History was made Sunday night at the WWE #HIAC PPV, but that isn't necessarily a good thing.
The WWE pushed the envelope a bit with three Hell in a Cell matches on one PPV, which clearly was a mistake, largely because they botched the order of the matches.
The best match of the show was Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins, but the match went on during the middle of the event, which meant that everything afterward pretty much disappointed.
While #SashaBanks vs. Charlotte headlined the show (the first time two women were in the main event of a PPV), their match was not main-event quality, and was tainted by several botched spots.
In addition to the odd match order, HIAC featured too many bad endings, either through outside interference, disqualification or sympathy (yes, TJ Perkins felt sorry for his opponent during the match).
Still, it was a good night for some individual performers, including Seth Rollins, Rusev, Cesaro and Charlotte, a few diamonds in a night of roughness all around. Is it time for #LesnarvsGoldberg yet?
Let's look at the card:
Roman Reigns vs. Rusev (U.S. Title, Hell in a Cell Match)
Wake up, Roman. Time to stop sleeping. This guy has spent more time on the canvas than Barry Horowitz. Horowitz, however, was a jobber. Do you want to know why Roman can't get over? He has too many breaks in between his spots. This match was no different, only saved by the great work rate of Rusev, who plays the old school heel masterfully.
Great facials, outstanding confidence, and not afraid to cheat to win, #Rusev choked Roman with a steel chain and blasted him with a kendo stick to gain heat. Of course, the crowd still booed Reigns, the most over-pushed wrestler in the last half-decade.
Reigns needs a haircut and a new outfit so he can focus on his matches and not his ring attire throughout the match. Reigns won the match with a Samoan drop onto the ring steps, and then, yep, after a break, a spear from the top of the steps to the mat. Reigns keeps the title and we can look forward to more hair flipping and mat resting from "The Guy."
Grade: B (85 percent)
Bayley vs. Dana Brooke
Bayley is floundering a bit on #MondayNightRaw. She's popular, but as far as breakout #NXT stars, she's moving more toward Enzo & Cass' popularity than Kevin Owens'. None of it is her fault since she hasn't changed her good girl image. The WWE just doesn't have a really good opponent for her right now. Brooke was not the answer. Brooke feels like she should still be in NXT, learning how to bump, take punches and throw them.
When women's wrestling goes bad, it goes really, really, really bad, really, really quickly. Bayley sold an injured right arm to near-perfection in the match to almost make us believe that Brooke was going to win, but she eventually rallied, like a good babyface should, and pinned Brooke with the Bayley to belly suplex. Bayley will get her title shot eventually. In the meantime, it's still the Charlotte show.
Grade: C- (70 percent)
Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
Enzo is the best talker in the business and cut another rambling, yet entertaining promo to start the match. He said that Gallos and Anderson were like Times New Roman font -- "as generic as it gets." He also threatened to "go yard" across Anderson's head like he’s Big Papi, appealing to the Boston crowd.
These guys are the modern-day version of The New Age Outlaws, and I bet Big Cass could sing "With My Baby Tonight" at least as good as The Road Dogg. Unfortunately, Enzo and Cass have turned into comedy figures. Enzo has great catch phrases and dances great, but he's not exactly Lou Thesz in the ring. Big Cass looks like the offspring of Test and Edge, and although his size makes him appear more formidable, he's still developing as a wrestler.
This match didn't work because Enzo's comedy dancing and foot shuffling in the match clashed with Gallows & Anderson, who are supposed to be legit bad guys who kicked butt in Japan. After Enzo made us laugh, he was pinned by a superkick and the Magic Killer. Gallows and Anderson, whom Enzo dubbed "Andy" and "Big Gal," to a tepid response from the crowd, really need to go after The New Day, whose time as champs should be ending soon.
Grade: C (75 percent)
Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins (WWE Universal Championship)
This was a great match, and we can thank "The Architect," Seth Rollins for most of it. Sometimes, Rollins just goes out there and wrestles like a modern day version of Shawn Michaels; last night that's exactly what he did. Rollins was sharp and crisp, and made Owens look like the big guy that he is. Rollins looked like an athlete out there and Owens looked like he was huffing and puffing to keep up with him. Owens, however, is still a skilled smack talker, particularly during the match.
Owens delivered some crazy cannonballs to Rollins' face, both in the ring corner and up against the cell. Rollins was nursing a legit back injury and Owens went to work on it, delivering a senton bomb on his back. Owens is easily 285 pounds, and that's dangerous.
Let me say this: October may be breast cancer awareness month, but the WWE needs to take the pink ring rope out during its "Hell in a Cell" matches. It's hard to get hyped about the carnage in the ring with a pink middle rope inside a cell. Owens worked the back the entire match and Rollins played the good guy struggling to make a come back. Rollins is so much better than Reigns in this role.
The match was highlighted by a crazy-cool sequence where they traded kicks, stuffed each others' power bomb and pedigree attempts, then ended with an enziguri kick that left the crowd on its feet. "This is wrestling. This is wrestling. This is wrestling."
Right about now, the WWE Network said that "The Number 1 trend on Twitter worldwide is HIAC, not the World Series. “The world is talking about Hell in a Cell," Michael Cole screamed. Nice.
The match was going great until Owens accidentally sprayed the referee with a fire extinguisher. When the other referee inside the cage attempted to take him to get medical help, none other than Chris Jericho ran to the ring, stepped inside the cage and locked it (taking a painfully long time to do so). Owens gave Jericho a wet kiss on the cheek. The match broke out into a mini handicap brawl here
The crowd started chanting "Stupid Idiot" at Jericho.
Rollins managed to beat up both Owens and Jericho, and was about to get the win after an Eddie Guerrero-like frog splash, but a revived Jericho made the save. From there, Owens gave Rollins the DDT, then he and Jericho finished him off with a double power bomb onto two steel chairs inside the ring. Owens left with his title and Jericho stayed and mocked Rollins.
The point of a cage is to keep people out and when guys find a way to get inside, it sort of feels like a rip-off. Great match, ruined by a lame ending. I won't hate on the match for too long, though, since Rollins is that good.
Grade: B+ (89 percent)
TJ Perkins vs. Brian Kendrick (Cruiserweight Championship)
This was a bad match with a worse ending. First of all, the cruiserweights need to open every PPV show. They are high-flyers. They get the crowd going. They should never follow Seth Rollins. That's a death spot. That's why Rollins should close the show: he's the best worker on Raw.
So, these guys went out there and had a slow match with no crowd heat. Why in the world is Perkins even feuding with Kendrick, who is well past his prime? The backstory here is that Kendrick has been trying to make Perkins feel sorry for him, whining about how he won't have many more chances to win the gold, so Perkins should let him win. Since Kendrick played the sympathy card, of course Perkins was sad when Kendrick seemingly blew out his knee after jumping from the top rope. Perkins pulled back from his offensive onslaught, and when he went closer to check on Kendrick, the former Spanky head-butted him, then put him in the Captain's Hook choke finisher for the submission victory. Lame ending and lame to take the title off Perkins.
Grade: F (59 percent)
The New Day vs. Sheamus & Cesaro (WWE Tag Team Championship)
Xavier Woods made an increasingly rare appearance to defend the tag team championship. He's the most charismatic of the three members of the New Day and deserves more ring time. Unfortunately, Kofi Kingston, not Big E., sat out.
All of these guys worked hard in the match. Cesaro continues to impress with his athleticism and timing. Sheamus is boring, but is experienced enough to know how to have a good match. New Day, unfortunately, are mostly a comedy team these days, holding onto their titles because of the amount of merchandise they sell.
The story here was, could Sheamus and Cesaro work together, after their extended rivalry? They worked well as a tag team, and with the exception of one accidental brogue kick to Cesaro, there were no tag team traitor shenanigans. Another bad ending here. After some good back-forth-action, Cesaro had Woods in the Sharpshooter, but Kingston attacked Sheamus on the outside, and for some reason, the referee decided to disqualify the New Day for outside interference, resulting in an ending with creativity.
Grade: C (74 percent)
Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte (WWE Women's Championship)
Well, it finally happened. Two women main-evented a PPV. Sad to say, it was a mistake. The women tried to have a hardcore match, but there were too many botched spots. The match had its moments, but on the whole there was more bad than good.
The positives: #Charlotte is clearly Ric Flair's daughter. She knows how to work, and she's saturated with ring psychology. She made you hate her in this match, screaming like a maniac. Her facials were off the chart, here. The match also started creatively.
As the cage was being lowered, Charlotte attacked Banks and threw her to the outside. For a moment, it felt like they were going to climb to the top of the cage, reminiscent of The Undertaker and Mankind, but they never made it. Instead, Charlotte grabbed Banks, who was climbing the cage, and power bombed her through the announcer's table.
That was a great spot, the best one of the match. Banks sold it like she was legitimately hurt. They walked her toward the back and put her on a stretcher. The announcer then declared Charlotte the "NEW" champion by forfeit, sending Banks into an emotional tizzy. She rushed off the stretcher and into the cage and the match began. That was a pretty amazing start.
The Negatives: Too many blown spots.
It all went downhill after the opening segment. The match officially died when Charlotte set up a table to put Banks through, but she reversed it, and threw Charlotte onto the table and the table just fell. Charlotte was supposed to land on top of it and Banks was supposed jump from the apron onto Charlotte and break the table.
Either Charlotte didn't set the table up correctly or the cheap table just gave out. Banks had no table to jump on because the table had already collapsed. Banks tried to improvise, but instead, just skipped the move and threw Charlotte in the ring to pin her. Had the move worked, the pin attempt would have been dramatic, but instead it was just like, "why is she trying to pin her now?"
The match ended with another botched table spot where the table didn't break, this time for Banks. Charlotte won the match with her Natural Selection move, and the crowd was quiet. If the tables had actually broken, then the crowd might have been into the match, but since they didn't, the ending and several spots throughout the match felt anti-climatic.
Banks enjoyed some good offense with her running double knees and a dive through the air that sent Charlotte into the cage, but this wasn't her best moment. It appears as though Charlotte is following in her father's footsteps. Win the title. Lose the title. Win the title. Lose the title. Win the title. Woooooooo!
Grade: B- (82 percent)