The Young Lion Cup is an in-frequent professional wrestlingtournament 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. The Young Lion Cup is a round-robin tournament in the same style as NJPW's annual G1 Climax tournament. NJPW has held the tournament twelve times since 1985, with the most recent tournament held in 2005. Wrestlers traditionally earn 2 points for a victory, 1 point for any sort of draw and 0 points for a loss. The two wrestlers with the most points at the end of the round-robin tournament will then face off in a singles match for the Young Lion Cup trophy. The winners of the Young Lion Cup would also be rewarded with an learning excursion overseas.
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.
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. On May 5, 2000 during Wrestling Dontaku 2000, Kenzo Suzuki defeated Makabe to win the 2000 Young Lion Cup.
The 2005 Young Lion Cup was the twelfth and most recent 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. On March 23, 2005 Hirooki Goto defeated Hiroyuki Ito to win the 2005 Young Lion Cup.