Hell in a Cell 2016 Review

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Hell in a Cell as a PPV has rightfully been criticized for watering down the match that used to be THE feud-ender. So many other wrestling columnists – including yours truly – have written/griped about this that I feel bringing it up is redundant. However, I will say this: Even if most of these matches could have been done as regular no-DQ matches without the cell, WWE has at least been TRYING to make these matches feel important. I also brought this up because I didn’t want to bring this criticism up in EVERY cell match I review.

Rusev vs. Roman Reigns – Hell in a Cell for the U.S. Championship

I hate to say this, but in hindsight I may have been a tad generous in my star scores for Clash of Champions. I say this because this match (and to save time, yes I feel this way about Rollins vs. Owens) being awesome made me realize how… I don’t wanna say bad… but this watch I wanted from these two. The no-dq stipulation gave these two the chance to just beat the stuffing out of each other. Reigns and Rusev are both talented, but brutal brawl-type matches suit their styles more than attempting a catch-as-catch-can style. There were some wicked spots such as Rusev blocking the Drive-by with a clothesline, and Rusev performing the Accolade on the steps with a chain – whether or not it was, it sure as hell LOOKED painful. Rusev – as always – played the monster heel to a tee with great spots such as tying Roman into the ropes and whaling on him with a kendo stick. As good as this match was it, it was not perfect. First of all, it took a bit to gain momentum. Also, the ending was a tad anticlimactic. Rusev performed the Accolade TWICE – including the aforementioned chain Accolade with putting Roman down. Meanwhile, Roman performs a single spear and Rusev went down for the count. Rusev still looked tough even in loss, but a false finish or two may have put us more on edge.

Overall rating: 4 stars (Out of 5)

Bayley vs. Dana Brooke

This match was alright, but it was too short for these otherwise talented women to really get going. Also, this match relied a little too much on Dana beating up Bayley. These women are talented enough to make the most of this situation, but you get what you get.

Overall rating: 2.75 stars

The Club vs. Enzo and Cass

This match was kind of similar to the last one – good but still felt like filler. Comparing it to the last match, I felt it worked a little better simply because it was more back and forth so even though I accurately predicted the Club would win, there felt like a chance either team could win. However, it also suffered from lack of drama. The two teams seemed to be fighting just because… The match was solid but kinda short.

Overall rating: 3 stars

Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins – Hell in a Cell for the Universal Championship

After a pretty epic Reigns/Rusev match at the top of the show, I was wondering how these two would match/top the previous one. These two definitely delivered. I have a similar criticism with that match where it took a bit to really get going. But once it did, these two had another terrific match. It started off as a one-on-one match, but turned into a glorified handicap match when Jericho used an injured ref as an excuse to interfere. There were some cool spots such as Owens performing the cannonball into the cell corner. Rollins powerbowed Jericho into the cell – which after Balor and Sting, admittedly made me wince. Rollins suplexed Owens onto the apron (a spot which makes me nervous even if I’m not sure if it’s as dangerous as the announcers play up) and Rollins powerebombed Owens through two tables. This was the one cell match that had a satisfying finish when Owens powerbombed Rollins through two chairs.

Overall rating: 4.25 stars

Brian Kendrick vs. TJ Perkins – Cruiserweight Championship

How do I describe this match? It was like a good match in slow motion. TJ showed off some insane offense, but the match moved kind of slowly – at least for what these guys can do. Sadly the crowd was dead – except for one guy who yelled at Kendrick “Get a f—ing haircut, hippie” (That was kinda funny). The match ended with Kendrick suckering Perkins into a trap and using the Captain’s Hook. What put this match over was the drama of Kendrick “needing” to win, even asking Perkins to lay down for him. A little story goes a long way.

Overall rating: 3.5 stars.

Cesaro/Sheamus vs. the New Day – Tag Team Championship

Cesaro and Sheamus are naturally doing the Odd Couple storyline – contrived, but it kind of works. This match was actually pretty good, which is no surprise considering the talent. However, for the second PPV in a row, a match with Sheamus and Cesaro has a shaggy dog ending. Admittedly, it was a little clever. Cesaro had Woods in a Sharpshooter, but the outside fighting led to Cesaro/Sheamus winning the match by DQ. If this were Raw, that may have been fine, but at a PPV, it feels underwelming. I’ll say one thing: At least with New Day matches we usually get a funny promo at some point.

Overall rating: 3 stars

Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks – Hell in a Cell for the Women’s Championship

Putting a women’s match on a PPV sounds like a gamble – as recently as a few years ago, this would have sounded absurd. However the women’s division has improved by leaps and bounds. So if there’s anyone who could pull it off, it’s these two – probably others, but Charlotte and Sasha were the right choices for the first women to be in a Cell match. Both women were treated like heroes before their entrance, with Sasha coming out in a car and Charlotte being treated like a literal queen.

The match began with Charlotte powerbombing Sasha onto a table and thus luring us into believing Sasha was too injured to continue, even rising to the occasion just as Jojo was about to award the women’s championship to Charlotte by forfeit. This felt a little too similar to two years ago when Rollins and Ambrose got off their stretchers to duke it out, but felt a little bit its own. This match was brutal… and honestly almost hard to watch. The story of this match was largely about Charlotte trying to injure Sasha’s back. Much like their Summerslam match, this match had me wondering if Charlotte was trying to legitimately injure Sasha. I was waiting for Jojo to come out and say “Sasha has to forfeit due to injury. For reals this time.” The one that made me cringe was when Charlotte monkey-flipped Sasha into the cell, causing Sasha to land on her head. Still, the match is engaging, which is unsurprising for two of the most talented women in WWE. Also I felt the ending was a tad anticlimactic. Natural Selection is a cool-looking move, but after everything that happened, I just didn’t buy it as the end of a match this epic.

Overall rating: 3.75 stars

Overall Hell in a Cell was quite good. There were some bumps in the road. Even with filler matches, the filler was mostly good. There were also a handful of head scratching decision. This was a huge a huge improvement over Clash of Champions and an overall great PPV.

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