Hell In a Cell was only four matches long coming into today. The, approximately 90 minutes before showtime, five extra matches were added. This means that over half the card will be filled with spot holders. Let’s see how the show fares.
Becky Lynch (C) def. Sasha Banks – RAW Women’s Championship (HIAC Match)
I must say that I am surprised by the result of this match. Everything in my soul was telling me that a new change of the guard in the women’s division was upon us. Everything as being set up for a win by The Boss, but The Man persists.
I don’t know about you, but I loved this match for a variety of reasons. First, it started out with some clever imagery. If you don’t remember the first women’s Hell In a Cell match from three years ago, it started out with Charlotte attacking Sasha before the match started. Here, Sasha turns the table and tries to do the same against Becky.
However, what really puts this match over the top is the creativity. Sometimes, Hell In a Cell matches get downgraded to being just hardcore matches with a cell trapping them. That was what many people said about Jeff Hardy and Randy Orton’s match last year. This match had the proper balance of creativity while using the structure itself.
It was also beautifully brutal at times, with Sasha working over Becky’s arm on the door of the cage, or using items to create set pieces along the side of the cell. Everything was clicking during the entire match, and they kept the crowd engaged for about 25 minutes. I don’t know where Sasha goes from here, or even where Becky’s reign will take her. However, this was an absolute banger if you ask me. Beautifully done and well executed. ****1/2
Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan def. Luke Harper and Rowan – Tornado Tag Team Match
Well, I guess that makes me 0 for 2 in my predictions. I was surprised that one of the four announced matches of the night came directly after the other. A Hell In a Cell match, especially brutal ones, are tough acts to follow. So this had to be a prolonged sprint, and I’m happy to say that this match accomplished that and more.
This match had the proper pacing and energy the entire match. Harper and Rowan were very formidable as a duo and worked as a team to cover their bases. I think we also take Harper for granted too much. How many big men do you know of that can beautifully execute a Dragon Suplex and suicide dives.
The spots onto the outside were pretty rad as well, and those are always good for a crowd pop as well. I wasn’t convinced the to can replicate the energy of the first match, but I give them all the credit in the world for giving it a shot. About as great a follow-up match can get. ***3/4
Randy Orton def. Ali
When you follow up matches with the intensity of the first two with Orton’s slow, methodical offense, you’re usually asking for trouble. Fortunately, I don’t think this one was too bad. Yeah, it was kind of slow and dull at times, but it actually picked up pretty well towards the end.
This match also featured one of the best reversals to an RKO you’ll probably see. There’s not really much to add to that other than that it was okay as a spot holder but nothing special until we reached the finishing sequence. **1/2
The Kabuki Warriors def. Alexa Bliss (C) and Nikki Cross (C) – WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship
Um, heel Asuka and Kairi? About damn time. Why every match doesn’t end with Asuka going full Tajiri is beyond me, but I’m a fan of the move. This was another match that was announced at the last minute, and I believe it was good for the time given.
The women’s tag team championships haven’t meant much since its inception, primarily because it is barely featured on television. Asuka and Kairi especially have been grossly misused and barely visible on television this year. Maybe this match will signal a changing of the guard and have them featured anymore.
Anyways, the match was pretty solid featuring some heel psychology by the Kabukis. It’s pretty odd seeing Alexa as a face and Kairi as a heel, but here we are. The title change was the right move, and it came in a pretty solid effort overall. **3/4
The Viking Raiders and Braun Strowman def. The OC by DQ
Whatever. All this match did was to build up Braun for his confrontation with Fury tomorrow, but none of this was interesting. I am so tired of The OC and the Raiders fighting each other, and I’m tired of Styles being put into these throwaway matches.
On top of all of that, they couldn’t even do a finish. What purpose does a DQ serve here? I guess this did what it needed to do, but I didn’t really like it. *
Chad Gable def. Baron Corbin
It appears that they were trying to replicate the intensity that their first two matches brought. While I don’t think Gable and Corbin reached it there that time, I do commend the effort. However, I am going to say this right now.
WWE is beating this “Chad Gable is very short” thing into the ground. Every time WWE catches onto something popular, they just beat it into the ground until it is no longer fun. Remember when Titus fell under the ring at The Greatest Royal Rumble last year, and then we kept seeing them trying to repeat that moment for weeks on end?
The worst part is that it’s not even funny. It’s just an observation. Chad Gable is shorter than your average male, we get it. Stop reminding us with horrible puns.
Anyways, the match wasn’t as good as their past ones, but it was pretty okay all things considered. I’m not exactly a fan of the 50/50 booking though. You have Corbin look like an excellent performer for the first time since he’s been on the main roster throughout the King of the Ring Tournament. Since then, he’s been ducking out of matches and getting emasculated by Becky Lynch.
WWE needs to do a much better job of maintaining momentum on stars they build up. Otherwise, why give them accolades to start if you’re just going to have them look weak right after? **
Charlotte Flair def. Bayley (C) – Smackdown Women’s Championship
Personally, I’ve seen Bayley and Charlotte done much better than their performance here. However, considering that Bayley and Charlotte’s match at Clash of Champions lasted about 2 minutes, this is an instant upgrade.
This outcome was pretty easy to see. With the draft, you want to start out with your aces in tow, and Charlotte Flair as a 10 time Women’s Champion makes perfect sense to represent the Smackdown brand.
The character work by Bayley was pretty good here, as she gradually got frustrated that her previously underhanded tactics didn’t work, and how everything came falling down on her towards the end.
Overall, another decent effort, but I’ve seen better. You’d think a 10th title in for Charlotte would have more drama. **1/4
The Fiend def. Seth Rollins (C) by DQ – Universal Championship (HIAC Match)
I almost feel sick to my stomach having to type that. A DQ victory. In a fucking Hell In a Cell match. I can understand situations where you could do a No Contest, like they did last year with Brock Lesnar attacking everyone (even though I hated that finish too).
But you literally call for the bell and give The Fiend a freaking disqualification victory? INSIDE FREAKING HELL IN A CELL?!
Let’s start from the beginning. I appreciate what they were trying to do with the dim lighting and the ominous red spotlighting. However, not only was it hard for me to see personally at times, but I’m pretty sure someone sitting in the nosebleeds at the event would have trouble seeing certain things too.
It was also kind of painful to look at as I had to dim my eyes at time. A good idea in theory, but lacking in execution.
Now, the actual match. Good heavens, where do I even begin? You’d think that this was a simple formula for WWE to follow. They got it right on the money at Summerslam.
Have Bray look ominous, have him dominate with destructive offense, have Finn get a desperation flurry, and then have the match end. You could have just done a marginally elongated version of that match here.
Instead, not only were The Fiend and Seth evenly matched, but Seth started to actually dominate Bray. After Seth hit what appeared to look like approximately 25 finishers, Bray kept kicking out. So then, I thought to myself that they are just having Bray look unbeatable to lead up to the finish.
But NOPE! What do they do? They have Seth continuously pummel Bray to a pulp as if he is trying to physically beat a demon out of someone. And then, it gets even worse. I witnessed what had to be the saddest scene inside of a freaking Hell In a Cell match ever. We actually saw a referee….TELL SETH TO STOP ATTACKING BRAY as if he’s some kind of therapist.
Allow me to explain something to all of you. This is a freaking Hell In a Cell match. It’s literally named after the dwelling place of Satan himself. It is meant to inflict pain, agony, suffering and mental turmoil. Feuds are decided, rivalries end and legacies are born. Yet you have a referee tell Rollins that he is being too violent.
Randy Orton put a freaking screwdriver right through Jeff Hardy’s earlobe last year with pieces of his leg dangling from his side because of the violence that took place, and we didn’t hear a word. But let Seth place some weapons on top of Bray and grab a screwdriver, and that’s a bridge too far? Complete bullshit. There is no other way to describe this.
This was about the easiest match to book. Just have Bray look dominant, and have him win with little difficulty. That’s it. Now, even if you wanted to do a no contest, you don’t do it because Seth is being too violent. You should be stopping the match because Bray was too dominant. Instead, we had referees and the stretcher out for Bray, when it should have been the other way around.
What’s even worse is after the fact, Bray just pops up like it was nothing, and everything ends with how RAW has ended the past three weeks, with Bray choking Seth out. Why couldn’t have this been done in the ring?
All of this had WCW booking and Vince Russo written all over it. You take something that should be simple and do the complete opposite. I had my concerns that something like this would happened, but I predicted The Fiend would win.
I never thought the day would come where WWE would start handing out DQ victories in a Hell In a Cell match. Hell, the Sasha/Becky match at Clash of Champions ended in DQ and it naturally led to a match where you couldn’t win by a DQ for Pete’s sake.
Now, if you wanted to keep Seth as champion while protecting The Fiend, how about not booking the match? Instead, you book yourselves into a corner by debating how you can book a match between Seth and The Fiend that doesn’t have The Fiend looking weak and Seth leaving as champion.
The only outcome that would have been worse than this garbage would have been if Seth won flat-out. With the way the match was going towards the end, with The Fiend getting no offense in, it sure was shaping up that way. Instead, we get this BS mini-storyline about Seth questioning his morals and surviving.
In theory, you can say all is not lost and that they can still put the title on Bray. And after all, Bray did end the PPV with the upper hand, so that counts for something? Yes, but now the dynamic is all ruined. We were all expecting to see a mauling by Bray.
Instead, it was him who got mauled and what makes him special has now been greatly diminished as a result. If you’re not going to have Bray win the title in a HIAC match, how are you going to do it? A street fight? A steel cage match?
The loud AEW chants that rang across the arena is all the signs that you need to know this was an abject failure. Anyone who knows me I love Seth as a performer, but WWE was way off the mark here. The match was garbage and the finish was complete shit.
I don’t know how WWE gets off doing some of these stupid booking decisions, but they really ought to be ashamed of themselves on this one. We should have known better than to trust WWE ith a gimmick like Bray’s. This one gets the full negative monty. -*****
You know, for a PPV that only had four official matches announced as of two hours before showtime, this was looking like it was going to be a secret gem. The opening match was terrific, and the tag match that followed was well done.
However, once we got to the impromptu matches announced at the last minute, the show completely nosedived into oblivion culminating in one of the worst finishes you will ever see on a WWE PPV.
The show peaked after its first two matches, and while there were some individually good moments after the first two matches such as Ali’s RKO counter and Asuka going full Tajiri, it is simply not worth spending two hours on. And don’t get me started on that finish.
Watch the first two matches on the show, then shut the TV off. Thumbs way down for Hell In a Cell 2019. A disqualification finish inside a Hell In a Cell match. Excuse me, I need some whiskey.