WWE Hell in a Cell
October 30, 2016
TD Garden
Boston, Massachusetts

Watch: WWE Network

Meet our previewers:

  • Barry Hess: Voices of Wrestling columnist and resident WWE apologist. Follow on Twitter @BFHess171
  • Jeff Hawkins: co-host of Shake Them Ropes, former RAW reviewer, current Smackdown after-show co-host at Fightful.com, 2nd place for People’s Sexiest Man Alive 30 years running.

Cedric Alexander, Lince Dorado & Sin Cara vs. Tony Nese, Drew Gulak & Ariya Daivari

Barry Hess: It’s hard to view this match as anything but filler; exciting filler, athletic filler, fast-paced filler – but filler nonetheless. Perhaps some sort of secondary Cruiserweight angle will take shape; something that distinguishes these six men from each other. That would be welcomed. Realistically, this is just a strategic palate cleanser; a match to help the audience transition between cell matches. Prediction: Cedric Alexander, Lince Dorado & Sin Cara

Jeff Hawkins: Why is Rich Swann not in this? Maybe I should be grateful. Soulless 6 man tag that could be very good to a messy spotfest. No idea what’s in the cards for any of these six, but the faces seem to be the pick for no other reason that they have a full time member of the roster. Good on the others for getting a payday and exposure, I rant more about the division debacle in the title match preview. Prediction: Cedric Alexander, Lince Dorado, Sin Cara

Bayley vs. Dana Brooke

Barry Hess: Raw has struggled to produce meaningful angles below the championship level of the Women’s Division since the brand split. This thinly lined program between Bayley and Dana Brooke is a transparent device to keep both characters simmering before one advances as the next championship contender; a fine idea, but one lacking any substantive creative energy beyond that simple fact. Bayley is a face. Brooke is a heel. They’re going to wrestle a match. It will be fun. My instincts tell me that Brooke is viewed as the next contender for the title (whoever the champion may be) while Bayley is set to be paired with the loser of the title match. Prediction:Dana Brooke

Jeff Hawkins: I hate that this match is happening. I hate the way this program has gone. It feels like they’ve taken any luster off the Bayley character almost arrogantly as if to think she’s teflon in terms of popularity because of her NXT run. In every world I know Bayley should win this match, but they like that Dana’s blonde and a fitness competitor and have been high on her for a while. I could see some backwards logic where they’re going to break Bayley down and then “turn it on” in a build to WrestleMania. I’m truly flipping a coin multiple times to figure out who to pick because this one can go either way with the logic WWE uses, I think they’ll start the night off on a high note. Prediction: It’s Bayley

Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson

Barry Hess: I’ve come full circle on Enzo and Big Cass. I enjoyed the duo during their time down at Full Sail, but believed NXT would prove to be the team’s ceiling in terms of anything beyond a lower-card comedy act. I gladly recalibrated that opinion after their post-WrestleMania call up to the main roster. It was fun while it lasted. To say I’m over the act would be overstating my current view, but the time to strike has come and gone with no action taken. Big Cass’ involvement in the Universal Title angle really disrupted the team’s momentum, most of which has yet to be regenerated. On the flip side, Gallows and Anderson have inexplicably survived the creative malpractice inflicted on their characters as it relates to my personal investment in the team. I enjoy the Bullet Club personas, I enjoy the sophomoric heel personas, I enjoy the no-nonsense ass-kicker personas. Please WWE, pick one and go with it for more than a week or two. Unless the issues with both these teams are ironed out matches like this will remain meaningless in the grand scheme of things. Prediction: Gallows & Anderson

Jeff Hawkins: Remember the two weeks WWE were rebuilding Gallows and Anderson as badasses? Those days are gone. Ordinarily watching the show, you’d say the incremental push for Big Cass continues here, but Enzo getting a win is making me think that the conventional wisdom is out the door. The push for Cass will not be through these tag matches, that can come in singles matches. Gallows and Anderson take out Cass a la the Revival some time during this bout, Enzo’s doing honors here, and commentary puts this over as a big win for Gallows and Anderson. Prediction: Gallows & Anderson

WWE Raw Tag Team Championship
The New Day © vs. Cesaro & Sheamus

Barry Hess: This story between Cesaro and Sheamus has been a pleasant surprise. Their chemistry is great (as opponents or begrudging partners)and both appear to have bought in on the concept. Rivaling tag partners is as Vince McMahon as an angle can be; one that WWE often executes well dating back to the late 1980s. Speaking of the 80s, Demolition’s record must remain intact. I love New Day as much as the next guy, if not more, but we are talking about Demolition. I do not condone such sacrilege. Cesaro and Sheamus winning the titles on their first try, in spite of one another, only to lose them the next night on Raw would keep the story interesting. Europe wins. New Day wins. Demolition wins. Stop messing with me Vince. The records are still real to me, dammit! Prediction: Cesaro and Sheamus

Jeff Hawkins: New Day is breaking the Demolition record, right? I tend to think so. I think Sheamus and Cesaro are going to be in the Survivor Series 10 man tag match, so their bickering must continue or they must find a uniting focus. Knowing the “Creative” they’re enjoying this bickering too much to have it stop now, so the latter probably won’t come to fruition just yet, but that’s assuming both find mutual respect. I tend to think they may unite as heels who are tired of being clowns. The finish can be a pinfall on one of Sheamus or Cesaro or a DQ by Sheamus, but they’re not walking away with the belts. New Day has shown heelish tendencies in preserving wins and that wouldn’t surprise me here in screwing Sheamus, but I think Sheamus’ temper gets the better of him at some point. Prediction: New Day by DQ

WWE Cruiserweight Championship
TJ Perkins © vs. Brian Kendrick

Barry Hess: Two thirds of Raw’s regular viewing audience does not have WWE Network, which means most folks have no idea how drastically different the Cruiserweight Division has been when compared against the CWC. Yup, it’s just us citizens of the inner-bubble who are drowning in sorrow and disappointment. That said, the regular folk aren’t exactly doing 450s when the ropes turn purple. Part of the reason for that has been this championship angle; the prologue of which was expertly told through that same platform most of the audience doesn’t have. Some catching up has been required; the dry creative and foolish dialog has hurt that cause. TJ Perkins is a tremendous athlete, but requires a serious round of polishing to perform on the main roster level. He projects zero personality when on camera, a flaw easily edited away on the network, but exposed on live television. The poise and experience of Kendrick can turn this around, but in order for that to happen Perkins must go from champion to challenger. Prediction: THE Brian Kendrick

Jeff Hawkins: Can I vote for “WWE misses what made Cruiserweight Classic special” as “Worst Promotional Move” in this year’s Wrestling Observer Ballot? What an absolute shit show this move over to the main roster has become. They’ve branded competitors, not built them up. TJ Perkins is a video game character who was homeless, Rich Swann dances and has fun, Cedric Alexander lost weight. I think amidst these terrible video game references, they’ve lost faith in TJ. Brian Kendrick is a “character” and TJ can chase. I think the Kendrick loss to Swann on RAW makes a Kendrick title win (by cheating) inevitable Prediction: THE Brian Kendrick

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Hell in a Cell – WWE Raw Women’s Championship
Sasha Banks © vs. Charlotte

Barry Hess: Have you ever desperately wanted something, but hesitated to accept that same something when it was graciously offered?  Wait, you’re a pro wrestling fan, of course you have. This match needs to happen, if for no other reason than for the fact that the ‘historic’ hyperbole can finally come to an end and the new normal can finally begin. When Sasha Banks is on my television screen I’m a happy person. When Charlotte is on my television screen I am 100% invested in everything she says and does. That said, I will not be able to enjoy this match live, no matter how spectacular it may be. Only after both women have walked out the ring on their own volition, safe from the dangers of their own intense determination and motivation, will I be able to absorb any potential brilliance through secondary viewing. These women have proven to be two of the most talented storytellers currently employed by WWE. Please ladies,I beg of you, tell me a story – don’t become one. Prediction: Charlotte

Jeff Hawkins: The build stinks, the promos have been forgettable, and Mick Foley’s presence has been superfluous and perhaps a bit of a hindrance, but this is still the feud with the most legs out of the three Hell in a Cell matches. It also is the only one that has the potential to be something special, or haven’t you heard about how historic this match is? Those two things have nothing to do with one another. Don’t think Sasha doesn’t want it to be great? Go watch NXT Takeover: Brooklyn. Don’t think Charlotte doesn’t want it to be great? Go watch that corkscrew moonsault from RAW three weeks ago. Their creativity can only be stifled by Vince McMahon thinking they want to do too much, and for all the grief I give him, him being the final arbiter might save one of them from hurting the other or herself for the sake of being memorable. I’m stoked. I think Sasha retains. I’ll be saying a silent prayer the entire time. Prediction: Sasha Banks

Hell in a Cell – WWE Universal Championship
Kevin Owens © vs. Seth Rollins

Barry Hess: This program has been a tale of two stories. The first, between Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins has been pedestrian at best. Rollins appears to be in a transition period; an important creative crossroads not unlike Steve Austin in early 1997 or The Rock in late 1998. Will he turn full-fledged babyface (like Austin) and take off into an entirely new character that fans have been waiting to support without conditions? Will he turn back into his villainous persona, denying us the satisfaction of a new hero at a time when we want to cheer him the most (like Rock)? Both options are intriguing. The status quo is not. Secondly, we have the story between Owens and Chris Jericho; the story that has been a consistent highlight of Raw for weeks. The forecast is predicting heavy shenanigans for this match. If said shenanigans result in Owens vs. Jericho under the Canadian flag at Survivor Series, well then I’m all in. Also, remember Triple H? Will he make his presence felt? I don’t know.The answer to that question will likely have more to do with the trajectory of Rollins’ character than anything else. I’m very excited for this match, but understand why others are not. Prediction: Kevin Owens

Jeff Hawkins: This is the match that is going to have chicanery, and it will be in the form of Kevin Owens’ “best friend” Chris Jericho. I’m sure this match will be entertaining, will have a few spots that are brutal, but overall face Seth Rollins hasn’t been a compelling protagonist nor has Kevin Owens in a comedy role been a great antagonist other than as a straight man for goofball Jericho. I expect the Rollins/Owens feud to continue, probably leading to an argument over who should captain the RAW Survivor Series team. Prediction: Kevin Owens

Hell in a Cell – WWE United States Championship
Roman Reigns © vs. Rusev

Barry Hess: This rivalry began when Roman Reigns ruined Rusev and Lana’s wedding celebration without provocation; cakes were destroyed, mean-spirited jokes were made, chaos ensued…sounds like a babyface to me. Thus, Rusev will enter this Hell in a Cell match defending the honor of his wife and the pride of his family…sounds like a heel to me. It would be awesome if this match served as the stage for Reigns to transform into a vicious heel; using the environment of the cell to decimate Rusev; forcing the audience to collectively beg for mercy for Rusev despite the heelish ways of the Bulgarian Brute. But that will not happen. It would be awesome if Rusev went over in this match; elevating him as a the monster not even Superman (punch) himself can tame. But that will not happen. Remember the Hell in a Cell match between Reigns and Bray Wyatt. That’s what will happen. Again. The Roman Empire. Yay. Prediction: Roman Reigns

Jeff Hawkins: This is the “one moment” kind of HIAC match. The moment is when Roman spears Rusev through the cage and Michael Cole and the commentary team start going into hyperbole. Rusev’s a sympathetic heel, Roman is *STILL* an unsympathetic babyface who comes off like a jerk. Power moves, Superman punches, spears, believe that, finish. Prediction: Roman Reigns

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