Young Lion Cup
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. After the 2005 tournament, NJPW did not hold another Young Lion Cup for 12 years, until reviving the tournament in 2017.
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. The winners of the Young Lion Cup would also be rewarded with a learning excursion overseas.
Young Lion Cup winners
|Young Lion Cup||1985||Shunji Kosugi||1|||
|Young Lion Cup||1986||Keiichi Yamada||1|||
|Young Lion Cup||1987||Masahiro Chono||1|||
|Young Lion Cup||1993||Hiroyoshi Yamamoto||1|||
|Young Lion Cup||1994||Satoshi Kojima||1|||
|Young Lion Cup||1995||Manabu Nakanishi||1|||
|Young Lion Cup||1996||Tokimitsu Ishizawa||1|||
|Young Lion Cup||2000||Kenzo Suzuki||1|||
|Young Lion Cup||2004||Ryusuke Taguchi||1|
|Young Lion Cup||2005||Hirooki Goto||1|||
|Young Lion Cup||2017||Katsuya Kitamura||1|||
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.
|Manabu Nakanishi||Runner up|
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.
|Yuji Nagata||Runner up|
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.
|Young Lion Cup||Fukuda||Inoue||Makabe||Shibata||Suzuki||Tanahashi|
|Fukuda||X||Inoue (Forfeit)||Makabe (Forfeit)||Shibata (Forfeit)||Suzuki (Forfeit)||Tanahashi (Forfeit)|
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. On March 23, 2005, Hirooki Goto defeated Hiroyuki Ito to win the 2005 Young Lion Cup.
|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|
After his match at the Lion's Gate Project 7 event on July 4, 2017, Yuji Nagata proposed bringing back the Young Lion Cup. 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, 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.
|Young Lion Cup||Kawato||Kitamura||Narita||Oka||Umino||Yagi|
- 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.
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- 【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.
- Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2000). "Japan: New Japan Young Lion Cup Champion". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. p. 376. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
- "NJPW "Wrestling Dontaku 2000 - Epilogue of Dragon 1st", 5/5/00". Strong Style Spirit. May 5, 2000. Retrieved June 2, 2010.
- "NJPW "Nexess V", 3/26/05". Strong Style Spirit. March 23, 2005. Retrieved June 2, 2010.
- "Lion's Gate Project10". New Japan Pro-Wrestling (in Japanese). Retrieved December 21, 2017.
- "NJPW "Super Powers Clash", 4/24/89 (WPW)". Strong Style Spirit. Retrieved June 2, 2010.
- "Partial results from 1994". Strong Style Spirit. Retrieved June 2, 2010.
- "Muscle Storm 1995 (3/7/95 to 3/27/95)". Strong Style Spirit. Retrieved June 2, 2010.
- "Partial results from 1995". Strong Style Spirit. Retrieved June 2, 2010.
- "Big Fight Series 2005 (3/4/05 to 3/21/05)". Strong Style Spirit. Retrieved June 2, 2010.
- "Lion's Gate Project 7". New Japan Pro-Wrestling (in Japanese). Retrieved September 26, 2017.
- 【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.
- "JRA presents Road to Tokyo Dome". New Japan Pro-Wrestling (in Japanese). Retrieved December 18, 2017.
- "Lion's Gate Project8". New Japan Pro-Wrestling (in Japanese). Retrieved October 12, 2017.
- "JRA presents Road to Tokyo Dome". New Japan Pro-Wrestling (in Japanese). Retrieved December 17, 2017.
- "Lion's Gate Project9". New Japan Pro-Wrestling (in Japanese). Retrieved November 16, 2017.