The early build to Hell in a Cell 2018 continued with this week’s episode of SmackDown Live and the first steps toward promoting the blue brand’s contributions to the card.
Piggybacking off the Monday Night Raw breakdown, we need to shift our focus over to the SmackDown roster and the storylines going on for that show.
Some things are guaranteed at this point and others are pure speculation, so for these extended projections, we’ll be examining all of the current feuds and the possible ways they could twist and turn to set up potential matches for Hell in a Cell 2018 in the best guesses we can make.
Before it’s all fully fleshed out, I invite everyone to sound off on which directions they think WWE will go so we can look back and see what we were right and wrong about in our predictions.
Let’s dive into what’s going on right now…
WWE Championship Match
Very clearly, Samoa Joe and AJ Styles aren’t done feuding. This was obvious coming out of SummerSlam to begin with, as their match ended in a disqualification, but it was further cemented by having Joe attack Styles during his interview with Renee Young.
Whether this ends up being a Hell in a Cell match itself or just another regular match is still unknown, but you’d have to assume they’d put the two in the cage, because it’s going to be there and a regular No DQ match would seem superfluous.
Let’s just hope that this isn’t some “custody papers on a pole” match with AJ’s kids on the line.
Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella vs. The Miz and Maryse
This one is actually already confirmed, as SmackDown started with an in-ring promo from The Miz and Maryse, talking some trash about Daniel Bryan.
After Bryan came out, he was followed by Brie, who went on the attack, punching The Miz and sending the heels away, but not before Bryan announced that Paige had signed off on a mixed tag team match between the two married couples at Hell in a Cell.
It’s amazing that sometimes, like this example, WWE goes with the most logical step, but in other instances, can go through so many convoluted methods to try to avoid that. Speaking of which…
SmackDown Women’s Championship Match
Carmella is going to receive her rematch against Charlotte Flair for the title next week, but the bigger story is the Becky Lynch heel turn.
Despite the fans overwhelmingly supporting Lynch over Flair not just at SummerSlam when the heel turn happened itself, but also on SmackDown, WWE is ignoring that and trying to push the story that The Irish Lass Kicker is the one we should be booing. They even went out of their way to have the rest of the SmackDown women’s roster come out to break the two up from a fight and have only the heels hold Lynch back while only the babyfaces held back Flair, just to illustrate to people where the alignments are.
For the record, WWE isn’t wrong to try to say that Lynch is the bad one here. She attacked her friend after the match. Clearly, that’s a heel thing to do. However, when the audience isn’t willing to consider that person a villain and they feel the same slight toward Flair enough to boo her, the company should be more willing to go with the flow and flip the script.
That’s unlikely to happen, and I’d bet that at Hell in a Cell, we’re either getting a heel Becky Lynch (who gets cheered) against a babyface Charlotte Flair (who gets booed) in singles competition for the title, or something happens with Carmella’s match next week that forces Paige to put all three together in another Triple Threat.
United States Championship Match
Shinsuke Nakamura cut one quick backstage pre-recorded promo where he said that he’s over with Jeff Hardy, but absolutely no hints were given as to who his next feud will be with. There aren’t a lot of options right now, unless people get called up from NXT, and there is a rumor that EC3 might be coming up at some point next week, but whether or not that has any validity to it is anybody’s guess, and even if it were true, he might go to Raw or he might be placed in a feud with someone else, rather than fighting for the United States title.
Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton
For some reason, Randy Orton was thrust into a feud with Jeff Hardy while WWE felt the need to keep the Shinsuke Nakamura thing going, leading to the awkwardness at SummerSlam.
That’s in the past. Move on, pal. Ignore it and forget it, essentially, because the Hardy and Orton issues are continuing and that’s clear.
The two faced off on SmackDown and the match ended in a disqualification, which saw Hardy kicking Orton below the belt before the two started to brawl outside the ring.
A match between the two at Hell in a Cell was rumored over the past several weeks and it seems as though that’s going to happen, with or without some kind of gimmick attached to it.
It’s a little strange that so many feuds are utilizing this Extreme Rules type atmosphere when only a few can be in the cage and it would be redundant to have No DQ matches on a card with Hell in a Cell matches, but we’ll see how WWE plans to keep this distinct—unless there isn’t a plan and these two will just have a singles match and that’ll have to be good enough or, simply, won’t be.
Andrade “Cien” Almas and Zelina Vega / Rusev and Lana and Aiden English
The feud between Rusev Day and Almas and Vega carried over with Rusev and Lana getting a win this time around, partially due to some help on the outside from Aiden English, who actually didn’t screw anything up.
Since they’ve already had so many matches together over the past month or so, it’s hard to believe that we’ll see three more weeks of this feud going forward and then another match in any capacity at Hell in a Cell.
The show simply isn’t long enough in comparison to SummerSlam to find room for something like this on the card, so my best guess is that we see Almas and Rusev face off and Rusev gets another win, which thrusts him into the United States Championship scene while Almas takes a step back and gets a new feud afterward.
SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match
The New Day defeated The Bludgeon Brothers to win their fifth SmackDown Tag Team Championship, which may or may not have been the plan all along, but I doubt it.