Day seven of the Road to Destruction, and by extension the Young Lion Cup, sees action in Osaka. Here’s what to expect from your two tournament matches.
Ren Narita (2-1) vs Yota Tsuji (1-2)
All of the Young Lions are progressing at such a high rate that any little experience seems to have added importance, every extra bit of ring time causing them to level up like early game role playing protagonists. In Narita’s case, the added experience of having been in a league like tournament at a high level, the Best of the Super Juniors earlier in the year, has seen him effectively wrestle at a level above his competition much of the time. In Aichi he was able to put away the hitherto unbeaten Alex Coughlin with Narita Special #4, a move that paid similar dividends against the much hyped Karl Fredericks. Even against contemporary Shota Umino, his loss was narrow, having rolled the shoulder just a tenth of a second late on a German suplex.
That experience edge, and his form thus far in the tournament makes him an easy favourite against Tsuji here, but the bout is far from a foregone conclusion. Tsuji is after all, decidedly tracking heavyweight, having lost mass in training to get down to around 100kg for the league. a size and power advantage is definitely Tsuji’s and he will want to upset the Dojo senpai/kohai balance here in Osaka.
Karl Fredericks (2-1) vs Alex Coughlin (2-1)
We’re not at the mid way of the Young Lion Cup, but nobody all week has been able to set a distinctive lead in the tournament. Only Yuya Uemura sits pointless at the moment, while not one competitor has gotten to six points. That includes the strong starting Coughlin, and the man with arguably the highest pre-tournament expectations put upon him in Fredericks. They both share a 2-1 record, and both share a defeat to Ren Narita and the Narita Special #4.
How have both men developed since their loss? Since Frederick’s defeat came in his first bout, we’ve been able to see his added focus, and ability to deal with a troubling right shoulder. Coughlin’s only a day removed from his defeat however, and as a result, he has more questions to answer in Osaka.