Clash at the Castle was quite the event. If you missed it, for basketball reasons, do yourself a favor and watch it ASAP. Then come back and read this. Oh, check Claire’s blog too. Then come back and read this.
Let’s talk Clash at the Castle!
Reigns on the Solo Tip
Drew McIntyre leveled the playing field. He put the Usos on the shelf. Dispatched of the honorary Uce in Sami Zayn, and, as fate would have it, Paul Heyman is still on hiatus after his ride through a table at SummerSlam. Drew’s theory of the case is that without his entourage, the god Roman Reigns is a mere mortal. More importantly, a mortal who fears Drew McIntyre. Roman’s backup is gone. His wise man, who massages his ego and coaches him, is on the shelf. Finally—finally—Drew put himself in a position to deal with Roman one-on-one.
Or so he thought.
Prior to Roman’s ace in the hole, he and Drew engaged in a beautiful war. It started with the two engaging in several tests of strength, which is really what this whole thing is about. Reigns flexed his usual muscle but Drew is the one cat—outside of you know who—who withstands all that force. In this match, he not only stood up to it but proved he might actually be stronger than Roman.
That resilience showed itself over and over during the match, as Roman’s usual tricks were like flies swarming around Drew on a warm day as opposed to the giant wasps they are against seemingly everyone else.
Drew withstood several spears, a couple Superman punches, and frustrated Reigns. Now, to his credit, Reigns withstood Drew’s best blows too, including a Claymore. But Drew didn’t expect an easy match, so he maintained his composure. Rather than complain to the referee like Reigns did, he just kept pushing.
That ties into the other facet of the match’s backstory. Drew acknowledged how hard he worked to get to this point. He talks about the setbacks and false starts, juxtaposing those with the glide path Roman had on his way to a two-year run as champion and face of WWE. Drew doesn’t resent Reigns for it, but in his mind, Reigns is a cat who will shortcut his way to the top while Drew has no idea what a shortcut even looks like.
This all coalesced in a moment where Charles Robinson fell out—refs are so fragile—and Theory’s music hit. Speaking of shortcuts. Anyway, Theory makes his way to the ring, briefcase in hand, with his a ref by his side. Before the ring announcer even opens her lips to brief us on the cash-in, Tyson Fury lays out Theory with a right hook. Theory as Will E. Coyote is pretty comical. He’s a man who fronts like he’s hard but he’s softer than baby sh*t.
With Theory laid out and the crowd buoyed, Reigns grabs a chair. Again, he’s taking shortcuts when things don’t go his way. He heads to the ring and slowly approaches Drew. But Drew counters with a Claymore! That’s it, right? It has to be.
Remember what I said about Roman not really being solo in Cardiff? That’s because Solo was in Cardiff.
For those unfamiliar with NXT 2.0, Solo Sikoa is Jey and Jimmy’s little brother. Therefore, he’s Roman’s little cousin. A hooded Solo pulled the referee out of the ring, stopping his three-count and putting an end to Drew’s championship hopes. Drew finally lost his cool and went after Solo. Roman, lying in wait, hits Drew with a spear when the Scotsman put his attention back to its proper place.
And that was all she wrote.
This was an incredible match worthy of all your time. It capped a great event in Wales and a good sign of things to come for big WWE events.
Now, as far as the stories go, Reigns proved his smarts again, while truly making himself and his crew invincible. The Bloodline has another member, which opens the door for a few possibilities. Are they keeping every member? Did Jimmy and Jey know about little brother? Will Roman go Joker-style and make them all fight using a pool stick for membership? Who knows.
But, it’s a good jolt to an angle that is getting a little stale for this writer. And Drew falls victim in the same way most people do to Roman: He lost the numbers game. At a certain point, someone needs to bring their own crew to go blow for blow with Roman’s, if just to look as smart as he is. But, alas, that’s out of my hands.
It finally happened. Bayley, IYO SKY, and Dakota Kai finally got a very big W. Since their inception, this crew talked a big game but to this point, backed it up a little but not as much as they prophesied. Well, consider today prophecy fulfilled. And they got here thanks to simply being a better team than their opponents. They were on the same page the entire time, they stuck to their plan, and they outsmarted Bianca Belair, Alexa Bliss, and Asuka. There were moments when the babyfaces shined but overall, this was all about the heels.
And it was perfect. More to the point, Bayley pinned the champ. Yes, she had a lot of help from her friends but that’s also the point. Bianca won’t just deal with Bayley; she’s gotta deal with her whole crew. Is she ready for that? We’ll find out. This was a good match with a great finish and everyone looks better because of it.
If there’s a running theme tonight, it’s the heels outthinking and outsmarting the faces. No match illustrates that better than Riddle vs. Seth Rollins. Rollins outsmarted that man since this whole thing started, with his comments towards Riddle’s family on the most recent episode of Raw serving as the ultimate chess move. As a result, this match was a fight from start to finish. Riddle got to the ring first doing his normal happy-go-lucky thing. But the second Seth’s music hit, that veneer went away and he champed at every bit for Seth to get in that ring.
He did and they went for it.
This was, like so many other matches on the card, very dope. And like most of these matches, it hinged on one moment. For the first two acts, Seth and Riddle battled to a standstill. They took each other’s best blows, countered each other, and Seth even used Riddle’s own moves against him. But nothing worked. Then, finally, Seth played his Ace. He disrespected Riddle’s personal issues again, called him a GD loser, and stoked Riddle’s temper. From there, Seth had him. Riddle lost his mind, for a minute, got some nice offense in on the architect.
But he lost focus and gave way to blind rage. That was all the opening Seth needed, using Riddle’s anger against him and taking advantage. It was beautiful storytelling—something WWE did a lot of at Clash at the Castle—and eventually gave way to top rope stomp from Seth where he landed on Riddle’s head like a pound of bricks.
If you don’t think Riddle felt that, then the swelling over his right eye says otherwise.
This was a fight where Seth moves on and Riddle looks like a man with one fatal flaw. Will he correct it? Or is it too much Viper in him at this point? If only someone was around to help him tame his inner beast...
It looked like we were in store for WWE’s version of Bane vs. Batman from Dark Knight Rises. Their first fight in the movie where Batman gets destroyed and Bane looks like a big brother abusing his little brother. Shayna Baszler looked dominant early. Nothing Liv threw at her worked and she ate every punch and kick. But she got frustrated at the fact Liv never relented. She yelled for Liv to “quit like she normally does” but Liv, of course, kept fighting. Even with her bad arm exposed, she refused to say die. Then she got the W because Shayna’s frustration got the best of her.
This was a better match than I thought we were getting. Hopefully both women are holding their heads high for what they did in Wales. Now, can we finally stop telling the story that Liv is the scrappy underdog champion and just let her be champion? Thanks.
Not to belabor the point, but the only thin go cared about in this match between Edge & Rey Mysterio and The Judgment Day was the heel turn. And boy oh boy did we get one. But it didn’t happen during the match. It happened after Edge & Rey got a W over Finn & Damian Priest. But even without the turn, this was a solid match with some really good storytelling beats. The best being an early moment where Rey used his body to cushion Edge’s collision with a turnbuckle. And it only happened because Edge gave Rey a signal. Finn and Damian, always looking for ways to prove their superiority, went for the same thing. Of course it completely backfired on Finn as Edge simply kicked him off the turnbuckle. That microcosm of this larger story really felt earned and showed a delicate touch in a profession where delicate isn’t really a thing.
The fact Dom helped his dad and Edge win the match also made the heel turn sweeter. I mean, let’s keep it real: Dom cheated on behalf of his dad. So that made it look like the heel turn wasn’t even a thing. And then it was. While celebrating in the ring with his old papi and Edge, Dom kicked the latter where the sun don’t shine, and delivered an incredible clothesline to his dad. Seriously, watch that clothesline again. That was a thing of beauty.
I don’t know if Dom has a heel in him, but we will soon find out. And it helps that they nailed the first step in that process.
Wolverine Vs. Sabertooth
That headline is the best description for Gunther vs. Sheamus. Words do not do that match any bit of justice. Just know it was fantastic, IMPERIUM is finally a thing again—still missing the music—and Sheamus’ chest and back looked like raw hamburger meat. And watch the match. Watch it now. Stop reading this and watch it now.
Gunther won the battle...and the war. Sheamus got props from the stadium crowd though, and they were well-deserved. It was one of a million examples of the Cardiff crowd being phenomenal.
This was incredible from start to finish. The crowd added a lot to it but the matches were all compelling and the wrestlers clearly fed off Cardiff’s rowdiness. Each match went above and beyond on its promise. Even the pre-show tag of the Street Profits & Mad Cap Moss vs. Alpha Academy & Theory was fun and crisp. What more can you ask for? This was one of WWE’s best shows of the year.
That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.