Young Lions are wrestlers trained under the NJPW system. NJPW without question has the best dojo (wrestling school) in the world, if you look at the number of names that came through their system like: Jushin Thunder Liger, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Masahiro Chono, Ultimo Dragon, Shinsuke Nakamura, Tetsuya Naito, Kazuchika Okada; just to name a few.
As mentioned before, NJPW has the best system to develop rookies in wrestling but changes need to be made regarding their pushes and when are they elevated. One of the positives (and a negative to an extent) of their system is that they take their time with their young lions in their development but waiting too long in wrestling is not the right choice either.
NJPW is taking lately too long to ascend their young lions to the next level, and let alone to allowing them to be part of the main event scene. The NJPW roster doesn’t feel like it has changed much in the last few years, and we are not seeing young lions being added to the card fast enough either. The NJPW roster feels stagnant and adding Young Lions to the roster in the different levels of te card would be the answer to this problem NJPW has.
The last young lion to be considered a major act and later elevated to the main event scene was Jay White, and that was in the period between 2018-2019. The main event scene of NJPW has suffered a lot lately, and with fans thinking that the scene only features the same wrestlers wrestling each other almost every show.
Fair argument that we can give NJPW regarding the lack of push and ascension of young lions in NJPW is that the COVID-19 pandemic backtracked the plans they had with some of their young lions, especially in 2021, but travel restrictions in Japan are softer now and the Young Lions are doing pretty well in their excursions. So, this fair argument loses its impact as months go by.
NJPW used to be bolder with their young lions, and there’s no better example of this is Kazuchika Okada’s return to NJPW after his excursion and his rapid ascension to the main event scene and dethroning Hiroshi Tanahashi. NJPW really hasn’t taken a chance with a young lion since Jay White and that was 4 years ago.
Yuya Uemura, Shota Umino and Yota Tsuji are promising young lions currently in their excursions. NJPW could easily use them in important parts of the card, instead of eating pins in multi-man tags and having blank gimmicks for months before actually being given something. NJPW needs to use more their young lions and start pushing them for the long term of the promotion.