7 things we learned at WWE's spectacular Clash At The Castle event

Drew McInTyre and Roman Reigns
(Image credit: WWE)

30 years after WWE brought a stadium show to Europe for the very first time, the legendary Summerslam at Wembley in 1992, they returned to British shores for their biggest show since that unforgettable evening - this time selling out Cardiff’s Principality Stadium for Clash At The Castle. Boasting a card featuring some of WWE's biggest names and a main event offering the chance for a British favourite to capture gold on home soil, the stakes felt high as fans packed into Wales' biggest venue. Just as we did three decades ago, we made the pilgrimage to see the cream of the wrestling crop face off on our island. Here’s what we learned. 

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Wrestling crowds are the most intense on the planet

The Principality Stadium is sold out. That’s over 60,000 people crammed inside its huge dome and - we’re not going to beat around the bush here - they are proper up for it. Even an hour before the show starts there's a buzz around the place, with Ric Flair “WOO!’"s punctuating the general murmuring every few seconds and leading to some kind of vocal Mexican Wave running throughout the crowd. Once we do get going, it is an electric, deafening and totally intoxicating atmosphere from the first bell to the close of the show. A kid sat in front of us, no older than 9 or 10, spends the entire night stood up, chanting, bouncing up and down, pumping his fist and just generally losing his mind at what is surely the greatest night of his young life. This evening, we are all that kid. In terms of the feel and intensity of a crowd, Clash At The Castle will take some serious beating. 

WWE respects its history

For British wrestling fans of a certain age, Summerslam 92 retains a legendary aura. That glorious evening at Wembley Stadium all those years ago are still spoken about in awed tones by those of us who were there. We’re hoping for brand new memories this evening, but WWE are acutely aware of the impact that Summerslam 92 had, and so give us a highlights package featuring clips from the legendary Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog match that main evented that show. A shout-out to the late Bulldog sees the audience rise to its feet, and as the camera cuts to The Hitman himself, sat in the audience amongst us, plenty of people in the crowd start getting more than a little emotional. Very nicely done…it’s just something in our eye, that’s all!

Cardiff doesn’t take Sheamus for granted

The Irish Destroyer is a veteran performer who has become part of the WWE furniture, but if you think anyone is ambivalent about his appearance here, you better think again. The opportunity for Sheamus to capture the prestigious Intercontinental Championship from Gunther sees the noise levels cranked up even more as he makes his entrance, and he and the Austrian champ put on a brutal display of aggression. There’s not much in the way of technical wrestling going on here; after a lengthy stare-down whilst each man’s stablemates - The Brawling Brutes and Imperium - spar around them, the two just pummel seven bells out of each other. As over as Sheamus is, it's the Austrian who retains his title after a bruising bout. It’s an incredible display from both men, a surprise shout for match of the evening, and the reception Sheamus receives as he hobbles back up the walkway is hugely heartwarming. He might not have picked up the belt, but he and Gunther almost stole the show.

...but Cardiff REALLY loves Edge

Both the Rated-R superstar and the master of the 619 have been in and out of WWE over the years, but their popularity and legendary status has never dropped, and this evening they put on a tag-team masterclass against The Judgement Day. With Mysterio’s high-flying style and Edge’s intensity and charisma, they’re a perfect pair, and they’re seriously put through their paces by Finn Balor and Damien Priest. Everyone involved is on top form, but when Priest beckons Edge to be tagged in, a roar that shakes the stadium's foundations goes up when he obliges and steps into the ring. 

After a back-and-forth match, a thrilling climax sees Balor taking a 619 before running into Edge’s spear to put him down for the three-count. The Principality Stadium loses its collective shit, roaring along to Edge’s theme tune, Alter Bridge’s classic Metalingus, as one. The perfect end? Not quite. With the two men celebrating in the ring at the end, Mysterio’s son Dominik turns against the pair, clotheslining his dad and giving Edge a swift kick in the nuts in a shock ending. Who saw that coming?!

Seth Rollins is the best wind-up merchant in the game

Prior to the main event, Matt Riddle and Seth “Freakin” Rollins face off in one of the most personal bouts of the night. There’s apparently no love lost between the pair, and Rollins' recent comments about Riddle’s divorce seemingly have the Original Bro rattled; there’s a look on his face as he comes to the ring that suggests he is ready to tear Rollins limb-from-limb. It’s doesn’t quite work out that way. Quite frankly, Rollins remains a fantastic heel, making for a brilliant, cackling antagonist throughout as he mocks and antagonises Riddle, at one point even dropping him with the signature DDT of Riddle's injured tag team partner, Randy Orton. A head-stomp sees Rollins picking up the win and goading Riddle even more on his way back up the walkway. That said, as Riddle, with a serious shiner above his eye, mouths “it’s not over” back to him, you can expect this feud to run and run. 

Drew McIntyre‘s arrival blows the roof off the stadium...and his loss silences it

Even though the atmosphere has been incredible throughout, the arrival of Drew McIntyre for his WWE Undisputed Universal Championship battle with Roman Reigns sees noise levels soar to previously unheard heights. The intensity of support for Drew is overwhelming, with chants of “Oh, Drew McIntyre” (to the tune of Seven Nation Army's main riff), “It’s coming home” and “Drew McIntyre, Roman Reigns is terrified” (hilariously, to the tune of Gala's Freed From Desire) creating the atmosphere of a World Cup Final. After an attempt from Austin Theory to cash in his Money In The Bank contract is foiled by ringside boxing champ Tyson Fury sparking him out, it seems that, for only the second time in thirty years, we're about to see a British wrestler crowned champion in a British stadium. Except, that's not what happens: after interference from a debuting Solo Sikoa, defending, two-year-strong champion Reigns spears McIntyre for the win. Suddenly, there’s silence in the Principality Stadium. 

As great as Clash At The Castle has been, it feels just a little odd not to be cheering a conquering McIntyre as the curtain drops. Instead, Tyson Fury climbs into the ring, shakes Roman Reigns’ hand and tries to console McIntyre by leading us all through a fairly tuneless rendition of...erm...Don McLean’s American Pie. To be honest, it's something of an anticlimax. People still go glassy-eyed at the memory of The British Bulldog holding his newly won belt aloft at Wembley Stadium back in 1992. Will those here tonight cherish the memory of a boxer striking up an impromptu karaoke session in the same way? We’re not convinced. With a show this strong, it feels a shame to have not had an all-time feel-good moment to assure its legendary status. 

Clash At The Castle is the best WWE show of 2022 - don’t make us wait 30 years for another major UK event!

Although we can grumble and nitpick the ending of the show, ultimately, the drama, entertainment and atmosphere of Clash At The Castle has put it right at the top of the tree for WWE this year. The combination of the rarity of the event, the best of a strong roster delivering a variety of matches and an amped-up a crowd gave us a perfect storm of a show. Surely WWE will see this event as a huge win and, hopefully, we won’t have to wait another 30 years before we get something similar? The hunger for this show was so abundantly clear that it would make zero sense not to take it to the rest of the United Kingdom over the coming years. So, Clash at...Twickenham? Hamden Park? Old Trafford?  Wembley? We’ve got plenty of stadiums to offer, and on this evidence, WWE could fill them all. Let’s not make Clash At The Castle another once in a generation deal, please, guys.

Rewatch WWE Clash At The Castle on Peacock and The WWE Network

Stephen Hill

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.