WWE – Hell In A Cell 2019 (Cert 12)
1 Disc DVD (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 191 minutes approx.
Sometimes you just know when something is likely to end up a disaster before it even happens, though on occasion low expectations are exceeded for a nice surprise. In the case of this year’s Hell In A Cell PPV, it was most certainly the former, as if the only people who couldn’t see it coming – unsurprisingly – were WWE themselves.
To elaborate, because WWE were more invested in promoting the move of Smackdown to the Fox network for a mega bucks deal and decided to reboot RAW at the same time, they neglected the build for this show. To illustrate how ignored it was, with all TV done and just 48 hours left before the show, only three matches had been announced! A fourth was added after Smackdown aired on the Friday with three more on the morning of the show and a final one set up during the pre-show.
WCW used to do this a lot, especially during the heyday of the nWo, arrogantly believing the top matches would be enough of a draw. And they wonder why they went out of business! Unfortunately for WWE, this would only be part of the reason this show would end up so badly received by fans the world over.
Hell In A Cell took place on October 6, 2019 at Golden 1 Centre in Sacramento, California before a crowd of 10,000 with commentary from Michael Cole and Corey Graves for the SD Live matches and Vic Joseph, Jerry Lawler and Dio Maddin (no, me neither) for the RAW matches.
As ever, while my match review won’t contain any results or major spoilers – the back cover artwork of this DVD does that – expect plenty of opinion and backstory to the matches.
RAW Women’s Title Hell In A Cell Match – Becky Lynch (c) vs. Sasha Banks
After the DQ finish to their match at Clash Of Champions, Sasha demanded a rematch whilst Becky upped the challenge by suggesting they have it in the cell, which may have been her folly as Banks competed in the first HIAC match against Charlotte in 2016. Would this be to her advantage this time round?
Becky sadly is now starting to get the Super Cena treatment in her booking but unlike Cena she is not being booed, but that didn’t stop her giving Sasha a lot in this brutal fast-paced affair. Both women took sick bumps, used weapons and the cage to their benefit, creating some innovating spots in the process. One in particular sees Sasha sat on a chair wedged into the cage atop two kendo sticks then Becky hitting a flying dropkick off the apron onto her. Great opener and high standard set right out the gate.
Tornado Tag Team Match – Daniel Bryan & Roman Reigns vs. Erick Rowan & Luke Harper
Why is heel Bryan teaming with face Reigns? Because of Rowan and Harper though we don’t actual know if Bryan is a heel or a face, but against his former disciple Rowan, who was revealed as Reigns’ mystery attacker then turned on Bryan, he is a face. Confused? You’re not alone.
Originally to be a regular tag match, it was changed at the last minute to Tornado Rules, which means no tags are required and everyone is in the ring at the same time. Perhaps this was for the best as they managed to have a pretty good match, the smoke and mirrors distraction of the Tornado rules actually helping the reunited Bludgeon Brothers seem more dangerous and credible as a threat.
Randy Orton vs. Ali
This was the match made during the pre-show, which actually has some genuine history behind it so it isn’t that random. Back in February Orton kicked Ali in the head during a match, taking him out of the gauntlet match which launched Kofi Mania and his campaign to be WWE Champion. So of course, Ali was looking for revenge.
Ali is known for being a reckless high flyer whilst Orton is a soulless robot who only moves in slow motion, so to say this was a styles clash is an understatement. Aside from a really cool counter to the RKO by Ali, this was a heatless snooze fest and the wrong match to follow two hot openers.
WWE Women’s Tag Title Match – Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross (c) vs. Kabuki Warriors
Another match announced late, which doesn’t say much about the Women’s tag belts if they can throw this out there cold with challengers who have hardly been on TV and couldn’t even topple The Iiconics for the titles. Kabuki Warriors are of course my Goddess Asuka and Kairi Sane, but without manager Paige who is off somewhere else doing other stuff.
Both teams are supposedly faces but the Kabukis are acting a bit heelish here, though the fans don’t want to boo them because who can boo someone as cute as Kairi-chan? Match wasn’t bad for a last minute addition with no build and had more heat than the previous match, whilst the lead to the finish feels a long time coming if you know your history of Japanese wrestlers in US wrestling promotions.
Viking Raiders & Braun Strowman vs. The OC
Strowman was supposed to be a “mystery partner” for the Viking Raiders in this fourth bonus match but everyone guessed it would be him anyway, even if Ricochet was a more obvious choice based on current storylines. Viking Raiders were “War Raiders” in NXT but Vince though having “war” in their name was to aggressive so he changed it to “Viking Experience” which git crucified on social media by fan and pundits resulting in a very swift second name change to Viking Raiders.
The OC are AJ Styles, Karl Anderson, and Luke Gallows, OC standing for “Original Club” referring to their past as the Bullet Club in New Japan. Match was what it was, nothing bad but nothing outstanding either with a lame and dumb finish that makes no sense and didn’t help the fan’s mood much.
Backstage the Street Profits are here because reasons, when Tamina pins Carmella to win the 24/7 champion. Don’t ask.
Chad Gable vs. King Corbin
Just to show how much Vince hate WWE fans, Baron Corbin won the recent King Of The Ring tournament defeating Gable in the final. Corbin now does the whole crown and robe gimmick whilst gable is the butt of everyone’s jokes due to his height, which is absurd when there are shorter wrestlers on the roster and others the same height as Gable who never get that treatment. But you know, Vince…
As the last of the eleventh hour additions to the card, this at least had a story behind it but Corbin is a black hole of charisma and not someone to out on this late in the card, whilst nobody buys the short garbage aimed at Gable. The tournament final was a better match because of Gable possibly taking the win but Corbin is the company favourite for some reason. Gable again tried hard to make this work but fans weren’t into it.
During the entrances for the next match, a scuffle occurred during the introduction of the foreign announced teams as Tamina arrived followed by R-Truth and Carmella, which included a spot of offensive stereotype based humour involving Funaki that one person at least will find funny (clue – his initials are VKM ).
Smackdown Women’s Title Match – Bayley (c) vs. Charlotte Flair
Despite her heel turn, Bayley is still acting like a babyface which is amusing but has fans confused in whether to boo or cheer her. After last month at Clash Of Champions were Bayley beat Charlotte in four minutes in a nothing match, there is a lot of goodwill to be recovered in this rematch.
Charlotte is going for her 100th title win here – okay, it’s not that high but it is ridiculous that she is closing in on double figures after just four years on the main roster. How is the division supposed to evolve if they keep going back to the same people on top? Then again the men’s main event scene isn’t so different either. Anyway, they’ve had better matches in the past but this was superior to the joke effort from last month.
WWE Universal Title Hell In A Cell Match – Seth Rollins (c) vs. The Fiend
And now the reason why this show will live in infamy. Bray Wyatt had already challenged the winner of Seth vs. Strowman at Clash Of Champions despite only having one match as The Fiend but the character is hot right now, and after weeks of terrorising Seth on RAW and making him cower in the ring like a scared child, they may be onto something.
So what went wrong? Well, first of all some idiot – probably Kevin Dunn – thought it would be a good idea to have the arena lights turned red for this match not only making it hard to see (although it’s been lightened a lot for this DVD release), but worse for the live crowd as the cell is also painted red! Then, Rollins hit The Fiend with literally everything – chairs, tables, stairs, kendo sticks, toy and real sledgehammers, and his finishers – and Fiend no sold them all!
By this point the fans felt Seth had no chance yet the brutality of his attacks made them root for The Fiend. By the time Seth had hit ELEVEN Curb Stomps with zero effect the crowd were now booing the hell out of Seth and the match, because of how stupid it had become. You’d think therefore they would be a sensible finish to ease the suffering right? Wrong!
You can’t blame the wrestlers – they did everything that was asked of them and didn’t botch any moves or spots – the blame, as always, lies with the creative.
Talk about tone deaf. When your paying audience is booing both your top star and the match, and chanting “refund”, “BS”, “restart the match” and even “AEW” (unsurprisingly muted on this release) whilst on social media “Cancel the Network” is trending you surely must know you’ve done something wrong.
WWE has over the past few years pushed the fans’ patience to its limit with some questionable booking to protect their top stars or in trying to create some controversy but for many, the main event of this show was the straw that broke the camel’s back. They had painted themselves into a corner by booking this match in the first place with The Fiend catching on so quickly as a cool anti-hero yet not ready – or necessarily needing – to win the title, whilst Rollins shouldn’t drop it at this point either, so where do you go?
Anyone else would have avoided the Cell stipulation for this first time match to allow for a DQ, count-out or other non-finish thus the feud can continue until it is time for Seth to drop the belt. We already had one top-notch Cell match which proved hard to follow so common sense would suggest making that the main event to prevent the disaster that we got instead. The confusing finish was apparently explained via social media the next day but it was too late as the damage had been done through it not making sense at the time.
Will lessons be learned from this? Probably not but at time when business is bad and WWE are trying to get more eyes on their product via their new Fox TV deal, the timing of this fiasco couldn’t be worse in damaging their reputation. The fact that on RAW the next night neither man was on the show and they only mentioned the match in a very short recap form late in the third hour shows they heard the negativity and knew making their usual big deal of it would be suicide – possibly the only thing they got right in all of this.
So, does one awful match ruin a whole show? In theory no, but when it is all people will talk about it does tarnish its standing and will be remembered as “the show with the god awful stupid main event” (a bit like Hogan-era WCW PPVs of the mid-90’s). A shame, as it started off well and looked to exceed expectations before it fell off a cliff. Nice one Vince!
Best Match – Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks
Rating – **
Man In Black