Well, it’s been approximately five minutes, so time for another pay-per-view!
Emanating from Boston, MA
Announcers: Byron Saxton, Michael Cole, and Corey Graves
UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP – ROMAN REIGNS (c) vs. RUSEV- HELL IN A CELL MATCH
BAYLEY vs. DANA BROOKE
LUKE GALLOWS & KARL ANDERSON vs. ENZO AMORE & BIG CASS
WWE UNIVERSAL CHAMPIONSHIP- KEVIN OWENS (c) vs. SETH ROLLINS- HELL IN A CELL MATCH
WWE CRUISERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP- TJ PERKINS (c) vs. THE BRIAN KENDRICK
RAW TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP- THE NEW DAY (c) vs. CESARO AND SHEAMUS
RAW WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP- SAHSA BANKS (c) vs. CHARLOTTE- HELL IN A CELL MATCH
WARNING: MATCH SPOILERS AHEAD
Y’know, I think its time we all admit that a pay-per-view built entirely around one match type or one gimmick isn’t really a particularly sustainable pay-per-view model. Now granted, I think most of you dear readers likely already realise this: its WWE who may have to come to terms with that. This is particularly true in relation to Hell in a Cell: a match that was once the be-all end-all to only the most heated and personal of feuds has now become a perfunctory once-a-year event where the matches that take place in the Cell do so simply to fill quota instead of being deserving of the structure in any way.
Point being, one Cell match a year used to be a lot. Now we’ve got three; in one night. One of which features Roman Reigns. Fuck my life.
Jokes aside, this year’s addition of Hell in a Cell was by no means a poor show, excessive spamming of Cell matches aside. That said, it was a show that apparently did very little to get the Boston crowd remotely excited, and their relative lack of energy was something of a mood killer. Of course, there’s any number of reasons as to why crowds have seemingly been much more lethargic lately, but over-exposure is likely the main culprit. Hell in a Cell opened with a Cell match, closed with a Cell match, and was buffered in the middle by yet another Cell match, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the crowd was just worn out by the night’s end. And for me, that lack of energy was transferrable, and even in spite of my enjoyment of the wrestling on display, I was getting wiped out.
As far as the matches go, there were really only two that even got the crowd remotely fired up: the Universal Title match and the historic Women’s Championship match that saw champ Sasha Banks and challenger Charlotte go to war inside the Cell. The Universal Title match was a genuinely great contest between not just the two best wrestlers on RAW, but quite possibly the entire company. There are few workers better than Seth, and few heels as amazing as Kevin Owens, and putting them together will always deliver. The additional wrinkle of Kevin’s best friend Chris Jericho sneaking into the Cell to help KO win was great booking that only furthers the Owens-Rollins feud and serves to make Rollins all the more sympathetic as a face. As for the Women’s Title match…here’s the thing: this was a very important match, with a great deal of historical significance. Even a year ago, if you told me that a women’s match would main event a WWE pay-per-view, and that it would be inside Hell in a Cell, I would not have believed you, but here we are. The fact that this match took place at all is such an incredible win for women in the WWE and wrestling as a whole that it will always be memorable for that reason alone. With that said, however, it wasn’t necessarily a great match: the exciting start quickly wore off and the match became something of a plodding affair that was capped off by a truly baffling finish that saw Charlotte regain the Women’s Championship. This was especially odd given that Boston is Sasha’s hometown, and that a win for the Boss would have sent the crowd home happy and left a far more positive lasting image than Charlotte’s abrupt win did. So in short, the Women’s Title match was historic to be sure, but its prestige was marred in execution.
As for the other matches on the card, they mostly in the above-average category, but the aforementioned lack of energy from the crowd hurt all these matches in turn. Part of the blame could rest with the opening US title match, which dragged on entirely too long, and may have been a big culprit in sapping the crowd’s energy early. The absolute low point in crowd enthusiasm came with the Cruiserweight Championship match. The Cruiserweights, for all their phenomenal talent, have really had trouble connecting with crowds, and here was no different. It also didn’t help that the feud between TJ Perkins and Brian Kendrick has been, at best, very half-baked. The end result was a match that was greeted with near silence, and even the surprising title win for Kendrick did little to pop the apathetic crowd. The lowlights kept coming, as the Tag Team Title match to follow saw Cesaro and Sheamus take the win…by DQ. Yup, that’s right, Cesaro and Sheamus got another bullshit non-finish to their angle, because one was not enough. Of course, this may not be the end, but with each non-finish it’s getting increasingly hard to remain invested.
Hell in a Cell could be one of the strongest indicators of the fatigue that’s currently plaguing the product. The seemingly endless barrage of wrestling content we now get in a week felt like it really took its toll on this show, and what should have an important, landmark show ended up feeling as blah as 90% of the crowd in attendance clearly felt throughout the entire show. While the Women’s Championship and Universal Championship matches are worth a look, Hell in a Cell as a show is one that you can safely pass on.