By Jason Powell
WWE Hell in a Cell 2017 Kickoff Show
Aired live on WWE Network and social media
Detroit, Michigan at Little Caesar’s Arena
-The show opened with a shot of fans lined up outside the new venue. Renee Young was the host and she was joined at the usual desk location by Peter Rosenberg and David Otunga. In a shocking twist, they were all very excited about the show.
-Kayla Braxton checked in from the social media lounge. She will ask Charlotte Flair the very worst of the questions that fans submit via social media later in the show.
-Backstage, Tye Dillinger asked Daniel Bryan to put him in the U.S. Title match since he beat Baron Corbin on Smackdown. Bryan granted the request. They did a “Ten/Yes” bit.
-A video package focussed on the Jinder Mahal vs. Shinsuke Nakamura match for the WWE Championship. Rosenberg pointed out the hypocritical nature of the Mahal character given that he accuses people of hating him because of where he’s from, yet mocking Nakamura.
-The panel focussed on the Randy Orton vs. Rusev feud. Aiden English joined the panel. He stood up and acknowledged fans who were chanting his name. Young asked about his relationship with Rusev. He said it’s deep and complicated. He said fans boo him because he’s from Bulgaria, whereas he thinks of himself as a cultural ambassador. English eventually stood up and sang a song about Rusev beating Orton. The panel applauded him and English left the panel.
-Young hyped the return of the Fashion Files.
-Charlotte joined the social media lounge and said she was nervous yet excited. The first question was wether she was aware she could be the first woman to win the Smackdown, Raw, Divas, and NXT Championship. She said she was very aware. Next, she was asked about her strategy for the match. She has to try twice as hard because Natalya knows every counter to her moves. Third, she was asked if she has a strategy for the threat of Carmella cashing in the Money in the Bank contract. She said she would deal with it if it happens, but she’ll be ready. Her last words for Natalya: “Flairs are always better than the Harts.”
-Rosenberg said Natalya and Charlotte will have a classic. Rosenberg picked a Charlotte win, while Otunga went with Natalya.
-Backstage, Dasha Fuentes interviewed Baron Corbin, who was not happy about Tye Dillinger being added to the U.S. Championship. He called it complete nonsense, then said he would break them both in half and walk out the new U.S. Champion. Otunga said the frustration is warranted.
-The broadcast team of Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton checked in from ringside.
1. Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable vs. “The Hype Bros” Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley. Benjamin and Gable were in control when they cut to a commercial a few minutes into the match. At 7:00, Gable hit a top rope moonsault on Rawley for a two count. Moments later, he teamed in Benjamin and they performed a double team move with Benjamin coming off the rope for another two count.
Rawley started no-selling Benjamin punches. Graves said he was lost and didn’t know where he was at. Saxton quickly said he disagreed as Rawley fired up. The Hype Bros set up for their Hype Ryder finisher, but Benjamin avoided it. In the end, Shelton picked up Ryder in powerbomb position and then Gable came off the top rope with a clothesline for the win…
Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable defeated Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley in 10:20.
Powell’s POV: A solid match even though the outcome never felt in question. There was some bickering between Ryder and Rawley when they failed to hit the Hype Ryder, and Rawley looked distraught while Ryder was still selling afterward. The end appears to be near for the Hype Bros.
-The panel discussed how new subscribers would also get TLC for free, then ran through the HIAC card.
-A video package focussed on the New Day vs. The Usos feud. Otunga and Rosenberg both picked the Usos to win, while Young picked New Day.
-The Kevin Owens and Shane McMahon feud was chronicled in a video package. Rosenberg said fans will remember where they were when they saw Shane vs. Owens in the HIAC match. The cell lowered around the ring as the pre-show concluded.
Join me for live coverage of WWE Hell in a Cell in a separate story via the main page.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Kenny Herzog discussing his journalism career, his new Outside Interference podcast, doing a feature story on CM Punk, pro wrestling in the pandemic, WWE talk on Retribution, The Hurt Business, Roman Reigns as a heel, and much more...