Hell in a Cell. The Devil’s Playground. That Ominous Structure.
The place where Mick Foley almost ended his career, where Kane debuted, where Shane McMahon jumped off the roof. What was once the be-all-end-all for wrestling feuds has turned into a piece of set design that WWE trots out every October. This year was no different.
Monday Night Raw was given Hell in a Cell this year thanks to the brand split dividing up the annual pay-per-view shows. Not much has progressed since Clash of Champions in September; Sasha Banks won the Women’s title back while Sheamus and Cesaro’s Best of 7 series led to them becoming a tag team. Monday Night Raw is still pretty dire. I went into this show with low expectations and a negative attitude.
WWE billed the show as having a “triple main event” with Reigns/Rusev, Owens/Rollins and Banks/Flair all being inside the cell. At one point they had announced that the women’s championship match would be the main event only to rescind a few days later. Charlotte vs. Sasha was the first women’s Hell in a Cell match in history and rightfully deserved to main event, but WWE was very wishy-washy about the whole thing. They got cold feet until the day of the show when rumors started to come out that the match would in fact main event the PPV.
Unfortunately, WWE didn’t promote this at all. That’s quite a big deal for the WWE and they could have capitalized on it, but instead just left it up to the fans to tune in and find out what was going on last.
Hell in a Cell had one great match and some memorable, if not questionable moments. On to the show.
Roman Reigns (c) vs. Rusev
Hell in a Cell Match for the United States Championship
The first of three Hell in a Cell matches tonight. This was dull and heatless, similar to their previous matches. More often than not these Hell in a Cell matches feel like a regular match inside of a cell, and this was one of them. They teased table spots and brought in a kendo stick and the steel steps but the cell was nothing more than a set piece. Roman wins after spearing Rusev off the stairs setup in the ring. I am completely over these two wrestling each other and this hopefully looks like the end of their feud. Match Rating: 2/5
Bayley vs. Dana Brooke
I like Bayley. She can have good matches with a good opponent, and Dana Brooke is not one of them. Their feud is boring and is just a way to kill time for them until Bayley can move onto Charlotte. They recently had an arm wrestling match on Raw that was one of the worst segments of the year. This was a lousy match in front of a bored crowd and we’re barely half an hour into the show. We’re off to a rough start. Match Rating: 1/5
Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows vs. Enzo Amore and Big Cass
Tag Team Match
One of the highlights of Raw PPVs is watching Enzo and Cass cut a promo. They get about 5 minutes of freedom every show and it’s always entertaining. This match however, was not. Another pointless feud on Raw where these two teams are just fighting each other until The New Day drop the belts. Another dud of a match with the heels going over. This gets an extra half point for Enzo and Cass’s promo. Match Rating: 1.5/5
Kevin Owens (c) vs. Seth Rollins
Hell in a Cell Match for the WWE Universal Championship
Finally, some meat on the plate. Their match last month at Clash of Champions was lackluster so I had high hopes for their second encounter tonight. They delivered.
This was the match these two were meant to have. It was physical and fast paced and saw both guys shine. Rollins looked like a fiery babyface while Owens resorted to some underhanded cheating to gain his advantage.
Tables get setup outside the ring when Rollins basically deadlifts Owens and sends him crashing.
A fire extinguisher comes into play, the referee gets blasted by Owens, the cell door opens and Chris Jericho comes running in. The match essentially turns into a 2 on 1 handicap match with KO and Jericho vs. Rollins. Rollins beats the hell out of Jericho for a while before getting overpowered. They did a good job of making you believe that Seth may actually have a chance, but he ultimately couldn’t do it. Seth gets powerbombed into a set of chairs and Owens picks up the win. Slightly anti-climactic but all in all this was a great match. I’m getting a little bored with Y2J/KO and Rollins being the title picture so hopefully Survivor Series next month will shake things up a little. Match Rating: 4/5
TJ Perkins (c) vs. Brian Kendrick
Cruiserweight Championship Match
A rematch from last month’s show. This storyline is lame. Kendrick wants Perkins to throw the match and let him win the title since he’s reaching the end of his career and wants one last shot at glory. I enjoyed the Cruiserweight Classic Tournament this summer, but this was not one of those matches.
They had a forgettable match until towards the end, Kendrick feigns an injury to his leg and goads Perkins over to check on him. Kendrick jumps up just fine, headbutts Perkins and taps him out in quick order. Kicked him while he was down. Kendrick wins the belt and another heel wins a match tonight. Match Rating: 2/5
The New Day (c) vs. Cesaro and Sheamus
Tag Team Championship Match
The New Day come out and do their usual schtick with Kofi getting some cheap pops for being from Boston. They switched things up and had Xavier Woods wrestle tonight alongside Big E. Sheamus and Cesaro are doing the bickering odd-couple pairing well enough. I’ve seen worse tag teams.
Not much happened in the beginning of the match. Xavier got to show off some high flying stuff and I was impressed with his performance since he wrestles on TV maybe once every other month. Eventually Sheamus threw New Day’s trombone at them, shenanigans happened outside the ring and Kofi ends up attacking Sheamus for the DQ loss. Sheamus and Cesaro technically win the match while New Day hang on to their titles for another month. They’ll break the record for the longest championship reign in December. I still enjoy The New Day but I won’t be sad when they lose the belts. Another flat finish. I enjoyed this match for what it was, but it could’ve been better with 5 more minutes. Match Rating: 3/5
Sasha Banks (c) vs. Charlotte Flair
Hell in a Cell Match for the Women’s Championship
The most heated feud gets the main event and they more than deserved it. Sasha’s the champion walking into her hometown of Boston. Charlotte’s out for revenge for losing her title. This build up has been pretty decent and has been going since SummerSlam in August.
Their entrances were grandiose and added to the feeling of this match being a big deal. Charlotte, “the Queen,” is carried out on a throne by some Roman Gladiators. Sasha is driven into the arena in an Escalade with her own entourage. Good stuff.
Before the cell finishes lowering and before the match introductions are made, Charlotte goes on the attack and brutalizes Sasha, ultimately sending her crashing through the announcers table.
The bell hasn’t even rung yet and it’s already brutal.
Sasha and Charlotte continue to fight around the ring until Sasha’s back gives out and paramedics come out. She’s hoisted onto a stretcher and everyone knows where this is going. The ring announcer is about to declare that Charlotte wins the title via forfeit when Sasha rises from the dead and again goes after Charlotte inside the cell. The match officially starts.
They went at each other nonstop for at least 20 minutes. Sasha climbed up part of the cell and kneed Charlotte to the floor. Tables and chairs were brought out and it looked like these two were out to kill each other. They did such a good job with the physicality that it almost felt like an action movie.
Charlotte targets Sasha’s back for most of the match while Sasha does an Eddie Guerrero tribute set. They set up and teased more table spots and went into some submission holds Some of the tables didn’t break and their spots had to either be redone or skipped and moved on to the next one. Something felt off towards the end and this match started to fall apart, as if their plans had been cancelled and they had to improvise. Weird feeling.
A table is set up in the corner of the ring where Charlotte tries to launch Sasha through it a couple times but it never breaks. Sasha just rolls off, Charlotte hits her finisher and wins clean. This completely killed the crowd who came to see their hometown hero win tonight. When the referee counted three you could hear a pin drop. Charlotte, the heel, didn’t cheat to win or do anything to really rile up the crowd, she just hit her move and won.
What a horrible ending to what started out as a great match. I really enjoyed the first 15 minutes or so. It was intense and ruthless and truly felt like they were out to do something great. This felt unlike anything I’ve ever seen before in a women’s match and made it feel unique. It’s unfortunate that it fell apart towards the end and that the finish of the match killed it dead. Sasha and Charlotte were well on their way to a classic, but horrible booking decisions prevailed. Match Rating: 3.5/5
Similar to Smackdown’s last show, No Mercy, this show felt like another experiment. Since WWE didn’t promote the main event it seemed like they would just put in on last without any fanfare and see what happens. Owens and Rollins was great but wasn’t quite enough to salvage the rest of Hell in a Cell. The main event was widely panned and polarized from the criticism I’ve seen with some people claiming it as a match of the year contender with some calling it the worst match they’ve ever seen.
Charlotte and Sasha deserved to main event and went all out to have the best match that they could even with some hiccups. If Sasha would have won and the show went off the air with the Boston crowd going nuts, WWE could have really had something classic to put in the history books. They blew it.
by Nate Dimit (@ndimit)