By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
ProWrestling.net Live returns today at 3CT/4ET. Guest co-host Jonny Fairplay and I will be taking your calls coming out of WWE Hell in a Cell and Impact Wrestling Bound For Glory events at PWAudio.net.
WWE Hell in a Cell Hits
Roman Reigns vs. Jey Uso in an I Quit match inside Hell in a Cell for the WWE Universal Championship: The storytelling of the Reigns and Uso feud has been outstanding. If WWE could deliver this level of storytelling more consistently, then their product would be in a much better place. I loved the touch of having Afa and Sika come out to crown Reigns as the Tribal Chief and the head of the the family table after the match. It will be interesting to see if the Usos fall in line now that the elders have spoken. Either way, I am curious to see what’s next for Reigns and Jey now that they had what appeared to be the blowoff match to their feud.
Bayley vs. Sasha Banks in a Hell in a Cell match for the Smackdown Women’s Championship: A very well worked match. While three HIAC matches is overkill, the matches were laid out in a way that made them feel unique. Bayley and Banks were given plenty of weapons to use and they attempted to use them in innovative ways at times. Banks going over clean was the right move, and it obviously sets up a rematch with Bayley pointing out that Banks has never been able to successfully defend her titles in the past. In the meantime, it would be wise if the creative forces started building up the champion’s next challengers. At this point, Bianca Belair feels like the only woman on Smackdown who hasn’t been defined down by the booking.
Drew McIntyre vs. Randy Orton in a Hell in a Cell match for the WWE Championship: A good HIAC match with McIntyre taking the Shawn Michaels bump off the side of the cage. It’s not Mick Foley being thrown off the top of the cage or even Shane McMahon landing on the crash pad at WrestleMania, and that’s a good thing. I like that the comparatively tame bump was sold as the damaging blow that ultimately cost McIntyre the match. The bar was set too high by past HIAC matches, and it’s wise to pull back while making the tamer bumps matter. The title change legitimately surprised me. I thought Orton would win the championship in the Ambulance Match and then McIntyre would regain it during this match. Instead, Orton won the title at a time when it feels like the feud has run its course. Is Orton moving on to defend the title against Edge? Is Undertaker returning for the 30th anniversary of his debut? Or will WWE actually give us yet another McIntyre vs. Orton match? Ideally, they will put some distance between this match and the McIntyre vs. Orton rematch. McIntyre and Orton work well together, but I just don’t sense a lot of fan interest in seeing them have another pay-per-view match next month.
Overall show: This was very much a three match show, and each of those matches delivered. Three HIAC matches is overkill and they really could have gone with Reigns vs. Uso as a straight up I Quit match and it would have been just as good and saved the HIAC gimmick for the other two matches. It’s too bad the rest of the show was so lousy. This was a quality show that could have been even better with a stronger undercard.
WWE Hell in a Cell Misses
Bobby Lashley vs. Slapjack for the U.S. Championship: Retribution is finished. The creative forces may be keeping it around, but it’s obvious that this faction isn’t going anywhere. The masked faction members look like extras from The Purge movies, and I pity poor Mustafa Ali for being made the face of this creative failure. Ali and each of the Retribution members are talented and deserve better. The sooner this faction ends, the less damage will be done to Ali, and the quicker he and the masked members can all move on.
Otis vs. The Miz for the Money in the Bank contract: The problem with the match is that neither man winning the MITB contract was appealing on paper. The Miz has been clowning around in a tag team with John Morrison for months, so it’s not like viewers will see him as a serious threat to take a singles championship when the time comes for him to cash in. Tucker turning on Otis felt like it came out of nowhere given how supportive Tucker had been of his tag team partner. It will be interesting to see if a trade is made or if we’re subjected to more of El Gran Gordo since they are currently on opposite brands.
R-Truth vs. Drew Gulak for the WWE 24/7 Championship: I stopped caring about the WWE 24/7 Championship long before they reintroduced the title in its current form. For every mildly entertaining gag, it feels like there are at least ten clunkers. I feel bad for Gulak, Lince Dorado, and Gran Metalik. They weren’t doing much on Smackdown, but at least they didn’t have to take part in the scrub chase of the worthless title belt.
Jeff Hardy vs. Elias: A throwaway television match with a cheap finish. Is anyone excited about this feud continuing? WWE had months to come up with something fresh for Elias, but he’s right back to doing same tired musician schtick that ran out of gas before he took time off due to injury. The actual feud feels ice cold because Elias is targeting Hardy for the hit and run accident even though Hardy was cleared of wrongdoing in the storyline. Elias isn’t using heel logic, his character is guilty of heel stupidity.