The SmarK Rant for Hell in a Cell 2016
Live from Boston, MA
Your hosts are Michael Cole, Corey Graves & Byron Saxton
US title, Hell in a Cell: Roman Reigns v. Rusev
Lana’s accent sounds like she’s not even trying anymore. It’s been phased out to the level of Dolph Lundgren playing a Russian bad guy in an 80s action movie. The announcers continue making Reigns into the heel by pointing out how Rusev is fuelled by revenge after Reigns has spent weeks messing with his family. Really, what has Rusev even done to be a heel in this feud? Reigns has his alternate Wolfpac color scheme going tonight, which somehow looks even stupider. The crowd actually starts a “Let’s go Rusev” chant while they slug it out to start. Much like the Red Sox, I think tonight will be a huge disappointment to them. Reigns throws some clotheslines while the announcers posit that winning the US title has given Reigns some aggression and restarted his career. Sure, let’s go with that. They head to the floor again and Rusev bumps into the cage a few times as the announcers stress how PERSONAL this is. RELATE TO ROMAN REIGNS, DAMMIT! Reigns goes into the magic table stash under the ring, but Rusev sends him into the cage to take over. The crowd is just totally dead for this, and Rusev gets two in the ring. The announcers point out that Rusev has a “laceration” on his arm from going into the cage, and they show the replay where he gently takes the bump and gives himself a Luger-sized scratch on the arm, while they’re going “OH MY GOD, THE HORROR! That cage TEARS the FLESH from BONE!” Rusev misses a splash and both guys are down. THE HORROR! THAT canvas tears the SKIN from your BODY! It can be very abrasive! Rusev makes the comeback with forearms in the corner, but Rusev bails while Roman does his elaborate setup for a punch. Back to the floor for another gentle bump into the steps and Rusev hits him with the STEEL stairs to take over again. Rusev teases the crowd with a table, but then grabs a kendo stick instead and Reigns promptly steals that. Rusev ties him in the ropes and beats him with the stick, but sadly it does not instantly get him over like it did with Tommy Dreamer. Reigns escapes the ropes and hits a clothesline for two. Rusev wins a slugfest, but walks into a samoan drop and Superman punch for two. Rusev bulldogs him on the steps for two, however, and goes to the Accolade in the middle. But as usual he fights free, so Rusev puts him on the floor with a high kick. Next up, Rusev finds a chain under the ring and pounds him down with it. Superkick gets two. So next we get the most dreaded of finishes…the ACCOLADE ON THE STEPS. With a chain in the mouth. This will of course kill any normal human being in 10 seconds flat, but Roman has the power of superhuman bullshit behind him, and he easily powers out and drops Rusev on the steps. That was ridiculous. There’s making a guy look strong and then there’s WAY overdoing it. Reigns then retains with a spear at 24:38. Terrible finish. Like he survives the guy’s FINISHER with a friggin’ CHAIN wrapped around his jaw and then wins 2 seconds later? Fuck right off with that. The crowd was equally unimpressed with that one. Decent match, but nothing they couldn’t have done in a non-Cell match, really. **3/4
Meanwhile, Kevin Owens is unconcerned about his loss to Seth Rollins on Monday, and he’s still be The Man after tonight. Watching that replay, it looked like they were going for a double powerbomb spot and screwed it up somehow.
Bayley v. Dana Brooke
Dana overpowers Bayley to start and works her over as the crowd instantly dies. She works the bad arm with a variety of dull stuff while yelling a lot. I really don’t get the obsession with pushing Brooke. She was terrible in NXT and didn’t show improvement of any signficant degree, and has actually gotten worse since being called up. Bayley makes the one-armed comeback, but can only build half the momentum as a result. Usual series from her, crowd still doesn’t care. Bayley to belly finishes clean at 6:22. Wow, that was a whole lot of nothing. 1/2*
Meanwhile, Stephanie and GM Luke Harper brag about how awesome the show has been already, and how we’ll finally get to see RAW and Smackdown clash for the first time ever at Survivor Series. Chris Jericho interrupts and threatens to put them on the LIST if they don’t choose him for Survivor Series.
Enzo & Cass v. Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows
The opening spiel is rife with Boston references that make no sense to anyone that speaks English. I’ll have to ask Brian for a translation. Apparently Gallows & Anderson engaged in “shenanigans” on Monday to set off this heated rivalry. Enzo & Cass double-team Anderson in the corner to start and clean house, but Enzo walks into a clothesline on the floor. Andy and Big Gal work Enzo over while the announcers really get the heels over by talking about what a huge disappointment that the Club has been to date. Enzo fights off a superplex attempt and gets the DDT from the middle rope to set up the hot tag to Cass. He makes the super-generic comeback while Enzo disappears, but he crotches himself on a blind charge and Enzo tags himself back in and gets put away like a geek at 6:40. I don’t understand the direction for either of these teams. *
Universal title: Kevin Owens v. Seth Rollins
The opening video package once again shows the HHH turn on Rollins, which they STILL have never even explained! What was the point of it? They fight to the floor and Rollins takes over in the ring with a Sling blade for two. Buff Blockbuster gets two. Rollins gets a table set up, but Owens puts him down with a senton and starts working on the back. Owens rips the kinesotape off Seth’s back as I was about to make a joke about the announcers comparing it to “ripping flesh off the bone” and then Corey Graves says exactly that! Even sticky tape hurts more in the Cell! Thank god it wasn’t a band-aid or the man would be dead. Back in, KO stomps away for two as this match desperately needs the GIFT OF JERICHO. Seth takes a nice bump into the cage to wake things up a bit, but then Owens pounds away in the corner to put it back to sleep again. To the floor for a cannonball into the cage, but Rollins comes back in the ring and they do a series of finisher reversals into an Owens lariat, which Cole then Cool Dads by declaring “What a sequence!” Owens heads out with a second table and sets up a complex series of traps with it like a supervillain, but Rollins suplexes him on the apron. And now the fickle crowd chants “This is awesome”. Come on, really? That’s just cheapening it. Owens takes out the ref with a fire extinguisher blast and the cage is left open, which is the cue for Jericho to join us. Jericho locks himself in and Owens hits Rollins with a package powerbomb for two. I love that they spend all this time building up how the point of the Cell is that no one can interfere, and yet the fans still sit on their hands for 15:00 waiting for the inevitable point when Jericho interferes. Rollins with a Pedigree on Jericho, and he powerbombs Owens through both tables as the bitter hand of irony strikes KO down. Back in, frog splash gets two as Jericho saves. Why the fuck don’t the heels just beat Rollins up 2-on-1? Are they ninjas in a Bruce Lee movie or something? Rollins heads out and beats up Jericho on the floor, powerbombing him into the cage, but he’s distracted and gets powerbombed for two by Owens. Now the BFFs finally decide to double-team Rollins, but he fights back on both of them until Owens DDTs him on a chair. Powerbomb on a pair of chairs finishes at 23:05 in another anticlimactic finish. An oddly structured match, with Jericho in there for about 10:00 of it and not really factoring into the finish, and the big peak spot coming 5:00 before the ending so that it just felt like the match ran too long. ***1/4 It was fine by the end, but the first half was really boring and just waiting for Jericho to run in.
Cruiserweight title: TJ Perkins v. Brian Kendrick
The storyline, with the drama coming from one guy wanting the other to lay down for him, might be one of the most ridiculous this year. And yet they take the time to change the ropes to purple for their branding shit, but can’t be bothered to actually come up with a decent story for the match and then wonder why the division isn’t over. They trade rollups to start and Kendrick ties TJ’s hand to the bottom rope using the wrist tape and gets a back suplex for two. Crowd is already turning on the match. I’m worried that if I can’t see the pink ropes, I’ll forget about breast cancer! I’m already concentrating on other kinds of cancers and getting ready to give my money and support to them instead! The highlight of the match is some guy at ringside yelling “GET A FUCKING HAIRCUT, HIPPIE!” at Kendrick when they fight outside. Back in, Kendrick with a dropkick to counter a flying TJ, and that gets two. You know it’s two because the arena is so deathly silent that each time the ref’s hand hits the mat you can hear it like a gunshot. Perkins comes back with a fireman’s carry into a head kick for two, but Kendrick gets another back suplex for two. Kendrick with the choke, but Perkins rolls him over for two. Perkins with the kneebar and Kendrick escapes and tries Sliced Bread, but “hurts his knee”. TJ goes to help like a fucking moron while the crowd boos him because they’re not fucking morons, and of course Kendrick turns on him and chokes him out to win the title at 10:28. This division and everyone in it is DEAD. Like, squashed by Undertaker for not wearing the right shoes at the airport dead and buried. * Also, this company has ZERO idea how to make a babyface who isn’t a complete idiot.
RAW tag team titles: The New Day v. Sheamus & Cesaro
Kofi’s pre-match schtick sees the pandering “hitting an all-time high”, which Kofi admits is because he’s from Boston and no one knows it due to the “whole Jamaican thing”. Woods quickly gets caught in the wrong corner and double-teamed for a bit. Sheamus with the backbreaker for two, but Woods counters the running forearm from Cesaro and brings in Big E. Best sign of the night: “Please Stop Four Hour Pay Per View”. That guy probably isn’t gonna like Survivor Series, then. Big E with the big splash on Sheamus, and he counters the Brogue Kick with a powerbomb for two. Sheamus with a tilt a whirl slam for two. Xavier comes in with a crossbody, but Sheamus rolls through for two and hits White Noise for two. Cesaro comes in with a double stomp for two to set up the Giant Swing, but Woods makes the ropes and comes back on them. Flying elbow on Cesaro gets two. Cesaro fires back with the forearms in the corner and gets the Giant Swing this time, into the Sharpshooter, but Big E breaks it up. Sheamus accidentally Brogues his own partner and the dizzy Xavier gets two. Sheamus clears the ring and dives onto the New Day. Back in, Cesaro gets another Sharpshooter on Woods while Sheamus takes out Big E with the trombone, but Kofi interferes for the DQ outside the ring. These finishes are WEAK SAUCE tonight. Just a match, although there was a bit of drama at the end with the record title reign briefly threatened. Really though, they’ve gone 430 days with it, why would they possibly end it before breaking the record? **
RAW Women’s title, Hell in a Cell: Sasha Banks v. Charlotte
This is apparently our “third main event of the evening”, which somewhat cheapens the whole notion of main events, I think. And of course, OF COURSE, the opening video package celebrating all the great women’s matches of the past has to have Stephanie inserted into it. Also, there’s no real issue presented here for the match, it’s just “Watch this because women are main-eventing and it’s historic!” Really, Sasha already won the title clean on RAW and there’s no reason for this to happen. Charlotte attacks while the cage is being lowered and they immediately fight outside of it and into the crowd. They climb the cage and Charlotte powerbombs her through the Spanish table on the way down. I really, REALLY wish that the 100 pound woman with back injuries wouldn’t do shit like that. So they bring out the stretcher for Sasha and try to wrap a neck brace around her purple hair extensions on live TV while Charlotte demands the title. And they manage to somehow wrap a TV cable in the brace. They’re in the midst of announcing Charlotte as the new champion, but Sasha breaks away from the stretcher and goes into the cell to start the match. That hardly seems fair to Charlotte. I mean, the decision was already made! Also, why didn’t Reigns win the US title by forfeit at Summerslam when he beat up Rusev before the bell? Since that’s apparently a rule now. Banks slugs away on Charlotte, but she gets monkey-flipped into the cage. Into the ring, Charlotte suplexes her into the corner for two. Sasha comes back with a Banks Statement, but Charlotte escapes and dumps her and follows with a dive. Back in with a chair involved, but Sasha fights back in the corner until Charlotte drops her on the chair with a backbreaker. And then AGAIN with the Network hitting the 180 minute mark of the show and suddenly dropping back to the menu! And then every time I try to restart the show it takes me to RAW Talk instead. Finally I hit the right spot and continue, but holy shit that’s annoying. Anyway, they head to the floor again and Sasha springs off the cage with double knees on her. Back in for more double knees and a frog splash for two. Sasha with the Banks Statement, but Charlotte escapes, so Sasha gives her the double knees onto a chair for two. Charlotte rams her face into the stairs and sets up a table, which the point where you’d wish that they hadn’t already used tables in the previous Hell in a Cell match on the show. They fight for a suplex in the corner and Charlotte takes a delicate bump through the table off that, which gives Sasha two. So Sasha gets another table, but Charlotte runs it into her throat on the way into the ring. Charlotte sets up this second table in the ring, apparently unable to learn her lesson about tables and what can happen. Charlotte gets a backbreaker and the figure-eight, but Sasha breaks it up with a chair. Charlotte stops to call some spots pretty clearly on camera and they knock each other out with forearms. Charlotte with a backbreaker for two and she puts Sasha on the table, but Sasha revives to stop the moonsault and tries to powerbomb Charlotte through the table, but her back gives out. Nice of them to remember her crippling back injury 20:00 into the match. And Charlotte hits the Natural Selection to win the title at 22:00. I’d say I can’t believe they did that finish in Boston, but really, I can. They tried really, REALLY hard to put it over as this historic epic, but it just wasn’t. It was a long and slow Cell match with two people who don’t have experience doing those spots and it showed. ***1/4
Way to kill Boston off, WWE!