After the success of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s New Beginning tour, there were high expectations for the first-ever Castle Attack show.
However, injuries and changes to the card threatened to ruin all of that. Matches had to be changed and substituted at the last minute.
Yet, even with all of that, there were still some stand-out performances from all the wrestlers! Here is a look at the top four matches from this year’s New Japan Castle Attack tour!
4. Taiji Ishimori & El Phantasmo vs. El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru – IWGP Jr Heavyweight Tag Championship
When Hiromu Takahashi and BUSHI were unable to compete for the IWGP Jr tag titles, Bullet Club thought they had managed to skip a defence. However, the former champions El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru used it as their opportunity to get their rematch.
As expected from two heel teams, the match started with a jump start as the Suzuki Gun duo went after the champions. However, despite the staple heel tactics, it was a proficient wrestling match. There were four different wrestlers meshing their styles together. It was a game of one-upmanship whether it was who could cheat the most, who could hit the most, or who could hit the craziest moves.
Going into the bout ELP’s “Sudden Shock” should have been the best advantage for Bullet Club. In the end, it worked against him. As he went to hit Desperado with the boot, Kanemaru misdirected it to hit Ishimori before hitting ELP with a DDT. It then allowed Despy to get to his feet and hit the Pinche Loco for the win!
Despite the titles going to a team with a long history with the belts, it raises many questions. With so few teams, has the division become redundant? Is it fated to be passed between the same two teams? Will there ever be any sort of consistency with a division and a title with so much history? Maybe the Suzuki Gun duo can be that team to bring it back to life.
3. Tetsuya Naito vs. Kota Ibushi – IWGP Intercontinental Championship
Whenever Tetsuya Naito and Kota Ibushi wrestle each other, most people have a preconceived idea about what they are going to watch. Most of the time, they are correct. It usually consists of two crazy men throwing safety out of the window and finding any way to inflict pain on their opponent. However, their match for the Intercontinental title surprised many fans and gave them something new.
For the entire tour, both men had taken a methodical approach to their matches targeting a body part. It was surprising to see that this method was transferred into their title match. As soon as the bell rang, both men continued targeting each other’s knees with a series of strikes and submissions.
It wasn’t until much later in the match, that the wheels started to turn, and the pace quickened. Fans began to see shades of their previous bouts with Naito and Ibushi throwing caution to the wind and hitting high-risk offence. There were moonsaults, head-scissors and a throwback with Naito’s Diamond Dust.
As the match passed the 25-minute mark, neither man seemed to have the desire to slow down. However, with one final Kamigoye, Kota Ibushi retained both the IC title but his title of ‘God’. Despite the slower pace of the match, it was another great chapter to add to this duo’s trilogy. Hopefully, it will not be the last time these two will meet in a big match setting.