Hell takes place this year in Sacramento, CA at The Golden 1 Center and it was one to remember! Lets talk about the show and what it means for the WWE and its Superstars!
Hell In a Cell had weeks leading up to this event, we had only four announced matches for the card. While this was a bit lacking, they had some decent build-up and I was curious if not excited for three out of the four matches. If that was why they left us in the dark, it was a good idea.
Kick-Off: Lacey Evans vs Natalya
We were only given one pre-show match, which I believe was a mistake here. Most of the kickoff was spent talking about the event and hocking the WWE Network. I understand the need to sell but I would have preferred a little more action. Maybe AEW has spoiled me with their event kickoffs.
Overall, Natalya and Evans did ok but this felt a bit flat. I would have preferred a high energy tag match to this.
Hell in a Cell Begins
Becky Lynch vs Sasha Banks – Raw Women’s Championship Match
This match was the one I expected the least from. Not that I have a problem with either competitor, I respect Lynch and am a huge fan of Sasha, but I didn’t think they would be able to pull off anything spectacular together. Oh boy, was I proven completely wrong. Sasha’s previous match had shown how great she sells and this was almost at that level. While she didn’t have Charlotte’s strength to toss her around, Lynch and Sasha both proved they could dish it out as well as take it.
With the lead-up to this match, months of struggle and losses from Banks, this should have been her night to win but it was not. Lynch hit the Becksploder on Banks Lynch then locked in the Dis-Arm-Her, and Banks tapped. While this kept Lynch strong, I feel there is a loss for Sasha storywise.
Roman Reigns & Daniel Bryan vs. Erick Rowan & Luke Harper – Tornado Tag Match
Keeping up the aggression and pace with my second most-anticipated match, Rowan showed he has grown and no longer needs someone like Wyatt to talk for him. Tornado matches are always frantic, since everyone is legal, and this was no exception. Not only were all the announce tables smashed but sections of the barrier were removed and to be used as weapons, something you rarely see if ever!
Just as Harper hit a second-rope powerbomb on Bryan, he attempted a dragon suplex but that was countered. This left an opening for Reigns to slide into the ring and hit a Superman Punch, Bryan followed with a running knee, and Reigns then hit Haper with a spear, pinning Harper for the win. Not a bad ending but I would have liked to see Rowan win this after seeing him come out of his shell a bit lately.
Post-Match: This was a great moment between Reigns and Bryan, Reigns showing respect and then Bryan signalling for a hug. It was nice to see this honest moment without a force turn in any way. Simple respect.
Randy Orton vs Ali – Some Sort of Filler
This may be the saddest thing to say, but this was your bathroom match for the event. These are both great competitors but Ali is out of his league a bit here from a storytelling perspective. Each of his spots looked like he was running through a practice session, no focus on his opponent or the emotion of the situation. At least he sold Orton’s moves well!
As Orton released Ali from the pin, he smacked him on the hip slightly before saying a few words off-mic. We didn’t need subtitles to explain the moment but the announce team tried to put it in context anyway. Orton was letting Ali know he did well. This almost seemed like something that normally would happen backstage. It was nice to see this glimpse into their relationship.
Side note, they really put the announce tables up quickly after being demolished in the Tornado Tag match!
Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross (c) vs The Kabuki Warriors – Women’s Tag Team Championship
I really enjoyed this match, even more than I thought I would. We got some great moments for each competitor to show what they do best, even Kairi Sane looked semi-strong in this match! Aska and Sane spent quite a bit of time isolating Bliss but this just left Cross to do what she does best. The match should have ended on Cross’ reversal of Kairi’s elbow drop from the top turnbuckle and the neckbreaker that followed, but the match continued.
While Bliss fought outside the ring with Kairi, and with the referee distracted, Aska spit green mist into the eyes of Cross before a swift roundhouse to the face. A good ending and an interesting choice to push The Kabuki Warriors. I could slight the team for Kairi’s weak points but I did the same this when Cross first teamed with Bliss and was proven wrong. Lets see what WWE has in store for us with new and fresh champions!
The OC vs The Viking Raiders and Mystery Partner BRAUN STROWMAN!
If a match was to break the ring at this event, this would have been it. The OC faced almost a thousand pounds of brute strength and The OC did the only thing they could in this situation. Gallows and Anderson attacked Strowman when they were not legally allowed and continued to beat him, forcing the referee to call for a disqualification.
While this was a letdown from a match perspective, the majority of the action happened after the match after the bell had been rung. The Viking Raiders showed their dominance against Gallows and Anderson before Strowman countered Styles with a mid-air punch. AJ sold the aftermath of this punch like none other, being helped backstage by the referee and his teammates attempting to keep him upright and assure him he was going to be ok. It was hilarious!
The Street Profits had a mediocre promo here that was interrupted by Tamina takling and rolling up Carmella to become the new 24/7 Champion. R-Truth came in too late to stop this and they attempted to chase Tamina, to which The Profits couldn’t confirm which way to start. A nice shift but I really don’t see the reason for Tamina to be pushed. She barely has a character!
King Corbin vs. Chad Gable
While I like the heel work here from Corbin, I’d like to take this time to point out that the average male height is 5’9″ to 5’10”, depending on the study or how you want to slice it. This makes Corbin’s attacks at Gable seem a bit weak since Gable is billed at 5’8″. I know Gable looks small in comparison to Corbin, but keep in mind that Corbin is 6’8″, the same height as Strowman. Everyone is short in comparison!
RANT OVER – KINDA
Onto the match, and the announce team continuing the short jokes, this was a pretty good match for Gable and certainly not the pushover match Corbin attempted to foreshadow. We saw some decent back and forth, Gable showing that his skill could stand up to Corbin’s strength. I hope this gets more people on Gable’s side as Corbin really took the time to put Gable over through most of this match.
While Corbin regained some momentum towards the end, Gable countered and won with a roll-up, ending the most technical match of the night and some of the best in subtle storytelling, at least from an in-ring perspective. They may have been following orders but the announce team’s jokes got old. Jerry Lawler would get away with that garbage but only because JR was always there to make him look like a fool. Leave the roasting to the professionals, the heel wrestlers!
Bayley (c) vs. Charlotte Flair – SmackDown Women’s Championship
One of the strangest things for me was Bayley’s entrance, met to almost deafening silence from the crowd. It seems that her heel turn has fizzled. Bayley is a better face and I hope she turns back soon. Charlotte has seemed tired as of late, and I don’t mean her recent toning down of eye makeup in comparison to most of the other women on the roster.
I may have not cared about Tamina holding the 24/4 title, but I absolutely loved the pre-match interruption of Carmella chasing Tamina for the title. Not because of the individuals wanting the title, but for Tamina using Funaki as a shield and seeing R-Truth mimicking the wrestler’s martial arts style. Carmella got the best of the situation and became an alleged twenty time 24/7 champion. I love how the WWE knows how ridiculous this title is and is allowing this B-Plot to be zany.
GET ON WITH IT!
Once the action in the audience subsided, the match proper started its slow burn. It wasn’t a bad match but wasn’t as explosive as I would have liked. Charlotte did start amping up the aggression after she started bleeding from the mouth and we finally got a nice spot with fallaway slam on Bayley at ringside. We are seeing more and more brutality in the women’s division, mainly from Lynch and Cross, but it is great to see everyone putting it on the line like this.
Bayley rolled up Charlotte and used the top rope for leverage during roll up Flair but the referee broke the pin. Charlotte then hit the figure eight and Bayley had to tap, becoming the ten time Smackdown Women’s Champion, the most of any competitor. Bayley waited with her back to ringside in what I thought would be am ambush but it wasn’t. Charlotte just walked by, smiling and hoisting the championship belt above her head. This was what Bayley needed and I’m really hoping it brings her back to the light-side.
Seth Rollins (c) vs. “The Fiend’ Bray Wyatt – Universal Championship
This was the match I had been waiting for. Wyatt’s Fiend character has evolved and is now living up to the mask he wears. Wyatt’s entrance and macabre lantern set the tone for this match. WWE has been protecting The Fiend character and it definitely showed in this match. From the red lighting throughout the match to The Fiend no-selling kendo sticks, the cell was The Fiend’s home as Rollins was dismantled for most of the match.
Side-note – I would have to Wyatt on his character is I feel the craning upside down look and Sister Abigail is too closely associated with Wyatt himself. His Fiend character should not have any of the same mannerisms or style.
ON WITH THE CARNAGE!
Rollins eventually got some momentum and hit countless curb stomps on Wyatt but it couldn’t stop The Fiend, getting a one count pin. This frustrated Rollins and led him to grab a chair from under the ring and hit him straight in the head where he laid, granting Rollins another one count. Rollins then stacked the chair on Wyatt and smashed it with a ladder, which still only gave him a two count. He then laid the ladder and chair on Wyatt’s face before smashing the rubble repeatedly with a toolbox. Going back under the ring, Rollins emerged with a sledgehammer and was almost talked down by the referee before he slammed the hammer down on the metal piled on Wyatt, prompting the referee to sop the match. This is how you protect a character! You can’t just take him down with a few finishers!
As the officials and medical came to take Wyatt out on a stretcher, The Fiend emerged and took Reigns down with a mandible claw. As if this wasn’t enough, Wyatt then hit a Sister Abigail on Rollins outside the ring directly on concrete before taking Rollins down with a blood-inducing mandible claw and disappearing.
I will say ending a no-DQ match with a disqualification breaks some of the magic. I know they were trying to sell the humanity breaking within Rollins and the referee was trying to stop the match for Rollins’ sake, but I don’t think it was needed. They should have let Rollins get a few hits in before the ref attempted to take the sledge away. This would allow a distraction and allow The Fiend to rise before taking Rollins down with the same bloody mandible claw.
This event could have been booked better but most of the matches were entertaining. Some surprises here and there but I think most people got what they came for.
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