Castle Attack was a professional wrestling event promoted by New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW). The events took place on February 27 and 28, 2021, in Osaka, at the Osaka-jō Hall. Both nights featured six matches, with the first night featuring one and the second three of which were contested for championships. The first night was main evented by Kazuchika Okada facing EVIL, while the second night was main evented by Kota Ibushi defending the IWGP Intercontinental Championship against Tetsuya Naito. Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the tour had some restrictions in the attendance, after the Japanese Government lifted the State of Emergency.
Production[edit | edit source]
Background[edit | edit source]
On December 25, 2020, NJPW officially announced the show, being named named "Castle Attack" and taking place in two nights on February 27 and 28, 2021, in Osaka, at the Osaka-jō Hall. The event aired worldwide on NJPW's internet streaming site, New Japan Pro Wrestling World, with English commentary provided by Kevin Kelly and Chris Charlton.
Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic[edit | edit source]
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, other wrestling promotions began to cancel or postpone their shows in an attempt to prevent further spreading of the COVID-19 virus. At the end of February, following recommendations by the Japanese Ministry of Health regarding the coronavirus outbreak, NJPW canceled the events between March 1 and March 15 including the promotion's Anniversary Event and the first and the second round of New Japan Cup. On March 23, NJPW also canceled the 2020 Sakura Genesis event, which was originally scheduled to take place on March 31. On April 8, NJPW canceled more events from April 11 through May 4, leading to the cancelation of both nights of 2020 Wrestling Dontaku and would also cancel the whole Best of the Super Juniors tournament as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on May 6. Various wrestlers such as David Finlay, El Phantasmo, KENTA, the Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa), Jay White, Juice Robinson, Will Ospreay, Rocky Romero, and Robbie Eagles were unable to work on NJPW events due to travel restrictions because of the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, NJPW wrestlers and staff created the NJPW Together project in order to do bring content to NJPW World with interviews and old archived matches. On May 6, NJPW announced that their Wrestle Dynasty event would be postponed to 2021, due to the effects of the 2019-20 coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. On June 8, during an online press conference, NJPW Chairman Naoki Sugabayashi announced that the promotion would start to held shows on June 15, starting with the Together Project Special and the return of the 2020 New Japan Cup between June 16 and July 11, with all shows being held behind closed doors. It was also that the finals of the New Japan Cup and the Dominion in Osaka-jo Hall would be the first shows to allow fans into the arena, but only a third of the venue's normal capacity, after the Japanese Government lifted some restrictions on many regions in Japan.
Storylines[edit | edit source]
Castle Attack featured professional wrestling matches that involve different wrestlers from pre-existing scripted feuds and storylines. Wrestlers portray villains, heroes, or less distinguishable characters in the scripted events that build tension and culminate in a wrestling match or series of matches.
The first night of the event was main evented by Kazuchika Okada facing EVIL. Since January 2020, Okada began a heated feud with EVIL, usually after their matches, EVIL and Okada were involved in various brawls, leading Okada on numerous occassions to ask a match against EVIL. On February 11, at The New Beginning in Hiroshima, Okada and his CHAOS stablemate Toru Yano faced EVIL and Bullet Club stablemate Dick Togo in a double countout. Afterwards, Okada challenged EVIL to a singles match, which Okada won by disqulification, after Okada was attacked by Togo. The following day, NJPW announced a rematch between both wrestlers. EVIL had previously picked up two important victories over Okada, with the first being during the 2017 G1 Climax on August 5, marking Okada's first singles defeat in nearly a year at that time and the second being on July 11, 2020, in the finals to win the 2020 New Japan Cup, following the interference from Gedo, Jado, Taiji Ishimori, and Yujiro Takahashi, joining Bullet Club in the process.
The second night of the event was main evented by Kota Ibushi defending the IWGP Intercontinental Championship against Tetsuya Naito. Also on February 11, at The New Beginning in Hiroshima, after Ibushi successfully defended IWGP Heavyweight and IWGP Intercontinental Championships against SANADA, his Los Ingobernables de Japón stablemate Tetsuya Naito challenged Ibushi to a title match, but for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. The storyline behind the match dates back to January 4, 2020 on the first night Wrestle Kingdom 14 in Tokyo Dome, when Naito and Ibushi took part in the Double Gold Dash, during which Naito managed to become the first double champion in NJPW history after wining both IWGP Heavyweight and IWGP Intercontinental Championships, despite his complicated relationship with the latter championship, whom he repeatedly denigrated and even occasionally tried to break, after throwing it on the ground or against the ring posts. Afterwards, Naito intended to defend both titles seperately, following various circuntances, Naito struggle to keep both titles. This led to on January 4, 2021 on the first night Wrestle Kingdom 15 in Tokyo Dome, Ibushi defeating Naito to win the IWGP Heavyweight and IWGP Intercontinental Championships. Following the event, Ibushi expressed his ambitions of unifying both titles, which to Naito was unacceptable. Prior to their match on February 17, it was announced that Naito had suffured a knee injury, before stating that he would still face Ibushi at Castle Attack.
On February 10, 2021, at The New Beginning in Hiroshima, Hiromu Takahashi sucessfully defended the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship against Sho. After the match, El Phantasmo attacked Takahashi until his Los Ingobernables de Japón stablemate BUSHI made the save, until Taiji Ishimori attacked him, only for Takahashi to also save him. Afterwards, Phantasmo challenged Takahashi to a title match. Takahashi accepted Phantasmo's challenge for his title on the condition that he first defend the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship against him and BUSHI. The title match was announced on February 12. Phantasmo had previously been defeated by Takahashi on January 4 on the first night of Wrestle Kingdom 14, in which the winner would face Ishimori for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship on the second night, which Takahashi defeated Ishimori to become the new champion. On February 19, Takahashi suffured a torn pectoral muscle, leading him to be sidelined for six months. On February 25, Takahashi vacated the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, before nominating BUSHI to replace him in his match against Phantasmo for the vacant championship. Later that night. BUSHI and Takahashi were replaced by Suzuki-gun (El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru), who defeated Phantasmo and Ishimori to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. After the match, Desperado asked to be included in the title match, proposing a three-way match, before being attacked by Phantasmo, who was attacked by BUSHI.
On January 5, 2021, on the second night of Wrestle Kingdom 15 in Tokyo Dome, Jay White who was frustrated about his loss against Kota Ibushi, stated that "maybe [his] time should be spent some place else", adding that he was leaving the promotion on January 6 at New Year Dash. At the New Year Dash, White teamed with Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens, EVIL, and Yujiro Takahashi, losing to CHAOS (Hirooki Goto, Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano and Yoshi-Hashi in an eight-man tag team match, with White being pinned by Ishii. However, despite the rumors of his potencial departure, on February 1, White made his return to the promotion attacking Tomohiro Ishii, after Ishii had derailed his plans to win the 2020 G1 Climax due to Ishii defeating him in their block match. The following day, following a eight-man tag team match between Bullet Club and CHAOS, White and the Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa) challenged Goto, Ishii, and Yoshi-Hashi to a title match for the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship. On February 11, 2021, at The New Beginning in Hiroshima, White and the Guerrillas of Destiny unsucessfully challenged Goto, Ishii, and Yoshi-Hashi for the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship. Afterwards, Yoshi-Hashi and Goto challenged the Guerrillas of Destiny to a title match for the IWGP Tag Team Championship. Leading to the match, Ishii has two consecutive victories over White during the 2019 and 2020 G1 Climax tournaments. Both matches were announced on February 12.
On January 30, 2021 at The New Beginning in Nagoya, Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Shingo Takagi to win the NEVER Openweight Championship. Afterwards, Great-O-Khan attacked Tanahashi and challenged him to a title match. The title match was announced on February 12. O-Khan had been feuding with Tanahashi since November 2020, which led to on January 4, 2021 on the first night Wrestle Kingdom 15 in Tokyo Dome, O-Khan was defeated by Tanahashi.
The rest of the matches for Castle Attack were announced on February 12, including the fifth title match of the event for the provisional KOPW 2021 Championship between Toru Yano and Chase Owens. On February 12, Owens, who was jealous on the way Yano won the New Japan Rambo and the KOPW 2021 at Wrestle Kingdom 15, leading him to challenge Yano to a Texas Strap match. NJPW later announced the title match. This led to on February 15, Yano proposing a "YTR style Texas Strap match" at Castle Attack, after Yano was appealed by the idea, after Owens attacked him with a strap, during their match. Afterwards, NJPW announced a fan vote to determine the stipulation for the match, which Yano won on February 22, resulting in the match being a YTR style Texas Strap match.
Results[edit | edit source]
Night 1[edit | edit source]
|1||United Empire (Will Ospreay, Great-O-Khan, and Jeff Cobb) defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi, Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima||Six-man tag team match||10:22|
|2||Tanga Loa (with Jado) defeated Yoshi-Hashi||Singles match||12:58|
|3||Hirooki Goto defeated Tama Tonga (with Tanga Loa and Jado)||Singles match||6:39|
|4||Toru Yano (c) defeated Chase Owens||YTR style Texas Strap match for the Provisional KOPW 2021 Championship||12:50|
|5||Jay White (with Gedo) defeated Tomohiro Ishii||Singles match||25:42|
|6||Kazuchika Okada defeated EVIL (with Dick Togo)||Singles match||28:11|
Night 2[edit | edit source]
|1||Tencozy (Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima) defeated United Empire (Will Ospreay and Jeff Cobb)||Tag team match||9:46|
|2||CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, and Toru Yano) defeated Bullet Club (Jay White, EVIL, and Chase Owens) (with Dick Togo and Gedo)||Six-man tag team match||8:35|
|3||Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa) (c) (with Jado) defeated CHAOS (Hirooki Goto and Yoshi-Hashi)||Tag team match for the IWGP Tag Team Championship||15:46|
|4||Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) defeated Great-O-Khan||Singles match for the NEVER Openweight Championship||18:44|
|5||El Desperado defeated BUSHI and El Phantasmo||Three-way match for the vacant IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship||23:12|
|6||Kota Ibushi (c) defeated Tetsuya Naito||Singles match for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship||27:50|