The latest Raw-only WWE Network special is tonight, with three matches taking place inside the confines of the giant cell structure. For a full preview of the card, be sure to check out my good friends over at Place To Be Nation with a full recap.
The preshow starts at 7 pm with the main show starting at 8 p.m.
Hell in a Cell 2016
TD Garden – Boston, Mass.
The pre-show panel of Renee Young, Booker T, Lita and Jerry “The King” Lawler run down the card for the evening before the first match, a six-man tag featuring the cruiserweights, which will take place on the pre-show.
Sin Cara, Lince Dorado and Cedrick Alexander vs. Ariya Daivari, Drew Gulak and Tony Nese
There’s a lot of potential with these six guys coming out of the WWE Network-exclusive Cruiserweight Classic – I especially became a fan of Alexander, Gulak and Nese there – so giving them a chance to open up the show and get the crowd going was a good idea. I just wish they managed to get Rich Swann, who has a chance to be huge with his charisma, into the match somehow. Of course, because it’s on the preshow, nobody gets a real chance to shine for too long, although everyone got to get a spot in here and there. Alexander gets the win for his team with a Lumbar Check backbreaker on Gulak after a good sequence with Nese.
We’ll see if this win gets some more focus placed on Alexander in Raw’s Cruiserweight division.
Winners: Sin Cara, Lince Dorado and Cedrick Alexander
Roman Reigns (c) vs. Rusev – Hell in a Cell U.S. Title Match
The main show kicks off with a grudge match for the U.S. Title, as Roman Reigns continues his rehabilitation from the disastrous main event run as WWE Champion. The problem is, he’s really been outclassed by the Bulgarian Rusev and his wife, Lana, who have both overshadowed Reigns during this program. Reigns isn’t winning any fans back over, either, it seems, as “LET’S GO RUSEV/RUSEV SUCKS” rang out from the audience throughout the match instead of any reaction for the U.S. Champion.
The first of three Hell in a Cell matches tonight, this will set the tone for the event, and the two men get going outside the ring to brawl around the covered cage. It’s a pretty violent match, as both guys use whatever they can find to beat the hell out of each other, including the steel steps. a chain and a Kendo stick. I still don’t understand why you can find a Kendo stick underneath the ring…
In one of the more violent spots of the match, Rusev lay Reigns down on top of the steel steps and put on his finishing move, The Accolade, while scraping the chain across Reigns’ face. Reigns, of course, powered out of it and dropped the challenger on the steel steps with a Samoan Drop. And that leads to a rather anticlimactic victory for the champion, as Reigns hit Rusev with a Spear for the one-two-three.
The Reigns push continues. Hopefully, we can move Rusev on to bigger and better things, although he may just end up as an afterthought as a midcard heel now if the Reigns feud is over.
Winner: Roman Reigns
Bayley vs. Dana Brooke
While WWE pushes the Women’s Championship as a near main-event program, the potential star of the division – Bayley – continues to get acclimated to the main roster fighting former champion Charlotte’s ex-protege in Dana Brooke. Brooke injured Bayley’s shoulder on Raw, so the story of the match is whether the underdog Bayley can overcome the injured arm to win the match.
The former NXT Women’s Champion, Bayley managed to outwit Brooke, hitting her with her signature Bayley-to-Belly suplex after Brooke managed to avoid it once. Bayley is so much better than Brooke at this point and needs to move on to someone who can keep up with her in the ring. Brooke is way too green for such a high-profile program.
Once again, I am sick of the Dolph Ziggler-Miz KFC commercial, but I am still enamored by the WWE 2K17 commercial with “Downtown” playing throughout.
Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson
It’s my favorite Raw tag team – the Jersey Strong Enzo and Queens’ own Big Cass – taking on a couple of guys who are a bit aimless at the moment. Gallows and Anderson have had little to do since former Bullet Club partner AJ Styles went over to SmackDown and Finn Balor got injured. The feud with Enzo and Cass hasn’t reinvigorated them much at all, but it does give all four guys something to do and it gives shows like this more than one tag team match.
Not much of a match here as Anderson and Gallows get a quick win after hitting their finisher – the Magic Killer – on Enzo. Surely, this feud must continue!
Winners: Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson
Kevin Owens (c) vs. Seth Rollins – WWE Universal Championship Hell in a Cell Match
I’m pretty happy this match is going on in the middle of the show, because neither man is supposed to be all that likable, but they are both very impressive in the ring. Owens has been great since beating Rollins for the Universal Championship with the help of WWE Chief Operating Officer Triple H back in August, and it would be a shame for his reign to end already. He also has a built-in next feud with his “best friend,” Chris Jericho.
After injuring Rollins’ back on Raw Monday night with a power bomb, Owens controlled the early part of the match, until a great back-and-forth sequence of kicks, reversals and clotheslines put both men down. The pace for this second Hell in a Cell match has been better than the US Title match, and the violence was more inventive and a bit more energetic. Owens “accidentally” spraying the referee in the face with a fire extinguisher to get Jericho in the match was a nice touch, as was the vicious spot where Rollins threw Owens through two tables with a power bomb to the outside.
Rollins, amazingly, gets way too much offense in, considering he’s locked inside a cage with both Owens and Jericho, but the two of them are eventually too much for him, as Owens power bombs him through two chairs to get the win and retain the Universal Championship.
The match went on way too long once Jericho got in the ring and there’s no real reason for Rollins to be able to fight off both of these two guys. We’ll see where things go tomorrow night on Raw, but it’s a little ridiculous that this feud looks like it will extend past tonight. A Hell in a Cell match should be the end of any feud, not the middle act. Although, maybe they’ll switch Rollins over to a feud with Jericho, which would be better.
Winner: Kevin Owens.
TJ Perkins (c) vs. Brian Kendrick – Cruiserweight Championship
One of two title matches not inside a Cell tonight, it’s a rematch from last month’s Clash of the Champions. On Raw, Kendrick begged Perkins to let him win tonight, because Kendrick was there for Perkins when Perkins needed him as a teenager. I still don’t know why Kendrick is getting the first program as challenger to the Cruiserweight belt.
The crowd was not into this match at all, especially in the beginning as the pace was really slow. It basically crashed to a halt as Kendrick faked an injury and then sucker-punched Perkins before getting him to tap out for the win. A real waste, not just of a match but of a title change for the new Cruiserweight championship.
Winner: Brian Kendrick
The New Day (c) vs. Cesaro and Sheamus – Raw Tag Team Title Match
Because Cesaro and Sheamus tied in a best-of-7 series to see who could get a title match, Raw General Manager Mick Foley put them in a tag team and gave them a shot at the titles. So now, the pair are wacky tag team partners who can’t stand each other.
Putting Xavier Woods in the match instead of Kofi Kingston is a bit weird, considering Kofi is the hometown boy in the match, it also somewhat grounds the match a bit, because while Woods can go up to the ropes, he’s not as much of a high flyer as Kofi is. It’s possible they felt Woods would be a better match in the ring for Cesaro, while Sheamus could go toe-to-toe with Big E.
While Cesaro had Woods in a Sharpshooter in the middle of the ring – for way too long, by the way – Kofi interfered in the match to hit Sheamus with a Trouble in Paradise kick. The referee caught the interference, and because Kofi was just supposed to be a corner man, he called for the bell, giving Sheamus and Cesaro the win via DQ, but New Day keeps the tag team titles. Real waste of a match there.
Winners: Cesaro and Sheamus by DQ.
Sasha Banks (c) vs. Charlotte – Hell in a Cell Raw Women’s Title Match
The women get the main event slot here tonight, in the first Hell in a Cell match to involve the women. Of course, the match had to make it into the ring first. Charlotte, the daughter of the legendary Ric Flair, assaulted Banks outside the ring and destroyed her, putting her through a table, before the match got a chance to start. With Banks writhing in pain on the floor, referees called for EMTs and a stretcher while former champion Charlotte got in the ring and yelled at the referees to give her the title.
Banks, of course, hearing that she would have to forfeit the title, got up off the stretcher and got in the cell to start the match, throwing Charlotte into the cage and getting the violence going proper.
Banks fighting back from the opening assault to repeatedly baseball slide Charlotte into the cage, followed by a dive through the ropes onto Charlotte and into the cage was a ridiculous bump to take for a woman who’s been injured frequently this past year. And all the spots where Charlotte slammed Banks’ back onto various objects were really cringe-worthy. After the backbreaker onto the chair, I was almost begging Banks to stay down. And after all the violent spots Banks took, Charlotte weakly goes through a table after Banks countered the superplex attempt to the outside.
While Banks put up a good fight after the beating she got before the match started, after Charlotte tossed her onto a table twice before hitting Natural Selection, it was all over. Charlotte wins her third Women’s Championship. The title has now switched between these two women a handful of times. Hopefully Charlotte manages to hold on to the belt a bit longer than a few weeks this time around.
This was one of the most violent Hell in a Cell matches we’ve seen in a long time, but given the violence before the bell, I think it went on a bit too long. Still, I’d easily call this one the match of the night, and I hope Sasha Banks gets a few weeks off to recover from a ridiculous beating she took here.
Overall, this was… not really a great show. Not bad, per se, but definitely bordering on mediocre with overbooked Cell matches. Despite what the post-show panel said about the crowd being into it all night, it didn’t come off that way for me watching the show. It’s time to retire Hell in a Cell as a regular named event to let the match be used naturally over the course of a feud. Owens-Rollins didn’t need the Cell, in my opinion. Rusev-Rollins was pretty good, but still went on too long and the ending felt like it was a fait accompli.
Here’s hoping Survivor Series has a better showing.