Hell In A Cell is just around the corner, and…I’ll be honest, I’m not very excited. Smackdown has been pretty consistently great week-to-week, but all of their matches on this show are rematches, so it’s not that interesting. Raw, meanwhile, has been terrible. With the possible exception of the celebrity guest host era, I can’t think of another point in time where Raw has been this consistently bad on a week-to-week basis. I hate to use the word “unwatchable”, but when even the wrestling YouTubers – who make a living off of watching & reviewing Raw – are like “fuck this, I don’t wanna watch it anymore”, something is clearly dire.
All told, there is only one match on this card that we haven’t seen before. That is the clearest sign ever that WWE is creatively bankrupt right now. However, their Pay-Per-View output has been pretty consistently good so far this year, even if the TV product isn’t up to scratch, so maybe this will be surprisingly good.
Kevin Owens vs Sami Zayn
Surely an Intercontinental Championship with one or both of these guys would’ve been better than them going one on one for…nothing? It’s not even for the number one contender ship. Don’t get me wrong, it’s Owens vs Zayn, so it’s not going too bad. I’m just not entirely sure what the point is. When Reigns vs Mysterio got bumped to Smackdown, and this is what they replace it with, it seems like a hilariously stupid decision.
As I said, Owens & Zayn always put on great PPV matches, but I would’ve preferred to see an original match over this one, preferably for the IC title, since that seldom gets onto PPVs these days.
I don’t really know who’s going to win, but it probably doesn’t matter. I want to say Zayn because Owens won at Wrestlemania, and if there’s one thing WWE loves more than endless rematches, it’s giving all of those rematches 50/50 booking. However, Owens is probably next in line to challenge Crews for the IC title one-on-one, so he seems like the better choice. It’s a coin flip, but I’m going with Kevin Owens.
Alexa Bliss vs Shayna Baszler
Two – Three years ago, I would’ve been very excited about this match. Alexa Bliss has always been better in the ring than people give her credit for, and I am still firm in my belief that Shayna Baszler is the best of the best when it comes to women’s wrestlers in WWE. Seeing these two clash would’ve been a sight to behold in 2018/19.
Unfortunately, the story building to this match has been FUCKING AWFUL.
First of all, Baszler gets thoroughly manipulated by Nia Jax in their “frenemies” relationship to look like a chump. She then loses to Reginald of all people because God is dead, and Vince McMahon killed him. Then there was that Raw segment where Lily…did some spooky things while Shayna was in the room. It was WWE trying to do Bray Wyatt’s stuff without any of Bray’s creative genius that made it work.
Alexa Bliss is going to win, and I hate it. I hate that Shayna Baszler has been relegated to the first stepping stone on Bliss’ path to the title.
Cesaro vs Seth Rollins
Out of all the rematches on this show, I think this is the best-built one.
Rollins’ attack on Cesaro at the end of his Backlash match against Reigns was a brilliant way to reignite the feud, and the build week-to-week on Smackdown has been pretty good. Rollins feels like he’s a revitalised version of his messiah character that was getting a tad stale, and Cesaro has had a meaningful way to continue his momentum from the Roman Reigns feud.
Additionally, it will be a fantastic match. Cesaro & Rollins put on a great showcase at Wrestlemania, and after Cesaro put on a blinder against Reigns last month, I think this match might get more time than the Wrestlemania match and be even better. Even if it is a rematch, I’m going to get my enjoyment out of it somehow.
This is another one where picking the winner is tough. Cesaro could do with a win after losing to Reigns. However, he’s definitively beat Rollins twice over the past couple of months. This makes me think Rollins will get the win because otherwise, what was the point in doing this again? Additionally, I have a feeling that Rollins is going to be going after the Universal title soon, or possibly even winning Money in the Bank, so a win would solidify his rise after a string of losses.
It’s a bit of a coin flip, but I’m going to go with Seth Rollins.
Rhea Ripley(c) vs Charlotte Flair
(Raw Women’s Championship)
I feel I should be more excited for this than I am.
The feud this month took all of the fun intensity between the women from their Backlash feud and just threw it all away. Instead, the story has centred around both women failing to beat Nikki Cross over and over, which is so stupid. It doesn’t make anyone look good. Cross constantly gets treated like a pushover, making her wins feel flukey and meaningless, while Flair & Ripley keep losing someone they see as beneath their level.
I am, and I’m not excited about this match. On one level, it’s Rhea vs Charlotte. They had Wrestlemania’s best non-cinematic match in 2020 and were involved in two of WWE’s best matches last year. On the flip side, this is a relatively heatless story, and I can’t get past the fear that WWE will end Ripley’s title reign prematurely just because…it’s Charlotte.
I really don’t know who to call for the winner. I would hope WWE have shown they’re committed to Ripley as champion, but when Charlotte’s involved, you can really never tell. Even if Ripley does win, I doubt it’ll be clean. Bliss will probably cost Charlotte, or, hell, maybe Becky Lynch will show up. There are too many moving parts, so I’m going to play it safe and say Rhea Ripley will retain.
Bianca Belair(c) vs Bayley
(Smackdown Women’s Championship)
(Hell In A Cell)
Again, this is a good feud that I’ve just seen enough of.
At least this one has the Hell In A Cell stipulation for some intrigue, but it’s not exactly a game-changer. The story beat of Bianca using her hair was going to come up eventually, and Bayley was the right character to be able to run with it and make it compelling. Bianca has played a largely reactionary role in this feud, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing as Bayley has slowly become more unhinged and unpredictable.
Is this feud intense enough to justify using Hell In A Cell? Not really, but it’s better than most feuds that just get shoved inside when this show comes around. I’m sure it’ll be a good match, though. I enjoyed what they did at Backlash, and as long as this match properly builds on that, it’ll be good. We’ve yet to see how Bianca handles a hardcore environment, but Bayley is well-versed in this type of match, so they should be able to put together something great.
Bianca Belair is absolutely retaining. There’s nothing to be gained in Bayley winning the title back, and Bianca can continue her first run at the top in glorious fashion.
Bobby Lashley(c) vs Drew McIntyre
(Hell In A Cell)
I’m so done with this.
What amazes me is that this is actually only the second time these two have gone one on one this year, and yet it still feels like it’s dragged on forever and has gotten really boring. Lashley’s general characterisation has been great, but creative has failed to utilise that characterisation to build an interesting feud or tell any kind of good story with it. Drew is still Drew, and he’s still great, but he’s lost so much fire since Wrestlemania, and I can’t summon the passion to get behind him like I could last year because of it.
I’m honestly not expecting much from this match. If they massively ramp up the brutality and make them really try to destroy each other, it could be good, but I don’t think it’ll be that. I think it’ll be the standard, plodding Hell In A Cell match where they just lumber about setting up spots for 5 minutes for 5 seconds of underwhelming payoff.
I initially thought there might be some possibility Drew gets the title back, but there’s no way that’s happening. Not only have all the rumoured Summerslam plans we’ve been hearing about recently feature Lashley as champion but Drew actually pinned Lashley on Raw, and that seals his fate. Bobby Lashley is retaining, and there is no doubt in my mind about it.