The IWGP Intercontinental Championship is a professional wrestling championship owned by the New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) promotion. "IWGP" is the acronym of NJPW's governing body, the International Wrestling Grand Prix. On October 3, 2010, American promotion Jersey All Pro Wrestling (JAPW) announced that it had reached an agreement with NJPW for the promotion to run its first shows in the United States. NJPW officially announced the tour, titled NJPW Invasion Tour 2011 – Attack on the East Coast, on January 4, 2011, during the Wrestle Kingdom V in Tokyo Dome event, announcing events for May 13 in Rahway, New Jersey, May 14 in New York City and May 15 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was also announced that during the tour, New Japan would introduce a new "IWGP Intercontinental Championship", which would become the promotion's fifth active title. MVP was the inaugural IWGP Intercontinental Champion, after defeating Toru Yano in an eight–man tournament final on May 15, 2011. Shinsuke Nakamura is the only one to have held it on more than one occasion.
On April 8, 2011, NJPW announced the participants in the tournament to crown the first IWGP Intercontinental Champion. The list of participants included former World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) performer MVP, who had signed a contract with NJPW in January 2011, Kazuchika Okada, who had been on a learning excursion to American promotion Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) since February 2010, Hideo Saito, who had been on a similar tour of Puerto Rican World Wrestling Council (WWC) since September 2010, former IWGP Tag Team and IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions Tetsuya Naitō and Yujiro Takahashi, NJPW regulars Tama Tonga and Toru Yano and American independent worker Dan Maff, who made his first appearance for NJPW during the tour. On May 6 it was announced that Tonga had suffered an injury, which would force him out of the tournament. He would be replaced by former TNA and Ring of Honor (ROH) performer Josh Daniels.