WWE HELL IN A CELL 2018
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 16
SAN ANTONIO, TX
Watch: WWE Network
Meet our reviewers:
- Kelly Harrass: SMASH THAT SAD REACT! It’s time for a WWE review. @comicgeekelly
- Jeremy Sexton: Finally pulling my weight around here a little and jumping in for Hell in a Cell. Why isn’t the show in October? Isn’t that the biggest promotional layup? Tonight the question we answer is, will a 2018 WWE big event make my migraine better or worse? Let’s find out together! @jeremysexton
- Jack Beckmann: Here I thought my day would be ruined by the Packers losing, and they end up tying! Magnificent! It’s been a bad sports weekend for me, between the Badgers & Brewers, but…. Wait, this is a wrestling review? For WWE? Uh oh. Follow on Twitter @packerman120.
WWE SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
THE NEW DAY © DEF. RUSEV & AIDEN ENGLISH
Kelly: Take everything I’m about to say with a grain of salt for this match because as I write this, I’m currently eating dinner. Got some tiny purple potatoes and a pork chop with a rye bread roll on the side. All this match makes me think about is that there’s an alternate universe where Rusev and Big E are main eventing shows. The people in that universe are better off than we are. This was fun as hell. Rusev Day came very close to winning and I bought into the nearfalls. The exchanges between the alternate universe main eventers were fantastic, but English and Kofi held up their end of things as well. I’d wager that this match might end up being the best thing we see tonight. ***½
Jeremy: Joining this in progress after acquiring dinner. Culver’s buffalo chicken tenders really hit the spot. What I saw was good enough and the crowd seemed into it. Either the director or cameraman completely blew it by missing the Matchka Kick Rusev hit on the outside. That’s my big takeaway from this one. NR
Jack: Kelly’s dinner sounds delicious, but not as delicious as the white chicken chili I ate before jumping in at the halfway point of this match. Jeremy’s dinner also sounds great, as Culver’s rules. By the way, all three of your reviewers tonight live in Wisconsin. We’re taking over this site. Anyways, the match! The match left me pleasantly surprised, as both teams went surprisingly hard for a pre-show match. Rusev & Big E also proved that they are criminally underused. There were multiple Machka Kicks by Rusev in this match that were perfectly timed and made me more invested in the action. Can the rest of the show keep up this pace, please? ***1/2
HELL IN A CELL
RANDY ORTON DEF. JEFF HARDY
Kelly: Orton and Hardy are 38 and 41 years old, respectfully. Sorry, but those aren’t the guys that I would put in a match like this. Fans expect a certain level of action and violence in a match like this and I don’t want to see them try to do it. Jeff’s brother just called it quits because his bones were fusing together. This match is our first time seeing the new Cell in action and I’m not really a fan. The red Cell is fine on its own, but combining it with the red lights on the crowd and all the red in the HIAC LED boards, it’s rather visually abrasive. What was also visually abrasive was quite possibly the best example of body horror that I’ve ever seen in wrestling when Orton twisted up Hardy’s earlobe with a screwdriver. Between that and the wounds that Orton picked up, this was kind of a gross match. I came into this with very low expectations and I was incredibly happy with what we got. Barring Hardy’s final table bump, this didn’t seem to have anything that looked excessively dangerous. The match was a bit too long, but the brutality that these men brought to the table helped to keep it from feeling like a slog. My main complaint about this match is the same one that I have for a majority of WWE cage matches; until the final spot of the match, this didn’t need to be in the Cell. Take the Cell out of the equation and this would essentially be the same match that we got. Hell in a Cell is less a stipulation and more of a location. The New Day/Usos HIAC match is a fantastic match because they made use of the Cell, this was a great match that just happened to take place in the Cell. Hardy and Orton probably put on the best match they possibly could have in this situation and I give them a ton of credit for beating the hell out of each other and themselves. ***¾
Jeremy: Look, I understand why you would do it, but it seems a little out of place to be in a Hell in a Cell match and make sure you carefully fold the guy’s belt so that he doesn’t get hit by the metal studs. You gotta do that with some misdirection on the off beat. Man, maybe WWE should bring magicians to the PC to do some training. I’ve seen what Teller was able to add to Shakespeare, you get Joshua Jay down there and have him work with some guys, I bet it’d be pretty sweet.
When Hardy said he was going to do something we’d never forget tonight, he wasn’t kidding. We all assumed it’d be jumping off something tall, I never anticipated it’d include letting Orton twist his gauged ear with a screwdriver. That was brilliant. Then, picking up where Kalisto left off at Elimination Chamber a few years back, he managed to do something else spectacular and swing from the cell and crash face first through a table. And I do mean face first.
This was memorable for those two spots. Outside of that, it felt like they were going through the motions. They were willing to put themselves at risk, but it felt plodding and mundane for much of it. It wasn’t bad, but I don’t exactly have a ton of good to say about it either. ***¼
Jack: Before their singles match at Backlash, the last time Hardy & Orton had a televised match was in 2008. Think about that for a second. 2008! The original iPhone was only six months old! Alexa Bliss wasn’t an adult yet! Ten years feels like a lifetime ago at this point. I understand why they are doing the red cell from a production standpoint, but it makes me laugh on the inside when I personally justify it by saying the red makes it look like HELLLLLLL. This match fell into a lull after an interesting first five minutes, but was quickly revived when Randy Orton grabbed a screwdriver and banged out a nice “How will I be so violent?” face. Torture porn is how he delivered on that face. Makes sense, as Randy Orton definitely watches some fucked up porn when his wife isn’t calling him daddy. The ending delivered some beautiful melodramatic bullshit, with the referee giving the performance of his life, YELLING for someone to PLEASE get Jeff Hardy some help after he did a trademark Jeff Hardy bump. I enjoyed parts of this match, and it over delivered, but at the end of the day, it was just too damn long. ***¼
WWE SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
BECKY LYNCH DEF. CHARLOTTE FLAIR ©
Kelly: Man, I really wished I liked this match more than I did. Becky finally gets her big win to cap off a match with her former best friend, but this never got to the level that it should have. These two had pull apart brawls on Smackdown, so of course the match has to start with some headlocks. This is supposed to be a blood feud, work the match like one then. Personally, I would have put this match in the Cell, but it’s pretty clear that this wasn’t the end of this feud. The best word to describe this match is disappointing and that’s a damn shame. **¼
Jeremy: The biggest thing that stood out to me was the disparity between the performances of these two. Charlotte was sloppy all match long and to my eyes seemed responsible for all of the many botches that happened here, especially in the beginning. Becky was great and I enjoyed what she was doing with the arm work. Are we going to have two women’s title matches revolving around the arm, though?
Overall, I really liked this. The crowd was way behind Becky the whole way. Granted, that’s not what WWE wants you to take away from this, but we can only complain about their inept storytelling but so much. The finish came out of nowhere, but in a good way. I dug it, probably more than most. ***¾
Jack: Becky Lynch has finally won a WWE title, and I feel nothing. Something about this match didn’t click with me. It was built around Becky attacking Charlotte’s arm, which is fine in theory but not in execution when seeing how bad Becky’s offense looked here. When you add that to a finish that was clunky as hell and didn’t even seem like it was a 3 count, I can’t help but feel disappointed. Becky Lynch deserves this win. She doesn’t deserve her big win being dragged down by a need to protect Charlotte. I look forward to Charlotte regaining her title and beginning her 88th title reign in Australia in three weeks time. **¾
WWE RAW TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
DOLPH ZIGGLER & DREW MCINTYRE © DEF. THE SHIELD
Kelly: I’d be lying if I said I paid attention to all of this match. My interest started at a normal level, then dropped to a fairly sleepy state, and finished back at a normal level of interest. Regardless of how incredible the commentary team told you this match was, it was absolutely fine. I can’t sit and pretend that a hot final third of the match made up for the boring as watching paint dry first two thirds. This was the definition of a solid Raw match. **
Jeremy: This was both really good at the end and pretty mediocre until then. I found myself having a hard time caring until it finally picked up pace. I loved the finish, though. The Claymore Kick as Rollins went for the Falcon Arrow, with Dolph landing on top was great. It wasn’t necessarily surprising, but it looked neat. On the whole, it was a match. ***
Jack: WWE seems to think that you can save an excruciatingly long match by having a hot finishing stretch where everyone kicks out of everybody else’s finishers, but I’d disagree. Some of those in the WWE fandom circle will like this match, most likely because the majority of WWE fans have goldfish brains. As long as a match’s last five are entertaining, the boring first twenty-five are forgotten. In reality, this was a match where the competitors couldn’t be arsed to do anything in the first twenty minutes, a match that made me wonder why the hell I signed up to review this show. Only in WWE can a match be 23 minutes but feel like it was a fucking day long. I never want to think about this match again. *
AJ STYLES © DEF. SAMOA JOE
Kelly: This match may have been too long, but at least it felt like AJ was mad at Joe for him saying that he was gonna bang AJ’s wife. Shave some time off of this one and we might have had a better match. I guess it isn’t possible to have a title match without some kind of extended neck crank spot. Ugh, I don’t know, I’m kind of at a loss of words for this one. This was just a stepping stone on the path to their next match. Why ever have a definitive finish when you can just extend out your feud forever? AJ tapped and Joe got pinned. Nobody wins or loses and we do it again in a month. **¾
Jeremy: AJ came out on fire to start the match, something a lot of people complained that he should’ve done in the first match. I kind of appreciated him taking Joe’s danger seriously and not getting overzealous, but I get it. This time, he came out mad and it felt more like this was a feud about one guy threatening another’s family.
Ultimately, this was another match that felt over-long and didn’t really get going until the final set of exchanges. I think the WWE house style is the main culprit. Nothing in these matches really even counts until we see a finisher. The crowd sits on their hands, the wrestlers hit autopilot. Nothing was bad here, but nothing mattered until the final 10-20% of the match. After that point, it was really good. The finish would be interesting if I had faith that they would pay it off in some meaningful way, but this is the company that just booked a World Title feud revolving solely around nut shots. ***¼
Jack: When you think about it, AJ Styles kinda sucks as a dad. Considering Samoa Joe has literally said he wants to fuck Wendy Styles, you’d think AJ would show a little bit of aggression at the start. However, that would make too much sense, so they didn’t do that. Compared to their first match, it may seem that it had more fire, but not quite “I want to fuck your wife fire,”. Instead, we got AJ Styles sneaking away with his title with a roll-up win. After this match, I’m ready to say that in 2018, AJ Styles just isn’t good anymore. Time after time, he has these matches that people have high expectations for, and time after time, they underwhelm. Samoa Joe deserves some of the burden for that as well, as he hasn’t exactly set the world on fire since joining the main roster. What else can I say about this match? It was certainly fine, and it certainly joined the rest of the matches on the card in sharing the distinction of being too long. As I’m finishing this review, I’ve already forgotten everything that happened in this match. That’s how inconsequential it was. Let’s get this title off Styles, which will maybe lead to interesting WWE Championship matches again. ***
THE MIZ AND MARYSE DEF. DANIEL BRYAN AND BRIE BELLA
Kelly: Just based on their most recent seasons of their TV shows, Miz and Maryse should wipe the floor with Bryan and Brie after the shit show of Total Bellas. WWE has successfully made me care far more about Miz and Mrs. than about anything they do with Daniel Bryan, so I was quite pleased with how this one ended. I mean, the end itself was pretty bad because Brie’s pants were too tight, but I liked the result and that’s what matters. This wasn’t any good and verged on being bad, but I had fun watching it so I suppose that makes it better than most things on this card. **½
Jeremy: POURQUOI? Not only a great entrance theme, but the question hanging over the whole match. Little disappointed Miz & Maryse weren’t in brown and orange once Bryan & Brie came out in their Seahawk garb. Every time Maryse did literally anything in this match, it was bad. After the tag team YES kicks, I got real nervous they were going to try a stereo tope after Brie’s near death on RAW. Have no idea what that finish was. This felt 40 minutes long. Just awful. This is what they’re doing with one of the greatest in-ring performers of all time. *¾
Jack: I must say, it’s been too long since I’ve heard the awful “BRIE MODE” screech signifying the entrance of Brie Bella. Ultimately, this match did a great job of spotlighting its best talent – Brie Bella. Deep inside me, there is a rant to be had after this match. However, after the show I’ve watched so far, I have no energy to deliver that rant. It sucks that this is what Daniel Bryan wants to do for the remainder of his wrestling career. It sucks that WWE has ruined Daniel Bryan’s career, and he’s too dumb to realize that. Oh well. Let’s get this show over with. *½
WWE RAW WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
RONDA ROUSEY © DEF. ALEXA BLISS
Kelly: This was a solid match. Ronda showed here that she can do a longer match worked around a body part. Bliss played her role well here and her overconfidence felt deserved right when it became her downfall. Rousey has the in-ring wrestling skills down, now she just needs to work on how she carries herself. The baddest woman on the planet shouldn’t look so excited to come to the ring. She also shouldn’t try to talk to the crowd during matches. It either comes off lame (“Who wants a souvenir?”) or makes her look stupid (“Who needs friends…. Who needs enemies with friends like that?”). Silence can speak volumes and she would greatly benefit from learning that. This was much better than the squash we got from these two last time. **¾
Jeremy: Ronda coming out on the ramp smiling like a child who just got an autograph from their favorite mascot will never not drive me crazy. I hate it so much. Alexa reversed the opening judo throw into a pin fall, so she’s at least doing better than Alexis Davis. It’s kind of unreal that UFC fighters and fans universally dislike the Reebok uniforms, yet Ronda has decided to copy them when she doesn’t have to anymore.
This new trend of having Ronda yell quippy remarks during her matches really has to go. It’s so cringeworthy. When Alexa was in control, I didn’t mind this so much. Sure, Ronda can’t really sell, but I still kind of liked it. I guess between this and the Smackdown Women’s Title Match this show has taught me that I’m a sucker for good ol’ fashioned body part work.
I will say this, Ronda yelling “GRRRRRRR” was the funniest thing I’ve seen on WWE programming… maybe ever. I mean full out howling like a mad man. That was absolutely hysterical. Probably not what they were going for. Speaking of which, why is Alexa tapping to an armbar while her arm is literally not extended at all? It wasn’t even remotely locked in. Maybe that shouldn’t matter so much, but we’re talking about Ronda Rousey here. Just embarrassing. ***
Jack: Alicia Fox looks like a bourgeoisie military queen general. Glam squad strikes again. Thankfully they didn’t get Ronda this time, as her face was absent of the horrific face makeup she sported at SummerSlam. There was a moment in this match where I tuned out and thought Alicia Fox was a Saudi prince from the Greatest Royal Rumble. This match showed that while she shows promise, Ronda Rousey still has some work to do in the selling department. When a match goes over ten minutes, it’s a challenge for Rousey to show competency. That being said, this may have been the best match of the main card so far, which says something about the state of this show. ***
WWE UNIVERSAL CHAMPIONSHIP – HELL IN A CELL
ROMAN REIGNS © AND BRAUN STROWMAN WRESTLED TO A NO CONTEST
Kelly: Well that fucking sucked. This was easily the worst match that Reigns and Strowman have had together. This was plodding to say the least as Braun and Roman had what was essentially a walk and brawl in a confined space. Eventually they got tired and had to take a nap. Then their friends came out and started fighting until two of them fell off the Cell in what was a needlessly dangerous bump. Poor Dolph’s crash landing didn’t even get caught by the camera and their bump was quickly forgotten as Brock Lesnar’s music hits. Their fall isn’t even mentioned again during the broadcast. Brock breaks into the Cell and beats up Roman and Braun and we get a no contest. Also Heyman maces Mick Foley at some point in there.
Seriously, what purpose did Mick Foley serve here? What did any of this matter? Rollins and Ziggler are going to wake up extra sore tomorrow morning for absolutely no reason. Roman and Braun came out of this looking like jokes and Mick Foley was only around to make them look worse because they couldn’t get back up and fight after only a fraction of the punishment that Mick went through in the Hell in a Cell match that is constantly made reference to. Brock Lesnar is an anchor dragging down the creative of this company. And I don’t blame him. I blame the idea of him that Vince has built up in his head. This match is a perfect summation of everything wrong with the booking in this company. It’s nonsensical, fickle, and insulting to both performer and viewer. ½*
Jeremy: Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. The match started out ok, then meandered for a while, then had an interesting ending. Imagine that! This was pretty boring apart from the occasional car crash hoss spot. The big story is, of course, the return of Brock Lesnar. And not just any Brock, but BEARDED BROCK, King of Brocks. He looked very USADA-friendly and did awesome Brock stuff. It immediately made the whole show seem better, because Brock is awesome.
I’ve not even mentioned Rollins and Ziggler falling off the side of the cage yet. That’s probably because it was treated like a particularly nasty clothesline by everyone after it happened. It happened and then they just moved on. I almost feel bad for the guys.
This wasn’t good. But Brock. **¾
Jack: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHHAHHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHH. So, in this match HAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHHAHHAH. Anyways, Brock Les HAHHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAH. And then he HAHHAHAHHAHAHHAHHAHHAHHAHHAHHA. And those words I just wrote? They definitely had more thought put into them than WWE put into this match making sense. God bless WWE. *************************