These Young Lion Cup matches feel like a throwback as NJPW didn’t show them live but has stuck the VOD up without commentary and with a stripped-back production. They used to do this for the G1 and BOSJ, but with the popularity of the brand increasing, they’ve been able to move away from that. Maybe if they get even bigger, the Young Lion Cup can graduate to every match receiving the works.
Karl Fredericks (2-1) defeated Yuya Uemura (0-3)
Poor Uemura is becoming the tournament’s whipping boy. Much like the set-up for the show, this was a very basic match with a few flourishes thrown in. Uemura attempted to go after Fredericks’ arm and hit a nice Belly to Bell, but ultimately didn’t even come close to getting the victory as Karl is being positioned as one of the favourites for the Cup.
He looked good for it too. I’ve spoken about him having a brilliant look already, but his in-ring is proving solid. The finish was particularly good as Uemura started crawling towards the ropes only for Fredericks to adjust the Single Leg Crab to stamp on his opponent’s head before locking it on even tighter. That’s an aggressive edge that will do him no harm.
Ultimately, there wasn’t enough here for it to be anything special. However, for the time they had and in the opening spot on a small show, this was what it needed to be.
Verdict: Two And Three Quarter Stars
Shota Umino (2-1) defeated Michael Richards (1-2)
Michael Richards is standing out for the wrong reasons. He’s not an awful wrestler, but his facial expressions and movement is indie as hell. The bloke is girning all over the place as he could use dialling his performances back a level or two.
If the in-ring work was blowing you away, you could get past that, but this was very much just a match. They had some nice back and forth moments, trading elbows and having Richards make a desperate crawl to the ropes but there was nothing special here. In a week, you’ll struggle to remember that they wrestled at all.
In the end, Shota got a rather straightforward win, reacting to Richards escaping his Crab with a Missile Dropkick followed by a Fisherman Suplex for the three. There is a hierarchy being established in this tournament, and Richards is near the bottom of it.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
The comparisons to BOSJ and the G1 continue as much like their more experienced counterparts, the Young Lions took being away from Korakuen and the full camera set-up as a reason to lower the intensity. Looks, it’s only natural, you’re in a quieter room where fewer people care about you, so you’re not going to give 110%. These matches were still fine, but unless you’re an obsessive, they’re easily skipped.
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