It was billed as the biggest event in the UK for thirty years, but could Clash at the Castle live up to the hype? Courtesy of WWE Home Video’s latest release, MATTHEW ROBERTS takes another look at the event to find out.
For all the moans about ticket prices (it’s a WWE premium live event and prices were broadly in line with American shows), the fact that it wasn’t Summerslam and that it would be something more akin to the UK only shows from the late 90’s (nonsense, of course, as this was a fully blown canonical event) there was a huge buzz around this show. Not least because it was being portrayed as the first “proper” Triple H show (after Summerslam was largely built around Vince’s decisions).
The atmosphere was white-hot throughout, which certainly helped the feel of the show. A packed stadium setting also always looks great on your TV screen. So all the peripherals were there…but what about the matches themselves?
We opened with a six-women tag pitting Alexa Bliss, Asuka and Bianca Belair against the Damage Control trio of Bayley, Dakota Kai and Iyo Sky. The absence of Becky Lynch (who presumably would have been here instead of Bliss if not for her injury at Summerslam) perhaps brought things down a notch here but right from the off it was clear that the fans were here to have a good time. Ever the professional Bayley pretended not to be amused by the crowd chanting for her but inside she must have been beaming. It was your typical opener in that it was fast paced, had lots of crowd interaction and never felt like a drag. Bayley getting the winning pin was all about setting up Belair’s next challenger but it didn’t drag anything down.
Gunther and Sheamus were up next in their battle over the Intercontinental title. Pre match we saw Bret Hart in the crowd; this match was nothing like the 1992 Summerslam main event though. They promised to knock seven bells of you know what out of each other and that’s what they did. Reminiscent in many way of a “Walter” match on the indies this was an all out brawl with lots of heavy duty hitting. It was fantastic and was everything you could have hoped it to be.
Liv Morgan and Shayna Baszer had no hope of following that. They tried, and assembled a decent enough match. But it was far from great. One main problem is that it’s fine portraying Liv as a plucky underdog but when she’s beaten Ronda Rousey and then is up against Shayna Baszler who has been beaten by almost everyone on main roster it seems it all seems a bit off. The WWE trope of re-heating someone on a few weeks notice as a complete monster/bad ass/credible threat when they’ve done nothing for months seemingly hasn’t disappeared with Vince.
You could probably hear the sing-a-long for Edge’s theme music in Wembley Stadium as it was that long and heartfelt. It certainly made the atmosphere for the Edge & Rey Mysterio against Judgement Day match all the more spine-tingling. The match itself was good too, although the lack of a Dominik heel turn here post-match seemed a missed opportunity. Perhaps they just wanted the feel-good babyface win to go untainted.
For proof that Clash was a “proper” event, Riddle and Rollins had their match that was scheduled for Summerslam here (as an aside, that match was being advertised on the various Summerslam flags dotted around Nashville on the weekend of that event). At that previous even they had an impromptu brawl to set up this match. What I liked about the match here was that it felt like a fight between two people who hated each other. Not one of those ones where a deep personal feud becomes your normal wrestling match on the PLE.
And so to the main event. Many people thought Drew McIntyre was a lock in for the win but to me that never seemed likely. Him being the “home-town hero” was a bit of a stretch given the Welsh location of this show and it’s not as if this was the culmination of a long-road to his first World Title win. And the WWE were never going to sacrifice Roman Reigns’ epic title run just because this was a British PLE. The match itself was very good, as you’d expect, and whilst I could have done without the Tyson Fury sing-a-long it ended an excellent show on a very good note.
The blu-ray adds the full Clash kick-off show including the Austin Theory & Alpha Academy against Madcap Moss & The Street Profits match. It also includes some Roman Reigns and Drew McIntyre moments from Smackdown episodes leading into the PLE.
9 out of 10.
Photographs courtesy of Fetch and WWE. Thank you to WWE Home Video for our review copy of WWE Clash at the Castle which is out Monday 24 Otcober on Bluray and DVD. You can buy your copy from WWEDVD.co.uk by clicking here.