NJPW Castle Attack Report: Okada vs. EVIL, White vs. Ishii

Originally published at NJPW Castle Attack Report: Okada vs. EVIL, White vs. Ishii

New Japan held its first of two Castle Attack cards on Saturday at Osaka-jo Hall featuring five CHAOS vs. Bullet Club matches.

The near three-hour show was largely focused on the top two matches featuring Kazuchika Okada defeating EVIL while Jay White pinned Tomohiro Ishii.

The main event was the latest singles match between former IWGP heavyweight champions as Okada resorted to the Rainmaker after EVIL survived multiple attempts by Okada to submit him with the Money Clip.

The match featured the usual run-ins from Dick Togo that did grow tiresome with a plethora of run-ins during the show, which was a given due to the heavily focused Bullet Club involvement throughout the card.

Togo entered the ring as Red Shoes observed, ending with a ref bump and Togo using the wire to choke Okada. Okada broke free and hit with a tombstone.

Okada and EVIL went through several counters before Okada landed the Rainmaker and won the match after the twenty-eight-minute mark.

The announcers emphasized EVIL’s ability to survive the Money Clip while outlining his failure in so many big matches going back to the finals of the G1 Climax.

After, Okada initiated his desire to get back into the IWGP heavyweight title hunt but will do it properly by winning the New Japan Cup, which begins later this week.

In the co-feature and the match of the night, Jay White pinned Tomohiro Ishii after twenty-five-minutes.

Heading into the match, Ishii held a 2-0 record against White in singles matches from the 2019 and 2020 G1 tournaments.

White faked a hamstring injury and did sell the leg for a period, but the story revolved around Ishii’s ribs. White dropped Ishii’s ribs on the guardrail and was his target for the duration. Ishii was incredible selling the body injury while White’s methodical style, polarizing to most, was in full effect.

Gedo was involved but it was less of an annoyance having him as an additional handicap for Ishii to contend with. The end saw these elaborate sequences of each avoiding the other’s major moves ending with a Blade Runner as White was victorious.

This was an excellent match and primes White as one of the favorites for the New Japan Cup.

Toru Yano retained the KOPW provisional championship against Chase Owns in a YTR Texas Strap Match. This was designed to be a serious match from Yano with the brutality of the straps as the focus. There was still built-in comedy such as Yano being knocked out on the floor and Owens unable to remove the corner padding due to Yano’s weight from the floor. Owens also taped Yano’s hands to prevent him from removing the padding and ridiculous.

In the end, Yano hit the Demon Killer Powerbomb and removed the last corner pad to win the match. It had its moments, but I can’t say it was a very good match.

The Guerrillas of Destiny split their singles matches as Hirooki Goto pinned Tama Tonga with the GTR and Tanga Loa pinned YOSHI-HASHI with Apeshit. They did the ECW style transition as Tonga interfered in the first match allowing Loa to get the win, Goto ran out and they immediately started their match.

In the opener, The United Empire defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi, Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan after Will Ospreay pinned Tenzan after hitting the OsCutter.

The Empire is recruiting Yota Tsuji with the hopes that when he graduates as a Young Lion, he aligns with their faction.

Overall, I would say it was an average card highlighted by the Jay White win over Tomohiro Ishii, which easily stole the show for me. The larger matches are being saved for tonight’s card headlined by Kota Ibushi defending the Intercontinental title against Tetsuya Naito, and a three-way match for the vacant junior heavyweight title between El Phantasmo, El Desperado, and BUSHI.

The English commentary had some technical issues throughout the first half of the show but stabilized for the top matches with Kevin Kelly, Gino Gambino, and Chris Charlton broadcasting from different parts of the world.

*Will Ospreay, The Great O-Khan & Jeff Cobb over Hiroshi Tanahashi, Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan in 12:24
*Tanga Loa over YOSHI-HASHI in 12:53
*Hirooki Goto over Tama Tonga in 6:41
*KOPW Provisional Championship YTR Texas Strap Match: Toru Yano (champion) over Chase Owens in 12:50
*Jay White over Tomohiro Ishii in 25:43
*Kazuchika Okada over EVIL in 28:11

I’m wondering if those comments Okada made at the end of the match is the start of a heel turn?

Ishii/White carried the card as expected, but while Okada/Evil had a fair amount of the usual horseshit we’ve come to expect from Evil main events (and some kayfabe-busting ref spots that were egregious even by NJPW standards) I have to say that it was better than the Naito/Evil snorefests we’ve been dealing with lately.

Based on John’s comments and Grappl ratings I guess I’m in the minority, but I was actually pleasantly surprised by Yano/Owens. A lot less comedy than I expected, and it felt like the sort of classic NWA strap/corners match I imagine Owens was raised on.

I really loved the storytelling at the end of the Ishii/White match as well. Cool and confident Jay finally beats Ishii and for a moment, can’t contain his emotions at doing one small thing he wasn’t sure of himself with. He’s so proud of the moment that a bit out of character, he tries to celebrate with Yuya Uemura who he’s been sharing backstage promos with lately, and when he’s rejected, attacks him because he’s appalled someone else wouldn’t recognize this impression on White’s career. It was great. On a side note, I’ve enjoyed the ways they’ve slightly integrated the Young Lions into main storylines.

Also agree on Okada/Evil seeming better. Felt like they got off to a faster start than either one usually does, before devolving into both of their introduction ways…which at least helped the flow. We’re still like a step or two away of breaking down enough of the bad Bullet Club habits that have negatively impacted EVIL’s turn over the last year from him being free enough to have a real main event-level match that matches what we expect, but I enjoyed this one more than I expected.