Warning: This article contains spoilers from WWE Hell In A Cell 2016. Prepare to enter the Devil's Playground.
WWE took up residence in the Devil's Playground as their annual Hell In A Cell PPV made history in Boston. In a hellacious evening of chair shots and table spots, three main events were contested inside the demonic structure known as #HellInACell, all with championships on the line. And perhaps the most surprising thing about the entire event was that the officials behind the scenes chose the first ever WWE Women's Championship Hell In A Cell match to go on last as the main event.
Check out some of the structure's most hellacious moments:
With their last solo PPV coming up a little short, this was RAW's chance to prove to SmackDown LIVE that it can hold its own as the two brands hurtle towards a collision at Survivor Series. If you missed it, don't worry because we're going to get you all caught up on the events that took place inside the demonic structure.
Roman Reigns Vs. Rusev (Hell In A Cell Match For The WWE U.S. Championship)
Result: Roman Reigns defeated Rusev to retain the WWE U.S. Championship.
The Good: These two really went all out and did a great job of opening the show, setting the tone for a physical evening. Despite a slow start, it really built towards a hard-fought brawl between the two monstrous athletes. We saw some really gruesome stuff from them including Rusev's launching of the steel steps at Reigns, their use of the steel chain, and Rusev locking in the accolade on Reigns, pulling the chain across his face for leverage. We also saw the obligatory kendo stick come out — it's like all they rely on in No DQ matches — but it helped add to the physicality. A really great opener that the crowd came alive for.
The Bad: Did anyone really think Rusev was going to win? I mean, he literally came up short in almost every altercation between the two since this rivalry began. He was consistently beaten up and mocked throughout the buildup that it was hard to take him seriously heading into the match. While he did prove himself big time inside the cell, it's WWE that needs to work on better storylines for him.
What's Next: Reigns conquered like Reigns does. This somewhat questionable rivalry couldn't have gotten a more epic conclusion than that — onto bigger and hopefully better things for both superstars after this.
Bayley Vs. Dana Brooke
Result: Bayley defeated Dana Brooke.
The Good: I said it last month about SmackDown LIVE's No Mercy, it's great to see two women's matches taking place at a PPV. And this most certainly wasn't close to the amazing main event, but it was a great bout between two of the more underrated female athletes. And after a brief lack of direction and clean losses, I'm very happy that Bayley came out of this with the win.
The Bad: Much the same case with Reigns vs. Rusev, I'm not sure anyone really believed that Dana Brooke would actually win. She did a great job asserting her dominance in the ring, but it's WWE's usage of her character that damages her credibility.
What's Next: I'm guessing these ladies will either move on or both get re-involved in the Women's Championship storyline.
Gallows & Anderson Vs. Enzo & Cass
Result: Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson defeated Enzo Amore and Big Cass
The Good: Much like with the women's division, it's refreshing to see two tag team matches at the one PPV. And this one was a solid bout. I'm glad Anderson and Gallows got the win because lately, it's seemed like WWE has no clue what to do with them.
The Bad: Outside of Enzo and Cass's promo on the mic, the crowd didn't really seem into this one. There were periods of near-silence and they weren't very vocal to the heels, mainly because Anderson and Gallows have been involved in some questionable booking recently.
What's Next: There was no question over the victors here, so I'm guessing both teams will move onto better programs. But Anderson and Gallows are in desperate need of some solid booking, and hopefully this win will kickstart that.
Kevin Owens Vs. Seth Rollins (Hell In A Cell Match For The WWE Universal Championship)
Result: Kevin Owens defeated Seth Rollins to retain the WWE Universal Championship.
The Good: This was a really entertaining match between two stars who will carry WWE into the future. It was a much better match than their disappointing collision at Clash Of Champions last month and the two really connected better in the ring this time. The standout moment was definitely when Rollins powerbombed Owens over the ring and through the table — that was incredible and brought the crowd to life. Chris Jericho's interference really worked well this time, and was quite frankly hilarious. Jericho is brilliant the moment and always adds a great deal to anything he is involved in. Personally, I would have liked to have seen Rollins win, but that doesn't take away from this gem of a match.
The Bad: It never really felt like this rivalry was personal enough to warrant a Hell In A Cell match — my major problem with the annual PPV — Owens just happened to be the one who capitalized of Triple H's interference two months back to win the WWE Universal Championship. But Rollins' real issue is with Triple H who cost him the match, but their probably saving this for WrestleMania.
I feel like Rollins didn't need to suffer from another loss —yes, he was very well protected, but he needs a PPV win now.
What's Next: Jericho's return to the ring and post-match attack on Rollins has me thinking that those two will feud in the coming weeks. However, I wouldn't be surprised if it's just a front and Jericho betrays his "best friend" Kevin Owens. That would be cool too.
If you're a fan of WWE, check these out:
- The Most Gruesome Hell In A Cell matches in WWE History
- The Undertaker Will Return To WWE For WrestleMania 33, But Who Is His Opponent?
- Big Red Demon: Why Kane is The Greatest Monster In WWE History
Brian Kendrick Vs. T.J. Perkins (WWE Cruiserweight Championship)
Result: Brian Kendrick defeated T.J. Perkins to win the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.
The Good: Brian Kendrick is the Cruiserweight Champion! Being a fan of his amazing tag-team title run with Paul London back in 2007, I am thrilled to see him achieving such levels of success, especially on RAW —which had no idea what to do with him during his last run with the company. Both he and Perkins delivered their best match yet, working really well together once again. Much like last time, it wasn't perfect but it had some incredible gravity-defying moments.
The Bad: For some reason, the crowd wasn't really into this one — and I know that doesn't impact match quality but without the crowd's input matches just seem longer and more awkward. I also thought the ending was a little predictable. While the whole injury ankle at the end was believable on Kendrick's part — it seemed like something he would do — not everyone really bought it, so it was kind of predictable that Perkins being the good-hearted face would check on his former mentor and end up paying the price.
I just think WWE needs to work harder on making the Cruiserweight division a success, because it's far from where it needs to be at this point in time.
What's Next: This one is easy — with the history between these two and the controversial ending — not to mention the former champion's rematch clause — these two will meet again.
Cesaro & Sheamus Vs. The New Day (WWE RAW Tag Team Championships)
Result: Cesaro & Sheamus defeated The New Day (Big E & Xavier Woods) via disqualification.
The Good: Both teams once again worked really well together and put on another very entertaining match. The tension between Sheamus and Cesaro continued to flourish here, and as unlikely as it sounds, that's a good thing. I'm really getting a Team Hell No vibe of these two and think that we will soon be seeing them as the RAW Tag Team Champions. Just like Daniel Bryan and Kane breathed new life into the Tag Team division in 2012, we are seeing Cesaro and Sheamus replicate that today. It's also really fun to see WWE using them properly.
The Bad: I really wanted Cesaro and Sheamus to topple New Day, but it seems WWE has made it their mission to make New Day's title reign last as long as it possibly can — which is no bad thing, I just feel like it's time for a change.
What's Next: More tension between Cesaro and Sheamus and a definite rematch.
Sasha Banks Vs. Charlotte (Hell In A Cell Match For The WWE RAW Women's Championship)
Result: Charlotte defeated Sasha Banks to win the WWE RAW Women's Championship.
The Good: The first ever women's Hell In A Cell match main-evented the PPV doesn't just show the amount of faith the WWE has in its women competitors, it highlights just how far we have come. And man, what an amazing match it was! Starting off in a similar fashion to 1998's infamous collision between the Undertaker and Mankind, we saw an impromptu brawl take place outside the cell, with Charlotte viciously assaulting Sasha before sending her through the announce table with a powerbomb, which saw the champion almost stretchered out of the arena.
But Sasha forced the officials away and finally the cell door was locked as these two ladies tore each other apart inside the steel structure. We saw some shockingly vicious chair shots and another few table spots — even though the tables didn't break — which really proved that these two women could be just as aggressive as the male athletes. On that note, this was the only real rivalry I felt was worthy of the cell this year.
The women's revolution came full-circle last night and Charlotte and Sasha proved that the RAW Women's Championship was just as worthy of a Hell In A Cell match as any other title. By far, my favorite match of the night — incredible!
The Bad: The ending kind of killed the crowd. After the table didn't break twice, Charlotte finishing things up with Natural Selection and pinning Sasha just kind of came out of nowhere and sucked the life out of the audience. The same thing happened at last month's Clash Of Champions. And what on earth is going on here with all the title swaps between these two? Back and forth is exciting but this is taking it to another level. And I can't help but feel a little robbed — Hell In A Cell matches are there to definitively end rivalries, and I have a feeling that things are only getting started between these two.
What's Next: Sasha will inevitably get her rematch. And while I have my doubts about this, I'm also glad because these two never fail to impress.
Check out a preview of the historic match below:
Hell In A Cell ended up being one of the WWE's most revolutionary events of the past decade as not only did we see the first ever women's Hell In A Cell match, the two female competitors outperformed almost all of their male counterparts. While the event proved to be awesome, it isn't without criticism as bad booking and questionable finishes really prevented it from living up to its true potential. However, some of the matches — the main event in particular — really made it seem like WWE had suddenly remembered how to tell great stories in the ring, something we hadn't seen in quite some time.
And based on matches alone, this is by far RAW's best solo outing yet and brings the red brand closer to achieving the heights of SmackDown LIVE — which is thriving on #TV at the moment — as we head towards Survivor Series.
Did you enjoy the revolutionary Hell In A Cell PPV? Let us know in the comments below!