The 7 Biggest Takeaways From WWE Clash At The Castle Including A Shock Upset And How Good Drew McIntyre Is

 Drew McInTyre on Monday Night Raw.
Credit: WWE

I just finished watching Clash At The Castle. I wasn’t planning on hopping on and writing something. Normally I just write the predictions ahead of time, but what’s the point of being a wrestling fan if you can’t shout your opinions at everyone? And after this, I have so many opinions. What I thought was going to be a relatively predictable and tame premium live event turned out to be anything but as my brain in spinning in a ton of different directions.

Bianca Belair and Jade Cargill lost. I’m not sure I heard anyone other than Santi Zap predict that. The Chad Gable storyline is somehow even hotter after a fantastic finish led to a pissed off gif you’ll see on social media for years. Damian Priest miraculously turned what seemed like an all-time botch into one of the best performances of his career. Drew McIntyre looked like a Roman Reigns level star. There’s just so much to talk about. So, let me rundown my biggest takeaways…

Drew McIntyre Is A Carry The Company Level Star

Clash At The Castle was Drew McIntyre’s PPV. He was always going to main event the show, despite Cody Rhodes being on it, and his presence tonight showed exactly why. Yes, the hometown crowd helped, but whether he’s a hero or a face, wrestling in his home country or somewhere he has no connection to, he's in the midst of an all-time run right now. He has found the character he was born to play.

Everything about it just works. Whether it be stepping in front of Damian Priest during his introduction just to be a jerk… or kicking Priest while he was stuck in the ropes… or the look he gave CM Punk when he screwed him over as a fake referee… or whatever else you can think of he feels like a main event guy. He has the aura to be a legit WrestleMania main eventer in a way I’d argue less than 20 guys in the history of WWE ever have. He might have lost tonight, but that’s only because WWE has more interesting things to do with his character.

Damian Priest Deserves His Flowers

Not long into Priest and Drew McIntyre’s match, the interim Judgment Day leader got his foot stuck in the ropes after a risky aerial maneuver went wrong. I haven’t heard confirmation it was for sure a botch, but it’s hard to imagine WWE planning something that risky. And yet, he adapted and sold the hell out of what looked like a bad ankle injury, whether it was real or not, and delivered one of the best performances of his entire career. There were moments I legitimately thought the ref was going to throw up the X. And yet, by the end of the match, they were getting “This Is Awesome” chants from the crowd.

I’m still not entirely sure what Damian Priest’s ceiling is. We all know he’s absolutely fantastic as the second lead in Judgment Day behind Rhea Ripley, a stable which, despite all it success, still has a ton of unfulfilled potential. We all know he’s probably not going to be the lead guy like Hulk Hogan or John Cena or Roman Reigns. But he’s really damn good and getting better by the week. His promos are getting way more natural. He’s starting to develop an aura about him and really find his confidence, and he just delivers a really good, dependable performance every time he’s in the ring. I’m sad for Drew that he lost again, but I’m really excited to see Damian continue to grow in his role.

The Chad Gable/ Alpha Academy Storyline Needs To Be Pushed To The Moon

With all due respect to Dominik Mysterio and Liv Morgan and a handful of other contenders, the best program not involving Drew McIntyre, CM Punk and Damian Priest right now is Chad Gable and Alpha Academy (and Sami Zayn). Everyone is playing their part so well. Gable was born to play the role of the selfish, overbearing tyrant. Otis has once again tapped into the special connection he has with fans. Maxxine is terrific as the deer in headlights sidekick who needs protecting, especially with her walking boot, and of course, Sami Zayn is one of the greatest character workers in the history of WWE. Everything has gone right here.

Over the last few years, Gable and Alpha Academy have waffled back and forth between being a key B-plot on the show to being relegated to a few minutes here or there. Triple H, Bruce Prichard and the writers need to push now. This group should be getting a minimum of fifteen minutes every Raw to really develop some layers into what’s going on here and assumedly, add in other pieces.

Bianca And Jade Lost. Now What?

I’m rattled. I knew WWE would break up Bianca and Jade at some point in the future, but I thought they’d be on cruise control with the tag titles for months. I thought maybe they’d start developing some tension around Survivor Series and we’d get a prolonged build to a WrestleMania match between the two of them. Apparently not.

So, what’s the plan here? There’s one scenario in which they turn on each other immediately and build to a match at SummerSlam. There’s another scenario in which we get a few months of them trying to make it work before the inevitable breakup. I’m unsure which path WWE is going to choose. We all knew their tag team would turn into a break-up and a feud at some point, but the fact that it’s all happening so quickly makes me wonder if WWE changed plans and decided they needed two of their biggest stars back in the World Title picture, especially because…

WWE Needs To Give Bayley Something

I want to be very clear that this is not about the fans rooting for Piper Niven. Their match took place in Scotland, and there was always a good chance Piper was going to get cheered because it’s her home country. I also want to be clear this is not because Bayley wasn’t good in the ring here. She was. I thought Piper and Bayley both delivered good performances. This is about a lot more than this match. It’s about the last few months and the lack of momentum Bayley seems to have.

I’m pretty sure an overwhelming majority of WWE fans, myself included, were rooting for Bayley at The Royal Rumble. I was so stoked to see her win after years of selfless performances in which she put over other people. I was also stoked to see her beat former stablemate Iyo Sky at WrestleMania 40 in a fantastic showing. But WWE hasn’t really done anything to develop her character since that moment. She doesn’t have any goals or motivations, and when she has been given a chance to speak, it’s been pretty forgettable, which sucks since she can be fantastic on the mic.

I love Bayley. She’s one of the most talented women WWE has, but the writers need to give her something to do. She was the sympathetic, grieved party heading into WrestleMania in her battle against Damage CTRL, but now she's... just the champion whose a babyface with a goal. She needs a passionate promo or some interesting layers to her upcoming feud with Nia Jax. Watching Clash At The Castle, it was obvious how much more invested fans are in a bunch of other characters right now.

Let’s Talk About Cody Rhodes’ Future

After Cody Rhodes’ match with AJ Styles, he was attacked by The New Bloodline or The Other Bloodline or Bloodline 2.0 or whatever you want to call them. He was then saved by Kevin Owens and Randy Orton. It seems pretty obvious WWE is setting up a 3 on 3 match of Rhodes, Orton and Owens vs Tama Tonga, Tonga Loa and Solo Sikoa, probably at Money In The Bank. Initially, I thought we’d see some kind of interference there with The Rock that would likely set up a Summerslam Main Event between The Rock and Cody Rhodes, but now I’m not so sure. The Rock reportedly suffered an injury while he was filming his new movie, and also, Randy Orton seemed to be eyeing Cody’s title.

The last several years have been an extended babyface run for Randy Orton. He was in RKBro, a super over tag team with Matt Riddle. Then he got hurt. Then he returned at Survivor Series and has been getting huge crowd pops ever since, but he’s also The Viper and his career has been filled with plenty of backstabs and heel work. It might be time to give us another one, which could hypothetically lead into a major match at SummerSlam.

Big Shouts For All The Scottish Wrestlers And The Scottish Crowd

What a blast it’s been to see WWE start spreading the wealth by taking its premium live events around the world. They’ve all delivered fabulous crowds, and Scotland was no exception today. Fans screamed, chanted and rooted on their hometown favorites, who all delivered terrific performances. Drew McIntyre was, of course, the most notable Scottish hero. He proved why he's one of the best in the world in a losing effort that should make his feud with CM Punk hotter than ever. He deserves to be the lead story, but all of the other Scottish performers were fantastic too.

Piper Niven was given a chance to shine against Bayley and had the crowd firmly on her side by the end of the match. She’s so nimble for her size and has great facial expressions. She’s also a perfect pair with the more flamboyant Chelsea Green, who pulled double duty as herself and her luchador sister after she was kicked out of the match. They both need to be on TV every week. Maybe, with the titles off Jade and Bianca, they’ll be given another tag title run, or maybe WWE saw enough here to start pushing Piper as a single. She’d be an ideal first champ if WWE ever decides to introduce a mid-card title for the women.

And of course we can’t forget about Alba Fyre and Isla Dawn. I can’t remember the last time I was this shocked by a result at a premium live event, but I don’t hate it at all. I think there’s a lot WWE can do with these characters. They just need consistent TV time and a little bit of street cred, and this performance gave them both in the night’s most touching moment, especially given the personal tragedy Isla Dawn recently suffered. She’s quietly one of the most talented women WWE has on their entire roster, and I’m ready to see her get more time to show it.