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

Watch: WWE Network

Meet our reviewers

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

Rich Kraetsch: One of the downsides of the modern Hell in a Cell match is without the brutality that was so synonymous with the gimmick in years past, the match can often devolve into simply another match with chain link around it. That’s unfortunately what happened here as Rusev and Reigns had a fine match, good by most standards, fitting even for the multi-month feud they’ve had. When you put a Cell around it though, people (rightfully so) expected a bit more. Again, this was fine but irish whips into the cage and hitting each other with ring steps doesn’t really fit what the Hell in a Cell is or should be about. This match could have been a No DQ and nothing would have changed. Again, fine match but expectations are heightened when the Cell comes into play and these two didn’t rise to the occasion. ***1/4

Garrett Kidney: These two were comically miscast here but that comes with the territory with modern WWE. Heels are loud incompetent buffoons who are all bark and no bite. Babyfaces are the cool kid in the back of class who are too busy dropping quips and one liners to take a moment to actually make you care about something. A Hell in a Cell match needs hate for it to work. It needs to be visceral – while blood is off the table it needs all the qualities of a blood feud. These men need to hate each other. But Reigns has been too busy these last few months smirking and being a funny guy to make you care about him wanting to maim Rusev. If anything Rusev was considerably more sympathetic – making you root for overcoming the tyrannical bully Reigns and defend the honour of his wife, his family and his country. As a result what we got here was a long – very long – plodding heatless affair with no real stakes and a confusing story. The crowd didn’t care about either of these people as characters and it showed badly. Also there’s only so many times you can watch people throw each other into a cage without it ever becoming a compelling (or even significant) part of the narrative of the match, especially given that there’s still two Hell in a Cell matches to come. A flat start to the show. **1/2

Kelly Harrass: This will go down in history with every other Hell in a Cell match from recent years that you have no concrete memories of. It followed the formula that every one of these unremarkable matches has before; take a typical WWE walk and brawl hardcore match and put it in a cell. There was nothing special about what we saw. The work by both men was fine, I had absolutely no problems with them. The problem that I have is with this style of match. For the “WWE style” being one based around telling stories, this match really lacked a story. If you can tell me the story these two told, I’ll be more than happy to listen, but to me this felt like guys doing moves to each other with no real rhyme or reason to them. Rusev used a kendo stick on Reigns’ protected torso simply because that’s what you do in a WWE hardcore match. It doesn’t matter if the kendo stick is going to be less effective on Reigns because of his protective vest, just do it monkey! I feel bad for Rusev and Reigns because they worked hard and did some dangerous stuff, but the ends didn’t justify the means. **¾

Bayley def. Dana Brooke

Rich Kraetsch: The second match in a row that was just fine but failed to reach a certain level. Both Bayley and Dana have cooled since being regulars on NXT with Bayley quickly becoming just another cog in the machine which is inexcusable. There’s no excuse for Bayley not being one of your top stars night in and night out, as an inspiration and role model to a yet-untapped-market, the need to make her look and feel special should be a no-brainer. But hey, it is what it is. This match fit perfectly into WWE match template that saw Bayley get destroyed by Dana Brooke for a number of minutes, Bayley finally turn the tables, hit a few of her signature moves and get the win. While I understand you don’t want Bayley destroying Dana the entire time, having her get a little bit more offense on the path to victory would be nice. **

Garrett Kidney: Success in NXT is a long term detriment to success on the main roster. In NXT wrestlers connect with the audience organically and grow over time. People witness those characters grow and develop and blossom over time, step by step until they are fully formed. And then they’re called up as those fully formed characters without any of the context that made them connect in the first place. They’re just dropped on Raw without any explanation of who they are, what they believe in or what they are striving toward. The small handful of people who watch both NXT and Raw are thrilled to see them at first, and then every other week on Raw or on Smackdown they’re just another face filling television time. They never redo the essential legwork to establish who the character is for a broader audience. Bayley is just that person who smiles a lot and has the inflatable lads for her entrance. And because of that one of the most dynamic naturally likable characters of this generation is reduced to a nobody having an utterly forgettable undercard match with Dana Brooke. **

Kelly Harrass: This had better storytelling than the previous match did for sure. It seemed like both women came into the match with *gasp* a game plan. While I wouldn’t call this a great match, I enjoyed this more than I thought that I would. At the end of the day, this was just a feud to keep Bayley occupied while she waits for an opening in the Women’s Championship scene. Dana was fine and Bayley carried the match well. This was a solid match, but it was ultimately forgettable. **

Gallows & Anderson def. Enzo Amore & Big Cass

Rich Kraetsch: As a second hour RAW match, this was solid. As a match on a major monthly PPV and a showcase for their brand, well, not so much. The theme of this night so far: FINE. This match, like the two that preceded it were fine but failed to generate any sort of intrigue from myself or the crowd in Boston. **1/4

Garrett Kidney: This show really isn’t going so well so far. A battle to determine who are the biggest losers of the Raw tag team division predictably didn’t produce much to write home (or even write at all) about. This feels like the fifth time that a win seems to be the start of a reboot for Anderson and Gallows but they’ve shown literally nothing of worth in WWE so far. Enzo and Cass are all style and no substance and the style well is running dry. This was a midcard TV match. **1/4

Kelly Harrass: I know that this can’t be the case, but I feel like this is the first time that I’ve seen Gallows and Anderson win in WWE. (Editor’s Note: They won at SummerSlam by DQ~!) There was nothing actively wrong with this one, but we all know that the real point of interest in this match was the prematch promo from Enzo and Cass. There’s no reason that this match wouldn’t have fit perfectly on any episode of Raw. Just like the match prior, this existed to give the Club something to do while they wait for the tag title scene to open up a bit. **

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

Rich Kraetsch: More spectacular and worthy of the Cell gimmick than the opener, this match suffered in other ways namely the interference of Jericho, basically turning the match into two-on-one. That bit of overbooking and trickery, undermines Owens and the Universal Title but it par for the course so it’s hard to get too worked up. Let’s talk positives, these two, despite less-than-stellar chemistry, had a nice flow throughout this match highlighted by two noteworthy spots: Rollins powerbombing Owens through two tables and Owens returning the favor, putting Rollins through two chairs. This wasn’t a show-stealer by any stretch but it was certainly a welcomed change from the parade of “just fine” that permeated the first part of Hell in a Cell 2016. ***1/2

Garrett Kidney: I’m not entirely sure what to think of this one. There was the bones of a tremendous match in there hidden beneath two layers of plunder and overbooking as well as needless cage spots. This match really kicked up a gear once they basically pretended the cage was no longer there and just worked their match. Obviously Rollins segues into a programme with Jericho from here and I’m not sure that’s the panacea for his current likability issues. I still don’t like Owens being booked as the same old cowardly heel who can seemingly never ever win a match but at least he won this match after thoroughly smashing Rollins with weapons, entirely within the rules. Jericho was a considerable factor in the finish but at least the closing image was Owens winning after flattening Rollins with that powerbomb. And that table bump was nuts, accentuated by Rollins struggling to get Owens up. At this stage this show badly needed a good match, and while not quite great or an all time classic HIAC match, this delivered far and above the rest of this card. ***1/2

Kelly Harrass: This was not only the first good match of the night, this was the first great match of the night. Unlike the match that opened the show, this actually felt like it belonged in the cell with spots done specifically to utilize the cell, including the nuts looking table spot that saw Owens go through two tables. I even enjoyed the way that they worked Jericho into the match when he ran into the cell after the door was opened to let the referee that was “accidentally” blinded by Owens rinse out his eyes. While the match was hurt a little bit by the interference, I wouldn’t say that it was ruined by any means. Owens and Rollins went out there to have a great match and they saved this show from being completely forgettable. ****

WWE Network Nikki 728x90

WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Brian Kendrick def. TJ Perkins ©

Rich Kraetsch: I’ll start with the positives: this was my favorite of the Perkins/Kendrick series, as there was a certain level of tenacity and speed their prior matches laked. Perkins, in particular, looked comfortable and was able to show off his diverse move set. Now the bad: that finish, woof. For those who didn’t see it, Kendrick faked a knee injury, baiting Perkins into helping him up before hitting him with a headbutt and tapping him out. It was predictable given the build but disappointing all the same. Brian Kendrick is your Cruiserweight Champion in the year of our spaghetti monster 2016. ***1/4

Garrett Kidney: I really disliked that finish. Neither Perkins nor the announcers took a moment to question whether Kendrick was playing coy. Considering the story and build up to this match that made them look like buffoons. The match, like many WWE cruiserweight matches to date, was the wrong match for the wrong crowd. The cruiserweight are no different style wise to everything else on the show. Nothing makes them stand out. And I love TJP – he’s great. Kendrick a tad less so. Kendrick has consistently under delivered in singles matches for the last decade. He is simply the wrong guy to carry the division. Instead of sending the message that this is something new and fresh and dynamic it send the message that it’s something straight out of 2008. This match did very little for me and seemed to do very little for the live crowd as well. **1/2

Kelly Harrass: While I enjoyed a majority of this match, I really hated the ending. The Cruiserweight Championship was birthed from the CWC, a tournament based around talent, workrate, and great matches. It flies in the face of that spirit to have the first title change of the division end in an injury fakeout. I know that I shouldn’t be surprised about this, but that doesn’t make me any less upset. I thought that Kendrick was the wrong choice for the first big feud in this division and I still think that he’s the wrong choice to be the next champion. There’s nothing wrong with Kendrick, but he just doesn’t have the flash that this division needs to catch the eye of the fans. This was a solid match, but the ending really dragged it down for me. **¾

WWE Tag Team Championship
Cesaro/Sheamus def. The New Day by DQ

Rich Kraetsch: Like the previous match, everything was solid until the finish which was a gigantic fuck you with The New Day being DQ’d for using Franchesca just as Cesaro had Xavier Woods tap out. It would be eye-roll-y if the heel team kept their title via these means but for a face team, especially the uber-face New Day? It didn’t work here and it hasn’t worked for awhile. Why can’t they just legitimately win some times? It’s strange, strange booking and it’s starting to hurt the enjoyment level of the most slam-dunk babyfaces on the RAW brand. Either way, I hope we see more of these two teams as I think without a silly finish these two could have a legitimately awesome match. ***

Garrett Kidney: And the New Day reign of terror must continue. This match was fun enough once the action picked up but after how terrible that finish was I just don’t care. I don’t care about the New Day. I kinda care about Sheamus and Cesaro as a team but they’re falling into too many tropes. I haven’t cared about the Raw tag team belts in 434 days. And it’s a good thing I don’t care because if I did, if I was invested in this match and in these characters and in the outcomes of these matches, that finish would have been an utter slap in the face. Shame on you for caring. **1/4

Kelly Harrass: Dammit. What a trash ending. The booking of New Day is so strange. They keep winning or keep retain their title through means other than actually winning fairly. The match was good up until the end, but it all felt meaningless by the end. I know that New Day isn’t losing those tag belts until they break that stupid record, but I really wanted Cesaro and Sheamus to win here. I say this month after month; New Day doesn’t need these belts anymore and while they’re over, they’ve made the Raw tag division stale. Oh well, I guess we’ll just have to deal with this until the record is broken. **

WWE RAW Women’s Championship – Hell in a Cell
Charlotte def. Sasha Banks ©

Rich Kraetsch: One of the most monumental matches in WWE history ended on a sour note but don’t let that cloud what was an amazing moment and an amazing match. The brutality and danger presented by these two far exceeded that of the prior two Hell in a Cell matches. Whether that was by design or not, it doesn’t matter, Sasha and Charlotte really nailed what a Hell in a Cell match should be. The first portion of the match stretcher spot went a little too long for my tastes but the visual of Sasha jumping off the stretcher and knocking out EMTs to a huge pop was worth it. After that point, these two were sloppy but purposefully sloppy in a way that presented danger and had me watching through my eyes. That can be an asset and it certainly was here. The finish (a theme of this show apparently) was a bit annoying as the clear best scenario would have been Sasha standing victorious in her hometown celebrating with her title with the Cell as a backdrop. Instead, they went with Charlotte brutalizing Sasha once again and reigning supreme on the Women’s Division. It’s not a bad finish in a vacuum, but a monumental moment would’ve been even better with a captivating visual to finish it off. Give credit to both, they are going to be super sore tomorrow but it’ll be worth it — the glass ceiling isn’t even in their rear-view anymore. The revolution has came and went, let’s hope this becomes commonplace. ****

Garrett Kidney: A clear protagonist. A clear antagonist. Clear stakes. And most importantly the feeling that these two bitterly hate each other. From the outset these two set out to kill each other (and came a tad too close to actually doing so now and again for my taste). This match was everything the opening Roman Reigns/Rusev match was trying to be. Charlotte, who was the driving force of the match, has been far and away the best heel on WWE television and is one of the better turnarounds of the last year. She went from bumbling and unsure of herself to fully embracing her character and bringing it to life. The only downside is the match lost steam in the final stretch. And not just the clumsy finish either, the match just seemed to lose a little juice and momentum in that last five or so minutes. But all credit to Sasha and Charlotte for taking their feud and raising it to the level that warranted Hell in a Cell in a way that Rusev/Reigns and Owens/Rollins failed to do. I’m personally fine with Charlotte winning the title back too, aside from WWE’s usual petty hometown hero losing antics. Charlotte is a considerably more dynamic character, Sasha looks like she may end her career in every major match, and the Bayley chase is next on the agenda. Best match on the show and it wasn’t even close. ****

Kelly Harrass: I’m having a hard time summing up my thoughts on this match. I loved how it started with the brawl into the crowd and the brutal looking table spot. It felt like they really wanted to kill each other. Then they cooled the match down with the tired stretcher spot that went on for far too long. This whole match felt dangerous. They were hitting hard and were taking really rough bumps. At the end of the day, the Hell in a Cell match is supposed to feel dangerous and they achieved their goal. There were certain aspects of the match that didn’t work out, but I felt like they rolled with the punches well enough. I’ll never understand why WWE refuses to let wrestlers win in their hometowns. I really feel like they robbed themselves of a special moment by not having Sasha retain here. Setting that aside, I applaud both women for the effort they put in tonight. We knew clearly who was the villain and who was the hero. We saw the brutality that we wanted out of this match Sasha and Charlotte main event a pay per view and did everything they needed to do. We saw a historically significant match that did not disappoint, but at the end of the day the match wasn’t without its blemishes. Hopefully this is only the first of many times that these women get an opportunity like this because I truly believe that they have an even better match in them. ****
WWE Network Nikki 728x90