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…
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.
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