What a week in the WWE!
First things first – Happy Halloween to all! It’s not quite the Halloween we all envisioned in 2020 as we’re still in the midst of a second wave of COVID-19 around the World, but we make out of it the best we all can, right? In that vein, I think the WWE is doing the same. With a quality Hell In A Cell PPV, Halloween Havoc and SmackDown, it was an entertaining week across the brands.
I did like the fact that Hell In A Cell was simplified. Six matches (seven if you count the kick-off show) left plenty of time for the three Hell In A Cell matches to play out in three very different ways. Roman Reigns vs. Jey Uso set the tone of the night with an emotional story of family members struggling with their lot in life and where they fit in. In the end, Jey Uso quit to say his brother Jimmy from the Tribal Chief. Then, we got Sasha Banks get revenge in a brutal (in a very good way) battle of best friends, taking Bayley’s SmackDown title to end her over-a-year-long reign at the top. Drew McIntyre vs. Randy Orton was simply a physical beating the literal hell out of each other, complete with a McIntyre nod to Shawn Michaels by falling off the side of the cage onto a table. Seeing both on top of the cage in the ThunderDome was pretty cool too!
As for Halloween Havoc, we’ll get into the details later in our NXT recap, but suffice it to say, I loved it! Ditto for SmackDown!
It continues to beg the question – why are NXT and SmackDown running so hot while RAW continues to be stuck in the mud?
Hell In A Cell PPV – Results
- WWE Championship Hell In A Cell Match: Randy Orton defeated Drew McIntyre to win title
- Universal Championship Hell In A Cell I Quit Match: Roman Reigns defeated Jey Uso to retain title
- SmackDown Women’s Championship Hell In A Cell Match: Sasha Banks defeated Bayley to win title
- Money In The Bank Contract Match: The Miz defeated Otis to win MITB Contract
- Elias defeated Jeff Hardy via DQ
- United States Championship Match: Bobby Lashley defeated Slapjack of RETRIBUTION
- 24/7 Championship: R-Truth defeated Drew Gulak
Star of the Week:
Randy Orton – When you win your 14th WWE title inside Hell In A Cell against the dominating Drew McIntyre, you need to get some star love. He’s easily been one of the stars of the pandemic era, doing some of the best work of his 20-year career. I expect him to keep the title until facing Edge at WrestleMania!
- Survivor Series Qualifying Match: AJ Styles defeated Jeff Hardy
- Lucha House Party defeated Akira Tozawa & Drew Gulak
- Survivor Series Qualifying Match: Keith Lee defeated Elias
- Elimination Match: The Hurt Business defeated RETRIBUTION by DQ
- Drew McIntyre defeated The Miz
- Fatal 4-Way Match: Lana defeated Peyton Royce, Lacey Evans & Nikki Cross to join Team RAW
- Survivor Series Qualifying Match: Sheamus defeated Matt Riddle
On its face, RAW seemed a bit disjointed this week after a few weeks of getting better. Coming off the Hell In A Cell PPV and kicking off the road to the Survivor Series, you would think that things would be micro-focused. But, in watching Monday night, it just didn’t seem that way.
The build to Survivor Series basically got done in one backstage segment with The New Day and Asuka telling us all the matches with a big screen. It truly will be just RAW vs. SmackDown this year as we get champion vs. champion on all fronts (Orton vs. Reigns, Lashley vs. Zayn, The New Day vs. The Street Profits and the traditional 5-on-5 match) which is fine, but there won’t seem to be much, or any consequences coming out of it. We got three qualifying matches that saw Keith Lee, Sheamus and AJ Styles advance to Team RAW. None of three really stood out. Not bad, not awesome, so just really there and seemingly put over the right superstar. Don’t get me wrong, the matches at SS will be fine and could have a few “moments” but do they really help the individual brands when it’s done? At least last year, there was excitement with NXT being involved and it kept going through the Royal Rumble. I’m not sure that’s going to happen this time around.
For the women, why oh why do we get subjected to Lana winning matches and being put through more tables? Does WWE really think that we’re going to start cheering for Lana just because she’s being put through tables each week by Nia Jax or Shayna Baszler? I don’t think so. I think it’s a lost storyline there that I just yawn over.
This week, we get another match in which RETRIBUTION loses, but then afterwards, Mustafa Ali says they will decide who suffers and when it gets shut down. HUH?! While we are it, what the heck was up with the Mia Yim acting like she’s having a seizure and that bugs were all over her? Totally offensive. Back to the group – The Hurt Business is their collective Daddy and it just makes the weak. Let them beat someone else and gain some momentum. Otherwise, move on. It’s been a lost opportunity here with RETRIBUTION and I don’t see it getting any better on a consistent basis.
Welcome to the Firehouse Funhouse Alexa Bliss!
Even in the last segment of the night, Randy Orton on A Moment of Bliss with Alexa Bliss, there was no clear road as to where they were going. Sure, we thought Orton would be confronted by The Fiend, but yet we get Drew McIntyre back out to confront Orton again with Alexa Bliss laughing maniacally on the top rope. A cool sight, yes indeed. And yes, we loved the “burned it down” reference by Bliss to harken back to the time that Orton burned Bray Wyatt’s house down. Good detail there. But then as The Fiend shows up on the ramp to stop Orton, Orton and McIntyre just continue the brawl as the show seemingly ends. At least McIntyre got some positivity earlier in the night by beating the newly crowned Money In The Bank holder, The Miz, in an easy match. So, where does The Fiend and Drew fit in here? There not getting a match at Survivor Series, it’s Orton vs. Reigns. Will they become teammates on the RAW Survivor Series team? Will they get a separate match on the card? Or will they just mess with Orton so that he loses against Reigns? It’s not clear with only a few weeks left to the PPV, which of course leads to little build-up and buy in from us, the fans. I would like to see Orton vs. Drew vs. Orton, but I know I’m not getting it, at least for a while.
Overall, a step back for RAW this week after a few glimmers of hope.
- NXT North American Championship Devil’s Playground Match: Johnny Gargano defeated Damian Priest to win title
- Non-title NXT Cruiserweight Championship Match: Santos Escobar defeated Jake Atlas
- Haunted House of Terror Match: Dexter Lumis defeated Cameron Grimes
- Rhea Ripley defeated Raquel Gonzalez
- NXT Women’s Championship Tables, Ladders & Scares Match: Io Shirai defeated Candice LeRae to retain title
Loved the concept going in with Halloween Havoc returning from its WCW roots to take over a night of NXT! Shotzi Blackheart being the host was perfectly cast and she hosted a night of fun, excitement, costumes and surprises. Spin The Wheel, Make The Deal! Yes! I hope they make this an annual event on NXT!
Right from the get-go, this show delivered a pair of title matches to bookend the show. Johnny Gargano vs. Damian Priest in a Devil’s Playground Match with basically no rules allowed them to fight everywhere at the WWE Performance Center. So, who was in the Scream costume to help Gargano win the title with a lead pipe and by sending a headstone through Priest? Was it Candice LeRae? Was it Indie Hartwell? Was it a mystery superstar? Good intrigue as the Gargano Way is back on top with a championship. Then, in what I will call a bit of a surprise, Io Shirai held on to her NXT Women’s Championship against Candice LeRae. I truly thought it would be a double-title night for the Garganos, but it wasn’t meant to be as Blackheart thwarted the mystery Scream person’s attempt (Johnny Gargano or Indie Hartwell) to help LeRae climb the ladder to win the match. A fabulous match with amazing bumps through ladders, tables and other assorted weaponry in this Ladders, Tables and Scares match.
I’ll give Pat McAfee credit. The dude delivers on whatever platform he’s on. Whether it be the NFL, ESPN, his own internet show, Mad Dog Radio on Sirius XM or in the NXT, he’s got IT. Not only did he come back and connect all the dots on how he got back at Adam Cole and The Undisputed Era, but he took it to another level. Bringing back the BruiserWeight, Pete Dunne to swerve Kyle O’Reilly and join his faction with Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch gives him another edgy person to try and take over NXT. Very well done.
I could see Ripley and Gonzalez go at it a few more times too. The battle of NXT behemoths was a good one. So too was Escobar vs. Atlas as Legado Del Fantasma never seems to disappoint on any occasion.
Finally, the cinematic Haunted House of Horror Match between Lumis and Grimes gave us the entertainment for the night, complete with dancing zombies. It kept Lumis strong as this menacing, brooding man in the shadows while Grimes is growing on me as some comic relief. At the beginning, he was just annoying. Now, I’m starting to believe a little more. And speaking of funny, how about Drake and Killian Dane reliving Halloween Havoc 1995 with Hulk Hogan, The Giant, Yeti and yes, the ShockMaster? LOL my friends!
- Survivor Series Qualifying Match: Kevin Owens defeated Dolph Ziggler
- Survivor Series Qualifying Match: Bianca Belair defeated Natalya and Billie Kay
- Non-title SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match: The Street Profits defeated Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura
- Survivor Series Qualifying Match: Jey Uso defeated Daniel Bryan
It doesn’t get any more real than what Roman Reigns and Jey Uso continue to give us each and every Friday night. This week, the consequences of his Hell In A Cell match loss to Reigns brings Uso to tears to kickoff SmackDown, forcing him to say he hates him, as Reigns say he’s always loved him. So simple. So gripping. So entertaining.
The Survivor Series five-on-five teams continue to get built with Kevin Owens and Bianca Belair winning qualifying matches Friday night. I don’t know about you, but Natalya seems to be wasted playing the whiny, “I deserve it all” character these days. Belair is a superstar in the making and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her be a sole survivor. As for Owens, it’s always good to see him get rewarded and this will only boost his cause in trying to and help out the rest of the blue brand as he’s said he wants to be there for his fellow superstars in the past few months.
How about Lars Sullivan! The Freak actually speaks. Good sitdown with Corey Graves to give him a little depth. And speaking of depth, the romance contiues to blossom between Aalyah and Murphy. I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop there even though Murphy’s apology to the Mysterio family seemed genuine until Seth Rollins predictably butted in. In the end, Aalyah professes her love for Buddy and they’re one step closer to going to the dark side together.
So, it looks like we’re finally going to see why Carmella is so untouchable. Nice tease for next week!
No matter how many times I see it, I’m always amazed at how high Montez Ford gets flying through the air. Michael Cole has it right – “from the heavens.” The Street Profits vs. The New Day is going to be a classic. Dawkins and Ford took care of business against the former tag team champions Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura with another clean victory. I think the WWE has run out of ways to use Cesaro & Nakamura though. Too bad.
Apparently, it’s USA vs. The World when Bobby Lashley meets Sami Zayn at Survivor Series. Ok then.
Long live the chair. Even though Hell In A Cell is over, the chair that has highlighted the feud between Sasha Banks and Bayley has survived and is moving forward. The storyline is not ending and we’ll get another championship match next Friday night.
Actions have consequences and we knew they were coming for Uso by the end of the night. So, having Reigns come out in the middle of Jey’s qualifying match with Bryan made absolute sense. Reigns didn’t even give Uso the chance to relish his well deserved victory over Bryan before he made him say the words “I’m with you” to Reigns. Jey firmly understands, attacking Bryan after the match and he’s now fully with the Tribal Chief on the dark side. It looks like the faction led by Reigns is getting bigger and should be growing in the upcoming weeks. The USOs will be the henchmen, IMHO. Great job by Paul Heyman as well staying out of the way. It only builds him and the entire group up. Less is definitely more!
SmackDown continues to be WWE’s best show of the week.
With the Survivor Series celebrating 30 years of The Undertaker, I do hope we get some Brother Love and Ted DiBiase sightings over the next few weeks and at the PPV. It’s good to see the WWE Network embracing the podcast game too with additions of Lillian Garcia, Isaiah “Swerve” Scott’s Swerve City, Sam Roberts and Corey Graves After The Bell. Content is king and it’s good to get the different perspectives, especially seeing WWE superstars in a different light outside the ring too.
Survivor Series – Updated Card:
- WWE Champion Randy Orton vs. Universal Champion Roman Reigns
- Raw Women’s Champion Asuka vs. SmackDown Women’s Champion Sasha Banks
- Raw Tag Team Champions The New Day vs. SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Street Profits
- United States Champion Bobby Lashley vs. Intercontinental Champion Sami Zayn
- 5-on-5 Women’s Survivor Series Elimination Match (Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler, Mandy Rose, Dana Brooke, Lana vs. Bianca Belair, TBD, TBD, TBD, TBD)
- 5-on-5 Men’s Survivor Series Elimination Match (Keith Lee, Sheamus, AJ Styles, TBD, TBD vs. Kevin Owens, Jey Uso, TBD, TBD, TBD)
Coming up next week:
The Fiend & Randy Orton appear
Guitar on a Pole Match: Elias vs. Jeff Hardy
Non-title RAW Tag Team Title Match: The New Day vs. Shelton Benjamin & Cedric Alexander
Non-title WWE Women’s Tag Team Title Match: Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler vs. Dana Brooke & Mandy Rose
Survivor Series Qualifying matches
Tommaso Ciampa vs. The Velveteen Dream
Ember Moon vs. Dakota Kai
SmackDown Women’s Championship: Sasha Banks vs. Bayley
Survivor Series Qualifying matches
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