The major selling point of the WWE’s Hell in the Cell PPV was the final chapter of the Brock Lesnar and Undertaker feud. There was also some intrigue built around who might accept the John Cena Open Challenge. The buzz for this PPV had not been great, but the WWE usually does pretty well when the bar is set really low.
John Cena (c) vs ???? for the U.S. Title
The show opened with John Cena doing his usual entrance to a chorus of boos from the Staples Center crowd. Cena kept his usual promo short and asked who wants some. After a short wait Zeb Coulter, who has been absent from TV for months, came out from the back in a scooter at the top of the entrance. He announced Alberto Del Rio as Cena’s opponent.
Fans probably who feared it would be Cesaro or Jack Swagger were relieved. Del Rio was a massive surprise, but rumors had been flying that the WWE wanted Del Rio back in the company, so it was not totally out of nowhere. The two had a pretty even match that didn’t really favor either man. After just over nine minutes of action Del Rio escaped the Attitude Adjustment and landed a Back Stabber. He then connected with his short super kick and got the pin and the win to become the new U.S. Champion. He celebrated on the outside with Coulter.
It wasn’t 100 percent apparent if Del Rio was playing the role of heel. He fought in the match with no heel-like tendencies. The assumption here has to be that WWE hasn’t yet decided if they will go heel with him because they probably want to find out how much the crowd will pop for him. It was astounding to see Cena lose with such ease after watching nearly six months of him putting almost no one over and easily kicking out of nearly half the company’s finishers. The match was shorter than numerous Open Challenges on Raw. It’s the right outcome, but the WWE protected Cena with the quick finish and limited reaction to his stunning defeat.
Bray Wyatt vs Roman Reigns in Hell in a Cell
Bray was out first followed by Roman who, as usual, came through the crowd. Early on, they traded big blows. Wyatt eventually gained the advantage on the outside using a Kendo Stick on Roman. Roman was able to get the Kendo Sticks and inflict some damage on Bray. He then setup a table on the outside and looked poised to DDT Bray through the table off the apron. Bray reversed out and landed a rock bottom on Roman through the table for a nasty spot.
Bray took the advantage back in the ring. Roman feigned a knee injury as Bray continued the beating on him. Bray setup a table looking to Superplex Roman off the top rope through it, but Roman reversed out and landed a Powerbomb through the table that Bray survived narrowly survived. After an exchange Roman reversed out of a Sister Abigail into a roll up that Bray kicked out of. Roman landed a Superman Punch, but Bray again kicked out at two.
They battled out to the ring apron where Reigns landed a spear on Bray that sent them both through a table on the outside. Roman got Bray back in, but he took too long and Bray kicked out. Roman went for a spear, but caught a kick to the face and a Sister Abigail; Reigns kicked out at two. Bray setup up two Kendo Sticks in the corner that he tried to slam Roman into, but he got reversed into them and ate a Spear. Roman got the pin and the win.
The crowd had a mixed reaction to Reigns the entire match. This felt like your typical John Cena match with the heel having to sell out to make the face look like a bigger hero than he is. It will be interesting to see what the WWE does next with Reigns considering he has proven to be ratings poison. Bray drove this match and overall the match quality was high and both men worked hard.
A promo ran announcing the Undertaker’s appearance at Survivor Series next month and noted that it will be his 25th anniversary in the company.
The New Day (c) vs The Dudley’s for the WWE Tag Titles
This is basically the third match in the series. The Dudley’s have won the previous two via DQ finishes, but the New Day have been able to keep their titles. The New Day were without Xavier Woods for this match and that fact was played up in their intro.
This was a standard tag match building to a face hot tag and then down to the finish. Kofi executed a spot where with the referees back turned he tossed Bubba Ray the trombone and fell to the mat as if Bubba had hit him with it. The referee turned to see Bubba holding the trombone and Kofi acting hurt and almost DQ’d Bubba, but when the ruse failed Kofi revealed he wasn’t hurt at all. Bubba broke the trombone in half and then tossed it to the outside.
Moments later Big E hit Bubba with a piece of the trombone and Kofi landed Trouble in Paradise. The New Day got the pin and the win and retained their tag titles.
This loss really hurts the Dudley’s and the WWE will have to do a lot to rebound them. The New Day going over was the right decision, but the WWE should have built to their first match over a few months and not rushed to have three in about 40 days. Yet, anyway you slice it this was a monster win for New Day.
Charlotte (c) vs Nikki Bella for the Divas Title
It was announced during the introductions that no one was allowed at ringside for this match. This assured that there would be no Twin Magic by the Bellas and that fans would not be treated to Brie yelling come on Nikki for the entire match.
Nikki got an advantage midway through the match. She basically worked Charlotte's back and that led to Charlotte not being able to bridge up for a Figure Eight attempt. Nikki was able to flip over and reverse the pressure on Charlotte, but Nikki still then reached for the ropes to get the hold broken, which was a botch since she was applying pressure to Charlotte and not the other way around.
As the two of them were battling on the outside Nikki slammed Charlotte’s back into the apron for a nasty spot. She then rolled Charlotte into the ring and went for the Rack Attack. Charlotte reversed out and locked in the Figure Eight Leg Lock for the submission win to retain her Divas title. Paige and Becky Lynch ran down to the ring to celebrate. Paige seemed to be intentionally trying to get in between Becky and Charlotte, but nothing really came of it.
This match was like watching a car that can only go 45 mph race a car that can go 100 mph. Nikki works the old Divas style that just feels like she’s going through the motions. The apron spot was done really well, but Charlotte recovered from that faster than all the damage she took to her back the entire match, which made no sense. Hopefully this is the end of the Bellas being involved around the title for a while and the Charlotte can now have some productive matches.
Seth Rollins (c) vs Kane for the WWE Title
Seth was out first which was a bit baffling considering he is the champion ,and Kane is the challenger, and a long shot challenger at that. This match was slow, boring, and about what you would expect from a Kane match at this point. Seth got a clean win with the Pedigree, and let’s all hope that this feud is over and will never be mentioned again.
It was noted post match that Corporate Kane will be fired on Raw tomorrow as per the match stipulation. This was a much needed win for Seth, but WWE should have been giving him clean wins months ago.
Kevin Owens (c) vs Ryback for the Intercontinental Title
Kevin Owens came out to a pretty strong pop. Ryback is one month removed from being the title holder, but there is certainly a sense that Owens is the much stronger character right now. This match was very short and much of the action featured Ryback trying to take the fight to Owens. Ryback worked most of the match on top giving out the punishment.
The end came when Owens escaped the Shell Shock by grabbing the ropes and falling to the apron. Ryback went to pull him back in the ring and Owens poked him in the eye just as he did last month. Owens then took advantage of a disorientated Ryback to hit the Pop Up Powerbomb for the pin and the win to retain his title.
This was a forgettable match. The WWE needs to reconsider giving every title loser a quick rematch because it’s often totally apparent who’s winning. Owens and Ryback are always going to be better suited against a guy they can work off of them that’s quicker and can bump better. They also employed zero creativity for the eye poke finish, especially after using that last month. The WWE needs to serve up a better feud for Owens going forward, but at least the right guy won.
The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar in Hell in a Cell
Lesnar was out first to a mixed ovation. Brock looked leaner than he has the last few times he’s appeared. The Undertaker was out next to a pretty positive reception. Brock took it to the Undertaker early until the he was reversed out of the ring to the floor for a nice spot. The two mostly exchanged blows and their standard moves until Brock was busted open on the outside.
The Doctor noticeably attended to Brock’s cut to a level we have never seen before in the WWE. The Undertaker was cut shortly after and was given the same attention. When Brock started bleeding bad again the Doctor tried to attend to him, but Brock sent him to the floor for his efforts. Brock attempted to use the steel stairs to crush the Undertaker, but ended up taking them in the face instead. Both men kicked out of each other’s finishers.
Brock became desperate to do more damage to the Undertaker so he tore open the ring mat and removed part of the padding to expose the wooden boards under that support the ring. He was planning to hit an F5 on to that area of the ring on the Undertaker, but Taker reversed out and landed a Chokeslam on Brock. Brock landed directly on the boards. Then the Taker got Brock up in a Tombstone and landed it as well. This was supposed to be on the boards as well, but the Undertaker clearly landed knees first and didn’t come close to the boards.
Brock survived despite all this and kicked out of the Undertakers pin attempt. Then Taker then signaled for another Tombstone, but as he was standing over Brock he was hit with a Low Blow. The Taker fell to his knees. Brock gave him an F5 on the boards and the match was over after the pin.
After the match, Undertaker gestured towards Brock that he was the better man. After Brock was gone, the Undertaker battled back to his feet showing the signs of a hard fought battle. As he attempted to pay respect to the crowd, the light went out and all four of the Wyatts hit the ring. They beat down the Undertaker and carried his lifeless body to the back as the show cut off air.
This was a mildly entertaining match. Their Summerslam match was better, but the finish here was much easier to take. Brock needed the win more than the Undertaker. The Wyatt interference was a way to position the Taker in a new direction, but the fact that not one babyface even attempted to make a save was a little ridiculous. The WWE seemed to be very limited in their rational thinking at times. It’s likely the Wyatts will be served up to an Undertaker led team at Survivor Series.
Overall this was a very average PPV. The WWE leaks so much information that it becomes apparent what is going to happen. Cena is rumored to be getting time off so it was no surprise that he dropped the belt, but after his dominate run with the title should that have been a much bigger deal and a much more dramatic match? Everything else followed course for the most part. The WWE tried to create a buzz for a struggling Raw show, by having the Wyatts attack in the end, but after seeing Bray beaten earlier in the night it lacked any real allure. The WWE can do better than this.