WWE Hell in a Cell 2015
October 25, 2015
Staples Center
Los Angeles, California

Watch: WWENetwork

WWE Hell in a Cell 2015 will go down as one of more polarizing WWE shows of the year, depending on what you thought of the Lesnar vs. Undertaker main event. From top to bottom, the show suffered from some unevenness with more of the booking delivering than the matches themselves. We were treated to the finality of some of WWE’s longest-running storylines while new ones, both interesting and puzzling, developed in front of our eyes.

For more reaction from the Voices of Wrestling team, check out Shake Them Ropes’ reaction show that aired immediately following WWE Hell in a Cell 2015:

Meet Our Reviewers: 

  • Alex Wendland: Voices of Wrestling’s guru of grammar and weekly NXT reviewer. Follow him on Twitter @AlexWendland.
  • Rich Kraetsch: VOW original, co-host of Voices of Wrestling’s flagship podcast and jack of all trades at the website. Follow him on Twitter @VoicesWrestling.
  • Garrett Kidney: Voices of Wrestling’s weekly Impact Wrestling and TNA PPV reviewer. Follow him on Twitter @GarrettKidney.
  • Bryan Rose: Currently subbing as Voices of Wrestling’s Raw reviewer, one of VOW’s longest running reviewers and columnists. Follow him on Twitter @br26

Dolph Ziggler, Cesaro and Neville def. Rusev, Sheamus and King Barrett

Alex Wendland: This is, far and away, the most talented roster, top to bottom, I’ve ever seen in WWE and probably the best ever. Five of the six wrestlers in this match could be considered reasons to watch WWE programming at all. But here they are, the meat of the roster’s current-era talent being burned off on the pre-show. And Sheamus. The match, as expected, was great. No matter how bad WWE’s weekly programming gets, and it gets pretty bad, the wrestling proper and PPVs have remained fun. I know we’ve said this after every one of his matches for the past 18 months, but hopefully this exceptional performance will set Cesaro on a course up the card where he belongs. Great pre-show match. Even if it was a waste of talent, it set the tone for what the rest of the card needs to do.

Hi Dan. ***1/2

Rich Kraetsch: A literal “Creative Has Nothing For You” mishmosh of six supremely talented workers that show just how much depth this current WWE roster has. Yet, here we are with Kane and The Undertaker in main events later in the night. The match itself was fantastic as these guys seemed to take real pride in their spot on the card, even if it was stuffed onto the pre show. That Cesaro still doesn’t have anything tangible to do in this company is appalling. ***1/4

Garrett Kidney: This match made me sad. Not because it was a bad match, quite the opposite, but rather these are six extremely talented, marketable wrestlers who are doing absolutely nothing. Even Sheamus, who is currently Mr Money in the Bank, has never been less interesting. And that sadness was compounded by Undertaker vs. Lesnar being in the main event and Kane being in a featured match on this show (Cesaro, Neville and Ziggler would all have been much better choices to work a one month programme with Rollins for this show). As you’d expect the match delivered. Cesaro in particular exploded off the screen with a phenomenal hot tag. I simply cannot fathom how you can sit in the back and watch a performance like the one from him in this match and not think “Let’s strap a rocket to him!”. This was the perfect opener and the perfect appetite whetting pre-show match. ***¼

WWE United States Championship
Alberto Del Rio def. John Cena (c)

Alex Wendland: I’ve never been a giant Alberto Del Rio fan, but I marked out a little when Zeb Colter introduced him. I wasn’t as excited for Del Rio as I was for Colter, but so it goes. Once the match started, however, it was just kind of there. Perhaps that’s why I’ve never been all-in on Del Rio. Props to WWE for paying off on the surprise by putting the title on Del Rio, though, and even having a bit of a surprise ending with Del Rio’s kneeling superkick. I do hope, however, that the US Open Challenge continues as, outside of the New Day, it was often the sole watchable part of RAW. **

Rich Kraetsch: Well this was unexpected. Zeb Colter came out and accepted the challenge on behalf of the returning Alberto Del Rio. That was an out of left field return that has huge ramifications across the wrestling world particularly in Mexico’s AAA and of course, Lucha Underground. The match itself was very anti-climactic was Del Rio hit a superkick and won. All that build with the United States Open Challenge and I’m not sure how many people truly benefited other than a 38-year-old loose cannon known for attitude issues who was fired a year ago for slapping a backstage employee. **

Garrett Kidney: Firstly, it’s a pleasure to see Zeb Colter and his majestic facial hair back on WWE TV. Del Rio was a good surprise opponent but this was a really strangely structured match. The opening stages were languid and just as it seemed the match was getting going Del Rio hit his superkick and won out of nowhere. It just felt underwhelming, especially compared to many of Cena’s borderline epic US title defenses. I’ve never found Del Rio particularly interesting, but I don’t really dislike him in any way either. Hopefully he plans to bring something new and fresh to this run. He’s a solid person to put the belt on but I’m not sure he can quite match the sheer work rate Cena has associated the US title with in the last six months. Rich’s point about Cena beating half the WWE roster only to lose to Del Rio of all people is a very good one.  **1/4

Bryan Rose: You have to feel for AAA at this point. At the start of 2015 they had Del Rio, Sin Cara with a goofy name and Rey Mysterio. Now they only have the latter, ouch. This match was weird. It never felt like it got going, then finished in such a weird and anti-climatic way. Think about all the near falls you’ve seen in Cena matches since winning the US title. You didn’t have that as much in this match, it was a big notch down from pretty much every Cena US title match we’ve seen in the last year, then Del Rio just beats him clean with a superkick, no big deal. No write off for Cena either. The surprise was interesting, but the execution of the match and the finish was lackluster. **

Hell in a Cell
Roman Reigns def. Bray Wyatt

Alex Wendland: A solid contender for the most boring, unimaginative Hell in a Cell match of all time. There were two decidedly brutal spots in what is supposed to be the most brutal match in all of WWE: Bray Wyatt’s uranage and Roman Reigns’ spear, both through tables. Not only was the match boring, every second of it was predictable to the point that the only surprise was that Wyatt even successfully executed a Sister Abigail’s Kiss. Outside of a cell, this would’ve been a boring but passable match. This was a Hell in a Cell match, though. What a collossal waste of the cell itself. Almost no one wants to see another bloodbath like No Mercy 2002, but Jesus H. Christ, make the cell matter. **

Rich Kraetsch: You knew when Reigns/Wyatt was booked in a Cell that were the, fittingly enough, going to be a ceiling on how good this match could be. The two just aren’t very good wrestlers on their own and typically need an excellent dance partner to have a great match. WWE knew this was the case and turned this into a plunder match with multiple kendo sticks, tables and every WWE hardcore match trope you can think of — it wasn’t my cup of tea. I’m sure there will be a segment of fans that enjoyed this match, unfortunately, I wasn’t one of them. **1/4

Garrett Kidney: At absolutely no point did this feel like a Hell in a Cell match. At no point did the intensity, the sense of urgency, the pacing feel like what a Hell in a Cell match is supposed to be. In fact these two were done a disservice by the weight of expectation that comes with the Hell in a Cell legacy – were this simply a Street Fight it would have likely been in a much better position to succeed. At times there were glimpses, fleeting as they were, of the match this could have been – but instead what we got was a slow, plodding match which had the life sucked out of it by its snail’s pace. This was a suitably cold end to a cold feud.  **1/4

Bryan Rose: This is a weird match to rate. There were a lot of cool spots towards the end of the match, and both guys worked hard. But it just felt flat at times, and the crowd reacted the same way, only chanting “this is awesome” whenever someone fell through a table, which happened a lot during this match. Also felt veeeeeeeeery long. The chemistry needed in a long term feud like this wasn’t there, and that was evident throughout. They also didn’t use the cell at all, and that was a big disappointment too. Just a kind of there, okay match to a feud that I’m so glad is finally over. I think that, over anything, makes me happy the most. ***

WWE Tag Team Championship
The New Day (c) def. The Dudley Boyz

Alex Wendland: You know, even with the New Day, this show hasn’t been great. Nothing has been offensively bad, but nothing has lived up to it’s potential except for the freaking pre-show match, at least to this point. Hopefully the show continues to trend upwards, this was the best match on the show thus far. Still, without Xavier Woods, there was a major element missing. Given the nature of the New Day’s win, this probably isn’t over yet. I’m always for the New Day winning, but if the Dudleys were going to get their run with the belts, this was probably the best place to start it. ***

Rich Kraetsch: While it may not be high praise, this has been my favorite match of the actual show thus far. There wasn’t a ton of time given here but in under 10 minutes a fun story was told with The New Day using creative ways to pick up the win. The Dudleys have never done much for me and this run is a huge drag. New Day carried this from beginning to end. ***

Garrett Kidney: Another month, another bland formula Dudleys/New Day match, another cheap finish to keep The Dudleys “looking strong” while keeping the titles on The New Day. The Dudleys have firmly settled into their role as a nostalgia act – hitting their signature spots without anybody challenging them to raise their game. If they plan to switch the titles eventually it looks as though they may be stretching it out until TLC in December where The Dudleys can do it in their signature match. **

Bryan Rose: This was okay. Just a match. Nothing bad at all, just there. I wish I could elaborate more here that was really just the gist of it. I did like the cute false finish where they almost DQ’d the Dudley Boyz when Kofi threw the trombone at Bubba and pretended he was hit with it. You’d think with that, then considering the slow build for the tag title win these last few months that they’d actually win the titles here, but nope. I don’t know where else you’d go with either team now, but that’s WWE booking 101 these days, keep having matches until you just move on to whatever. ***

WWE Divas Championship
Charlotte © def. Nikki Bella

Alex Wendland: Finally, the closest we’ve come to a proper #DivasRevolution match. And, like NXT, this has been the best match on the show to this point. Not everything was crisp, and I have no idea what that top rope German suplex/backflip thing was, but at least they went for something. On top of their ambition, Nikki Bella’s Alabama Slam on Charlotte to the apron was positively brutal and a more believable match ender, or even a feud ender, than anything in the Bray Wyatt/Roman Reigns Hell in a Cell bout. Hopefully a properly good match between these two will kickstart the main roster women’s division. ***1/4

Rich Kraetsch: This was as ambitious a main roster women’s match as I’ve ever seen. Charlotte and Nikki had big plans and creative spots throughout but the sum of its parts didn’t deliver at nearly the level it should have. There was some sloppiness that took away from the overall rating but by and large this was an above average match, had good time and solid placement on the card. This revolution is looking much better than it did a few weeks ago. ***

Garrett Kidney: Well you certainly can’t fault the effort of these two. For the first time on this show it felt like the people in the ring were really trying to deliver something above the usual PPV fare (though I suppose you could argue Reigns and Wyatt were too but it didn’t work). Yeah it was messy at times and yeah that corner spot was utterly terrifying but this was a step above the usual competent but entirely forgettable Bella’s PPV match. They badly need to transition away from the old guard of the Divas division though. The Bella’s are beyond stale. ***

Bryan Rose: This was sloppy at points (especially that spot where Charlotte flipped over the top rope), but they worked their asses off and towards the end this became a pretty good match. That Alabama Slam into the apron that Charlotte took looked brutal. This was way, way better than other title matches we’ve seen and these are the kind of matches needed to get this division over. I say this, then immediately Paige comes out to remind us they’re still doing a feud between these three, maybe. The storylines here are all weird, but at least match quality is improving on PPV. ***1/4

WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Seth Rollins © def. Kane

Alex Wendland: WHY WASN’T THIS IN THE CELL?!? The Authority knows that you don’t need the cell to only keep out interference, right? The women’s match just before this one had the potential for interference, but they didn’t need a cell to keep it out. Hell in a Cell is supposed to end blood feuds and, if WWE’s storytelling is to be believed, this feud is second to only Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker.

That being said, Seth Rollins is incapable of having a bad match. This was, in fact, a good match. And Rollins won clean, which shouldn’t be a surprise for the WWE World Heavyweight Champion, but it totally is. What’s weird though, on a macro level for Hell in a Cell, is that there are a lot of surprise or un-built finishes. Del Rio over Cena finished out of nowhere. Charlotte won almost immediately after receiving the most brutal move of the night. Kofi Kingston pinned Bubba Ray after hitting a Trouble in Paradise that wasn’t even properly shown on camera. It makes me think that something is brewing for later tonight. #Foreshadowing. Anyway, good to see the champion finally get a dominant, legitimate victory. This was the role Kane should’ve played. ***1/2

Rich Kraetsch: Seth is so good right now, it’s a shame we’ll probably remember this title reign for the bizarre booking, Rollins looking like a chump throughout and his historically awful Win-Loss record as champion. Hopefully, when it’s all over we have some more signature wins like this one we can focus on. ***1/4

Garrett Kidney: At the very least this was probably the best a Kane vs. Seth Rollins match could be. And at least Rollins won clean, convincingly. There are literally over a dozen people I would rather have seen in this spot vs. Rollins but this could have been worse. That’s a positive right? I never need to see Kane in a World title match again.  ***

Bryan Rose: I can’t believe this is a WWE title match. The build and just the match itself feels so flat. Also, for a monster Kane almost always loses clean. That’s why every time WWE tells you Kane is a monster or Big Show is a giant, then they lose clean, you wonder why no one cares. But despite all of that, this was a better match than I thought it would be, only because of the work of Seth Rollins. It’s so weird how he’s pushed. He’s so great he got a good match with KANE, but before this win here he was like 19-1 in losses. But again, this was good stuff. Now one has to wonder what they’ll do next month since Kane lost clean. If next month is Survivor Series and they’re celebrating the Undertaker’s 25th anniversary, maybe that’s a direction? ***1/4

WWE Intercontinental Championship
Kevin Owens © def. Ryback

Alex Wendland: This was a match that happened. The whole thing was fine, but, because no one sold Owens’ eye poke, the finish felt rushed and out of the blue once again. Hopefully this was another instance of a champion establishing themselves in their role. **3/4

Rich Kraetsch: Did these guys get an early “GO HOME” cue? It seemed like the match was pacing pretty nicely then the last minute was a gigantic rush to finish the match. It was odd structure if it was always supposed to go this length and the match suffered as a result. These two are capable of so much better. **1/4

Garrett Kidney: This match did pretty much nothing for me. It was clearly WWE’s trademark buffer match and it was wrestled to be nothing else; it just didn’t hold my attention. A flat finish coupled with the foregone conclusion when it came to the result added up to a totally forgettable match. Owens’ PPV matches should mean more. When you consider the collective main card has not yet matched the pre-show match for energy and excitement you know something is very wrong with your PPV card. **1/4

Bryan Rose: This existed. It was fine. Not at all memorable or interesting in any possible manner. This was the match where I looked at the clock wondering how far into this show we are. Owens needs a new title program, one that promises better matches. **1/4

Hell in a Cell
Brock Lesnar def. The Undertaker

Alex Wendland: Remember when I said that almost no one wants to see another bloodbath like No Mercy 2002? Well, Brock Lesnar apparently did. OK, it wasn’t that bad but it had the potential to go that way with how early both Lesnar and the Undertaker took to blades.

This was the best a Hell in a Cell match we’ll get in PG-era WWE, precisely because it was in no way PG. I don’t advocate for color in the quantities we saw it in the 1990s, but it was used to perfection here. This felt like WWE After Dark. At the same time, both Lesnar and Undertaker have more leverage and creative freedom than almost anyone else on the roster. I just watched their 2002 Hell in a Cell match yesterday to prep for this show and thought there was no way that they could match it almost 15 years later. They certainly did. They threw bombs, did the little things and traded brutal spots for the better part of 20 minutes. There was no reason to believe these two wouldn’t deliver, but they delivered so much more than even I expected. I was sold on the Undertaker curtain call after the match, and I have no idea what to think after the Wyatt Family attacked the Undertaker and carried him out on their shoulders. Also, what kind of multi-man beatdown would it take to seem particularly egregious after what we just watched the Undertaker go through? It seems like the Undertaker would want to go out giving away some easy heel heat, but that’s too natural a story point to just pass up on. ****1/4

Rich Kraetsch: Topping The Undertaker and Lesnar’s first Hell in a Cell match (though not in canon, is one of my favorite matches ever) is a lofty hill to climb. There was no chance they could recreate a match that great with Taker’s advanced age but they came really close here. This was an absolute war, a total bloodbath with both men giving it their all to say they won the series (ignoring previous matches when ‘Taker was a biker, of course).

It was slow, methodical and featured a lot of the customary Undertaker no-selling and finisher spamming but that shouldn’t surprise or anger you anymore. That’s what Undertaker matches, especially the big ones, are, there’s no use getting upset about it. Brock looked like an absolute beast when this was over and post-match Wyatt Family shenanigans aside, this was nearly perfect. Brock looks like an unstoppable badass, Undertaker looked like a phenom who was just a little too old to pull it out this time and the build, particularly the low-blow at SummerSlam was paid off. You can spend hours nitpicking this if you want and perhaps I’m being hypocritical by not doing that but this is exactly what I wanted from this match, what I expected and what I got.  ****

Garrett Kidney: In spite of my championing of the merits of their SummerSlam match, I’ll admit I wasn’t really feeling this match going in. I didn’t think there was enough juice in the feud to carry one more. I am extremely happy to be wrong. In contrast to the Hell in a Cell match on the undercard, this felt like a match worthy of the cage from start to finish. Not just because both men bled, though that did add to the atmosphere, the intensity throughout was exactly where it should have been. It felt like the end of a long, bitter war and the low blow finish was the perfect way to bring the whole story full circle. Plus the Wyatt nonsense was kept to the post-match (and I’m fine with a Undertaker and Friends vs. Wyatts Survivor Series match). Not only that but they actually finally built up to Brock getting in his first suplex which has been a problem of mine with every Brock match since the Cena massacre. Everything about this was exactly as it should have been and the crowd were more engaged here than with anything else in the show – Undertaker earned that applause he milked after the match. These two delivered once again and Undertaker proved beyond all reasonable doubt that his WrestleMania match vs. Brock was a concussion induced anomaly. A great main event and easily the best thing on the show.  ****

Bryan Rose: This was one hell of a match, which is interesting because I thought for sure the cell would actually hurt the match. People like to complain nowadays that there’s not enough blood in wrestling. So sure enough, for the first time since, well, Lesnar last wrestled there was blood everywhere, and that made it a cool scene. There were weapons used all throughout and there were some cool nearfalls as well. These guys know how to make a match great, and given how well both are protected they did a great job making the crowd care about this match, given the build. The less said about the Wyatts stuff, the better, but they need something for Survivor Series so spookytime Raw antics galore for the next month. But hey, at least this match was great! One of the better Hell in a Cell matches in a good, long time. ****1/4