Jade Cargill, Damian Priest, and the criticism of WWE Clash at the Castle: Scotland

There was a lot of criticism for botches coming out of WWE Clash at the Castle: Scotland and while some is warranted, it is a dangerous line to tread.
WWE Clash at the Castle Scotland
WWE Clash at the Castle Scotland / WWE/GettyImages

Professional wrestling is a difficult occupation. Along with the amazing feats of athletic ability, the top performers are expected to play characters at a near “cinema-level” quality. While fans love them for it, there’s also a space for criticism of performances to live within professional wrestling. Fans are paying their hard-earned money, and spending their time taking in the content, so as with all other forms of entertainment, critique will come. But there’s a fine line that must be balanced upon at all times because some of the antics seen online take things too far.

WWE Clash at the Castle: Scotland was a fun show that set the stage heading into Money in the Bank and beyond. There were a lot of strong moments on the card, but some moments that didn’t look so great as well. The WWE Women’s Tag Team title match and the WWE World Heavyweight Title match featured some botches that set the tone for this conversation piece.

Damian Priest went for a springboard dive onto Drew McIntyre. It’s a move he’s done several times in the past. But it looked like the top rope gave way and he was caught in a precarious position, dangling over the outside. Even McIntyre looked concerned in the immediacy of the moment. Priest went on the sell the injury throughout the match, but Fightful Select would report that the initial word was that Priest was “fine, and effectively selling during the match.” It was a scary moment, but one in which people were highlighting his abilities as a performer.

Earlier in the night Jade Cargill experienced a series of issues during the tag team match. She went for a springboard into the ring, a move she’s done both on television and during house shows. But she slipped and fell into the ring. This moment was further exasperated by other mistakes within the match. Shayna Baszler locked in a tight rear-naked choke, and Cargill tapped in direct view of the camera and referee. It was so obvious that Michael Cole had to address it during the match. She also stumbled a bit getting to spots and even did a pump kick to Baszler’s back when she wasn’t in position for the next sequence.

While these mistakes were glaring, the response to the two were drastically different. Cargill’s missteps have been met with wide disdain, with voices calling for her to be sent to NXT to gain reps, denigrating any positive developments of her skill, and quickly shifting into a space of racism and misogyny. Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence for the women in professional wrestling, and one that is further compounded when it comes to Black women that star in the industry. It’s a problem that cannot be ignored in any fashion.

On the other side of this debate is the idea that individuals cannot be critiqued in any form. There’s a space to talk about Cargill’s development as a performer, both within AEW and WWE. While she looks every bit the star, three years into her career there are still issues with her in-ring performances. Star performers can get their performances talked about if the conversations are sincere about their development. This happens in every major sports league in the world, especially for those who stand in the spotlight. Criticizing their performances doesn’t immediately classify the person talking about them as “racist” or a “misogynist.”  

Dave Meltzer made some recent comments about Trick Williams's in-ring performances and was immediately blasted online for them. His comments may have been harsh in the eyes of many, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place to discuss Williams as an in-ring performer. He’s a huge star in WWE NXT and the company rightfully sees him as a major piece for the future. As his character continues to develop, there’s hope that his in-ring does as well because that would make him a much-needed main-event star for either SmackDown or Monday Night Raw.

It's understandable to raise an eyebrow anytime women or minority performers are criticized for their performance. Several of those who do so want to see those performers fail and take away their position in the industry. Those with motives such as that must be pushed out, minimizing their voices in any way. But that doesn’t mean all are immune to criticism. Especially from their biggest supporters who want to see them achieve greatness in the future.