Welcome to another round of NJPW predictions, here at Enuffa.com!
This weekend is the Castle Attack two-night event at Osaka-jo Hall, and there are some big matchups taking place. Sadly Hiromu Takahashi vs. El Phantasmo for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title is not one of them, thanks to a torn pec that will keep Hiromu out of action for six months or so. That really sucks. Without Hiromu as its anchor, that division is really sparse right now. Hopefully someone can step up. Anyway let's look at the ten big matches over the two nights....
United Empire vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & TenCozy
This should be a fun six-man. I'm not sure why Ospreay is relegated to two opening tag bouts here but whatever, it's a way for his team to get a couple wins I guess. Ospreay, Cobb and O-Khan need to win to continue their momentum and also to make O-Khan look good for his Night 2 title match with Tanahashi.
Pick: United Empire
Yoshi-Hashi vs. Tanga Loa
The first night features two singles matches between Night 2's IWGP Tag Team Championship participants. Yoshi and Goto will challenge Guerrillas of Destiny for the straps, but first they'll face off in singles bouts. I don't expect this one to be great or anything, as its the lesser partners of each team. I'll pick Yoshi to pull out an upset here.
Hirooki Goto vs. Tama Tonga
This one should be considerably better, as both guys can be really good when motivated. I'll take Tama here to split the win-loss record.
Pick: Tama Tonga
KOPW 2021 Texas Strap Match: Toru Yano vs. Chase Owens
This is probably gonna be stupid and I'm not sure why they have this King of Pro-Wrestling trophy deal. It's just a comedy title a la WWE's 24/7 belt. Something for the bottom echelon to fight over. That's just kinda sad really.
Pick: Yano retains I guess, since this is a match of his devising
Jay White vs. Tomohiro Ishii
Okay, now we're talkin'. White recently returned after a month or so off. Just enough to time to clear his head from losing to Ibushi at WrestleKingdom. I told y'all it was a work. Anyway, this should be a great match. White has become an incredible heel and Ishii is forever the company's unsung hero. I expect this to easily steal the show. White obviously gets the win.
Pick: Jay White
Kazuchika Okada vs. Evil
Not sure what the plan is for Okada over the next few months. His feud with Ospreay seems to be done for the moment so he's been mixing it up with Evil, but I feel like we've seen this matchup so many times. Maybe Ospreay will go after Okada again soon. Anyway, I guess Okada wins here?
IWGP Tag Team Championship: Guerrillas of Destiny vs. Hirooki Goto & Yoshi-Hashi
This'll be a solid tag team outing. New Japan desperately could use more teams. The heavyweight ranks are very thin and the Jr. tag division is almost nonexistent. Maybe pair up some of these Young Lions as teams. This tag division is WWE 2004-era anemic. I think the champs probably retain.
NEVER Openweight Championship: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. The Great O-Khan
These two had a solid match at the Dome and this should be a better one. I don't think O-Khan is ready for a title yet, but he's also 0-1 against Tanahashi so it's possible he evens the score. As that title has been bouncing around like crazy, I think it should settle down for a few months and Shingo should be the one to win it back from Tana, or if it's going to be one of the Empire guys, Jeff Cobb.
Pick: Tanahashi retains
IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: El Phantasmo vs. El Desperado vs. Bushi
Man, this sucks. I was really looking forward to Takahashi vs. ELP. This is another division that desperately needs help. Aside from these three guys, Taiji Ishimori and Sho, who do they have right now? I probably would've added Sho to this match, as he could be a good surrogate until Takahashi comes back. Maybe he'll chase the winner of this match. Anyway I'd pull the trigger on ELP at this point.
Pick: El Phantasmo
IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Kota Ibushi vs. Tetsuya Naito
Hopefully Naito is in good shape for this, he missed a few dates due to a knee injury, and he never misses dates. I assume the plan is for him to win back the I-C Title thus splitting up the two big belts again. That's what should happen, but if he's hurting who knows? I think it was a mistake to keep the belts unified for as long as they have. Naito should've won them both last year, held them for a few months, and then lost the I-C belt to Evil. Regardless this should be another great match between these guys.
Pick: Naito wins the I-C belt
Welp, Castle Attack is another somewhat thin two nights but it should produce at least a few excellent showings and set some things up for the New Japan Cup tournament. Let's hope no one else gets hurt....
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