WWE Hell in a Cell 2016 in Review
With Halloween on the horizon, what WWE event would be more appropriate than Hell in a Cell. I guess if they brought back the old WCW event, Halloween Havoc, but until then, we have this. With the Goldberg Lesnar match already taking prominent space on the Raw card, this event seemed nearly forgotten, short of the history making WWE Women’s title match in the Cell. That complacency showed with this event, as it seemed to be one of the more weak events of the year.
Match 1: Roman Reigns (Champion) v. Rusev in a Hell in a Cell match for the United States Championship
Starting with the Cell match I was least looking forward to, but ended up being pleasantly surprised. Right off the bat I’ll hit the one negative I had: this match shouldn’t have been in a cell. I get that the Event dictates that, but that’s a bad reason to have this match gimmick, and all these guys really needed was an Extreme Rules match. There were points where these guys were fighting outside the ring where it looked like the cell restricted them, and the space they would’ve gotten outside would’ve made this smoother. That said, these two, predictably, beat the hell out of each other, with some nice spots involved. Rusev seemed to convincingly have Roman beat with The Accolade locked in with a chain across Roman’s mouth, a spot that looked as if Roman’s jaw would come off. Also, Roman really fought a nice babyface match here, coming back from the brink. Even though the Superman Punch may be anti climactic, his spear is solid, and he’s an incredible athlete. If you’re a fan of Attitude Era brawling, this is the match for you. Reigns pulls out the win, and both come out looking strong.
Winner and still US Champion: Roman Reigns
Match 2: Dana Brooke v. Bayley
Just like I pointed out with the Smackdown events, I love expanding the women’s divisions to finally have some strong undercard and midcard storylines, and that’s exactly what we get with this match. While there wasn’t a huge amount of buildup for these two, the simple fact of Bayley being a pure babyface, and Dana Brooke being an incredibly strong heel just makes this work. This match was placed in a bit of a tough spot, as the crowd was still recovering from the intensity of the previous match, but these two put in a solid technical match. We know Bayley is a solid worker, so there’s more of that here, but I’m continuously surprised by how much I enjoy the role that Dana Brooke is in. She’s just an excellent heel, you love to hate her, and her time as Charlotte’s “lacky”, for lack of a better word, worked perfectly for her character. Even though Bayley got the win here, I’m high on both of them coming out.
Match 3: Enzo Amore and Big Cass v. Anderson and Gallows
Both these teams have a ton of steam coming into this match. Enzo and Cass cannot be any more over, and as long as people remember the Bullet Club’s existence, there’s going to be an aura around Anderson and Gallows. In this match, however, I was left feeling that it was by the numbers for these guys. Enzo and Cass hit all there spots, there were no glaring mistakes, and Anderson and Gallows got a much-needed win; but there was nothing truly memorable about the match. I was left feeling that this probably isn’t the end of the feud, and I have no doubt that they can put on a better match in the future.
Winners: Anderson and Gallows
Match 4: Kevin Owens (Champion) v. Seth Rollins in a Hell in a Cell match for the WWE Universal Championship
The expectations for this match were through the roof, and, as much as it pains me, I would be lying if I said it met those expectations. Let’s be clear, this was a good match, and these two, especially together, are more than likely incapable of putting on a bad one, but the presence of the cell loomed over them. This feud, and these two, don’t really need the totality that the cell provides, and it got in the way of the spots and story they were trying to put on. That said, the usage of Jericho coming into the cell, and locking the door behind him, gave the gimmick at least some meaning. All in all, there were nice spots, such as propping the table against the cell and putting Owens through it via powerbomb. As well as the finish, which had a near indie feel when Owens powerbombed Rollins through two set up chairs, but I left this feeling that the feud needed to continue, and that shouldn’t be the case with a Cell match. As long as these two are as good as they are, however, I’ll take whatever WWE wants to give.
Winner and Still WWE Universal Champion: Kevin Owens
Match 5: TJ Perkins (Champion) v. Brian Kendrick for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship
This match, and everything around it, is really quite troubling when looking at the macro sense of Cruiserweight wrestling in WWE. Say what you will about TJ Perkins winning the title, which I did in previous reviews, but this feud between him and Kendrick has gone from transition to a more WWE style, into a bit of a slog. Perkins hasn’t really developed much of a character short of just being a good guy, and the style these guys are wrestling, some high spots but mostly mat based, isn’t anything different from majority of the card. Since so much of the roster is smaller and incredibly athletic, we get some high spots in most matches nowadays. Also, when you have a cruiserweight undercard with guys like Rich Swann and Cedric Alexander, who perform truly insane spots, this feud, and match, pale in comparison. With Kendrick pulling out the win by tricking the all too wholesome Perkins into thinking he was injured, the division gets a solid heel. It’s up to WWE now to put him up against a crazy athletic and hugely high spot guy like Alexander, and give them some time, to truly establish this division as lasting.
Winner and New WWE Cruiserweight Champion: THE Brian Kendrick
Match 6: The New Day (Champions) v. Sheamus and Cesaro for the WWE Raw Tag Team Championships
To be upfront, I went into this match expecting to be a little bored. Thankfully, that was absolutely not the case. As The New Day inch closer and closer to the record for length of Tag Title reign, it comes as no surprise that they won this match, but the battle against Sheamus and Cesaro, and the finish of this match, were perfect. After the best of seven series that ended in a classic draw for Sheamus and Cesaro, these two are the epitome of reluctant partners, and their skill shone through in this match. We all know Cesaro is one of the best technical wrestlers today, but Sheamus continues to impress, and this match proved that it wasn’t just Cesaro carrying him at all. In terms of The New Day, this gave them a legit opponent on their way to the record, and proved that they themselves are bona fide tag team stars at this point. While Cesaro and Sheamus, appropriately, clashed as a team, The New Day flowed in tag maneuvers in just the way you’d want from the top of the division. With Shaemus costing his partner a victory by getting DQ’ed as Cesaro was making Woods tap, their feud is clearly coming to a head, and I cannot wait.
Winners and Still WWE Raw Tag Team Champions: The New Day
Match 7: Sasha Banks (Champion) v. Charlotte in a Hell in a Cell Match for the WWE Raw Women’s Championship
Let me make this clear straight away, there is a whole lot to unpack with this match, and while I’m going to try to get to as much as I can, I’m sure I’ll miss something. First of all, this is historic in multiple senses. Namely, this is the first Women’s Hell in a Cell match, and this is one of if not the first PPV event headlined by a women’s divisions match. In that sense, this was a truly awesome moment in WWE history. I can think of no two better wrestler’s to make this statement, and I can only hope this will lead to a full integration of the roster, so there are no longer a separate women’s and men’s division; but I realize that’s a pipe dream. This match started off intensely, as Charlotte attacked Sasha as the cell was lowering, pushing the fight to the announce tables and not allowing the bell to actually ring yet. In that brawl, a vicious powerbomb was given to Sasha, breaking an announce table, and she looked to be unable to continue. It was clear, at that moment, that they were heavily homaging Foley, which was a nice touch. The match was incredibly brutal, and these two used the cell to the best degree from any of the matches tonight. Most importantly, they told an incredible story, as they both clawed for that victory, pulling out all the stops. That said, the finish of this match was incredibly underwhelming. Part of that can be from a table that just wouldn’t break, not matter how many times Charlotte threw Sasha onto it in the corner, but even with that it would’ve been left wanting. I can see what they’re hopefully doing, this feud needs to go to mania, where Sasha will finally get that affirmation as champ, winning of Charlotte, but this match also really needed thatt moment. For being as historic as it was, and it being in Sasha’s hometown of Boston, if she did pull this out, it would’ve been one of the most powerful moments in WWE history. The crowd is rarely behind anyone like they were Sasha, and it needs to be a taken advantage of. That said, I get the story, and I can’t wait for these two to continue, but I’m left cold.
Winner and New WWE Raw Women’s Champion: Charlotte
And that was Hell in a Cell. Definitely not the best event of the year, but some high spots involved. I’ll say this every month until it happens, but it’s time to get rid of separate divisions based on gender; the talent demands it.