By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Clash at the Castle Hits
Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship: If anyone deserved this moment it’s McIntyre. He carried WWE throughout the ThunderDome era, and then it seemed like the creative forces cooled him off just about the time that fans were allowed to attend shows. So it was great to see a stadium filled with fans cheering him like crazy in hopes that he would take home the biggest prize in WWE. Reigns and McIntyre took those fans and viewers at home on one hell of a ride. The match had several believable near falls and even included tremendous use of boxing champion Tyson Fury, who knocked out Theory to prevent him from cashing in the Money in the Bank contract. When McIntyre speared Reigns and then put him down with a Claymore Kick, everything pointed to a McIntyre win. Here’s the crazy thing. I predicted on the Dot Net Weekly audio show that Solo Sikoa would interfere and even I thought McIntyre was about to get the three count. This was an awesome main event fitting of a big stadium show. And then apparently someone slipped me some acid because I hallucinated that Tyson Fury serenaded McIntyre with “American Pie.” The strangest thing about the this trip was that Fury’s singing actually kind of worked in that it changed the mood of the disappointed crowd.
Gunther vs. Sheamus for the Intercontinental Title: The match lived up to my ridiculously high expectations. The only thing missing was Jim Ross yelling “Hoss Fight.” I love that it wasn’t two guys just throwing bombs and not selling anything. Rather, Sheamus sold for a good portion of the match and that led to a really good comeback with the crowd rallying behind him. They also told a good story with Sheamus selling back pain and having it ultimately cost him the match. Gunther going over was the right move and there’s no way anyone thinks less about Sheamus after that slug fest, which was proven by the great standing ovation he received afterward. This feels like the type of rivalry that can be revisited once a year and will feel special each time.
Seth Rollins vs. Riddle: Another match that looked great on paper and delivered in execution. I was hoping that Riddle showing an edgier side of his personality during this feud with Rollins would have caused him to ditch the scooter and the silly CGI images that appear when he kicks off his flip flops. But the wrestlers worked a style fitting of the intensity of their feud and the live crowd was hooked from the start. It was refreshing to see a clean finish, and they told a really good story with Rollins using Riddle’s anger to his advantage. Rollins needed a meaningful win after being swept by Cody Rhodes, and Riddle’s performance was strong enough that it didn’t feel like he lost anything in defeat.
Edge and Rey Mysterio vs. Finn Balor and Damian Priest: It was a little slow to start, but they built up to a really fun final few minutes of the match. The crowd showing Edge so much love was a reminder that it was a blessing in disguise that he didn’t agree with the creative plan for Judgment Day back when he was the faction’s leader. The fans want to cheer Edge during what seems to be his last run with the company, and Judgment Day is doing fine without him. Meanwhile, the fans were waiting for a reason to boo Dominik Mysterio and he gave it to them by turning on Edge and his own father. The live crowd responded with great heat and the turn came off really well.
Liv Morgan vs. Shayna Baszler for the Smackdown Women’s Title: They had the tough task of following the Intercontinental Title match and they pulled it off fairly well. The crowd was quiet early, but they seemed invested in the match and got louder as it went on. It’s great to see Baszler working meaningful matches. I wasn’t surprised to see her lose, but I’m just not feeling Morgan’s title reign. I don’t buy Morgan escaping submission holds or surviving matches with women who have MMA backgrounds. To be fair, it seemed to be less of an issue for the live crowd, as they gave her a nice ovation after she retained her championship.
WWE Clash at the Castle Misses
Bayley, Iyo Sky, and Dakota Kai vs. Bianca Belair, Asuka, and Alexa Bliss: A soft Miss. This reminded me of the first match of the WWE Women’s Tag Team Title tournament that featured Ski and Kai vs. Asuka and Bliss. Both matches had their moments, but both matches overstayed their welcome. On the bright side, the end result was exactly what it needed to be. I like that Bayley pinned Belair rather than one of the Raw Women’s Champion’s teammates. Belair needs strong challengers and Bayley’s win gave her the momentum that she needed to be one. Despite this match falling into the miss category, Clash at the Castle was one hell of a show.