I hate to say it but the entire allure of Hell in a Cell has fizzled out for me. It used to be a big thing before. A once-in-a-while event which had implications of a rivalry so heated, it needed to be contained in the Hell in a Cell. The WWE just had to make it a yearly event so it’s not a big deal anymore. When you have an entire pay-per-view named after the match, of course you expect there to be at least one Hell in a Cell match during the show, right?
This year, they upped the ante by giving the “WWE Universe” 3 matches which take place in Hell in a Cell. One match that didn’t need to be one and the other two warranted its use. However, before we get to those matches, I do like to talk about the non-Hell in a Cell matches because, well, they weren’t all that great.
The absolutely worst match of the night was Bobby Lashley of The Hurt Business against… Slapdash of RETRIBUTION. Right off the bat, this is not how to promote RETRIBUTION, a rebellious team who was supposed to run roughshot on the WWE. This was a team you would expect to dominate or, at least, be scary. Instead we have The Hurt Business simply dominating them at every turn! This didn’t change with Bobby Lashley going against “the guy with the funny mask” from RETRIBUTION.
I can’t really say all that much about the match itself because it felt so lackluster, with Lashley simply putting the hurt on Slapdash. Lashley locks on the Hurt Lock for the submission finish. This is when the rest of RETRIBUTION tried to double team The All Mighty… but Lashley actually fends them off easily! Mustafa Ali tries to get some licks in but retreats when the rest of the Hurt Business rush in to “save” Lashley.
This was a poorly scripted match as it only served to make RETRIBUTION look like chumps since, even with the numbers on their side, couldn’t take down Bobby Lashley! What’s even worse is Slapdash only got some offense in. If he at least hurt his opponent somewhat badly and Lashley had to eke out a win, Slapdash would’ve looked good. Instead, this match made him look weak and helpless. Very pointless match.
Almost as pointless is Jeff Hardy vs. Elias. The feud itself just feels very artificial, with Elias basically ribbing into Hardy’s substance abuse issues. Didn’t we already have this with his feud against Sheamus? Anyway, this just felt like a typical bout you’d see on either RAW of Smackdown. The action was good but nothing memorable.
The finish had the action spilling to the outside. Elias then went for his guitar and brandishing it like he was going to strike Hardy. The Charismatic Enigma managed to stop Elias with a gut kick. Hardy then got the guitar himself and smashed the instrument over Elias head. This led to Hardy being the one to use the guitar as a weapon as he struck Elias with it. This led to Hardy’s disqualification and a win for Elias.
The finish does facilitate the feud will continue and I’m betting their next confrontation will have some kind of stipulation. My money will be something like a guitar on a pole match or something silly like that. Either way, this was just an okay match but, as there wasn’t any heat behind it, I just couldn’t get into it.
The final non-Hell in a Cell match had Otis putting up his Money in the Bank briefcase on the line against The Miz. This was actually a rather fun match because the child in me likes Otis’ antics and, believe it or not, I do think The Miz is a great character and is able to draw heat from the crowd really well. This did make the entire match rather entertaining as a whole. The finish, though? Meh.
The finish had Morrison getting thrown out because on trying to cheat. The Miz was then left all by his lonesome but he still had help… from Otis’ Heavy Machinery partner, Tucker. The Miz tried to crawl out of the ring and this mangled the ring apron, distracting the referee. This allowed Tucket to bean Otis with the Money in the Bank briefcase under the official’s nose. A shocked Miz takes the opportunity to pin Otis and he gets the three count, making him the new Money in the Bank holder.
I’m of two minds regarding this. I always thought giving Otis, a member of a tag team, the Money in the Bank briefcase was a mistake. Sure, Miz is part of a tag team right now but he still works well as a singles competitor so giving it to him works better. I guess this was also the reason why they had to break up Heavy Machinery as Otis already grew out of the tag team mold and does feel ready for a singles run. However, I just don’t like the screwball finish as there weren’t anything hinting about a breakup in the first place. It’s just too abrupt yet, at the same time, very predictable.
We now go to the first Hell in the Cell match proper featuring Roman Reigns facing off against Jey Uso… in an “I Quit” match? This is just weird, even if it is for the WWE World Championship! Either have a proper Hell in a Cell match or an I Quit match! Despite this issue, I really liked this match because of some really good in-ring storytelling all throughout. There were some incredibly brutal spots, with Reigns going all out at delivering the pain to Jey, even going to the extent of doing his drive-by dropkick to the steel steps… which Jey’s head was sandwiched in between the steps and the ring post! Really good spot as it looked deadly while still keeping the Uso relatively safe.
There were a few things I didn’t like but they’re just nitpicks for the most part. I didn’t appreciate them using their real names instead of their in-ring names. I know it’s supposed to add more drama because “look, it’s all real now” and stuff like that but I don’t think anyone bought that for a second. I also do find it strange the Thunderdome makes it easier for viewers to listen to what the Superstars are saying. I think the pantomiming is part of what makes wrestling a unique form of entertainment. Actually hearing what they’re saying destroys the illusion for me a little.
The finish here was both brilliant and dumb. Basically, Jey was knocked unconscious but Reigns wouldn’t let up. This led to Jimmy rushing to the ring to try to talk some sense into Roman Reigns. After seemingly calming everyone down and tending to “Josh, fool!” on the mat, Reigns locked a guillotine headlock on Jimmy. Jey regained consciousness and, seeing his brother in trouble, said I Quit to end the match. This has Reigns retaining his WWE World Heavyweight championship. Afterwards, Afa and Sika, put a red lei around The Tribal Leaders neck to signify he is indeed the leader now.
I like the ending in general as it was a smart way to get Jey to submit without him looking weak. On the other hand, I saw this a mile away. The instant Jimmy ran into the ring, I knew my prediction was going to come true. I do think it’s a nice touch about the lei, signifying Afa and Sika accept Reigns as the “tribal leader” and all. I do wish they did it in the ring with Jimmy and Jey having to bow down to Reigns. Also, I have to reiterate, why have it in Hell in a Cell when it’s an I Quit match?
The match for the WWE Universal Championship featuring Drew McIntyre and Randy Orton did make full use of the Hell in a Cell rules. They did all the standard stuff, like throwing bodies into the walls of the cage and even using weapons as well, making it feel like an actual Hell in a Cell match. There was some good in-ring psychology with Orton targeting McIntyre’s jaw for the majority of the match as well as trying to take out The Scottish Psychopath’s right leg to limit the use of the Claymore kick. MyIntyre did look impressive as well, showing off how powerful he is
The finish was rather cool. Orton used bolt cutters to break the door lock and then goaded McIntyre to the top of the Cell, McIntyre obliged, only to be knocked down with a bat The Viper hid on the roof of the Cell. Both wrestlers started climbing down and trying to smash each other off the wall. Orton was the one who succeeded, sending McIntyre plummeting through the announcer’s table. It’s a cool spot but it’s something we’ve all seen done better so I’m not sure if I’ll remember it in the future.
Afterwards, Orton goaded McIntyre back into the Cell and signaled for the RKO. McIntyre, even with blood pouring out of his mouth, countered with a Claymore kick. Unfortunately, the force of the kick knocked Orton out of the ring. The Scottish Psychopath rolls Orton back into the ring and attempts a second Claymore but Orton avoids the kick and connects with an RKO to become the NEW WWE Universal Champion.
I did really like this match but I do think the middle portion felt a little slow and too methodical. There was a lot of spots which used the Cell and No DQ rules to the fullest and I do appreciate that. I do kind of wish they did do something creative besides the old and reliable “smash a guy through the announcer’s table from a height” gimmick a lot of Hell in a Cell matches have had but it wasn’t a bad finish.
We now get to what is match of the night, in my humble opinion. This had Bayley defend her Smackdown’s Women’s Championship against Sasha Banks in Hell in a Cell. I’m glad they finally pulled the trigger on this feud because it was a loooooong time coming! Thankfully, Bayley and Sasha Banks put on a heck of a show in this Hell in a Cell match, even if there were a couple of guffaws.
It’s very hard to do something creative in a Hell in a Cell match because, like I said, the WWE has overused the gimmick match quite a bit. Yet, Sasha Banks and Bayley did some things that made it feel fresh while utilizing the rules to its fullest extent. They used a lot of weapons like kendo sticks, chairs, tables and ladders to great use. Some of them were things like draping the kendo sticks in between the ring steps and the cage wall and using the table as a ramp to nail a meteora to a helpless opponent trapped in between the table and the cage wall.
There was a lot of good back and forth between the performers, which made the entire thing unpredictable. There was no way to really know who was going to win and what was the moment things would come of a close. Speaking of which, the finish was really good. After The Boss tosses The Role Model into a ladder with a Bayley-to-Belly and just getting a two count, Bayley counters with a Bayley-to-Belly of her own for another two count. Bayley then goes for another Bayley-to-Belly but while using a chair. Banks reverses the move and twists it into a Bank Statement using the chair as extra punishment. Bayley taps and Sasha Banks is your NEW Smackdown Women’s Champion!
This was a heck of a match on all levels. Some of the moves looked like they really hurt yet both Bayley and Banks managed to trudge on. Lots of creative spots, which is difficult to do these days! There were a few missteps, like the planned double kendo stick with duct tape which just couldn’t stay sturdy. Bayley knew it wasn’t working so they abandoned it, thankfully. Also, the finish with the chair wasn’t all that fluid since the chair was in the wrong direction but they did cover that up really nicely. Overall, a great match!
Now, let’s have Sasha Banks have a nice, moderately long reign this time, please, WWE? Let’s not get Charlotte to butt in for now, okay?
This year’s Hell in a Cell pay-per-view was a mixed bag of the extreme variety. All the matches that used the titular match were really good while the others that didn’t were kind of awful or not that memorable. I do think it’s worth a watch but skip the ones that don’t include the Cell.
What did you think of this year’s WWE Hell in a Cell pay-per-view? Let me know in the comment section below!