Now between you and me, I prefer Smackdown over Raw. For me, the Smackdown product has better storylines and wrestlers than Raw. Mind you, that’s not to say that Raw doesn’t have it’s fair share of talent (Braun Strowman and Finn Balor spring to mind), but it just feels a little overstuffed at the moment. That being said, Smackdown PPVs have been fairly lacklustre of late (with Battleground apparently being voted one of the worst PPVs ever – though I thought it was ok) so Hell in a Cell had a lot to prove. But BOY did it prove it big time! I would actually go so far to say it was the best PPVs of the year!
As Simon from Whatculture would say - “Why? (slaps head) here’s why!”
So as always, I didn’t see the pre-show, but if you’re interested, Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin beat the Hype Bros. Also during the show we got treated to another Fashion Files, which I must confess I am finding quite funny now, despite thinking Breezango being annoying as hell. But anyway, onto the matches.
Kicking off we had the Hell in a Cell match between the New Day and the Usos – and boy was this match awesome! It was one of the strongest opening matches I think I’ve ever seen – so much so that I was worried it would shadow the rest of the event. Both teams gave it their all, hitting each other with everything they could. We got the lot – chairs, kendo sticks (I don’t think I’ve seen so many kendo sticks in one match!) and even a trumpet was used as a beating weapon! There were some absolutely savage spots that included spears into the cage, into the steps – and even into each other! The New Day had a fiery new attitude here that counteracted their normally upbeat attitude, but it worked! They even trapped Jimmy Uso (or is it Jey? I can never remember which one is which) which kendo sticks in the corner – which they later repaid by trapping Xavier with handcuffs and beating him senseless.
In the end the Usos won with a double splash to capture the titles again – but I actually didn’t WANT this match to end. It was savage, intense, but most of all – awesome! The New Day and Usos have arguably had some of the best matches of the year and this just tops it! With Usos the new tag team champions (again) one has to wonder how things will go from here. But as far as an opener, this is what showed us what we are in for.
Next we had Rusev versus Randy Orton. Not much to say about this one, as I don’t really care much for this rivalry. It was a decent match with a predicable ending – Randy hitting his RKO outta nowhere – but at least it was better than their ‘match’ at Summerslam.
Originally only intended to be AJ Styles versus Baron Corbin, Tye Dillinger was included into the match late on to make it a triple threat – having embarrassed Corbin on the last Smackdown. It made for an interesting dynamic in this United States Championship match as all three gave it their all. Even Corbin, who has been pretty boring as of late, had an intensity in this match. It had the usual back and forth between three men, before Styles used a Phenomenal Forearm to end Dillinger – but before he could make the pin, Corbin came in and stole the victory, becoming United States Champion. Considering he lost out to the WWE championship by failing to cash in his Money in the Bank contract, this could potentially set Corbin on a dominant path – if he gets the right push. Ironic that since Tye was in the match he actually cost AJ his title – seeds for a possible rivalry maybe?
The Women’s Title match was next, featuring Charlotte and Natalya. Kinda an old school playback to two classic enemies – Flair and Hart. You probably heard how Ric Flair had to be rushed to hospital earlier this year and Charlotte was on a journey to ‘make her father proud,’ so there was at least a lot of emotional weight going into this battle. Both these two have battled more than once so they knew each others moves like the back of their hands – but an injury to Charlotte’s leg early in the match (not sure if it was legit or not) caused a lot of problems for Charlotte. After attempting a moonsault into Natalya outside the ring and hurting herself, Natalya hit her leg with a chair to get herself disqualified. Kind of a cop out – but one has to wonder if Charlotte really did injure herself and this was an improvised ending. Either way, felt like the match never really had a chance to get going, but it was also pretty decent.
One has to wonder where Carmella was though – considering she still has her contract to cash in.
The match I was most looking forward to (other than the main event) was Shinsuke Nakamura versus Jinder Mahal – mostly cause I REALLY wanted Nakamura to win! This whole rivalry has had nothing behind it, save for a few racist remarks Mahal made about Nakamura (which the WWE Universe have rightly slated, mostly because it made Mahal look like a hypocrite after all his ‘people don’t care about diversity’ speeches, but also because racism isn’t cool). So this was Nakamura’s chance to get some payback. And WWE had to just **** it all up!
To be fair the match itself was damn good – Nakamura always has a lot of intensity going into his matches and he is fun to watch. And when the Singh Brothers were kicked out it looked like it would go in his favour. Nakamura hit Mahal with a Kinshasa and covered him for the count – and then Mahal grabbed the rope. Shinsuke tried again, but Mahal moved and then hit him with the Khallas for the three count.
Really WWE? You’re really gonna continue with this despite everyone hating it? Well, at least this ended differently to his other matches but – come on! Give Nakamura a break!
Anyway, moving on. Up next we had Dolph Ziggler against the Glorious Booby Roode. Roode is being pitched for big things apparently, but it doesn’t look like WWE are gonna just hand him the gold – as he went through a tough fight this time. Despite not being the biggest fan of Ziggler, he does make for an entertaining heel – especially now he’s going through a whole ‘I hate entrances’ gimmick where he mocks the entrances of famous wrestlers. Roode and Ziggler had a strong match, which ended after a string of roll up pins and tight grabs. But though Roode won the battle, Ziggler hits him with a Zig-Zag at the end, proving the war is far from over.
Speaking of war, that would be a modest way to describe the main event. Shane McMahon against Kevin Owens. Now this is how you build a rivalry! The seeds of hate between these two were planted since Owens first arrived in Smackdown and they have been growing ever more personal each week. And when Owens beat the crap outta Vince McMahon, it lead to this Hell in a Cell match – which later added the Falls Count Anywhere stipulation.
OMG this match was intense – so much so I think I actually felt a bit sick afterwards! Right from the get go, both McMahon and Owens hit each other with everything they had. Owens taunted McMahon’s family as he pulverised him – but Shane also hit back with moves of his own. Including a shooting star press and a coast-to-coast. A table was also brought in, which was quickly destroyed. But the REAL stuff happened after the two exited the cage!
Brawling on the outside, Owens beat McMahon senseless and laid him out on one of the announcer tables. Deciding to take a page from McMahon’s book, Owens climbed to the top of the twenty foot (yes, twenty foot) high cage and looked like he was going to drop from the top – but couldn’t put himself through it. Can’t say I blame him. But then McMahon joins him on the top of the cage and the two brawl. THIS is where my heart nearly stopped a couple of times – as every time they crashed on top of the cage and the metal railing looked like it would give way, I was reminded of the Undertaker Vs Mankind Hell in the Cell match where Undertaker chokeslamed Mankind through the cage and into the ring, almost killing him! I think even the fans were panicking at this point as there were some very concerned close up shots.
Eventually, Owens and McMahon climb down, but not before Shane throws Owens off the cage at the halfway point and Owens crashes through the aforementioned announcer tables. You think that would be it right? Nope! Shane ‘O Mac is never one to let his fans wanting, so setting up Owens on another announcer table, he climbs back up to the top of the ring – which I remind you is TWENTY ****ING FEET HIGH – and, repeating his classic moment from Wrestlemania 32, jumped off the top of the cage with and elbow drop as the fans screamed in both awe and terror. But Shane met only an empty table as Owens was pulled off by…
Yup, you heard that right, Sami Zayn helped Kevin Owens escape the mother of all injuries – and then proceeds to place a barely conscious Owens on top of McMahon for the three count. But why? Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens have been feuding for ages, why would he help him? Is this the beginning of a heel turn for Zayn? He does seem aghast at his own actions though – so maybe there is more to the story than we think. I guess we’ll just have to wait for Smackdown to find out.
Oooooh boy! If you thought that Smackdown PPVs (or any PPVs for that matter) this year were kind mediocre, then this one is definitely a standout! Aside from the disappointing ending to two matches, there wasn’t one weak bout in the entire event. Even the less interesting ones were done very well and were entertaining in their own way. And the Hell in the Cell matches most certainly didn’t disappoint. They were brutal as hell and sometimes harrowing to watch – which made Hell in the Cell all that more entertaining.
Hands down, this is by far the best WWE PPV of the year for me. With a strong start and an even stronger finish – with what I consider to be a brilliantly done twist that has tons of progression – I will remember this event for years to come!
Best of all, it kept me awake for a good four hours and not once did I get bored watching this event. Even Wrestlemania didn’t do that!
Hell in the Cell gets a very high 5 out of 5 from me!