The WWE Hell in a Cell pay-per-view took place last night in San Antonio. It was a very good show in terms of in ring action, but some of the booking decisions have left WWE fans perplexed about what WWE is doing by bringing back Brock Lesnar during the Universal Title match.The Kickoff Show match saw The New Day beat Rusev Day to retain the Smackdown Tag Team Titles in about nine minutes.Here are the results of the seven matches that took place over 3 hours and 40 minutes.
- Randy Orton defeated Jeff Hardy in a Hell in a Cell match
- Becky Lynch defeated Charlotte Flair to become the Smackdown Women’s Champion
- Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler defeated Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose to retain the Raw Tag Team Titles
- AJ Styles defeated Samoa Joe in controversial fashion to retain the WWE Championship
- The Miz and Maryse defeated Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella
- Ronda Rousey defeated Alexa Bliss to retain the Raw Women’s Championship
- Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman ended in a No Contest in a Hell in a Cell match due to Brock Lesnar attacking both men
There was only one title change. I thought it would be Joe over Styles, but it was Lynch over Flair and that’s fine with me. Here are ten takeaways from the show.
10. The red Hell in a Cell structure was an unnecessary change
The Hell in a Cell match debuted in 1997 and WWE had done 38 Hell in a Cell matches going into this show. On Saturday, they released a video on Youtube showing that the new Hell in a Cell structure is red.I didn’t like it mainly because I felt like the original structure with the silver color looks more authentic. It just looks more painful. Since the graphics in the building also featured read because of the Hell in a Cell logo, that meant there was way too much red on the screen at times, so that was too much for me at times.There’s no specific reason for why the cell is red, but there has been some speculation that WWE’s higher-ups like Vince McMahon thought the old silver cell was outdated. They figured that a new color might make it feel fresher. I don’t know if that report is true, but it might be.
9. Seven matches is the right amount for a WWE pay-per-view event
I thought the lineup was good going into Hell in a Cell because when you have seven matches that are set to go about 3 hours and 30 minutes. then that gives the wrestlers a chance to have awesome matches. When NXT has Takeover events, they do five matches in 2 hours and 30 minutes, so seven matches in 3:30 is the same way.While it sucks that talented people like Finn Balor, Kevin Owens, The Usos, Sasha Banks, and Bayley, among others, were not on the show, I think the format of Hell in a Cell was a lot better than SummerSlam, which was ten matches over four hours. They also had three Kickoff Show matches at SummerSlam that helped to kill the crowd a bit.I hope that all WWE PPV events going forward have just seven matches instead of ten, but I assume that the “big four” shows (WrestleMania, Royal Rumble, SummerSlam, and Survivor Series) will have more matches than the other shows. My point is that rather than holding too many matches to get more people on the show, it’s better to have fewer matches and produce a better show. Makes sense, right?
8. Jeff Hardy’s big move ended up costing him the match against Randy Orton, as expectedhttps://twitter.com/totaldivaseps/status/1041470934404743169This was one of the more predictable matches on the card. In my predictions article, I wrote that Hardy was probably going to lose after doing some big spot and that’s exactly what happened. What we didn’t know was what spot would Hardy attempt. He ended up going for something unique that ended the match.Give Hardy and Orton a lot of credit for working a physical matchup with a lot of weapons, including chairs, tables, ladders, and even a screwdriver. Yes, a screwdriver. Orton grabbed a screwdriver and yanked on the ear hole that Hardy has on his left earlobe. It looked brutal as Orton twisted on it, while some fans in the crowd gasped when they saw it. In reality, Hardy likely felt no pain from it, but the visual looks bad.The match went about 25 minutes, and the finish featured Hardy setting up a huge spot with a big ladder with Orton on the table underneath it. Hardy climbed the ladder, then went even higher and held onto top of the cell. Hardy swung his legs while he was up there, Orton moved, and Hardy went crashing through the table. It was a rough bump for Hardy, but it was what most of us thought it would happen. The ref wanted to stop the match there, but Orton made him count the pin. Hardy was taken away on a stretcher, so that’s the end of the feud for now.https://www.instagram.com/p/Bnz5WcXHjnw/?taken-by=randyortonOrton posted the pic above on Instagram, which shows that he was cut up after Hell in a Cell too.
7. Becky Lynch ended the short Smackdown Title reign of Charlotte Flair in one of the best women’s matches in WWE this year
I really liked the Charlotte Flair title defense against Becky Lynch. It doesn’t surprise me that I liked the match since they are awesome wrestlers and best friends, so you know they were going to bust their asses to help make the other one look good. I thought it was up there with Charlotte vs. Asuka at WrestleMania as one of the best women’s matches in WWE this year, including NXT.They had a very competitive match with Lynch working on the left arm of Charlotte throughout the match, since Lynch has the Disarmer armbar submission finisher. Charlotte sold it all match long, kept coming back for more, and nearly got the win a few times. Charlotte wasn’t able to slap on her Figure Eight submission, which was a story of the match because Lynch was relentless in her attack. When Charlotte hit a Spear, Lynch rolled through and covered Flair to win. It was one of those close finishes that was done to show how even they were.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0dKEs7E0w4When Lynch won, the fans cheered. Lynch has been booked as a heel, but she hasn’t been booed despite her cheap actions. After the match, when Charlotte wanted a handshake, Lynch refused and walked away with her title. Those actions were heelish by Lynch, but the fans didn’t boo her. I’m not that wrapped up in heel or face distinctions – I just want good matches, and that’s what we got here.I picked Charlotte to retain because I thought WWE would keep the title on her a little bit longer since she won it just one month earlier at SummerSlam. However, WWE may book this feud similar to Charlotte and Sasha Banks two years ago when they did title changes every month for about five months. There will certainly be more Becky vs. Charlotte matches, likely at Evolution in late October and at Super Show-Down in early October, and I’m all for it because they have great matches together and the more they work with each other, the better the matches are probably going to be.6. The Raw Tag Team Title match was one of the best tag team matches in WWE this yearhttps://twitter.com/WWE/status/1041486565485105152I loved the Raw Tag Team Title match with Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre defeating Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose. They got over 20 minutes, told an incredible story during a match filled with a lot of action, and in the end, the savvy teamwork of Ziggler and McIntyre saw them retain their Raw Tag Team Titles.I’m not going to recap the whole thing, but the finish was brilliant. They made it seem like McIntyre was the legal man in the match. However, it was really Ziggler. Rollins was going after Ziggler with a superplex and then he tried for a Falcon Arrow slam only for McIntyre to come into the ring with a Claymore Kick. Ambrose was out on the floor during all of this.Please check out this match if you are a wrestling fan, especially if you enjoy the in-ring action more than everything else. It was outstanding. Like I noted above, it is one of the best tag team matches in WWE this year, or really any kind of match. All four men were on point. When you get over 20 minutes and four very good veteran wrestlers that know what they are doing, the results can be special. This is not the end of the feud by any means, so I’m excited to see what else is coming from these guys.5. Another controversial finish to an AJ Styles WWE Title match feels repetitivehttps://twitter.com/totaldivaseps/status/1041494937915846656I don’t know what it is, but WWE seems so caught up in booking controversial endings to AJ Styles matches this year. His feud with Shinsuke Nakamura produced several matches without a good ending. Even if you go back to SummerSlam last month, they had a match where Samoa Joe beat AJ Styles by disqualification. It should have led to a stipulation match or even a Hell in a Cell contest, but instead it led to a…regular match. Why? It’s like WWE forgot the classic wrestling booking of a DQ leading to a gimmick match.The match was pretty good, but it didn’t feel special at any time. I would have liked to see some more believable nearfalls and maybe Styles attempting some submissions. It just felt like two thirds of an epic match without the strong finishing sequence.The end of the match saw Joe put on a Coquina Clutch submission, but Styles turned it into a pinfall attempt for him, and won by pin. However, the replay showed that Styles tapped out in the submission to give Joe the win, but the ref was on the other side and he never saw it. Joe was later shown talking to Paige, who gave him a WWE Title rematch in Australia (already announced weeks ago) with no disqualifications and no countouts for the match. In other words, it’s like a Street Fight or a Hardcore Match where anything goes.https://twitter.com/WWE/status/1041509505039650817If the goal is to leave me wanting more then I think they did that because I’m a fan of both AJ and Joe, but I also think the finish likely pissed off some fans. Joe has a legitimate gripe here, and it almost makes him likable even though he’s the dirtbag heel in the storyline.4. The mixed tag team match led to Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella getting outsmarted by The Miz and Maryse againhttps://twitter.com/WWE/status/1041501296270819328The finish to The Miz vs. Daniel Bryan match at SummerSlam saw Miz get the win because Maryse gave him brass knuckles to knock out Bryan and win the match. I figured that in this mixed tag team match, Bryan and Brie would stop the cheating and find a way to win the match. Nope. It was another win for the bad guys, who were Miz and Maryse in this case. I can see them doing this match again on Smackdown this week or the week after with Bryan and Brie getting the win.One spot that really stuck out for me was when Bryan was battling Miz on the top rope. After Bryan knocked Miz down, he jumped off the top and went for a flying headbutt. Miz moved, so Bryan missed the move. That’s a spot that I would hope that Bryan stops doing because of his concussion history. Obviously, I don’t need to tell Bryan how to wrestle, but all I’m saying is that kind of move really doesn’t need to happen in Bryan matches. There’s no reason to take unnecessary head bumps like that ever again if you’re Daniel Bryan.The match was fine. It was a basic mixed tag team match with Bryan and Miz carrying it. Maryse barely did anything other than act cowardly the whole match, yet she was able to beat Brie with a sloppy looking rollup.Bryan and Miz are set to face off in a #1 Contender’s match for the WWE Title at Super Show-Down in Australia on October 6. I don’t know who will win, but I hope it’s Bryan. It also depends on if it’s AJ or Joe as the champion.3. Ronda Rousey won the most predictable match of the night to retain her Raw Women’s Titlehttps://www.instagram.com/p/Bn1SClwh7dc/The most predictable outcome of the night was Ronda Rousey successfully defending her Raw Women’s Title against Alexa Bliss. In my predictions for the show, I wrote that it’s probably going about ten minutes as opposed to the four minutes they got at SummerSlam. The reason for that is because Rousey was selling the rib injury, so Bliss worked over the ribs.I continue to be impressed by Rousey. The way she sold the rib injury was pretty good. When Rousey made the predictable comeback, her offense looked smooth. I thought it was a little cheesy when Rousey made the angry faces during her “hulking up” spot where she made the comeback, but other than that, it was mostly pretty good to me. Rousey won with the armbar as usual and the match went about 12 minutes.What hurt the match is that there was no point where anybody thought Bliss might win. I think they should have set up one or two close nearfalls for Bliss to make it look like Rousey might lose, but clearly, WWE always wants Rousey to be strong in her matches.The rumor is that Rousey will face Nikki Bella at the women’s Evolution PPV on October 28. We could see WWE set that up tonight on Raw. It has been teased a bit so far, so it’s just a matter of how WWE wants to make it official. I think it would be good if Nikki won a match to earn the title shot rather than just being given the title shot.
2. The ending of Roman Reigns’ Hell in a Cell match with Braun Strowman was disappointing
The CARNAGE continues…#HIAC #UniversalChampionship @WWERomanReigns pic.twitter.com/9CQnWp2dpR
— WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) September 17, 2018
The main event was Roman Reigns defending the Universal Title against Braun Strowman inside Hell in a Cell. This was one of those matches where it was obvious going in that WWE had no interest in booking either man to lose, so how could they get out of it? Brock Lesnar. I don’t think many of us saw that coming.The match was pretty good for about 15 minutes as they were building to big spots, but then the action came to a screeching halt. They did a huge spot where Reigns hit a Spear into a table that was propped up against the ropes. Reigns and Strowman were out on the mat, so McIntyre and Ziggler tried to interfere, but Rollins and Ambrose stopped them. Those four guys ended up brawling on the top of the cell. Rollins chased Ziggler to the side of the cell, leading to Rollins and Ziggler bumping off the cell about ten feet high through the table.During this entire sequence with Rollins, Ambrose, McIntyre, and Ziggler, all we saw from Reigns and Strowman was the two of them laying on the mat as if they were unable to move for about *six minutes*. They did nothing during the entire time because the camera wasn’t on them. I thought it was ridiculous.
There is only one word for this #UniversalChampionship Match… CHAOS. #HIAC pic.twitter.com/A9j1oWmeve
— WWE (@WWE) September 17, 2018
That’s when Brock Lesnar (with a beard) showed up to attack both men. The crowd reacted to Lesnar in a big way and they gave him a superstar pop. Most people believed Lesnar was done with WWE at SummerSlam and was focusing on his UFC fight with Daniel Cormier early next year. That UFC fight is still happening, but Lesnar is back for more. Lesnar was not advertised for Hell in a Cell, but PWInsider reported on Lesnar being there earlier in the day.Lesnar kicked open the Hell in a Cell door. My guess is the lock wasn’t really locked, but it looked like it was. Lesnar destroyed Reigns and Strowman by picking up pieces of broken wood tables and smashing them over the backs of the two men. Meanwhile, special referee Mick Foley was not that special because he was taken out by Paul Heyman, who sprayed something in his eyes. Lesnar hit the F5 on both Reigns and Strowman. Both guys were out, so another ref called for the bell.Reigns vs. Strowman was officially a No Contest after about 25 minutes, which was really about 15 minutes of action and a final ten minutes that included both men laying on the mat and getting beat up by Lesnar. I thought it was a lame ending. I understand that WWE didn’t want to have Reigns or Strowman lose, but why book the match in the first place? They could have done something else. Hell in a Cell is supposed to be a match with no rules and all weapons are legal, so by ending it that way, you’re basically spitting the rules back in our face. It just doesn’t come off as a great idea.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iaBjP0TUoZAAfter the show was over, fans were upset that they paid a lot of money to witness that ending, so they repeatedly chanted “this is bullshit”. That wasn’t shown on the broadcast because WWE cut away right after the finish without any replays. The funny thing is they were chanting “Suplex City” in support of Lesnar right before that, but I think when they realized the show was over, they were pissed off.It’s understandable that fans were upset. A lot of fans online are mad too. It’s as if people expect a WWE PPV to end with a decisive finish rather than a No Contest ending. I get that too, but I think big picture it makes sense because of what WWE has coming up. That doesn’t mean I liked it or that I would have done it. I think they could have had Strowman lose in cheap fashion, which could still set up a rematch. Instead, they went with the draw. Nobody is ever going to like those kinds of endings. Does it make you more excited for Raw or make you groan about Lesnar being back? I think the WWE fans will have a mixed reaction to it and that’s why I’m not a fan of ending the show the way they did.
1. Brock Lesnar’s return will lead to at least one more match in…Saudi Arabia? Yes, really!
The story on Lesnar’s return is that WWE is going to run another event in Saudi Arabia (this time in Riyadh, last time was in Jeddah) on November 2, according to Wrestling Observer. It hasn’t been announced yet, but that’s the plan for the male wrestlers on the roster. The women most likely won’t be there, just like for the Greatest Royal Rumble event in April. It’s coming six days after the Women’s Evolution PPV on October 28.While it’s not known what the WWE Universal Championship match might be at that show, I expect it to be Reigns vs. Strowman vs. Lesnar for the Universal Championship. Lesnar will be paid a lot of money to work the show, so that’s why he is likely willing to do it. I would assume the storyline explanation is that Lesnar was granted a rematch by Baron Corbin, the acting GM, after GM Kurt Angle said that Lesnar doesn’t get a rematch. Strowman can be a part of it because he got screwed over by Lesnar. They can do the triple threat with Reigns pinning Lesnar to write out Lesnar until whenever he shows up again.https://twitter.com/BraunStrowman/status/1041725084371746817The end game makes sense and looking back at the way the show finished, I can see why WWE would want to bring back Lesnar. He’s a big name that allowed them to book a screwy finish. I think that ending hurt the show a lot after three hours of mostly great action prior to the main event.
Final ThoughtsI enjoyed Hell in a Cell mainly for the work in the ring, and the Tag Team Title match with McIntyre/Ziggler vs. Rollins/Ambrose was one of the best matches of the year. I liked the Lynch/Flair match a lot too, and everything else was solid. The booking of the main event isn’t something I will remember fondly, but at least I understand why WWE chose to go that route.The month of October will have two major WWE PPV events with the Australian Super Show-Down taking place on Saturday, October 6 and the all-women’s Evolution event on October 28. Look for all WWE programming to focus on building to those shows over the next few weeks. I should be back later in the week for another WWE related column. Thanks for reading.