WWE Hell In A Cell 2017
October 8, 2017
Little Caesars Arena
Watch: WWE Network
Meet our reviewers
Kelly Harrass: If you’ve read a WWE PPV review on VOW in the past year or so, you probably know who Kelly is. Today while Kelly was at his shoot job, he met the Beer City Bruiser and he was very nice. Kelly’s ultimate hope is that the Shane vs. Owens HIAC match ends exactly like this, right down to the shocking appearance of the Necro Butcher. Find Kelly on Twitter at @comicgeekelly.
Sean Sedor: Penn State & The Philadelphia Eagles both won their games this weekend (the former moving up to #3 in the country), so going into this show, the weekend has been pretty great thus far for Sean. Will that continue with a strong PPV outing from the Blue Brand? Time will tell. You can follow Sean on Twitter @SASedor2994, and you can check out his wrestling reviews blog at http://dxvsnwo1994.blogspot.com.
Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin def. The Hype Bros.
Kelly Harrass: I was more interested in the pulled pork sandwich I was eating than this match, but what I saw was pretty solid. NR
Sean Sedor: It’s amazing to see how much bigger Shelton Benjamin actually is when he’s standing next to someone like Chad Gable. When I first started watching WWE in 2004, Benjamin was considered one of the smaller guys (relatively speaking) on the roster. I guess that just puts into perspective the era that Benjamin came from when he was rising as a singles guy at the time. Anyway, The Hype Bros. came into this one looking to snap their losing streak, but they ultimately came up short against Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin. This was a very solid tag team encounter. There was some good action throughout, with some nice nearfalls in the closing minutes. Gable shined (as he always does), and the dissension between Mojo Rawley & Zack Ryder continued, though they didn’t actually split up here. I’m assuming that, since Benjamin & Gable won, they’ll be getting the next shot at the SmackDown Tag Team Titles, but this is WWE, so you never really know. ***
WWE SmackDown Tag Team Titles – Hell In A Cell Match – The Usos def. The New Day (C)
Kelly Harrass: Well this sure was fantastic. Right off the bat, I’ll say that this was the best WWE match of the year and it might be the best of all the Hell in a Cell matches. The feud between these two teams has been the highlight of WWE’s 2017 by far and this was another incredible chapter. The problem with many HIAC matches is that they don’t feel like they deserve the stipulation. This match carried with it all the animosity and violence that it should have. At times, the match felt like a parody because of the amount of kendo sticks that were used, but it ultimately worked. These two teams were ready for war and loaded the underside of the ring with every single weapon that they could. This didn’t feel like your usual WWE plunder match where weapons are used simply because they are there. These two teams wanted to hurt each other and they came in with battle plans to do just that. While New Day had a bit of fun with the plunder early on, things quickly got serious and, at times, scary. The Usos use of the kendo sticks bordered on sickening, absolutely brutalizing both Big E and Woods. When the Usos won the match, it felt well deserved after the hell they put the New Day through. I’m trying to think of a fatal flaw in this match, but there wasn’t one. Between the level of violence, the fast pace of the action, the incredible selling, and the great storytelling, these two teams crafted a masterpiece that they should be proud of. *****
Sean Sedor: So to the surprise of nobody, this tag team title bout kicked off the show. Big E & Xavier Woods represented The New Day here, with Kofi Kingston outside of the cage. Coming in, we all knew that the “final clash” between these two teams (as WWE billed it) had the potential to steal the show, and when the dust settled, it definitely lived up to the hype. The sheer amount of brutality and violence we saw here was incredible, as both teams looked to completely destroy each other. There were a number of insane spots, and various weapons were involved, from chairs, to handcuffs, to an assortment of instruments. However, the one weapon that was used throughout was the kendo stick. Both sides used kendo sticks in vicious ways. At one point, The New Day used a number of these kendo sticks to actually trap one of The Usos in a corner of the cage, which looked very cool. Later, The Usos trapped Xavier Woods in one of the ring posts with handcuffs and just went to town on him with the Kendo Sticks. There action in this one was insane, and the crowd loved it. After a number of nearfalls towards the end, The Usos would end up capturing the SmackDown Tag Team Titles to end the rivalry. This was fantastic. It was easily one of the best Hell In A Cell matches in recent memory, one of the best WWE main roster matches of 2017, and an excellent conclusion to this feud. ****3/4
Randy Orton def. Rusev
Kelly Harrass: It’s kind of hard to appreciate a match like this after seeing the incredible contest that took place before it. This was a fine match, which is a strong improvement from their last garbage PPV match. Poor Rusev continues to get saddled with junk, but always tries his best to make something out of it. Sadly, nothing really came out of this one and was, at best, the quality I would expect out of a pre-show match. **1/2
Sean Sedor: Tom Phillips said on commentary that this was Randy Orton’s 143rd appearance on WWE PPV, which just gives you an idea of how long he’s been in this company (and how long he’s been pushed consistently as a top star). I was hoping that we were going to celebrate another Happy Rusev Day, but unfortunately, Randy Orton ruined it when he got the with after hitting an RKO. The finish was actually brilliant. Rusev caught Orton’s hands when he was doing his usual pounding-the-mat spot to set up the RKO, and rolled right into an Accolade attempt. Orton then countered, and hit the RKO to win (as I just mentioned earlier). That was the one really cool moment from this bout. Aside from that, this was relatively solid. It was perfect in its spot as the second match on the card. Nothing much else to say about this one, to be completely honest. ***
WWE United States Title – Triple Threat Match – Baron Corbin def. AJ Styles (c) & Tye Dillinger
Kelly Harrass: Thanks to the glue that is AJ Styles, this pirate ship made of popsicle sticks held together pretty well instead of falling into the heap of garbage that it could have been. Turning this match into a triple threat made for a pretty cool dynamic. Styles was the top level champion that found himself without the champion’s advantage, Corbin is the man looking for redemption after the biggest loss of his career, and Dillinger was the enhancement talent that lucked into a title shot. Corbin is at his best when he can act like a Bruiser and toss guys around, which was exactly what he did here, hiding many of his deficiencies. It would be a good idea for the commentary team to stop mentioning his past as a boxer because his strikes look like garbage. As always, AJ Styles was awesome here, taking a ton of offense from Corbin and making him look great. Dillinger was clearly added to this match to take the fall, but I thought it worked. This title win for Corbin shows that the company hasn’t entirely given up on him and the inclusion of Dillinger helped to protect Styles in loss. While this wasn’t any kind of classic, it was a surprisingly good match. ***1/2
Sean Sedor: Earlier in the night, Tye Dillinger successfully lobbied SmackDown General Manager Daniel Bryan to get inserted into this match (bringing up the fact that he pinned Baron Crobin on SmackDown Live recently). I’m honestly not sure why Dillinger wasn’t in here right from the start, considering that he’s been involved in this Styles/Corbin program for several weeks. As a whole, this was a very solid Triple Threat Match. When Baron Corbin was in control, things were relatively boring (what a shock), but when Styles or Dillinger were on the offensive, things got more exciting. The first few minutes felt a little slow, and in general, the match wasn’t that interesting. However, the second half was particularly strong, and really lifted this one up. Despite being the main reason for this bout’s slow start, Corbin did have a few good moments, such as catching Styles in the middle of a springboard to hit a massive chokebreaker. We also saw some great exchanges between Styles (who was awesome, as he always is) & Dillinger (who definitely had a good outing here) in this second half. Towards the end, Styles hit the Phenomenal Forearm on Dillinger, but Corbin kicked him out of the ring, and got the pin on the “Perfect 10” to steal the match, and the United States Title, from AJ Styles. I guess Dillinger was just thrown in here so Corbin could win the title without actually pinning Styles, which I guess sets up a future rematch between Styles & Corbin? You never know with WWE. As a whole, this was pretty entertaining Triple Threat Match. ***1/2
WWE SmackDown Women’s Title – Charlotte def. Natalya (C) (DQ)
Kelly Harrass: Natalya continues her trend of strong performances with this match against Charlotte. She’s really found her calling as this bullying heel character. While I normally prefer Charlotte as a heel, it’s hard for her to be a villain following the recent near death of her father. Charlotte’s selling of her leg in this match was very good, but even better were the vicious attacks of Natalya. Sadly, the match ended with the champion getting themselves DQ’d to protect their title and set up a rematch. I’m getting very tired to seeing this trope at almost every PPV. **3/4
Sean Sedor: The match that these two had for the NXT Women’s Title at the original NXT TakeOver in May 2014 was fantastic, but their main roster encounters since have been a mixed bag. Right at the start, Tom Phillips mentioned on commentary that this was Natalya’s 40th match on WWE PPV, more than any woman in WWE history. Much like the comment made earlier about Randy Orton, that just gives you an idea of how long Natalya’s been in this company. Anyway, Natalya went right after one of Charlotte’s legs early on, which set up the story for this one immediately. Charlotte fought through the pain, and eventually managed to hit a moonsault to the floor, but landed on her bad knee in the process. Then, Natalya just said “screw this, I’m out”, and attacked Charlotte with a chair for the disqualification. They told a good story here, but as a whole, I just….couldn’t get into this one. It just wasn’t that interesting to watch, in my view. The finish does set up a rematch, which doesn’t come as much of a shock, as a title match ending in a DQ or Count Out has been one of the main features of these brand-split PPVs. This was definitely the worst match on the card, up to this point. **1/2
WWE Title – Jinder Mahal (c) def. Shinsuke Nakamura
Kelly Harrass: Shit, I don’t know, it wasn’t awful, I guess. Jinder is boring and Nakamura’s WWE run continues to be just okay. At this point I should just write a form review for Jinder matches that I can copy and paste in every month. **
Sean Sedor: Back at SummerSlam, these two had an absolutely ABYSMAL match for the WWE Title. It’s really odd that the rematch is just….another regular singles bout, with no stipulations attached (especially since The Singh Brothers helped Mahal retain his title yet again). This was slightly better than their first encounter, but not by much. It was painfully average, and outside of that, there’s really not much else to say about the action in the ring. Jinder Mahal isn’t a good professional wrestler, and Nakamura’s run on the main roster continues to be mostly underwhelming. I will say that, in this particular match, it looked like Nakamura at least put in some effort, which was nice to see. As we’ve come to expect with pretty much all of Mahal title defenses, The Singh Brothers got involved, but for once, the referee actually took notice, and ejected them from ringside. Nakamura appeared to have the match (and the WWE Title) won with the Kinshasha, but Mahal got his hand on the rope. They then brawled for another minute or two, before Nakamura got hit with the Khallas and was pinned CLEAN in the middle of the ring by Jinder Mahal….on a WWE PPV. Imagine telling that to someone three years ago. To be completely honest, at this point, I’m questioning what the point of Nakamura being in WWE really is. He can still be insanely over in front of the right crowds, but the way he’s been booked since being called up has left a lot to be desired. He should be something special, but with finishes like this, why should we care about him? He’s a complete loser. Aside from the obvious monetary benefits, has this adventure into WWE been worth it for Nakamura? Right now, I’m not sure. **
Bobby Roode def. Dolph Ziggler
Kelly Harrass: Look, I just want to watch a wrestler fall off of something tall, please stop making me watch Bobby Roode. I ate a peach during this match and it was pretty good. I don’t know what the point of this was. Having Roode use the tights to score the pin and then immediately getting laid out makes him looks like a total dork. I’m no fan of Roode, but if they wanted to make him look good, they did a terrible job of it. I was really enjoying this show. What happened? *1/2
Sean Sedor: So, after doing all of these wacky parody entrance over the last weeks, Ziggler came out to no entrance music or titantron at all. These two had a decent match, but this crowd didn’t give a single fuck (aside from Roode’s entrance, of course), and the fact that they were chanting “CM Punk” & “Little Caesars” serves as proof. Roode got the win after getting the better of Ziggler in an exchange of rollups that saw both men try to hold the other’s tights. As soon as the match ended, Ziggler hit Roode with the Zig Zag, and left the ring frustrated. This PPV has really fallen off a cliff since the United State Title bout. **
Falls Count Anywhere Hell In A Cell Match – Kevin Owens def. Shane McMahon
Kelly Harrass: I can’t remember the last time I was so scared watching a wrestling match as I was when Owens and Shane were fighting on top of the cell. With every bump onto the chainlink, it felt like their chances of falling through the ceiling grew. Were they really safe the whole time? Maybe, but that doesn’t make it any less terrifying. Shane McMahon and Kevin Owens are both mad men that gave us a thrilling main event. For me, this has been the most compelling feud in the company and the match lived up to my expectations. While it wasn’t any kind of workfare classic, it was a great psychological brawl. Owens is one of the best in the business when it comes to a plunder brawl. He’s also one of the best at telling a story in the match by using his facial expressions. He takes you through the rage, the fear, the frustration, and the hate that he feels. And it all feels real. Owens never comes off like he’s acting, this is who he really is. Performances like this one show what an all time great he is. Every time out, Shane tries hard and this match was no exception, bumping around everywhere for Owens and giving as good as he got. Will this match hold up on rewatch? I have no idea, but watching it in the moment was an engrossing experience.
If you had asked me to predict the ending, Sami Zayn would never have factored into it. I loved the finish. Sami saving his former friend from further descending into madness if he lost to Shane is brilliant storytelling. He told Shane that he’s never seen Owens like this and he knew that things would only get worse if Shane put him through that table. They’re going to keep doing this forever because Sami can’t let Kevin go. This wasn’t a heel turn, it was a moment of compassion. WWE is a company that is all about the moments and this was truly a memorable moment. ****1/4
Sean Sedor: It’s nice to see Hell In A Cell matches (counting this one and The New Day vs. The Usos from earlier) that actually have a good buildup, instead of just throwing people into the cage because it’s October and that’s when the Hell In A Cell PPV usually takes place. I think it’s fair to say that this was much better than the Shane McMahon/Undertaker Hell In A Cell from WrestleMania in Dallas (relatively speaking), and Kevin Owens is a big reason for that. He really thrives in this type of hardcore environment, as we all know, and there’s no question that he got more out of Shane McMahon here than The Undertaker did. Now, that’s not to say that this was a great match or anything (it didn’t touch The New Day vs. The Usos from earlier), but it certainly was better. What we saw inside the cell was pretty standard for a match involving Shane McMahon. We got the Coast-To-Coast Trash Can spot (it looked like he barely made it on that one), and we did get a table spot with Owens missing a senton of the apron. Then, as we all expected, this went to the top of the cage. Initially, Owens teased doing a splash off the top of the cell to Shane through a table, but he couldn’t go through with it. This gave Shane enough time to climb to the top himself, and what we saw next was probably one of the most terrifying sections of a match we’ve seen in recent memory in WWE. They battled on top of Hell In A Cell for several minutes, hitting a number of big moves on the cage roof, including a Pop-Up Powerbomb from Owens. I’m so glad that WWE reconstructed the Hell In A Cell structure over a decade ago, because these guys NEVER would’ve been able to do the stuff they did with the old structure. The roof bent, but it did not break. Those few minutes were definitely scary to watch, given those spots and the teases involving one of the guys getting tossed off the roof. From there, we got the stunt show. Owens fell through an announce table about halfway down the cage (ala Ambrose/Rollins from 2014).
Finally, Shane went for the same big elbow drop he tried at WrestleMania in Dallas, but missed one again. This time, however, he missed because SAMI ZAYN pulled Owens out of the way, and then put Owens on top for the cover and the win. Yes, you read that last sentence correctly. It appears that Steenerico is back together…..as heels….in WWE. That’s incredible. I’ve very intrigued to see where this story goes. We’ve rarely seen Sami Zayn as a heel (if at all, unless he did any heel work on the independents that I’m not aware of), but having these two come back together should be very cool to see play out. Is there a strong chance that WWE will screw this up? Absolutely (because you need to keep this company at arm’s length, as Joe Lanza always said) but after that finish, WWE definitely has my attention. As far as this match is concerned, it was a terrifying spectacle that really lifted this show up after a truly lackluster second half. Again, this was far from the best Hell In A Cell we’ve seen, but I would easily put this above Shane McMahon vs. The Undertaker from WrestleMania. Kevin Owens was a much better opponent for Shane, and the finish puts a whole new twist on the long and storied history between Owens and Sami Zayn. ***3/4