WWE Hell in a Cell 2017
October 8 2017
We’re in Detroit, Michigan for a Hell in a Cell PPV. WWE are doing so many PPV’s I almost completely missed this. I tried to watch the opener, knowing it was a show-stealer, live in Germany (where I was spending the weekend watching wXw’s tag league) but the WWE Network app is utter shit so that didn’t work. To say that I don’t care about the majority of this card would be a massive understatement. I’m here for the tag titles and the main event twist. Hosts are Tom Phillips, his raging boner, Byron Saxton and “most of our commentators suck so he’s on every show” Corey Graves!
Smackdown Tag Team Championship
The New Day (c) vs. The Usos
Kofi Kingston is the member not competing for the New Day. He’s not allowed into the Cell. The lack of rules allows both teams to wallow in their own crapulence and do whatever the fuck they want. I love Big E doing the through the ropes spear right into the cell wall. The cell was made for spots like that and the crowd are chanting “this is awesome” in the opening two minutes. Francesca 2000 Turbo, the Purple Special Francesca, is destroyed by Xavier, using it as a weapon. When they run out of trombones we get cowbell. “Someone call Bruce Dickinson” says Corey, knowing his memes. Or his SNL. One or the other. Xavier Woods brings a lot of banter so the Usos flat out murder him with kendo stick shots. You can see him propped up against the cell struggling to move. It feels like a shoot. They try some ambitious stuff like Big E hitting a release urinage off the apron (yes, really) and Xavier running underneath to hit a backbreaker. That’s a move that takes a lot of trust. It’s a brutal match but one that has incredible innovation. Two of my favourite things in wrestling.
The Usos are innovative as hell too, at one point hitting a Doomsday Device tope into the Cell wall. That is nuts, guys. The match reaches brutal new highs by having the Usos handcuffing Xavier to the ring post and wailing on him with kendo sticks. Poor Xavier Woods, a career comedy guy, is taking one of the biggest shellackings I’ve seen on WWE TV for quite some time.
And they’re making Kofi watch! This is what gets Big E all pissed off and turns him into a goddamn monster with Kofi screaming “make ‘em pay” from the outside. The family that is the New Day has been wronged and an angry Big E is glorious to behold. Big Brother Big E. The storytelling is excellent here with the faces suffering and suffering and suffering. Their comebacks are glorious because their suffering is so horrific. Xavier Woods tries to fend them off, despite being handcuffed, and that earns him another trashing. Double frogsplash finishes and the Usos win the belts back. This was incredible. It was so emotional and Xavier Woods had the performance of his life here.
Final Rating: ****3/4
Video Control takes us backstage where AJ Styles quotes Tom Petty. “You can stand me up at the gates of hell and I won’t back down”. This sends me into a Tom Petty spiral; “I Won’t Back Down”, “Freefallin”, the hugely underrated “Learning to Fly”. What a great songwriter Tom Petty was. AJ knows this. He’s channelling Jake Roberts in using powerful lyrics to get his point across. It instantly makes his promo more meaningful. This was straight to the point and beautifully done.
Rusev vs. Randy Orton
You’ll have to excuse me here, as I’ve muted the audio so I can continue listening to Tom Petty instead of whatever inane chatter accompanies another drab Randy Orton feud. He’s been so bad this year. One shitty program after another. The Bray stuff was bad. The Jinder stuff was bad. The Rusev stuff so far has been bad. Let me tell you this though; “Runnin’ Down A Dream” by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers is significantly better than this match. It knows how to peak and when to end. It has an excellent narrative structure. Orton-Rusev is just a bunch of stuff with no flow and no point. It feels like a house show match that’s just going through the numbers. And it’s way too long. It has me wishing for the Orton five second win match. Sure Rusev got screwed but he got paid. Here it’s just a chore, sitting through a bunch of recycled spots I’ve seen a hundred times. I don’t even watch a lot of WWE and I’ve seen everything Orton does in this match so many times that I’m sick of it all. RKO finishes, naturally and another dogshit Orton feud goes down the toilet into the sewer of blandness.
Final Rating: *1/2
WWE United States Championship
AJ Styles (c) vs. Tye Dillenger vs. Baron Corbin
Tye got added to this match earlier today. It gives Baron Corbin someone to pin when he wins the title so AJ doesn’t have to count lights. Because I know the crowd are going to piss me off with the “ten” counts here I carry on listening to Tom Petty. “Mary Jane’s Last Dance”. That man’s discography is wall to wall quality. This continues until I accidentally close the window and get stuck with commentary about why these people are fighting each other. This is why:
AJ decided to start doing open challenges. Baron said he was going to take it but he was too fucking slow. So Tye took it and they just kept having the three of them interact instead of running a bunch of AJ Styles showcases. It’s like they forgot the point of the story before it even got started. I take issue with triple threat matches because they rarely ever make sense. At least they have a basic plan here; Corbin dominates with his size. One of the best examples is him taking a break from kicking Tye’s ass to punch AJ Styles out of the air on a springboard spot. I can’t help but feel this whole thing is a tremendous waste of AJ. Maybe it’s punishment from God for his homophobic and awful opinions. The crowd, who are really getting on my nerves, start to chant “too sweet”. I heard a theory that Bullet Club, or specifically The Elite part of it, are creating genuine competition for WWE because they’re cool and WWE has actually reacted to them instead of ignoring them. Does it matter that they’re not an actual promotion, instead spread out across multiple promotions and continents? Actually that enhances their position. If WWE were smart they would just go along with it, and put together a stable of guys who were in Bullet Club (AJ, Finn, Adam Cole, Anderson, Gallows etc). But they won’t because it wasn’t their idea.
I’ve gone way off track here. AJ holds this together by intervening at the right moments and it feels like he’s organised the other two. Corbin hits power moves at the right spots and Tye gets hope spots in all the right places. It’s actually a solid little match. There’s only one problem; I don’t care about Corbin and the whole storyline is about him being WWE’s ‘next big thing’. It’s Tye’s story that really captures my imagination. I love underdogs. It’s a British thing. Corbin upsets me at the finish too. He boots AJ out of the ring, makes a huge fucking hash of it by not hitting him hard enough and then double down on fucking up by kicking AJ too hard through the ropes. Anyway, Corbin walks out as champion by pinning Tye. This was tidy, well structured pro-wrestling with AJ dragging the other two up to a decent level.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Smackdown Women’s Championship
Natalya Neidhart (c) vs. Charlotte Flair
I can’t get a handle on babyface Charlotte. It just seems like a bad fit. This is reflected in the crowd’s reaction to this match. You could hear a pin drop. Nattie works the leg extensively and Charlotte seems to have no idea of how to deal with this. She tries hard to sell the injury but can’t modify her offence without looking remarkably clumsy. Whether it’s trying to climb the buckles on one leg or doing a big boot and then collapsing. I commend the attempt to tell that story but it falls flat. Especially when we reach the logical conclusion; the Sharpshooter and Charlotte powers out with her bad leg. It’s like she’s been getting psychology lessons from Roadwarrior Hawk. After all that Natalya ends up getting disqualified for using a chair. You worked her leg for the entire match for *that* finish?
Final Rating: *3/4
The Fashion Files
It comes to something when Tyler Breeze and Fandango are the most over guys on Smackdown and they don’t even wrestle anymore. And they’re getting segments on PPV because they’re so over.
The Ascension show up, badly disguised and Breezango bury them without realising it. “You should be ashamed of yourselves” says Konnor on leaving. “Those disguises were incredible!” The door knocks and a briefcase is outside. It’s the one from Pulp Fiction. Pulp Fashion on Smackdown this Thursday!
Jinder Mahal (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Why are they doing this again? It’s going to be exactly the same match as last time right? The title belt is a joke while it’s around the waist of a walking steroid but here we are. Is Jinder the worst WWE champion of all time? Here are some other contenders:
- The Russian Bear Ivan Koloff
- Andre the Giant (although he only held it for a matter of seconds)
- Bob Backlund, in 1994
- Kane, 1998
- Vince McMahon
- Hollywood Hulk Hogan, 2002
- Bray Wyatt
Personally I think Mahal is top of the list. He’s held the belt for months, compared to everyone above who had short reigns (bar Yoko), and he stinks in the ring. Stinks! You could argue for Yokozuna but WWE was going through a very difficult transition phase from the muscle monsters of the 80s to the super workers of the 90s via a very public steroids trial. What’s the excuse for Jinder? Diversity? The potential audience in India? Let me tell you this; people will watch wrestling if it’s good. I’m English. I don’t care if the wrestlers put in front of me are English or not as long as they’re good. That WWE title is one of the most prestigious in the business; you cannot put it on someone who’s so bad at professional wrestling. The crowd, at one point, start chanting “this is boring” and it fucking is. Jinder with his never ending array of rest holds. It’s a wonder the commentators can find anything to say about it. As per usual the Singh brothers interfere, as they always do because Jinder can’t put together ten minutes on his own. WWE champion and can’t wrestle a ten minute match without multiple rest holds and interference. Jinder hits his shitty finish again to retain. This stank. All Jinder matches stink. He has one match and it’s fucking awful.
Final Rating: DUD
Bobby Roode vs. Dolph Ziggler
Oh great, we follow that shitheap of a match with a match I have no interest in whatsoever. Ziggles should have left years ago. What’s he even doing here? With his ‘I don’t need entrance music’ he’s even more boring. The idea is to say Bobby is just entrance music, which he is. They do some stuff on the mat to remind us that both guys are decent technicians. That was never in doubt. The biggest concerns are thus: 1. Roode is boring. 2. Ziggler has run out of stuff to do in this company. Crowd chants “CM Punk” out of boredom. This crowd wants to see Shane McMahon come off the Hell in a Cell and doesn’t give a shit who knows it. The actual work is passable but the match is dull. Both guys try to pull the tights to win and Roode actually does. Then he gets laid out with the Zigzag. Tedious.
Final Rating: **
Hell in a Cell
Kevin Owens vs. Shane McMahon
Oh, finally! This midcard has been a fucking drag. Shane’s family is at ringside to watch Shane die. KO’s promos leading into this show have made this match for me. I normally have no interest in watching Shane wrestle, ever.
“Do it for your kids” screams Owens while stamping on Shane’s face. At the end of this grind of a show the last thing I want is a prolonged match so naturally they go 40 minutes. Shane McMahon isn’t a wrestler, why does he have to go 50-50 with every wrestler he faces? No one gets over from wrestling Shane. The fans chanting “you’ve still got it” at Shane’s shit shadow boxing can suck it. Shane’s shambolic triangle is all on Owens and his strength. The Hell in a Cell is a weird match because everyone is waiting for the big spot so the wrestlers have to fill the match with little ‘big spots’. Here Owens dragging a table out gets a huge pop. Tables are babyfaces. Owens missing his spot and crashing through a table is a difference maker and allows Shane to string together abuse. Shane is a total dick in this. Because he can’t beat Kevin Owens with conventional means he pulls out bolt cutters and cuts the lock off the Cell door. Not that it makes any sense to have the door locked here because this match was specifically billed as “falls count anywhere”.
Once they’re outside we get into the business of who can do the dumbest high spot.
Which involves one guy lying motionless while the other lunatic climbs the Cell. Kevin Owens does a spectacular job of selling the dive off the Cell because it’s terrifying once you’re up there. Which leads to Shane following him up. They have an awkward little wrestle up there. Everyone is nervous about it, possibly remembering the time where Mick Foley went through the roof. The rest of the crowd is just waiting for the big spot.
Owens climbing down gets boos from a crowd that demands death on their PPV events. KO takes a nasty spill from above where the top rope would be through the announce table. Kevin gets dumped on the other table and Shane heads back up top to ‘exact revenge’ or scar his kids for life. One or the other.
As Shane comes off the top and kills himself Sami Zayn makes the last gasp save and pulls Owens out of the way! Yes!
Thank you Sami! The moment that finished the match makes it memorable. I love Sami dragging Kevin over Shane’s dead body and forcing the referee to count. Sami’s look of shock at his own actions overshadows the entire match. He knows he’s made a decision to change his career for the good and it’s wonderful. Love you, Sami! That son of a bitch Shane McMahon got exactly what he deserved.
Final Rating: ***1/2
The match was all about the big moments but the timing of the sensational turn at the end was perfect. WWE are a ‘moments’ promotion and this was a great moment.
People will come away from this show remembering two things: the great opener, which is up there for WWE MOTY, and the Sami Zayn turn. But they will remember the show, which is an improvement over a lot of WWE PPV’s this year where nothing of interest has occurred. I remember us talking about the haunted house bullshit with Orton-Wyatt earlier in the year because nothing else interesting happened on the show. At least there are talking points here and good action. It’s a combination I can get behind. The middle of the show really dragged though. The US title three-way was fine and the Fashion Files was fine but Orton-Rusev, Natalya-Charlotte, Mahal-Nakamura and Roode-Ziggler were filler. They weren’t PPV material. At least one of those matches should have gotten the chop. The pointless Orton-Rusev match would have been my favourite to go but none of them achieved much. Having a 3h30m PPV is almost unforgivable when you’ve got that much filler. Just run a 2h45m show and take the crap out.