Place to Be Nation’s staff breaks down all the action from Hell in a Cell 2018.
New Day (c) vs. Rusev Day – Smackdown Tag Team Title Match
Matt Souza: For the second straight month, Rusev is wrestling on the pre-show. Shameful!!! And on Rusev Day no less!!! When will these injustices end?!?! In all seriousness, when looking over the card, this match was the only choice for the pre-show as the rest of the card was pretty loaded. I was pleased to see New Day win the tag belts from the Bludgeon Brothers in a great No DQ match on SmackDown a few weeks ago. I was also pleasantly surprised that Rusev Day won the number one contender tournament as I thought that The Bar was going to take it. We did get some entertaining pre-match shenanigans from both teams. I am also excited about pumpkin spice season, Kofi! One of these days, Big E is going to really hurt himself or his opponent with that apron spear to the outside. It’s terrifying every time he does it. A highlight was a great looking mid-air kick by Rusev to Kofi when he was going for a dive to the outside. Kofi scores the victory for his team after hitting Aiden English with the Trouble in Paradise and I was kind of surprised that they didn’t do the Rusev Day breakup here. It’s been teased for a while. Maybe they do it at Survivor Series? Match started a little slow but really picked up steam by the end. I’d love to see what these teams can do with a little more time. A fine way to kick off the night’s festivities. **3/4
Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton – Hell in a Cell
Greg Phillips: One of the better-built rivalries on WWE’s current premiere brand (in terms of quality), Jeff Hardy and Randy Orton promised to deliver violence and carnage in one of only two Hell in a Cell matches at … Hell in a Cell. Did they deliver? As it turns out, in spades. In an ideal wrestling card, every match fills a role. In this case, perhaps surprisingly, it was two veterans often accused of coasting on reputation who delivered the most violent match of the evening and one of the most violent weapons matches in WWE in recent years. It was a match that mixed Orton’s methodical pacing and technical execution with Hardy’s innovation and borderline-reckless disregard for his own safety.
While Jeff had moments, most of the highlights came from Orton’s offensive flurries, including one of the sickest spots ever in a WWE match, as Orton twisted a screwdriver into Hardy’s ear, a spot that has to be seen to be believed. Hardy bumped around like a guy in his 20s, including taking a gourdbuster onto an upside-down ladder. The finish was spectacular, as Hardy (appropriately) flamed out on an attempted monkey bar-style fall from the top of the cell and crashed through a table. Orton didn’t escape unharmed, though, as his back and thigh were badly cut during the match. Both guys delivered beyond expectations with a truly violent match in an era with relatively few of those. ***1/2
Charlotte (c) vs. Becky Lynch – Smackdown Women’s Title Match
Stacey O’Loughlin: FIFTY HUNDRED GAZMILLION STARS~! OK no really. I was worried about both watching and reviewing this match because the only result I wanted was Becky winning clean, and I was mentally prepared to expect literally any other result than Becky winning clean. So you can imagine my astonished, euphoric delight when Rebecca Lynch did, in fact, win the Smackdown Women’s Championship of the World clean as a freshly laundered sheet. Get in!
I thought the match itself was really good and ticked a lot of boxes – it was wrestled fairly technically but still felt super snug and spiteful, it was a strong match and yet still left a LOT on the table for rematches, and it had a clean finish which didn’t cheapen Becky or Charlotte and still set up those rematches logically. Becky attacked the arm relentlessly, and Charlotte did well put in the rare position of working out of a disadvantage. I loved the strike exchanges, and cool moments like Charlotte’s one armed powerbomb or Becky’s Scorpion Death Drop with a hammerlock. And also, SHE WON! WAR BECKY! Rating: ***1/2
The Shield vs. Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre (c) – Raw Tag Team Title Match
JA D’Amato: A hot “Burn it down!” chant from the San Antonio faithful busted out as Seth Rollins and Dolph Ziggler locked up to start. Corey and Renee recap the history of their feud and the Shield beat downs at the hands of Braun Strowman and company for those who don’t tune into Raw. Ziggler with a Jesse Ventura special, raking Ambrose’s eyes across the top rope prompting Corey to quip “If you can’t see you can’t fight!” Dolph and Drew dominated with old school double team maneuvers took turns distracting the referee. Dolph taunted Seth relentlessly telling him to “Do something! Do something!” Ambrose then broke up a pin attempt and Drew screamed at the ref to “Disqualify his arse!” Ambrose finally got the hot tag and showed that his offense has improved upon his return from injury with less cartoon moves and more seriousness. A furious trade of pinfall attempts sent the crowd into a frenzy as Rollins’ splash on Drew got a close two count. Rollins caught Dolph with a superplex off the top rope and went for a suplex when Drew buried him with a Claymore Kick and Dolph flopped on top of him for the pin. Both teams kept up a frenetic pace for a tag team thriller. ***1/2
AJ Styles (c) vs. Samoa Joe – Smackdown World Title Match
Scott Criscuolo: The sequel to the emotional war at SummerSlam was very different. I’ve noticed that AJ Styles usually doesn’t have that superstar ***** star match with everybody the first time around. For instance his WrestleMania match with Nakamura was not the best of that LONG series. The match with Joe in Brooklyn was great, but you got the feeling it can be topped. This one was better. We didn’t have the dog and pony show of AJ’s family in the crowd and the storyline leaning over it all. This match was going to be straight up back and forth. And it was. Joe went out and threw everything including the kitchen sink at AJ from strikes to kicks to pitching AJ all over, in and out of the ring. We get some awesome close calls, and then… the tried and true ending to the middle match of a trilogy. It’s not a “dusty finish” by any stretch, but it’s an unclean finish. Joe finally gets AJ cranked in the Coquina Clutch, and AJ is fighting. Then, he does the “Bret Hart” trick. That’s backing up, and flipping over your opponent on a neck/head submission move. So AJ flips over, and Joe’s shoulders are pinned to the mat. AJ retains his Title, but Joe is visibly pissed off that he wasn’t finished off first. “First”? After a few minutes we see the reverse of the ring shot, and there’s AJ, TAPPING on Joe’s torso during the pinfall. So Joe felt the tapping, and felt he won before the three count happened. Later in the show, Joe tries to strong arm Paige, and she relents a little, giving Joe another WWE Title shot. It will be October 7 in Melbourne. We will see where this feud goes from here. This match was tremendous back and forth, with a controversial ending that will lead us to more. ****
Daniel Bryan & Brie Bella vs. The Miz & Maryse
Jennifer Smith: In a show filled with heavy, intense matches, this one was decidedly lighter. Since Miz’s win against Bryan at SummerSlam, (with some help from his lady, natch) the “It” couple have been a thorn in the side of Daniel and Brie. A mixed tag match should solve that problem, right? Things start off slowly, with Maryse dodging Brie and immediately tagging Miz, who in turn avoids Bryan. More tagging shenanigans lead to the crowd chanting “Coward!’ while Maryse taunts Brie repeatedly. The boys have a nice sequence including a kick to Miz’s face, a back and neck breaker combo on Bryan, and a few near falls by both guys. Finally, Daniel tags Brie in and of course Maryse cowers while Miz comes to her defense. Brie is having none of it and attacks Miz with punches, then manages to kick Maryse to the floor and follows that up with slamming her head into the announce table. Both couples are brawling now. Back in the center of the ring, Daniel and Brie deliver slightly poorly timed simultaneous “YES” kicks. M&M roll away and try to escape up the ramp but are dragged back. Brie mode is activated, she and Maryse tie up, but all of a sudden Maryse gets the pin! Brie looks shocked and so does everyone else. M&M celebrate by making out and presumably a hot fuck backstage.
Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Alexa Bliss – Raw Women’s Title Match
JT Rozzero: In our big SummerSlam rematch, the two key ladies on top of the Raw mountain were sure to bring plenty of backup for this war. Alexa Bliss was flanked by Alicia Fox and Mickie James while Ronda Rousey was accompanied by her confidant Natalya. The crowd was pretty into this early, showering Bliss with hate and Rousey with a loud cheer blended with a smattering of boos as well. Ronda controlled early, trying to keep things on the mat until decking Bliss with a hard right hand after Alexa disrespected her with a slap. Bliss caught Ronda with a kick and went at the ribs but that was short-lived and Ronda was back on top quickly. Bliss’ entourage tried to help but it kept backfiring until Bliss finally sorted out a way to get some offense in, including a stiff kick to the gut. That shot paid off as Ronda’s ribs prevented her from tossing Bliss a moment later, allowing the challenger to get back to work on the midsection. Ronda got caught on top and ended up in a brief Tree of Woe, which gave Bliss another window to batter the ribs. Alicia and Mickie got involved again but this time Natalya came over to help to even things out. Rousey and Bliss would collide on cross body attempts but Bliss recovered first and kept slugging away at the core. Rousey fired herself up and got a big powerbomb to kick off her comeback and that led us into our home stretch, capped by Ronda eventually finishing Alexa by submission. This was a fine match that showcased Ronda’s selling. The midsection focus was well done and they got into the heat segment sharply and believably. The crowd wasn’t too engaged here but it was solid work across the board and another impressive Rousey performance as she continues a dominant rookie year. Who’s next? **3/4
Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman – Raw World Title Hell in a Cell Match
Jacob Williams: For the main event, we had Braun Strowman choosing to schedule his MITB cash in and it was clear that there might be some shenanigans here. They couldn’t have Roman lose right after he finally conquered Brock, and if they have Braun go down clean, they really run the risk of putting out his fire. Although, many would argue that his heat has already started to dissipate. Foley was thrown in as guest referee because he knows a few things about the cell.
The match was made up of three distinct segments that really didn’t gel. It started pretty solid, as you would expect from these two: Braun beat the hell out of Roman, who sold well while getting in a few big bits of offense to keep himself alive. And then everything just went off the rails. Each guy’s crew came out to battle outside, and then eventually, atop the cell. But while Ziggler and Rollins crashed through the announce tables, the guys in the actual match were just sort of laying around for ten minutes. After the Shield and Ziglintyre wiped themselves out, Brock Lesnar shockingly came out and hit a few F5s. And that was it.
It was cool to see Brock come out looking great, proving that he still cared about the title and wasn’t just going to quietly fade away, but suddenly ending the match right after was weird and unsatisfying. Through the entire show we get references to Foley’s wild performance where he nearly died and still finished his infamous cell match – then we get two guys unable to continue after a few F5s following ten minutes of laying around. And one of them is supposed to be an inhuman monster that flips ambulances. It’s as if they wanted to throw out as much as possible to distract from the fact that not much really happened between the guys actually in the match. It made for an underwhelming, disjointed finish to an otherwise good show. **