The Hell In A Cell match is probably one of my most favorite gimmick matches the WWE has ever produced. It allows a lot of carnage while, at the same time, affording some really creative spots thanks to its no disqualification stipulation that goes with the match. But just because the pay-per-view event is entitled Hell In A Cell, I wouldn’t want every match to involve the 5-ton structure. Thankfully, the WWE was wise enough to not do that. But I do hope the matches that involve the structure are actually as hellacious as the name suggests. The only way to find out is to watch WWE’s Hell In A Cell, huh?
Match #1: The New Day vs The Uso in a Texas Tornado Hell In A Cell Match for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship
Oddly enough, I don’t know who to cheer for here. As much as I love The New Day and their antics, The Usos change in personality has won me over. And their chemistry in the ring has been incredibly good. Honestly, I’m more rooting for a good match than either team! And they delivered!
As expected from a Texas Tornado Tag Team match, all members included took it to their opponents. Under these rules, there was no need to tag in… which made sense because there’s no disqualification in a Hell In A Cell match anyway. However, both teams took the no DQ rule to its heart as they brandished a whole assortment of weapons. They used a myriad of tools to assault their opponents, like chairs, kendo sticks, trombones, kendo sticks, gongs, kendo sticks, handcuffs, kendo sticks and even a cowbell! If I had a complaint regarding their instruments of destruction, it would be the over abundance of kendo sticks. Apparently, there is such a thing as too many kendo sticks in a match.
But The New Day and The Usos just didn’t rely on the different weapons (and kendo sticks) to main their opponents. They also used the Cell itself to great effectiveness. While there was no climbing up the cage to get the drop on their opponent, the Cell itself did feature prominently as both The New Day and The Usos plowed their opponents into the steel mesh walls various times. The action looked great but still seemed rather safe enough that none of them were in any serious danger of getting injured. Props to both teams on making the carnage look brutal but, at the same time, safe enough to not get seriously hurt.
With all the brutality that happened throughout the match, I have to say I was rather underwhelmed with the finish. Woods breaks up the pinfall on Big E after the latter was nailed by a double Samoan Splash. The Usos retaliate by striking Woods with, wouldn’t you know it, kendo sticks. The Usos lay a chain on top of a badly beaten Woods and nail him with a double Samoan Splash to get the pinfall victory and become the NEW Smackdown Tag Team Champions.
Really good match overall. The finish just seemed rather anticlimactic to me but it was still a clean and logical way to close the match. Oh, and kendo sticks.
Rating: 8.5 of 10.0 kendo sticks
Match #2: Randy Orton vs Rusev
What the heck did Rusev do to deserve this? When will we actually celebrate Rusev Day?
When Rusev broke into the scene, he was a monster and one of the best heels in the WWE. Nowadays, it just seems as if he’s floundering in the Smackdown roster just being fed to other guys like Randy Orton. This was that kind of match. Rusev basically pummels Orton at the start of the match and The Viper tried multiple times to reverse some of the Bulgarian Brutes moves to no effect. To be fair, Rusev did look good while he was on offense but you can tell this wasn’t the same monster that wrecked havoc in the WWE just a few years ago.
Of course, Orton eventually mounted a comeback and the usual seesaw between who got control started. The finish came during this period after The Viper finally nailed Rusev with his patented draping DDT. Orton then signaled for the RKO but Rusev attempted to reverse it into The Accolade submission finisher. But Orton slithered out of the hold and finally connected with the RKO for the pinfall victory.
This was just an okay match. It wasn’t terrible by any stretch of the imagination but it wasn’t a show stealer as well. It was just sort of in there and fell so inconsequential. The real shame of it is how the WWE is wasting Rusev. It would definitely be a feather in the Bulgarian Brute’s cap if he actually won over Orton. But no. Orton still had to win even though he doesn’t really need it.
Rating: 5.0 of 10 Rusev Days
Match #3: AJ Styles vs Tye Dillinger vs Baron Corbin in a Triple Threat Match for the United States Championship
Really, WWE? You’ll just add people into a match in the middle of the show? Well, if it’s Tye Dillinger, I’m guess that’s okay… especially since you have “Boring” Corbin here.
I just think the WWE is pushing Baron Corbin incorrectly. I get that he’s a tough guy and loves to beat people down. The problem is he’s not doing it in a way that draws any heat from the crowd. It’s too clinical and methodical and without any real malice. This is precisely why the entire middle portion where Corbin dominated over both Styles and Dillinger felt boring and uneventful. The addition of The Perfect 10 into the mix added some spice to the action and Dillinger did make a nice showing, even though he was generally just a punching bag for Corbin for the majority of the match.
Things did pick up during the latter part of the match with all three competitors finally getting in on the action at the same time. The finish, sadly, came shortly when this started. Styles managed to nail a springboard 450 splash on Corbin but Dillinger made the save. Some back and forth between The Phenomenal 1 and The Perfect 10 with Styles coming out on top after blocking the Tye Breaker and connecting with the Phenomenal Forearm. However, The Lone Wolf saw the opportunity to steal the victory and Corbin knocked Styles out of the ring and got the pinfall victory over Dillinger to become the NEW United States Champion.
The entire middle portion was a middling mess thanks to Corbin just beating down on his opponents without and gruff or meanness. The match did get much better afterwards when all three opponents finally got involved. I do hope the WWE looks at Tye Dillinger a little closer after his really fine performance in this match. Corbin winning seemed like the logical choice but I hope it doesn’t bite them in the ass like with them making Jinder Mahal the WWE Champion.
Rating: 6.0 of 10.0 “Boring” Corbins
Match #4: Charlotte Flair vs Natalya for the Smackdown Women’s Championship
I think Charlotte and Natalya have their roles reversed. Shouldn’t Natalya be the face and Charlotte be the heel?
This is actually the biggest problem I had with the match. I can’t really fault either Natalya or Charlotte’s performances because, hey, wrestlers should be given a chance to be diverse. The problem is that they aren’t really good at their current roles. Charlotte playing the goody two shoes just works against her because she can’t turn up the heat when needed. Natalya’s heelish moves don’t have the same impact because she’s already rather bland so she just becomes a bland heel and that doesn’t make her look like a tough gal that deserves the Smackdown Women’s title. The overall storytelling was fine, with The Queen of Hearts targeting The Queen’s leg. But, like I said, it didn’t hit home for me because I didn’t care all that much.
The finish came after the action spilled out of the ring. Charlotte nailed a moonsault from the top rope on Natalya but The Queen inadvertently injured her knee even more. Natalya, for some reason, went for a chair and struck Charlotte’s injured leg with it, leading to a disqualifying victory for Charlotte but with Natalya STILL holding onto the Smackdown Women’s Championship. Natalya then walloped Charlotte with the chair after the bell rang because… she’s bad?
I think the match was just getting good but the chairshot finish spoiled everything. It didn’t really make sense for Natalya to just go for the chair as well since she could’ve easily gotten the upper hand even without it. The sad thing is that both competitors have already got into it before and it was much better. Then again, that was when Charlotte was the heel champion and Natalya was the good guy challenger.
Rating: 5.0 of 10.0 chairshots to emphasize she’s bad
Match #5: Shinusuke Nakamura vs Jinder Mahal (with the Singh Brothers) for the WWE Heavyweight Championship
I was rooting heavily for Shinusuke Nakamura. I like the dude but it was mostly because I vehemently dislike Jinder Mahal as the WWE Heavyweight Champion. This match is just another of the long line of examples as to why I strongly dislike Jinder as Champ: his matches are boring! Not even someone with the charisma and in-ring ability of Nakamura can counter the lameness of Jinder!
As per every match involving The Modern Day Maharaja, Jinder simple did a number of rest holds and strikes for the majority of the match. Nakamura would eventually get in some offense that would liven things up a little bit but the the stench of Jinder Mahal’s lameness would boil over and overcome The Artist Known as Nakamura’s streak. Rinse and repeat until bored.
The finish was just like any Jinder Mahal match where the WWE Heavyweight Championship was involved. The Singh Brothers became distractions, preventing Nakamura from getting the pinfall and distracting the referee. Even when the official reprimanded them to the back, the Singhs still managed to interfere and distract the referee to prevent Nakamura from getting the pinfall victory after nailing Jinder with a Kinshasa. This allowed The Modern Day Maharaja enough time to recover and get out of the pinning predicament. Nakamura signaled for another Kinshasa but Jinder rolled out of the ring. The challenger dragged the champion back into the ring but this allowed Jinder enough time to get his bearings to avoid another Nakamura Kinshasa and connect with a Khalash and to STILL keep his WWE Heavyweight title.
I will give props to Shinusuke Nakamura for at least sprinkling some energy into another Jinder Mahal snoozefest. It wasn’t enough to save it from being incredibly boring and lame, though. Nice try.
Rating: 3.0 of 10.0 years of Jinder Mahal being the most boring WWE Heavyweight Champion
Match #6: Bobby Roode vs Dolph Ziggler
First off, kudos for Dolph Ziggler for actually pulling off the “I have no ring entrance” routine. I loved it because it fit well into his storyline. Also, Bobby Roode’s Glorious theme music is excellent. The match itself? It was okay, I guess.
Both Dolph Ziggler and Bobby Roode are excellent athletes and exceptional in-ring performers but I can’t really say they poured their hearts into this match. As this was Bobby Roode’s first pay-per-view event, I expected more from him and for The Show Off to let his opponent show us some Glorious offense. They did do their roles but the action just wasn’t as lively as I wanted it to be, especially for a match that featured a guy named Glorious in it. Things did pick up during the closing moments, though, but it was a case of too little, too late.
The finish came soon after Ziggler connected with a Fameasser for a 2-count. The Show Off signaled for Sweet Chin Music but Glorious ducked underneath and connected with a spinebuster. Roode tries to use his DDT finisher but Ziggler countered with a rollup, which Roode kicked out off as well. This let to a beautiful sequence where both Ziggler and Roode tried to steal the pinfall victory via a rollup while holding on to their respective opponent’s tights. Roode eventually came up on top with the pinfall victory but The Show Off retaliated for the loss by connecting the victor with a ZigZag.
I felt the match would’ve been much better if it was a little bit longer as the going got good only during the final moments. I also didn’t like that Roode won only to get his lights knocked out by a cheap shot as it doesn’t help him at all.
Rating: 5.5 of 10.0 Glorious ring entrances
Match #7: Shane McMahon vs Kevin Owens in a Falls Count Anywhere Hell In A Cell Match
I fully expected the action to spill out of the Cell for two reasons. One, it’s a Falls Count Anywhere so obviously anywhere would include out of the Cell. And second, and the most obvious reason, is that it’s a match with Shane McMahon. Of course he’s going to do something crazy. And, just as predicted, he did!
The match started off really well as it even started outside the Cell! It eventually rolled into the ring and both Owens and Shane kept the intensity going. There was actually minimal use of weapons as only the ring steps, a garbage can and a table were brought out. That didn’t mean that it was lame. Far from it! The Cell itself was used really well, as Owens rubbed Shane’s face into the fence and Shane even jammed Owens’ crotch into the Cell’s door! Of course, when the fight spilled into the outside, the ring announcer’s tables weren’t safe from the carnage.
The scariest part of the entire match had to be when KO and Shane O’ Mac took the fight to the roof of the Cell. Each time either of them slammed into the roof from a body slam or a powerbomb, I winced a little, hoping we wouldn’t see something as disastrous as Mankind smashing through the roof and into the ring before. Thank God for modern engineering! I will say that the spots on the roof felt a little long and drawn out, though. It was thrilling but I felt they took too much time there.
The finish was kind of confusing and obviously was set up so viewers would have to watch Smackdown this week. After Owens was sent crashing through the Spanish announcer’s table, Shane didn’t go for the pin. Instead he laid Owens’ lifeless body onto another announcer’s table and climbed to the top of the Cell. Shane then leapt off the top of the Cell to smash Owens but Sami Zayn, of all people, pulled KO out of the way! Zayn then dragged Owens on top of Shane to get the pinfall victory.
As much as I loved this match and all of the carnage it had, I just think it was a little too long. It was fine while watching it but, looking back at it, it could’ve been trimmed down to keep it more exciting. It even looked like Shane was out of breath and exhausted when the match reached the top of the Cell. It was a fantastic match, to be sure. But if it was a tad shorter, it would have been excellent.
Rating: 8.0 of 10.0 tune in to Smackdown moments
Overall rating for WWE’s Hell In A Cell (2017):
This year’s Hell In A Cell matches were great; the rest of the matches were generally just okay, however. It really hurt the entire pay-per-view that Jinder Mahal is still retained Smackdown’s biggest title. It was a good event but not a great event because of those “okay” matches not helping to elevate the entire show.
Rating: 7.0 of 10.0 excellent use of Hell In A Cells
What did you think of this year’s Hell In A Cell pay-per-view event? Let me know in the comments section below!