By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Hell in a Cell 2018
Aired live on September 16, 2018 on WWE Network and pay-per-view
San Antonio, Texas at AT&T Center
The event opened with a video package… Tom Phillips welcomed viewers to the show and noted that there were 15,216 fans in the sold out venue… The new red Hell in a Cell cage lowered around the ring and Greg Hamilton delivered ring introductions…
1. Randy Orton vs. Jeff Hardy in a Hell in a Cell match. The Smackdown team of Phillips, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton were on the call. Graves noted that Jeff told him in an interview shortly after the Hardys returned to WWE that he had to compete in an HIAC match before he retires. Before the match, Orton stood inside the cage and shook it while jawing at Hardy, who returned the favor.
The bell rang and Hardy went right after Orton, who cut him off with a kick. The broadcast team noted that only Triple H and Undertaker had been in more HIAC matches than Orton, whereas this was Hardy’s first HIAC match. They went to ringside where Hardy ran Orton into the face that rests between the ring and the ringside barricade. Hardy slid a table inside the ring. Orton grabbed the other side. Hardy ran over and ate a clothesline from Orton, who threw him inside the ring.
Hardy and Orton introduced a small ladder and a chair as weapons just a few minutes into the match. At 6:25, Orton superplexed Hardy and got a two count. Hardy came back a minute later with a Whisper in the Wind for a two count of his own. Hardy pulled a regular sized ladder out from underneath the ring and placed it upside down on the floor. Hardy tried to suplex Orton, who ain’t taking that bump. Orton reversed it and dropped Hardy onto the ladder instead around 9:00.
Orton worked over Hardy’s back with chair shots. Orton removed Hardy’s belt and whipped him with it. Orton set up a regular ladder in the ring, placed Jeff between in, and pressed one side of it down on Hardy. Orton got a two count while Graves said the referee should consider stopping the match due to the damage that Hardy suffered. At 13:30, Hardy started to rally, but Orton cut it off with a powerslam for a two count.
At 15:00, Orton went to ringside and pulled out a toolbox from underneath the ring and removed a toolbox. Orton tugged the earlobe of Hardy and then placed the screwdriver inside of it. Hardy caught Orton with a low bow to break the earlobe carnage. Hardy picked up his belt and whipped Orton with it, then slammed a chair over his back several times and covered him for two at 18:00. Hardy went up top, but Orton crotched him. A shot of Orton’ts back showed a big welt some spots of blood from the studs in the belt. Ouch.
Orton struck the Viper’s Pose. Jeff pushed off the RKO, kicked Orton, and caught him with a Twist of Fate. Hardy put a chair on top of Orton and then performed a Swanton Bomb that resulted in a two count around 21:00. Orton also had umultiple cuts on his left leg. Hardy slid a ladder inside the ring.
Jeff set up a tall ladder and a regular ladder and a table in the ring and then gave the Delete sign. Hardy performed a Twist of Fate on Oron and placed him on the table. Hardy wanted to leapfrog off the smaller ladder, but he didn’t have the room. Hardy reached up and grabbed one of the cage beams and swung back and forth a few times before dropping down. Orton moved and Hardy crashed through the table. Orton wanted to cover Hardy, but the referee barked that Hardy was hurt. Orton blew him off and the referee counted the pin to end the match, then started screaming for help. EMTs ran out to end to Hardy.
Randy Orton defeated Jeff Hardy in 25:00 in a Hell in a Cell match.
Orton was announced as the winner and was booed. Orton went to the ropes and was booed. He looked down at Hardy, who was being tended to by EMTs. Orton left the ring while selling the effects of the match. Hardy was strapped onto a stretcher by the EMTs and wheeled up the stage…
An ad aired for the WWE Super Show-Down event and the last Undertaker vs. Triple H match for October 6…
Powell’s POV: Orton and Hardy worked hard and the big Hardy stunt at the end was pleasing without being ridiculously over the top. I’m happy that they showed discipline in that regard. It’s subjective, of course, but I could have done without so many weapons. The HIAC structure is more than enough and in a lot of ways this felt like a hardcore match that just happened to be fought inside HIAC until the big stunt at the end. I kept waiting for Orton to attack Jeff once he was on the stretcher, but that didn’t happen. Hopefully Randy won’t need a tetanus shot after his leg was ripped open by what appeared to be the leg of one of the chairs.
Kayla Braxton interviewed AJ Styles on the backstage interview set and asked how he would stay focussed given everything Samoa Joe has said about his family. Styles said he couldn’t wait for the match to start because he’s laser focused. He said it’s time for the talking to stop and the fighting to start… A video package set up the Smackdown Women’s Championship match…
2. Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. The Smackdown crew remained on the call. Hamilton delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. There were more boos than cheers for Charlotte during the introductions, but they certainly weren’t at Roman Reigns level or anything.
At 8:00, Lynch pulled Flair’s left shoulder into the apron to soften her up for her finisher. Charlotte fought back and threw several chops with her right arm. Charlotte avoided a moonsault and then applied a triangle on the bad arm. Charlotte powered her up and slammed her (wow, she really is the new Roman Reigns). Lynch came back with a hammerlock drop for a good near fall at 11:50.
Lynch went up top and Charlotte stuffed whatever move she was going for and put her in a Boston Crab. Lynch reached the ropes and Charlotte tumbled in and sold being shaken. Lynch applied a Disarmher. Charlotte reached the ropes. Lynch waited until the referee counted to four before breaking the count. Charlotte went for a spear and Lynch countered by rolling over onto Charlotte and scored the pin. The fans cheered loudly…
Becky Lynch beat Charlotte Flair in 13:55 to win the Smackdown Women’s Championship.
After the match, Lynch celebrated and the fans cheered while Charlotte sat in the corner looking disappointed. Charlotte pulled herself to her feet and offered to raise Lynch’s hand. Lynch blew her off and jawed at her before leaving the ring while Saxton grumbled about how disrespectful Lynch was…
Powell’s POV: I was really hoping for a double turn, but it looks like they are going forward with Charlotte playing the heel role. A Twitter follower even pointed out a photo that showed security confiscated “Boo The Woo” fan signs. Lynch winning the title again after all this time should have been a fell good moment for everyone, but clearly a lot of the fans enjoyed it despite the creative direction.
An ad aired for The Marine 842, and a Conor’s Cure spot aired as well…
The broadcast team said Jeff Hardy was taken to a medical facility with severe abdominal pain…The broadcast team recapped New Day defeating Rusev Day to retain the Smackdown Tag Titles on the Kickoff Show…
Big E and Xavier Woods celebrated their win backstage. Big E pulled out a bell and called for Bootyworth, who brought them champagne. Kramer Kingsman (Kofi Kingston) entered the room and asked them what’s next. Big E said they are going under and will defend the tag titles against The Bar. They poured a gatorade jug filled with pancakes over the head of Bootyworth…
3. Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler vs. Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose for the Raw Tag Titles. The Raw team of Michael Cole, Renee Young were on the call for the match. JoJo was the ring announcer. They introduced the international broadcast teams between the tag team introductions. McIntyre distracted Rollins from the floor, allowing Ziggler to DDT Rollins for a two count at 6:40. The champs isolated Rollins, who made a tag to Ambrose at 12:10, but the referee was distracted by Ziggler from the apron.
Ambrose took a hot tag prior to the 15:00 mark. Ambrose picked up a near fall on McIntyre. Ambrose went up top. Ziggler cut him off. Ambrose set up for Dirty Deeds on the apron, but McIntyre knocked him to ringside. McIntyre followed and was run into the ring post.
Around 18:00, Rollins performed a falcon arrow on Ziggler for a nice near fall. At 19:20, Ziggler rolled up Rollins, who rolled through for a two count. Ziggler came right back with a Zigzag for another good near fall. McIntyre tagged in and ate a superkick from Rollins for a two count. Rollins followed up with a frogsplash to the back of McIntyre and rolled him over for another near fall at 20:45.
Rollins and Ambrose set up for a double superplex on McIntyre. Ziggler broke it up and took out Rollins at ringside. McIntyre clotheslined Ambrose, then tagged in Ziggler and hoisted Ambrose onto his shoulders. Ambrose fought out of it. Rollins tagged in. Rollins superplexed Ziggler and was setting up for another move when McIntyre blasted him with a Claymore Kick. Ziggler was on top of Rollins and got the win. McIntyre carried Ziggler to the back afterward…
Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler defeated Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose in 22:50 to retain the Raw Tag Titles.
Powell’s POV: A good match down the stretch and it had the right outcome. The idea of The Shield taking all the titles right now is a lousy one when Strowman, Ziggler, and McIntyre are the only Raw heels they didn’t destroy last week.
Braun Strowman was shown smiling as he watched the match on a backstage monitor. Mick Foley entered the room. Foley said Strowman’s life will change inside the Hell in a Cell. Foley said no matter how chaotic it gets in there, he needs Strowman to respect his authority. Strowman told him he just needs to count to three and warned him that he doesn’t want a monster problem. “Good talk, Braun,” Foley said before leaving the room…
An ad aired for the Mixed Match Challenge… The Smackdown broadcast team set up Samoa Joe’s storybook reading video…
4. AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe for the WWE Championship. Phillips noted that AJ was 313 days into his title reign. Hamilton delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. The bell rang and Styles charged Joe and threw punches at him. Joe reversed Styles into the corner and teased a clean break before delivering a headbutt. Styles came back with a dropkick that cleared Joe to ringside. Styles followed Joe to the floor and blasted him with a knee to the head.
At 12:05, Styles went for a springboard moonsault and crashed onto the knees of Joe, who immediately powerbombed him for a two count. Joe went right into a Boston Crab and then gave that up to apply an STF.
At 14:30, Styles powered up Joe and performed a Rack Bomb for a two count. Styles performed a springboard 450 for a two count at 15:30. Joe came back by catapulting Styles into the corner and then blasting him with a clothesline for a two count at 16:25.
Styles came up bleeding from the mouth. Joe set up Styles for a Muscle Buster, but Styles avoided it. Joe avoided a Styles Clash attempt. Joe caught Styles with a great enzuigiri in the corner for a two count. A short time later, Joe applied the Coquina Clutch. Styles rolled onto Joe and got the three count. Joe got to his knees and celebrated momentarily as if he’d won the match and then acted shocked when Styles was announced as the winner.
AJ Styles defeated Samoa Joe in 19:00 to retain the WWE Championship.
Joe barked at the referee and then went to ringside and showed frustration while standing in front of the Smackdown broadcast table. Joe returned to the ring and picked up the WWE Championship belt. Styles spun Joe around and kicked him. Styles held up the title belt and sold by stumbling and falling to his knees. Afterward, they showed a second camera angle that showed Styles tapping out to the Coquina Clutch prior to the referee counting the pin…
Powell’s POV: A strong match with a really good finish once they showed the other angle. The finish looked routine with the first camera view, but the second shot definitely told the story that will keep the feud going strong into the rematch at the WWE Super Show-Down event and likely beyond. The live crowd picked a strange time to get quiet. I really enjoyed this match.
An ad aired for the Mick Foley “20 Years of Hell” special that will premiere after HIAC on WWE Network…
A shot aired of Ronda Rousey preparing for her match…
Charly Caruso interviewed The Miz and Maryse on the interview set. Maryse said Brie Bella put her hands on Miz twice because she knows he can’t do anything in response. She boasted that she can. Miz said they don’t call him and Maryse the hardest hitting couple in WWE for nothing… A video package set up the mixed match match…
5. Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella vs. The Miz and Maryse. Bryan worked over Miz with early punches in the corner. Miz caught Bryan with a boot, but Bryan came right back and made a play for the Yes Lock, but Miz escaped to ringside. Bryan tagged in Brie. Maryse entered the ring and then tagged Miz back into the match and mockingly waved at Brie.
Miz suffered a small cut on his left lower back. Miz had control over Bryan and taunted Brie while kicking him in the corner. Bryan came back and went for a top rope move, but Miz avoided it and went back on the offensive. At 10:00, Bryan made a hot tag to Brie, who entered the ring and threw a series of punches at Miz against the ropes while Maryse watched from the floor. Brie ran the ropes and delivered a kick to Maryse through the legs of Miz.
Brie performed a missile dropkick on Maryse and had her pinned, but Miz broke it up. Bryan went after Miz. Bryan and Brie threw Yes kicks at their opponents, but Miz and Maryse dodged the grand finale kicks and headed to ringside. Brie and Bryan went after them. Brie got Maryse back inside the ring. Miz followed. Brie ran Maryse into Miz to knock him out of the ring and then rolled up Maryse, who rolled through and got the pin…
The Miz and Maryse defeated Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella in 13:00.
Powell’s POV: I love the outcome because it puts more heat on the heels heading into the next Bryan vs. Miz singles match in Australia. There were some really clunky moments such as Maryse timidly breaking up a Bryan hold on Miz, and the Miz bump off of being hit from behind by his wife at the end. Still, it was still well executed in terms of trying to build up to Brie getting her hands on Maryse, which allowed the men to work the majority of the match. Kudos to Graves for hilariously saying Maryse is underrated as an in-ring technician after she scored the pin for her team.
The Raw broadcast team recapped Orton beating Hardy in the Hell in a Cell match. Cole announced that Hardy has been throwing up blood and has severe abdominal pain… A video package set up the Raw Women’s Championship match…
6. Ronda Rousey (w/Natalya) vs. Alexa Bliss (w/Mickie James, Alicia Fox) for the Raw Women’s Championship. JoJo delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Rousey controlled the opening minute, yet played up her storyline rib injury whenever Bliss would hit her midsection. Rousey teased an armbar. James and Fox pulled Bliss to ringside. There was a clunky spot a short time later with Rousey dumping Bliss onto James and Fox on the floor.
Bliss came back and targeted the ribs with punches, kicks, and an abdominal stretch. Rousey hoisted Bliss onto her shoulders, then acted like her rib injury prevented her from executing a move. Bliss went back to work on the ribs while Natalya tried to cheerlead for Rousey from the floor. Rousey was tied in the tree of woe long enough for Bliss to kick the ribs again. Bliss covered Rousey for a two count at 7:30.
Natalya took out Fox on the floor. James went after Rousey, who fought her off. Rousey and Bliss did a double cross body block at 9:15 that left both women down. Bliss went after the ribs and then grabbed Rousey by the face and laughed at her. Rousey made the mean face and got to her feet before picking up Bliss and essentially powerbombing her at 10:50. Rousey pounded on her injured ribs while firing up and then threw punches at Bliss while stopping to clutch the ribs. Rousey charged Bliss in the corner and ate a kick.
Bliss went for a punch that Rousey caught. Rousey performed a rolling senton and then applied an armbar. Bliss immediately tapped out.
Ronda Rousey defeated Alexa Bliss in 12:05 to retain the Raw Women’s Championship.
Powell’s POV: An entertaining match. The injured ribs allowed Rousey to sell for a prolonged period of time. And while it didn’t seem like the live crowd really bought into the possibility of Bliss winning, it made the match more than just Rousey domination. I came away impressed by Rousey’s facials when selling the injury and how she consistently went back to selling the ribs even during offensive flurries.
The Raw broadcast team was shown. Cole said they wanted to take a moment to send thoughts and prayers to those affected by the hurricanes… The Marine 821 ad aired again… An ad hyped Undertaker for Raw…
Footage aired of the Styles and Joe finish that showed Styles tapping out. Joe barked at the referee who missed Styles tapping out. Paige showed up and told the referee he could leave. Paige told Joe he needed to calm down. Joe barked at Paige, who barked back. She told Joe that the referee’s decision is final, but Joe will get his rematch at WWE Super Show-Down in three weeks. Joe said he wanted no count-outs, no disqualifications, and no excuses. She said she agreed that there must be a winner. “Don’t worry, there will be,” Joe said… A video package set up the main event…
Powell’s POV: This would have felt like a logical announcement had they not advertised Styles vs. Joe for Australia long before tonight. Anyway, one thing I really like about their finish tonight is that no one looked stupid. Joe doesn’t look stupid for not kicking out of the pin because Styles tapped. Meanwhile, the referee doesn’t look stupid because of the way it was set up with him counting while the tap occurred out of his line of sight. It will be interesting to hear how Styles addresses retaining the championship when he tapped out and should have lost the title.
The HIAC cage lowered around the ring. Special referee Mick Foley made his entrance to a favorable reaction and got a “Foley” chant once he entered the cage. Braun Strowman was out next to a tame reaction. Cole said he was just the third man in history to announce when he would cash in. Strowman’s music stopped playing and the fans started booing. Roman Reigns made his entrance to more boos than cheers…
7. Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman in a Hell in a Cell match for the WWE Universal Championship with Mick Foley as special referee. JoJo introduced the wrestlers from outside the cage while Reigns and Strowman glared at one another in the middle of the ring. Reigns held up the belt, which Strowman took away. Strowman jawed at Reigns, who punched him and then the bell rang to start the match.
Strowman knocked down Reigns at ringside during the first couple minutes and told him that there was nowhere to run and his boys can’t help him. Strowman continued to dominate and shoulder blocked Reigns into the cell at ringside at 2:30. Cole noted that Foley never won an HIAC match despite wrestling in four over the years. Strowman pulled a kendo stick out from under the ring, looked at it, and shook his head before tossing it aside in favor of a chair. Reigns took the stick and struck Strowman with it. Strowman no-sold it and broke the stick.
Back in the ring, Reigns worked over Strowman with chair shots. Strowman caught the chair at one point. Strowman charged Reigns in the corner. Reigns moved, causing Strowman to crash between the ropes. Reigns performed a DDT onto the chair and got a two count and a hard kickout by Strowman at 6:15. Reigns threw a couple of Superman Punches. Strowman blocked a third and chokeslammed Reigns and covered him for a near fall. Braun barked at Foley, who showed him how close he came to making the three count.
Reigns came back with a Superman Punch for a two count. Reigns went to ringside, pulled a table out from underneath the ring, and slid it inside the ring. Reigns let out a war cry and then ran around the ring toward Strowman, who hit him with a piece of the ring steps. Back in the ring, Strowman struck Reigns with a portion of the steps and got a two count that led to him barking, “Why won’t you stay down, you moron?” Strowman picked the steps and slammed them onto Reigns. Strowman yelled at Foley after the latest two count around 13:00.
Reigns threw two more Superman Punches and speared Strowman through a table in the corner. Reigns covered Strowman for a near fall. Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre ran to ringside and bickered with a referee in front of the cage door. Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose ran out and fought with Ziggler and McIntyre outside the cage at ringside. Rollins and Ambrose cleared two of the broadcast tables and the fight continued.
At 15:50, Ziggler climbed up the side of the cage and was followed to the top by Rollins. They traded punches. McIntyre climbed to the top of the cage and joined Ziggler in working over Rollins. Ambrose climbed the cage with a kendo stick strapped to his back while the fans chanted “this is awesome.” Ambrose made it to the top and beat both heels with the stick.
Rollins and Ziggler climbed down the side of the cage and fought on the middle support beam. They took turns slamming the other man’s head into the cage. Eventually, both men fell off the side of the cage and through the cleared tables below.
At 20:50, Brock Lesnar’s entrance music played and he and Paul Heyman headed to the ring. Heyman barked at the referee by the cage door. Brock kicked the door off the hinges and a “holy shit” chant started. Heyman sprayed an aerosol can into the eyes of Foley. Lesnar brought the cage door into the ring and then picked up a broken table and hit both Strowman and Reigns with it. Lesnar picked up Reigns and performed an F5 that dropped him on top of Strowman.
At 24:00, Lesnar left the ring and then a referee entered the ring and waved off the match, which drew some boos. Multiple referees checked on the wresters. The show went off the air shortly thereafter…
Roman Reigns fought Braun Strowman to a no-contest in a Hell in a Cell match in 24:00.
Powell’s POV: WWE took the approach that if they delivered enough insanity at the end with a fight on top of the cage, bumps off the side of the cage through tables, and a surprise appearance by Brock Lesnar then it would be enough to make fans happy despite not having a real finish to the match. And while the jury is out on that, the cheap finish felt ridiculous weak to me. This is Hell in a Cell. It’s supposed to be what the cage match was before countless promoters and bookers ruined that gimmick with outside interference and finishes like this one. It’s not the first time that they’ve had outside interference in an HIAC match and it won’t be the last, but it’s always disappointing and damaging to the concept.
Overall, the show was entertaining and I enjoyed it for the most part, but the main event was slow and uneventful until the run-ins started and the cheap finish ended the night on a sour note. I will have more to say with Jake Barnett in our members’ exclusive audio review later tonight.
Join Will Pruett and I for ProWrestling.net Live on Monday at 3CT/4ET at PWAudio.net.
Check below for my interview with “Filthy” Tom Lawlor on the latest Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Jim Ross on his role in AEW, Tony Khan as a leader, whether Ross knew Shawn Spears was going to hit Cody with a chair shot to the head, working with Excalibur and Alex Marvez, his new book and speaking engagement deal, and much more... Search "Pro Wrestling Boom" in Apple Podcasts or any podcast app to subscribe.