Review for WWE Hell in a Cell 2018, September 16, 2018, San Antonio, Texas
Hosted by the Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Renee Young, Tom Philips & Byron Saxon
HELL IN A CELL MATCH: Jeff Hardy vs Randy Orton
Where’s my helpful video package for this one? I remember Orton ripping at Jeff’s ear and rubbing the paint off his face for unexplained reasons but that’s about it. This red cell is hideous and hurts my eyes. Jeff attacks to start but Orton quickly turns it around and sends him into the cage. Jeff sends him into the cell and the post. Jeff grabs a table and they fight over it. Orton with a clothesline but Jeff baseball slides the table into him. Next, Jeff finds a ladder and Orton finds a chair, the ladder wins initially but Orton nails him in the back with the chair. Orton sets up the chair and wants an RKO but Jeff sends him into the cage and hits Poetry in Motion. Back in, Jeff follows with a kick and the corner dropkick for 2. Jeff goes up but Orton hits a superplex for 2. Jeff goes outside and sets up another ladder on the floor, but Orton suplex him onto it. Back in, that gets 2. Orton finds another chair and beats on Jeff and whips him with his own belt. He wraps him up in a ladder and stomps away. I can see what they’re going for, but this is actually just dragging like death at this point. So, what can do we do to liven it up a bit? A chinlock of course! What an idea. Jeff makes a comeback with the legdrop and low dropkick for 2, but Orton gets a powerslam for 2. Randy finds a toolbox and get a screwdriver. He rips at Jeff’s ear in a disgusting spot. I just don’t want to see that shit! It would be one thing if it was the finish, but it’s not… Jeff fights out and hits a low blow. Jeff whips Orton with the belt now and lays him some chairshots for 2. Jeff goes up but gets crotched and DDT’d. RKO is blocked and Jeff hits the Twist of Fate, then puts a chair on Orton hits the Swanton for 2. Jeff gets another ladder, a bigger one. He sets it up next to a smaller one, and a table. Twist of Fate and he puts Orton on the table and climbs to the top of the cell, and completely misses a splash and puts himself through the table. The ref wants help and Orton demands the pin at 25:00.
Not a fan of any part of that finish (or the match for that matter). It was an incredibly contrived set up for Jeff to do his big dive, and it didn’t even look that good. Then it ended with the ref trying to stop a Hell in a Cell match (I guess to give Orton heat because Jeff is “really” hurt… we just can’t escape Vince Russo, can we?). The match itself wasn’t much, it was just two broken down guys wandering around through a slow match with a lot of smoke and mirrors. It had its moments, and some of it was even good, but it was way too long for what they were doing. This match actually would’ve been better if it was just a no DQ match, but Jeff wanted to do a cell match before he retires so he got one. (**)
SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S TITLE MATCH: Charlotte Flair vs Becky Lynch
Heel Becky does her babyface entrance, which I find a little strange, but if they’re going to just blur the lines and make them both tweeners I’d be fine with that. Becky gets cheered and Charlotte gets booed anyway. Charlotte takes her down on the mat and tries a figure four, but Becky goes after the arm and grabs a wristlock. Charlotte works a leglock and pounds away in the corner, but misses a charge and lands on the apron. Becky beats on her outside. Back in, she works over the arm and gets 2 from a variation of the arm breaking spot. Charlotte gets a roll up for 2. Becky with a forearm for 2. Becky keeps on the arm with a hammerlock. Charlotte fights were way out of it but gets clotheslined for 2. Legdrop gets missed and Charlotte puts her on the apron, but Becky goes for the arm again. Charlotte with a baseball slide and they slug it out on the apron, with Becky hitting her in the arm, and then Becky runs her shoulder into the apron. Nice! Disarmher, but Charlotte cuts her off and hits a belly to back suplex. Charlotte gets a backslide for 2. Charlotte follows with chops, she cuts off the kick and hits a boot. Charlotte goes up and misses a moonsault. Becky rolls into an armbar, but Charlotte powers up and hits a powerbomb for 2. They slug it out for a bit and Becky wins. Hammerlock slam gets 2. Becky goes up and lands in a Boston crab, but powers out and goes back to the arm again, wrapping it around the post. Another Disarmher, but Charlotte is in the ropes this time and they fight to the floor. Back in, Charlotte spears her, but Becky rolls her into a cradle to win the title at 13:55! Charlotte offers her congratulations but this is Becky’s moment, not Charlottes! So, she rightly tells her off. Good for you Becky, don’t let her Hogan your moment.
Fuck yeah! They pulled the trigger at the right place and the right time. I predicted it, but I didn’t really believe they’d do it. This was a great match with great heat and they had a real issue. Becky was awesome here, keeping on the arm the whole time. Charlotte’s selling came and went and that was about the only slight peeve I had. I was into this one and the finish adds a lot it as well. (****1/2)
New Day beat Rusev Day in the pre-show. Well of course they did, they already announced New Day defending the titles in Australia. New Day celebrate backstage, stupid segment that I don’t understand and apparently the announcers don’t either.
Apparently Jeff Hardy is being taken to the hospital… err, local medical facility. I don’t care.
RAW TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH: Drew McIntyre & Dolph Ziggler vs Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose
Seth and Dolph start with headlock trades. Shield double-teams him and drops elbows for 2. Seth tries the curb stomp and Dolph bails for chat with Drew. Drew comes in and overpowers Rollins and offers Dean a free shot, but Ambrose dropkicks the knee and cradles for 2. He stops to chase Dolph and that allow Drew to clobber him and they go work him over in their corner. Dean manages to fight back with a stungun on Dolph and brings Rollins back in. Sling blade on Dolph and an enzuigiri puts him out. He tries a dive and Drew trips him up and Dolph hits a leaping DDT for 2. Rollins play face in peril and Drew goes for the joints. Dolph trash talks him for goes with a sleeper. Rollins escapes with a back suplex. Drew tries to cut off the comeback but gets tossed, so he takes out Dean instead to prevent the hot tag and comes back in with reverse Alabama slam for 2. Seth fights back and the hot tag is made but it’s a false tag because the ref is distracted by Dolph and the heels get in a quality beatdown while the ref is getting rid of Ambrose. And the crowd is pissed. I love that shit, it always works (and no one had to kill themselves going through a table either)! Quality tag team wrestling is so awesome. Dolph tries a superplex and Rollins fights him off and hits a blockbuster on Drew, and the hot tag is finally made to Ambrose. He runs wild on get a clothesline and cradle on Drew for 2. He tries to hit Dirty Deeds on the apron, but it’s broken up and they fight on the floor. Back in, Drew suplexes Dean into the turnbuckle to slow him down. Rollins come back in with a flying clothesline and tries to dive on the champs but gets caught. Ambrose hits his own dive onto everyone and takes them all out. Everyone is out on the floor but both teams make back in. Seth gets a falcon arrow for 2. Superkick gets up the curb stomp but Dolph evades it, he can’t evade the buckle bomb, though. Drew clears the ring and Ziggler rolls up Seth for 2 and hits the Zig Zag for 2. Great near fall. Drew goes for the kick, but Ambrose saves and Seth goes up with the frog splash for 2. Drew gets double suplexed, but Ziggler takes out Seth, leaving Ambrose alone. Drew hits a flying clothesline. Champs go for a doomsday device but Ambrose escapes. Rollins comes back, superplex into the Falcon Arrow, but McIntyre hits him with the claymore and Dolph gets the pin at 22:48.
I love real tag team wrestling, this was amazing. I think we have our WWE match of the year finally (if we’re not counting NXT). Nothing is going to beat this. Unbelievably great tag team match, and I can’t think of a better one from the WWE since No Mercy 2002 to be perfectly honest (again, discounting NXT, and even then, it’d be hard to beat this one). They’ve finally found a way for me to enjoy Dolph Ziggler! Keep the belts on these guys forever! (****3/4)
In the back, Braun meets Mick Foley and makes sure he knows his only job is the count the pin.
WWE TITLE MATCH: AJ Styles vs Samoa Joe
These two are great, but good luck topping the last match. Styles is pissed off and a slugfest starts us off. Styles puts him on the floor with a dropkick, then follows with a running knee off the apron to put him down. He follows with a baseball slide into the announce table. Back in, he sets up for the forearm but Joe bails. AJ dives but Joe boots him on the way down and trips him on the stairs. Back in, that gets 2. They slug it out and Joe gives him a legsweep to take him down again. Joe face washes and hits a running boot. AJ tries to come back but Joe hits an enzuigiri and kicks him out the ring like garbage. He follows with a dive and back in, he works a neck vice. Styles fights back but Joe just runs him over with a sick elbow for 2. AJ comes back with the backfist and forearm for 2. Moonsault into inverted DDT gets 2. Styles then lionsaults into knees and Joe follows with a powerbomb. Boston Crab. Joe moves to the STF and then a crossface, but AJ makes the ropes. Joe stalks AJ, and follows with head butts and strikes. Styles sidesteps a charge and gets a rack into a powerbomb for 2. Springboard 450 gets 2. Styles pulls up Joe and looks for the Styles Clash but Joe counters and hits a brutal lariat for 2. Styles mouth is busted. Joe tries a Muscle Buster but Styles counters. Joe fights off the Calf Crusher and gets an euzuigiri for 2. AJ comes back and tries the forearm, but he lands in the Clutch but rolls over on top for the pin to retain at 19:13. Joe says AJ tapped before the pin, and as it turns out AJ tapped while the ref was counting, so the feud must continue!
Another great match that fit well into their long feud, though not to the same level as the previous two matches it had to follow. Finish was fine for that purpose as well. Too bad Joe, make sure your shoulders aren’t on the mat next time! (****)
The Miz & Maryse vs Daniel Bryan & Brie Bella
Tom Phillips comes out with a stupid line about how some people believe Brie Bella has the hardest punch in the WWE. Oh, come on. Corey does me proud as he says “no one believe that!”. Miz runs away and Bryan tags in Brie, forcing Maryse in, but she tags out immediately. So, it’s Miz and Bryan again. Miz catches him with a knee and dropkicks him into the corner. He goes up but gets crotched and brought down with a rana. Bryan’s knee misses but he gets the Yes Lock. Maryse makes the save. Bryan reverses the Skull Crushing Finale into a rollup for 2. Charge misses and he crashes into the corner. Miz with a chinlock and he hits the Miz Kicks in the corner. Superplex attempt but Bryan blocks it. Diving Headbutt misses. Bryan dumps Miz over the top and makes the hot tag to Brie, so Maryse is forced in and they all brawl. Bryan hits Miz with the knee off the apron and Brie gets a missile dropkick on Maryse for 2 as Miz saves. Bryan and Brie get stereo yes kicks and the heels bail. The faces follow and attack. Brie brings Maryse back in and hits a running knee. She runs Maryse into Miz, but Maryse counters into a cradle for the win at 13:00.
This was what you’d expect, Miz was an incredible asshole, Bryan was his usual solid self and the women sucked but their interactions were kept to a minimum. This was a perfectly fine popcorn match, but it’s just horrible use of Bryan and this sort of thing is killing him off more and more every week. (**)
Apparently Jeff Hardy is throwing up blood. I still don’t care.
RAW WOMEN’S TITLE MATCH: Ronda Rousey vs Alexa Bliss
Alexa has Fox and James with her. Rousey has Natalya. Rousey immediately takes Bliss down for 2, then punches her down. Bliss kicks her in the ribs. Ronda tries for the armbar, but Alexa gets rescued by her corner women. Rousey follows and attacks Bliss. Back in, Bliss begs off, charges and Ronda sidesteps her and Bliss wipes out her friends. She comes back and works on the ribs, because Rousey should totally be selling for Alexa fucking Bliss. Ronda fights back with a superplex attempt, but Bliss hangs her in the Tree of Woe and dropkicks her 2. Ronda fights back and takes out all the women at ringside. She collides with Alexa and both are down. Small package gets 2. Backslide gets 2 but Alexa goes back to the ribs. She talks too much trash and Ronda comes back. Charge misses, but Ronda hits her with the samoan drop and finishes with the armbar at 11:40.
They at least did the injury angle on Raw to give Alexa believable offense, but this is how you turn Ronda into just another wrestler and kill off her special feel. The match was technically fine and Ronda continues to impress in the ring, but they seem to think she has to be in competitive matches all the time when she really should be killing cannon fodder like Alexa and not selling a thing. (**1/2)
Joe whines about the finish of his match to Paige. She says the decision if final but Joe will get a rematch at Super Showdown.
HELL IN A CELL MATCH FOR THE WWE UNIVERSAL TITLE: Roman Reigns vs Braun Strowman
Mick Foley is of course, your special guest referee, and I have to say, he’s moving well after the operations. Reigns fire away to start but Braun sends him into the post and then runs him into the cage to take over. Roman fights up and Braun runs him into the cage again. Roman tries to come back but Braun chokeslams onto the apron. Braun finds a kendo stick but Roman steals it and lays into him. Back in, Reigns uses a chair, that isn’t very heroic Roman. He evades a charge and DDTs Braun for 2. Roman with a superman punch, but Braun gets a chokeslam for 2. Another chokeslam is countered with a superman punch for 2. Braun bails out. Roman finds a table under the ring but then decides to be an idiot and charge Braun, and of course that doesn’t work and he meets the stairs. Back in, Braun hits him with the stairs and follows with the powerslam for 2. Braun sets up a table in the corner, but Roman spears him through it for 2. And now the overbooking begins. It’s run in time as the Shield, Dolph and Drew all come down. Dolph takes a beat down. Rollins amd Ambrose clear off the announce table. Drew makes the save and they clear off another table. More brawling and Dolph climbs the cell, Rollins follows and they make it up top and brawl. Why didn’t they just book a six man and be done with it then? So those four all end up on top and Ambrose beats them up with a kendo stick. Braun and Roman lay around doing literally nothing while all of this is happening. Dolph now climbs down and Rollins cuts him off. Rollins follows and they fight on the side of the cell, then slam each other into and crash through the announce tables. I don’t know if there’s even a title match going on at this point. Now Brock Lesnar returns again and does a run in, he rips the door like he’s 1997 Kane or something and destroys both guys in the ring with pieces of the table, then F5’s both guys. Another ref comes down and the show just goes off the air without a winner at 24:00.
I guess the drug testing didn’t go so well then? Match was good enough, though nothing special, and then the run ins started and ruined it all. I’m not sad Brock is back, but the ending was a pile of horse shit and everyone except Brock just looks like a geek. Here’s a novel idea if you can’t book a finish: DON’T BOOK THE FUCKING MATCH IN THE FIRST PLACE. Would it really have been so hard to just hold off on the Braun cash in and do Reigns vs someone he could go over? (**3/4)
This show had a great first half, and a pretty average second half. There’s an incredible run of matches from Becky/Charlotte to AJ/Joe. But, the main event ended on such a bad note and didn’t even have a finish, so it’s hard to be completely positive here. Overall, it’s an easy thumbs up on the strength of the great matches, but personally I wouldn’t bother watching anything after AJ/Joe.