Hell in a Cell was a landscape-changing pay-per-view that showed us just how good and flawed WWE can be.
After Sunday night, we have a new WWE champion in Randy Orton, a new SmackDown women’s champion in Sasha Banks and The Miz now holds the Money in the Bank contract. Roman Reigns continues to build momentum with a fantastic story, while Retribution feels less and less special each time we see them. All the changes come fresh off a draft and with WWE heading to Survivor Series.
Here are five takeaways from Hell in a Cell:
Roman Reigns and his family continue to take us on a compelling and emotional journey, unlike anything we’ve seen in a long time in WWE. The Universal champion continues to add layers to his new persona while retaining his title in an excellent opening Hell in a Cell match. Reigns showed us a range of emotions his previous iteration was often unable to. In the process, Jey Uso is becoming one of the best babyfaces the company has.
They actually had a match this time. As the ultra-physical contest — which turned into an impromptu strap match — came to a close, a frustrated and semi-reluctant Reigns was ready to finish off a lifeless-looking Jey Uso with the steel steps. Jey took everything Reigns could give him and still refused to say “I quit.”
Before Reigns could deliver the blow, Jimmy Uso rushed out and covered his twin brother to protect him. Jimmy then tried to appeal to Reigns’ soul by using Jey’s real name — “This is Josh” — telling his cousin they are there for him with whatever he’s going through and he loves him.
Reigns began to break down crying at the brutality and cracking under the pressure of trying to stay at the top. “I don’t know who I am anymore,” Reigns says through the anguish that is emphasized through Jey’s ongoing suffering. He accepts Jimmy’s hand before flipping and putting him in a guillotine submission. Jey finally comes to. See his brother in peril, and only then, does he say, “I quit.”
While it’s unclear if The Usos are out of Anoaʻi family as the match’s consequence stated, the whole thing ended with a picture-perfect scene of family leaders Afa (Reigns’ uncle) and Sika (Reigns’ father) putting the ceremonial red lei on the champ to officially make him the tribal chief.
Just overall fantastic stuff that leaves you eager to find out what comes next. The smart money would be on Jimmy and Jey reluctantly falling in line and doing Reigns’ bidding.
Sasha Banks and Bayley, dressed in white (good) and black (evil) respectively, treated us to a classic old-school Hell in a Cell match that was the best of the three from a more traditional sense. It was chockfull of chairs, kendo sticks, ladders, tables and even a fire extinguisher. The spots were creative — Banks ran up a table to deliver a Meteora to Bayley into the cage — and they looked like they hurt (which they probably did.)
The finish included an excellent callback to the start of this feud. Banks used the chair, which Bayley brought to the ring and used to injure Banks’ neck in early September. She made the chair part of her Banks Statement submission by putting it around Bayley’s head, continually stomped on the chair and made the champion tap — ending her fantastic and record-long 380-day reign.
The victory makes Banks the second grand slam women’s champion in WWE with Bayley. The Boss has won six singles titles in WWE, but she’s never successfully defended one. It gives WWE an easy story to build toward a rematch. That may have to wait until after Survivor Series if they don’t hotshot it on SmackDown this week. Banks winning that match signals WWE is finally all in on her.
Third Time’s A Charm
Randy Orton is the WWE champion for the 14th time, tying Triple H for second all-time in world title reigns and just two behind both John Cena and Ric Flair’s 16. It’s the Viper’s first time as WWE champion since 2017 and it couldn’t be more deserved — though winning on his third try against Drew McIntyre certainly doesn’t feel like the ideal way to do it. McIntyre has had a fantastic run and the champion will likely win the belt back when crowds return to shows.
The two closed the show and put together a very different looking Hell in a Cell match from the two prior ones. Orton jumped McIntyre before the bell so we got some action on the outside and the two returned there later.
McIntyre took the fall off the side of the cage onto the announce table. While McIntyre, who showed blood coming from his mouth, did have a one last rally in him, Orton slipped away from a Claymore kick and delivered an RKO for the 1-2-3.
McIntrye has been running hard since winning the title at WrestleMania, so here’s hoping he gets a little time off — unless WWE wants him on Team Raw for Survivor Series — to put some time before a potential rematch. Until then, Orton has a few options for potential feuds starting with Keith Lee, A.J. Styles and Braun Strowman. The Miz is lurking with the Money in the Bank contract.
Transfer of Power
While the three cell matches were the clear highlight of the show, what was around them didn’t work quite as well. If WWE was hellbent on taking the Money in the Bank contract away from Otis, this was probably the best way they could do it. The timing just seemed all wrong.
Having his Heavy Machinery partner Tucker turn on him, punch him and cost him the match against The Miz was certainly shocking and added sympathy to Otis because he didn’t lose clean. But there was very little groundwork laid for the betrayal. Otis and Tucker are currently assigned to different brands, so how does that feud work? Also, do we really think The Miz is successfully cashing in on either Reigns or Orton? Unless Otis is somehow getting the contract back, I would have much rather seen Otis — whom the audience is invested in — try, fail and cope with wasting the contract than see The Miz do the same or even win.
Retribution is a bad idea that keeps getting worse — though leader Mustafa Ali could eventually beat Lashley to become United States champion in an attempt to save it. Until then, the heel Hurt Business earned its second clean victory over the group as Lashley accepted Ali’s offer to face any member of the Retribution. Shelton Benjamin picked Retribution’s weakest and smallest member in Slapjack (Shane Thorne).
Retribution did jump Lashley after the win, but Ali frighteningly ran away when the rest of The Hurt Business arrived. Other than being happy to see Ali get a push, WWE has given fans very little reason to get interested in this storyline.
The card’s other match saw Elias beat Jeff Hardy by disqualification. Hardy hit Elias with his own guitar. This means the feud that started with Hardy being framed for running over Elias with a car while inebriated on SmackDown that carried over to Raw will continue. Exactly why do we need to see this again?
Biggest Winner: Randy Orton
Biggest Loser: Otis
Best Match: Sasha Banks vs. Bayley/Roman Reign vs. Jey Uso
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