WWE held the first premium live event in the UK in 30 years as Clash at the Castle emanated from Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. Drew McIntyre challenging Roman Reigns for the WWE Undisputed Universal Title headlined the event along with a highly anticipated Intercontinental title showdown between Gunther and Sheamus.
Pre-show action saw Madcap Moss & Street Profits defeat Austin Theory & Alpha Academy when Montez Ford turned a tope to the outside into Blockbuster on Chad Gable and followed up with a Frog Splash.
–Bayley, Dakota Kai, & Iyo Sky defeated Alexa Bliss, Asuka, & Bianca Belair
The new faction of Bayley, Kai & Sky was introduced as Damage Control for the first time via their entrance video, but it was never mentioned on commentary. I wonder if WWE is treading carefully with the name since Marvel recently debuted their Damage Control IP in the Disney+ show Ms. Marvel.
Iyo Sky looks a little uncomfortable on the main roster so far; hopefully, that will work itself out. The crowd singing the Bayley song to a heel version of a once beloved character was great, and her reaction to it made it even better.
This was the perfect opening match as everyone got to shine. The finish saw Damage Control isolate Belair. Kai hit Belair with a scorpion kick. Bayley pulled Belair’s braid allowing Kai to deliver a running boot in the corner. Bayley hit a Rose Plant before Sky delivered the moonsault, and Bayley pinned Belair.
–Gunther defeated Sheamus to retain the WWE Intercontinental Championship
WWE evoked the ghosts of SummrSlam’s past, showing highlights of British Bulldog vs. Bret Hart. Afterward, the family Davey Boy Smith and Bret Hart were introduced to the live crowd to hype what could be the next great Intercontinental Title match.
Ludwig Kaiser introduced Giovanni Vinci to reform Imperium, and Sheamus came out with the Brawling Brutes, Butch, and Ridge Holland. Imperium and the Brutes brawled in the ring as Gunther and Sheamus were unfazed and continued facing off. The sheer and utter focus on one another gave me chills.
In an unfamiliar sight, Gunther beat Sheamus for the first half of the match as Sheamus normally dominates his opponents. Stiff shots were the entrée on the menu as Gunther fired at will with hard shots that knocked Sheamus down and out of the ring.
The crowd traded chants of “Walter” and “Let’s go Sheamus” as the two traded brutal shots. Gunther dropped Sheamus with a vicious chop and held on to his arm to continue his assault.
Sheamus reversed a piledriver to deliver white noise to turn the tide in his favor. Sheamus repeatedly delivered his 10 forearms to the chest after Gunther fought hard to avoid them. Gunther came back to deliver a few powerbombs.
Sheamus hit the Celtic Cross (Razor’s Edge) for a near fall that fooled everyone. Sheamus went for the Brogue Kick, but his back gave out, giving Gunther the opening to deliver another powerbomb followed by a vicious lariat for the win.
Sheamus got a standing ovation from the crowd.
Smith vs. Hart was a technical marvel with family drama weaved in. Gunther vs. Sheamus was an absolute brawl that pushed both men to the breaking point. It was the best match of the weekend across three major events, and it exceeded the already high bar set by its predecessor, becoming the next great intercontinental title match.
–Liv Morgan defeated Shayna Baszler to retain the SmackDown Women’s Championship
This was a good match where Morgan finally got her first clean win as champion. I assumed Morgan’s streak of questionable wins would continue. However, the way she won by hurting Baszler’s arm after her injured arm was targeted throughout the match gave Morgan much-needed street credit after being booed several weeks ago.
–Edge & Rey Mysterio (w/Dominik Mysterio) defeated Judgment Day (Finn Balor & Damien Priest w/Rhea Ripley)
The crowd in Wales loved Rey and Edge, who made his entrance wearing a devilish Lucha mask. This was a good tag team match that kicked into second gear once Dominik caused a distraction, allowing Rey to avoid the coup de grace and give Balor a top rope hurricanrana.
The big story is Dominik turning heel after the match. The young Mysterio showed signs of jealousy for weeks due to his father choosing Edge instead of him. Dominik kicked Edge low to a course of boos. Rey tried to talk his son down, Dominik suddenly leveled his father with a clothesline, and the boos became thunderous.
Dominik marched to the back as Judgement Day laughed at betrayal. Rey begged Edge for forgiveness and dropped to one knee, and Edge embraced him. Dominik’s turn was well executed exceptionally well. It was the ultimate 1-2 punch, attacking Edge first, followed by his father.
I didn’t think he would touch his Rey right away, and that moment would be saved for another time. It looks like there treating this as Rey believes Dominik is a confused kid. He’s 25, but don’t let that mess you up.
–Seth Rollins defeated Matt Riddle
While Riddle got his first name back, he was unable to get the win over Seth Rollins. Rollins channeled his inner Elton John wearing fiery peacock attire that Mattel needs to make as an action figure ASAP.
The story of the match was whether Riddle could keep his emotions in check after Rollins’ remarks about his divorce. This was tremendous from beginning to end. The word on the street is they don’t like each other behind the scenes.
I guess real-life animosity brought out the best in each other. Riddle kept his emotions in check until the final frame when Rollins hit Randy Orton’s draping DDT, avoided a steel chair shot, and hit two curb stomps for the win.
–Roman Reigns pinned Drew McIntyre to retain the WWE Undisputed Championship
Do you end Roman’s historic title reign to give Drew the perfect crowning moment in his hometown? Plus, Drew has never beaten Roman. I’m glad I didn’t have to book this one and simply sit back, relax and enjoy the show.
This had the best big-fight feel I’ve seen in a pro wrestling match. It felt special, and it was because they produced a great match. Drew kept kicking out at 1, which was brilliant because it showed how badly he wanted to win while augmenting Roman’s frustration.
Drew kicked out a second spear, and Reigns furiously yelled at the referee. Drew hit the Claymore, and Reigns bumped into the ref knocking him out of the ring. Austin Theory ran down with a second referee to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase.
Tyson Fury drilled Theory with an overhand right before to take him out of the equation. Drew avoided a chair shot and hit a Claymore on Reigns. Drew had the match won until NXT’s Solo Sikoa, the Usos’ younger brother, pulled the referee out of the ring.
Drew went after Sikoa, but Sikoa hung him out to dry over the top rope. The original referee got back in the ring as Roman hit the third spear for the 1-2-3. The crowd in Wales really wanted this one for Drew, but the reign of Roman continues.
Tyson Fury came into the ring and had a stare-down with Roman before shaking his hand, grabbing the microphone, applauding Drew, and singing “American Pie” in Wales, which reminded me of ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan trying to start “USA’ chants in a foreign country.
Final Thoughts: Clash at the Castle was the best WWE show since night 1 of WrestleMania. The crowd was a big part of what made this show special. WWE should attempt to make Clash at the Castle a yearly event because the UK fans deserve a premium live.
Between the NXT call-ups of Giovanni Vinci and Solo Sikoa, the constant mention of “professional wrestling,” the emphasis on the in-ring action, and mentioning other wrestling promotions while diving into a wrestlers history, it’s clear this was not a Vince McMahon show. This show would have looked much different if Paul Levesque wasn’t at the helm.