Allow me to start this preview of WWE Hell in a Cell 2021 by saying that there is no functional use for the Hell in a Cell match in 2021 WWE.

With WWE attempting to legislate the violence out of pro wrestling, this uber-violent, career-threatening match is now just a typical no-DQ/No Holds Barred/Extreme Rules match with a gaudy red cage around it. Combine that with WWE running at least two of these a year since 2009, and you’re left with an overused and completely nerfed stipulation match that does little to nothing for anyone every year.

Tell me, what was your favorite part about the John Cena/CM Punk/Alberto Del Rio Hell in a Cell match in 2011?

What about the legendary Roman Reigns/Rusev Cell match in 2016?

Who could forget the unforgettable Randy Orton/Jeff Hardy Cell match from 2018?

It’s to a point where I feel bad for the wrestlers in these matches because in theory these are supposed to be career-defining matches when in reality they’re just another bit of content churned out for the content farm that WWE has become.

This show will be notable at the very least for it being the last pay-per-view in the Thunderdome, as Money in the Bank will be in front of a live crowd in Fort Worth, TX. This will come as a relief to anyone sick of the cinematic aspects that WWE has gotten used to over the past year. While some aspects of the Thunderdome Era look like they will remain, like the rampant crowd sweetening heard on last week’s TakeOver, hopefully, this will mark the end of most of them. While some cinematic matches have had their share of praise, like the Firefly Funhouse and the Boneyard match. The others, like the Money in the Bank ladder match at Titan Towers, to One Final Beat, to everything else involving The Fiend were been widely panned as the embarrassing attempts at “movie making” that they were. Hell, the Viking Raiders/Street Profits…thing from last year’s Backlash, which I guarantee you didn’t remember happening until now, was one of the worst things I had ever seen on a wrestling show. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

One of the titular matches this year sees WWE Champion Bobby Lashley defend his title against Drew McIntyre, for what is advertised as McIntyre’s last chance at the title. This feud has gone on since February, and with the exception of a needless Miz interruption, has been fairly straightforward. McIntyre had the title won last month at WrestleMania Backlash but had Lashley steal the cover to retain. These guys have done very good work as the top feud on Raw, but it’s time to move forward with it. McIntyre has been an outstanding top guy, and he should get the win here to finally get a run with the title in front of fans.

The other Hell in a Cell match sees Rey Mysterio challenge Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship. There is no need for this match to be inside the cell, as these two weren’t even in each other’s orbits three weeks ago. Roman laid in a beatdown on Dominik Mysterio, so Rey randomly challenged him to a title match in the Cell. This match is really a result of Roman Reigns running through every babyface on the SmackDown roster with relative ease. He sent Kevin Owens and Cesaro back to the midcard. He sent Daniel Bryan and Edge out of the company. I see no reason for this to be any different. Expect shenanigans aplenty from Dominik and The Usos (who are Roman Reigns’ cousins if you weren’t aware). All I can hope is that we get a decent match out of this whole thing.

(Writer’s note: After I finished writing this preview yesterday, WWE announced that this match would be happening on tonight’s SmackDown instead of the pay-per-view on Sunday. So, that leaves only four matches for this show on Sunday. I dunno! Whatever! Tune in on FOX!)

At press time, the other three announced matches for this show are all women’s matches. The first sees RAW Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley defend against Charlotte Flair. Ripley’s run on the main roster has been rough, as her first feud saw her win the title from Asuka in a series of clunky matches. She’s gone on record saying that her confidence has been shot, and she’s quickly become just another woman on the roster. It doesn’t help that WWE decided to promote this title match by having them both lose beat-the-clock matches to Nikki Cross. Cross has been shown to be a particular thorn in Charlotte’s side, despite the fact that Charlotte beats Cross like she’s owed money every time they wrestle.

Could this be a setup for Cross to get a title match against the winner on a Raw? Maybe, but it does nothing for me since Cross isn’t presented as any kind of threat to either of these women. As far as this match goes, it’s a women’s title match with Charlotte in it.

The safe bet is to pick her and live with being wrong.

The SmackDown Women’s Title match will have Bianca Belair defending against Bayley. This feud is about Bayley laughing at Bianca, and Bianca not liking it when Bayley laughs at her.

Look, I don’t know what else to say about it.

Bianca should win.

The final announced match is the continuation of one of the most embarrassing angles in pro wrestling.

Alexa Bliss, who is not a child despite carrying around a doll and playing on a swingset, will wrestle Shayna Baszler, who may or may not be possessed by the aforementioned doll Lilly. Alexa Bliss may not be paired with The Fiend, but she continues to be the most disconcerting, creepy in a bad way character in this company’s history. She also continues the Fiend’s streak of doing the worst thing on any show that they are on, so anything more than a complete embarrassment here would be a minor miracle. It’s a shame that Shayna Baszler, who led NXT to their only ratings win over AEW Dynamite with Rhea Ripley, has been weighed down with this muck. But the higher-ups on the main roster have made it clear that they don’t view her in the same way the NXT brass did.

My expectation is for Bliss to do some magic bullshit and win. My hope is that Shayna Baszler chokes Bliss out and sends her to whatever ether the Fiend is in, where they can stay for the rest of eternity.