NJPW Castle Attack
Event Date: February 28, 2021 (14:00 JST)
aired live on NJPW World
Commentary (English) (live remotely): Kevin Kelly, Gino Gambino, Chris Charlton
Commentary (Japanese): Milano Collection AT, Togi Makabe, Shunpei Terakawa (1, 4), Shinji Yoshino (2, 6), Koki Yamazaki (3, 5)
Ring Announcer: Kimihiko Ozaki (1 – 3), Makoto Abe (4 – 6)
The opening video previews tonight’s big matches.
Jeff Cobb & Will Ospreay (RPW British Heavyweight Champ) vs Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan
(referee: Kenta Sato)
Result: Satoshi Kojima pins Jeff Cobb after a lariat
This was a fun way to start the night. The feud between the United Empire and Tencozy has been a lot of fun, but the United Empire has really been dominating the overall action. Ospreay and Cobb dominated a lot of this match as well, but the repeated beatdowns and near-constant taunting pushed Kojima and Tenzan to finally get some revenge tonight. Tenzan was recently banned from using his signature Mongolian chops after a loss to Great-O-Khan, and that became a source of joy for Ospreay and Cobb in this match as they took turns hitting Tenzan with Mongolian chops of their own. Tenzan had enough, and, regardless of any consequences that might come his way, he blasted both Ospreay and Cobb with multiple Mongolian chops. It’s never been clear if Tenzan would get disqualified in that scenario, but tonight the match went on, and it led to a fun finish for Kojima and Tenzan.
Chase Owens (NWA Texas Heavyweight Champ) & EVIL w/ Dick Togo & Jay White w/ Gedo vs Toru Yano (KOPW 2021 Provisional Champ) & Tomohiro Ishii (NEVER 6-Man Champ) & Kazuchika Okada
(referee: Kenta Sato)
Result: Kazuchika Okada submits Chase Owens withe the Money Clip
Good match. Bullet Club were up to their usual shenanigans with some stalling, brawling, and outside interference, but Chaos wasn’t in much of a mood for shenanigans tonight. Well, Yano was, but Ishii and Okada weren’t. This was a fun faction battle that ended with a strong performance from Kazuchika Okada.
IWGP Tag Team Title Match
YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto (NEVER 6-Man Champs) vs Guerrillas of Destiny (IWGP Tag Champs) w/ Jado
(referee: Kenta Sato)
Result: Tama Tonga pins Hirooki Goto after the Gun Stun (and a kendo stick to the back from Jado), the Guerrillas of Destiny retain the titles in the second defense of their seventh reign
Very good match. After a quick start from Chaos with a pre-match attack and some brawling tactics, YOSHI-HASHI became the prime target of the Guerrillas of Destiny. YOSHI-HASHI was isolated for a long time, and Tanga Loa in particular had fun punishing him. Tanga Loa hit a huge powerbomb on YOSHI-HASHI and followed up with some very hard strikes. Eventually Goto would get tagged in, and that began a few sequences where the momentum shifted back and forth and the match broke down a bit. YOSHI-HASHI was always the main target though, and he struggled to maintain any kind of offense when Goto wasn’t around to back him up. YOSHI-HASHI started pushing back towards the end of the match, but Jado was watching and waiting for when he needed to make his presence felt. That led to a nice finish and a mostly dominant performance from G.O.D.
The ring is cleaned and sanitized during a brief intermission.
NEVER Openweight Title Match
Great-O-Khan vs Hiroshi Tanahashi (NEVER Openweight Champ)
(referee: Marty Asami)
Result: Hiroshi tanahashi wins via pinfall with a crucifix pin and retains the title in the first defense of his first reign
Very good match. As is often the case in Tanahashi’s matches, Tanahashi went after Great-O-Khan’s legs early and often in order to somewhat level the playing field (since Tanahashi’s own knees are almost always an issue and a target). Khan didn’t help himself much by hitting a fair number of moves that hurt his own knees as well. As the match went on though, Khan built up a good amount of offense against the champ. With the damage piling up, Tanahashi pushed back hard with a sequence of strong offense late in the match, but Khan was able to survive and avoid some of Tanahashi’s biggest moves. That swung the momentum firmly back in Khan’s favor with little hope of another comeback from Tanahashi. Things looked bleak for the champ as the match neared its well-done finish, and Khan looked very strong against the Ace of NJPW. This was a good match for both men, and it was a good match for the NEVER Openweight Title which feels like it’s going in a bit of a different direction with Tanahashi as champion. Also, Yota Tsuji played a nice supporting role in this match, finally responding to Great-O-Khan and the United Empire’s attempts at recruiting him.
IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title Three Way Match
El Phantasmo vs El Desperado (IWGP Jr. Tag Champ) vs BUSHI
(referee: Marty Asami)
Result: El Desperado pins El Phantasmo after two Pinche Locos and becomes the 89th IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion in his first reign
Great match. There was a lot of fun action with all three guys going after each other to start the match. El Phantasmo wasn’t able to do all of his usual stalling and cheating tactics with three men in the ring tonight, but even so, this became ELP’s match to lose. Partway through the match, ELP took El Desperado up the ramp, ripped his mas apart, and hit him with a brutal piledriver. ELP completely removed Desperado’s mask, and it looked like Desperado was done for the night. ELP focused on BUSHI, and the two of them had what amounted to a good singles match. El Desperado returned to the ring though (with a new mask), and the excitement picked up as Desperado and ELP went after each other. BUSHI wasn’t a huge factor in the ongoing action at this point, but he did play a gigantic role in what could have been a few finishes in the match. Everything built up to ELP using his (probably) loaded boot to take out both of his opponents, El Desperado looking to destroy ELP, and BUSHI looking to take advantage of any and every situation.
IWGP Intercontinental Title Match
Tetsuya Naito vs Kota Ibushi (IWGP IC & Heavyweight Champ)
(referee: Red Shoes Unno)
Result: Kota Ibushi pins Tetsuya Naito after Kamigoye and retains the IC Title in the third defense of his second reign
Great match! These two men know each other very well, and their matches often involve a certain amount of danger. While this title match didn’t have any of the uncomfortably dangerous moments like we’ve seen them have in the past, it did have a fair amount of rough strikes and slams before it was all over. The match started with a sequence of mat wrestling where each man tried to get a firm advantage before inevitably moving on to riskier offense. They were both even on the mat, but Naito gained the first major advantage with a dropkick to Ibushi’s knee. Naito maintained his advantage for mot of the rest of the match, working over Ibushi’s legs extremely well before moving on to attacking the champ’s head and neck. Naito wrestled a very smart match, and it looked like he had found a plan to negate Ibushi’s explosive offense. Ibushi can take a beating though, and the champ fought back late in the match with hard strikes and slams. Naito weathered the storm as best he could and looked for more and more of his signature moves, but by the final few minutes of the match both men were essentially trading match-ending moves. This was a great main event, and if it is indeed the final Intercontinental Title match, then it was a fitting one to go out with.
After the match, El Desperado walks down to the ring. El Desperado congratulates Ibushi and goes on to talk about challenging Ibushi for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title in Osaka many years ago. El Desperado has finally achieved his goal of becoming the Jr. Champ tonight. He is different man than he was all those years ago, and he suggest that at the upcoming anniversary show Ibushi put up the double titles in their special challenge match.
Ibushi says El Desperado wasn’t any good all those years ago, but he’d like to ssee how good Desperado is now. Ibushi accepts El Desperado’s challenge for an IC & Heavyweight Title match.
I enjoyed this show a lot. The matches felt important, and putting up only one title in the main event added more tension to the match than if both titles had been on the line. It felt as if Naito had a better chance of taking one title than both at this point in Ibushi’s reign at the top.
Match of the Night
Tetsuya Naito vs Kota Ibushi
Another great match from these two, and a great step in cementing Ibushi as the current best wrestler in NJPW.
Official Results (Japanese): https://www.njpw.co.jp/tornament/276641?showResult=1