A huge card for a huge ppv event – the annual Hell In A Cell, five title matches, three big bouts contested in the Hell In A Cell cage-structure and not only was it the first women’s match inside the cell it was also the first time a women’s (title) match closed out a WWE ppv show; the main event.
The 2016 edition of Hell In A Cell stretched out to Bruce Springsteen set-length, coasting in over the three-hour mark. And there were no fall-on-your-arse duds, mostly good quality stuff happening with a couple of big highlights.
First off that title match that closed the show – Charlotte and Sasha Banks. It’s historic just for happening, for getting over the line in the booking table, for making it to the screen as the closer. But it was a good effort from both competitors. Maybe the false-start of a beat-down before the bell even sounded or the cage closed wasn’t for the best – it meant a limp-along ending. Could Sasha really ever been seen to win if she was about to be carried out on a stretcher. I know this doesn’t bother the WWE and they’ve done it before but when your best women have been fighting (pardon the pun) to get on an even footing with the men a gimmick-free match would have been the ultimate sign of respect. That said, they kept the action happening. The title has changed hands again, it’s Charlotte’s third time with the belt and there’s chemistry there for more matches between these two. They kept up the pace enough to justify their position as the main event of the card, the evening’s closing match and that was truly awe-inspiring.
The other cell battles were good-to-great. Owens vs. Rollins seemed to lope along for too long without going anywhere much. And I’m not sure I needed Jericho’s outside involvement in a match again (it’s all he’s doing these days) but I couldn’t call it any sort of dud.
We opened with Reigns and Rusev going at it and they certainly set a hell of a pace for Hell In A Cell. Lots of brutal steps-shots, kendo sticks, the works. It was furious.
The evening’s near-dude was the Bayley against Dana Brooke. There have been far worse matches but this just wasn’t anything to rave about. And it seemed obvious the crowd-favourite would win. And she did. Bayley needs to move on and up and away from these sorts of matches.
I liked Kendrick and T.J. Perkins going at it in the Cruiserweight Title Match. (The) Brian Kendrick managed to sell a hell of an injury only to be faking and roll up a victory. He continued to sell his authenticity, his earnestness in a great post-event interview (Raw Talk). He’s a good not-quite-villain and very good in this role.
I was less interested in the match – and outcome – when it came to Cesaro/Sheamus against The New Day. I’m done with The New Day, their gimmick, their annoying “Friendly” heel antics and a shtick so obvious and used over and again. I also don’t care about Cesaro and Sheamus as a team. So when a very old-fashioned DQ victory (for Cesaro/Sheamus) allowed The New Day out the back door with the title I really just thought that the 12 minute match wasn’t up to much.
Same with the evening’s other tag match – Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson defeated Enzo Amore and Big Cass after Cass and Enzo lit up yet another matching winning-worthy promo on a crowd that loves them. Then they’re buried straight after. At least it was mercifully brief.
In going through these matches again I might not sound hugely positive but Hell In A Cell is a ripper of a card, these matches all hum. Especially the cage battles and the title bouts in and out of the cell. It’s a good time for WWE and this further highlights that.