The SmarK Rant for WWE Clash at the Castle 2022 – 09.03.22
By Scott Keith on 3rd September 2022
The SmarK Rant for WWE Clash at the Castle 2022 – 09.03.22
I like this early morning PPV thing!
Live from Cardiff, Wales, with “over 60,000 fans” in the stadium, which is hilarious because they’re actually UNDERSELLING the attendance by more than 10,000 people in this case.
Your hosts are Michael Cole, Corey Graves & Byron Saxton
Bianca Belair, Alexa Bliss & Asuka v. Bayley, Io Sky & Dakota Kai
The crowd is immediately singing for Bayley and she doesn’t appreciate that as much as she used to, apparently, leading to a slugfest. Bianca dropkicks Bayley out of the corner, but Kai and Sky pull her out of the ring and take her out on the floor. Back in the ring, we get a triple suplex spot and Bianca moonsaults everyone for two. The heels bail and regroup, and Io goes after Bliss but gets stomped down and choked on the ropes. The crowd, meanwhile, continues to demand Bayley. So Io tags her back in and the crowd sings to her again. Asuka and Bliss double-team Bayley and Asuka gets a missile dropkick, but Io cuts off Asuka with a springboard dropkick and rolls her up for two. Back to Bayley, who immediately tags out to annoy the crowd. So Io gets double knees in the corner for two and Bayley comes in again and calls the next spot blatantly on camera. Bliss hits Bayley with a senton on the floor and Dakota hits her with a dropkick into the railing, and back in for two. Sky reverses a whip on Bliss and sends her into the corner as everyone seems really off and tentative here and even the announcers are pointing it out. Io with a chinlock on Bliss, but Bliss gets a Code Red out of the corner. Dakota makes the blind tag and dropkicks Alexa for two, however. Alexa fights back on Kai and goes for the hot tag, but Bayley takes out Bianca to cut it off. But then Asuka gets the tag instead and runs wild and hits Io with a german suplex and sliding knee for two. Bayley takes out Io with the belly to belly, and clotheslines Asuka for two. Bianca finally gets the hot tag and hits Bayley with a spinebuster and standing moonsault for two. Bianca awkwardly cleans house on the heels and Bayley gets hit with a double superplex by Bliss and Asuka. Dakota fights back on Bianca and goes up, but Bianca catches her with the fallaway slam and then blocks the scorpion kick with a powerbomb. Dakota gets a second kick and Bayley holds Bianca by the braid in the corner, and Io moonsaults her to give Bayley the pin at 18:47. Obviously Bayley had to win here. This was pretty long and meandering, as they all seemed really nervous or something and it never took off. Just an OK opener. **1/2
Intercontinental title: Gunther v. Sheamus
Thankfully, they have called up Giovanni Vinci to reunite Imperium. Now they just need to change everyone’s name back again. We get a brawl of the underlings to start while Gunther and Sheamus face off in the ring and compete to see who can be the most stoic. They slug it out and Gunther boots him down, but Sheamus suplexes him and they continue beating on each other. Sheamus takes him to the apron and tries the forearms, but Gunther escapes that, so Sheamus runs him into the stairs instead. Back to the apron, but Gunther actually fights him off instead of just letting him do it. HOW ABOUT THAT? What a crazy idea. Back in, Sheamus boots him out of the corner, but he goes up and Gunther just chops him down to the floor. Gunther slams him on the stairs and they head back in for more chops, as Gunther just beats Sheamus into hamburger. And then Sheamus fights back, so Gunther just kicks him right in the face and puts him down again. Hey, I’m sure Sheamus told him to bring it on and lay it in, and you don’t have to ask Gunther twice. Gunther with a boston crab and then into a crossface, but Sheamus bites the hand to break. So Gunther kicks him in the face some more, just because. So they slug it out and Gunther just destroys him with another chop. Sheamus fights back but Gunther dumps him and slams him on the floor, but Sheamus grabs him on the table and beats on him. Back in, Gunther retreats to the ring apron, and now he’s finally in position for the forearms. So they fight to the floor after that, and Sheamus traps him on the railing and lays them in again in a nice bit of storytelling after getting foiled multiple times. Back in the ring, Sheamus drops a knee on him and they slug it out until Gunther hits him with a german suplex. Sheamus fights back with a running knee for two and his chest is BRUTAL. Gunther with the sleeper and he tries the powerbomb, but Sheamus counters with White Noise for two. Brogue Kick misses and Gunther dropkicks him into the corner to set up the powerbomb for two. Gunther pounds on the back further and goes up, but Sheamus cuts him off, so Gunther hits him HARDER and pushes him away. Sheamus manages to bring him down with the Celtic Cross, for two. Sheamus tries the Brogue, but he hurts his back lifting his leg and Gunther cuts him off with a slam. And then he just MURDERS Sheamus with a lariat after yelling at him, to retain at 19:45. HOLY CRAP good luck to anyone else following this. ****3/4
Smackdown Women’s title: Liv Morgan v. Shayna Baszler
Glad to see they’re reheating Shayna again. Liv quickly gets a rollup for two and goes for a choke, but Shayna casually reverses out. Liv with a dropkick on the ropes and she does the WWE thing where you hit a move and then roll out of the corner, which always annoys me, but Shayna tosses her and runs her into the railing to take over. Back in the ring, Shayna beats on her and goes to work on the arm, and a clothesline gets two. Liv comes back with a dropkick and they’re both down, and Liv makes the comeback with some kind of springboard move for two. Not really sure what that was. Double knees of some kind, I think. Liv goes up and Shayna hits her with a knee on the way down for two. Liv catches her in a triangle and then turns it into a cross armbreaker, but Shayna calmly reverses out and puts Liv down with a knee for two. They fight to the top and Liv brings her down with a powerbomb for two, but Shayna reverses to an armbar and Liv has to make the ropes. Morgan with a codebreaker and she finishes with Oblivion at 11:05 to retain. They were doing some interesting stuff with the submission attempts but the finish had nothing to do with any of it. This was still good, though. ***
Edge & Rey Mysterio v. Finn Balor & Damian Priest
Oh my lord thank you to Edge for finally cutting his hair and beard off. Also apparently Cardiff really loves Edge. Finn beats on Rey in the corner and he appears to be bringing back Jeff Hardy’s hanky code. In this case, he’s using purple, so he’s into piercings. Good to know, in case you’re shopping for birthday gifts for him. Priest comes in and he wants Edge and then punches him in the face and slugs away in the corner. Edge comes back with help from Rey and tosses Priest, then tosses Rey onto the heels outside. Back in, Rey with a quebrada, but Priest catches him and slams him before laying a beating on him. Balor with a backbreaker and Priest comes in with a legdrop double-team for two off that. The heels continue to taunt Edge and take turns beating on Rey, and Finn gets an ax kick for two. Finn teases the three amigos before thinking better of it and going to a headlock on the mat instead. Rey escapes and dropkicks the knee, but Priest cuts off the hot tag and tosses Rey. Rey tries a springboard off the railing and Priest cuts him off, so Rey crotches him and Rey does the heroic slow crawl for the tag while Priest grabs his yam bag in pain. And indeed, Edge gets the hot tag and cleans house on the heels, hitting Priest with the impaler DDT and then following with a 619 on Finn (“That was more of a 519” notes Graves in a funny line) for two. Priest goes after Rey and Edge spears him off the apron, but walks into a sling blade from Balor. Dom takes the ref and allows Rey to bring Finn down from the top, so Rhea continues her weekly beatings on Dom in retribution. Balor tries to dive on Rey, but Dom trips him up and it’s a 619 into a spear from Edge to finish at 12:34. Just a good fun tag team house show match with a clean babyface win. ***1/4
BUT THEN…Dominick finally shows his true genetic colors, turning on Edge and Rey and leaving them laying. I KNEW HE WAS A GUERRERO ALL ALONG. I don’t know if Vickie is actually signed to an AEW contract but they should probably throw a bunch of money at her to get her back.
Seth Rollins v. Matt Riddle
Seth is fully channeling Elton John for his gear tonight, which is pretty cool. They slug it out to start and the ref gets in the way, so Michael Cole TELLS US HIS NAME?! I can hear Vince screaming at his TV from here. Riddle kicks Seth down for two and takes him down into a triangle attempt, but Seth takes him to the floor to break and then dumps him onto the railing with a buckle bomb. Ouch. Back in the ring, Rollins takes over with a short arm clothesline and a back elbow for two. Riddle with a rollup for two, but Seth rolls him into a kick for two and follows with the falcon arrow for two. Riddle goes up and Rollins brings him down into the Tree of Woe and follows with the double stomp for two. They fight to the top again and Seth hits the superplex, but Riddle reverses the falcon arrow into a brainbuster and they’re both down. Riddle makes the comeback with an exploder to send Rollins to the apron, and Riddle kicks him to the floor and follows with the floating bro out there. Back in, Riddle counters the Pedigree into a knee strike for two. Riddle goes up with another floating bro, but he hits the knees this time. Rollins tries a powerbomb, but Riddle catches him in a triangle, so Rollins counters out with a Bro Derek for two. Seth tries the Phoenix splash and misses, and Riddle comes back again with the Pele kick, but Seth fires back with an enzuigiri. Riddle keeps coming with a deadlift german, but Seth hits the Pedigree for two in a crazy near fall. Seth makes it clear to Riddle that he’s a GODDAMN LOSER and no one loves him, but that gets Riddle all fired up, so Seth pokes the bear with a draping DDT to troll him further. This sets up an RKO, but Riddle grabs him in a choke and then just beats on him as they fight outside. Back in the ring, Rollins catches him with the stomp out of nowhere because Riddle isn’t paying attention. And then he goes up with another one from the middle rope to finish at 17:23. Hey, you gotta control your emotions. Excellent match, as Seth is on a real roll this year. ****1/4
Undisputed WWE title: Roman Reigns v. Drew McIntyre
They fight for the lockup to start and Roman grabs the headlock, but Drew powers out of that and Roman is unsure of how to deal with that. Drew puts him down with a shoulder and Roman bails to think it over. Back in, Roman slugs away in the corner, but Drew fights back with his own flurry and clotheslines Roman to the floor for a trip to the stairs. But then Karrion Kross throws a water bottle at Drew to cause trouble, and Roman runs Drew into the post to take over. Kross must have seen Bullet Train this weekend or something. Back in the ring, Roman puts the boots to him and slugs away for two. Roman beats on him with clotheslines in the corner and runs him into the post to put him on the floor again, but Drew fights back from the apron. Roman with a clothesline for one and he goes to a CRAVAT, William Regal’s favorite move, and then puts him down with a big boot for one. I guess they’re bringing back Drew’s one count gimmick again. Drew fights back with chops, but Roman runs him into the corner because he’s DISGUSTED by the very idea of Drew chopping his beautiful chest. He’s got a point, the man’s been champion for two years now and deserves to be acknowledged. Roman beats him down and they fight for a suplex, but Roman just beats him down mercilessly and stops to cut a promo. Sadly the crowd does not in fact acknowledge him, and Drew comes back with a headbutt for a double down.
They slug it out, but Drew hits him with clotheslines out of the corner and comes back with the belly to belly series. Gone to suplex-shire, I suppose. Drew makes the comeback and they fight to the top, with Drew trying to grab the hair to escape, but then he flips up with the belly to belly throw and sets up the kick. Roman bails at whatever the Welsh equivalent of “2” is, so Drew hauls him back in with a spinebuster that gets two. Roman fights back with a Rock Bottom for two and sets up the superman punch, but Drew counters him into the future shock, but the Claymore kick is countered into the superman punch for two. Great near fall. Spear is countered by Drew’s kick, but Roman hits another spear on the rebound and that gets two. So now Roman tries the guillotine, but Drew powers out of that, so Roman sinks it again and Drew runs him into the post to break this time. Drew spears him through the railing and back in again right away for the Claymore, but Roman spears him AGAIN for two. Maybe if he didn’t count it down first Roman might be surprised by it? They’re both down, but Roman stops to argue with the ref about the count, and he walks into a Claymore as a result, bumping the ref in the process.
This brings out Theory for the cash in, but Tyson Fury knocks him out from ringside before he can get in the ring, and Drew finally hits the Claymore on Roman, for two. They slug it out, but Roman gets the superman punch, so Drew spears him and hits the Claymore clean…only for SOLO SIKOA to pull out the ref and make his debut. And finally Roman hits one last spear for the pin to retain at 30:45. Well we all know that call up was coming. I like how they teased no bullshit and delivered just the right amount of surprise bullshit to keep Drew strong in defeat. A tremendous main event that was very different than the usual Roman matches lately. ****3/4
Best WWE PPV of the year for me, and one of their best shows in years, period. Everything was good and in fact half the show was excellent matches, with only six of them and no filler, and a decent run time! Thumbs way up.