After three decades, WWE will return to the United Kingdom for a stadium pay-per-view event this weekend with the first-ever Clash At The Castle in Cardiff, Wales.
Summerslam 1992 was the last time the company held an event of this magnitude in the UK, with hometown boy Davey Boy Smith defeating Bret Hart in the main event at Wembley Stadium.
Fast-forward to 2022 and it will again be a UK-based star in the main event, with Drew McIntyre set to compete for the Undisputed WWE Universal Title against Roman Reigns.
Austrian powerhouse Gunther will defend his Intercontintental Title against Irish legend Sheamus, while Finn Balor has also been confirmed for the card.
English great and current WWE commentator Wade Barrett campaigned for a stadium show in England for many years while he was an in-ring competitor, and while it will be bittersweet for him to miss out, the multi-time champion is still buzzing with excitement.
“I’ve got to be honest with you, I didn’t see this coming at all,” he said.
“In my own career I was pushing for a long time to get an event in London, or Manchester, Cardiff or Glasgow, wherever. One of these big stadium shows is really difficult to pull off.
“First of all, there’s different laws in different countries and, logistically, getting everyone over there is tough enough. The reason I thought it would be almost impossible is because I remember as a kid watching all the premium live events in WWE at midnight in the UK and they would end at 3am. That’s just the time difference.
“I thought to myself ‘they can’t have the shows in the UK because it is going be on at a strange time in the US’. I think the world has changed now. The world has got a lot smaller with the advent of recent technology and developments.
“I think it’s really exciting now that the fans over in Cardiff, Wales, and across the UK and Europe are going to get this opportunity to experience it firsthand without having to fly all the way over to the US.
“I’ve been to so many WrestleMania’s and, when I’m there, it seems like almost 50% of the fans are flying over from Europe. I think it’s great that for once they’re getting the easy ride here.
“There will even be plenty of US fans flying over to Clash At The Castle just to visit and get the UK experience. I think it’s great. I hope they enjoy it. It’s going to be one hell of a show.”
Another man who grew up in the UK is Ridge Holland, who turned from rugby league to pro wrestling back in 2016.
The 34-year-old is not currently scheduled for the card, but will likely accompany teammate Sheamus to the ring for his huge IC Title match.
Holland – real name Luke Menzies – attended Principality Stadium almost two decades to watch a Challenge Cup final and believes the WWE fans will bring a similar atmosphere.
“I was last there in 2003 for the Challenge Cup Rugby League Final between Bradford Bulls and Leeds Rhinos…I remember it well because Bradford is my team and they narrowly beat Leeds Rhinos,” he said.
“It is definitely loud. I can still remember when I was a kid how loud it can be, but I just think that it’s going to be even louder with the WWE Universe there because the UK fans go crazy and I really can’t wait to hear it.
“When I get the opportunity just to just walk out there and hear them all, you know, I can’t wait. They’re going to blow the roof off the place.
“It’s something that I probably never thought would happen. It’s just a massive opportunity to give back because of all the support from the UK fans.
“Everything we do that night, regardless of what happens, it’s an opportunity to say thank you. It is going to be absolutely electric.”
McIntyre’s quest to become a three-time world champion against Reigns is the headline act of the event, and a major drawcard that will hopefully help fill the 78,000 stadium.
Barrett believes that while the Scotsman has has what it takes to dethrone the longest-reigning WWE champion of the modern era, he could be up against it due to factors beyond his control.
“I think there are three people on this planet who can go toe-to-toe with Roman right now, in my opinion,” he said.
“Those three are Bobby Lashley, Brock Lesnar and Drew McIntyre. The issue I have is I don’t think Roman can be beaten outside of a pure one-on-one scenario.
“What I mean by that is we know for a fact that Roman has always got the backing of The Bloodline, Paul Heyman or even Sami Zayn who we’ve seen floating around a fair bit.
“Drew is going to be outnumbered whatever way he looks at it. He needs some form of backup to beat Roman Reigns in my opinion.
“I just don’t see where that backup is going to be coming from.”
WWE Clash at the Castle airs live from the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales on Saturday 3rd September on Peacock in the US and WWE Network everywhere else.