakano (10:24) Anjo (11:38) Anjo (11:05) Anjo (7:54)
Nakano Chono (9:08) Hashimoto (8:52) Funaki (5:51) Nogami (9:42) Nakano (10:24) X Nakano (8:22) Nakano (7:23) Nakano (6:37)
Oya Chono (9:41) Hashimoto (8:19) Funaki (9:26) Nogami (8:57) Anjo (11:38) Nakano (8:22) X Matsuda (9:26) Oya (11:35)
Matsuda Chono (8:24) Hashimoto (8:23) Funaki (10:27) Nogami (11:17) Anjo (11:05) Nakano (7:23) Matsuda (9:26) X Katayama (11:16)
Katayama Chono (9:41) Hashimoto (11:33) Funaki (9:13) Nogami (7:44) Anjo (7:54) Nakano (6:37) Oya (11:35) Katayama (11:16) X
Final
Masahiro Chono Pin
Shinya Hashimoto 14:11[4]


1989

Final standings
Naoki Sano Winner
Hiro Saito Runner up
Norio Honaga Unknown
Hirokazu Hata Unknown
Tatsutoshi Goto Unknown
Takayuki Iizuka Unknown
Kuniaki Kobayashi Unknown
Osamu Kido Unknown
Final
Naoki Sano Pin
Hiro Saito 10:43[4]

1993

Final standings
Osamu Nishimura 7
Hiroyoshi Yamamoto 6
Manabu Nakanishi 5
Satoshi Kojima 4
Yuji Nagata 3
Shinjiro Otani 3
Tokimitsu Ishizawa 2
Tatsuhito Takaiwa 0
Results Ishizawa Kojima Nagata Nakanishi Nishimura Otani Takaiwa Yamamoto
Ishizawa X Kojima
(8:44)
Ishizawa
(7:37)
Nakanishi
(7:31)
Nishimura
(9:03)
Otani
(9:57)
Ishizawa
(5:57)
Yamamoto
(11:35)
Kojima Kojima
(8:44)
X Nagata
(9:05)
Nakanishi
(9:44)
Nishimura
(9:59)
Kojima
(11:13)
Kojima
(8:37)
Kojima
(11:00)
Nagata Ishizawa
(7:37)
Nagata
(9:05)
X Nakanishi
(10:59)
Nishimura
(11:19)
Nagata
(10:33)
Nagata
(9:55)
Yamamoto
(10:59)
Nakanishi Nakanishi
(7:31)
Nakanishi
(9:44)
Nakanishi
(10:59)
X Nishimura
(8:47)
Nakanishi
(8:35)
Nakanishi
(9:00)
Yamamoto
(13:02)
Nishimura Nishimura
(9:03)
Nishimura
(9:59)
Nishimura
(11:19)
Nishimura
(8:47)
X Otani
(9:30)
Nishimura
(5:52)
Yamamoto
(13:12)
Otani Otani
(9:57)
Kojima
(11:13)
Nagata
(10:33)
Nakanishi
(8:35)
Otani
(9:30)
X Otani
(9:13)
Yamamoto
(10:27)
Takaiwa Ishizawa
(5:57)
Kojima
(8:37)
Nagata
(9:55)
Nakanishi
(9:00)
Nishimura
(5:52)
Otani
(9:13)
X Yamamoto
(11:03)
Yamamoto Yamamoto
(11:35)
Kojima
(11:00)
Yamamoto
(10:59)
Yamamoto
(13:02)
Yamamoto
(13:12)
Yamamoto
(10:27)
Yamamoto
(11:03)
X
Final
   
1 Osamu Nishimura Pin
2 Hiroyoshi Yamamoto 12:23[4]

1994

The 1994 Young Lion Cup featured a league with at least four wrestlers, although more may have participated. The four confirmed participants were Satoshi Kojima, Manabu Nakanishi, Nobukazu Hirai from WAR, and Tatsuhito Takaiwa. The league scores remain unclear but Kojima and Nakanishi qualified for the finals where Kojima defeated Nakanishi by submission.[4][9]

Final standings
Satoshi Kojima Winner
Manabu Nakanishi Runner up
Nobukazu Hirai Unknown
Tatsuhito Takaiwa Unknown

1995

The 1995 Young Lion Cup featured a league with at least six participants, although more may have participated. The confirmed participants were Manabu Nakanishi, Yuji Nagata, Yuki Ishikawa from Pro Wrestling Fujiwara Gumi, Tokimitsu Ishizawa, Tatsuhito Takaiwa, and Shinjiro Otani. The final league scores remain unclear but Nakanishi and Nagata both qualified for the final match, this was the second time Nakanishi had made it to the main event. In the finals Nakanishi defeated Nagata to claim the Young Lion Cup trophy.[4][10]

Final standings
Manabu Nakanishi Winner
Yuji Nagata Runner up
Yuki Ishikawa Unknown
Tokimitsu Ishizawa Unknown
Tatsuhito Takaiwa Unknown
Shinjiro Otani Unknown

1996

Tokimitsu Ishizawa defeated Yuji Nagata by pinfall (12:27)[4][11]

2000

NJPW brought back the Young Lion Cup in 2000 with a round-robin tournament that took place between April 14 and May 5, 2000 during NJPW's "Strong Energy II 2000" tour. The tournament featured five rookies from NJPW, Shinya Makabe, Kenzo Suzuki, Wataru Inoue, Katsuyori Shibata and Hiroshi Tanahashi as well as Masakazu Fukuda from the G-EGGS promotion. The tournament was marred by a tragedy on the first night when Masakazu Fukuda was hurt by a flying elbow smash from Shibata. Following the blow he collapsed on the mat and was taken to the hospital. He died five days later from an internal brain hemorrhage. The rest of the tournament was dedicated to Fukuda's memory. Both Shinya Makabe and Kenzo Suzuki remained undefeated after the first four rounds, qualifying them for the final before they had even wrestled the final match of the league. On April 30, 2000 Makabe defeated Suzuki, making him the only undefeated wrestler in the tournament.[2] On May 5, 2000, during Wrestling Dontaku 2000, Kenzo Suzuki defeated Makabe to win the 2000 Young Lion Cup.[5]

Final standings
Shinya Makabe 10
Kenzo Suzuki 8
Katsuyori Shibata 6
Hiroshi Tanahashi 4
Wataru Inoue 2
Masakazu Fukuda 0
Young Lion Cup Fukuda Inoue Makabe Shibata Suzuki Tanahashi
Fukuda X Inoue (Forfeit) Makabe (Forfeit) Shibata (Forfeit) Suzuki (Forfeit) Tanahashi (Forfeit)
Inoue Inoue (Forfeit) X Makabe Shibata Suzuki Inoue
Makabe Makabe (Forfeit) Makabe X Makabe Makabe Makabe
Shibata Shibata (Forfeit) Shibata Makabe X Suzuki Shibata
Suzuki Suzuki (Forfeit) Suzuki Makabe Suzuki X Suzuki
Tanahashi Tanahashi (Forfeit) Inoue Makabe Shibata Suzuki X
Final
Shinya Makabe Pin
Kenzo Suzuki 15:08[5]

2004

Ryusuke Taguchi defeated Kazuya Yuasa by pinfall (11:20).[12]

2005

The 2005 Young Lion Cup was the tenth tournament held by NJPW and ran from to March 3 to March 23, 2005. The league matches took place during NJPW's "Big Fight Series 2005" tour and the final was on their NJPW "Nexess V" show. The tournament was scheduled to feature seven wrestlers but Tommy Williams was injured and had to withdraw from the competition without wrestling a single match, forfeiting all matches. The tournament also featured Naofumi Yamamoto, Yujiro, Hiroshi Nagao and Akiya Anzawa, in addition to the top two point scores Hirooki Goto (9 points) and Hiroyuki Ito (11 points). In the league Ito wrestled to a draw against Goto and won the other five matches, making him the only undefeated participant.[13] On March 23, 2005, Hirooki Goto defeated Hiroyuki Ito to win the 2005 Young Lion Cup.[6]

Final standings
Hiroyuki Ito 11
Hirooki Goto 9
Akiya Anzawa 8
Hiroshi Nagao 6
Yujiro 4
Naofumi Yamamoto 4
Tommy Williams (Withdrew) 0
Young Lion Cup Anzawa Goto Ito Nagao Williams Yamamoto Yujiro
Anzawa X Anzawa (08:51) Ito (07:59) Anzawa (07:42) Anzawa (Forfeit) Anzawa (07:16) Yujiro (10:04)
Goto Anzawa (08:51) X Draw (20:00) Goto (06:03) Goto (Forfeit) Goto (05:53) Goto (07:19)
Ito Ito (07:59) Draw (20:00) X Ito (03:54) Ito (Forfeit) Ito (06:56) Nagao (08:47)
Nagao Anzawa (07:42) Goto (06:03) Ito (03:54) X Nagao (Forfeit) Nagao (09:02) Yamamoto (06:05)
Williams Anzawa (Forfeit) Goto (Forfeit) Ito (Forfeit) Nagao (Forfeit) X Yamamoto (Forfeit) Yujiro (Forfeit)
Yamamoto Anzawa (07:16) Goto (05:53) Yamamoto (06:05) Nagao (09:02) Yamamoto (Forfeit) X Yamamoto (06:05)
Yujiro Yujiro (10:04) Goto (07:19) Ito (06:56) Nagao (08:47) Yujiro (Forfeit) Yamamoto (06:05) X
Final
Hiroyuki Ito Pin
Hirooki Goto 9:55[6]

2017

After his match at the Lion's Gate Project 7 event on July 4, 2017, Yuji Nagata proposed bringing back the Young Lion Cup.[14] On September 26, NJPW officially announced the revival of the tournament after 12 years. The round-robin tournament started on October 12 at Lion's Gate Project 8 and concluded on December 21 at Lion's Gate Project 10,[15] and included six wrestlers who debuted in 2016 and 2017. The tournament was dedicated to the memory of Kotetsu Yamamoto, who served as the head of the NJPW Dojo.[1]

Final standings
Katsuya Kitamura 10
Hirai Kawato 8
Tomoyuki Oka 6
Shota Umino 4
Ren Narita 1
Tetsuhiro Yagi 1
Young Lion Cup Kawato Kitamura Narita Oka Umino Yagi
Kawato X Kitamura
(4:12)[16]
Kawato
(7:14)[17]
Kawato
(5:35)[18]
Kawato
(8:27)[7]
Kawato
(6:43)[19]
Kitamura Kitamura
(4:12)[16]
X Kitamura
(5:35)[18]
Kitamura
(11:20)[7]
Kitamura
(10:04)[19]
Kitamura
(8:32)[17]
Narita Kawato
(7:14)[17]
Kitamura
(5:35)[18]
X Oka
(13:22)[19]
Umino
(6:08)[16]
Draw
(15:00)[7]
Oka Kawato
(5:35)[18]
Kitamura
(11:20)[7]
Oka
(13:22)[19]
X Oka
(10:50)[17]
Oka
(7:13)[16]
Umino Kawato
(8:27)[7]
Kitamura
(10:04)[19]
Umino
(6:08)[16]
Oka
(10:50)[17]
X Umino
(7:54)[18]
Yagi Kawato
(6:43)[19]
Kitamura
(8:32)[17]
Draw
(15:00)[7]
Oka
(7:13)[16]
Umino
(7:54)[18]
X

2019

The 2019 Young Lion Cup was announced on August 27 and was held on the Destruction tour throughout September. It featured 8 participants: 4 from the New Japan Dojo, 3 from the Los Angeles Dojo, and 1 from the Fale Dojo. 2 competitors also competed in the 2017 tournament. Karl Fredericks won with 12 points.

Final standings
Karl Fredericks 12
Shota Umino 10
Ren Narita 10
Alex Coughlin 8
Clark Connors 8
Yota Tsuji 4
Michael Richards 2
Yuya Uemura 2
Young Lion Cup Uemura Tsuji Umino Narita Richards Coughlin Connors Fredericks
Uemura X Tsuji
(8:50)
Umino
(6:53)
Narita
(8:35)
Richards
(8:47)
Coughlin
(7:49)
Uemura
(9:31)
Fredericks
(6:12)
Tsuji Tsuji
(8:50)
X Umino
(7:34)
Narita
(7:49)
Tsuji
(6:44)
Coughlin
(10:12)
Connors
(7:43)
Fredericks
(7:23)
Umino Umino
(6:53)
Umino
(7:34)
X Umino
(9:09)
Umino
(8:00)
Umino
(8:14)
Connors
(6:50)
Fredericks
(7:17)
Narita Narita
(8:35)
Narita
(7:49)
Umino
(9:09)
X Narita
(7:18)
Narita
(7:49)
Connors
(7:25)
Narita
(7:06)
Richards Richards
(8:47)
Tsuji
(6:44)
Umino
(8:00)
Narita
(7:18)
X Coughlin
(6:13)
Connors
(7:09)
Fredericks
(6:12)
Coughlin Coughlin
(7:49)
Coughlin
(10:12)
Umino
(8:14)
Narita
(7:49)
Coughlin
(6:13)
X Coughlin
(7:53)
Fredericks
(8:01)
Connors Uemura
(9:31)
Connors
(7:43)
Connors
(6:50)
Connors
(7:25)
Connors
(7:09)
Coughlin
(7:53)
X Fredericks
(7:06)
Fredericks Fredericks
(6:12)
Fredericks
(7:23)
Fredericks
(7:17)
Narita
(7:06)
Fredericks
(6:12)
Fredericks
(8:01)
Fredericks
(7:06)
X

References

  1. ^ a b 約12年ぶり復活! 『山本小鉄メモリアル 第11回ヤングライオン杯争奪リーグ戦』が開催決定! 10月12日(木)新宿大会から公式戦スタート!!. New Japan Pro-Wrestling (in Japanese). September 26, 2017. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  2. ^ a b "STRONG ENERGY II 2000". Strong Style Spirit. April 14–30, 2010. Retrieved June 2, 2010.
  3. ^ 【新日本】岡倫之 YL杯優勝ありきの野望. Tokyo Sports (in Japanese). October 13, 2017. Retrieved October 13, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2000). "Japan: New Japan Young Lion Cup Champion". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. p. 376. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  5. ^ a b c "NJPW "Wrestling Dontaku 2000 - Epilogue of Dragon 1st", 5/5/00". Strong Style Spirit. May 5, 2000. Retrieved June 2, 2010.
  6. ^ a b c "NJPW "Nexess V", 3/26/05". Strong Style Spirit. March 23, 2005. Retrieved June 2, 2010.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g "Lion's Gate Project10". New Japan Pro-Wrestling (in Japanese). Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  8. ^ "NJPW "Super Powers Clash", 4/24/89 (WPW)". Strong Style Spirit. Retrieved June 2, 2010.
  9. ^ "Partial results from 1994". Strong Style Spirit. Retrieved June 2, 2010.
  10. ^ "Muscle Storm 1995 (3/7/95 to 3/27/95)". Strong Style Spirit. Retrieved June 2, 2010.
  11. ^ "Partial results from 1995". Strong Style Spirit. Retrieved June 2, 2010.
  12. ^ The Wrestling Revolution. "NJPW Young Lion Cup History". thewrestlingrevolution.com. Retrieved April 29, 2021.
  13. ^ "Big Fight Series 2005 (3/4/05 to 3/21/05)". Strong Style Spirit. Retrieved June 2, 2010.
  14. ^ "Lion's Gate Project 7". New Japan Pro-Wrestling (in Japanese). Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  15. ^ 【12月21日(木)『Lion's Gate』新宿大会の全カード決定!】メインは、永田vs青柳! 『ヤングライオン杯』最終戦は川人vs海野! 北村vs岡! 八木vs成田が激突!. New Japan Pro-Wrestling (in Japanese). November 17, 2017. Retrieved November 17, 2017.
  16. ^ a b c d e f "JRA presents Road to Tokyo Dome". New Japan Pro-Wrestling (in Japanese). Retrieved December 18, 2017.
  17. ^ a b c d e f "Lion's Gate Project8". New Japan Pro-Wrestling (in Japanese). Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  18. ^ a b c d e f "JRA presents Road to Tokyo Dome". New Japan Pro-Wrestling (in Japanese). Retrieved December 17, 2017.
  19. ^ a b c d e f "Lion's Gate Project9". New Japan Pro-Wrestling (in Japanese). Retrieved November 16, 2017.