WWE – Hell In A Cell 2020 (Cert 15)
1 Disc DVD (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 174 minutes approx.
It was looking quite dubious for a while that the annual WWE event in which wrestlers are locked inside a huge cage would be taking place this year, thanks ironically to COVID related lockdown. However, the move from the WWE Performance Centre to the much larger Thunderdome meant the big red cell would have its outing after all.
After last year’s disastrous main event Cell match which achieved the ignominy of killing off both Seth Rollins’ babyface run and The Fiend gimmick in one foul swoop, there is a lot of trust on the side of the WWE placed in the goodwill of the fans to give the Cell gimmick another go, but since gimmicky characters like The Fiend aren’t involved, that should be a mistake not to be made twice.
Three title matches are contested inside the ominous structure this year, though only one really warranted the stipulation, the other two didn’t need them, but you know how WWE likes to milk a spectacle for all it was worth. The other downside is the undercard is as uninspired as it gets, leaving the idea of the Cell match bring enough of a lure for fans to be invested in the show.
Hell In A Cell took place on October 25th 2020 at the WWE Thunderdome located inside the Amway Centre in Orlando, Florida in front of virtual crowd seen via a bank of video screens, with added piped in crowd noises to create the impression of a hot crowd. Commentary is provided by Michael Cole and Corey Graves for SD and Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton and Samoa Joe for RAW.
As ever, while my match review won’t contain any results or major spoilers, expect plenty of opinion and backstory to the matches:
Universal Title I Quit Hell In A Cell Match – Roman Reigns (c) vs. Jey Uso
The drama of the storyline behind this match and the I Quit stipulation was more than enough to sell it, so the Cell was completely unnecessary. After they faced off at Clash Of Champions, and brother Jimmy threw in the towel when Jey wouldn’t submit, Roman declared himself the Tribal Chief and told Jey he didn’t want to hurt him but had to teach Jey a lesson for embarrassing the family with his weakness and acts of insubordination against him.
Roman suggested the I Quit proviso, stating if Jey says those words, he will be expelled from the family. As a wrestling match, the action is mostly sporadic as Reigns would verbally impose his will on Jey to egg him on who then would fight back. It did get quite brutal at times but the real story is the family drama aspect which is a rare case of an old-school narrative proving more compelling than big wrestling moves. This whole scenario – from the video recaps, the ring introductions, the match, and post-match angle – took up most of the first hour.
Jeff Hardy vs. Elias
Elias has been out with a torn pec – hence him now working in a t-shirt – yet clearly didn’t watch WWE TV during his absence because the reason he turned as a heel and attacked Jeff Hardy, was because of an angle on SD back in April! In case you had forgotten, when Hardy was feuding with Sheamus back then, he was set up by Sheamus for allegedly running Elias over with a car, which was also to write Elias off TV.
Despite Sheamus being revealed as the driver, Elias for some reason thinks Jeff is guilty! I know it is bad when WWE ignores their own history but the one time they DO actually remember it, we get something as dumb as this! Oh, and the match sucked as well.
Money In The Bank Contract Match – Otis vs. The Miz
You know how they always promote Survivor Series as the “one time of the year” RAW and SD face off? How do you explain this mach then? Whilst on SD, Miz decided that Otis wasn’t fit to be holder of the MITB briefcase and tried to steal it from him When that failed, Miz goaded Otis into attacking him then sued him for assault, because the last thing you want happening in wrestling is someone being beaten up.
By the time the court case happened, a draft was held and Miz (and John Morrison) were moved to RAW – as was Otis’ tag partner Tucker – but Otis remained on SD. It wasn’t a proper court however – JBL was the judge and Miz bribed him to rule in his favour and make this match. Since they’ve done nothing with the MITB briefcase and the chances of Otis getting a shot at Roman Reigns are nil, you can guess the outcome of this dumb match.
WWE SD Women’s Title Hell In A Cell Match – Bayley (c) vs. Sasha Banks
Now the mid card cack is out of the way, time for something we can get our teeth into. Bayley finally turned on Sasha after they dropped the tag titles to Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax. Her rationale as she knew Sasha would turn on her sooner or later so Bayley got their first, injuring Sasha’s neck. Sasha returned, made the challenge, and then forced Bayley to sign the contract under duress, to resume on the best feuds ever in NXT.
Grated this wasn’t going to live up to the five-star classic from 2015 in Brooklyn, but they came close with this hate filled, tense and stiff outing. Aside from one spot where something Bayley was attempting with kendo sticks, both ladies give us a heck of a fight that incorporated both wrestling moves and plunder. Even with the heel/face dynamic now revered, the chemistry these two have hasn’t faded and the reward is another great match from them which frankly should have headlined this show.
Bobby Lashley vs. Slapjack
Who? You may ask. Slapjack is a member of Retribution aka the worst faction ever in wrestling. They began as group of masked raiders disrupting WWE TV, then were whittled down to just four NXT wrestlers – Dominic Dijakovic, Dio Maddin, Shane Thorne, and Mia Yim – with Mustafa Ali finally revealed as they leader. To go with the silly masks, they were also given silly names – T-Bar, Mace, Slapjack and Reckoning respectively.
So far they haven’t won a match and are as much a threat as a paper napkin, but that didn’t stop Ali from issuing a challenge right before this show to the Hurt Business for this unadvertised singles bout. They needn’t have bothered. Slapjack spent most of the time stopping his mask from slipping off and Lashley was phoning it in from a beach in Hawaii. Utter dreck!
WWE Title Hell In A Cell Match – Drew McIntyre (c) vs. Randy Orton
I don’t know what it is about Randy Orton but every feud he is in always runs for much longer than it should – he and Cena were enemies for 10 years! Having been beaten decisively by Drew twice, Orton still felt he deserved a third match and – what timing – they could have it in the Cell. Unfortunately, the lustre of this feud faded ages ago and this didn’t feel vital or climactic in anyway, so again the cage is again unnecessary.
Since the women had already stolen the show earlier, there was little else for these two to go in an attempt to top it, and of course, they didn’t. Okay, I’ll readily admit that the beginning was creative but it went downhill from there, with Orton’s robotic offence that even plunder couldn’t make interesting. Trivia fact – It was Drew McIntyre watching HBK fall off the Cell in the very first HIAC match in 1997 that made him want to become a wrestler. Guess how this match ends? (Hint: No, Kane didn’t do a run in…)
For a second year in a row, it was the women who ruled this show, their match again deserving of headlining over the men’s but didn’t. Maybe there is a message there but Vince gotta Vince. At least this year’s man event didn’t end with the fans booing, chanting “refund”, and many even cancelling their WWE Network subscriptions.
The undercard may have been bad but if we’ve learned anything from WWE, you have to take the rough with the smooth. If this show is to reiterate anything, it is the problem of the lack of roster depth at the top, with Jey Uso being the only fresh face to be slotted into this hallowed line up. This is more obvious on RAW as Orton is the only real threat to Drew whilst they figure out what to do with the likes of Braun Strowman and Keith Lee.
But, the real shocker is how well the new Roman Reigns character is working. The match with Jey Uso here isn’t great but this being a story-driven feud, it didn’t need to be and as already opined, we are treated to something different and psychologically powerful, only mildly tainted by the overkill needless stipulations. Who knew an overdue heel turn for Roman would be money?
Well, 2020 HAS been a strange year after all…
Best Match – Bayley vs. Sasha Banks
Hell In A Cell Kick-Off Match: 24/7 Title Match – R-Truth (c) vs. Drew Gulak
Rating – ** ½
Man In Black