I know that I normally have these uploaded the following morning after a PPV, but this one is something slightly different. I won’t be doing a full recap; this will be more about reactions and the implications that the finishes leave on the future. The new episode of Smackdown was last night as well, perhaps giving further hint of what is to come. The play-by-play also isn’t quite as easy when I’m not sitting at home taking notes. There’s no room for that when you’re in the arena live.
I should note that this was my first proper WWE PPV. I had previously been to the NXT Takeovers in Toronto and Chicago, which were amazing, but the atmosphere just doesn’t quite match up to the main roster. Except for a few moments where a row of gross dudes near me were chanting some awful things, I had such a great time at Hell In A Cell.
So let’s get down to the card.
The kickoff show featured the team of Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable defeating the Hype Bros. I expected Ryder and Rawley to break up then and there, but it seems as though they’re saving the inevitable moment for tv.
The first official match on the card was the match of the night in my opinion. I went into this show expecting New Day and the Usos to steal the show and they did exactly that. These two teams have been amazing every time they’ve come up against each other, and especially so since the Usos have turned heel. The first ever cell match to feature tag team championships on the line brought in some very innovative and specific offense, like Xavier Woods using several trombones, a cowbell, and a gong as weapons. The champions also used a series of kendo sticks to trap one of their opponents in a corner of the cell, which was then followed by the Usos using handcuffs to their advantage. Absolute barnburner without even needing to leave the cell.
I was a bit surprised at the Usos winning the titles back, but it didn’t affect my thoughts on the match. However, it does make me 0-3 for the shirts I’ve worn to shows (Nakamura in Toronto, DIY in Chicago, and now New Day in Detroit). On Smackdown, the two teams met in the middle of the ring and showed their respect for each other while asserting how dominant they all are in comparison to the rest of the division. This lead to a fatal four-way tag match that ended with Gable and Benjamin being named the new contenders for the titles. I don’t know if I see them winning just yet, but you’ve got to imagine something big happening before they split, because I don’t imagine them lasting too long either.
The next match was Randy Orton and Rusev. I don’t want to talk about this too much because I’ll get mad. I thought this was incredibly stupid and an absolute waste of Rusev. You can’t have him lose the fake match at Summerslam and then also fall flat at Hell In A Cell too. It’s just dumb and I hate it. Rusev is going to leave at this rate. At least he’ll be a monster in New Japan.
The United States Championship match came up next, which turned out to be a surprise triple threat with the addition of Tye Dillinger. Even though I don’t like Baron Corbin (because he’s dull and bad, oops), this was a very good match and the booking made sense regardless of how I feel about the winner. Styles is obviously one of the greatest in the world today, and Dillinger is certainly no slouch. The dynamic worked out really well together and they put on a good match. Styles demanded his rematch on Smackdown but wasn’t able to overpower the bigger man. Hopefully this means that AJ can move back into the main event, but I’m not sure who comes after Corbin next. I’m sure Tye will get a shot and probably not win, but that’s his game.
Unfortunately, the Smackdown Women’s Championship match is the hardest for me to talk about, as this was the angriest I was all night. A row full of awful dudes behind me were treating the match like it was a mid-2000’s diva match without acknowledging the fact that Charlotte Flair is arguably the greatest woman in the whole company right now. They also tried to start a chant about how they wanted to see Paige. The problem is that they wanted to see Paige because they were creepy shitbags who probably looked very hard to find her leaked private videos, whereas I want to see Paige because she’s a great wrestler and her with AJ Lee was when I started to believe in the future of women’s wrestling.
Anyways, I was a bit thrown off by Natalya actively pursuing the DQ finish since it seemed to be easier to use Charlotte’s injury as an excuse for a loss. My guess now is that she’ll win it next time only to fall to Carmella’s cash-in, because I can’t come up with another reason for this finish here.
I’ve also got a fair amount of issues with the WWE Championship match as well. I was really excited at the prospect of Jinder when he was first catapulted to the main event. Sure, it was mostly a business experiment, but every now and then you NEED a surprise like that, and it was worth a shot. However, I’m not entirely sure that the experiment has worked out well enough, and it felt like an appropriate time to move on to something better. The moment that the Singh brothers were ejected from ringside, it seemed like it was finally ready to happen. However, Jinder got his hand on the rope after a Kinshasa, and just managed to easily turn the momentum around and win. Shinsuke Nakamura lost AGAIN, but this time there was no interference. He lost clean. That is WWE telling me that he isn’t good enough to beat Mahal or carry the title, which is absolutely ridiculous. I don’t know who will come up to take the title off of Jinder, but I’m ready for it any day now.
Bobby Roode’s song is better than his character, and Dolph Ziggler’s ring work is better than his character. These are two guys who could be doing much better than they currently are (whether it’s their fault or the company’s is up in the air), and this was a bit of nothing in the long run.
I’m sure most people will come down on the side of the second cell match being the highlight of the card, and that’s certainly not something that I can argue with too much. Kevin Owens and Shane McMahon put on a killer match both in and out of the ring. I was terrified when Shane was dangling by one hand, and every single bump on top of the cage made me wince in fear. I’m not usually one for recording live events of any manner, but I needed to have copies of both table spots saved on my phone. These two men went above and beyond by putting their bodies on the line in a way I could never truly imagine, and they’re both fathers at that.
Obviously, the big talking point is that Sami Zayn came out and saved Owens from Shane’s elbow drop from the top of the cell. Most people assumed that was Sami turning heel, and while I didn’t believe this to be the case, it isn’t really any easier to tell after his explanation on Smackdown. He sort of dances over the line of face/heel justifications, but I believe that will keep things more interesting as this develops. I’m mostly just ecstatic that it guarantees tv time for Zayn, who is one of my favorites in the company.
If I can remove the few crowd incidents and my overthinking the booking, Hell In A Cell was a terrific time and a great live event. It’s the first PPV in Michigan since Night Of Champions in 2013, and I’m just really hoping that they don’t wait another four years to come back. Honestly, the dream is an NXT Takeover: Detroit, but I’ll be fine with snagging tickets to something less than a six hour drive away.