WWE Hell in a Cell 2016 Commentary

WWE Hell in a Cell 2016 Commentary

Raw is back for their second brand exclusive pay per view and to be completely honest, Smackdown has been blowing Raw out of the water on a weekly basis. So to counteract that, Raw has set up three Hell in a Cell matches tonight. Personally I hate these gimmick-centric pay per views as it cheapens the importance of the respective match. WWE can go on and on about Mick Foley and The Undertaker inside Hell in a Cell all they like, but now the cell is just something that happens every October, regardless of whether the rivalry in question finds it necessary. Anyway, since I’m not in charge of WWE (and I’ve been told repeatedly that I am not) this is the way things are. Let’s dive into the show and see how people fared inside the ‘Devil’s Playground’.

Kicking off the show is Roman Reigns defending the United States Championship against Rusev inside Hell in a Cell. This rivalry has been frustrating to watch, mainly because they’re miscast. Roman Reigns crashed Rusev and Lana’s wedding celebration, made crude jokes and pushed the bride into her own cake. Rusev then tries to defend his wife but keeps losing at every turn. Believe it or not, Roman Reigns is supposed to be the good guy in this scenario! The only reason Rusev isn’t is probably because he’s Bulgarian and WWE hates foreigners (which is what I’ve become accustomed to believe).

This match was super dull. I’ve been seeing praise for it online but I just don’t understand it. Going twenty four agonising minutes, you could have easily cut ten minutes out of this match and it would have been serviceable. The majority of the match was just these two big guys clumsily throwing each other into the fence. You got a little more variety when chains and stairs were brought into play but nothing terribly fascinating. Reigns speared Rusev off the stairs to retain his title and I was left wondering why I didn’t sleep in for an extra half hour.

Moving on to Bayley vs. Dana Brooke and a few weeks ago on Raw, Dana managed to score a win over Bayley. But when people called it a fluke, she took offense to it and challenged Bayley to another match, this time arm wrestling. It was a little hokey, but I guess it wasn’t terrible. Bayley has been casually treading water on Raw since her debut, with WWE aren’t wanting to rush anything because they (along with everyone who has a pair of eyes) sees money in Bayley’s journey to the top. This leads us to this match between the two women.

Despite my feelings on the previous match, the live crowd seemed really excited by it. Being there in person really does give you a different perspective on how you feel about a match or show. I know because I left WrestleMania 32 this year thinking it was fantastic, when in reality it was only okay. But the crowd in Boston was noticeably silent in this match. Going a little over six minutes, Bayley gets the clean win with the Bayley-to-Belly.

To say that Gallows & Anderson have been struggling since losing AJ Styles to Smackdown would be a major understatement. Shortly after, they became doctors and started making jokes about testicles and continuously lost to New Day over and over again. After the losses, Gallows & Anderson went back to being the serious, physical team they were when they debuted. So it’s back to square one for those two and the same can be said for Enzo & Cass but the only difference is that their characters haven’t changed, which is a good thing. Enzo & Cass have been on a losing streak in big matches too, but they are so incredibly popular that losses don’t hurt them nearly as much. This match is basically about not wanting to sink lower in the rankings.

The match that occurred was fairly plain. Nothing was particularly bad about it, it was just there. Gallows & Anderson pick up a much needed clean win with the Magic Killer.

So a little over two months ago, Triple H cost Seth Rollins the WWE Universal Championship and literally handed it to Kevin Owens. Since then… NOTHING HAS HAPPENED. No developments in that story, no extra Triple H sightings and now Stephanie McMahon has stopped actively denying her involvement. So even she is bored with that story. The main focus has now moved onto Kevin Owens and his friendship with Chris Jericho and Seth Rollins in the background struggling being a babyface for the first time in a long while. Tonight, Kevin Owens defends the WWE Universal Championship against Seth Rollins inside Hell in a Cell.

An absolute polar opposite to the first Hell in a Cell match of the night, in that this one was good. There was a lot of inventive use of the cell and it’s surroundings. Midway through the match Kevin Owens “accidentally” sprayed the referee with a fire extinguisher. This allowed the door to be opened for a new referee to be swapped over and while it was open, Jericho snuck in and it became a pseudo handicap match. Rollins powerbombed Kevin Owens through two tables on the outside which was by far the move of the match. After continued interference by Jericho, Kevin Owens powerbombed Rollins through two chairs and retained the Universal Championship.

Post match, Chris Jericho hit Seth Rollins with the Codebreaker for good measure. This match was fantastic despite all the shenanigans, but shenanigans is what makes Hell in a Cell what it is. But once again with no sign of Triple H, I’m not exactly sure what is next for Seth Rollins as he can’t exactly blame the last few months on Hunter anymore. But whatever happens, I just hope Seth improves as a babyface, because the jokes are bad and need to stop.

The Cruiserweight division has been struggling this past month. They are completely segregated from the rest of the roster, they aren’t getting a tonne of character development and their ring style has been watered down from what they were doing in the Cruiserweight Classic. The one good thing to come from this mess is Brian Kendrick, his story of this current run being his last chance is intriguing and he appears to be the only one with a purpose behind him. TJ Perkins on the other hand, his thing is gaming and in every promo he’s done he’ll squeeze in a tenuous gaming reference and make the entire world cringe. TJ Perkins defends his WWE Cruiserweight Championship against Brian Kendrick.

A solid match between these two, going a solid eleven minutes and nothing bad to say at all. People have this preconceived thought about Cruiserweight wrestlers, that they all have to be doing flippy stuff and flying everywhere when that’s not the case all the time. This was a good technical match and finally some story element came into it. Brian Kendrick pretended to tweak his knee and when TJ was checking on him, he gave TJ a head-butt, locked in the Captains Hook submission and TJ Perkins tapped out. Brian Kendrick wins the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.

If you read my commentary for Clash of Champions, you would know that the way the Best of Seven series between Cesaro and Sheamus ended had me furious. It ended in a draw, despite that being what was thought to be impossible and they became a tag team once General Manager Mick Foley forced them together. But after weeks of bickering between the two of them, they became endearing. They fight about the smallest things and it just makes me think they’re going to get married soon. They get their Tag Team Championship match against The New Day tonight and New Day are currently only fifty or so days away from becoming the longest reigning Tag Team Champions of all time.

I went into this match with the expectation that New Day were obviously winning because they’re going to break the record, but WWE made me second guess myself many times. The finishing sequence was picture perfect, Cesaro has Xavier Woods in the sharpshooter and Sheamus clubbed Big E. in the back with New Day’s trombone. Kofi (who was the spectator for this match) hit Sheamus with the Trouble in Paradise in front of the referee to cause the disqualification at the same time as Xavier started tapping out.

New Day retain their championships by disqualification which keeps their record intact and Cesaro & Sheamus have a reason to stay together as they were so close to winning. Sheamus & Cesaro are probably the next Tag Team Champions, but that isn’t happening until New Day break the record.

This is the big one. The women of WWE make history twice in one night as Sasha Banks and Charlotte (who they’re now officially calling Charlotte Flair) are the first women to main event a WWE pay per view and also the first women to compete inside Hell in a Cell. As a long time fan of women’s wrestling, to see this happening is surreal and even fifteen minutes into the match it didn’t feel like it was actually real. Charlotte enters first, being carried in like a queen and Sasha enters her hometown in style with a Cadillac Escalade, reminiscent of her entrance at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn. They do official introductions and the cell starts lowering.

Charlotte blind sides Sasha before the cell is fully lowered and they brawl in the crowd and around ringside. They start climbing the cell and I start to get extremely nervous. Charlotte drops down and she catches Sasha and powerbombs her through the announce table which looked sick…

sasha-table

See? See how sick that looked? After a solid five minutes of pretending to have her stretchered out, Sasha kicks the crap out of some EMT’s and demands to start the match. What followed was twenty minutes of brutality, something that you can’t compare to any women’s match in WWE history. These two absolutely beat the hell out of each other and left it all in the ring. Sadly, a few spots planned with the table didn’t go as planned as it broke early and in the case at the end, didn’t break at all. But outside of that, the match was epic. Charlotte slammed Sasha’s already injured back into a table numerous times before connecting with Natural Selection to become a three time WWE Women’s Champion. Charlotte holds the title up to close the show.

Final Thoughts:

Well, that was an absolutely baffling decision. For the second reign in a row, Sasha Banks’ reign as Women’s Champion ends at just twenty seven days. I’m at a loss as to why they’ve taken the title off of Sasha once again so soon. It’s just a little frustrating because we’ve had Charlotte as champion for the better part of fourteen months and a victory for Sasha would have opened the door for new challengers. But now we’re back to square one again, with Sasha being owed another rematch and despite how good this rivalry is, it’s just not ending.

Outside of the match result which ended things on a bummer, the match itself was stellar. To think how far women’s wrestling has come in two years is incredible. The Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins Hell in a Cell match was also fantastic, but having Sasha and Charlotte close the show was the right call. The rest of the show was pretty good overall with the Cruiserweight and Tag Team title matches being fun affairs.

Only downers were the opening Hell in a Cell match which dragged on for far too long and fairly uninteresting matches from Bayley/Dana and Enzo & Cass/Gallows & Anderson. Outside of those, Hell in a Cell was a success and certainly beats their first pay per view efforts with Clash of Champions.

Final Rating: 7.5/10

WWE No Mercy 2016 Commentary

WWE No Mercy 2016 Commentary

We’re back again! Two weeks removed from Clash of Champions, it’s time to focus our attention on the Smackdown brand as they give us No Mercy. Smackdown continues to bring back names of former pay per views with No Mercy making its return for the first time since 2008, let’s hope that Smackdown doesn’t bring back Taboo Tuesday any time soon. Smackdown continuously nails its shows every week while over at Raw, they’re stalling for time while they think of a way to carry on a simple story. The blue brand is on an absolute roll and hopefully they capitalise on it with this latest pay per view offering.

The main event is kicking us off because everyone will start watching the presidential debate halfway through the show. It’s a Triple Threat for the WWE Championship, AJ Styles defending against John Cena and Dean Ambrose. Something weird has been happening on Smackdown. It’s just providing further proof that the blue brand is a magical place, but John Cena is starting to be cheered again. Meanwhile, Dean Ambrose, who was the internet’s golden boy for the last few years, has been getting a mixed reaction from the crowd. But when you think hard about it, it sort of makes sense. Ambrose has been an utter dick for a few months and is still only okay in his matches. John Cena on the other hand has been putting people over, taking extended breaks which allows us to miss him and so forth. Also, everyone loves AJ Styles. Who’s walking away with the gold?

I think having this start the show sort of helped it. The crowd was hot and ready to go and to have something that they were super invested in really made the atmosphere even better. The match was as good as I had hoped it would be, bell to bell it went a solid twenty plus minutes. Things got unnecessarily complicated when AJ Styles tapped out while Cena and Ambrose both had submissions on him. The match was restarted but it was an unneeded addition to the match. Styles whacked Cena with a chair to retain the WWE World Title.

It was an odd feeling starting a pay per view with the advertised main event, but it gave the show a sense of originality to it. I don’t think I would do it again unless absolutely necessary, but it changed up the usual format and that was fun for just one time. When Styles tapped, I was terrified that they were going to do something stupid and vacate the title. Thankfully it just proved to be an unnecessary spot in an otherwise flawless start to the show. AJ winning with a foreign objective is exactly what his character would do and it was executed perfectly.

Ever since her surprise return at SummerSlam, Nikki Bella has been attacked by Carmella on quite a regular basis. Carmella believes Nikki stole her thunder at SummerSlam as they were in Carmella’s hometown of New York that night. That’s pretty much this entire feud over the last two months. Every week it’s either another attack or someone is on commentary talking about it and they bring up the same points each and every time. The only form of progression this rivalry has had is that Carmella has pinned Nikki in a tag match a few weeks ago.

There’s not much to say about this match other than there was a lot of hair pulling and Carmella yelling for no reason. Carmella is not a polished in ring competitor and Nikki has only been back for a relatively short amount of time. Nikki pinned Carmella in about eight minutes with a TKO which she is now referring to as the ‘Rack Attack 2.0’ as her original move by the same name is what caused her neck injury. By no means technical classic, but enough to probably continue the story for a little longer.

Rhyno & Heath Slater’s pairing has been an unexpected joy to watch for the last few months. Heath is trying to provide for his kids while Rhyno appears to be doing this to fund his canned cheese and cracker habit. The pair became the first ever Smackdown Tag Team Champions at Backlash by defeating the newly turned Usos. The Usos (who had been frustratingly dull as good guys) have become this bad-ass duo who will hurt you just to get what they want, it’s simple and effective. Will The Usos become three time champions or will Rhyno & Heath Slater continue their run of luck?

It’s so weird that Heath Slater has been in two pay per view title matches in a row, this has never happened. Smackdown is a weird and wonderful place. Another match that can be simply referred to as fine. Rhyno & Heath Slater retain in ten minutes and I’m not sure what The Usos do now. The tag division is lacking in a number of areas, The Vaudevillians are being treated like crap for some reason, The Ascension still exist despite my objections, The Hype Bros are just the worst (seriously, I will personally fund the research necessary in order to have Mojo Rawley shot into the sun), Breezango are nowhere to be seen, so all you’ve got left is American Alpha. If I were a betting man, I’d say that Rhyno & Heath Slater probably don’t have much time left in their reign.

Baron Corbin vs. Jack Swagger. Lord almighty do I not care for either of these guys. Baron Corbin has been floating around on Smackdown, not doing a hell of a lot. Jack Swagger recently left Raw to come to Smackdown. Below is an artist’s impression of Jack Swagger and his career arriving on Smackdown.

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So I’m going to be honest, I watched the presidential debate during this time. Corbin won and I don’t think anyone else cared either.

If you had told me six months ago that another Dolph Ziggler vs. The Miz feud for the Intercontinental Title would be one of the best things on WWE television today I would have called you a liar and demanded that you apologise for lying. Following yet another loss at Backlash and then again on Smackdown a week later, Dolph asked for another match with The Miz, who was well within his right to be all “Dude… No. You lost again.” So Dolph had to put something on the line too, his career. The Miz accepts and now we’ve got a Career vs. Title match. The build up to this has been excellent, we’ve seen documentaries, both sets of parents get involved and even The Spirit Squad made a cameo. Does Dolph finally get the big win or are saying goodbye to ‘The Show-off’?

Wow. This match was phenomenal. It had everything you could want from a professional wrestling match. Drama, shenanigans, emotion and quality in ring action. You had interference from the likes of Maryse and some of the guys from The Spirit Squad and each near fall you thought could plausibly be the end of the match. Clocking in at almost twenty minutes, Dolph Ziggler lands a super kick on The Miz and wins the Intercontinental Championship for the fifth time in his career. I don’t have anything else to say other than this should have closed the show. Outstanding.

Originally scheduled for the show was a Women’s Championship match with Becky Lynch defending the title against Alexa Bliss. Unfortunately, Becky was pulled from the show with WWE citing medical reasons for her being unable to compete. Alexa Bliss was given another opponent in Naomi, who is still raving like she’s just inhaled something very strong. A match with no stakes makes for little investment with the crowd and sadly they didn’t really react to this. Naomi rolls up Alexa and scores a win out of nowhere in a baffling decision. Alexa will be receiving her title match in November, so they make her build to that match by losing? I’m a fan of Naomi too, but this is a dumb decision.

Time for our main event for the evening and for some reason it’s Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton. This match was supposed to happen at Backlash, but Randy Orton was still healing from injuries so they had to put it off. Instead, they had Bray Wyatt wrestle Kane in which HE STILL LOST. Bray Wyatt has been the single most ineffective character in recent memory in WWE. He promises all these things, loses and doesn’t react in any way about them. The build to this match has been surprisingly entertaining though with Randy Orton going looking for Bray backstage and he even locked Erick Rowan in a cupboard (okay, he’s probably more ineffective than Bray). Randy Orton is healthy now, so it’s time to actually have this match.

Despite the build up to this match being surprisingly fun, kooky and simply bonkers, this match was anything but that. Basically wasting time for about fifteen minutes, Orton and Wyatt put on a match with an agonisingly slow pace. Knowing that the best of the show was behind us made this match even harder to sit through. In the end, the lights went out, Luke Harper returned and stared at Randy Orton, which allowed Wyatt to take advantage and hit the Sister Abigail to finally get a win. I can’t help but feel like we’ve seen this before… Oh right, because we saw this exact finish when Bray was feuding with Roman Reigns last year. Bray is triumphant as No Mercy goes off the air.

Final Thoughts:

No Mercy was not a bad show, it was not a good show, it was a show. It’s been a while since anyone has said that right? But the sentiment is true, No Mercy had a few great moments and matches but outside of two of them, there’s not a lot to see here. The Triple Threat main event opener was stellar and the Career vs. Title match with The Miz and Dolph Ziggler stole the show. Everything else was just there.

Now, not all of that is their fault. The originally scheduled Women’s Title bout with Becky Lynch and Alexa Bliss and every chance of being another great match to add to the list, but sadly injury kept that from happening and WWE had to improvise. The tag match was fine, as was Nikki Bella and Carmella. Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt left a lot to be desired and Luke Harper rejoining The Wyatt Family is painfully repetitive. Baron Corbin and Jack Swagger can both go away please.

Overall, a dull show lifted up to an okay show by two great matches. Ultimately, it was probably better than Raw’s Clash of Champions by a tiny margin, but it doesn’t fare too well compared to Backlash.

Final Rating: 6.5/10