WWE Hell in a Cell 2020: Every Match Ranked

We’re out the other side of hell and…it was alright, wasn’t it? The three cell matches were all very enjoyable, but the undercard lacked any real spice or intrigue. It’s the kind of show where people will remember key moments, but the majority of it will be lost to time.

I really don’t have anything else to say here, so let’s rank the matches!

7 – Elias def. Jeff Hardy via Disqualification

If the reports are accurate that Vince sees Elias as a future top star on Raw, he’s got a funny way of showing it.

There was very little substance to this match. It was 7 minutes long, but it may as well have been 30 seconds for all the noteworthy things that happened during it. The action the two men produced was fine, but you could tell neither of them was trying very hard, and I can’t say I blame them given the crap finish they were working towards. As for the DQ finish, what can I say? It’s your standard WWE non-finish to needlessly extend the feud to pay off on Raw in a few weeks because Pay-Per-Views just build to TV rematches these days.

It also makes Hardy look like a jerk. I know Elias got the guitar out and was going to use it, but for Hardy to use it as a foreign object in plain view of the referee is just a heelish thing to do. The commentators loosely tried to justify it, but I couldn’t help but agree with the heels in that scenario.

6 – R-Truth(c) def. Drew Gulak
(24/7 Championship)
(Kickoff Show)

There was a 24/7 championship match on this show, but not a Raw women’s championship one…think about that.

Sure, this was a throwaway 5-minute match, but at least we got some fun character stuff at the start. The inconsistency with which R-Truth remembers Lil’ Jimmy is a thing is quite startling these days, but it gave us a fun opening to this match. Bless Drew Gulak for always giving angles like this his all, I honestly think he could be a fantastic comedy wrestler if he was given the time to flourish. Sadly, I can’t help but sit here and remember the start of the year where it looked like he was going to big places with Daniel Bryan.

Now he’s taking rollup losses for the joke belt on the preshow, and then making a joke about how John Cena sucks. Which is fine, I guess, but he should have better.

5 – Bobby Lashley(c) def. Slapjack
(United States Championship)

Well, it was nice thinking Retribution might be going somewhere while it lasted.

Seriously, did Ali spit in Vince McMahon’s face or something? Every storyline with any big potential he’s had immediately goes to shit and gets tossed to the side. I’m not ready to write Retribution off just yet, there’s still time to turn this around, but I’m already starting to give far less of a shit than I did a month ago. I don’t understand why they’re losing and being put on the run so often this early into their time. To protect the Hurt Business? Why? What plans do you have for them? It’s not like you’re going to push anyone other than Lashley as a top star from that group and he can recover from a few quick losses.

Better yet, if you’re so desperate to have Lashley protected, just don’t put Retribution in a match with him. That is an option, there are so many other people they could fight, hell, even within the Hurt Business there are three other guys that you’re always keen to hand losses too. There were just so many other ways out of this situation that it makes the whole thing like a deliberate effort to make Retribution look like chumps.

4 – The Miz def. Otis
(Otis’ Money in the Bank contract is on the line)

Small note, why did commentary keep saying the match was “for the Mr Money in the Bank”? That’s got to be the worst possible way you could’ve phrased that.

This may have been ranked as the fourth-best match of the show, but don’t let that fool you into thinking I liked it. As I said in my predictions, there was no chemistry here. These two have particular wrestling styles, and they didn’t work when pushed together in the ring. The only reason this match ranked this high is that it’s the first one that felt like an actual match, and we got two significant status-quo changes out of it.

First of all, Tucker’s betrayal, it’s ok, I guess. I like that they clarified that he didn’t do it for Miz’s benefit, he just did it cos he’s sick of Otis’ shit, which, yeah…I’d probably get tired of him after a while too. It’s something interesting for both guys to do, but I’m not optimistic that it’ll go anywhere interesting. As for Miz with Money in the Bank, it’s hard to see where he’ll slot in. Unless he’s going to lose it to someone of higher status, I highly doubt he’s winning a world title anytime soon.

The only scenario I can see it happening, is if Edge wins the title from Orton at Mania, and Miz comes in to ruin the moment the next night on Raw, but that’s a stretch. Ultimately, I think it’s just going to go down as another waste of the briefcase, as there hasn’t been a fair use of it since 2016.

3 – Randy Orton def. Drew McIntyre(c)
(WWE Championship)
(Hell in a Cell)

It was a slow-paced, Randy Orton Hell in a Cell match that relied on slow builds to big spots, and I didn’t hate it. This is a miracle.

Now, it wasn’t incredible, and it was definitely my least favourite of the matches these two have had, but I was never really bored during the half an hour runtime of the thing. Maybe the build of this feud has just been good enough to keep me interested, or maybe my tastes have changed over the past year, who can say? All I know is I was engaged the whole time.

The match definitely had the aura of brutality I think it needed. It can be hard in the modern era to make a Hell in a Cell match feel truly horrible without blood, but heaviness with which these two men attacked each other did the job for me. The stuff on top of the cell made the whole thing quite tense, and there was definitely a tremendous sense of intrigue thanks to the fact that I genuinely had no idea who was going to win.

While I would’ve preferred Drew to keep the title, I don’t think he’s in any way been damaged by losing Orton here. For one thing, it was a violent match where he looked like a badass and took one hell of a beating. However, he’s beaten Orton twice already, he’s still got plenty of legitimate claims to come back into the world title scene eventually. As for the immediate future, I’m not sure, I think another Pay-Per-View match would be a bad idea, but I could potentially see a rematch on Raw that gets interrupted by Drew’s next big feud. Hell, if they’re basing Survivor Series around The Undertaker, it could even be the deadman himself.

The problem is that I don’t see who else on Raw could challenge Orton. The Fiend seems like the obvious choice, but given that Orton is definitely holding that title until Mania, I’m not sure that would be such a good idea. Kevin Owens wouldn’t be a bad idea, but I’m sure he’s been built up enough for that kind of feud right now, especially not for a big 4 show. That pretty much just leaves Keith Lee, unless AJ Styles is planning on turning face, which he isn’t.

2 – Sasha Banks def. Bayley(c)
(Smackdown Women’s Championship)
(Hell in a Cell)

As expected, this match was incredible. Honestly, if you said to me that this was your number 1, I wouldn’t argue with you in the slightest, it’s mostly just down to personal preference as to why this is number 2.

When it comes to action, this match is the highlight of the night. There were some concerns that the match hadn’t been built quite as well as it could’ve, but you wouldn’t know that from the final product. These two women were able to perfectly capture the sense of betrayal and hatred that exists between the two of them in just a few choice moments. The way Sasha punted Bayley’s chair out of the ring as the cell lowered was all that was needed to establish the tone, and they ran with it from there as far as they possibly could.

The action was great, Sasha carried that chip on her shoulder to give every move she made a little extra sting, and it felt a lot heavier because of it. Bayley meanwhile balanced her cowardly heel side, and vindictive predator side well, responding to Sasha’s offence with pathetic whimpering, but relishing the times where she took control. It made sure the flow of the match was near-perfect and made the most of all the factors they had in play.

I didn’t think Sasha would win the title straight away like this, but I’m very glad it did, it made the match feel like a complete story, rather than chapter 1. They’re definitely going to be having a rematch sometime soon, but I’m not sure if that will involve some more trading of the belt. It’s one of those feuds that’s hard to speculate on, so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

1 – Roman Reigns(c) def. Jey Uso
(Universal Championship)
(Hell in a Cell)
(I Quit)

This was a masterpiece of storytelling.

I loved the match at Clash of Champions, and I wasn’t sure telling the same story again would be as effective, but man, they blew my expectations out of the water, this was beautiful.

It was a little light on action. There was some fun back-and-forth stuff in the first half, but the headline here is the second half of the match, where the action took a backseat to this fantastic story. We’ve seen the bond The Usos have with Roman over the years, they’ve worked together plenty of times before, and this story really impressed the importance of family in their culture. I felt the bond between these three men, even though they were beating the piss out of each other, the whole story felt real because we know that the familial bond is real.

Reigns’ acting was world-class. The way in which he ran through disappointment, frustration and remorse as he tried harder and harder to put Jey away. What was brilliant about it is that you could tell it wasn’t remorse over beating Jey senseless, it was remorse over the fact he knew he wasn’t going to stop beating Jey. Heyman’s small contributions were perfect too, the expressions on his face as things got more and more heartbreaking, the way he told Adam Pierce “He won’t listen to me!” as the violence reached its peak sold that moment so entirely.

Then there was the climax of the match. The way Roman broke down into tears as Jimmy laid over the unconscious body of his brother, what an image that was. Then there was the touch of Jimmy using his real name to try and get through to Roman, just that line of him saying “It’s Josh” is so powerful, and made the whole thing hit an emotional peak. Then, Roman put the final nail in the coffin, proving once and for all that he’s gone past the point of no return and has no intension of looking back, as he reveals his tears were all a ruse to drop Jimmy’s guard and get the result he wants.

The image of Roman flanked by Afa and Sika, holding the title aloft is the most powerful image of them all. Knowing all the hurt and heartbreak that Roman caused, and the dirty way in which he pulled it off, this is the best Roman Reigns has ever been (even better than his time in The Shield), and I can’t wait to see more of it.

And there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this. Please, let me know what you thought of the show, either in the comment below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure to come back here this time on Saturday, where I’ll be running down the best Treehouse of Horror episodes of The Simspsons!

WWE Hell in a Cell 2020: Predictions & Analysis

It’s October, so you know what that means…It means it’s time for everyone to get hardcore for no apparent reason, to varying degrees of success.

This is WWE’s one show a year where they either don’t bother or forget to announce more than a few matches, and we’re all left wondering what the hell’s going on. Currently, we’ve only got 5 matches announced, and I can only assume that they’ll hastily add 3 more Sunday morning.

Let’s do some predicting, shall we?

Jeff Hardy vs Elias

On the surface, this seems like a logical feud given past events, but when you take the time to think about it, you realise the whole thing’s bollocks.

I can see the logic behind Elias wanting to get revenge on Hardy for hitting him with a car…except for the fact that everyone knows it wasn’t Hardy who did it. There’s even footage of Sheamus admitting it and saying he framed Hardy. This means either Elias didn’t watch any WWE programming while he was out injured or he’s just a moron; your pick. On top of that, if Hardy’s trying to prove he didn’t hit Elias, ambushing him from behind isn’t exactly the best way to go about that, is it? Even if Elias is mistaken, he’s still technically just trying to get revenge on someone who wronged him, and Jeff’s being a bit of a prick about it.

I really don’t know if this match will be any good. Both men are definitely capable of putting on a great match, it’s just a matter of whether their styles will mesh adequately, and whether they’ll get a decent amount of time. I’m not sure who will win either. WWE hasn’t ever shown a great deal of interest in building Elias up, combine that with the fact that this just feels like a short feud to tie up some loose ends and I think Jeff Hardy is going to come out of this one with a quick and easy win.

Otis vs The Miz
(Otis’ Money in the Bank Briefcase is on the line)

When Otis won the Money in the Bank briefcase, I was cautiously optimistic. I didn’t believe he was ever going to actually win a world title, but the potential was there for him to do something fun/memorable. Then he disappeared from TV for ages. Since he’s come back, he’s been far less interesting than before he left and it made me realise that maybe it was actually just the Mandy Rose storyline that was making me like him. He’s still had sparks of good comedy here and there, but for the most part, I’ve not been interested in the man’s work at all.

If I’m being honest here, I feel the same way about The Miz too. A couple of years ago I was begging for Miz to be given another shot with a world title, but now I don’t really care. Rejoining with John Morrison was a highlight at first, but they lost their steam almost immediately, and now this vague bullying angle he’s taken with Otis isn’t holding my interest. On top of that, these are two men who’s styles don’t mesh well at all. I can’t see this match being any kind of great, the whole thing just doesn’t feel like it works.

Now, on the face of it, it seems like moving the briefcase from Otis to Miz would be a good idea, but the problem is, if Miz wins, what on Earth is he going to do with it? Roman Reigns isn’t losing that title until at least Wrestlemania, and it’s damn sure not going to be to The Miz of all people. I guess there’s a possibility that he could cash-in on whoever beats Reigns (fingers crossed that’s Big E), but that’s a very small window, and I doubt he’ll win. Even if Miz isn’t a great candidate, I don’t think anyone on the decision-making level of WWE care, they’ve just decided they don’t want it on Otis anymore and are taking it off of him. So The Miz is going to win, and probably spectacularly lose his cash-in whenever it happens.

Drew McIntyre(c) vs Randy Orton
(WWE Championship)
(Hell in a Cell)

After Clash of Champions, I really thought we were done with this. Not only has Drew beaten Randy twice now, but the Clash of Champions match pulled in all the elements of Randy’s story over 2020 and tied them all up in a neat little bow. I even said at the time that it felt like the finale in this series. Yet, here we are a month later, and the match is happening again.

I’m still enjoying the story, although it’s become a little bit stale by this point. Drew & Randy are still great at going at each other on the mic, and both men continue to feel like massive stars. While none of their matches blew me away, I’ve still enjoyed all of them, and I wouldn’t mind seeing what they make of a more brutal match like Hell in a Cell. There’s some potential for some suitably nasty stuff to go down, and it might be a nice way to end things.

However, I still have to pick a winner. For both their Summerslam and Clash of Champions match, I picked Drew despite my gut telling me Randy was going to win, and both times I was right. However, this time around, from pretty much the second the match was announced, I’ve been sure Randy’s winning. It’s the only possible reason I can think of as to why they’re still continuing this feud. Maybe they were initially hoping Drew could keep the title until crowds were back in arenas, but it’s become painfully clear that day isn’t even in sight yet. Plus, if the rumours true that WWE still want Randy vs Edge as the Wrestlemania main event next year, I can’t see any other outcome.

As much as I would prefer to see Drew keep the title, he’s definitely had a remarkable reign, and he’ll still be able to say he beat Randy twice, which isn’t nothing. I hate to do it, but I’m going against my heart here and picking Randy Orton to finally hold the title once more.

Roman Reigns(c) vs Jey Uso
(Universal Championship)
(Hell in a Cell)
(I Quit)

If all of the dirt sheets are to be believed, there were never plans for a rematch between these two, but I’m delighted we’re getting one. I adored the Clash of Champions match, and it definitely left room for the story to continue, and continue it has. The weekly TV for this feud hasn’t been as strong as it was last month, but I’ve still really enjoyed it. Now Uso feels a little more desperate to prove himself after getting his arse kicked at Clash, and the tensions between Uso & Roman are far closer to the surface than they were before.

The choice of an I Quit match is a brilliant one that plays perfectly of off the finish to their previous match, putting the decision to quit in Jey’s hands, not his brother’s. The addition of the Hell in a Cell is fine, I guess. It’s perhaps the most transparent case on the show of the cell being added purely because it’s the gimmick of the PPV, not because the feud actually needs it. That said, it definitely doesn’t detract from the match, so I can’t complain too much.

Once again, though, Roman Reigns is retaining, there’s no question. Nevermind how there’s no way Jey Uso could possibly win a world title right now, but there’s just no chance in hell that this new badass version of Roman Reigns could possibly say “I Quit”. It’s a case where the predictability of the outcome doesn’t really matter, though, because the match and story told within it is what makes this match an exciting prospect.

Bayley(c) vs Sasha Banks
(Smackdown Women’s Championship)
(Hell in a Cell)

Finally!

It took a hell of a long time to get here, but Bayley vs Sasha is finally happening on the main roster, and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve sung the praises of both women’s work over this past year, and that hasn’t changed now they’re fighting each other. The heat, the intensity and the excitement are all still there in spades, and I’m more than ready for the first landmark match in their feud.

I don’t think this will quite live up to their NXT matches, but that’s only because those matches are so untouchably amazing. In my opinion, Bayley vs Sasha from Takeover: Brooklyn is the single best women’s match of all time, and maybe even the best NXT Takeover match of all time, which is perhaps the highest bar there is to clear. Either way, I still think we’re in for a match of the year contender, these women have incredible chemistry in the ring, and the story is so hot that I’ll pop for just about anything.

There’s this little matter of picking the winner though, which is a tricky task. This feud is going to end with Sasha holding the title, that’s the only possible outcome of this whole endeavour, but I really don’t think they’d pull the trigger on it this quickly. Unless they’re planning on replicating the Sasha vs Charlotte feud from 2016, where they trade the belt about 8 times, it just doesn’t make sense for Sasha to get the big win so soon. It’ll probably be by dirty means (although, that might be a bit difficult given the stipulation) but I think Bayley is going to walk out with the title.

So there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this. Please, let me know what you think is going to happen on Sunday, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure to come back here on Monday where I’ll be reviewing the show, and this time on Saturday where I’ll be running down the best Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episodes!

NXT Takeover 31: Every Match Ranked

I knew I was right to not give up on Takeovers just yet, this was a lot more in line with what we liked them for! As it happens, I don’t think this show will be remembered all that much in the years to come, purely because there wasn’t any major story or event that stood out in the whole thing. Every champion retained, and the two big surprises will live or die on how they’re followed up on, so there’s not much to look back on in a year’s time. However, it was still a damn good night of wrestling, so let’s break it down.

5 – Damian Priest(c) def. Johnny Gargano
(North American Championship)

This is one of those cases where I have to specify that, even though it’s last, I still really liked this match. It’s just that all the other matches were even better.

After having a key role in the ladder match at Takeover 30, this was the first match where I’ve felt really impressed by what Priest has to offer. He’s had plenty of good matches up until now, of course, but this was the match where I got the feeling that he could properly hang with the best of the best in NXT. Gargano has finally settled into a style that captures the right balance between his heel & face styles. He’s still able to slow the pace, and make nastier moves, but without sacrificing the excitement of the match.

Priest winning was definitely the right decision. I’m a little confused as to why the referee seemed so concerned about the random security guys who were standing in a stupid position. Still, nevertheless, it gave Gargano an opening to do his thing. My only real concern is where Gargano goes from here. There’s no room for him in the NXT title scene at the moment, and he can’t keep hanging around the North American title like he has been most of the year. Personally, I’d think the best creative decision would be to leave him off TV for a while, so we can get excited about him when he’s back. However, I know that’s not realistic, so I just hope they’ve got a good non-title feud on the horizon for him.

Damian Priest, meanwhile, could fight just about anyone. He’s technically a heel, but this feud proved that doesn’t matter too much, and as long as it’s someone he gels well with, I’m sure the final product will be great.

4 – Io Shirai(c) def. Candice LaRae
(NXT Women’s Championship)

I didn’t expect this to seem like it was closing the book on the past year of NXT’s women’s division, but that’s the feeling I got coming out of it.

As expected, these two had all the chemistry you could want in the ring after all the times they’ve competed before. I will say that I don’t think it was either woman’s best work, but it was still an utter joy to watch. Io’s persona has shifted into a face a lot better than I thought it would, and her in-ring style has kept a definite edge to it that makes her feel different to what she was like a couple of years back. Candice, meanwhile, knows exactly what she’s doing, and exactly how to do it. I’d say she’s far better at working heel than her husband, which is a bit surprising considering how lovable she was as a face.

The headlines here though are about what happened after the match. First of all, Toni Storm kicked the door down and declared she’s coming for Io. This is brilliant, I’ve been waiting for Storm to break free of NXT UK and spread her wings here, so we should finally be getting to see her at her peak. The big surprise though was Ember Moon’s return. I honestly wasn’t sure if she’d ever wrestle again after the news of her various injuries, but now she’s back, and we’re going to get to see her fight Io, which is terrific. I think her underwhelming run with the title in 2017 made people forget just how amazing Moon can be, so hopefully, this will be a reminder.

3 – Kushia vs Velveteen Dream

This definitely wasn’t the match I was expecting from these two, so maybe that’s why I liked it so much.

Given Kushia & Dreams styles, I was expecting a highly technical affair. Both men have shown countless times that they can make mat-wrestling look very exciting, so I was settling in for a nice hefty dose of that when this match started. What I got instead though, was very interesting indeed. The pace was exceedingly quick throughout the whole match, as these two really tried to brutalize each other. Both of them came out of the gate with incredible energy that got me pumped for the rest of it.

Things eventually slowed down a bit, but it never lost the pace and energy that the beginning had built up, and it created the kind of back-and-forth contest that I haven’t seen in NXT for quite a while now. It definitely felt like Kushida controlled the match, but Dream was still able to look like an even match for the guy. They played around with the character work a lot, and I was wondering if they were trying to cast a shadow on the heel/face rolls, and if the aftermath is anything to go by, I think I may have been right.

I’m not sure if this would count as an out-right heel turn for Kushida, but I definitely wouldn’t be against it if that was the way they wanted to go. With Undisputed Era having turned face, it’s left a bit of a hole at the top of the card for heels, and I’d be excited to see what Kushida could do with such a role.

2 – Finn Balor(c) def. Kyle O’Reilly
(NXT Championship)

Kyle O’Reilly is a singles star now, it’s as simple as that. Anyone who already followed O’Reilly’s career already knew that he was a fantastic singles competitor, but to finally see it manifest in NXT is wonderful.

I was resistant to Balor’s heel style when he first started having featured singles matches in NXT, but I’ve absolutely come around to it now. I tend to prefer the fast-paced and flashy styles, but I think over the past year I’ve learned to appreciate the slower, hard-hitting styles that someone like Balor can produce. It makes for a match that feels weighty, where every move has a meaningful impact, and the story is allowed to flourish.

The way they structured this match got to show all of O’Reilly’s strengths as a performer and, by extension, Balor’s strength as a champion. People had already fallen in love with his charm – stuff like his belt air-guitar – but here we got to see a very sympathetic side to him. When a character like O’Reilly is a heel, it’s scarce that we see them struggle. The only time that he could be classed as ‘struggling’ as a heel, we’re too busy cheering because we’re happy he’s getting beaten up. I got the clear idea in this story that, Balor had the edge and was the better competitor overall, but O’Reilly was ready to give him one hell of a fight.

It was precisely the kind of feeling you need for an upcoming face. It felt like last night, Balor was the better man, but on any other night soon, it could very easily have gone the other way.

1 – Santos Escobar(c) def. Isaiah “Swerve” Scott
(Cruiserweight Championship)

This is the first time since the Cruiserweight Classic in 2016 that I feel like the Cruiserweight Division is living up to its potential.

This was honestly everything you could ever want from a cruiserweight match. It wasn’t super-heavy on high-flying action, but it didn’t particularly need to be. It gave us a healthy dose of the hyper-athletic stuff but didn’t bear down on us constantly with it. I think this ability to hold back from being super flashy all the time is what allowed the story of the match to properly grasp me and become my favourite match of the night.

This is one of those rare cases where the interference enhanced the story of the match and made it more exciting. I know one other match had interference last night, but the way they balanced it before quickly and efficiently disposing of it was far better than the other example. The thing with putting the Cruiserweights in a meaningful Takeover match for the first time is that you have to impress upon the audience that there’s more to the division than just the two guys you’re currently seeing. This interference did that, I don’t really know much about any of these characters, but I absolutely want to know more now I’ve seen this match.

The near-falls scattered throughout were a lot of fun. I know many people don’t like a bunch of false-finishes, but I always have been, and always will be a sucker for a good kickout. If this is the template for the Cruiserweight division from here on out in NXT, then I’m all-in, because this was brilliant.

And there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this. Please, let me know what you thought of the show, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure to come back this time on Saturday, where I’ll be counting down the worst ever Treehouse of Horror episodes of The Simpsons.

WWE Clash of Champions 2020: Every Match Ranked

Clash of Champions (GOLD RUSH!) is behind us for another year, and I’m not entirely sure what to make of it. There were three matches that I’d say were good, and that I enjoyed, while the other 5 matches were just…there. None of them were terrible, but they all failed to get me excited for one reason or another, and I imagine most will be forgotten to history very quickly.

Regardless, let’s break it down match by match and see what rose to the top.

8 – Asuka def. Bayley(c) via Disqualification
(Smackdown Women’s Championship)

Well, this was a bit of a bummer, but it wasn’t WWE’s fault, so I’m not going to be too harsh on it.

I’ve no idea what’s going on with the women who weren’t cleared to compete. It could’ve been an injury, it could’ve been COVID, or it could just be a cold, and they were being careful. Either way, I don’t think there’s much point speculating, however, it did back WWE into a bit of a corner. This is “the one night of the year where every championship MUST be defended” after all. Aside from cleverly changing the tagline to “every match is for a championship”, WWE still needed Bayley to have a match so they could hit the story beats in the Bayley/Sasha story.

Ultimately, I think it would’ve been better to have someone like Naomi or Lacey Evans come out and take a quick loss, but at least having Asuka come out was a more interesting choice. The DQ loss was a bit weird, especially considering Asuka disappeared immediately after, they could’ve just had Sasha attack Bayley to end the match instead.

It was a rubbish situation, and I don’t blame WWE for having to scramble something together, but there was little action in the match, and it ended on a DQ, so it’s got to go last.

7 – Bobby Lashley(c) def. Apollo Crews
(United States Championship)

Was it just me, or did these two not click very well tonight? It seemed like there were a lot of moments where the timing and communication between them seemed really off in the ring. There was a couple of times where Lashley went to bump way too early on Crews’ offence (or vice versa) and had to readjust. There was some enjoyable stuff, though, I especially liked the opening, where the two kept powering up against each other, and there have been enough moving elements surrounding this story to hold my attention.

At the end of the day, I’m not going to care or remember this match once I’ve finished writing about it, and I definitely think it’s time to see some fresh faces in the US title scene.

6 – Asuka(c) def. Zelina Vega
(Raw Women’s Championship)

Well, I’m thrilled that this got moved off of the pre-show, but they’d clearly only planned for a short pre-show style match.

There were highlights though, I liked the fact that Vega wasn’t just squashed by Asuka (even though she probably should’ve been). I’ve said for ages that Vega is a much bigger and better talent than WWE treat her as, and I hope little performances like this will start to make the wider audience (and those in the back) realise that she’s more than just a great talker/manager. She can go in the ring too.

I’d love to have something more complex to say about this match, but that’s really it. The action was fine while it was happening, but I’m never going to have a desire to go back to it.

5 – The Street Profits(c) def. Andrade & Angel Garza
(Raw Tag Team Championships)

Well, I still can’t say I was excited to see it, but I think this may have been the best match these two have had (the finish notwithstanding). I suppose it’s bound to happen when you have to wrestle almost every week for six months, but there was a clear feeling of chemistry between the two teams. They told a pretty standard story in the ring, but the action felt very smooth, and the build to the hot-tags got me into the flow of the match.

Sadly, the finish is the only thing anyone will remember. I don’t know what the official word is on what happened, but watching it back, it looks pretty clear to me that Garza messed up his leg. Clearly, this meant some sort of finished had to be improvised pretty quickly, but it feels like the referee didn’t communicate his plans to the wrestlers (or vice versa) and it all went a bit wrong. It’s disappointing – and means that we’re going to have to do this match again once Garza’s healed – but this is what happens on live wrestling shows sometimes.

As I said, I was into the match up until that point, and I guess keeping the belts on The Street Profits is a good idea. I just hope that the draft in a couple of weeks gives them at least one other team to fight.

4 – Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura(c) vs Lucha House Party
(Smackdown Tag Team Championships)
(Kickoff Show)

I don’t know if it’s just because the fact it was on the pre-show lowered my expectations, but I found this match rather enjoyable. It was nothing extraordinary or even particularly memorable, but I distinctly remember feeling pleasantly surprised as I watched it. Which isn’t something I often feel for a pre-show match.

I think it’s odd how they didn’t really commit to the story of dissension in the Lucha House Party, but I think it made for a better match. The teamwork between Dorado & Kalisto was a lot of fun to watch, and there were a few really cool spots in there. I really liked the moment when Kalisto was being held by Cesaro, only for Daraod to perform a diving push to give Kalisto the momentum to finish the DDT. Cesaro & Nakamura aren’t forming as nicely as I’d hoped they would though. I think they need to go with a more brutal style to really take advantage of their respective strengths.

I’m not surprised that they retained, but a title change would’ve been nice. I feel like the interesting story is with Lucha House Party right now, and giving them the titles would’ve put a bigger spotlight on that.

3 – Drew McIntyre(c) def. Randy Orton
(WWE Championship)
(Ambulance)

This felt like a nice little wrap-up of Randy Orton’s story in 2020.

It depends on what you like in your wrestling as to how much you’ll have enjoyed this match. As someone who tends to favour the action, I was slightly underwhelmed, however, the story it told was a gripping one. I’ll admit, when the Big Show appeared to attack Orton, I was quite confused and even more confused when he disappeared just as quickly. Given Drew’s response to it happening, I wondered if we were going to see Drew turn heel during this match. Then Christian showed up, and it became apparent what was going on, and once I understood the story they were trying to tell, I started enjoying it a lot more.

They did about as much as they could’ve with the ambulance gimmick, but if we’re being honest, that’s not much. The visual of Drew’s hand reaching out of the ambulance and forcing the door open was cool, but I’m not sure it was worth the slog that surrounded it. The action wasn’t the focus, though, so it didn’t matter. Instead, this was a story that pulled together the loose threads from Orton’s rise to power this past year. Not only with Drew giving him the punt kick and sending off to Smackdown (probably), but seeing all of the legends he’s wronged was a lot of fun.

You could argue it made Drew weak to need all this help, but I’d disagree. Orton’s done some truly despicable things over the past year, and to see everyone come back to kick his ass felt quite cathartic. It’s the classic storytelling trope of the villain finally getting what’s been coming to them all year. Sure, the visual of Ric Flair gleefully driving the ambulance away might be a bit goofy, but it’s a satisfying conclusion to the story. At least until Edge returns for the rubber match.

2 – Sami Zayn def. Jeff Hardy(c) & AJ Styles
(Intercontinental Championship)
(Ladder)

I expected this one to place highly going into it, but I honestly didn’t expect it to be because of Sami’s antics more than the action of the match. The action was good, of course, but it definitely wasn’t what this match will be remembered for. Hardy’s jumped off plenty of ladders in his time, and we all know the crazy stuff Styles is capable of, but never before have we seen handcuffs used so creatively, let alone in a ladder match.

It was utter genius. Firstly, handcuffing by Hardy’s earlobe is horrific, and so much better than the twisting screwdriver Orton did a few years ago (which wouldn’t have even been painful). Pile on that the fact that he was handcuffed to a ladder, and it made for some tense action. Then there was how Zayn used the handcuffs against Styles. First of all, I LOVE the shit-eating grin Zayn got on his face when Styles realised he handcuffed the two of them together. I adore this man, but in moments like those he becomes the most punchable person on the planet, it’s masterful stuff.

I’m not sure where Zayn goes with the title from here, but I’m very excited about it. I’d imagine the first port of call would be a singles feud with Jeff Hardy, one where he undoubtedly uses underhanded tactics to win. From there, the whole world is wide open for Sami, but I’m sure it’ll be wonderfully entertaining.

1 – Roman Reigns(c) def. Jey Uso
(Universal Championship)

This is how you turn a bad guy into a monster.

This match turned Roman Reigns into the new Brock Lesnar in all the best ways. It took the best elements from his style of matches and merged them with the brilliant story being told in order to create something that feels new.

The match was paced to perfection. The slow beatdown of Jey for the first third of the match didn’t feel like a bore for a second. Reigns carried himself and moved in the ring like a badass, and I felt gripped by his performance. He’s a guy with a gigantic chip on his shoulder and will take any opportunity to exert his dominance. Jey’s comeback came at just the right time and lasted just long enough to give everyone an optimistic sense of false hope. Much like when people such as Styles & Bryan fought Brock Lesnar, we knew Jey was never going to win, but we want to believe, and that’s what this comeback let us do. It helps that Reigns is one of the best at timing a kickout for the very last second.

Then, there was the final segment. Reigns taking control via an incredibly subtle, but utterly glorious low-blow was such a brilliant touch. Then, the heartbreaking descent into the end of Jey Uso, at least, it would’ve been if no-one had stopped him. As Reigns bore down on Jey, screaming at him and beating him senseless, it felt so very weighty and meaningful. Reigns’ change in attitude has been great fun to watch over the past month, but here is where he became a real bastard. Jimmy throwing in the towel was terrific too, it only serves to put emphasis on just how much Reigns doesn’t give a shit about anything other than getting his way. The truth of it was, I really felt like Reigns would’ve reduced Jey to a bloody mess if Jimmy hadn’t stopped him. The image of Jimmy scrambling in the ring to shield Jey’s body with his own was glorious and will cement Reigns as the bad guy to end all bad guys for the rest of this generation.

If you wanted a flashy, high-action match, then you might’ve been disappointed, but when you take the time to step back and look at the fantastic story that was told here, you should be able to appreciate it on a whole other level.

And there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this post. Please, let me know what you thought of the show, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure to come back this time next week, where I’ll be covering NXT Takeover: 31!

WWE Clash of Champions 2020: Predictions & Analysis

Man, the end of summer/start of autumn has been absolutely packed with wrestling. Between WWE, NXT & AEW from August through October, there will have been 6 Pay-Per-Views in the space of 10 weeks, which is a lot of wrestling. That number would be even higher if I dedicated myself to watching NJPW on a regular basis, but I think if I did that I’d burn out completely.

Focusing on WWEland today, it’s the one night of the year where every championship is on the line. Funnily enough, this has actually become a big deal again, since there are now 9 titles on WWE’s main roster. If anything, I’m worried that several of the matches aren’t going to get the time they need to breathe.

Asuka(c) vs Zelina Vega
(Raw Women’s Championship)
(Kickoff)

You’ve got to be kidding me. The Raw Women’s title, the title that main-evented Wrestlemania not two years ago, is on the kickoff show?

This is an absolute disgrace. These are titles that are supposed to be on-par with the men’s world titles, and this is how it’s getting treated? Especially while Street Profits vs Andrade & Garza, a match we’ve seen about 12 times since the spring, gets to be on the main show. Even if you put aside what an insult it is to the prestige of the title, you’ve got Asuka, one of WWE’s most popular acts right now, slumming it on the part of the show nobody watches. My main problem though is that this is Zelina Vega’s big moment, her chance to show the wider audience that she’s actually been a great wrestler this whole time. I’ve always railed against WWE’s refusal to let Vega wrestle regularly, and now they’re finally giving her a shot but doing their damnedest to bury it.

Usually, I’d say I’m excited about this match, but given that it’s been relegated to the kickoff show, I doubt it’ll get any longer than 8 minutes. I’m sure we can all expect a paint-by-numbers face vs heel match where we don’t get to see anything remarkable; because all that time WWE spent patting themselves on the back about how progressive they are was all just empty words.

Asuka will retain, and I’ll continue to be grumpy about the placement of this match.

The Street Profits(c) vs Andrade & Angel Garza
(Raw Tag Team Championships)

I cannot even pretend to care at this point. Seriously, who still gives a shit about this match? These two teams have been feuding on and off since Wrestlemania, and they’ve not done a single unique or interesting thing with it. If you’ve ever wanted proof that WWE doesn’t care about tag team wrestling, this should be all the proof you’ve ever need. Nothing has changed with any of these teams this year, Andrade & Garza are still flipping between working perfectly as a team and hating each other’s guts week-on-week with no explanation, and I don’t have the capability to care about any of it anymore.

Andrade & Angel Garza to win, because they don’t, what has been the point of all of this? Meanwhile, I’m going to sit here and pray to every God anyone’s ever believed in that WWE find a new tag team to fight for the titles.

Oh, I guess Retribution could get involved, but after their laughably bad debut on Monday, I wouldn’t care if I never saw them again.

Shinsuke Nakamura & Cesaro(c) vs Lucha House Party
(Smackdown Tag Team Championships)

I’ve come around on Lucha House Party in recent months. Now WWE has tried to book them as something other than a generic pack of luchadores there’s something quite charming to their performance. Of course, this means that WWE is teasing a break-up because WWE doesn’t know how to write a story for a tag team other than making them hate each other. Nakamura & Cesaro are working well as tag champs, I think they could end up with a dynamic similar to that of The Bar, which was one of my favourite tag teams while they were together.

Picking winner is a tough call. I’d say the smart money is on the champions retaining, but I’m going to be picking a lot of champions to retain throughout these predictions. As I highly doubt WWE would put every title on the line, only to have everyone retain, I’d say this is the match most likely to have the titles change hands. So I’m going with Lucha House Party to balance things out.

Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler(c) vs The Riott Squad
(Women’s Tag Team Championships)

I was hesitant when Jax & Baszler first paired up. I’ve never been a huge fan of Jax, and I thought Baszler was the kind of character that only works when dominating on her own. However, this tag team seems to have brought a lot of positive stuff out of both women. I like the dynamic of two people who aren’t exactly friends, but they have a mutual understanding that they work well together in the ring. The match at Payback between them, and Banks & Bayley was really good, and it showcased what a pair of ass-kickers these two can be.

Hopefully, that is a pattern that will continue into this match. The Riott Squad are good, but I don’t have much reason to be invested in them right now. It looked like they might’ve been doing something interesting with Liv Morgan as a singles competitor for a little while, but now they’ve just slapped her back with Ruby. Of course, if the alternative was not even being on TV, then I’m glad they’re getting a spot on a show like this, but that still doesn’t mean I’m overly interested in their antics.

I think the match will be an enjoyable one, but Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler are definitely coming out on top. Jax & Baszler have only just won the titles, and they feel like the kind of team that needs to tear through the entire division before we even think about taking the titles off of them.

Bobby Lashley(c) vs Apollo Crews
(United States Championship)

I feel like I’ve already said everything I can possibly say about this feud. It’s another that’s gone on for too long by this point. However, unlike Profits vs Andrade & Garza, this is a story that has actually had a few twists and turns along the way to make things interesting.

I’m not sure what to make of Alexander joining The Hurt Business. Right now, it’s fine, because he’s the hot-button topic of the day, but I have a feeling he’s more likely to fade into a role similar to Benjamin, where he’s just kind of…there. That’s my main worry with The Hurt Business, is that it’s just a vehicle to get Bobby Lashley over, with little regard for the others. Regardless of my speculation, that has minimal bearing on this match, which could be a lot of fun if it’s given the time. There’s a good dynamic between Lashley & Crews’ styles, plus, there’s room for a whole host of outside shenanigans to make this a wild ride.

I’m pretty confident in picking Bobby Lashley to win though. It’s not outside of the realm of possibility that Crews could win the title back, but I honestly don’t see the point. Crews had a good run with the belt, but if Lashley wants to stick around as a force to be reckoned with on Raw, he needs to keep that title for a while.

Bayley(c) vs Nikki Cross
(Smackdown Women’s Championship)

This feels very placeholder. Two stories are surrounding this match, both of which have very little to do with Bayley & Cross being in direct conflict.

Firstly, there’s Bayley & Sasha’s feud. I don’t want to pass any judgement on it yet, because it’s still in its infancy, but I’m liking what I’m seeing so far. If anything, I wish Bayley didn’t have to defend her title on this show so we could focus 100% on building it. I doubt many would disagree with me when I say that a Hell in a Cell match next month is where things are headed between the two, so I’m hoping to see Sasha show up and bite back at Bayley, either on Sunday or next week on Smackdown.

Then there’s the storyline between Bliss & Cross. There’s a lot of theories floating around as to what exactly The Fiend did to Bliss’ mind, and quite honestly, your guess is as good as mine in this instance. Either way, I’ve enjoyed the way they’ve been telling it. For someone with such an expressive face, I’m surprised how well Bliss has been able to pull off the vacant expression that comes with her reaction The Fiend’s name, and Cross has been playing off of it well. I get the feel from Cross of someone’s who’s concerned for their friend, but also desperate to progress their own career and focus on their title match.

Ultimately, I think the situation surrounding Alexa Bliss will cause Cross to lose focus on Sunday and allow Bayley to retain. People can sit around and cry about how Bayley vs Sasha ‘doesn’t need the title’, but I’ve never agreed with that mentality. The Bayley vs Sasha feud is a massive story on its own, but the title adds another layer of depth to things and turns it into the main-event rivalry it should be.

Jeff Hardy(c) vs AJ Styles vs Sami Zayn
(Intercontinental Championship)
(Ladder)

I mean…do I really need to say anymore?

Let’s break this down. We’ve got Jeff Hardy, a wrestler with endless charisma and an in-ring style that pushes him to constant do crazy stuff, especially when ladders are involved. We’ve got AJ Styles, one of, if not the very best technical wrestler of this, or any other generation who can pull a 4-star or better match out of his arse whenever he wants to. We’ve got Sami Zayn, an incredible wrestler with an explosive style and some of the best character work I’ve seen in WWE all year. Finally, we have a whole lot of ladders, surely you don’t need me to do the maths on this one?

As much as I was disappointed that Zayn couldn’t continue his IC title run in the spring, I was pleased with what we ended up with instead. Between Bryan, Styles, Riddle & Hardy, there’s been a lot to enjoy from the IC title scene this summer, even if it barely ever got onto a PPV. This match just looks to be a continuation of that, the pieces are still floating around right now, but once we’re past this match, I’m expecting a lot of great singles matches in this division.

It’s a little harder to predict this match, though. I don’t think it’ll be Styles, he’s already had his run, and his loss against Hardy was a good way to put a cap on it. Zayn winning the title back is a possibility, but I feel like it might be overplaying the hand. Plus, I’m not sure backstage will be wanting to put a title on Zayn after he took time off for COVID (even if WWE said they wouldn’t punish people). As such, Jeff Hardy retaining makes the most sense in my mind. The whole story since his return has been about his second chance, so holding that title until at least the end of the year feels like the right way to go.

Drew McIntyre(c) vs Randy Orton
(WWE Championship)
(Ambulance)

This feud as really solidified Drew’s title reign for me. I think that, no matter what happens going forward, Drew is a made man for life in WWE after the run he’s had, and the work he’s done in this feud specifically. The situation surrounding the Punt Kicks and Drew’s reaction to them have made him look like a bloody superhero, and while I doubt fans will be back in arenas anytime soon when they are, they will roar in support for the guy. Orton’s been on an absolute tear too, he’s turned all the motivation into some genuinely thrilling TV, and he even found the time to put over Keith Lee in the middle of it all.

I don’t know how this match is going to go down, but personally, I hope they turn the brutality up to maximum. This is one of those situations where I think a slow-paced, weapons-based match is actually exactly what the story needs. Whether it’ll be fun to watch depends on how well that story is told, but based on their previous work, I’m optimistic.

However, there’s the small matter of the result. I really don’t know. Once again, I feel like the smart money says Orton, but I just can’t see it. There’s something about the visual of Drew being thrown in the ambulance that just doesn’t sit right with me, especially given what he’s already been through this month. I don’t know how it’ll go down, but my gut is telling me that Drew McIntyre is going to retain. I’d like it to be clean, but if we’re going a bit out-of-the-box, maybe this is when Edge returns to attack Orton and set up a Hell in a Cell match.

There’s a whole world of possibility, but I’m going with my gut and picking Drew.

Roman Reigns(c) vs Jey Uso
(Universal Championship)

In today’s episode of “What?! Hell yeah! ….what?” we have one of The Usos fighting for a world title. This was very much a case of not knowing how badly I wanted something until I got it. The truth is if you want to establish the edge that this new version of Roman has, what better way to do it? The old Roman Reigns was all about honour, respect & family, so why not devise a scenario where he gets to beat the shit out of all three at once?

The build to this has been incredible. The touch of Heyman & Roman being the ones to get Jey into the 4-way match was perfect, and it’s created a scenario where we’re just waiting for Roman to utterly destroy Jey. The writing team have done a great job of letting all that tension simmers in the background while Roman & Jey deal with other problems. It’s been said by plenty of people by now, but the shot of Roman’s face dropping from a smile into a menacing stare as Uso turned his back was masterful acting.

All of those factors are going to make for a truly tragic tale when Roman Reigns turns Uso into a bloody smear on the canvas come Sunday. This is probably the most predictable match of the night, but it’s with good reason. Getting Roman to properly annihilate Jey will establish the monster that Roman is now. The kind of guy that doesn’t care about doing things ‘the right way’ anymore, and just goes with what works. It’s the version of Roman we’ve wanted to see for years, and it’s finally here.

So there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this, please let me know what you think is going to happen on Sunday, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo! Finally, make sure to come back early next week for my review of the show!