WWE is about to hold its first stadium show in Europe since SummerSlam ‘92. That one, held in Wembley in front of 80,000, featured an all-time great match between Bret Hart and British Bulldog, as well as appearances by Randy Savage, Ultimate Warrior, Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, Ted Dibiase and Legion Of Doom, among others. So, absolutely no pressure at all to compete with that.
Fortunately, the card for Clash At The Castle, which will be held in Cardiff, has plenty of big names attached to it too, including Roman Reigns, Drew McIntyre, Seth Rollins, Bianca Belair, Edge, Rey Mysterio, Alexa Bliss, Bayley and more. Perhaps more importantly, it also features several matches with a high likelihood to produce good wrestling. What outcomes it will deliver, however, is anyone’s guess.
Clash At The Castle will mark only the second premium live event Triple H has been in charge of since Vince McMahon’s unexpected retirement, and thus far, he’s proven to be a bit of a wildcard. Just ask Raquel Rodriguez and Aaliyah, who are the current WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions. A little unpredictability (not late 90s WCW levels of unpredictability) is really exciting as a fan. It makes my job harder, but given I’ve gone 32 and 10 since I started doing this, I’m embracing the challenge.
Matt Riddle Vs Seth Freakin Rollins
With all due respect to Riddle, who is a perfectly nice wrestler that’s over with the crowd, what matters most here is what WWE wants to do with Seth Freakin’ Rollins. He’s not the biggest star in the company, but for many including this writer, he’s the single best wrestler working today, at least if you’re taking an aggregate of in-ring ability, mic work, character work and connection to the fans. His win/loss record over the past few years in big matches, however, doesn’t exactly reflect that. He’s won 7 total matches at premium live events since the start of 2020. 7! That’s on 23 appearances! Yeah, some of these were Money In The Bank matches and Royal Rumbles, but others were losses to people like Cesaro. No offense to Cesaro, but come’on.
So, what matters here is how Triple H wants to use Rollins in the mid-term. Vince McMahon, at least for the last few years, has used him to lose great matches that help elevate his opponents. We all saw how well that worked for Cody Rhodes earlier this year in three consecutive premium live events. Maybe Triple H intends to use Rollins in the same way. I hope not. I want to see Seth start building momentum back up, and I think the right place to start is Riddle.
If Vince McMahon were still in charge, he'd pick Riddle here in a heartbeat. He’s a super athletic guy with MMA credentials who is popular with fans and seems to sell a lot of merchandise (with an assist from Randy Orton). But I have to hope Triple H wants more for Seth Rollins than that. Yes, the win would do a lot for Matt Riddle, but it would also do a lot for Seth Freakin’ Rollins in making fans once again see him as a legit threat for one of the big belts.
Predicted Winner: Seth Freakin' Rollins
Gunther (Champion) (With Ludwig Kaiser) Vs Sheamus (With Ridge Holland And Butch) For The WWE Intercontinental Championship
Oh hell yeah. These two monsters are going to beat the hell out of each other in what has fight-of-the-night backhand chopped all over it. I can’t wait to see them throw haymakers, and I can’t wait to see Gunther in the biggest match of his WWE career thus far. His Ring General presentation has been near perfect since he was elevated to the main roster, and Sheamus is, without question, his biggest real threat to date.
It’s also nice to see the Intercontinental Belt in a big premium live event spot. There were 18 matches at WrestleMania 38, and somehow none of them featured the IC Title. That’s madness given the importance it has held at various points in WWE’s history, and this feels like a big step toward helping it regain at least some of its former glory.
I’m leaning toward Gunther here, but I’m leaning more strongly toward this being an extended feud with a rematch at Extreme Rules. Can you imagine these two going at it without disqualifications? Hopefully Triple H can. I also think there’s a strong likelihood that one of the three combined cornermen is going to turn on their boss. That would keep both men strong, and it would allow someone, most likely Butch, to be a little more active.
Predicted Winner: Gunther
Edge and Rey Mysterio (With Dominik Mysterio) Vs The Judgment Day (With Rhea Ripley)
I’m still on board with The Judgment Day! Yes, losing Edge sucked and was a big step back, but Rhea Ripley, Damian Priest and Finn Balor still combine to make a really formidable trio. I’d love to see Rhea fighting for WWE Women’s Titles with these two dudes in her corner. I’d also love to see Priest and Balor be legitimate contenders for the tag titles or for mid-card belts. I don’t want this faction to just fizzle out, but they need some forward momentum!
I think that might be where Edge and Rey Mysterio come in. The crowd would certainly love to see those two veterans get the win, but I think Triple H is going to use this opportunity to inject some momentum into Judgment Day and maybe turn Dominik Mysterio heel in the process. I suspect we’ll see him turn on his father in a climactic moment or more subtly, do something that costs his dad’s team the match that may or may not be intentional. I would prefer the latter way because it would set up weeks of programs with his dad where his loyalty was questioned and we’d wonder as an audience what’s gonna happen long-term.
Of course it’s also possible Dominik’s fate is another round of relentless bullying from Rhea Ripley who has done everything but give him a wedgie so far. Another humiliation could distract the elder Mysterio, which could cost the team the match. I’m not really sure, but I feel pretty good about a Judgment Day win here. Then again, it’s also possible I’m blinded by my love of Judgment Day and just don’t want to think about them losing here, which might be another nail in the coffin of this faction.
Predicted Winner: Judgment Day
Liv Morgan (Champion) Vs Shayna Baszler For The SmackDown Women’s Championship
Who is the last WWE Champion who has been booked to look this weak? I feel like Morgan’s entire reign has been her getting attacked or beaten up by Ronda Rousey, attacked or beaten up by Shayna Baszler and/ or winning matches in a really weak fashion. She won the belt via a cash-in at Money In The Bank on a hobbled Rousey. Then she successfully defended the belt, I guess, by pinfall, even though she clearly tapped out before the three count. Throw in a steady stream of promos acknowledging she’s an underdog in her own matches, and the resulting picture doesn’t exactly resemble Diesel at the ‘94 Rumble.
None of this is to take anything away from Liv Morgan. She’s a great mid-card character, and it was a ton of fun to see her cash-in and get a moment on top. I’m not even opposed to seeing her carry the belt a little longer, but it’s hard to imagine WWE keeping her as long-term champ, especially with Ronda’s long-awaited heel turn going over well with fans and possible returns of Charlotte Flair and maybe Sasha Banks. Will Shayna be the one to dethrone her? I don’t know. Triple H is a well known Shayna guy, but until recently, she was basically an afterthought in the women’s division.
If Vince were still around, this would be a sure-fire Liv Morgan win. I still think she’s probably going to take it in a clean victory that will elevate her character at least for a little while, but I’m not nearly as confident.
Predicted Winner: Liv Morgan
Bianca Belair, Alexa Bliss And Asuka Vs Bayley, Dakota Kai And Iyo Sky
Tag team matches like this with three people on a side are notoriously hard to predict because it doesn’t really matter who wins. I mean, maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement, but it’s unlikely anyone’s character here is going to significantly rise or fall based on the outcome. So, the point of these types of matches usually is to set up angles moving forward, and the angles here seem really obvious based on the last month. Bayley and Bianca Belair are going to feud for the WWE Raw Women’s Championship and Alexa Bliss and Asuka and Dakota Kai and Iyo Sky are going to feud over the Women’s Tag Team Titles, which neither of them currently hold.
I wouldn’t be surprised with just about any outcome here, including someone else interfering and joining Bayley, Dakota and Iyo’s stable, which rumors claim will be called Damage CTRL. Ultimately, however, I’m going to predict Bianca, Alexa and Asuka for two reasons. First, Iyo and Dakota recently beat Alexa and Asuka in the women’s tag team tournament. Often times there is an effort to bring some level of balance to these types of long-term feuds. Second, I’m predicting Rollins, Gunther and Judgment Day are all going to win. I love seeing some victories for the heels, but another win here just feels like too much.
Predicted Winner: Bianca, Alexa and Asuka
Roman Reigns (Champ) (With Paul Heyman) Vs Drew McIntyre For The Undisputed WWE Universal Championship
Thirty years ago, SummerSlam ‘92 ended with The British Bulldog winning the Intercontinental Championship off Bret Hart in front of a hometown crowd. The moment was one of the best in SummerSlam history and the best in the Bulldog’s terrific wrestling career. Many are speculating Clash At The Castle may give the same moment to Drew McIntyre. The Scottish Warrior carried WWE through much of the pandemic, but as crowds have returned, it’s mostly been Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar who have gotten the attention. Is that about to change?
Roman Reigns has been Universal Champion for two years and has held both belts since WrestleMania. He’s still tremendously over with the crowd and from my vantage point, the biggest attraction in all of wrestling, but he also recently pulled back his schedule to work significantly fewer dates. It’s hard to imagine WWE is going to want someone who is gone for weeks or even months at a time to hold both of the big belts, even if he’s the most over superstar in the company.
I think this is Drew’s moment. I think when we look back on Drew’s career, Clash At The Castle is going to, hopefully, be the first thing any of us think about. I think he’s going to end Roman’s epic run, and I can’t wait to see it.
Predicted Winner: Drew McIntyre
Enthusiastic about Clue, case-of-the-week mysteries, the NBA and cookies at Disney World. Less enthusiastic about the pricing structure of cable, loud noises and Tuesdays.
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