It’s a day later than normal, but since I’ve only just got back from an amazing weekend in Germany there’s nothing I can do. You will all have either watched or seen the results from Raw’s exclusive PPV event Hell In A Cell, but here is my run down on all the matches. What I liked and what I didn’t like with one or two rants along the way.
US Title: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Rusev (HIAC)
The US Title match opens the show, it’s the first of THREE Hell In A Cell matches. I said in my predictions that I think by having more in one night it waters down the barbaric match. Personally I would only use the match for feuds that need it, having it pop up every couple of years. Instead WWE like to have it as a main stay on their PPV calendar, so what can you do.
A mixed reaction for Roman Reigns, still getting a lot of boos but it’s nowhere near as bad as it was around Wrestlemania season. So I suppose this feud has been working slightly by positioning Reigns as a patriotic American. Being English though, this gimmick doesn’t work for me and I still see him as the overly smug, infuriating ‘babyface’ he has always been. After all, Reigns interrupted and embarrassed Rusev during his wedding celebrations and I’m supposed to cheer this simply because Rusev is Bulgarian? No Dice. “Let’s go Rusev, Rusev sucks” and “Let’s go Reigns, Roman Sucks” chants show how the crowd are still split between both men as well.
The match is slow paced and methodical as both men try to wear down the other. That’s a polite way of saying, kinda boring to be honest. The crowd want tables but the duo can’t deliver them because those spots are saved for the later matches. Which is exactly the problem with having multiple matches in one night, having to share the spots reduces the potential for each match.
This match is given the steel steps, a chain and a kendo stick to use as their principle weapons. But wait, I hear you ask. How much damage would a kendo stick or chain do to Roman Reigns when he’s wearing his protective vest? While I’m not saying it wouldn’t hurt, I am saying it surely won’t hurt anywhere near as much.
Rusev play the role of heel well while denying weapons spots. He refuses to set up a table when the crowd chant for it. He also refuses to hit Reigns for a 10th time while the crowd chant along. Good work.
The final spots of the night involve Rusev locking in The Accolade on top of the steel steps (which hurts more I guess?) with a chain wrapped around Reigns mouth, being wrenched back (definitely would hurt). Of course, Reigns is too tough too submit when he’s having his lower jaw ripped off and escapes, or rather Rusev lets him out completely for no reason. A quick spear later and the match is over.
I realise my opinion on Roman Reigns will obviously have an impact on how I viewed this match but taking that out of the equation it was still very much standard Hell In A Cell match for this era. Rather bland.
Bayley vs. Dana Brooke
I don’t really have anything to say about this match to be honest. It was an okay match but the crowd weren’t that hot for it. It’s not been the most amazing feud so far by any means. Just a by the numbers mini feud to keep everyone busy. And since Bayley needs to be kept busy until she enters the title picture this is a good use of her time and she needs the wins.
Chris Jericho interrupts Stephanie and Foley
With arguably the biggest pop of the night, Chris Jericho interrupts the ramblings of Mick Foley and Stephanie McMahon about their Survivor Series matches against the Smackdown. Jericho might just be the most over man on the roster right now and he’s not even in a feud with anyone. I’m hoping that we will get a rivalry between Owens and Jericho and maybe, even a short Jericho title run. That would be amazing.
In the mean time though, Chris suggests that he and his best friend Kevin Owens should be co-captains for Team Raw. Which, I actually thought they all ready were based on previous promos with Stephanie. Bizarrely Stephanie and Foley don’t agree with the plan, the fools.
Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. The Club
I love both of these teams. Big Cass and more specifically Enzo Amore are still electric on the microphones. The crowd are insanely hot for them despite the fact their gimmick is effectively ‘loud mouth talkers who don’t win the big one’. Gallows and Anderson however, have (at times showed/been allowed to show) an amazing presence. However, they’ve struggled since debuting with inconsistent booking and awkward comedy gimmicks. Creative can’t decided if they’re a joke or legitimate threats to the divisions.
This was a solid match between two good tag teams and the crowd were up for it as well. Too short to be considered great but enjoyable all the same. Enzo and Cass looked good while The Club still looked dominate at times too. The loss won’t hurt Amore and Cass and The Club were desperate for it. Good work from all involved, but it’s the second match in a row that feels mostly inconsequential.
Universal Title: Kevin Owens (c) vs. Seth Rollins (HIAC)
I know you have to consider the pacing off a wrestling show so that the crowd don’t get warn out by the time the main event is on. I also know that with the Women’s match the main event, the Universal Title had to be moved down the card. That makes sense. I just don’t like having the Universal Title, Raw’s supposedly most important title in the middle of the show. It’s just wrong.
The second of the three Hell In A Cell matches. THREE. Good lord. That’s too many.
It’s got to be said that this match was much better than the first. It wasn’t necessarily quicker paced than the Reigns/Rusev bout but it had little flourishes in between the rests after the big moves. I was never bored and I could understand why things were moving slowly because the rests were deserved. Unlike the opening match which was a slug after just a few punches. It does of course help that Seth Rollins is basically a heavyweight with the ability of a cruiserweight. Owens can do his fair share too, despite being a bigger guy. So this match was always going to have more injections of pace.
Again, the weapons have to be shared out. Rollins and Owens get two tables (in an awesome powerbomb spot) and a fire extinguisher and some nasty sounding chair shots. The fire extinguisher is actually used to blind the referee by Owens so that the Cell door is opened, allowing Chris Jericho to lock himself inside during the referee switch over.
This was a very good Hell In A Cell match for modern standards, however I do think if you’d have cut the HIAC from the US Title match and make it a standard affair, cut 10 minutes from it and give that time and the hardcore spots to this match. It would have been a classic.
Best match of the night by mile so far though. Very well done by Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens and even Chris Jericho. Who proves once again that he doesn’t even have to wrestle to help steal the show.
What’s next for these three men? With no Triple H return, Rollins continues to be in ano mans land. Perhaps we will get that much wanted feud between best friends Owens and Jericho though. Which would be awesome!
Cruiserweight Title: T.J. Perkins (c) vs. Brian Kendrick
Raw has not done the best of jobs introducing the cruiserweight division. The casual fans have no bought into them yet and it makes for some awkward matches. What it does prove is that jumps and flips don’t equal great wrestling for the casual WWE fans. They want characters and stories to sink their teeth into.
The problem is only Kendrick has a character and even that one doesn’t make much sense. He keeps insisting every title match is his last chance, but he’s not in risk of getting fired is he? If he doesn’t win, he can get another chance down the line. He’s not out on his ass. For a story that worked so well in the Cruiserweight Classic, it no longer flies when he lost and still earned a contract for the main show. Meanwhile, Perkins is just so generic that I don’t care about him.
The story of the rivalry and match is Kendrick trying to get Perkins to lie down for him (it’s his last chance after all) but it’s not executed that well and the crowd are mostly silent. Other than one fan shouting that Kendrick should “get a haircut hippy!”.
The match comes to a close after Kendrick fakes a leg injury to sucker in Perkins, only to headbutt him and lock in the Captain’s Hook submission. Again, it shows off Kendrick’s character and the lengths he is willing to go to during his ‘last chance’. Throwing away a friendship to get the victory, but really it just makes Perkins look naive and gullible. Which is not a strong character trait for the babyface to show off, it makes him look very foolish.
It makes sense to put the belt of the experienced veteran, hopefully he’ll be able to help WWE breathe some life into this division and fast. It all starts with characters, something that none of the others seem to have. Maybe he can help them develop some? Also, add Neville into the mix. He could do some magic in that division.
Tag Team Titles: The New Day (c) vs. Cesaro and Sheamus
How many times have The New Day held onto their titles via disqualification at this point? Surely they must be on the verge of turning heel with the amount of cheating they do?
It’s a good match, I’m actually impressed by how much I got into considering I knew Cesaro and Sheamus wouldn’t be winning. Or rather, wouldn’t become champions. I actually thought that they just wouldn’t be able to get along which would cause New Day to pick up the victory.
Instead they were seconds away from Xaiver tapping out before Kofi hit Sheamus with trouble in Paradise. I actually really like the ending. It kept Sheamus as a heel, after all he did hit Big E with the trombone behind the referees back, and it keeps the love/hate relationship between him and Cesaro going.
At this point I do just want to get to the point where New Day break the title record so that we can switch things up in the division again. There’s a number of stagnant teams just waiting in the wings not being able to do anything while this run occurs.
Raw Women’s Title: Sasha Banks (c) vs. Charlotte (HIAC)
Now that, was a very good Hell In A Cell match. For men or women. The story line was their to justify it too, which adds so much to the equation. I’ll save you a third verse of ‘put all the spots together to make one insanely good match’ , to be honest this was brutal enough without those other spots.
While the Cell is being lowered, Charlotte attacks Sasha. They tease climbing to the top, but the resulting exchange is Banks being powerbombed through the announce table. Medical staff come down to help take her away but just as Charlotte is being declared the new champion via forfeit she jumps back off from the stretcher and insists on fighting. Great stuff!
The story of the match is Sasha bad back with Charlotte constantly working on it. In truth, excluding an awkward table spot mid match and a rather sudden ending just as it looked as they were building to another one, it was a fantastic match.
Really proud of both Sasha and Charlotte for putting on such a great showing for the first ever women’s Hell In A Cell match. Honestly, it’s match of the night. Everything came together for this one. It had everything.
I will say, I am surprised Charlotte won. I thought Sasha would retain these two would go their separate ways for a little while. Thinking about it, it makes sense if they’re moving Bayley into the title picture but they could do anything really. One of the best things about the Raw women’s division is that it’s so unpredictable. Yes some people while complain about the title switching hands too often, but right now. I don’t mind it.
Overall, Hell In A Cell 2016 was a pretty good show. A distinct improvement from Clash of Champions. Two title changes, two good Hell In A Cell matches. It had its duds though; the Cruiserweights are struggling, Reigns/Rusev was boring and Bayley/Dana Brooke was flat too. The crowd at times were great though, especially for the big moments that mattered.