By Jason Powell
WWE Hell in a Cell 2016
Aired live on WWE Network and pay-per-view
Boston, Massachusetts at TD Garden
A Hell in a Cell video package aired and included audio clips from the participants in the matches and authority figures Mick Foley and Stephanie McMahon… Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton were on commentary…
Lana introduced Rusev prior to the match as the man who would crush Reigns and the soon to be three-time U.S. Champion. Rusev wore trunks that read “U.S. Champ” on the waistline. The broadcast team checked in briefly and introduced international broadcast teams. The fans booed when Rusev’s music stopped in anticipation of Roman Reigns. There were some fans cheering once Reigns’ music played, but there were more fans booing than cheering…
Powell’s POV: Cole and his crew are at their usual perch on the side of the stage, while Spanish and German teams are at ringside. This is good news as it means the tradition of the Spanish announce table being destroyed can live on. Meanwhile, WWE can’t even get Reigns cheered when he’s facing a foreign monster for the U.S. Championship. Think about that for a moment.
1. Roman Reigns vs. Rusev (w/Lana) in a Hell in a Cell match for the U.S. Championship. Cole reminded viewers that the only way to win is via pinfall or submission and anything goes during the HIAC matches. There were early “Let’s Go Rusev” and “Rusev sucks” dueling chants. They fought to ringside where Rusev ran Reigns into the cage multiple times. Rusev came back by raking the eyes of Reigns, who cut him off by whipping him into the ring steps.
Reigns tried to pull a table out from underneath the ring, but Rusev ran Reigns into the cage, then splashed him against it. Back inside the ring, Reigns regained control until Rusev cut off his Drive By attempt with a clothesline, which didn’t look very good. Rusev ran Reigns into the ring steps. Rusev picked up the top piece of the steps and rammed them into Reigns at 9:50.
Rusev brought the steps into the ring and set them on top of one of the turnbuckles. Rusev pulled out a kendo stick from underneath the ring, but Reigns knocked him down and grabbed the stick, which he struck Rusev with repeatedly. They headed back to the ring, and Rusev kicked the middle rope into the balls of Reigns before tying him up in the ropes. Rusev hit Reigns with the kendo stick nine times as the crowd chanted along. Rusev broke the stick. Rusev ran the ropes and Reigns broke free and clotheslined him for a two count.
Reigns caught Rusev with a Superman Punch for a near fall at 16:20. Reigns went for a spear, but Rusev caught him with a kick and then slammed his head into the ring steps that were on top of the turnbuckle. Rusev got a two count. Rusev put Reigns in the Accolade. Reigns fought toward the ropes, but Rusev stomped his back. Reigns stood up and ran the ropes and ended up eating a kick.
Rusev went to ringside and pulled a chain out from underneath the ring. Reigns caught Rusev with a punch to knock the chain away. Reigns threw several punches and then rolled Rusev back inside the ring, but Rusev struck him with the chain. Rusev slammed the chain over the back of Reigns. The dueling chants started again.
Rusev slid the ring steps back inside the ring and ended up ramming Reigns into them and then superkicking him for a two count at 22:00. Rusev put Reigns on top of the steps and used a chain across the face of Rusev while applying the Accolade. Reigns fought free and then performed a Samoan Drop onto the ring steps. Reigns ended up spearing Rusev off the ring steps and pinning him…
Roman Reigns defeated Rusev in a Hell in a Cell match in 24:35 to retain the U.S. Championship.
Powell’s POV: The match was fine for being the first of three HIAC matches. It was slow and plodding at times, but at least they didn’t do anything to steal the show and make life difficult for the two HIAC matches that have to follow it. I didn’t need nearly 25 minutes from Reigns and Rusev when I never had a doubt as to the outcome, but going long was probably the right move to make the match feel as epic as possible in terms of making the HIAC gimmick feel big.
Backstage, Tom Phillips interviewed Kevin Owens and brought up Seth Rollins beating him and Chris Jericho on Raw. Owens questioned whether he was really the winner when he powerbombed him on the edge of the ring. Owens said that for a match that lasted 600 or 700 seconds, Rollins had him for three of them. “Good for him,” Owens said. Owens recalled powerbombing John Cena on the edge of the apron and said it took him weeks to come back. He said Rollins wants to be a big hero by ignoring the advice of doctors. Owens said that what he does to Rollins in the Cell would make the war that Reigns and Rusev went through feel like a cakewalk…
2. Bayley vs. Dana Brooke. Before the match, they introduced additional international broadcast teams. Bayley slammed the head of Brooke into all three turnbuckle pads on one side of the ring. Dana ent on the offensive for a few minutes. Bayley came back and so did the crowd. Bayley sold her arm injury briefly. She went for her finisher, but Brooke took a shot at the injured arm. Bayley came right back with the Bayley to Belly and scored the clean pin…
Bayley defeated Dana Brooke in 6:30.
Powell’s POV: A basic television match. The live crowd liked Bayley. It will be interesting to see if Bayley moves on and enters the title picture coming out of this. Whatever happened to Nia Jax?
Backstage, Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley spoke about how the show would be great if the other two HIAC matches were as good as the first. They spoke about the Survivor Series event and the Raw vs. Smackdown matches, and Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg. Chris Jericho entered the picture and spoke about the Raw vs. Smackdown singles match. He mentioned the men that Smackdown could choose for their team. Foley asked if Jericho had a point. Jericho threatened to put Foley on The List. Jericho told Stephanie that he should be the first choice for Team Raw and the second choice should be Kevin Owens. Steph said they would take it under advisement.
Cole announced Raw Talk for after the show on WWE Network. The Kickoff Show team will host the show and the guests include Roman Reigns and Bayley…
Powell’s POV: The feud between Raw and Smackdown is so heated that Mauro Ranallo called the HIAC Kickoff Show match. Will someone from Smackdown at least complain about Raw stealing the Talking Smack format? I am at least looking forward to seeing how Reigns comes off in the less scripted format. I may die laughing if they have someone interrupt him seconds into the interview to protect him in this format too.
3. Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. In the pre-match mic routine, they dubbed Gallows “The Big Gal” and Anderson as “Andy”. Enzo told Andy that this is HIAC, not Toy Story. He said he would have to call Cass by the name of Woody because he’ll have Andy tattooed on the bottom of his boot. Cole mentioned that the heels had lucrative careers in Japan, then came to WWE “and didn’t get on track right away.”
Enzo sold for the heels for the majority of the first four minutes of the match. He fought off Anderson as both men were on the ropes and then caught him with a leaping DDT from the second rope. Big Cass took the hot tag and worked over both opponents. Cass worked over illegal man Anderson, then avoided a boot from Gallows.
Cass hit the Empire Elbow on Gallows and followed up with a fall away slam. Gallows rolled to the floor. Cass went for a big boot, but Gallows pulled the top rope down. Enzo tagged in and threw a series of punches at Gallows, who cut him off with a kick. Gallows and Anderson hit the Magic Killer on Enzo and pinned him for the win…
Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson defeated Enzo Amore and Big Cass in 6:45.
The HIAC cage lowered around the ring. A video package aired on the Owens vs. Rollins feud…
Powell’s POV: Yes, that means the women are going on last. It’s a shame that WWE didn’t get something out of it by hyping in advance that the women would headline a pay-per-view for the first time in history. Meanwhile, it’s nice to see Gallows and Anderson get a needed win. It would be nice to see Gallows and Anderson develop some momentum, but I suspect this is just the beginning for this feud, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Enzo and Cass get the next win.
4. Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins in a Hell in a Cell match for the WWE Universal Championship. Cole recapped a Facebook interview with Owens, who said he had conflicting feelings on HIAC in that he’s wanted to be involved for 20 years yet it’s dangerous. When asked how you prepare for the match, he said you don’t. Cole noted that it was a sellout with more than 16,000 fans in attendance. Rollins was out second to a good reaction, and had tape on his back to sell the powerbomb on Raw.
The bell rang to start the match and Owens immediately rolled to ringside. Owens looked under the ring for a weapon, but Rollins got there before he could get one. At 4:35, Owens tore the tape off the back of Rollins. A few minutes later, Owens through Rollins through the ropes and head-first into the cage. Owen went to ringside and rammed the Rollins into the cage several times.
Owens performed a cannonball against the cage. Rollins came back and went for a Pedigree, but Owens avoided it. Owens ducked a kick, and landed one of his own. Owens put Rollins down with a clothesline. The fans came to life for the good sequence as both men were temporarily down. At 12:25, Rollins suplexed Owens onto the edge of the apron. The fans chanted “this is awesome.”
Rollins performed a suicide dive that drove Owens into the cage. There were tables set up on the floor. Owens reached under the ring and pulled out a fire extinguisher, which he jabbed into the gut of Rollins before spraying it in the referee’s face. The ringside referee had the cage open to let the in-ring referee leave. Chris Jericho ran out and entered the cage. The healthy ref entered behind Jericho, who then locked the door.
Owens kissed Jericho on the cheek and Jericho put the key to the cage in his pocket. Rollins knocked Jericho off the apron and into the cage. Owens performed a package powerbomb for a two count. Rollins set up for a Pedigree on Owens, but he noticed Jericho coming off the ropes and caught him, then performed the Pedigree on him.
In one hell of a feat of strength, Rollins picked up Owens after a botched powerbomb lift and then powerbombed him through a table that was set up against the cage, and Owens also went through a second table below. Rollins performed a top rope splash on Owens and had him pinned, but Jericho pulled the referee out of the ring. Rollins attacked Jericho and the crowd went with the “awesome” chants again.
Rollins powerbombed Jericho into the cage. Back inside the ring, Owens caught Rollins with a superkick and then performed a Popup Powerbomb for a two count. Owens showed frustration and then threw a barrage of punches and headbutts at Rollins. Jericho joined Owens in the ring and threw a series of punches at Rollins too. Owens struck Rollins over the back with a chair four times.
Owens called for Jericho to join him. Rollins took a chair from Jericho and then hit both heels with it. Owens cut him off with a DDT onto a chair. Owens struck Rollins with the chair again and then set up two chairs in the middle of the ring. Owens powerbombed Rollins onto both chairs and then covered him for the win. After the match, Jericho hit a Codebreaker on Rollins. A trainer checked on Rollins afterward…
Kevin Owens defeated Seth Rollins in 23:15 in a Hell in a Cell match to retain the WWE Universal Championship.
Powell’s POV: Good work from Owens and Rollins. The Jericho interference seemed to be over with some in the crowd. I’m never crazy about interference in a HIAC match, but you had to know it was coming. In fact, everything we’ve seen so far feels very predictable. The HIAC participants have worked very hard, but there just hasn’t been any real drama or suspense in terms of the outcomes of their matches. I don’t feel like the women’s match is a slam dunk, so at least it has that going for it.
The Kickoff Show team Renee Young, Booker T, Lita, and Jerry Lawler checked in and had a Hall of Fame series of action figures positioned between them. The pay-per-view broadcast team then recapped Lince Dorado, Cedric Alexander, and Sin Cara defeating Tony Nese, Drew Gulak, and Ariya Daivari in the Kickoff Show match…
5. TJ Perkins vs. Brian Kendrick for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship. The broadcast team recapped Kendrick asking Perkins on Raw and on the Kickoff Show to let him win this match. The WWE story has changed. Kendrick didn’t pick up Perkins at school so that he could skip class and train to be a wrestler. Kendrick now picked him up after school, according to Cole. The wrestlers shook hands.
At 3:03, Kendrick used the tape from Perkins’ hand to briefly tie him to the bottom rope. The crowd was flat as Kendrick control the offense at 4:00. Perkins caught him with a dropkick to the knee, and followed up with a springboard dropkick to the back of the head moments later. Perkins performed a corkscrew dive over the top rope onto Kendrick on the floor. The crowd was still flat.
Perkins motioned that he was going up top at 5:45. The crowd didn’t seem to care. Sad. Perkins leapt into a dropkick from Kendrick, who got a two count. Perkins performed a detonation kick for a two count. At 7:55, Kendrick applied the Captain’s Hook. Perkins escaped by rolling into a pin. Perkins applied the kneebar, but Kendrick reached the ropes to break it.
Kendrick went for Sliced Bread No. 2, but Perkins avoided it. Kendrick came up selling an ankle injury. The referee checked on Kendrick. Perkins covered his face in the corner to show concern. Perkins walked over to check on Kendrick twice. Kendrick headbutted Perkins the second time he checked on him and applied Captain’s Hook. Perkins tapped out…
Brian Kendrick defeated TJ Perkins in 10:35 to win the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.
Powell’s POV: A good match. Perkins looked like a gullible goof for losing in that fashion, especially since he saw through Kendrick’s games early in his feud by blocking a sucker punch attempt in a backstage segment. As I mentioned in my preview, Kendrick holding the title makes sense because the’s the only charismatic heel in the division, and there are stronger and better babyface challengers to choose from. By the way, it’s time to go all out with Kendrick as a heel. Perhaps the fans would care more about his matches if he actually heeled on them directly on the mic.
A WWE Network commercial aired… The broadcast team spoke behind their desk and hyped the network. Cole asked viewers who were watching the pay-per-view on cable what they were waiting for. Graves plugged the NXT Takeover: Toronto event headlined by Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Samoa Joe, and then the Survivor Series. Cole pushed the free month of the network for new subscribers. The broadcast team recapped Cesaro and Sheamus beating New Day in a non-title match…
Backstage, Sheamus thanked Cesaro for giving him red tape. They were complimentary of one another. Sheamus said he thought Cesaro would be impossible to work with, and added that he hated Cesaro’s guts. Cesaro said he though Sheamus was the most annoying person in the world. Sheamus told Cesaro to follow his lead. Cesaro wanted Sheamus to follow his lead. They bickered over rental car payments and going to Irish pubs…
The broadcast team thanked Airborne for the HIAC theme song, then added Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens to the Raw Talk guest list… New Day made their entrance and delivered some mic work. Kofi showed off his official shoes of Rob Gronkowski. They played on Kofi being in his hometown…
6. Big E and Xavier Woods (w/Kofi Kingston) vs. Sheamus and Cesaro for the Raw Tag Team Championship. The crowd played along with the cheering of Cesaro and booing of Sheamus. Woods flipped over the top rope onto Cesaro, and Big E hit Sheamus with a powerbomb for a two count in the ring at 5:10.
Sheamus rolled through a top rope cross body block by Woods and got a two count. Cole said that would have been a great win for Sheamus if he had gotten the pin. Um, yeah, he would have won the tag titles. At 7:45, Woods walked the ropes for a few steps and then performed a long distance elbow drop on Cesaro for two. Cesaro came back with the Swing on Woods and then applied the Sharpshooter.
At 8:55, Sheamus accidentally Brogue Kicked Cesaro when E avoided it. Woods covered Cesaro, but Sheamus broke it up. At 9:50, Sheamus leapt off the top rope and onto all three New Day members on the floor. Sheamus rolled Cesaro back inside the ring to avoid a count-out. Woods charged Cesaro, who rolled him into a Sharpshooter.
Big E went to break up the pin, but Sheamus stopped him by hitting him with the trombone. Kingston caught Sheamus with a kick. The referee called for the DQ while Cesaro still had Woods in the Sharpshooter. Cesaro acted like he won. Cesaro and Sheamus bickered afterward…
Sheamus and Cesaro defeated New Day by DQ in 11:15.
Powell’s POV: The finish wasn’t satisfying, but that’s okay. It was a creative finish that kept the program going, though I’m not sure when they’ll get back to it. It may play out on television, as there’s not a Raw pay-per-view until the week before Christmas.
The broadcast team hyped Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg and then a video package aired to promote the match. The video showed Lesnar in a sit-down setting saying he doesn’t give a shit (censored) about Goldberg’s wife or son. Lesnar’s message to them was “Don’t watch, please don’t watch.” Lesnar said he will suplex the shit out of Goldberg, take him to Suplex City, F5 him, and go home…
Powell’s POV: Lesnar continues to be great in the sit-down interview setting. I hope we see more of that leading up to his match with Goldberg. And now it’s time for the women to make history.
A video package set up the main event. Charlotte was carried to the ring on a throne carried by four men dressed in gladiator type garb. Cole put over her undefeated pay-per-view record. The hometown crowd chanted “We want Sasha.” Sasha Banks made her entrance in a Cadillac Escalade with a male driver and four security types standing around it. She posed with the title belt on top of the vehicle and then headed to the ring. JoJo handled the in-ring introductions for the title match…
Powell’s POV: Cool entrances that helped the match stand out as the main event.
7. Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte in a Hell in a Cell match for the Raw Women’s Championship. The cage started to lower around the ring when Charlotte took a cheap shot at her. The action started just over 15 minutes before the top of the hour. The cage didn’t lower completely and the women brawled into the crowd. The cage was lowered by the time they got back to ringside. Sasha tore the Spanish announce table apart. Both women started climbing the HIAC structure. Sasha knocked Charlotte off the structure. Charlotte recovered and powerbombed Sasha through the announce table. Cole noted that Sasha has a history of major back problems. Saxton noted that the match had not officially started.
There was a loud “Let’s Go Sasha” chant as she sold at ringside and the referee kept Charlotte away. Charlotte taunted Sasha, who fell down and continued to sell her back injury. Charlotte stood on top of the remaining ringside broadcast table and heeled it up while a referee helped Sasha and told her that she wasn’t fighting. Sasha shoved a third referee. Sasha fell to the ringside mat again. The referee called for the EMTs.
Charlotte got inside the HIAC structure and gloated while EMTs placed a neck brace on Sasha, and put her on a board. Charlotte sang the goodbye song as Sasha was moved to the stretcher. The referee entered the ring with the title belt. JoJo started to introduce Charlotte as the winner of the match when Sasha stood up and shoved the referees and trainers aside. The in-ring referee ruled that the match was on.
Charlotte recovered and ended up catapulting Sasha into the cage at ringside. At 3:25, Sasha came back with a Bank Statement, but Charlotte powered out and dumped Sasha to ringside. Cole pointed out that Sasha’s back hit the edge of the ring on the way out as he continued to play up her back injury.
Charlotte grabbed a chair from underneath the ring. Sasha hit her with a baseball slide and then a suicide dive against the cage before she could use the chair. Sasha set up the chair in mid-ring. Charlotte rebounded and threw chops at Sasha while saying, “You will respect me.” Sasha fought back with punches. Charlotte ended up slamming her back first onto the chair that was set up in the ring. Charlotte covered Sasha for a two count at 7:50.
Charlotte wrapped Sasha around the post and pulled her foot and hair. Graves said the referee should stop the match because it’s just prolonging the agony for Banks. Graves said someone has to look out for the superstars because it’s not going to be them. Sasha came back and ended up leaping onto the cage and then performing a double knee press off the side of the cage.
Sasha caught Charlotte with kicks and then whipped her into the cage. Sasha followed up with a pair of running double knees against the cage. The women returned to the ring where Sasha performed another double knee in the corner. Sasha performed the Three Amigos suplexes while the fans chanted Eddie. Sasha went to the top rope and hit a frogsplash for a two count.
Sasha set Charlotte on the middle rope and then placed a chair under her before performing a double knee slam and covering her for two. Charlotte came back by pulling Sasha through the ropes and slamming her head into the ring steps. Charlotte set up for a superplex with a table below. Sasha ended up kicking Charlotte off the apron and through the table.
Sasha pulled another table out from underneath the ring and went to slide it inside the ring, but Charlotte grabbed the other side and shoved the table into Sasha, driving her into the cage. Cool spot. Charlotte set up another table in the ring. Sasha returned to the ring and they fought on opposite sides of the table briefly. Charlotte got the better of it and applied the figure four. Charlotte started to bridge into the figure eight when Sasha grabbed a chair and struck her with it a couple times to break the hold.
Charlotte came back with a big forearm to the head and once again barked at Sasha to respect her. Sasha came right back with a forearm shot, then they threw simultaneous forearms. Charlotte performed three backbreakers and covered Sasha for another two count at 19:50. Sasha caught Charlotte on the ropes and wanted to powerbomb her through a table across the ring, but her back gave out. Charlotte whipped Sasha into the table twice and then hit Natural Selection for the win…
Charlotte defeated Sasha Banks in a Hell in a Cell match in 22:25 to win the Raw Women’s Championship.
Powell’s POV: The rightful main event. The crowd was hot for the match and the women worked as hard as anyone on the show. The match was physical, but I’m happy we didn’t get any insane stunts off the structure. One of the big things the main event had going for it was that there was a sense of mystery regarding the outcome, which just wasn’t there for the other matches. Charlotte going over in Boston is somewhat surprising, but they clearly gave Sasha the big out with the back injury angle. Overall, the women made the otherwise predictable night. Everyone in the three HIAC matches worked hard and made this a good show. I’ll have more to say in members’ audio with Jake Barnett later tonight.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Todd Martin on his background, attending pro wrestling events in Japan, the NJPW G1 Tournament, why lucha libre companies haven't been as successful as NJPW in the United States, AEW optimism, covering pro wrestling and MMA, and more (68:57)...