So I’ve been seeing a bit of speculatin’ about the upcoming Young Lion’s Cup
Who even qualifies anymore, how does the Cup work, and so on and so forth.
Well folks, not to worry, ol’ Brandon’s here, and I’m gonna help you through this crazy tournament, or at least hold your hand and lead you up to it and tell you about the Young Lions Cup of days past.
So, CHIKARA blinks into existence in the year 2002, just a strange world with a strange name, in a sea of indies that were also sprouting up at the time. It wasn’t until November of that year that it would get it’s own title; the Young Lions Cup. A tournament was held to crown an inaugural champion, with a catch; you had to have wrestled under fifty matches to qualify for the Cup. This prevented more experienced and traveled wrestlers from horning and taking the cup for themselves, and kept it strictly centered around younger talent.
The Young Lions Cup was partially based on NJPW’s Young Lion Cup, both being a way of showcasing and rewarding the younger, inexperienced (yet talented!) wrestlers on the roster. Whereas NJPW’s Young Lion Cup was decided with a round robin tournament, CHIKARA was decided in a more straightforward elimination style tournament, and on November 16, 2002, Hallowicked bested Mister ZERO in the finals to become the first CHIKARA Young Lions Cup Champion!
Now, this Cup could be defended like any other title in wrestling, with the caveat that if you lost the Cup, you could no longer challenge to regain it. Once again, only wrestlers with fifty matches or under could qualify to challenge for the Cup, and for two long years, Hallowicked successfully defended his Cup four times.
On September 30, 2004, the second Young Lions Cup tournament was held, and as such, Hallowicked had to give up the title of Young Lions Cup Champion; meaning, he got to keep his copy of the Cup, but could no longer challenge for the Cup’s title again, or participate in any other tournament for the Cup ever again. A new Cup is made every year for each tournament, and as such, there’s never really been a set “look” for the Cup, though many of them are similar.
I believe it was during this tournament that the “fifty match” rule was changed so that wrestlers whom were only 25 or under could challenge for or participate in the tournament for the Cup, but I could be wrong.
"Sweet n’ Sour" Larry Sweeney became the second Young Lions Cup Champion after defeating Jigsaw in the finals of the second tournament, but sadly, he never kept it through his first defense; on November 19, 2004, Jigsaw became the first person to challenge for, and win, the Young Lions Cup from it’s champion outside of the tournament. As such, Sweeney was out of luck, and could no longer regain his Cup.
And so we skip a few years, as it’s business as usual; a new year comes and a new champion is crowned, and if they’re lucky, they keep their Cup until the following year’s tournament, or if they’re unlucky, well, they lose the Cup. We fast forward past 2005 (new champion, Shane Storm), 2006 (new champion, Arik Cannon, who lost it to Max Boyer), and 2007 (new champion Chuck Taylor, who lost it to Helios), and hit pause on 2008.
On June 15, 2008, in my favorite CHIKARA match of all time, Fire Ant defeated Vin Gerard in the finals of the sixth Young Lions Cup tournament to become the ninth Champion. Unfortunately, Fire Ant would earn himself the misfortune of being the shortest reigning Young Lions Cup Champion ever, holding it for 28 days until being bested (or cheated, whoever you talk to) out of his title by Vin Gerard.
We pause here because this is the year that Leonard F. Chikarason altered the rules a bit; he was no fan of Gerard (much like anyone else), and as such changed the rule so that Fire Ant could challenge to regain his Cup, with the addendum that if he did not regain his Cup by the next tournament, he was knocked out of contention. Fire Ant challenged for the Cup on September 20, 2008, in Streamwood, IL, in front of me, personally, but it wasn’t meant to be.
But that’s not the end of it; Vin Gerard would hold the title until Jimmy Olsen, under the guise of Gerard’s old Equinox mask, would challenge for the Cup in December of 2008, in a match so ridiculously full of cheating and chicanery that LFC saw fit to strip Gerard of the Cup, the first time in history, and would have the Cup held up until it could be decided in a somewhat more fair match; a ladder match at that.
So, in another first, Gerard and Olsen faced off again for the vacant Cup on January 25, 2009 in a ladder match, which saw Olsen to victory, offically ending Gerard’s reign. As for LFC’s little rule change, future Director of Fun Dieter Von Steigerwalt changed the rule back to it’s original form; once you lost the Cup, it’s gone for good.
And so, history moved on; Player Dos won the Cup in the 2009 tournament, but lost it to Tim Donst in 2010; Frightmare won the Cup in 2010, and became the first Champion in years to hold the Cup until the next year’s tournament, which was won by Tadasuke.
Tadasuke’s reign is interesting, in that he never lost the Cup…because he never defended it. At least, not in any official CHIKARA sanctioned match, or even on American soil at all. He pretty much won the Cup and took off to Japan.
In 2012, Mr. Touchdown became the 16th Champion, besting ACH in the finals of that year’s tournament. Mr. Touchdown held his title for a whole year…then some THING happened, but we don’t need to go into that…
And here we are. Wrestling is Fun is hosting this year’s Young Lions Cup tournament, and we’re all kinda confused; what are the qualifications for this tournament, who can participate, etc. Well, to be honest with you, I’m not so sure anymore; I’m not sure who qualifies under the tournament and Cup’s old rules, so for all I know, they’ll be changing the rules this year. I suppose, until then, I’ll keep you posted.
I sincerely hope this has helped you understand the Young Lions Cup Championship a bit more, or at the very least, you had fun reading this! Stay tuned, I’ll probably be making a lot more posts like this along with my typical junk.