WWE – Hell In A Cell 2018 (Cert 15)
2 Discs DVD (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 213 minutes approx.
It’s time to break out the oversized cage with a roof otherwise known as Hell In A Cell – inspired by the cage used in the legendary Last Battle In Atlanta match from 1983 – which is celebrating its 21st anniversary by getting a red paint job because red equals demonic things or something…
Only two matches inside the big red structure this year, the ending of one of them spoiled on the front of the DVD cover because morons exist within WWE. This release is spread across two discs because of the 3 1/2 hour run time but unlike previous shows, you’ll find fewer matches so they all get a bit of time and the fans aren’t burned out from sitting through filler until the bigger bouts arrive.
Hell In A Cell took place on September 16th 2018 at the AT&T Centre in San Antonio, Texas before 12,500 fans with commentary from Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton for the SD Live matches and Graves, Michael Cole and for the first time ever, a female announcer in Renee Young for the RAW matches.
As ever, while my match review won’t contain any results or major spoilers, expect plenty of opinion and backstory to the matches.
Hell In A Cell Match – Randy Orton vs. Jeff Hardy
Remarkably this is Hardy’s first ever Cell match. This feud started when Orton returned at Extreme Rules after Hardy lost to Shinsuke Nakamura (remember him?) and attacked him. Orton explained his actions on SD Live with the usual “you fans don’t respect me” promo and continued to target Hardy who retaliated by putting Orton through a table and after things got out of hand it was t be settled in this match.
It’s an Orton match so it’s worked at a snail’s pace with the odd crazy bump by Hardy to break up the boredom. The big spot was a call back to the now infamous moment where Orton stuck his finger through the big hole in Jeff’s earlobe and pulled on it; this time he went a step further, using a screwdriver to twist the earlobe! Ouch! Anyway, if this was redacted to just the big spots, this is a five minute match eked out to 25.
WWE Smackdown Women’s Title Match – Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Becky Lynch
You know how WWE claims to listen to the fans? Here is the proof this is patently untrue. Becky turned heel on Charlotte after being pinned at Summerslam in the triple threat match for the SD Women’s title. They were expecting fans to boo Becky but instead it was the biggest pop of the night! On SD, Becky cut a heel promo on the fans and got a huge ovation, which continued every time she appeared and beat up Charlotte.
Brain “Road Dogg” James went on Twitter claiming they are listening but this isn’t the story they want to tell. Well, if no-one is buying it you change the story, right? True to form, huge cheers for Becky, mixed reaction for Charlotte in this great match and one of the better main roster women’s matches since WM 34. Regardless of how messed up the heel-face dynamic is, this looks to be one of the best in-ring feuds of the year for the women.
WWE RAW Tag Title Match – Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre (c) vs. Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose
In wrestling, they say it’s not the belt that makes the man, but the man that makes the belt. Given how the RAW tag belts rarely saw the light of day over the past year are now suddenly being contested on PPV again by main event talent somewhat affirms this. The new heel duo of Ziggler and McIntyre beat the B-Team on RAW for the titles so by extension of the ongoing feud with the Shield members gives us this title match.
This is Ambrose’s first PPV match since his return prior to Summerslam whilst Rollins is the current IC champion, looking to be a double champion. No surprise that this was a great match, reminiscent of the great Shield vs. The Bar matches from last year, full of great action, top moves and precision drama in the near falls. Spare a thought for Mrs. Ambrose on commentary trying to remain impartial during the match too!
WWE Championship Match – AJ Styles (c) vs. Samoa Joe
After the DQ finish to their great match at Summerslam this inevitable rematch was built around Joe becoming a serial stalker around Chez Styles just to make him even creepier after claiming proxy parentage of AJ’s daughter. Not that this feud needed such a tawdry soap opera direction but at least Joe is perhaps too effective in this role.
For those of us who prefer the in-ring aspect of a rivalry, these two delivered once again as they should having worked together frequently over the last 15 years. They were at a disadvantage following the hot tag match but pulled the fans in AND we actually got a finish this time, albeit a controversial one very smartly executed to allow this feud to continue.
The Miz & Maryse vs. Daniel Bryan & Brie Bella
Ever since Maryse helped Miz beat Bryan at Summerslam this match has been brewing on SD Live, despite Brie also being a presence on RAW with sister Nikki. Much of the build up saw Brie beating up The Miz but not Maryse returning fire on Bryan which is probably just as well give how awful Maryse is as a wrestler. She’s a great character but that doesn’t translate in the ring.
Sadly Brie may be in great shape after giving birth but her timing is a little off yet she is the better of the two wives. More heat in this match thanks to Bryan’s popularity and Miz’s effective obnoxiousness and the antics of the Mizanins. Luckily they kept Maryse out of the ring for most of the match and it was much better for it but far from a classic.
WWE RAW Women’s Title Match – Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Alexa Bliss
The so-called “Baddest Woman On The Planet” (they’ve obviously not met my sister) won the RAW Women’s Title at Summerslam in her third PPV match and this rematch is her first title defence. Rousey has really picked up wrestling very quickly but a lot of the fundamentals are shared with judo and MMA so it shouldn’t be that surprising.
Bliss is a great foil for Rousey and they work well together but Bliss isn’t at the stage to carry anyone and Rousey still needs some guiding but this was still a well built bout with good solid action, whilst there is added attraction of the seconds going at it, Natalya for Rousey, Mickie James and Alicia Fox for Bliss.
WWE Universal Title Hell In A Cell Match – Roman Reigns (c) vs. Braun Strowman – Special Referee: Mick Foley
Foley has been doing DDP Yoga and the results are incredible, a seen in how swiftly and smoothly he made his way to the ring and how slim he looks. Sadly he didn’t factor too much in the match but it is 20 years since his legendary HIAC match against undertaker so this was a tribute for him.
Strowman turned heel the night after Summerslam when he was denied the chance to cash in his MITB briefcase by Brock Lesnar, although he did tell new champion Reigns he would do it face to face and it was Rollins and Ambrose who stopped Braun from cashing in on RAW so he has every right to be angry. The fans still cheer Strowman and boo Reigns, so to avoid another Becky Lynch scenario they aligned Braun with Ziggler and McIntyre to get fans to boo him (and failed).
Match was okay but nothing we’ve not seen before from these two so the smoke and mirrors came into effect, first courtesy of their running buddies taking the big bumps off the cage then the arrival of an unwanted guest as spoiled by the DVD cover. The problem is that the two combatants had to play dead for nearly 10 minutes while this all went on which looked stupid, leading to another naff finish.
Running fewer matches meant less filler and made for a better show although not a great show. It’s becoming a tired cliché to blame the booking but who else is at fault when the stories being told and why they choose to tell them is so counter-productive on the one hand and too protective on certain wrestlers on the other?
The biggest example of this is the Becky Lynch situation. The fans just don’t want to boo her and after spending months building her up as the plucky underdog challenger to the women’s title, why are they so surprised the fans feel aggrieved for her when Charlotte usurped her spot?
At Summerslam Vince McSenile finally pulled the trigger on Roman Reigns as Universal Champion then went into defensive booking mode by turning the guy became popular by beating up Roman to be his first challenger. Yet, like Becky, Braun Strowman did nothing wrong and it was The Shield that attacked him so his anger was justified yet we’re supposed to boo him and cheer Reigns?
The Hell In A Cell gimmick itself has lost a bit of its lustre over the past 15 years or so and this show didn’t do much to restore any of its former glory but as far as PPVs go, it is one of the better efforts from WWE this year.
Best Match – Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre vs. Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose
Hell In A Cell Kick-Off Match: WWE Smackdown Tag Title Match – The New Day (c) vs. Rusev & Aiden English
Monday Night RAW September 10th 2018
Mick Foley Will Be The Special Guest Referee
The Monster Calls Out The Big Dog
Smackdown Live! September 11th 2018
AJ Styles Has A Message For Samoa Joe
No 1 Contender’s Match – The Bar vs. Rusev & Aiden English
Brie Bella vs. Maryse
Rating – ***
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