It’s sad that Hell In A Cell doesn’t feel like a big deal anymore. Once upon a time, those four words were a source of giddy excitement. Now? It’s just another gimmick match. A glorified cage which has had more duds in recent years than greats. Let’s dish out those stars.
The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso) defeated The New Day (Big E and Xavier Woods) to win the Tag Team Titles in Hell In A Cell
This feud has single-handedly kept SmackDown watchable in recent months, and they’ve been rewarded by once again having to prop up the show. The New Day’s attitude coming into this was perfect. They were still themselves – dancing and grinding their way to the ring – but when they got on the mic they got serious. This had become a fight, and they were ready to bring it.
The match then took off at a sprint and never hit the brakes. The early dives to the outside made fantastic use of the cage to enhance their brutality, while even the weapon spots felt fresh. Then there was that Doomsday Device, damn Big E will be feeling that today. This is the first Hell in a Cell match in years that actually used the structure in fresh and exciting ways.
Basically, it was wonderful. It built on everything that these teams have done in the past and amped it up. The only downside was that some of the fans in attendance were more interested in chanting for tables than appreciating what was happening. This has been one of WWE’s feuds of the year, and now it has one of the matches of the year to go with it.
Verdict: Four And A Half Stars
Randy Orton defeated Rusev
This happened. The finish was executed well.
Verdict: One And A Half Stars
Baron Corbin defeated AJ Styles and Tye Dillinger to win the US Title
According to Corey Graves, Baron Corbin has ‘scary acceleration’. He should start using it because he plodded through this match with all the urgency of a hungover sloth. Despite that, he’s apparently being let out of the dog house. There’s nothing positive to say about that.
The match itself started with a fun encounter between Styles and Dillinger. Those two have good chemistry, and when they were in the ring together things picked up. Sadly, Baron then took control, and you’re a better person than me if your mind didn’t wander.
The one upside to this whole thing is that it allows Styles to get out of the mid-card picture. SmackDown should be built around him and if WWE insists on persisting with Corbin, then the further away the Phenomenal One is, the better.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
Charlotte defeated Natalya by DQ so Natalya retained the SmackDown’s Women Title
These two have had good matches in the past, but the opening to this one suggested they’ve been hanging out with Corbin backstage. I like well-executed chain wrestling and this wasn’t that. Just as it felt like the match might pick up, we got the lazy finish. Uninspiring stuff.
Verdict: Two Stars
Jinder Mahal defeated Shinsuke Nakamura to retain the WWE Title
Jinder Mahal is a bad wrestler. Shinsuke Nakamura is a fantastic wrestler but is unmotivated when working in matches he doesn’t consider worthy. They are not a good combination.
The opening to this match made me wonder whether I had been a bit harsh on Corbin. Mahal’s period of control bored everyone in the arena to death, and I was sorely tempted to fast-forward. Nakamura did succeed in bringing the action up a notch and managed to wake at least a few people up, yet it wasn’t enough to make this anything better than poor. Go home Shinsuke, please go home.
Verdict: Two Stars
Bobby Roode defeated Dolph Ziggler
I used to be an ardent member of Team Ziggler. I thought he had star power. It’s safe to say that ship has sailed. Creative has to take some blame for his failure to get over, but at the end of the day, Dolph hasn’t been good enough.
Which also works as a review of this match. It wasn’t good enough. Roode getting the win made sense, however, he did it in a heelish fashion (despite being the babyface) and was laid out ten seconds later. That hardly counts as a great introduction to the main roster. Bobby’s entrance will be the only part that 95% of people remember.
Verdict: Two Stars
Kevin Owens defeated Shane McMahon in a Falls Count Anywhere Hell In A Cell
It took about ten seconds for Shane to start dishing out those awful strikes. Does he think they’re good? Does he watch tape of himself wrestling?
That complaint aside, this began as a decent plunder match. It went far too long (no match involving Shane needs to be nearing the 40-minute mark), but Owens and Shane are both fantastic in that environment. Dickhead ‘don’t make me hurt you’ Kevin Owens is one of my favourite wrestling characters.
Of course, that was always going to be the appetizer before the main event, and we all knew where this match was going. To the top of the Cell. Business really picked up when both men were slugging it out up there. Every impact made you flinch, as you didn’t know if it was going to give way or if someone would fly off the side. You can’t call it great wrestling. You can call it exciting, and both bumps off the Cell were sickening.
WWE had one more trick up their sleeve too, and we got the Sami Zayn turn that a few people had predicted. I still think Zayn is the best babyface WWE has, so I’m not sure about this. However, he wasn’t getting a chance doing that, so why not give him a run as a heel? It can’t be much worse.
Overall, this match had a lot of issues. As I predicted, Shane was the one who came out the other side looking strong, and he lost due to a mistake rather than because of Owens being good. However, the big moments more than made up for that, and you can guarantee there a lot of people excited for SmackDown on Tuesday.
Verdict: Four Stars
This was an alright show bookmarked by two very different Hell In A Cell matches. The Tag Title Cell was about innovation and excitement, while Owens and McMahon were all about the spectacle and the image of them battling on top of the Cell. I don’t know if this show brought back the mystique of Hell In A Cell, but it was a step in the right direction.