The Hits & Misses Of Clash At The Castle

(Photo Credit: WWE)

The WWE took another premium live event overseas, this time for Clash At The Castle in Scotland, and similar to the pattern we’ve seen with these events recently, the crowd was very energetic throughout the broadcast. However, this particular audience in Scotland often seemed more content to chant just for the sake of chanting instead as a reaction to specifically what happened on the show. Granted, energy is energy, but it’s certainly less organic than what was seen previously for the shows in foreign markets.

The show opened with the WWE championship I Quit Match, which was somewhat surprising, as it gave the pay-per-view a hot major start, but there was also the risk of starting at a peak and then declining from there throughout the show as far as the pace goes for the broadcast. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. Perhaps, that was because it’s difficult to sell the possibility that Cody Rhodes will drop the title within a short amount of time of his signature. Wrestlemania win after such a long chase to the championship so the audience didn’t burn out its energy during this first segment. That said, AJ and Cody are true pros and the quality of the contest reflected that. Everything they did was well done and they brought a mixture of action and dramatic storytelling to try to make the most of the stipulation. The brain buster spot on the announce table was particularly brutal and it looked as though the blood on Cody’s head was the result of a hard cut. The use of Cody‘s mom at ringside was well done and added a unique layer to the presentation that eventually played a role in the finish. Mrs. Rhodes slapping the heel was a memorable moment during the segment and that led to AJ, grabbing the chair, implying that he might actually attack the mom of the champion. Again, it’s a tough spot to be in since the audience knows, especially in the modern era, that it’s not time for Cody to drop the championship so it’s more difficult to create the moments where it appears that the title might change hands. They used handcuffs, chairs, steel steps, and the I quit stipulation itself to try to make something from this segment more than just a predictable Cody Rhodes, title defense. The finish was well done, and ultimately, the segment further showcased Cody Rhodes as the top guy in the company.

The women’s tag team championship match could’ve been a difficult scenario, given that there were three teams involved, but everything was structured in a very solid manner that not only showcased the reaction, but also allowed for the hometown narrative to come in to play toward the finish. This bout was action packed, and as repetitive as it is to point out, this segment was another prime example of the quality that the WWE women’s division consistently has for the company. Jade Cargill and Bianca Belair were spotlighted and were made to look strong throughout this segment. That being said, I was somewhat surprised that they dropped, the titles, even if they didn’t take the pin. The reason being, while you can see Jade continuing to progress as a more well-rounded performer, I think it goes without saying that the pairing with Bianca has helped tremendously in her development as a relatively new performer on the roster. At the same time, I can see the logic behind why the hometown team were given the victory, especially because of how the main event was booked later in the show. I’m wondering if the fact that Cargill or Belair weren’t pinned will be used to set up a rematch, and if Alba Fyre and Isla Dawn getting the victory was simply a booking decision based on the location of the pay-per-view, not the direction of the women’s division right now. Either way, it’d definitely be a good decision to continue to book Jade as a part of the tag team with Bianca for at least the rest of the year.

The Intercontinental title belt provided a lot of substance to go along with the sizzle of the show, especially with the drama of the hometown competitors on the card. Another example of polished pros, Chad Gable and Sami Zayn were top-notch in this segment. This bout had crisp wrestling, physical exchanges, and an element of storytelling with the Otis and Dupri involvement in the finish. As I’ve written previously, Chad Gable has really had a chance to shine in recent months and is a very solid heel, and Sami is doing very well in this run as the IC champion. With Otis’s role in the finish, it sets up for a fued between Chad Gable and his stablemates. It’s simple, but effective storytelling and puts more of an emphasis on both Gable as a heel and Otis as a baby face that the crowd can rally behind. Taking into account that Otis is an athletic big man, I would guess that his rivalry with Gable could provide some very solid matches throughout the storyline. Sami got the win to retain the championship.

The women’s title match could’ve been a very tricky situation because Bayley is unanimously very popular with the fan base, but at the same time, it’s almost a natural tendency for the audience to cheer for the hometown performer, despite the fact that Piper Niven is a heel. It could create somewhat of a lukewarm atmosphere to the segment, but that wasn’t the case as the crowd followed the action. Similar to the women’s tag match earlier on the card, this was a well wrestled segment, and more than anything, this baby face run from Bayley has added a new aspect to her persona as she has evolved as a performer during the course of her WWE career. The contest was fine, nothing spectacular, but nothing subpar either before it built momentum toward the conclusion with a series of high impact maneuvers. There was a level of drama, as it looked as though Piper Niven might win the championship. Eventually, Bayley was able to get the win, and there was somewhat of a flat reaction to the finish, but again that’s one of the potential pitfalls of the hometown performer doing the job. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it was time to switch the title, but there was somewhat of a flat moment for the pace of the show when Niven was pinned.

The main event had an atmosphere of a major match-up, specifically with the elaborate entrance for Drew McIntyre, and this segment made him look like a top guy. You could say that is somewhat skewed because of the hometown advantage, but the presentation with the kilt and the jacket is something that can be used anywhere to emphasis his character. The bottom line is, Drew McIntyre can and probably should be a top guy for the company.

The story of the segment, more or less writes itself, and there’s nothing wrong with that. As I’ve said before, sometimes the simplest solution is the best solution, and this was a very easy story to tell for Damien Priest and Drew McIntyre. They maximized the moment with the extended entrance for McIntyre, and on the flip side, let the heat simmer For Damien Priest’s introduction.

The match itself was solid and built drama very well, particularly towards the finish. Damien Priest had a very scary moment where his leg got hung up in the ropes, and while he appeared to be fine, he worked the spot into the latter stages of the match with selling the leg at certain points. When there was a ref bump, it more or less revealed that there was going to be some type of shenanigans involved for the finish, and the use of CM punk makes sense in the bigger picture for the eventual garage match down the road. McIntyre losing in Scotland was still disappointing for the event. Obviously, they wanted the shock factor to make up for that, and the argument could be made that it worked, but the hometown guy losing in the main event is almost always unavoidable let down.

Overall, this pay-per-view was very solid and another example of the drawing power of the WWE brand overseas, and more than anything that might be the biggest take away this particular event. The TKO corporation seems to be utilizing the global market with the demand of the WWE, and that doesn’t necessarily contribute to a pop culture boom in the United States, there is obviously money to be made in the foreign markets so it’s a very smart business move. It will be interesting to see how things unfold on television in the next few weeks and how the Money in the Bank pay-per-view in just three weeks might impact the WWE landscape.

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Until next week
-Jim LaMotta

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