WWE Clash at the Castle, the first premium live event to be held in the UK since 1992 is now in the books, but did it deliver?
Here’s a brief summary of the card, what went down and what we thought about it.
— Dom Smith (@D0m_Sm1th) September 3, 2022
Madcap Moss & The Street Profits vs. Austin Theory & the Alpha Academy – Pre-show
First thing to note, Theory has his first name back after losing it following WrestleMania 2022. This seems to be happening to a lot of wrestlers who lost one of their names during the last few years of Vince McMahon’s whimsical decision making.
Madcap Moss and the Street Profits were both cheered to the rafters when they opened the show to an excited Cardiff crowd. The pre-show match hadn’t been announced and fans were more than happy to welcome the first babyface team of the evening.
They were also equally enthusiastic when it came to booing the heels too, Chad Gable and Otis, of the Alpha Academy, along with newly renamed Austin Theory, brandishing his still sealed Money in the Bank briefcase. More on this later…
The good guys won after some back and forth, with each of the six men getting their chance to shine. Otis looked especially dominant on the heel side, but Montez Ford’s signature frog splash was what really wowed the audience.
Winner: Madcap Moss & The Street Profits
Bianca Belair, Asuka & Alexa Bliss vs. Damage Control
The Raw Women’s Champion, Bianca Belair was first to the ring, soon followed by Bliss and Asuka. The crowd was confused for a few seconds when the words “Damage Control” appeared on the custom tron, but it soon became apparent this was the new name for Bailey’s heel stable also involving Dakota Kai and Iyo Sky.
While they performed well, the babyface team of Belair, Bliss and Asuka don’t seem to have much chemistry. It feels like WWE has thrust them together just to make sure each of them has something to do. All three women are stars in their own right, of course, but there doesn’t seem to be much linking them. Bliss is superb as a heel and the sooner she turns the better.
Asuka often feels like a caricature, rather than the undefeated killer she was in NXT. Let’s hope the Triple H era restores this once the story is over. The Empress of Tomorrow locked horns with Iyo Sky during match, this made us hope both women will get a singles match together to showcase their talents in the near future.
Kai was ruthless in this six-woman tag team match and her kick into the turnbuckle looked vicious. However, it was Bayley who was the MVP, simply by being there. The UK crowd cheered loudly every-time Bayley entered the ring or got in any offence, treating the heel stable leader like a babyface.
They also chanted various song lyrics at her, and only did so louder when Bayley played up to the crowd like a classic pantomime villain. Bayley also scored the pin over the Belair, which will likely lead to a championship match for the former hugger at Extreme Rules.
Winner: Damage Control
Intercontinental Championship match: Gunther (with Imperium) vs. Sheamus (with The Brawling Brutes)
Despite being booked as a heel for the longest time, Sheamus was the clear crowd favourite in Cardiff as the fella marched to the ring with his budget Peaky Blinder stable of Ridge Holland and Butch in tow. Before Gunther (the Intercontinental Champion) made his entrance, his henchman, Ludwig Kaiser introduced the crowd to NXT’s Giovanni Vinchi, presumably reuniting Imperium on the main roster.
Once the champ was in the ring, Gunther and Sheamus simply stared each other down while their underlings brawled around the ring before fighting up the ramp. Chants of “Bruiserweight” echoed around the stadium as the crowd acknowledged Butch’s former NXT UK persona of Pete Dunne.
This was an absolute banger, as both Sheamus and Gunther spent the better part of twenty minutes chopping and beating each other in what could possibly be the best wrestling match of the evening. As with most Gunther matches, this was a stiff and at times, uncomfortable affair – but it was impossible to look away from. Sheamus worked incredibly hard to put over his opponent, making Gunther look like a terrifying and dominant champion.
Despite losing the match after a hard fought scrap, Sheamus received a standing ovation from the crowd in what was easily the most gutsy babyface performance of the night. While the reign of the Ring General is set to continue, fans have remembered how talented Sheamus truly is. So, it will be interesting to see if WWE creative lean into this and push Sheamus as a face going forward, or if this was just a one off for the event. We hope it’s the former.
SmackDown Women’s Championship match: Liv Morgan vs. Shayna Baszler
This match was short and sweet and ended in surprising fashion. The crowd was also exhausted from the previous bout and this sadly made the atmosphere feel a bit flat. However, the in-ring storytelling was top-notch as a wily Liv Morgan worked hard to avoid being caught in Baszler’s various holds, and countering them with her new skills when she was.
Morgan frustrated Baszler and slipped out of the former UFC competitor’s grasp on more than one occasion, often going for opportunistic pins and using Baszler’s aggression against her. Fans hoping for an Extreme Rules showdown between Baszler and Ronda Rousey will need to wait a little longer, as one of Morgan’s counters paid off and she was able to pin Baszler to retain her title.
Morgan has looked vulnerable as a champion in recent weeks, especially when confronted by an experienced warrior like Baszler, but her new savvy and technical prowess means she’ll likely hold the belt for a while longer.
Winner: Liv Morgan
Edge & Rey Mysterio (with Dominik Mysterio) vs. The Judgement Day
While the Cardiff crowd audibly popped for Rey Mysterio, they became utterly unglued when the words “You think you know me” heralded the arrival of the Rated-R Superstar, Edge. While Drew McIntyre would give him a run for his money later in the night, nobody at Clash of the Castle was as over as the former leader of The Judgement Day.
There was a lot going on in this match as Rey and Edge took it to Finn Balor and Damien Priest while Rhea Ripley and Dominik watched from ringside. Surprisingly, Ripley didn’t interfere with the proceedings anywhere near as much as Dominik did, leading to her assaulting him for what feels like the hundredth time.
All four men were silky smooth in the ring, which was to be expected as both teams are comprised of incredible athletes. Mysterio used his body as a human shield at one point to prevent Edge from being thrown into the turnbuckle. It was a nice touch and showed the selfless teamwork between both babyfaces. Balor also tried doing something similar but was thwarted in the attempt.
Highlights of the match included Edge performing Mysterio’s 619, before Mysterio did the signature move on Balor. The heels would lose, giving the UK crowd the opportunity to cheer both legends, however, the story didn’t end there.
When the babyfaces met in the ring to celebrate their victory, Dominick hit Edge with a low blow, clearly not forgiving him for his previous antics as the original leader of The Judgement Day. Rey would admonish his Dominik before being taken out by a vicious lariat from the son he once fought a ladder match to keep.
A shaken Edge and Rey huddled in the ring while Dominick stormed up the ramp, calling out the fans as he went. The defeated Balor, Priest and Ripley would laugh at the heel turn from the sidelines.
Winners: Edge & Rey Mysterio
Seth ‘Freakin’ Rollins vs. Matt Riddle
Since Triple H began running WWE creative and talent relations, Matt Riddle has been portrayed less like a goofy stoner and more like the prize-fighter he was in UFC, EVOLVE and NXT. Getting his first name back has also helped in this regard. The heat between Seth Rollins and himself has been nuclear since Rollins goaded him about his divorce on SmackDown.
Rollin’s entrance was characteristically flamboyant, as the heel channeled both a phoenix and the red dragon of the Welsh flag in his outfit choice, but as soon as the bell rang, both men rushed to attack each other. Rollins controlled most of the match, using Riddle’s anger against him, which would eventually allow him to win by using a brutal looking stomp from the second rope.
The heel had already stomped the Original Bro once before, as well as mocking Riddle’s injured partner, Randy Orton by using his moves. While Riddle was the obvious babyface in this match, the Cardiff crowd couldn’t resist singing along to Rollin’s music, much to the villain’s delight.
We imagine this feud isn’t over, though – and Extreme Rules approaches.
Winner: Seth Rollins
Undisputed Universal WWE Championship match: Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre
It’s the understatement of the century to say that the crowd was fully behind McIntyre for this match. The Scottish Warrior was given a heroes welcome by the Cardiff crowd as his name rang out in song. Roman Reigns demanded the crowd acknowledge him after getting sick of their boos and ad libs based on the crowd’s reaction by both men were also on-point and highly entertaining.
Both Tyson Fury and Karrion Kross (with Scarlet) were ringside, which added another layer of threat to proceedings, as either man could interfere anytime. At one point, Kross and McIntyre exchanged words before The Tribal Chief blindsided the Chosen One.
Both the champ and challenger did everything to each other, with McIntyre kicking out of all of Reigns offence, including multiple spears and superman punches. The reoccurring theme was Reigns doing everything he could to avoid the Claymore kick by McIntyre. When this move did eventually connect, it also took out the referee, giving Reigns time to recover.
Austin Theory tried cashing in his Money in the Bank contract when the champ was vulnerable, bringing another referee out with him. However, Tyson Fury knocked Theory out with a single punch, scuppering another opportunity for Mr. McMahon’s protege to become a world champion.
McIntyre eventually nailed Reigns with a perfect Claymore and was about to end the historic title reign before a hooded figure pulled the referee out of the ring. The mystery man was revealed to be NXT’s Solo Sikoa, the younger brother of the Uso’s and another of Roman’s cousins. The distraction allowed Reigns to hit McIntyre with a devastating spear and score the pin.
The loss caused the crowd to loudly boo Reigns and Sikoa who looked to pick the bones of McIntyre, before Tyson Fury entered the ring and stared at Roman, causing the victorious Head of the Table to make a hasty exit – with both titles still on his shoulders.
After the match, Fury then consoled McIntyre, telling him he did the UK proud before inviting him to sing with him. McIntyre vowed to win the unified titles, thanked the crowd and despite his loss, encouraged them to go out and party in Cardiff.
Winner: Roman Reigns
Clash at the Castle wasn’t quite the SummerSlam 2.0 WWE hinted it would be, instead it was a lot more like Super Show-Down (2018) in Australia, or one of WWE’s various stadium shows in Saudi Arabia. Essentially, it was a glorified house show that was one hell of a spectacle, but didn’t do much to move the needle when it came to storylines and memorable moments – besides finally pulling the trigger on Dominik Mysterio’s heel turn and two exciting NXT call-ups.
That being said, we can’t fault any of the matches or the superstars involved. The wrestling in WWE has really improved since Triple H took control and Clash at the Castle nudged the company even further towards his vision. As the King of Kings continues to right various wrongs and lead the company into a bold new era, there’s a lot to be excited about.