Hell in a Cell. Four words that if WWE had their way would send shivers down your spine. It’s meant to be the ultimate feud ender. The one that leaves its participants broken, beaten and begging for psychiatric help; which is why holding a yearly event based around the theme feels weird. We’ll ignore that, though, and instead get on with our review of Raw’s latest PPV.
Lince Dorado, Cedric Alexander & Sin Cara beat Drew Gulak, Tony Nese & Ariya Daivari
Remember how exciting the Cruiserweight Classic was? How WWE built the tournament to a crescendo and managed to put on great matches while creating interesting characters? Yea that feels a long time ago now. This match was entertaining; there is no denying that. The fast-paced action meant you kept your eyes on the screen and I love that Gulak and Nese bring a more technical style to proceedings. But – and it’s a big but – until the Cruiserweights are given characters and things to fight for it will mean nothing.
Verdict: Thumbs Up for match quality, thumbs down for treatment of the division.
Roman Reigns beat Rusev to retain the US Title
Roman Reigns got booed fighting a foreign monster heel for the US Title but sure, Vince, he’s obviously your next big babyface.
I didn’t care about this match going into it, and I found it hard to care about it as it was going on. Rusev is one of the best all-around performers on the roster and yet this feud hasn’t clicked for me.
My general apathy aside the two men in the ring put a lot into this match. It was more based around weapons than the cell, and for once I agree with those that say the PG rating hurt this. In a fight where there are apparently no rules Rusev choosing to concentrate kendo shots on Reigns’ body armoured chest made no sense. Despite that, The Accolade with the chain was an excellent image and in a perfect world that would have been the finish to the match. Of course, Reigns must look strong and Vince’s refusal to give up trudges on.
Verdict: Thumbs in the middle, a lot about this match annoyed me, but the talent pulled through.
Bayley beat Dana Brooke
All the apathy I had for Reigns and Rusev could probably transfer over to this feud too, except this feud has Bayley, and I love Bayley.
On paper, this match-up should work. WWE need to capture Bayley’s underdog spirit and to have her go up against the bullying Dana Brooke is a good place to start. However, Dana is still a year or so away from being a top-tier talent and it’s hurting what happens here.
The crowd didn’t seem particularly into it, and it made the whole match feel flat. Dana did an excellent job of focusing on the injured arm, and Bayley sold it well, but it wasn’t enough. All things said, this was nothing special, but it did the job it was intended to do.
Verdict: Thumbs up, because, you know, Bayley.
Anderson & Gallows beat Enzo Amore & Big Cass
Enzo was a bit too close to the mark in his evaluation of Gallows & Anderson before the match. Since coming to WWE, they’ve struggled to find momentum, and while they are apparently reverting to their ass-kicking roles, it might be too little too late.
It is, however, why it made perfect sense for them to go over convincingly here. Enzo & Cass are stupidly over and can take a defeat at the moment. The match itself was alright but didn’t feel like something that needed to be on PPV. In saying that, I like both of these teams and enjoy watching them wrestle.
Verdict: Thumbs up for the result and a solid encounter between two good teams.
Kevin Owens beat Seth Rollins to retain the Universal Title
I was going to write about how weird it is to have a Universal Title feud that is so heavily reliant on the champion and his best friend but as this is our first one maybe it’s not. Maybe all battles for the big red belt will follow a similar theme.
I remember reading Mick Foley talk about how his Hell in a Cell match with Triple H started off quite flat. The problem was, everyone in the crowd knew it wasn’t going to finish until they had made their way to the top of the cell. He’d set a precedent in his match with Undertaker, and they had to live up to it. This match had a similar problem except here everyone was waiting for someone to get involved.
Whether it was going to be Chris Jericho or Triple H we all knew it was coming. I’m not sure if we would have guessed it would come around after Owens accidentally extinguished a referee, but there we go.
Despite that anticipation, the match was building up nicely. Owens and Rollins are two guys who can be relied on to go out there and steal the show nearly every night, and this was no different. Even the way they badmouthed each other throughout fit perfectly with their characters, and I could watch these men feud forever. The powerbomb through the tables was a great example of a safe but devastating looking spot.
I would have preferred Kevin Owens to go over Seth Rollins clean and look a stronger champion because of it, but that was never going to happen. If you step back and ignore the long-term booking, this was an entertaining match that did exactly what it needed to do.
Verdict: Thumbs up for a hard-hitting and entertaining cell match even if the interference was predictable.
Brian Kendrick beat TJ Perkins to win the Cruiserweight Title
To give WWE credit, they have tried to give Kendrick and Perkins a story to work with; unfortunately, it’s one where they’ve made Kendrick seem pathetic.
Which might explain why the crowd didn’t give a damn, they didn’t sit on their hands during this match; they went to sleep. I get that these are long shows, but Cruiserweight wrestling should never receive that reaction.
To make things worse, not only have they made Kendrick look pathetic but they followed up in this match by making Perkins look stupid. In a sport where you are supposed to beat your opponent into submission who the hell stops when they are injured? Despite that, I’m glad Kendrick has got the belt. The division has better faces than heels at the moment so having them chase a bad guy champ makes sense.
Verdict: Thumbs down, less for the match quality and more for the state of the division.
Cesaro & Sheamus beat The New Day by DQ and New Day retained the Tag Team Titles
With the constant mentions of Demolition’s record, I think we can now assume that’s where New Day are headed. It makes sense I guess, although I don’t think they quite have Demolition’s credibility.
This match is also the latest in a long run of situations in which the face New Day have used heelish tactics to come out with the belt. It’s maybe not a huge deal, but they did the same against Anderson and Gallows and WWE seem to ignore it.
Anyway, this was another alright match. Nothing special but entertaining enough. I like Cesaro and Sheamus as a partnership, and I hope they eventually get on the same page and have a run with the belt, if for no other reason than WWE seems unlikely to do anything else with them.
Verdict: Thumbs down for an average match with a babyface team pulling off a heelish finish.
Charlotte beat Sasha Banks to win the Women’s Title
I’m not sure how I feel about WWE failing to promote that this match would go on last. On the one hand, it’s a historic event already and not mentioning it puts across the idea that it was never in doubt that it would take that spot. WWE’s women’s division hasn’t truly been revolutionised until we stop talking about the revolution and it becomes the norm. On the other, having two women main event a WWE PPV is a big deal, and they missed a chance to sell it.
Either way, as a fan it is hardly the biggest deal and what is more important is how the match went down. We all know that these two can put on a great show, but the real question was how they would use the cell to their advantage. What I didn’t expect was Charlotte taking them outside of the cell straight away. It was a nice touch, and it made sense in what was supposed to be a highly personal feud. The powerbomb through the table was also a well thought out spot, it incorporated the cage but didn’t require anyone to do anything stupid.
This also gave them free rein not to use the cell as much in their match. They did a good job of working it into a few spots, but it wasn’t the focus of the match. Charlotte’s aggressive assault on Sasha’s back/neck was, and considering the way this feud has been built that made perfect sense.
A lot of people are going to be upset that Sasha lost but by putting such an emphasis on the back injury it gave her an out. A long time ago I spoke about how WWE should book Charlotte like Ronda Rousey, have her dominate on before someone finally stands up and takes her down. Whether it was deliberate or not her PPV record now means she is in that position and hey, hey I want some Bayley.
Verdict: Thumbs up, Sasha and Charlotte were thrust into a history-making spot, and they rose to the occasion.
Hell in a Cell was a good show, but it wasn’t a great show. It will go down in history because of where Sasha and Charlotte were positioned, but apart from that everything else kind of went exactly as we would have guessed it would.
It was also another very long Raw PPV. There were a couple of matches here that felt like TV bouts, and I genuinely think this show would have been improved by cutting them. SmackDown has been keeping their PPVs tight, and Raw could learn from that.
Despite all that, I can’t help but be happy after watching this show. Two women were given a chance to headline a WWE PPV, and they not only grasped it but once again stole the show. If nothing else had happened last night, that alone would make this legendary.
Final Verdict: Thumbs up, a lot of this show felt predictable, but the main event will go down in history for all the right reasons.
– Someone needs to explain the concept of a Main Event to WWE. You can only have one; it’s literally what it means.
– Chris Jericho’s list is more over than a lot of the roster.
– Steph and Mick’s self-congratulatory backstage segments are horrifically cringe.
– So WWE have taken one of the things that made SmackDown unique and given it to Raw too? Sounds about right.
– How brilliant is it that Kevin Steen and Tyler Black fighting for a WWE Title on PPV is now the norm? Well played those men.
-I’m officially bored of New Day’s shtick. I don’t dislike them, but I want to see a bit less of them for a bit.
-Charlotte is Raw’s best heel at the moment. This was also Sasha’s best babyface performance, yet.
-There were a few moments in the main event where WWE was showing highlights while important stuff happened in the ring. A rare mistake from their production team.