The Road to Destruction continues with a pair of on-demand matches from the Young Lion Cup!

Until the big shows, New Japan World is only posting the Young Lion Cup matches from this tour… so here we are from the Fujisan Messe in Shizuoka.

Young Lion Cup: Karl Fredericks vs. Yuya Uemura
Uemura’s going into this having lost both his opening matches – and is threatening to be the Jay White of this tournament, at least in terms of his early form.

Some early scrambling saw Fredericks maintain a dominant position, spinning out of a takedown from Uemura to take the guard. Fredericks goes for the arm, looking for a wristlock as it was instead Uemura who edged ahead, clamping on a side headlock that led to him being shot into the ropes for a leaping crossbody block.

Fredericks keeps him on the mat for a deathlock, looking to bridge up the hold for extra pressure as Uemura had to scoot his way into the ropes for respite. There’s an extra stomp from Fredericks for good measure, but Uemura fights back with a dropkick before he wrenched Fredericks down to the mat by his arm.

Uemura keeps up with an overhead belly-to-belly for a two-count, before he rolled Fredericks into the middle of the ring for a Fujiwara-ish armbar. He eventually wrenches back on the arm, before using some forearms to knock Fredericks into the ropes.

Chops follow until Uemura ran into a spinebuster, with Fredericks rolling him into a single leg crab with a bunch of kicks for extra emphasis to force the submission. Solid stuff, but like with the opening matches in the cup, the lack of familiarity showed here. **½

Young Lion Cup: Michael Richards vs. Shota Umino
The pride of Fale Dojo against arguably the top star of the current crop of the New Japan Dojo here.

We open with a lock-up as both men scramble into the ropes, complete with a clean break as they proceeded to charge into each other like bulls. Richards tried to dictate the pace with a side headlock, but Umino shoves him off for more shoulder tackles, with Richards finally landing a takedown.

Umino strikes back with some palm strikes and chops to mark up Richards’ chest, before a simple slam gets a two-count. A cravat keeps Richards at bay, with Umino turning it into a snapmare and ultimately a camel clutch as he stretched the Kiwi. It turns into an Arabian clutch as Richards’ arms slipped, before Umino just gives up and stomps away.

Forearms to the lower back keep Richards at bay, as does another slam, before chops ring around the building. Richards hits back with a clothesline, then with a back suplex, but he couldn’t continue with a single leg crab as Umino kicks away. A dropkick from Umino turns the tables, but Richards is right back in with a suplex.

The pair trade forearms as Richards was really getting bruised up, before he ran into another spinebuster, with Umino rolling him up for a near-fall. From there, Richards gets rolled over into a Boston crab, ending with one last push as he hand-walked himself into the ropes. Umino stayed on top of him, heading up top for a missile dropkick, landing it for another two-count, before finishing off Richards with a Fisherman suplex for the win. This was pretty good – Umino’s closing stretch seemed very much definitive, and the win puts him on joint second (if you take in their extra match). **¾

Young Lion Cup Standings
Alex Coughlin (2-0; 4pts)
Karl Fredericks, Shota Umino (2-1; 4pts)
Clark Connors, Ren Narita, Yota Tsuji (1-1; 2pts)
Michael Richards (1-2; 2pts)
Yuya Uemura (0-3; 0pts)