It’s great to see the WWE travelling outside of the United States and to other countries once again. Well, they’ve made it almost an annual thing of going to Saudi Arabia to hold some event over there. What I’m talking about is actually expanding to other locations other than that. Let other foreign locations get some of that love.
Of course, I’m referring to the first ever Clash at the Castle, the most recent pay-per-view (I still refuse to call them “premium live events” because it sounds trademarked) show done in the United Kingdom. As the people over there have a really solid fanbase, it kind of makes me wonder why it took them such a long time to hold another show in that area. Whatever the case, let’s go check out and review the matches of Clash at the Castle.
The first match of the night had the RAW Women’s Champion Bianca Belair teaming up with Alexa Bliss and Asuka to take on the team of Bayley, Dakota Kai and IYO SKY (has to be in all caps, I think). I guess the latter group is now formally known as Damage Control, which is a cute name. Anyway, despite the huge star power of the bout, this entire match came off as choppy. The heels did a good job acting all heelish and IYO SKY got to show off her high-flying skills at the right moments. However, I can’t really remember anything special happening here. The only thing I really remember is the triple-suplex because of how trite it felt and the weird finish.
The finish had Asuka and Alexa Bliss taken out by IYO SKY at the outside but Bianca Belair was taking control over Dakota Kai in the ring. Belair with a powerbomb to Kai and then the EST of the WWE climbed to the top rope and went for a splash. Kai rolled out of the way but Belair landed on her feet. Kai still used this time to nail Belair with a scorpion kick, knocking the RAW Women’s champion into the heel’s corner. Belair dodges a big boot from Kai and attempted to do her KOD finisher but IYO SKY pulled Kai her team member to safety. This allowed Bayley to grab Belair by her long hair braid, subduing her long enough for Kai to connect with a big boot. Kai seemingly forgot to tag so she had to run back to her corner to tag to Bayley. The heels then comboed Bayley’s Rose Plant into IYO SKY’s moonsault to get the pinfall victory.
This could’ve been a good match but it was marred by some noticeable botches, like Bliss forgetting a couple of spots and the above-mentioned Kai forgetting to tag her partner. It also seemed like Asuka and Alexa Bliss didn’t do a whole lot. The action was pretty good but it just could’ve felt more cohesive because of the lack of chemistry between the teams.
The next match had Gunther defending his Intercontinental Championship against Sheamus. Both Gunther and Sheamus’ squad pretty much took themselves out, leaving only the two big men to slug it out. Lots of really solid hits and moves between the two. Lots of really good back and forth but Gunther definitely seemed to look like the more dominant force here despite Sheamus still looking incredibly strong.
The finish came after Gunther surprisingly kicked out of Sheamus’ old Celtic Cross finisher. Sheamus went for a Brough Kick but his back gave way, allowing Gunther to take advantage and hit Sheamus with a powerbomb. Sheamus didn’t stay down so Gunther struck the Celtic Warrior with a wicked looking lariat to get the pinfall victory and retain his Intercontinental Championship.
This match was better than it had to be. I was expecting it to be a bit of a slogfest as it featured two lumbering beasts but the hits looked painful and real; Sheamus’ chest came off as bloody due to Gunther’s hard knife-edge chops. I do think it could’ve been a little shorter but the live crowd’s energy did add to the excitement of everything. Really good match.
The next bout saw Liv Morgan defending the Smackdown Women’s Championship against Shayna Baszler. Most of the match did show Baszler dominating Morgan with her usual set of holds and hard-hitting moves. Liv would get little moments of offense here and there but these comebacks would get snuffed out pretty quickly.
The finish came after Liv Morgan broke up the Kirifuda Clutch attempt by The Queen of Spades by reaching the ropes. Baszler goes for the Kirifuda Clutch again but Morgan flips over and turns it into a pinning attempt. Baszler lets go of the hold and then tries to nail Morgan with a big knee strike but Liv avoids the move and connects with a codebreaker-styles strike to the challenger. This stuns Baszler enough for Morgan to connect with her Oblivion finisher to get the pinfall victory and retain her Smackdown Women’s Championship.
I did not like this match but I guess it’s because I’m biased for Shayna Baszler. I didn’t expect her to win but I didn’t expect her to lose in such a stupid manner. I mean, she dominated for most of the match only to be taken out by Liv Morgan’s flimsy looking finisher? She deserves better! I would’ve liked it better if she lost via the most devastating move in all of sports entertainment: the rollup. Even without the bias, the match was just slow and there’s just something wrong with Liv Morgan’s selling that looks so fake. Hard pass on this one.
The next match had Edge and Rey Mysterio (with Dominik Mysterio in their corner) teaming up against Finn Balor and Damien Priest (with Rhea Ripley in their corner) for The Judgement Day. The faces dominated early until Damien Priest used his power to snatch Mysterio out of the air and slam him to the mat. From there, it became your standard heels beating down on one of the faces until the hot tag was made. Well, it was your standard match until the finish, anyway.
The finish happened after Dominik distracted the referee while Balor was setting up for his Coup De Grace double foot stomp finisher. This allowed Rey to swoop in and hit Balor with a hurracarana from the top rope. Ripley then takes out Dominik with a running forearm and then tossing him into the barricade. She went for a fallaway slam but Rey dove into her through Dominik. Rey then attempted a 619 to Balor but the heel got up and clotheslined the face. Balor went for a suicide dive but Dominik tripped him up. This gave Rey enough time to connect with a 619, which comboed into Edge’s spear for the pinfall victory for the faces.
It wasn’t exactly over yet, however. As Edge, Rey and Dominik celebrated in the ring, Dominik turned to Edge and hit him with a low blow, stunning everyone in the live crowd! The elder Mysterio tried to get an explanation from his son but Dominik blasts his father with a clothesline. Dominik leaves the ring with both Edge and Rey Mysterio in a heap while the down but not out Judgement Day crew laugh at the aftermath.
There were some fun moments, like Edge doing a poor man’s version of Mysterio’s 619 and Balor trolling the crowd by hinting at Three Amigos suplexes then just stopping at the first one. All-in-all, though, a very normal match but hyped up by a rowdy crowd. I do like the crazy finish with Dominik’s slick interference. What I don’t like is the aftermath because it doesn’t make sense. If Dominik was going to turn, why help his father and Edge in the first place? Why not backstab them in the middle of the match? It seems like a weird thing to do. Overall, though, it was a decent match but the aftermath made it memorable.
The second-to-the-last match for Clash at the Castle saw Matt Riddle take on Seth “Freakin'” Rollins. I will say I don’t like how Riddle isn’t the cool bro he was that made him so likeable anymore. Sure, he would revert back once in a while but he was all business during this match. This made some of his more graceful moves, like the running sentons and the Floating Bro signature moves feel a little silly coming from an angry dude. At the same time, however, this new anger-filled version of Riddle did intensify the conflict, making for a more hardcore bout than expected.
The finish came after Rollins taunted Riddle about his family leaving him, sending the usually cool bro ballistic. This lit a fire under Riddle as he unleashed a flurry of blows on his foe. Rollins chucked Riddle to the outside and, as the face tried to enter the ring, The Architect hit Riddle with a draping DDT, which is usually used by Riddle’s former tag partner, Randy Orton. Rollins double downed and went for an RKO but Riddle blocked it and went for a sleeperhold. Riddle then wailed blows on Rollins and the action spilled to the outside. Rollins eventually slithered back into the ring and, as Riddle got in, The Architect connected with a curb stomp. To make sure Riddle stayed down, Rollins climbed to the second turnbuckle and hit another curb stomp from this elevated position and getting the pinfall victory.
This was a superb match with a lot of drama and really good in-ring storytelling. The escalation of the action flowed really nicely and the finish was a nice exclamation point to the fight. While I don’t expect the feud to be done with just yet, the match itself was satisfying and this was probably the best match of the night.
The final match saw Roman Reigns defending the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship against Drew McIntyre. This match is hard to really describe because it wasn’t a straightforward bout. There was a lot going on all throughout the match and it got really confusing at times. There was Karrion Kross distracting McIntyre when the brawn spilled to the outside. Reigns getting a mic and asking the crowd to “acknowledge” him. The official getting taken out by an errant Claymore kick from Drew. Austin Theory attempting to cash in the Money in the Bank briefcase only to get denied by Tyson Fury via knockout punch. There were simply a few too many times when things got a little too crazy for its own good.
The finish came after all the craziness just to add a little more insanity to the mix. Both Reigns and McIntyre started brawling in the middle of the ring once again. Reigns manages to clock Drew with a superman punch but the Scottish Warrior retaliates with a Glassgow Kiss headbutt. Drew then dodges another superman punch and hits the Tribal Chief with a spear.
McIntyre then connects with a Claymore kick and, just as the official was about to count to three, he gets pulled to the outside by the Uso’s younger brother, Solo. Drew confronts Solo only to get draped over the top rope. This allows Reigns to nail McIntyre with a spear, get the pinfall victory and retain the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship.
It’s not over yet, though. Tyson Fury then enters the ring to confront Reigns but they shake hands as a sign of respect. Tyson Fury then helps McIntye to his feet. He then gives a speech, telling Drew he should be proud about how he represented his home country. He then starts… singing American Pie. The strange thing is Drew and the crowd started singing along! McIntyre then acknowledges the crowd and then promises he’ll become the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship. They then start singing Sweet Carolina. What a weird way to close Clash of the Castle!
If they were going to do a straight-up match between these two gladiators, this might have had a chance to be the best match of the night. Unfortunately, they messed it up by adding too many ingredients. Using a surprise new member of the Bloodline join and interfere was a neat way to allow Reigns to cheat his way to keep his Championship but, by this time, came off as overly used. A simple low blow while the referee was down would’ve sufficed. The closing moments where Tyson Fury broke out into song was also really out of left field and just so out of place. It was a really good match overall but the closing moments was just too bonkers for my liking.