“Shooter” – How Jon Moxley & Shota Umino Became Friends In NJPW

Hamish Woodward

In 2019, Jon Moxley grabbed a Young Lion named “shooter”, choosing him as his own and dragging him to back with him.

That man was Shota Umino, one of the most promising young stars in all of New Japan Pro Wreslting.

This simple act of friendly aggression started a friendship that would last for years, and see the pair teaming up together in the ring on multiple occasions.

The pair recently teamed together, alongside Blackpool Combat Club’s Claudio Castagnoli, at NJPW Dominion 6.4 to take on the NEVER Openweight Six-Man champions Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Tomihiro Ishii.

They failed in their pursuit if championship gold, but the match on emboldened the relationship between Jon Moxley and Shota Umino – or as their matching t-shirts called him, “Shooter”.

Jon Moxley Beat Shota Umino And Claimed Him As His Young Lion

Jon Moxley debuted in NJPW on June 5th, 2019. He appeared at the Best of the Super Juniors final, challenging Juice Robinson to a match for the IWGP United States Championship.

Moxley had debuted in AEW the month prior, attacking Kenny Omega and Chris Jericho following their match at Double or Nothing 2019.

Prior to Jon Moxley’s debut in NJPW, the company teased that a mystery challenger would be appearing at the June 5 “Best of the Super Juniors” finale show to challenge Juice Robinson for the IWGP United States Championship.

A vignette aired during Wrestling Dontaku on May 3 showing an individual in a bar, holding a knife and hiding his identity to the crowd. This man was later revealed as “Mox”, with Jon Moxley confirmed as he newest signing to NJPW.

Moxley defeated Juice Robinson with his Death Rider finisher – an elevated double arm DDT. This signalled a change from his WWE persona, and he hit the Dirty Deeds DDT that was his finish as Dean Ambrose, but it was kicked out of easily by the former CJ Parker.

On his NJPW debut, Jon Moxley won the IWGP United States Championship. Just a few days later, he wrestled against one of the Young Lions of NJPW in a typical squash match.

At Dominion 6.9, Jon Moxley dispatched a young Shota Umino in four minute match. He showed no mercy onto the young star, who was being prepped as a future star in the company, once he went for excursion later that year.

After the match, Moxley announced his entry into that year’s G1 Climax tournament, before dragging Shota Umino (still delirious from his beating) backstage with him.

Carrying the young star into the press conference after the show, Moxley “claimed” him as his own “young lion”, claiming that he needed a new training partner, and Umino fit the bill.

“He can be my new Young Lion. I’m gonna need some help around here. I’m gonna need a partner, I’m gonna need a training partner, I’m gonna need a spot on the bench. I’m gonna need someone to drive me home from Roppongi – you can drive? He can drive. This is my new boy right here.”

He also began referring to him as “Shooter” – a mispronunciation on the name Shota that fans found hilarious, and seems to have stuck (at least with English-speaking fans).

Umino accompanied Moxley to many of his matches, including his bouts at the G1 Climax in 2019.

They also teamed together in multiple tag team matches since 2019. Just one month after they faced each other, Jon Moxley and Shota Umino (now referred to exclusively by him as Shooter) took on the duo of Jeff Cobb and Ren Narita (another Young Lion).

While Mox and Shooter lost that match, their relationship grew and they continued to team together into the future.

Shota Umino made his AEW debut at Forbidden Door 2022, although he did not team with Jon Moxley. He teamed with Eddie Kingston and Wheeler Yuta (both partners of Jon Moxley) in defeat to Minoru Suzuki and the Jericho Appreciation Society.

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