By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Hell in a Cell Hits
Bobby Lashley vs. Drew McIntyre in a Hell in a Cell match for the WWE Championship: An awesome main event with some great momentum shifts. There were some strong near falls along with plenty of moments when I bought into the idea that they were about to go to the finish. McIntyre coming up short in what was billed as his final opportunity was somewhat surprising. He was protected by MVP preventing him from hitting Lashley with his finisher. There was a time when this would have triggered a long rant from me about outside interference in a Hell in a Cell match. Sadly, I’ve become numb to this because WWE has done it so many times. And it hurts them in this case because there should be mega heat on Lashley and MVP, but there won’t be because WWE has conditioned fans to accept the possibility of outside interference in HIAC. The match outcome creates some interesting possibilities. It could be a sign that Lashley and McIntyre will end up on opposite brands coming out of the rumored late August draft. Or maybe this was done to pave the way for Brock Lesnar to return for a big match with Lashley. Or perhaps McIntyre enters and wins the Money in the Bank ladder match to earn yet another shot at the title despite the stipulation that this match carried.
Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte Flair for the Raw Women’s Championship: It’s a shame that WWE booked the flimsiest of disqualification finishes because I really enjoyed the match until that point. There was nothing wrong with doing a DQ finish at this point in the Ripley vs. Flair feud, and they were obviously telling a story given the dialogue between the two after the match. But the powers that be couldn’t come up with something better than Ripley hitting Flair with the wobbly piece of plastic that sits on top of the broadcast table? Weak. If nothing else, Ripley and Flair showed more chemistry in this match than Ripley has shown during all of her matches with Asuka.
Bianca Belair vs. Bayley in a Hell in a Cell match for the Smackdown Women’s Championship: Why have Hell in a Cell matches become glorified WWE hardcore matches with a giant cage around the ring? Both matches featured too many weapons for my taste. Despite that flaw, this match also delivered. Belair did a good job, but Bayley was the MVP of this match for taking the big bumps on the kendo sticks and the KOD on the ladder to end the match. Bayley was all about the obnoxious laughter for a couple of weeks and then seemed to take a darker twist on Friday’s Smackdown once the company made this a Hell in a Cell match. Here’s hoping we get more of the darker version of the Bayley persona.
Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn: The rivalry was renewed with Zayn scoring what his character labeled as a karmic victory. Owens and Zayn have worked together so many times over the years and they never seem to disappoint. It was nice to see Zayn get a rare win. Zayn is a really good pest heel. He takes a lot of losses, yet continues to draw heat thanks to his great mic work. It really makes me wonder just how over he could be if he were positioned as more than just a pest heel and was booked to win more often.
Seth Rollins vs. Cesaro: A very well wrestled match. There seems to be a lot of concern for what this loss means for Cesaro. Rollins stated after the match that he and Cesaro are even, which is a good sign that there will be a rubber match between the two. In other words, I don’t read much into Cesaro losing this competitive match, especially considering that he was caught in an inside cradle rather than taking a dominant loss via Rollins’ finisher. But all eyes are on the next match to see if Cesaro will win the feud and take a step up the ladder or if he will continue to bang his head on the glass ceiling.
Overall Show: Don’t let the lopsided Hit to Miss count fool you. I gave this show a slightly above average grade (while grading on the pandemic curve). The effort from the wrestlers was there across the board and their hard work made it a passable show. At the same time, this was a largely missable event with a lot of underwhelming finishes. WWE was clearly trying to get across the finish line of their final pay-per-view event held in front of virtual fans. The main event put the show over the top for me. Most importantly, this event marked the end of WWE pay-per-view events being held inside ThunderDome. Hallelujah!!!
WWE Hell in a Cell Misses
Alexa Bliss vs. Shayna Baszler: You either like the hocus pocus nonsense or you don’t. It’s a big turnoff for me and thus I found this to be a painful match to sit through. Still, I must give Bliss credit for going all in with her performances as Female Fiend. As much as I am completely turned off by what her character has become, Bliss is clearly trying to make the most of it.
Natalya vs. Mandy Rose: The idea of a Kickoff Show match should be to entice viewers to watch the pre-show with the goal of selling them on ordering the event. For some reason, WWE couldn’t even be bothered to announce this match until late Sunday afternoon. And while it was a fine match in execution, it looked like a Raw match on paper, and it’s hard to believe that it brought in many extra viewers for the pre-show. On a side note, this was one of four women’s matches on the show, meaning there were more women’s matches than men’s matches on the card. I like that WWE simply booked it to happen and didn’t spend the entire night patting themselves on the back over it.