NJPW Young Lion Cup (8/9/19) Review

Ren gives as good as he gets. Credit: NJPW

It’s Young Lion Cup time and I have ran out of shite to blather up here. Let’s just get on with it.

Yota Tsuji (1-1) defeated Yuya Uemura (0-2)

Tsuji and Uemura have faced off one on one twenty-nine times, leaving them with a record of 4-4-21. I’m sure there must be some other examples, but that might well make it the closest wrestling feud of all time. For ages, these two slammed up against the ten-minute time limit until Tsuji finally got the win. Unfortunately, Uemura then came back and got one himself the next night setting them up to trade victories.

It also means these two know each other rather well and have mastered playing to their strengths. Early on, Uemura was able to take control, beating Tsuji on the mat with his superior technical skill. To turn the tide, Tsuji had to bring the fight off the ground and towards strikes, using the strength he’s built up to his advantage.

The key to this feud, though, is that neither advantage is that big. Uemura dishes out some pain on those striking exchanges while Tsuji’s power makes Uemura’s attempts to wear him down difficult. They can’t rely on the basics to get the win because you could slide a beer mat between their ability levels, it’s the one who thinks outside the box that takes the prize.

Tsuji broke through that box in this one. As Uemura blocked a Crab, he realised that it wasn’t going to work and decided to try something different, a Giant Swing (and one very excited Milano) later and Uemura’s defences were broken down enough for Tsuji to twist him over for the submission.

And with that, Tsuji now leads the feud 5-4-21, although one suspects this is far from over. Tsuji and Uemura are going to be linked together for the rest of their career whether they like it or not, and if the matches are only going to get better, I shall have no complaints about that.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Shota Umino (1-1) defeated Ren Narita (1-1)

Like Tsuji and Uemura, Narita and Umino are linked. Narita has had 214 matches in his career, and Umino has either stood across the ring or by his side in 76 of those. They’ve been a team on more than one occasion, but it doesn’t take a genius to see that there is little love between them. These two are rivals, and this Young Lion Cup is both man’s chance to prove they’re the Alpha.

Unfortunately for Ren, their feud doesn’t have the closeness of Uemura and Tsuji. Umino holds a 4-0-2 record over his rival, and with it being clear Narita is destined for the Juniors and Umino the Heavyweights, it is going to take a miracle for him to close that gap. Even early in this match, Umino was shown to have a lot more power. Narita failed to get him up for a Slam before bouncing across the ring from a Shoulder Block.

That’s not to suggest Umino dominated, he’s not a Heavyweight yet. Narita gave as good as he got, leaving Umino reeling with some hard forearms. Both of these men show so much fire, and as they fought it out in the centre of the ring, you’d have believed they were in the main event. Narita also came close to getting off the mark, hitting his Belly to Belly without the Bridge and only having Umino escape the Modified Cloverleaf at the last second.

Unfortunately for him, Umino would prove to have a touch more. After eating a Missile Dropkick Narita fired-up, but it brought him right into Umino’s targets as he planted him with a beautiful German into a Bridge. There was still to be some controversy, though, as it looked like Narita kicked out right on three, but Marty Asami was confident in his call. You’ve got to wonder whether Ren will feel the same way.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Overall Show

Another very enjoyable twenty minutes or so of Young Lion action. These four cubs have all spent a lot of time in the ring together, and it showed in the performances they delivered. This tournament is quietly becoming one of my favourite things, long may it continue.

Watch New Japan: https://njpwworld.com/

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