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Young Lions Class

Upon graduation, Young Lions often compete primarily in the shows and excursions.

Rookie wrestlers of the New Japan Pro Wrestling promotion are referred to as Young Lions. The name Young Lion is a reference to the NJPW logo which features a fearsome lion.

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.

OverviewEdit

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.[1] On September 26, NJPW officially announced the revival of the Young Lion Cup after 12 years. 

Note: Shinsuke Nakamura and David Finlay are the only two wrestlers in history to win a championship title during their Young Lion days.

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.

AttireEdit

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. [2] As a rookie advances and gains the respect of his peers and the audience, he may be awarded more accessories such as kick pads. [3]

When Does a Young Lion Get Their Gimmick? See reddit topic

"[...] They usually start revamping themselves in terms of their look and style when they go on excursion, and their personas are fully-fledged or changed entirely upon return, like Hiromu and EVIL." [4]

However, some wrestlers like 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).

GraduationEdit

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.

Note: A special few wrestlers made their debut into the main stage before their Young Lion training was complete such as David Finlay and Juice Robinson.

List of current Young LionsEdit

The following is a list that contains the current wrestler in their Young Lion status.

Name Debut Note
Hirai Kawato January 1, 2016
Teruaki Kanemitsu January 1, 2016 Inactive; cervical spine injury
Henare September 1, 2016 Inactive; achilles tendon injury
Leo Tonga November 12, 2016
Tomoyuki Oka January 1, 2017
Katsuya Kitamura March 13, 2017
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.

Name Debut Current Status Note
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
Hirokazu Hata 1984 Retired
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 1996 Active in USA 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

Refrences Edit

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