Job Opportunities: Looking Back At How NJPW Stars Got Their Starts

Previously on Job Opportunities, Brandon looked back at present-day wrestling stars when they made appearances in WWE, WCW, and NXT earlier in their careers, usually jobbing out to people who were more important than them. This installment of Job Opportunities is the closest thing to a New Japan Pro Wrestling equivalent, but with a twist: NJPW doesn’t really have jobbers in the same way WWE has jobbers.

New Japan rarely has squash matches and doesn’t enlist Local Talent from the location of the night’s event, at least not for shows in Japan. However, if you’ve watched enough New Japan, you can often tell who will end up jobbing when you look at a card full of eight-man tags and six-man tags and two-on-two tag matches. Getting pinned or submitted is a big deal, so unless a new feud is kicking off, the guy who loses the match for his team will usually be either someone who is rarely near a title picture, the one junior heavyweight in a match full of heavyweights, or, most of all, a trainee in the New Japan dojo, aka a Young Lion.

In the spirit of Job Opportunities and in honor of the Young Lion Cup, here are twenty NJPW stars back when they were either Young Lions or way lower status in the company than they are now (and ate a lot more pins.)