Shota Umino and Karl Fredericks look to keep up the pace as the Young Lion Cup continued in Tottori!

Today’s on-demand matches come from the Tottori Prefectural Industrial Gym in Tottori…

Young Lion Cup: Yota Tsuji vs. Shota Umino
Umino needs to win out and he’s got the Young Lion Cup sewn up.

From the opening tie-up, Umino’s taken to the ropes and chopped before he charged Tsuji into the ropes… and was met with another cheapshot. Forearms from Tsuji eventually gave way to shoulder tackles, as the pair charged at each other like a pair of bulls. Umino eventually won out before he began to put the boots to Tsuji, only for the relative newbie to start striking back.

A cravat is used to restrain Umino, who’s then rolled into an old-school camel clutch before Tsuji let go so he could splash his back. Umino fought back with a dropkick, then with some running forearms before he took Tsuji into the corner for an elbow. From there, it’s pretty much one-way traffic as he keeps up with a suplex, before a German suplex was thwarted.

Tsuji lands a spear to cut-off Umino again, following that up with a back body drop and a Boston crab… but Umino’s able to get to the ropes after a bit of a struggle. The match descends into a slugfest, only for Umino to cut off Tsuji with a spinebuster for a near-fall. A missile dropkick follows for a two-count, before a Fisherman suplex got Shota the win. Decent stuff, although a little expected given the relative placings of both guys – Tsuji’s still got a lot to do before you can even begin to consider an excursion, while Umino’s probably overdue. **¾

Young Lion Cup: Michael Richards vs. Karl Fredericks
A win for Fredericks keeps him at the top – and in the hunt for the Young Lion Cup on Sunday.

Fredericks keeps his distance at first before he just shoved Richards into the corner, then into the ropes as things looked quite tetchy. Richards was doing his best to avoid takedowns, but Fredericks was irresistible, pushing through before faking out a cheapshot in the ropes.

Richards responds with a side headlock, which of course gave way to shoulder tackles, but he wins out with a back elbow as Fredericks was on the defensive. A slam has Fredericks down again, albeit for a one-count, before he took Karl into the corner for some chops and a running clothesline.

Fredericks fires back with chops, but another slam from Richards gets a two-count, along with a clothesline as the Kiwi was threatening to pull off the upset. Knees to the midsection went unanswered until a dropkick cut off the flow, with Fredericks following in with a running boot into the corner and a Stinger splash.

European uppercuts from Fredericks kept the pressure on, ahead of a spinebuster that he rolled over into a Boston crab, after some struggle from Richards, before the single leg crab forced the submission. Decent, but Richards is very much a league below the top right now. **¾

Young Lion Cup Standings
Karl Fredericks, Ren Narita, Shota Umino (5-1; 10pts)
Clark Connors, Alex Coughlin (3-3; 6pts)
Michael Richards, Yota Tsuji, Yuya Uemura (1-5; 2pts)

Friday in Kyoto sees the bottom half of the table in action, as Alex Coughlin takes on Yuya Uemura, while Michael Richards and Yota Tsuji look to avoid the wooden spoon.

So we’re down to a three-way finale – but it’ll be Sunday’s matches in Kobe that decide the winner, as Umino and Fredericks face each other, while Clark Connors hopes to derail Ren Narita’s slim chance of victory.