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NJPW Lion's Gate Project 6 results: A look at the young lions


The sixth edition of the Lion’s Gate Project took place this morning at Shinjuku Face. Let’s take a look at the young lions New Japan currently has on their roster, along with a smattering of other young talent from other promotions.

El Desperado defeated Tetsuhiro Yagi

Yagi is the latest New Japan young lion, making his debut on May 9th on the last Lion’s Gate show. He worked a lot during both the Best of the Super Juniors and Dominion tours and looked pretty solid in what he did, improving each time I saw him.

If he bulked up a bit more, he could be a heavyweight, something that until recently New Japan was lacking as far as young talent went. He looked green in this match, but definitely has improved in the last month. Desperado won with his new submission finish, the stretch muffler.

Jado & Gedo defeated Shota Umino & Hirai Kawato

Kawato has been wrestling for about a year and a half, making his debut last January. He’s always struck me as the one who personifies the “fighting spirit” aspect of what New Japan expects in their young lions -- he’s always confrontational and does everything in his power to win. He’s progressed very well in the last year and could be a standout junior heavyweight wrestler in a few years.

Umino is the son of Red Shoes, aka Hirooki Unno, a referee for NJPW. He started back in April, and has also shown advancement in the couple months he’s been wrestling. Not a total standout yet, but he has plenty of time to improve. He took the fall in this match, submitting to Jado’s crossface in a decent bout.

Tiger Mask IV &  Hiroyoshi Tenzan defeated Takuya Nomura & Dinosaur Takuma

Dinosaur Takuma has been wrestling for Kaientai Dojo since 2015. His gimmick, as you may notice by the name, is coming to the ring with a dinosaur tail and carrying a bone with him. Wrestlers usually do spots with him like grabbing his tail to get heat.

Nomura is a wrestler from Big Japan Pro Wrestling and has wrestled in various promotions such as All Japan and Zero One since his debut last April.

Takuma lost the match for his team, submitting to Tenzan’s Anaconda Vice. I think Takuma has a gimmick that could work pretty well wherever he goes. I’ve heard good things about Nomura, but here he just seemed like a guy who has very good basics.

Manabu Nakanishi defeated Katsuya Kitamura

Kitamura is an accomplished amateur wrestler who made his debut back in March. He immediately stands out as being one of the bigger young lions in some time; at 6’0 and 265 pounds it’s very clear he’s a heavyweight, and one with potential future star power. With an impressive tan and jacked to the gills, once his young lion tenure is over there’s no doubt he’ll be fast tracked into a main event-level position.

Nakanishi has been a mentor to him, so it made sense for them to have a match here. The match wasn’t that great, though -- Nakanishi moved slower than usual and just didn’t look good. Kitamura looked fine enough. Nakanishi picked up the submission win with the torture rack.

YOSHI-HASHI defeated Yuma Aoyagi

Aoyagi has been wrestling for All Japan since 2014. He also represented them in the Super J-Cup last year. He looked good then, and looked better here today. He’s someone to watch outside of New Japan as he’s really good, at least a standout here on a show with relatively green workers.

He sold a ton for YOSHI-HASHI, enough that the crowd got into the match. YH put him in a lot of submissions and Aoyagi refused to tap, each time making it to the ropes. Aoyagi finally made a quick comeback, but YOSHI-HASHI cut him off with a clothesline and then sunk in the butterfly lock for the submission win.

One of the All Japan young lions had words with YOSHI-HASHI after the match.

Ayato Yoshida & Satoshi Kojima defeated Tomoyuki Oka & Yuji Nagata 

I don’t know much about Yoshida other than he’s been wrestling since 2015 and was representing Kaientai Dojo here tonight. He’s been on other Lion’s Gate shows before. 

Oka is an accomplished amateur wrestler that Nagata is really high on, bringing him into the dojo and and teaming with him off and on during tours. He doesn’t have a physique like Kitamura’s, but he's still tall and is currently pegged for big things in his future.

Yoshida looked good in the time he was in here. Oka as well -- since his official debut in February he’s turned into a pretty good worker. He has a big chance to break out as well because while he does not have Kitamura’s body, he still has the size to make it far.

After a solid back-and-forth affair, Kojima and Oka were in the ring and traded some good action with one another until Kojima hit the lariat for the win. Yoshida got in Nagata’s face after the match as he attacked him. Nagata no sold it and laid him out with some slaps, sending him on his way.

Kojima cut a promo to close out the show.