Last night’s WWE PPV event, Hell in a Cell, was marked as a special one, as it was the first time that there has ever been a women’s Hell in a Cell match inside that demonic structure. Not only that, but it was, to my knowledge, the first time that a women’s match has been the main event of a WWE ppv. I know NXT has done it on a couple of occasions, but that’s not WWE proper though, so getting technical this is the first time for that. So, it’s obvious that the women’s Hell in a Cell match was phenomenal, but how was the rest of the card? Was it better than the episodes of Raw leading up to this, the second Raw only ppv event of the new brand split? Keep reading, and you’ll see.
So, for starters, I didn’t watch the pre-show, as I watched Hell in a Cell today, just a little while ago, and didn’t want to sit through more show than I had to in case that the show wasn’t that great. So, this is just going to be covering the show that was advertised, that started at 8 pm yesterday evening.
Match 1: United States Championship Match: Roman Reigns(C) vs. Rusev (Hell in a Cell Match)
We started our show with what Michael Cole said was to be the first of three main events this evening…I don’t think Michael Cole knows what a main event is, it closes a show, it’s the headlining attraction…not the opening act. I’m aware that it’s marketing, and likely what Vince told him to say in his ear, but logically, it makes zero sense. A main event does not start the show..well I guess Smackdown also forgot that logic at No Mercy earlier this month with it’s title match starting off the show. But, I digress.
The match itself was what you would expect between a match between Rusev and Roman Reigns, a mostly plodding affair, with a few cool spots, and some decent at times back and forth between the two heavyweights. My main problem with this match, and the leading up to it, was there was no storytelling setting up the match, no vignette recap montage to let those who just tuned in why these guys are fighting. There was a little bit of setup by the commentary team, but for all intents and purposes the match to me felt like an exhibition match more than a professional wrestling match that was telling us the story of these two men’s battle over the title, which is what really gets me invested in a match, is storytelling. This is what made me a wrestling fan all those years ago was the storytelling, not the athletics. I love a great athletic match, but if there’s no storytelling involved, then I’m only half invested, as I was here, where I mostly tuned out except for the bit at the end where Rusev had Reigns in the Accolade with the chain over his mouth, that was pretty great, even if we had seen it before with John Cena a year ago, it still worked. And if a chain is to be Rusev’s signature weapon like the sledgehammer is to Triple H, then I’m cool with it. All in all, it was a mostly forgettable affair, let’s just hope this storyline is over with at this point.
Winner: Roman Reigns
Match Rating ** 1/2 stars
Match 2: Dana Brooke vs Bayley
We then go into our second match of the night, Bayley vs Dana Brooke. Again, no montage/recap, so I wasn’t as invested as I could have been here, but I’d been watching this story develop on Raw the past few weeks, so I was more invested here than I was with the Roman v Rusev stuff. Great work by Dana Brooke here, they really establish her here as a force unto herself, and moved her away from being merely Charlotte’s sidekick, I like where this is going. Bayley turned it around right at the end with a lucky Bayley to Belly suplex, but Dana Brooke really impressed me this match regardless.
Match Rating *** stars
Match 3: Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs Gallows and Anderson
This story developed rather quickly leading into this match, so to me it felt that most of the setup for the match was done by Enzo and Cass in their opening promo here, which was hilarious. Calling Gallows and Anderson, Andy and the Big Gal, and this was some hilarious mic work from Enzo and Cass, who, as always can get the crowd behind them and entertained with their shtick, and it’s some great stuff.
The match itself was impressive as well, some good back and forth work by both teams, Cass kind of carried the match a bit for his team, as is the usual case, and Gallows and Anderson picked up the win in the end. This story is just starting between these two teams and I look forward to seeing where they go with it next.
Winner: Gallows and Anderson
Match Rating: **** Stars
Match 4: WWE Universal Championship Match Kevin Owens (C) vs. Seth Rollins (Hell in a Cell Match)
So, now we get to our second main event of the evening, the Universal Title match. I was excited about seeing this here, as this meant for sure that we’d have Sasha vs. Charlotte closing out the show. This is one time that I’ll be okay with putting the main title of a show being defended in the midcard in an occasion like this.
The match itself did indeed get a montage in front of it, which helped it’s storytelling setup in my opinion, but the two men in that ring told the story just as well with their actions as well. It was not as brutal as say, an attitude era Hell in a Cell match, but that’s okay as we don’t need that type of bloody action anymore, but it was still a great PG version of a Hell in a Cell match. I liked the setup work done as well by Kevin Owens, setting up things with the tables that you just waited to come into play, and when they did, it was a sight to see.
Of course Chris Jericho (Kevin Owens’ best friend) had to get involved with the match as well, costing Rollins the title in the end, and then further cementing his heel status by giving a Code Breaker finishing move to Seth Rollins as the match was over, just in case people were going to wonder if they were going to turn Jericho to a good guy since he’s been getting over with the crowd with his “List of Jericho”. It may still happen, but they still want us to wait for…………….it. Him and KO have been the most entertaining things on Raw not named The New Day or Enzo and Cass in recent weeks, and I look forward to seeing where this storyline goes.
Winner: Kevin Owens
Match Rating ***** Stars
Match 5: Cruiserweight Title Match: TJ Perkins (C) vs. Brian Kendrick
I’ve been a huge fan of them bringing back the Cruiserweight division on Raw, and for the most part it’s been successful. I’ve liked that they’ve eased into more storytelling than the initial exhibition style of matches that we saw in the championship and in it’s early beginnings not long ago, and the main story that’s been told is that of this title match rivalry between Brian Kendrick and TJ Perkins.
I’ve been onboard with this, but it seems that the story only has so much going for it, as they just kind of repeat the same segments over and over again in the backstage stuff, and that is Brian Kendrick as TJ’s mentor when he was starting out wrestling on the indies back in the day, and they used to be great friends, but now Kendrick’s kind of shady and will do whatever it takes to get that title back. It’s cliched stuff we’ve seen a billion times before, and the quality of the matches are good, the story they’re telling isn’t as good, not as deep as it could go.
The match itself was really great, but this shallow storytelling kind of holds things back for me as a fan. In the end Kendrick wins with the trope of feigning an injury to distract his former friend into being able to beat him. Kind of saw it coming, but was an okay way to keep this story moving forward. They need better writers in this division though.
Winner: Brian Kendrick
Match Rating: ****
Match 6: Raw Tag Team Title Match The New Day (C) vs. Sheamus and Cesaro
I’m still not entirely convinced why putting Sheamus and Cesaro as a Tag Team was a good idea, but here we are nonetheless. I’m a fan of both teams, but there’s only so much that can be done with a team that was just put together a month or two back, New Day were entertaining in their opening promo, but it felt forced, cheap pops, etc. I’m hoping that Anderson and Gallows get another shot and take the titles from them soon. They’re starting to wear the New Day shtick thin, and I say this as a fan.
Match itself was okay, nothing memorable really here, and New Day retains the titles via disqualification.
Winner: New Day
Match Rating: ***
Match 7: Raw Women’s Championship Match Sasha Banks (C) vs. Charlotte (Hell in a Cell match)
And now for the moment we’ve all been waiting for. These two, Sasha and Charlotte, are basically the women’s version of the Stone Cold and The Rock. Two women who just happen to be the best at what they do, who came up around the same time. The matches these two have put on over the past few years both on NXT and on the main roster have been the stuff of legend. And this is why they are the main event tonight.
The match almost didn’t get started, as Charlotte quickly attacked Sasha, throwing her out of the ring as the cage was being lowered. This gave them the opportunity to battle on the outside a bit, throwing each other into the crowd and onto the announce table, and even attempting to climb the cage Mick Foley and Undertaker style. It didn’t get to quite that level, as Charlotte powerbombed Sasha to the floor from just a bit up, but this still damaged her back and the match (storyline wise) almost couldn’t go on, taking a play from the Mick Foley handbook.
Charlotte was nearly declared the winner by default, but Sasha fought her way off the stretcher and back into the ring to start the match proper. And from there we had one of the best matches I’ve seen on Raw, women or men, in a long time. The risks and the lengths these two put each other through…just amazing. This match made the show in my book. And even if these two never fight each other again, it was a hell of a way to cap off a rivalry. But they’re still young, yet, we’ll see these two go at it again sooner or later.
All in all, the show was a mixed bag, but the great stuff really elevated the not so great stuff. Final Rating: **** out of ***** stars. I’d watch it again. If only for the Sasha v Charlotte match.