This Sunday night in San Antonio, Texas, World Wrestling Entertainment presents Hell in a Cell on WWE Network. It is the tenth year in a row that WWE has run a Hell in a Cell event featuring at least one Hell in a Cell match on the card each year. This year there are two of them, which has become the norm most years. The nine previous Hell in a Cell events were held in October, so WWE made the change to move it up one month this year since October has the Australian Super-Showdown event on October 6 and the women’s only Evolution event on October 28.
There are only eight matches announced as of this writing. That seems low for a typical WWE pay-per-view, so I expect the company to announce two Kickoff Show matches at some point this weekend. The Kickoff show begins at 6 p.m. ET/5 p.m. CT and the main card starts at 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT with a run time close to four hours. It’s scheduled for 3.5 hours on WWE Network’s schedule page, but it may go a bit longer than that.
Here’s the full lineup of eight matches:
- Universal Championship Hell in a Cell Match: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Braun Strowman (Mick Foley is the referee)
- WWE Championship: AJ Styles (c) vs. Samoa Joe
- Raw Women’s Championship: Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Alexa Bliss
- Smackdown Women’s Championship: Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Becky Lynch
- Raw Tag Team Championships: Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler (c) vs. Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins
- Mixed Tag Team Match: Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella vs. The Miz and Maryse
- Hell in a Cell Match: Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton
- Smackdown Tag Team Championships: The New Day (c) vs. Rusev and Aiden English
What stands out is of the six title matches announced, five of the champions won their titles within the last month. Only AJ Styles has had a long reign going into the show, with his reign lasting 312 days as of Sunday’s match. This card could be light in terms of title changes, but maybe WWE wants to give their champs short title reigns too. You never really know.
It’s a shame that some big names are missing, especially from Raw, including Kevin Owens, Finn Balor, and Bobby Lashley. Raw is a frustrating product to watch right now. I think the Smackdown matches have been built up a lot better and I care about them more. Let’s get to some predictions.
10. Aiden English will accidentally cost “Rusev Day” the victory against The New Day
The story of Aiden English and Rusev has been about making mistakes followed by righting the wrongs. When Rusev and Lana were feuding with Andrade Almas and Zelina Vega, English accidentally screwed up several times in matches that led to Rusev and Lana losing. Since then, English apologized and has been a great tag team partner. This past week on Smackdown, English shoved Rusev out of the way of a Brogue Kick by Sheamus, which led to English getting hit with the kick. Rusev capitalized with a Machka Kick to win the match for his team to earn the title shot.
With the story being that all is well for Rusev Day, it makes me think that something fishy is going on. This is WWE and anybody that has watched this company regularly knows that they don’t just go from teasing problems to everything running smoothly. Perhaps that’s what happened in this case because maybe WWE realized how good English and Rusev are together. I have my doubts, though. I think there will be issues again.
My prediction is that when it looks like Rusev and English are about to win the titles, English will do something “accidentally” to cost his team the match, leading to Rusev getting pinned by one of the New Day guys. I know I didn’t mention New Day much, but that’s only because there’s a lack of a story surrounding them going into this match. Basically, it’s just a title match.
I doubt New Day will lose the gold so soon after winning the straps last month. New Day retains, English apologizes to Rusev for screwing up, and then on the next Smackdown, English will attack Rusev to end their team for good.
9. Randy Orton will defeat Jeff Hardy inside Hell in a Cell after a crazy bump from Hardy
This feud has been going on for a few months with Randy Orton turning heel because he was sick of how much the fans liked a guy like Jeff Hardy. It was a good move because Orton is much more natural as a dirtbag jerk and he’s said in many interviews that he likes being the bad guy. These guys had a memorable feud about ten years ago when Orton was WWE Champion, so they still have that chemistry between them.
The story is that Hardy is willing to do anything in a match like this to get revenge on Orton. This is also Hardy’s first Hell in a Cell match, which is hard to believe considering how many gimmick matches Hardy has been in during his career, but it’s true. Meanwhile, Orton has been in six HIAC matches with a 3-3 record. The only two men in more HIAC matches are The Undertaker with 14 and Triple H with 9.
I think they’ll have a pretty good match using a lot of weapons around ringside. I could see them finding a way to leave the cell as well. I think of Shane McMahon during his two Hell in a Cell matches where he jumped off the top both times and went crashing through the table. Hardy may not do the exact same thing, but perhaps he’ll put his own twist on it, going for a Swanton Bomb through the table instead of an elbow drop like Shane. It might be too risky, though.
Orton is my pick due to Hardy doing something crazy. It’s not a lock by any means because WWE may want Hardy to go over since he’s the face in the feud. I just think it makes more sense for Orton to win his first feud during this heel run.
8. Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella will get their revenge on The Miz and Maryse in the mixed tag team match
The ending of Daniel Bryan vs. The Miz at SummerSlam saw Maryse hand Miz a foreign object (brass knuckles) and Miz punched Bryan with the object leading to the controversial finish. That led to Brie Bella being used on Smackdown (she’s on Raw too with no explanation given as to why she’s on both shows) and it set up this obvious tag team match. This past week on Smackdown, Brie vs. Maryse was the main event, although it was barely a match. It was more of an angle to set up this match.
A mixed tag team match means the guys wrestle the guys and the girls wrestle the girls. There’s no man on woman violence in WWE, although sometimes the girls hit the guys, like when Brie punched Miz a few weeks ago. Miz pulled Brie out of the ring last week on Smackdown, so there was something there too.
I think it makes sense to have Bryan and Brie get the win just because of the heel Miz getting the win at SummerSlam. There’s no need to overthink it. What they might do instead is to have Brie beat Maryse, so that Miz can say that Bryan still can’t beat him.
Bryan and Miz have a big singles match at the Australian Super Show-Down event on October 6 with the winner becoming the number one contender to the WWE Championship. I hope it’s Bryan that wins that match, but I like Miz a lot too, so I’m fine with it either way. It also depends on who the WWE Champion is at the time.
7. Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler will lose by disqualification and keep their titles
Since Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler won the Raw Tag Team Titles less than two weeks ago, it feels like it is too soon for them to lose the titles already. Can I see Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose becoming Tag Team Champions again? Sure, but there’s no reason to do it right now.
This match should be great because they are four awesome workers who know how to tell an interesting story in a tag team match. Whether the heels work over Ambrose or Rollins for most of the match, you know that when the hot tag happens, the crowd is going to explode. I hope it’s Rollins that gets the hot tag because he’s incredible in tag team matches with his fast-paced offense. Ambrose can do it well too, though.
I can see there being a cheap ending to keep the titles on the champs. In fact, I’ll go with a disqualification finish because then it can lead to more matches between them. I don’t think Rollins or Ambrose would be hurt losing a match like this, but a DQ ending keeps the feud going.
Rollins is also the Intercontinental Champion, but that title is not on the line at Hell in a Cell. It has been forgotten in the last month, which is a shame.
6. The crowd will be supportive of Becky Lynch and “Boo The Woo” that is Charlotte Flair
Before I offer up a prediction for the Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch match, I need to make a point about the crowd. I think the fans in San Antonio are going to be strongly behind the challenger Becky Lynch and they will be loudly against the champion Charlotte Flair.
I wrote a column here at The Comeback about how Charlotte vs. Becky has got the WWE Universe talking a lot about who should be the heel and who should be the face. The way WWE has booked it has made it seem like Charlotte’s still the face champion while Becky is the heel that turned on her best friend because Charlotte became Smackdown Women’s Champion at SummerSlam instead of Becky. There are reports out there that say WWE wants people to cheer and boo who they want, but based on the booking, they are clearly positioning Lynch as the heel. After all, it was Lynch who attacked Charlotte from behind on Smackdown and Lynch has done the cheap attacks all month long. Clearly, WWE wants you to boo Lynch. That doesn’t mean the fans are listening.
If you’re wondering what “Boo The Woo” means, look at the Lynch shirt above. Obviously, “The Woo” is referencing the Flair family’s famous “Woo” and when Lynch posted that pic with Sheamus, fans loved it. I wouldn’t be shocked to see some “Boo The Woo” signs at Hell in a Cell.
5. Charlotte Flair will retain her title and Becky Lynch will attack after the match to keep the feud going
This one is tough to predict. I’m not sure if WWE wants to take the title off Charlotte Flair four weeks after winning it, but it makes sense for the story if Lynch got the win by cheating, leading to Flair chasing her for the next few months.
Keep in mind what’s on the horizon. It’s already been announced that Flair will face Lynch at the Australian Super Show-Down event on October 6. That show is big, but I don’t think it’s as important as the all-women Evolution PPV on October 28. At that event, I expect a huge match between Charlotte and Becky likely with a stipulation such as Street Fight or something similar to raise the stakes between them. I think as far as this feud goes, the match at Evolution is bigger than Hell in a Cell.
It doesn’t matter that much to me who wins. Titles are props. They are part of telling the story and in this case, it’s a big part of the story since Lynch hasn’t held that title in two years while Charlotte is a 7-time Women’s Champion in WWE. I care more about things like the quality of the match (it should be one of the best women’s matches in WWE this year), the fans reacting to it (they will be loud), and the story that comes out of the match.
I’m going with a Charlotte win via something like an inside cradle or another move that makes it seem like a close finish. Either that, or they can do a disqualification with Lynch attacking Flair with an object when Lynch realizes she can’t beat her. I don’t think Lynch should tap out to the Figure Eight submission.
After the match is over, Lynch should attack Charlotte again, put the Dis-Harm-Her armbar submission on, have Charlotte tap, and build to the next match with Charlotte selling the arm injury. Perhaps Lynch wins the title in Australia and drops it back to Charlotte at Evolution. I don’t know. I just feel like Charlotte is going to keep it here.
4. Ronda Rousey’s first Raw Women’s Title defense will be twice as long as her SummerSlam match was
Last month at SummerSlam, Ronda Rousey defeated Alexa Bliss in about four minutes to win the Raw Women’s Title. In my predictions column for that show, I wrote that Rousey should win in under five minutes and do so in dominant fashion. Bliss barely got any offense in while Rousey won her first title in WWE.
This time, I think they will have a longer match that I can see going 8-10 minutes. The reason I feel that way is because there’s a story going into the match where Rousey is dealing with a rib injury after Bliss and tag team partner Mickie James worked on the ribs a lot during a tag team match on Monday’s Raw. By having Rousey sell the ribs, Bliss should be able to control the majority of the match before Rousey makes her big comeback.
Rousey should win this match with the armbar and that will be the end of Bliss in the title picture for now. The rumor is that Rousey will face Nikki Bella in the main event of the women’s Evolution PPV on October 28. Since Nikki is back on TV winning matches nearly every week, it shows that WWE is building her back up again.
3. Samoa Joe will end the WWE Title reign of AJ Styles
I picked Samoa Joe to win at SummerSlam. He did win by disqualification, so I was right in that regard, but he did not leave with the WWE Title. I thought this was a match that should have been inside the Hell in a Cell considering the story they have told. My guess is WWE didn’t want to do it that way because of whatever finish they had in mind.
Since Samoa Joe has made it a personal feud talking about AJ’s wife Wendy and daughter Annie (they don’t mention AJ’s three sons at all), I expect Wendy and Annie to be at ringside for the match and playing a part of the finish. It could be something where AJ is worried that Joe is about to do something violent to Wendy, so Styles tries to save his wife and that ends up costing him when he hits the barricade. Joe can capitalize on that to win the WWE Title to show that Joe’s mind games worked.
This is not an easy match to predict because I think there’s value in keeping the WWE Title on Styles since he’s on the cover of the WWE 2K19 video game that comes out next month. Maybe WWE will want to keep the title on Styles, since he has the WWE Title on his shoulder on the cover. Styles could feud with a heel like The Miz or Randy Orton after this, so there are options for him. I just feel like with the mind games storyline going on, Joe should leave as WWE Champion.
I think these two will have an outstanding match and it will be the best match of AJ’s second WWE Title run. I’ll go with Joe, but it’s not a lock by any means.
2. Roman Reigns will remain Universal Champion against Braun Strowman
I think this is a good choice for the main event and I don’t mind seeing Strowman as a heel again, even though fans were really getting behind him. If you watch a Strowman match, it’s tough to really feel sorry for a guy that’s 6’8” and 325 pounds. It would be tough to try to believe in him as a face that had to sell for a heel for the majority of the match. As a heel, it’s an easier story to tell where he’s on offense and in control.
Reigns and Strowman have had several great matches together in the past. They have also had a lot of matches with stipulations attached, so I’m intrigued by the possibilities of this match. It won’t be a bloody HIAC match like we used to get, because WWE banned blood in matches (unless it’s “accidental) about a decade ago, but I am confident in these guys finding creative ways to have an entertaining match. That means the use of chairs, tables, and other weapons they can find under the ring.
Mick Foley, a WWE Hall of Famer that helped make HIAC matches famous, was added as the special referee last week on Raw. I think it would have been better if they added him a few weeks ago and then did a promo segment with Foley trying to build up the match a bit more. Waiting until the last week felt like a little too late.
If Strowman loses this match, then that means that the Money in the Bank winner will fail to cash in the briefcase in the same year where Royal Rumble winners Shinsuke Nakamura and Asuka failed to become champions at WrestleMania. What a terrible year for people that earned major title shots. At least Carmella won a title with her Money in the Bank cash in.
I feel like WWE wants to give Reigns a long run as the Universal Champion to try to establish that title. A lot of us hated Brock Lesnar’s 16-month reigns because he barely defended the title. By making Reigns a fighting babyface champion (that still gets booed by fans), it will help the title. I also think Strowman deserves a run as champion, but it might not happen.
The way I see this going is that Strowman will do something to break the cell, which will allow his buddies Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler to get involved. That will lead to Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose also making their way down to the ring, there will be a lot of chaos and Reigns will ultimately get the win to retain his title. It should be a very good match too.
1. Hell in a Cell will be better than WrestleMania and SummerSlam
I like the lineup a lot, and I don’t think there’s a weak match on the card. It’s hard to predict if it’s going to be an awesome show because it depends on the booking, but one of the things that Hell in a Cell has going for it is that it won’t tire the crowd out as much as a WrestleMania or SummerSlam does because they are so long. I thought both of those shows were in the 7 out of 10 range if I’m being generous. Hell in a Cell should be better.
If they time the show right by giving matches like Styles vs. Joe and Reigns vs. Strowman the most time (between 20-25 minutes each), then that will result in a better show. Charlotte and Becky will do a great job. Rousey’s match won’t be long, but the crowd is into everything she does. I like the idea of Hardy and Orton inside the cell to see how creative they can get. The two Tag Team Title matches all feature very good in-ring performers, so as long as they get enough time, they will be fun to watch. The mixed tag team match won’t be match of the night by any means, but should be enjoyable with a hot crowd due to Daniel Bryan’s involvement. Match finishes are important too, because if they have bad finishes, then that hurts the overall quality of the card and potentially pisses off the crowd.
While it’s fair to say that the WWE product isn’t that hot right now and the shows leading up to HIAC have been just average, this is an enjoyable card on paper. There’s nothing on here that is going to stink up the joint. It’s not like we have to sit through a Big Cass or Enzo Amore singles match again, so that’s nice.
My WWE PPV of the year so far is the Royal Rumble. I think there’s a very good chance that Hell in a Cell comes close to that or tops it.
This will be a very good show. I have a lot of confidence in the talent on this card. There’s not a match that I can point to and say that it’s going to stink the joint up.
You can watch WWE Hell in a Cell this Sunday, September 16th at 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT on WWE Network. There’s also a one-hour Kickoff Show starting at 6 p.m. ET/5 p.m. CT as well. If you miss it live, you can watch it on demand at your own convenience. I’ll be back on Monday for a review of the event.