WWE Clash at the Castle from Cardiff, Wales on Saturday night will go down as one of those events.
"Those" meaning a stellar must-see event with near-WrestleMania energy that remained that way until the ending of the main event—this time Roman Reigns against Drew McIntyre—which could leave things on a sour note.
The first major stadium event in the UK since 1992 and first pay-per-view in the UK since 2003, Clash at the Castle was an example of pro wrestling at its very best.
In front of an electric crowd, the six-woman tag match that started the show was fun and did much to propel Damage Control (Bayley, Dakota Kai, and Iyo Sky), the new hottest faction in WWE. Gunther and Sheamus predictably tore the house down with a bruising slugfest, and Liv Morgan continued her stellar run with a win over Shayna Baszler.
Unlike some other big event crowds in WWE, things only seemed to intensify from there. What could have been a "cool-down" match sandwiched between Morgan's title bout and the two main contests to take the show to its conclusion was instead an outright show-stealer.
There, Edge and Rey Mysterio, with an assist from Dominik Mysterio, picked up a win in tag action over The Judgment Day. The match was great, but more important was WWE electing to use the platform to set up major stories for the immediate future: Dominik turning on Edge and his father, brutalizing them.
Those personal stakes only amplified in the clash between Seth Rollins and Matt Riddle, with the former capping off the feud in a classic match by goading his opponent into getting overly emotional, which cost him.
Rollins is The Architect, after all, and now we've got serious character development on the table for a maturing Riddle.
It almost looked as if nothing the main event could throw out would spoil the fun, too. WWE had a years-in-the-making-and-remembered-fondly-forever setup:
- A beloved babyface
- An intensely disliked heel
- The perfect location
- The perfect crowd
But the result? Reigns wins via interference (again), this time with Solo Sikoa pulling the interference pretty much out of nowhere.
Before the jaw-droppingly silly result and McIntyre then hamming it up by singing alongside Tyson Fury (after losing via shenanigans, no less), things were going great. There were no interferences, both men put on memorable spots and there were creative near-falls. Even the important storytelling of Theory attempting to cash-in unfolded in the perfect moment, only for Fury to end that from the sidelines. This was a Reigns match without the silly interferences and Paul Heyman there to guide him along.
Until it wasn't, of course. The men put on a classic in what could have been an all-timer of a memorable result, but instead fans had to accept that even this special occasion just couldn't rip the company from the plan.
And this is again the product of WWE booking with one goal in mind and everything else is filler when it comes to the main event scene. This is Reigns' GOAT-making run and the company still has eyes for The Rock at WrestleMania 39 in Inglewood, California.
Problem is, everything before that sags under the weight of the holding pattern. And should Reigns beat The Rock (if it happens/he 100 percent will), nobody is a credible contender to upend him later. Even if it's Cody Rhodes instead, at WM39 or some other point, nothing will match the energy, timing and moment that was Clash at the Castle. And WWE can't say that has been the plan this whole time because the idea of Rhodes leaving All Elite Wrestling then was nonexistent.
While Sikoa's addition to The Bloodline will make for some interesting pit stops at things like Survivor Series, the reality is Saturday's result means a continued (mostly) part-time champion holding both belts.
One thing WWE has always struggled with is that all heat isn't good heat and Reigns' run might have just hit a breaking point from fans that it can't recoup.
None of this is to say Clash at the Castle won't be remembered by fans with a smile. But it'll be of the WrestleMania 38 variety from earlier this year, which was a great show until a shrug-worthy main event between Reigns and Brock Lesnar with the understood ending.
The fact that fans went in expecting this sort of finish isn't exactly a great look for WWE's main event scene or even its biggest events. It's a good thing, then, the rest of the card again delivered. And it's another blinking signal to WWE brass that more international events in front of scalding-hot crowds like this are a no-brainer.
As much as Clash at the Castle delivered for the UK, the inverse is true, too. It's that sort of synergy that makes an event a classic, to the point that even a colossal misfire of a show-ender can't tarnish things too much.