To be considered a Young Lion one must have trained through the NJPW system. Currently there is only one school where an individual can train to become a Young Lion, the NJPW Dojo in Japan. However, it is speculated that the soon-to-be opened Dojo in the USA will also become a training ground for Young Lions.
Young Lions live in dormitories adjacent to their dojo and are expected to perform household duties such as cleaning, laundry, and cooking. Before wrestling shows a Young Lion is also expected to carry the baggage of their seniors, assemble the ring, and arrange guest seating. They are also responsible for the security of the audience, shielding them from brawls which may spill outside the ring.
The Young Lion Cup
In the past, the Young Lions had their own tournament dubbed the Young Lion Cup - a successor to the Karl Gotch Cup promoted by the NJPW in the 1970s. The Young Lion Cup was held to determine the top Young Lion of the promotion. For some wrestlers like Masahiro Chono, Manabu Nakanishi, Satoshi Kojima and Hiroshi Tanahashi it was their first taste of success - later in their careers, they would go on to win the G1 Climax and the IWGP Heavyweight Championships respectively. On July 4, 2017, after Yuji Nagata defeated GO Asakawa, Nagata proposed NJPW to bringing back the Young Lion Cup. On September 26, NJPW officially announced the revival of the Young Lion Cup after 12 years, which was won by Katsuya Kitamura on December 21.
Lions Gate Project
The Young Lions also have their own show called the Lions Gate Project where they face off against veteran wrestlers and rookies from other promotions. Young Lion matches mainly consist of basic moves such as entrance with full power running, elbows, body slams, and dropkicks. At the end of a match, it is customary for a Young Lion to finish with the Boston Crab or an original technique that they may learn.
Young Lions typically wear black tight short-shorts and ring shoes. This uniform is commonly seen as a symbol of strong style. Even a seemingly benign addition to their attire like a knee pad can leave an impression; implying that the rookie is well on his way to success.  As a rookie advances and gains the respect of his peers and the audience, he may be awarded more accessories such as kick pads. However, some wrestlers like Katsuyori Shibata choose to keep their black shorts and ring shoes even after they become part of the main roster.
The Learning Excursion Edit
Typically three years after their Young Lion debut students are sent abroad to continue their training. This is often referred to as a "Learning Excursion". There are currently 3 NJPW training meccas in the world where a Young Lion might be sent: the USA, Mexico, and Europe.
Promotions where famous NJPW have trained during their Learning Excursion
TNA (Nashville, Tennessee, United States), PWS (Garfield, New Jersey), CMLL (Mexico City), WWC (Atlanta, Georgia, United States), NWA (Waterloo, Iowa, United States), ROH (Baltimore, Maryland).
After this special training is complete and a Young Lion returns home to the NJPW in Japan they graduate and are no longer considered a Young Lion.
List of current Young LionsEdit
The following is a list that contains the current wrestler in their Young Lion status.
|Hirai Kawato||January 1, 2016|
|Teruaki Kanemitsu||January 1, 2016||Inactive; cervical spine injury|
|Henare||September 1, 2016|
|Leo Tonga||November 12, 2016|
|Tomoyuki Oka||January 1, 2017|
|Katsuya Kitamura||March 13, 2017||Winner of the 2017 Young Lion Cup|
|Shota Umino||April 13, 2017|
|Tetsuhiro Yagi||May 9, 2017|
|Ren Narita||July 4, 2017|
List of GraduatesEdit
The following is a list of Japanese and gaijin wrestlers who have graduated from the NJPW Dojo in Japan, along with the USA Dojo in Los Angeles California.
|Mr. Pogo||March 20, 1972||Died on June 23, 2017|
|Shunji Kosugi||Febuary 1981||Retired on April 10, 1988|
|Killer Khan||1973||Retired on 1987|
|Nobuhiko Takada||1981||President of Rizin Fighting Federation|
|Tatsutoshi Goto||December 2, 1982||Semi Active in Japan|
|Jushin Thunder Liger||March 3, 1984||Active in New Japan Pro Wrestling|
|Shinya Hashimoto||September 1, 1984||Died on July 11, 2005|
|Keiji Mutoh||October 5, 1984||President of Wrestle-1|
|Takuma Sano||March 3, 1984||Active in Japan|
|Masakatsu Funaki||March 3, 1985||Active in Japan|
|Yoji Anjo||July 8, 1985||Retired on March 19, 2015|
|Kenichi Oya||April 20, 1986||Active in Cho Sento Puroresu FMW|
|Akira Katayama||Januray 25, 1987||Retired on January 8, 1992|
|El Samurai||July 24, 1986||Semi Active in Japan|
|Hiroshi Hase||February 28, 1986||Retired on August 27, 2006|
|Michiyoshi Ohara||June 30, 1990||Retired in 2008|
|Koji Kanemoto||November 7, 1990||Active in Japan|
|Hiroyoshi Tenzan||January 11, 1991||Active in New Japan Pro Wrestling|
|Satoshi Kojima||July 16, 1991||Active in New Japan Pro Wrestling|
|Osamu Nishimura||April 21, 1991||Active in All Japan Pro Wrestling|
|Shinjiro Otani||June 25, 1992||Active in Pro Wrestling Zero1|
|Tatsuhito Takaiwa||July 21, 1992||Active in Pro Wrestling Zero1|
|Yuji Nagata||September 14, 1992||Active in New Japan Pro Wrestling|
|Kendo Kashin||September 21, 1992||Active in Japan|
|Manabu Nakanishi||October 13, 1992||Active in New Japan Pro Wrestling|
|Yutaka Yoshie||December 9, 1994||Active as freelancer|
|Masakazu Fukuda||March 20, 1996||Died on April 19, 2000|
|Togi Makabe||February 15, 1997||Active in New Japan Pro Wrestling|
|Hiroshi Tanahashi||October 10, 1999||Active in New Japan Pro Wrestling|
|Katsuyori Shibata||October 10, 1999||Active in New Japan Pro Wrestling|
|Wataru Inoue||October 10, 1999||Retired on March 3, 2013|
|KENSO||January 4, 2000||Active in Japan|
|Shinsuke Nakamura||August 29, 2002||Active in World Wrestling Entertaniment|
|Yoshitatsu||October 12, 2002||Active in All Japan Pro Wrestlting|
|Akiya Anzawa||September 21, 2003||Retired on January 8, 2006|
|Tommy Williams||1999||Retired in 2006||Graduated from NJPW USA Dojo|
|Finn Bálor||2000||Active in World Wrestling Entertaniment||Graduated from NJPW USA Dojo|
|Ryusuke Taguchi||November 22, 2002||Active in New Japan Pro Wrestling|
|Yujiro Takahashi||July 26, 2004||Active in New Japan Pro Wrestlting|
|Tetsuya Naito||May 27, 2006||Active in New Japan Pro Wrestling|
|Hirooki Goto||July 6, 2003||Active in New Japan Pro Wrestling|
|Taichi||December 2, 2002||Active in New Japan Pro Wrestling|
|Mitsuhide Hirasawa||January 28, 2006||Active as Freelancer|
|Yoshi-Hashi||July 6, 2008||Active in New Japan Pro Wrestling|
|Kazuchika Okada||August 29, 2004||Active in New Japan Pro Wrestling|
|Tama Tonga||2008||Active in New Japan Pro Wrestling|
|Bad Luck Fale||April 4, 2010||Active in New Japan Pro Wrestling|
|El Desperado||March 7, 2010||Active in New Japan Pro Wrestling|
|EVIL||May 13, 2011||Active in New Japan Pro Wrestling|
|David Finlay||December 22, 2012||Active in New Japan Pro Wrestling|
|Hiromu Takahashi||August 24, 2010||Active in New Japan Pro Wrestling|
|Juice Robinson||September 4, 2015||Active in New Japan Pro Wrestling|
|Sho||November 15, 2012||Active in New Japan Pro Wrestling|
|Yoh||November 19, 2012||Active in New Japan Pro Wrestling|
|Jay White||January 30, 2015||Active in New Japan Pro Wrestling|
- ↑ "Lion's Gate Project 7" (in Japanese). New Japan Pro-Wrestling. http://www.njpw.co.jp/tornament/95968?showResult=1. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
- ↑ https://www.reddit.com/r/SquaredCircle/comments/5sghbv/when_does_a_young_lion_get_his_gimmick/ddev3lf/
- ↑ https://www.reddit.com/r/njpw/comments/4nn7kd/are_young_lion_allowed_to_wear_kickpads/d45k0oz/