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John: Welcome to the TJRWrestling WWE Hell in a Cell preview. The WWE Raw brand is presenting Hell in a Cell this Sunday night in Boston, Massachusetts on WWE Network.
The big selling point for this show, at least in WWE’s eyes, is that there is a Triple Main Event. I’m not sure if the fans are as excited about it as WWE is, but at least advertising three Hell in a Cell matches on the same show does make it unique. What doesn’t make the show unique is that nearly the entire card is full of matches we’ve seen already within the last month and even going back three months in some cases. There’s also no match featuring the likes of Chris Jericho, Sami Zayn and Neville because the creative team in charge of Raw have done such a poor job of booking their show since the brand split started in July. I’m going to try to be optimistic that the match quality will be good, but there is nothing on this show that feels that fresh or “must see” if I were a casual fan. That’s something WWE has to improve on in building future shows.
Joining me for the preview are Kurt Zamora, Matty J. Douglas and Mike Holland.
Kurt: If you’ve been listening to The Match Beyond podcast that I host, (and if you haven’t, why not?) then you know that I can’t stand the fact they’re forcing these Hell in a Cell matches on us. The amount of times they’ve said Charlotte and Sasha are making history is nauseating and The Universal Title match doesn’t belong anywhere near the Cell. Considering how weak the undercard is, at least in my eyes it is, it’s going to be up to those three matches to play a dangerous game of, “can you top this?” to try and make this any type of memorable.
Mike: It's October, and that means we're soon to find out whether World Wrestling Entertainment's Monday Night Raw-only Hell in A Cell event is more of a full-size Snickers bar or one of those strange mint candies the old lady on your block insists on giving out. The brand extension has made happenings such as these more of a mixed bag than you're likely to bring home Monday, but you can at least gorge yourself on the juicy detail that history will be made no matter what happens. Why? Because WWE has reminded you of that fact by hammering it into your cranium to a degree best previously occupied by The Walking Dead's Negan. Despite the gluttonous force-feeding of the significance of the Sasha Banks/Charlotte "Now We Remember Her Last Name" Flair match, don't let it diminish the power of the moment when those two wrestlers are trapped inside that ring with only each other for company. Anything else that happens this weekend pales in comparison. Well, unless Jake "The Snake" Roberts rolls up and asks someone to spin the wheel and make the deal. I really miss Tony Schiavone Halloween Havoc costume parties.
(Note: All graphics are from WWE.com. The banner is courtesy of our friend Melo Man. Go visit his website prowrestlinglinks.com for convenient links to all kinds of different wrestling related websites.)
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Cedric Alexander, Lince Dorado & Sin Cara vs. Tony Nese, Drew Gulak & Ariya Daivari (Kickoff Match)
Kurt: Don’t be surprised if this ends up being the best match of the night and yet it was a recent throw-in for the Kickoff show. Cedric Alexander is my favorite in the Cruiserweight division but Tony Nese has been the most impressive. I would think if Kendrick & Perkins is blown off after this show, Nese would be next in line for a title shot. I would expect a solid 10-12 minutes of great action and then Nese getting the win to establish himself as a challenger.
Prediction: Tony Nese, Drew Gulak, & Ariya Daivari
Matt: I don’t know if there’s anything to say here. It should be a fast-paced fun exhibition with literally nothing at stake. I have no doubt it will be a good match, but it takes a lot more than that to get me excited.
On a totally unrelated note, Cedric Alexander needs something cool to do. Have Kevin Owens come to the ring and offer a WWE Universal Title Match to anybody in the back… under 205 Pounds. Let Cedric answer the challenge and have Owens treat it like it’ll be a walk in the park. Let Cedric give him a run for his money but end up losing despite the valiant effort. It will undoubtedly be a great match for a Monday Night Raw, some of the nearfalls will be great television, and Cedric hanging with the top guy helps put over the entire Cruiserweight Division. Book it WWE!
What were we talking about?
Winner: Cedric Alexander, Lince Dorado and Sin Cara (because this team is babyface and blah, blah, blah)
Mike: Remember everything you fervently adored about the Cruiserweight Classic? Try inserting it into a blender. While you contemplate scarfing down that unpalatable concoction of interchangeable characters and meaningless introductions, I'll go ahead and say it: Cue Lost in Space's "Danger" robot every time WWE thinks it knows what made something organic successful. If you watched the CWC, you understand the rich backstories and exciting implications of this match with six versatile talents. If you didn't, you'll have no idea what the hell is going on. But, hey, Sin Cara!
A big reason this division has already seemingly reached the point of no return is lack of understanding of these men and their motivations. It's like Vince and friends held a roundtable meeting where they agreed that only two people in the entire group need any development on a weekly basis. It makes me fear for the future. While I've no doubt this match will deliver, I've even less doubt it will be treated as filler by the powers that be regardless. And that's a crying shame.
Oh, right, the prediction.
Winner: The team with Sin Cara
John: There’s no backstory or build to this match. It was just announced on social media during the week. They’ll probably get ten minutes, feature a lot of cool high flying moves and have an exciting finish because they are all good performers. I just wish WWE actually tried to build up the match a bit.
I’ll go with the faces although I’m shocked that Rich Swann isn’t in the match. He got the win on Raw and didn’t even make it to the PPV. Weird. Anyway, I hope it’s Cedric Alexander that gets the win because he’s got the most potential of anybody in the match.
Winners: Cedric Alexander, Lince Dorado & Sin Cara
Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
Kurt: If you would’ve told me six months ago that Gallows and Anderson would go into back to back feuds with The New Day and Enzo and Cass and both would be a colossal failure, I would’ve actually believed you since that is WWE’s M.O. but I would’ve been quite bummed out. Here we are though, and I’m quite bummed out.
Neither team has won an important match in what seems like months. Don’t think I’ve forgotten those matches Enzo & Cass lost to The Shining Stars, and really have nothing to fight for in this storyline. The Club couldn’t cash in on what felt like 14 title shots against The New Day so if they win this match, what does that really mean for them? Only because I think WWE has told us exactly what they think about Gallows and Anderson (mainly Anderson) and they still SHOULD have money in a New Day vs. Enzo & Cass title feud, I’ll go with the good guys here.
Prediction: Enzo & Cass
Matt: I like that the WWE has decided to go in the direction of Gallows and Anderson being essentially the Raw Tag Team Division’s fun police. Every team on Raw has a comedic tone (Golden Truth, Enzo & Cass, New Day, Shinning Stars, even Cesaro and Sheamus), and having them try to match it was asinine. Let them be the easily annoyed, overly serious team that would play well off these comedic teams rather than trying to match comedic barbs with them. Let them be the serious team that intends to teach a serious lesson to all the happy-go-lucky tag teams.
Enzo and Cass are a great first conquest for them, and while I believe that Anderson losing to both Enzo and Cass in singles action was setting up a win for Gallows and Anderson at Hell In A Cell, I still think they make Anderson look way too weak on TV in singles matches. Has he lasted more than 5 minutes in one since he debuted earlier this year?
Enzo and Cass are pretty much teflon at this point, but one of these teams desperately needs this win. Can you guess which one?
Winners: Gallows and Anderson (because they simply can’t keep losing if we’re ever to take them seriously)
Mike: Wow, this match seemed like it would have been something to look forward to about six months ago. Those halcyon days when Gallows & Anderson hadn't traded in their overseas cred for lab coats and testicle jokes. Those fond but fleeting moments when Enzo & Cass had tons of steam rolling in from NXT and hadn't yet swapped their wonderful team dynamic for a harebrained attempt to turn Big Cass into a singles belt contender. This, then, is the match we should have had but never actually got. And now we're getting it.
I hope this latest push to regain some vestige of badassery by G&A is the real deal. They've never gotten a chance to show mainstream WWE fans what many of us were so excited about when they defected. And, let's face it, Enzo and Cass could never win again and still be super popular. It's a testament to their odd but supremely effective chemistry and it makes them a surefire bet to lose way more than they win. Sad reality, that.
Enzo is hilarious, and you can't teach that. But as he himself would tell you, Big Cass is seven feet tall. Breakup clock is ticking.
Winners: Gallows & Anderson
John: This could open the PPV portion of the show since Enzo is very good at firing up a crowd. They’ve had a decent build up to this match for the last month although it would be nice if there was something at stake. I think both teams will be in that Survivor Series tag match anyway, so it’s not like the win is going to lead to a title shot or anything significant right away. It’s just another tag match. I’m going with Gallows & Anderson because they each lost singles matches in the last two weeks.
Winners: Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
Bayley vs. Dana Brooke
Kurt: Raise your hand if you were one of the vocals that were screaming for Bayley to be brought up to the main roster. Don’t you feel stupid now? The way she is being booked is borderline criminal. If it wasn’t for the inflatable wavy arm guys in her entrance, I would never know it’s the same Bayley from NXT.
I’d like to say Dana is trying hard, but the horrible finish from two weeks ago and the dreaded arm-wrestling challenge from last week are doing her no favors. Just think about that for a minute… fans were chanting BORING at a Bayley segment. That pretty much says it all.
This should be a convincing win for Bayley and nothing more, but I’m sure they’re going to have Dana dominate it and then Bayley pulls out the win. Maybe with the ROLLUP OF DEATH? John loves that.
Matt: Man, as much as I love Bayley (which I do) and as much as I despise Dana Brooke as a performer (which I surely do), I can’t make myself get interested in this match. I’m officially worried about Bayley. Not majorly worried, but a little worried.
Her rise to prominence on NXT took a long while and was a great long term storyline. I’m having trouble sensing what the WWE’s intentions are with her now that she’s on the main roster. Are they going to reproduce that same long build to her finally reaching the top, or do they expect us to be familiar with the journey she had in NXT? I mean I am familiar with it, but it just seems like they are trying to split the difference in their approach on Raw, which makes for a very confusing narrative direction.
I always thought she should be feuding with Stephanie McMahon upon arriving on the main roster. She can be the plucky underdog trying to prove her worth and get a fair shake from her horrible boss. Plus, if Stephanie is ever going to get comeuppance for her years of tormenting people, who better for the job than Bayley?
Winner: Bayley (because I don’t think I can suspend my disbelief enough to accept a Dana win)
Mike: It's actually difficult for me to formulate the verbosity required to explain how much I detest this match. I hate it with the scorching searing heat of a thousand suns. I despise it with the laser-focused intensity of a heat-seeking missile. I abhor it to the degree that I'd prefer to watch Raw's arm wrestling segment again. Okay, maybe that last one was a bridge too far.
I hate it because it already feels like Bayley's feel-good moment has been buried in quicksand and backed over. She left NXT and all she got was this crummy T-shirt. I hate it because one of the most qualified women in the division has been forced into a feud with one of the least. But mainly I hate it because the existence of this match on this card assures me that the feud will continue and that Dana will go over. Bayley might be a hugger, but she can't compete with a vacuous blonde fitness model. This is WWE, after all, and no silly little thing like a women's revolution will cure a case of the Cro-Magnon creative blues.
Winner: Dana Brooke
John: I’ve been lenient in my criticisms of Dana in my Raw reviews because I think she has a great look and may turn out to be a good WWE performer one day. However, the build up to this match has been poor in part because of her. Fans chanted “boring” on Raw because Dana is boring and it has hurt Bayley just being in this feud.
They’ve done the basic storyline where Dana has gotten the upper hand whether it was an attack on the stage, by cheating in their match (even though Dana didn’t put her foot on the ropes like she was supposed to cheat to win) and then the cheap attack during a bad arm wrestling segment although Bayley did come out on top. Bayley’s selling a shoulder injury. I think she’ll overcome that and get the win. Both women are probably part of Raw’s Survivor Series team because their division is lacking female performers anyway.
Cruiserweight Championship: TJ Perkins vs. Brian Kendrick
Kurt: This is the match that I’m most interested in, and it’s not even close. It’s a shame this storyline has been buried to the segment right before the main event each week. Kendrick is really playing up this angle of being 37 and his last shot perfectly. The backstage segment with him and Perkins last week where Kendrick told Perkins he needed Perkins to lay down for him was the best segment on Raw. The emotion from Kendrick felt real, which will make it even more impactful during the match no matter what route they take.
If Perkins somehow finds it in himself to feel pity on Kendrick and actually let him win, then you’ll sympathize with him. If it all proves to be a ruse, then it was brilliant and gives Kendrick even more heat. If Perkins beats Kendrick in a spirited contest and Kendrick comes close but just not close enough, then you’ll feel Kendrick’s pain at the end of the match, wondering if that really was it for him. This match is honestly too close to call for me, but on a coin flip I’ll pick TJP to retain, if for nothing else just the fact that I can’t see him dropping the title already.
Prediction: TJ Perkins retains
Matt: This match has had a riveting build up! Brian Kendrick has masterfully portrayed an old, weird, paranoid sad-sack whose glory days are long gone, whole TJ Perkins has been equally engaging as the young, video game obsessed punk, picking on the desperate older schlub. They really need to invent a font for sarcasm.
In all seriousness, despite some cringeworthy acting along the way, I can honestly say that the build up has me wanting to see Kendrick win. I’m sick of TJP (even though I like him quite a bit) and his video game dialogue, picking on the WWE’s Cruiserweight version of Louis CK. I want to see the hapless Brian Kendrick get a win, because if you listen to him tell it, his life is on the line. He literally begged TJP to throw the match to him. His words are true though: TJP is young and will have many years ahead of him to be Cruiserweight Champion.
Winner and New Cruiserweight Champion: Brian Kendrick (because him losing here might just be the saddest thing that the WWE could televise this year)
Mike: If I had slept through the CWC (see previous snark) and suddenly awoken to find myself thinking that THIS was what everyone was raving about, I'd hastily chug some hemlock and do an exploding fist bump with Socrates near the pearly gates. (And, yes, that's pronounced SO-CRATES, as Bill & Ted told you.) TJ Perkins has a great story, and bully for him for managing to get one, but he's been a big blank nothing as inaugural champion. He's sort of like Data from Star Trek mixed with Sonic the Hedgehog.
As for Brian Kendrick, he's been extremely captivating in his second go-around, aside from his insistence on constantly mentioning it. We get it, dude, it's why you put the article in front of your moniker. Crazy outfits, odd gesticulations, strange vocal patterns: color me hooked. And I confess the weird vignette they had Monday where he begged Perky to toss the match was nothing if not intriguing.
So maybe that's the problem: it's only a couple of title defenses in, and already the Cruiserweight Title has crossed the Rubicon where substance not only takes a backseat to style, but finds itself in a different vehicle. Someone please put an APB on Neville?
Winner (and NEW Cruiserweight Champion): THE Brian Kendrick
John: A week ago I would have picked Perkins to win, but I changed my mind after their segment on Raw. They did this match last month with Perkins winning. Then they advertised another title match a few weeks back, changed it to non-title and had Kendrick win to earn another match. Kendrick losing on Raw to Swann was a surprise and so was Kendrick asking Perkins to let him win.
It's nice to see there’s an actual story going into the match. Kendrick is going to put up a fight as a 37-year-old that thinks this may be the end of his journey in WWE. We know better as fans, but as a story it’s easy to see where he’s coming from. The finish will probably be something where Perkins is about to finish him off, Kendrick begs him to stop and then he takes advantage when Perkins lets up. Kendrick wins the title because I think WWE wants Rich Swann in the title picture very soon.
Winner and New Cruiserweight Champion: Brian Kendrick
Raw Tag Team Championships: The New Day vs. Sheamus & Cesaro
Kurt: The smart play would be to have Sheamus and Cesaro fool everyone and have it be shown in this match that they’ve been in cahoots all along since Foley put them together in order to win the Tag Titles and were just pulling the wool over our eyes. Then you can have a strong new heel tag team (something that RAW is sorely missing) and The New Day can play chase and give them more of a renewed sense of urgency that I feel they need. However, I don’t expect WWE to actually have a long-term plan for these two as a team, so I’m sure what’s actually going to happen is that Sheamus and Cesaro will refuse to work together and they’ll end up feuding once again. Maybe a best of seven series? Oh, they’ve already done that? Oh well. Meanwhile, The New Day will just keep marching towards Demolition’s record. I’m sure the in-ring work will be solid until the inevitable finish.
Prediction: The New Day retains
Matt: Let me start by saying that this match has astronomical implications on my faith in the WWE. In particular, on their ability to tell a simple, tried and true, classical piece of storytelling. Let’s face facts, they’re pretty much giving us a buddy cop movie formula here, beat by beat. Sheamus is the hot shot cop with a bad attitude, Cesaro is the respected, by the book cop who can do it all, and Mick Foley is the African American Police Chief that stuck them together. Winning the Tag Team Titles is the big case they’re both trying to crack as they come together as partners.
Now in the movies, they don’t just get to the end and solve the case. They get close, showing that they can work together for the most part, before a miscommunication unravels the whole thing, and the African American Police Chief takes their badges/guns and takes them off the case. The pair then usually disobey those orders and crack the case by working together.
Following this formula, Sheamus and Cesaro need to lose on Sunday. Foley needs to tell them on Raw they didn’t have magic and disband their team, only for Sheamus and Cesaro to decide that they aren’t going to stop, and that they need to finish what they started and win the Tag Titles. That’s the simple formula that has heart, laughs, and message of perseverance. If they win the belts Sunday, WWE has no sense of this formula and have accidentally stumbled upon something resembling it. Prove me wrong WWE!
Winners and Still WWE World Tag Team Champions: The New Day (because of the formula above and the fact that they’re so damn close to breaking Demolition’s record!)
Mike: It's not the fault of the challengers here, as I think the build to this title match has been decent. I just can't wash the taste of that Best of Seven series out of my mouth, no matter how many bowls of Booty-O's I quaff. I admit the trick of having both men get their title shot as a team came out of left field for me, but it's hardly groundbreaking. For as long as there's been tag team wrestling there's been disparate unlikely partners setting aside differences temporarily for a common goal.
This match basically boils down to whether you think that WWE cares that Demolition are the recognized longest-reigning tag champions ever and, if so, whether or not they would like The New Day to eclipse that record before surrendering the belts. I've answered yes to the first and no to the second for so long that I'm beginning to fear I'm wrong about one or the other. It can't be the first, because WWE keeps mentioning it. Thus it's the second, and the dice are cast.
I don't think it ends Sheamus and Cesaro as a team just yet. Not with Survivor Series around the bend.
Winners (and still Raw Tag Team Champions): The New Day
John: I really liked their match on Raw even though it bothers me that they even did the match non-title six days before the PPV match. The reason they likely did that match is because WWE wants to make people think that Cesaro and Sheamus can win like they did on Raw. I think the “New Day will win so they can break Demolition’s record” that we’ve been writing about for several months is a valid reason to pick New Day. For whatever reason, WWE cares about these things probably because Demolition has sued WWE numerous times in the past. Booking long title reigns will show them! Anyway, I hope it’s a great match similar to what they did on Monday, but I think the result is different here with New Day winning.
By the way, I thought Matt’s write-up for this match was hilarious and very true. Well done.
Winners: The New Day
WWE United States Championship Hell in a Cell Match: Roman Reigns vs. Rusev
Kurt: I legitimately feel bad for these two. This is the only match of the three that actually warrants being inside Hell in a Cell, but this will be the match with the least attention on it and the Cell match that the crowd will care the least about. That’s a shame because, although a bit drawn out, this has been a hell of a clash between them and deserved to have the stage all to themselves to be able to blow off this storyline.
I expect this to be the most physical of the three, but I don’t know if that’ll necessarily translate to being the best. As Hank McAllen said on my podcast, I would be begging to be the opening HIAC match if I was these two, so that I could set the pace and tone of the show and not have to live up to anything else that’s preceded it that night. I think either man winning makes sense here. I can only assume Roman will be made to look strong at the end. I wouldn’t be surprised either to see Lana take a bump to make everything come full circle since Rusev was originally defending her honor.
Prediction: Roman Reigns
Matt: I was truly baffled on Monday watching Raw when Roman Reigns had the temerity, the unmitigated gall, to say that he never made things personal between he and Rusev, but that he will on Sunday. Does he believe that we don’t watch the show? Not only did he make it personal from day one by insulting Rusev’s wife and ruining their wedding celebration (very personal attacks by any metric), but he was the one that continued to escalate the personal nature of the feud, whether it was physically assaulting Rusev outside of matches and continued verbal attacks on Rusev’s family and manhood. I don’t mind that he did all these things, but don’t pretend like you were all business and Rusev made it into something more. This kind of revisionist history and writing don’t help Roman Reigns come across as likeable.
As for this match, it should be fine. I’ve certainly had my fill. Maybe Hell In A Cell will add something to it…but I doubt it. Especially with three of them on the card. I expect this to be the least inventive if the three.
Winner and New United States Champion: Rusev (only because of Roman’s insane comments on Monday. I now must stand with Rusev, as he has claimed the moral high ground)
Mike: Of all three matches to take place inside the demonic structure (oh my stars and garters, how can anyone say that seven times a broadcast with a straight face?!?) this title defense is uniquely and simultaneously the most appropriate and the least interesting to me. It's not that I don't appreciate the labor of love WWE has taken with presenting us various forms of Roman Reigns versus Rusev since seemingly the dawn of time, it's just that it's been so...meh.
From the wedding re-enactment to the family photo hour to the black screen Teleprompter séances, this feud has had it all and most of it's been boring as Hades. It likely doesn't help that the traditional heel and face roles have been reversed, and it surely doesn't help that a good portion of the viewing audience is dead set on booing Roman no matter what he does while WWE scripts him to impassively ignore it. Remember when Rocky broke out? Take a note.
For me to enjoy this match, Reigns would have to do what I've implored Titan Tower to do with him for eternity: turn him full on heel and let him relish in the destruction. No chance of that, sadly. Makes me wanna matchka something.
Winner (and still United States Champion): Roman Reigns
John: I’m tired of their matches and I think the audience is tired of it too. They’ve wrestled so many times. Every match they’ve had has followed a similar pattern too. Perhaps they will do something different here since it’s inside Hell in a Cell. Maybe Reigns is going to do a spot similar to last year when he hit Bray Wyatt with a Spear through a table that was against the cell. It just doesn’t feel like a big deal to me even though I do like both guys.
Reigns is probably going to win, but I have no idea when he’s going to lose the title. I think it will probably be before the Royal Rumble because he’s likely a favorite to win that match, of course. I just don’t see Reigns leaving this match with the title unless there’s a lot of interference. I think the Universal Title match will be the one with a lot of interference, so this will probably be clean. Reigns wins to put an end to this feud.
Winner: Roman Reigns
WWE Universal Championship Hell in a Cell Match: Seth Rollins vs. Kevin Owens
Kurt: Despite the fact I don’t think this match belongs in the Cell, I appreciate the efforts of these two and Chris Jericho as of late. They’ve had a strong storyline, they just needed to have a normal match with Jericho being involved somehow. I like the slow turn of Rollins as a babyface thus far. Unlike a lot of other things, that hasn’t felt forced at all. Sparkle Crotch was a bit of a reach, but I’ll allow it because of Jericho’s ridiculousness as of late. Clearly the plan is for Jericho to turn babyface and feud with Owens before leaving on a sabbatical with Fozzy. Rollins almost feels like an afterthought because of that.
I can’t see Jericho costing Owens the title because Owens has been a really strong champion and doesn’t need to lose the title already. Rollins obviously needs to look strong as well since they’re positioning him as a top babyface. It’s going to be a fine line to walk and hopefully they can pull it off. Of the three Cell matches, I see this one being the likeliest to go to the outside and potentially the top of the Cell, just because these two guys are the ones crazy enough to do it. They have no limits.
Since I assume Owens vs. Jericho needs to happen pretty soon and it leaves Rollins with really nothing to do, I can see them going ahead and using this match to set up Rollins vs. HHH for the Royal Rumble. In my perfect world scenario, I would have both men brawling on the outside of the Cell somehow and then go to the top. Jericho comes out at that point and joins up top. He helps Owens, but somehow Jericho ends up getting thrown off or knocked down somehow. Either by Owens on accident or by Rollins and Owens just stands by and does nothing. That sets up Jericho finally giving up on Owens as best friends. Then when they get back in the Cell, here comes Triple H to cost Rollins the match, just as it looks like he’s going to win. Problems solved.
Prediction: Kevin Owens retains
Matt: I have to say, I haven’t really been into this Owens/Rollins rivalry. I just don’t get why Seth Rollins is so angry with Owens. All he’s done since turning babyface is whine about being betrayed by The Authority, and be mad at Kevin Owens for… being Kevin Owens I suppose?
I wrote extensively about what I think is wrong with how they are booking Rollins right now, and where I think things should head with his character. You can check out both Part I and Part II of that story on TJRwrestling.net. As for this match, we all know it will probably be really good, with a screwy finish to keep the belt on Owens. Seth recapturing the belt here just doesn’t make much sense. I’m just praying that maybe we get some advancement of this Triple H storyline, which hasn’t moved even an inch forward since that fateful Monday Night Raw at the end of August. One can only hope.
Winner and Still WWE Universal Champion: Kevin Owens (because it’s the only ending that makes sense)
Mike: It's a bit tough for me, but I can't profess to have the same feelings about the match for the Universal Title as those previously expressed in the last match. Both champion and challenger have performed their roles dutifully, tossing in small snippets of comedy and drama while maintaining the larger focus on Seth Rollins' plans to wreak havoc on his former Authority hosts. Owens has been a capable champion, as I'd expect, but his "Who's on First?" routine with the legendary Chris Jericho has mitigated his brash gall while diminishing Jericho to a slightly enlarged footnote. It's been a fun ride, but the scenery is unfortunately starting to blend together.
The path for Rollins has been even tougher, especially because Raw's multiple personality booking has intentionally refused to make it clear just where he stands. Are we to welcome him fully to the face side of the ledger, or continue to applaud his role as tweener, playing the thorn in the side while refusing to commit to the opposition? It's a thankless job, and he's been dutifully solid in it, but eventually things have to come to a head. It's a big part of what makes it so unlikely he walks away with the belt Sunday night.
There are a thousand variations of what to expect in this match, but most of them obviously revolve around outside interference. We'd be remiss not to think all the clues about fractures in the JeriKO foundation are leading to a breaking point, and there's perhaps none bigger than this. Jericho failing in his mission to aid his best friend would allow for one more big moment for the Ayatollah before his next Fozzy tour, and perhaps let his third wheel gimmick manifest and metamorphose into a triple threat match in November. The heel champion wins, but not cleanly, and we're left with even more questions for Halloween's Raw. Not really a trick or a treat.
Winner (and still Universal Champion): Kevin Owens
John: If you’re WWE’s creative team, the way you approach this match is to come up with a finish that keeps the title on Owens, but it doesn’t hurt Rollins. There are several ways to do that. I just hope they pick something that makes sense. It’s the same way they booked Rollins when he was WWE Champion two years ago. He retained his title often due to interference from others. Since Chris Jericho, the “best friend” of Owens, has nothing else scheduled for Hell in a Cell, he’s probably going to be involved in this match somehow.
Owens has had a decent reign as champion. It would be nice if he wrestled more often on television and got more wins, though. They just don’t know how to book a strong heel champion anymore. The fact that he got pinned off one move by Rollins last week on Raw disappointed me so much. What a terrible finish to a match that was as Rollins beat both Owens and Jericho at the same time. Fans are not going to invest in characters that lose non-title matches so easily, yet kick out of everything during title matches. It’s a bad way to book a champion.
Rollins hasn’t done enough to be a babyface that the fans can rally behind. Calling Jericho “Sparkle Crotch” was okay for a laugh one week, but he is not cool enough yet. He keeps talking about making things difficult for Stephanie, yet he hasn’t done anything significant for us to believe him. I did like Owens hitting him with a Powerbomb on the apron on Raw because at least it weakens Rollins a bit going into the title match. Long term, Rollins will be better off as a face. Right now is still the transition period.
They’ll probably get 17-25 minutes, lots of nearfalls for Rollins to make it look like he’s close to winning and then I see Owens finding a way to retain. Jericho is probably going to get in the cage somehow leading to Owens retaining. Perhaps Triple H can return here although I really have no idea what the plan is with him.
If this match goes on last they could end the show in a babyface way by having Roman Reigns make the save for Rollins with the idea that the former Shield buddies are on the same page again.
Winner: Kevin Owens
Raw Women’s Championship Hell in a Cell Match: Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte
Kurt: To close or not to close? That is the question. I’ve been very vocal that I think it’s ridiculous to put these two inside Hell in a Cell. It just feels so forced. (Hey Sasha, are you two making history? I’m not sure you’ve told anyone or not.) However, if WWE felt so inclined to put them inside the Cell, then it should’ve been the only Cell match on the show. Now they have to compete with two other matches and whether they go first or last, will now be unfairly compared to the other two matches.
The booking of all these matches will the most interesting feature of the show to watch. Imagine if they end up going first, there’s no way they’ll be the middle match, and absolutely tear the house down. Out of sheer determination and pent up anxiety to prove they’re worthy to be in the Cell, they go to the top of the Cell, they fall off the side (similar to HBK in the first Cell match and Rollins/Ambrose from two years ago) and do something you would’ve never imagined. Then the men follow it up and stay in the cell and just have basic PG style hardcore matches inside the Cell, then how foolish does that make the men look? On the flip side, if they have the women wrestle a safe match and they barely leave the ring, let alone use the Cell, and then the men all tear the house down, then you make the women look inferior and prove what a silly decision it was to put them inside of it for what ended up being a dog and pony show.
I don’t know if there’s a winning formula for the order of these three matches, but I’m sure these ladies will do what they can to make it a memorable match and Sasha has a nice hometown moment.
Prediction: Sasha Banks retains
Matt: I haven’t been the biggest fan of how they built toward this match between these two women. I didn’t enjoy the sit down interviews with Lita, and found the segment with Foley this week to be a little mansplainy. If not that, then it was an entire about-face, as Foley seemed to be the most gung-ho about them getting the compete in the structure in the first place, but on Monday seemed to be fearful of allowing them to do it.
With all of that said, these two deserve to be put in this historic situation. Not only do they deserve to compete in Hell In A Cell, they deserve to go on last and truly main event on Sunday. I could go on and on and sing their praises in ways we’ve all seen before, I could over analyze the storytelling at every turn and come up with an educated prediction but my feeling about this are very simple. Regardless of who wins, they deserve it, they will undoubtedly deliver, and they should be the main event. End of story.
Winner and Still Raw Women’s Champion: Sasha Banks (because she needs the signature win here. Would have been better to have her win the title in her hometown in Hell In A Cell, but we can’t always have perfect moments)
Mike: Let's get the easy stuff out of the way: This match deserved to be last before WWE chose to make a big deal out of it being last, and it deserves to be last DESPITE WWE choosing to make a big deal out of it. It also deserved a better fate than to be left hanging out to dry after a series of mistweets by the chairman of the board and others about whether or not it was a main event or THE main event that required more backsliding than a sea otter. And trust me people, I've watched more Discovery Channel than I'd care to admit: that's a lot of damn backsliding.
Sasha and Charlotte deserve to have this battle and the sense of purpose, destiny, and danger that it brings. Both have been very good champions and both have held their own in the battle of wills and emotions that it takes for your average Joe to be invested in a title match. There are plenty of wrestlers, men and women both, who could take some lessons from these two in that regard. The crowd will be plenty hot for this in Sasha's hometown, and an effective case could be made for each one to walk out with the gold. That in itself is worthy of note on a brand and a card that hasn't featured much of that since the brand split.
If there is a downside, it's that there's an insurmountable pressure to perform riding on this particular match, and I don't say that in regards to the promotion forcing these two women to engage in risky moves for our viewing pleasure. I say it in the simple fact that both of them have shown week after week that they want to break ground in the most fantastic way possible, like any true champion does. It's no longer about shattering the glass ceiling; it's about demolishing the cement one above it.
I want to tell you that I'm excited for this match, and of course I am. If I watched no other match on the card but this, I'd be content. But I also want to tell you that I'm deeply concerned on a personal level for the outcome. Maybe I shouldn't be. Maybe I should treat it like any other cage match I've ever seen. But that wouldn't be fair to the participants, and it wouldn't be fair to the readers I'm come to know and respect over the years I've written about this awesome business. I hope that seeing these two special athletes engage in an unprecedented battle delivers everything everyone wants it to. But mainly I hope I get to see both of them wrestle again, free of pain and restriction, the following night. This match IS important, but not as important as its combatants. Bravo.
Winner (and still Raw Women's Champion): Sasha Banks
John: There’s been a lot of chatter about this match being the main event. I wrote a lot about it on The Comeback, so check it out if you want to know my elaborate thoughts on the whole thing. Simply put, this is the match that I think should go on last because it’s the feud most deserving of Hell in a Cell on the Raw brand. I like the idea of these women in the main event match of the show.
As for the match itself, we’ve seen them wrestle a half dozen times this year alone on television and they’ve worked together on live events so many times in the last couple of years. The chemistry is obviously there. I think the crowd reaction will be very good since they are Banks’ hometown of Boston. She’s already one of the most popular people in WWE. Being in Boston will certainly help her in terms of crowd reactions.
I hope they don’t do anything too crazy. I almost put “stupid” there, but I don’t want to use that word because I think they’re very smart wrestlers. It’s just that Sasha did have a back injury that they thought was serious and she came back within a month. I just don’t think it’s necessary to take crazy bumps into the cell or fight on top of it. A bump off the side of it would be foolish. Use the cell to help tell a story. Just be careful with what you try to do.
The result of the match should be a win for Banks and likely the end of this feud, at least for this year. This feels like the kind of feud, similar to Trish vs. Lita, where they will continue it down the road like if Banks was the heel and Charlotte was the face. The Trish vs. Lita was like that with both women in both heel/face roles. Anyway, I’m rambling. Give them 20 minutes, it should be a lot of fun and Banks should retain the title to put an end to the feud.
Winner: Sasha Banks
John: I feel like this is a very predictable show. It’s happened for a few other PPVs this year too. It’s just the way WWE is these days. They really don’t take a lot of risks or do “holy shit” moments to get people really excited. I think it could be a very good wrestling show in terms of the matches being good. I just think the repetitiveness of some of the matches hurt the show a bit.
If you want more WWE Hell in a Cell talk as well as discussion on everything else going Check out my Hell in a Cell review on Monday morning.
Kurt - @KTankTMB
Matt - @MJDP_GSE
Mike - @DharmanRockwell
John - @johnreport
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