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)


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!

The Best Opening Matches in WWE Pay-Per-View History

“If you can’t go on last, go on first”

The opening match of any wrestling show is arguably the most important of the whole night, while the main event is almost always the biggest, most important match of the show that everyone will be talking about the next day, the opening match is what sets the tone for the show going forward and often decides whether or not any given individual will keep watching the show the whole way through. As such, there have been plenty of absolute barn-burners and all-time classic matches that held the prestigious spot of being the first thing the live audience got to see.

To be clear here, I am not counting pre-show or dark matches in this list as these are usually put on before the full crowd has even entered the building and a large portion of the home viewing audience haven’t switched on. I’m instead referring to the first match to take place on the main portion of a WWE Pay-Per-View. This also means NXT Takeovers don’t count because let’s be honest, that wouldn’t be fair.

With that clarification made, let’s take a look at the best of these show openers.

10 – Daniel Bryan vs Dolph Ziggler – Bragging Rights 2010

Trust me, this isn’t the last time Daniel Bryan is going to appear on this list.

While the concept of Bragging Rights was one that would eventually bleed over into the annual Survivor Series event – and be much better off for it – looking back at the history of the two incarnations of the event, there was only ever one great match between the two of them and this was it.

Although the IWC (myself included) have all gotten a bit bored with Dolph Ziggler as a wrestler, there was once a time where he was one of the only bright stars in a sea of boring characters and dull wrestling matches. In fact, with the exception of CM Punk, it’s arguable that Bryan & Ziggler were the only two “internet darlings” in the company at the time so naturally, a clash between the two of them was always going to be something special.

What this match is, is two brilliant wrestlers that have flamboyant and exciting wrestling styles going at each other in a match that very rarely lets up to catch its breath. There are some slightly wonky elements, with Vickie Guerrero’s presence at ringside occasionally causing a break in the action and a weird non-finish where Ziggler got a three-count because the referee didn’t see Bryan’s foot on the rope, only for the decision to be waived off and the match continued.

Luckily, none of those issues stopped the match from having a healthy serving of quick back-and-forth action and near falls to ramp up the excitement and get the crowd on their feet for a show that, in the grand scheme of things, really wasn’t much to write home about.

9 – Brock Lesnar(c) vs Seth Rollins –   Wrestlemania 35
(Universal Championship)

This was more of a great moment than a match, however, a bell did ring, so it counts.

Wrestlemania 35 was a show full of crowd please, triumphant moments for the babyfaces and it made sure to spread them evenly throughout the show, this meant that when the show was just starting, we already had ourselves an exciting moment. After the US National Anthem played and Hulk Hogan was…there, Paul Heyman stormed to the ring and declared that if Brock Lesnar wasn’t going to be in the main event, then he was going to have his match now and get an early night.

It’s easy to forget now, but at this point, just about everyone was fully behind Seth Rollins as a babyface who was ready to slay the beast and finally take the Universal Championship away from Lesnar. WWE managed to not only pull it off brilliantly but do it in perhaps the most exciting way possible, with Lesnar beating down Rollins before he made a sudden comeback to pin the beast and win the title in just two and a half minutes.

Paralleling the moment from Wrestlemania 31 where he swiped the WWE Championship from under Brock Lesnar’s nose, Wrestlemania 35 opened up with Rollins swinging world title gold above his head in a moment that had me on my feet with excitement at home.

8 – The Miz(c) vs Seth Rollins vs Finn Balor – Wrestlemania 34
(Intercontinental Championship)

Triple threat matches on WWE PPVs can be a bit hit and miss depending on the participants involved. These kinds of matches need to be fast-paced and varied in their action, so when you’ve got a bunch of slow, lumbering guys in there it just doesn’t work, luckily, the three men in this match were quite the opposite. Rollins & Balor were allowed to completely let loose here, flying all over the place, keeping the excitement flowing the whole time.

The Miz couldn’t keep up with the pace of the other two, but he didn’t need to. Instead, The Miz was the perfect person to provide much more grounded action, stopping the whole thing from spiralling out of control with non-stop dives. The action between the three men had a nice sense of flow, with each combination of men in the ring had a slightly different feel to their fighting style.

There was a nice helping of storytelling in there too as The Miz attempted to renounce his evil ways (even if it didn’t last) sparing us from any interference by The Miztourage. As well as Balor & Rollins being so determined to one-up each other that at several occasions it almost allowed The Miz to slip away with the win. That didn’t happen though as eventually Seth Rollins came out the victor and spent the rest of 2018 in what I believe – from an in-ring standpoint at least – was the best year of his career so far.

7 – The Usos(c) vs The Wyatt Family – Battleground 2014
(WWE Tag Team Championships)
(2 out of 3 Falls)

A match that has been largely forgotten by time here and I can’t exactly say I blame people for that, I sure as shit can’t remember a single other thing that happened at Battleground 2014.

Looking back at 2014 today feels like looking into an alternate dimension, it’s all the wrestlers we know and love today, but not quite as we know them; case in point, The Usos. By mid-2014 I was fully into the world of WWE and I very vividly remember not giving much of a shit about The Usos. Their “tribal chanting” thing sat on the wrong side of goofy to me and, in all honesty, I didn’t see their appeal as wrestlers at all. This was the match that woke me up to the fact that these guys might actually be the amazing tag team we’ve seen over the past few years.

Pretty much everything I love about modern tag-team wrestling features in this match, the early stages where one team isolates the other didn’t last too long and once the match descended into chaos, it ebbed and flowed in such a way that allowed for natural peaks and troughs in the action that aligned with my energy levels as a viewer. The 2 out of 3 falls stipulation did wonders for the pace, allowing the action to slow all the way down at certain points before slowly building the energy and excitement up again.

I highlighted The Uso’s performance, but Harper & Rowan’s contributions to the match cannot be understated either. I know it’s common knowledge now, but at the time I didn’t realise how brilliant of a wrestler Luke Harper could be and Erick Rowan served his purpose as a slower big-guy too. The chemistry between the two teams was near-flawless and it’s one of those situations where everything came together to create a match that had just about all you could want from pure tag team wrestling.

6 – Bad News Barrett(c) vs Dean Ambrose vs Dolph Ziggler vs Daniel Bryan vs R-Truth vs Luke Harper vs Stardust – Wrestlemania 31
(Intercontinental Championship)

Wrestlemania needs more of these, I mean, what else is the Cruiserweight title for these days?

Multi-man ladder matches are always pretty solid bets to get a crowd excited, but this one went above and beyond in terms of pure entertainment value. Everyone in this match served their own unique role that contributed to the break-neck pace of this match. You had Barrett coming in as the heel champion, Ambrose as the hungry challenger that isn’t afraid to get violent, Ziggler a face-technician that can bump like no-one else, Bryan who was making his big return and was beloved by everyone, Truth who was the comedy, Harper who was an all-rounder that could fill any role he needed to in the match and Stardust…who…well, let’s not talk about that.

When you’ve got such a huge variety of characters & wrestling styles colliding like this it’s always going to be an interesting watch and the action in this match was constant. There was very little room to breathe, but the amount of variety of people constantly coming in and out of the ring meant that it constantly felt like the match was being refreshed and doing something different. Just about everyone got a moment where they almost won the match and they were scattered through the match in just the right way to keep the tension rolling over with every single spot.

Speaking of spots, there’s just about every kind of ladder match spot you could want. We had people doing dives onto people and ladders; ladders would be sung around and smack people in the face; there was a big dive onto a sea of people and there was even a brutal looking powerbomb from the ring, to the outside, through a ladder. The finish was extremely crowd-pleasing, with Ziggler & Bryan fighting it out on the top until one of them fell to their doom and it kicked off Wrestlemania 31 with a massively crowd-pleasing win in the form of Daniel Bryan claiming his first reign with the Intercontinental Championship.

5 – Daniel Bryan vs Bray Wyatt – Royal Rumble 2014

While this match is generally remembered as a great one, I think the feud surrounding it is incredibly strange. This feud happened slap-bang in the middle of Bryan’s ascension to the top of WWE and was very much during the phase where WWE was trying everything they could to make sure it didn’t happen. After Bryan suffered yet another disappointing loss to Randy Orton, he found himself under attack from The Wyatt Family. For some reason, CM Punk decided he’d help out and they got the win…so feud over right? Well, apparently not as Wyatt continued their assault, focusing on Bryan as CM Punk had to deal with The Shield.

This led to a 3 on 1 match at TLC where Bryan got destroyed and eventually a slightly interesting, but also slightly bungled, storyline developed where Bryan seemed to join the Wyatt Family. While the moment where Bryan finally broke free from Wyatt was fantastic and led to arguably the best “Yes!” chant in history, it was a bit weird how the entire thing just consisted of Bryan & Bray losing to The Usos for 3 weeks.

Regardless of that, it brought us to this match. A match that was fantastic.  Bray’s style at the time was less of the slow & brutal that we see with The Fiend nowadays, instead, being a lot more frantic and fast-paced; he would still take his time when he got the opportunity to pick his opponent apart, but there was a much greater feeling of urgency to things. This played perfectly for Bryan’s style which was also pretty fast but focussed more on being plucky than being heavy-handed.

On top of the action being top-notch, they hit on some great story beats referencing the entirety of their rivalry up until that point. It had so many of those little touches that we only ever expect to see in NXT Takeover matches these days. Not only did this match help the rise of Bryan’s popularity amongst the fanbase, but it also put Bray Wyatt on the map in terms of the fans seeing him as a brilliant wrestler that could hang with all of their indie darlings.

4 – The New Day(c) vs The Usos – Hell in a Cell 2017
(Smackdown Tag Team Championships)
(Hell in a Cell)

Easily one of the best feuds of the past five years, this match was just one of the series of incredible bouts these two teams put on throughout 2017 and into early 2018 and this was arguably the best of the bunch.

By this point in 2017, The New Day and The Usos had wrestled each other on TV & PPV countless times and at face value, it would seem like that’s a recipe for disaster. Normally in WWE, when a feud lasts as long as this one did, people get bored of it and their later matches are met with indifference regardless of how good they actually are (see the Reigns vs Corbin feud from late 2019/early 2020 for proof of this). So, these two teams had to find a way to get p[eople to turn their heads and care about the fact that they’re fighting on PPV for the 4th time in the past year. Luckily, they were absolutely up to the task.

Up until this point in their feud, the two teams had done a great job of making each match feel slightly different in terms of its flow and rhythm, while still keeping up incredible action that got fans onto their feet. After rocking pre-shows and midcards for the better part of 6 months, these two teams were finally rewarded for their stellar work by getting the opportunity to create absolute magic, climaxing their now legendary feud in a Tag Team Hell in a Cell match for the ages.

Needless the say the action was damn-near flawless. Every movement in the match felt like it had so much thought and purpose behind it from the competitors. I often decry weapons matches as being boring, but the two teams here put the tools at their disposal to good use, scattering weapons in as exclamation points for the match, but never making them the focal point. Every inch of the cell was used to full effect and we saw some genuinely new and innovative spots like The New Day trapping one of the Usos in the corner of the cell by building a mini-prison out of kendo sticks. The Hell in a Cell stipulation is one that I think had been extremely played out at this point, but these guys did a fantastic job of finding fresh and interesting things to do with it.

The drama was also through the roof. From the moment the bell rang and the two teams start absolutely wailing on each other, there was so much intensity that absolutely did the epic scale of their feud justice. There were some truly ludicrous kickouts (in a good way) and the final segment where Xavier Woods tried his damndest to fend off both Usos while handcuffed is just brilliant and forged a sense of respect between the two teams that has lasted for years after the fact. Not to mention cemented both of these teams as two of the best tag teams on the planet.

3 – Kurt Angle vs Rey Mysterio – Summerslam 2002

See? I have watched wrestling outside of the past decade. Admittedly, it would’ve been hard to justify missing out what is undoubtedly an all-time classic Summerslam match.

Rey Mysterio had been in WWE for less than a month at this point and while the majority of the audience at the time knew who he was from his time at the forefront of WCW’s Cruiserweight Division, this was his first major opportunity to make a huge impact on the WWE and show that he was here to stay and hadn’t missed a beat since the WCW days. So, if you’ve got a highly-skilled technical wrestler who needs an opportunity to look great showing off everything they can do, who do you put them with? How about the greatest technical wrestler of the generation? Enter Kurt Angle.

Angle was coming off the back of an excellent feud with The Rock and The Undertaker going into Summerslam 2002 where he had often found himself the butt of the joke. He still got ample opportunity to look like a legitimate competitor, but the match at Vengeance treated him more like a third wheel, where his character elements are what really made him shine. So, this felt like a bit of a reset for his character, a newcomer had just shown up and handed him a loss and it was going to be his job to teach Mysterio a serious lesson, using his entire arsenal of fantastic wrestling.

It was a very simple story but it’s all the match needed. Mysterio was looking to prove himself against one of the best, while Angle was looking to protect his position in the company against a newcomer. What they put together in the match can only be described as a technical masterpiece. I used the term “back-and-forth” in my reviews a lot but this match really was the epitome of the term, as outside of Mysterio’s flurry at the beginning, neither man spent more than 90 seconds or so getting in offence at any single point in the match. There were constant counters, reversals and all kinds of interesting escapes that showed the full spectrum of what both men were capable of in the ring.

While it’s arguable that Mysterio should’ve won as he was the debuting superstar, as we can now say with the power of hindsight, the loss didn’t affect Mysterio’s star power at all in the long-run and the sheer quality of the match was enough to convince all of the fans who were still unconvinced that Mysterio was a top-tier competitor.

2 – Bret Hart vs Owen Hart – Wrestlemania 10

Even though Wrestlemania 10 ended with Bret Hart toppling Yokozuna to become WWF Champion, the moment that was ultimately be most remembered from that night is his loss in the opening contest to his brother Owen.

There was a lot of hype surrounding this match at the time of Wrestlemania 10. Things had been slowly building since the previous November, where Owen became distracted after accidentally knocking his brother off of the Apron in a Survivor Series elimination tag match, causing him to get eliminated. Owen would continuously ask his brother to face him in a match, but Bret kept refusing, not wanting to fight his brother. Eventually, Owen took matters into his own hands and attacked Bret at the Royal Rumble 1994 after the duo lost to The Quebecers.

After both Lex Luger and Bret Hart were declared joint winners of the 1994 Royal Rumble, a coin was tossed and it was determined that Luger would get his match with Yokozuna first at Wrestlemania 10, with Bret fighting the champion later in the night. In order to make it fair, Bret was forced to wrestle another match earlier on in the night and Owen was selected as his opponent.

As you’d imagine from wrestlers the calibre of Bret and Owen, two wrestlers who quite literally grew up training together, this match was virtually flawless. While it doesn’t look as flashy or as exciting as the kind of “masterpiece” matches we’ve come to expect today, I didn’t feel any less invested in this match than I do any NXT title bout. The psychology of the match is simple but incredibly effective as both of the brothers seem to have an answer for just about everything the other can throw at them. It’s so clear that they know each other in the ring better than any other wrestler ever possibly could.

The sly brutality of Owen as he maliciously targets Bret’s injured leg is just wonderfully horrible, made all the better by the way he seems to showboat after every little advantage he gets over Bret. He knows that no-one thinks he’ll be able to beat Bret and he’s relishing every moment he can show people how wrong they are. Then, he only went and bloody won the thing. Catching Bret out and rolling him after following Bret’s attempt at a Hurricanrana, Owen walked away with the shocking win, putting Bret on the back foot for his title match later in the night and triggering a feud with Bret that extended into the summer and brought us some equally brilliant matches.

Wrestlemania 10 is remembered fondly as a Mania with several iconic moments, but when it comes to pure-wrestling, nothing else that happened on the night could top this match.

1 – Daniel Bryan vs Triple H – Wrestlemania 30

Who would’ve guessed that a Triple H match would’ve been the one to top this list?

As I’ve covered before, Wrestlemania 30 is the best incarnation of the show of shows to happen over the past decade (and is also my personal favourite Wrestlemania) and a huge part of that is down to this fantastic opening contest. The story of the rise of Daniel Bryan going into Wrestlemania 30 is still one that’s relatively fresh in the minds of WWE fans the world over and this match was where we would finally see whether or not WWE were serious about giving the fans what they wanted.

Every second of this match was meticulously crafted to milk every last drop of drama and intensity out of the storyline. From the moment the bell rings, the crowd are a huge factor of what makes this match so brilliant. The sight of the crowd going nuts as Triple H and Bryan stare each other down in so incredibly emotional knowing everything that went into it and they are on tenterhooks for absolutely every moment of this match.

The opening few minutes of this match are absolutely fire as Bryan comes out of the gate with the kind of babyface intensity that makes him the most lovable babyface ever before the pace switches and there’s a good 8 minutes or so of Triple H dominating the match and doing everything in his power to put Bryan away. That would normally be boring, but a combination of pacing, variety and Bryan’s selling ability made it gripping stuff to watch. Bryan scattered in a couple of hope spots throughout to keep things ticking over too. The moments where Triple H drops Bryan down on the announce table, or the ring apron, or even locks in the Yes! Lock plays the live crowd and everyone watching at home into the hands of the drama of the match. Even watching it back now I still feel that pit of despair, with the thought that maybe Triple H really is going to win and all our dreams will be crushed.

Once Bryan breaks free of the beat down, the match moves at a mile a minute. Once again, the intensity shoots through the ceiling and the whole match becomes a fever-pitch, back-and-forth contest that doesn’t let up for a moment. Every strike from both men feels weighty and impactful, both in the physical and dramatical sense of the phrase. Even on a rewatch I find myself falling for every near fall and every kickout, remembering the desperation in every fan’s mind at the time, just praying that Daniel Bryan got his time to shine.

The sheer explosion of emotion from both the crowd and Bryan himself when he blindsides Triple H with the Running Knee and gets the pin is absolutely euphoric and makes this a match that I was always connect with emotionally and was the perfect opener for the biggest show of the year.

My 11 Favourite Matches of The Undertaker

For many years, whenever Wrestlemania season rolled around the biggest question on everyone’s minds wasn’t who would be fighting for the company’s world titles, but who would get the prestigious honour of fighting The Undertaker. A wrestler who has stood the test of time like no other, The Undertaker has wrestled for so long in so many different styles that his mere presence on a card draws more hype than any championship match ever could.

I’ve talked a bit before about how important The Undertaker is to me as a wrestling fan, so as you can imagine I’ve watched a hell of a lot of his matches over the years and it’s safe to say that many of them are among my favourite matches ever. His in-ring ability may have waned somewhat in recent years but that doesn’t stop me getting incredibly excited at the prospect of him stepping in the ring once again, especially since we never really know which time will be his last.

With yet another huge bout set for Wrestlemania 36 in a few weeks against AJ Styles, I thought it’d be a good time to look back at the best of what The Undertaker has offered us, over the years.

11 – vs Brock Lesnar – Wrestlemania 30

Ok, we’ve got to address the elephant in the room with this one, which is quite simply that the actual makeup of this match was awful. Taker, unfortunately, suffered a concussion early on in the match and it left Brock having to carry a bit of dead weight in the ring for a while until Undertaker was able to gather his surroundings enough to form a barely passable match.


That’s not what matters about this match, what matters about this match is the finish and the moments immediately following it. The Undertaker’s Wrestlemania undefeated streak (aka “The Streak”) was inarguably the greatest draw in modern Wrestlemania history. Once the numbers got up to heights like 13 matches and 13 wins, every year The Undertaker’s Wrestlemania match become an absolutely huge deal. The unmatched aura of a man who’s genuinely undefeatable combined with the consistently brilliant match quality (as we’ll soon discuss on this list) brought The Undertaker’s legacy to such a height that we thought it never could (and many thought, never should) end.

And then it ended.

Many people have spoken on this and I perhaps can’t quite do justice to just how monumental of a moment this was. Several people who witnessed the event live have spoken of the atmosphere of pure disbelief and tragedy in the crowd and said that there is simply no comparison to the feel in the building during the moments following the ending of The Streak. It was a rare moment of genuine shock from the wrestling fanbase, with a feeling that I don’t believe will ever be replicated in wrestling during our lifetimes.

But like I said, the match itself was the drizzling shits, so 11th is the highest it can go.

10 – vs CM Punk – Wrestlemania 29

When people think back on The Undertaker’s run of incredible matches through the late 2000s and early 2010s, this match often gets left off of that list and I think that is a huge disservice to the brilliant match these two put forth.

In the build to this match, Punk put forth what I think is some of his best heel work ever. It played off the real-life death of The Undertaker’s former manager Paul Bearer in a way that I don’t think went too far, even if it was uncomfortable for some. This carried over into the match too and having Heyman sitting on the sidelines, playing along with Punk’s every taunt was just fantastic. There felt like there was a real animosity between these two and it brought us some brilliant moments that capture the essence of what a good Streak match is all about because we’re all so sure that there’s no way The Undertaker’s going to lose, that it’s actually very easy to make us believe he might.

This match also holds a lot of personal weight for me too, as it was the first match I’ve ever watched the whole way through. If you want the full story on that, then I’ve talked about it before but there’s a good chance that if I’d seen a match that wasn’t as good as this one, I wouldn’t have stuck around to become the opinion spewing nerd I am today, which I’m sure would be a great loss to the world…right?….riiight?

9 – vs Brock Lesnar – Hell in a Cell 2015
(Hell in a Cell)

This match stands out for me more because of how surprised I was that it ended up being so good.

Going into this match, Lesnar & Taker had already fought a few months previously at Summerslam and the match was…ok. It was pretty fun and gave us the hilarious visual of Lesnar giving Taker the finger as he passed out, but it was mired by a general slow-pace and very confusing finish that was designed to protect Lesnar but ended up making The Undertaker look like a cheat.

Apparently, the solution to all of these problems was just letting these two guys batter the piss out of each other for twenty minutes in just about every way possible. In the modern era, it’s so rare we get a Hell in a Cell match like this, but it had exactly what the stipulation calls for. There was blood, there were weapons and there was wall to wall violence that ended up being the perfect way to represent the pure hatred between these two competitors.

The action was very exciting too, despite what I had expected, things kept going at a pretty solid pace the whole way through and each weapon spot took the intensity up just a little in order to get the maximum impact out of everything. The finish was great too, with the ring-mat being ripped up and exposing the wooden boards underneath – a spot that remains just uncommon enough to still feel like a big deal – and ultimately, the right man won, capping off a surprisingly brilliant feud that benefitted from some very rare, WWE branded long-term storytelling.

8 – vs The Rock vs Kurt Angle – Vengeance 2002
(WWE Undisputed Championship)

As is probably expected, there aren’t many matches on this list from the “Biker Taker” phase of The Undertaker’s career. Various injuries alongside a generally not very interesting persona or in-ring style meant that a lot of the magic that surrounded The Undertaker was gone during this era and is considered by many fans and critics to be the worst era of his career, so this match is very much the exception, not the rule.

The story going into this match was very hot indeed, mostly just consisting of the three men involved in this match slowly escalating the violence in order to bring the hype for this match up to a fever pitch. This carried over into the match, particularly between The Rock and The Undertaker, who spent a lot of time trying to destroy each other throughout this match. As it stood, Angle slipped into his role perfectly for this match. Angle standing there trying to get the attention of The Undertaker and The Rock as they stare each other down is one of those wrestling gifs that has stood the test of time and it really was indicative of how great Angle was at constantly skimming the line between comedy and serious wrestling.

This match was the kind of car-crash TV that doesn’t always work, but in this case, it really did. All three of these men were constantly colliding in all kinds of ways throughout this match. The action was big move after big move in the best possible way and some classic spots where the men kept stealing each other’s finishers. It doesn’t really tell any kind of grand story, it’s just a pure blast of violence and mayhem from start to finish and stands today and one of the best triple threat matches WWE have ever produced.

7 – vs Batista – Wrestlemania 23
(World Heavyweight Championship)

Alongside his match with CM Punk, this is another one that often gets forgotten when people run down the best Streak matches and I think that’s a massive disservice to the unique style of match these two guys put forward on the night of Wrestlemania 23.

The story of this match is very simple, one big man has a title, one big man wants the title, this leads to the two big men trying to absolutely annihilate each other for fifteen minutes straight and it’s an absolute blast. Seriously, these two guys don’t let up on each other at any point during this match, there’s nothing slow or plodding about it in the slightest. The whole match feels like such an intense fight with big move after big move and some brutal-looking spots through tables and the like.

It also clocks in noticeably shorter than almost all of the other matches on this list, which only helped had to that feeling of intensity. “The Streak” had just about become a thing by this point in time so Batista trying to put The Undertaker down hard and fast was the only possible way he stood a chance of winning, The Undertaker responded in kind and those simple story point carried this whole match to something really entertaining and surprisingly unique for the era in which it took place.

6 – vs Mankind – King of the Ring 1998
(Hell in a Cell)

As much as the focus for this match goes mostly onto Mick Foley (and deservingly so I might add), The Undertaker’s contributions to this match can’t be understated.

We’ve all heard the story of this match a thousand times over so I’ll spare you the details, but despite the match being relatively devoid of any “traditional” wrestling action, it’s guaranteed to keep you involved for its runtime because of the sheer shock and awe of what happens during it. The tension during the moments where they’re on the top of the cell is incredible and no matter how many times you see either of the falls, it never fails to surprise me.

From the points following both of the falls, things continue to go absolutely mental with various people getting involved to tide over the time where no-one was quite sure whether or not Mick Foley had just died and some gruesome looking spots involving thumbtacks just before the finish. Ultimately, all that matters about this match is the absolutely iconic moments it created and almost single-handedly lifted the Hell in a Cell match to legendary status.

5 – vs Shawn Michaels – Badd Blood 1997
(Hell in a Cell)

Oh hello Shawn Michaels, I wonder if we’ll be seeing you again on this list…

I’ve already covered a couple of Hell in a Cell matches on this list, so it only makes sense to go all the way back to the first. Being the first match of it’s kind, this was going to have to leave an impression on the audience and it achieved that in more ways than one through both it’s storytelling and it’s action. During this period of his career, Undertaker was working a much slower, methodical style which worked entirely to this match’s benefit as it meant anytime Michaels got offence in, the crowd started to go nuts for it.

The cell was also used to great effect, for one thing, the atmosphere of the whole thing is so incredibly intimidating and it only gets better when we see some of the archetypal spots that we’ve seen in almost every HIAC since. The whole thing also had quite a claustrophobic feeling to it, something the modern cell has lost with its increase in size but I really enjoyed the cramped feeling of the whole thing, even if Shawn Michaels didn’t appreciate being so close to the cameramen.

It also had one of the truly iconic endings in WWE history as Kane made his debut, tearing the door off of the cell and tombstoning The Undertaker, allowing Michaels to sneak away with the win. The whole set up of that final segment was a wonderful piece of storytelling and made sure that it didn’t feel like a cheap get-out to having Undertaker take the pin. Not only was it a brilliant match in its own right, but it established a new stipulation match as a staple that we still see on a yearly basis today.

4 – vs Edge – Wrestlemania 24

This match is probably the closest one of these matches to the expected modern WWE main-event style, but it’s easily one of the best iterations on that formula I’ve ever seen.

There wasn’t a great deal of complications going into this one. The Undertaker and Edge were yet to collide in a major way during their careers so this felt like a huge clash between two genuine legends of the business. When it comes to what we think of today as the formula for “epic” Streak matches, this had just about all the ingredients and more. Both guys would kick out of a bunch of finishers with a whole bunch of really fun back-and-forth wrestling between the two men.

There were some fun story elements in there too, namely Ryder & Hawkins running down during a referee bump to create some more chaos and really milk the crap out of every near-fall. Then we had the immortal gif of Charles Robinson sprinting his way down the extremely long ramp to count a pinfall that never stops being funny to watch.

As it stands, there isn’t really much more to this match, it’s just some really great action between two really great wrestlers in a spot that both of them absolutely made the most of, with The Undertaker vs Edge feud continuing on for the better part of a year following this and becoming one of the most memorable storylines in Smackdown history. Which is nice.

3 – vs Shawn Michaels – Wrestlemania 25

I know, I know, it’s only third, but hear me out.

In terms of in-ring action, this match is easily head and shoulders above the rest. I could sit here and run down all of the posts but that would honestly do a disservice to how incredibly well built this entire match was, telling its own little story (even though there wasn’t much going into it) and creating one of the most edge-of-your-seat exciting matches I’ve ever watched.

The chemistry between these two competitors is just outstanding. As we saw earlier in this list, these two had been around in WWE for a very long time by this point and every inch of their experience was poured into this match. Even though I knew the outcome when I watched this match for the first time, I still found myself buying into every near fall and each kick out created some wonderful moments following it.

As I’ve said, when it comes to in-ring action alone, this might be the highest quality non-NXT match I’ve ever seen in a WWE ring, but these next two matches have a little something over it that this one doesn’t quite have enough of.

2 – vs Triple H – Wrestlemania 28
(Hell in a Cell)

Story. That’s what makes this match so incredible, the sheer force and strength of its story.

The build to this match alone was enough to get anyone hyped up to see this fight. After Taker & HHH beat each other within an inch of their respective lives the year previous, The Undertaker was desperate for a rematch to prove his victory wasn’t a fluke, but Triple H was too busy being the COO of the company to have any part of it. Invoking Shawn Michaels’ from the previous years was a fantastic move and bringing him in for this match as the special guest referee was a stroke of genius. It tied together the past 3 years of The Undertaker’s Wrestlemania matches into one climactic story of Shawn Michaels and Triple H just trying so desperately to defeat The Undertaker just so they can say they’ve done it.

From a purely wrestling-based standpoint, this match wasn’t quite on the level of many others on this list, but what’s really important is the story surrounding it all, a story that was so masterfully told in the ring as well as in the build-up that it elevated a pretty good match into a transcendent one. I still remember very vividly my feelings in that moment where Michaels super kicked The Undertaker into a Pedigree from Triple H and even though, going into the match I KNEW for a 100% fact that Undertaker was going to win, I still bought into that near-fall and it remains to this day my favourite kickout I’ve ever witnessed.

Even once the match was over, the raw emotion of everyone involved was so incredibly powerful and that image of the three men standing in each other’s arms at the top of the ramp as the “20-0” graphic was behind them is just so amazing that even various awful Saudi Arabia matches can’t cheapen its emotional impact.

1 – vs Shawn Michaels – Wrestlemania 26

Maina 25 had the incredible action, Mania 28 had the incredible story, this match has both.

You take the excellent wrestling contest from the year prior to this one, you mix it up and make it feel fresh and new, then you throw in the added drama of Shawn Michaels’ career – a career that’s spanned almost 2 decades – potentially coming to an end and you’ve got a recipe for what I would argue is the single greatest match in Wrestlemania history.

This match worked in so much from the previous year while still bringing in new spots and new action to weave into the contest. It had such a weight to it as both men were able to predict the other’s movements almost perfectly, seemingly calling back to their previous encounter purely out of spite and emotion. The Undertaker was protecting his undefeated legacy, while Shawn Michales was fighting to keep his living.

As the fight wears on, you can almost feel these two titans of the industry coming to respect one another, as they give each other their absolute best to prove that they deserve to be the winner at the end of it all. This all brings us to yet another incredible moment, where The Undertaker had Michaels dead to rights, but he just won’t stay down. You can see that there’s almost a level of pity on The Undertaker’s face as he stands over Michaels…until Michaels slaps The Undertaker across the face in defiance, telling him that if he’s going to end his career, he better do it properly.

It’s one of those truly rare gems in wrestling where absolutely everything comes together. The story, the action, the finish, the aftermath, it was genuinely perfect and still stands today as The Undertaker’s greatest ever match.

That’s all folks! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this article, please let me know what some of your favourite Undertaker matches are, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure to come back here this time next week, where I’ll be running down every episode of Doctor Who Series 6!

WWE Hell in a Cell 2019: Every Match Ranked

Going into this show, I really wasn’t sure how I’d feel coming out of it Monday morning and now I’m sitting here beginning to type up this review, I honestly still don’t know how I feel. This show was filled with a lot of nothing, which I suppose is to be expected when you shovel 5 matches onto the show mere hours before it’s set to begin (and in one case, less than an hour).

That said, the matches that were noteworthy had quite a lot to them, which admittedly just be because we have the last-minute matches to compare them to but still. Then, of course, there’s how the show ended and the outrage it’s caused (don’t worry, I’ll get to it). I guess it’s time to take a dive in and rank every match from Hell in a Cell 2019.

9 – Natalya def. Lacey Evans
(Kickoff Show)

No points for guessing where this one would land…

I honestly don’t know what to tell you about this match, it’s my least favourite wrestler in WWE right now wrestling someone who doesn’t seem to be improving at all despite being given all the opportunities in the world. The match was slow, sloppy and boring, the commentators keep talking about how heated a rivalry this is, but I honestly couldn’t even tell you why it is they’re fighting and that’s after going back and looking for reasons from Raw.

Still, apparently, it’s heated enough to warrant a Last Woman Standing match tonight, can’t wait to see if Natalya can beat Lacey after watching Natalya beat Lacey

8 – The Viking Raiders & Braun Strowman def.     The OC via Disqualification

Someone did tell Vince McMahon this wasn’t an episode of Raw right?

As I sat down to write this article, I realised that not only had I forgot who won this match, but that it even happened full stop. For the most part, it was perfectly fine, but this is the exact kind of match we’ve come to expect from Raw main events that mean literally nothing, even while they’re happening. The match was at least fairly fun to watch and it probably would have landed a place or two higher if it wasn’t for the god-awful finish.

Not only was it a pointless DQ finish, but it was also the worst kind of DQ finish, where the ref just decided “No! You’re wrestling TOO MUCH!” and calls for the bell, it’s never made sense to me and it didn’t help anyone here. Utterly pointless.

7 – Chad Gable def. King Corbin

Do you get the joke? It’s because Chad Gable’s not as tall as Baron Corbin, which makes him somehow inferior. High-brow stuff I know, I didn’t get it until the 47th time they repeated it.

Extremely tired short jokes aside, this was an ok match. It got more time than I was expecting it to and both men put in a good effort to justify this spot, the only problem is I just don’t have the capacity to care because I’ve seen this match twice a week for the past three weeks now and if the backstage segment after the match is any indication, we’ll be seeing it again tonight.

It feels unfair because it’s not the fault of either man in the ring that no forethought went into any part of this show, but it’s the sad state of affairs we find ourselves in.

6 – Randy Orton def. Ali

I’ve been pretty snarky about these last-minute matches so far, but this is the first one that I can honestly say I enjoyed.

I can’t say I was (or ever am) expecting much from the show’s Randy Orton match, but god-damn if Ali didn’t work his ass off trying to make it entertaining. Ali’s style of offence worked surprisingly well with Orton, who didn’t spend much of the match on offence in hindsight, Ali made sure to keep the pace fairly fast outside of one part where Orton decided to work a chin lock for about 3 minutes.

Then, there was one of the coolest looking RKO counters I’ve seen in a long time, with Ali going along with the move only to pull off a handstand at the last minute. However, it was all for nothing when Orton hit the RKO and won the match anyway, but it was a cool moment. Contrary to what I’ve been saying so far in this article, I wouldn’t mind seeing this one again with a longer runtime.

5 – Charlotte Flair def. Bayley(c)
(Smackdown Women’s Championship)

This is one of those situations where I enjoyed this match, but at the same time I know these two can do better, so I’m a bit disappointed.

It might be due to the fact that this match got less time than both Orton/Ali & Gable/Corbin, but I couldn’t help coming away from this match a tad underwhelmed. There was still a fair amount to like though, including Bayley’s dominance for a large portion of the match, which is the first time she’s actually looked like a competent wrestler against Charlotte in ages, and to my surprise Charlotte did a pretty good job of wrestling as the face in this match, it’s become so easy to see her as a heel in every situation that I was honestly taken aback when I saw how she was wrestling.

I also don’t mind Charlotte winning, if the other women’s title match had gone the other way then I might’ve complained, but given where I think this storyline is going to go in the coming months (I’ll talk about that when I talk about Sasha vs Becky) I don’t have a problem with it for now. It’s just a bit of a shame that Bayley’s title reign was rather an unremarkable one outside of the moment she won it.

4 – The Kabuki Warriors def. Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross(c)
(Women’s Tag Team Championships)

Say what you want about this show, Kairi Sane won her first championship on the main roster and I’m never going to be unhappy about that.

If it wasn’t for the finish, then this match probably would’ve been a few places lower, because while I enjoyed the action of the match, it wasn’t anything special for the most part. I liked Nikki’s seeming omnipresence in the match, as she seemed to be involved in just about everything that happened in the match, which could lead to a good storyline now her and Alexa have lost the titles.

The finish is where the main attraction of the match is though, with Asuka unloading a green mist in Nikki’s face to win the titles. With any luck, this means we get a more heelish Asuka, perhaps even pitting her at odds with Kairi, who didn’t seem aware of what Asuka did to win the titles. With any women’s tag title win though, I have to ponder whether any of this will matter when they inevitably don’t get featured on TV for a month.

3 – Seth Rollins(c) vs “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt ended in a No Contest
(Universal Championship)
(Hell in a Cell)

Ok…here goes.

Imagine, if you will, the most amazing gymnastics routine you could possibly think of, incredible flips and spins, the likes of which you never even thought were possible. Now imagine the gymnast landing sideways on their ankle, breaking their arms as they attempt to cushion their fall and cracking their skull open on the mat. That’s roughly the story of this main event.

I really struggled to find a place for this match and in the end, this felt right. Everyone’s going to focus on the finish – and I’ll talk about that in just a moment – but the thing is, everything leading up to it was BRILLIANT. Honestly, the only thing I’d change about that match is the referee throwing it out, I would absolutely keep everything else from before and after the match, exactly the same. The red lighting was a bit gaudy, but I think it worked in this instance, the atmosphere of the whole match was this tense and terrifying feeling that was absolutely fantastic, a feeling that was helped out by the slower pace.

Admittedly, making the Curb Stomp look like the most ineffective finisher in the world might’ve been a silly thing to do, but it made The Fiend look amazing when he kicked out at one after taking about 8 of them. Even the stuff after the match where he popped up to take out Rollins looked brilliant as all of the referees scattered from the ring. The Fiend is still something amazing and unique…but that finish WAS NOT the right way to handle this.

I think the level of outrage we’re currently seeing online over this is a bit much, especially considering this almost definitely is just the first chapter of the story, however, I sympathise with the frustration and I feel it myself. Two years in a row now, we’ve had a Hell in a Cell match end in a no contest, going completely against the whole point of the stipulation and it’s getting ridiculous, but it’s especially bad in this instance considering that after the referee threw the match out, it became clear that the sledgehammer to the head didn’t hurt The Fiend at all. I love the idea of telling the story that The Fiend is driving Rollins to an extremely dark place, but throwing out the match was a bad way to go about it.

Unlike most of Twitter though, I think this can still be saved and I’m confident that we’re nowhere near done with this story and I honestly think writing it off a disaster this soon does everyone involved a disservice.

2 – Roman Reigns & Daniel Bryan def. Erick Rowan & Luke Harper
(Tornado Tag Team Match)

In amongst all the terrible last-minute additions to this show, the stipulation of a tornado tag match here turned out to be a stroke of brilliance.

This match didn’t quite blow me away but I still had a lot of fun watching it. Roman Reigns is always at his best in matches where he can be the exclamation point, not being in action the whole time gives his high-impact offence a lot more weight and it great fun to watch. On top of that, it was refreshing to see Daniel Bryan wrestle a face style for the first time in quite a while. I particularly liked the sequence towards the middle of the match where he was alone again both Harper & Rowan, kicking wildly as they bore down on him trying to break free.

I also enjoyed the big spots of the match since none of them took ages to set up and the payoff is always great; sure, we could all see Roman’s Spear through the table coming a mile away, but it doesn’t make it look any less cool.

I’m not sure Roman & Bryan were the right choices to win, but ultimately I’m not all that fussed about it. Erick Rowan has shown he can stand on his own as a mid-card wrestler if you ask me and I don’t think any of us were ever in doubt of Harper’s abilities. I might’ve been good for Harper & Rowan if they’d won, but ultimately, if this is what it takes to end this feud, I’m not going to complain.

1 – Becky Lynch(c) def. Sasha Banks
(Raw Women’s Championship)
(Hell in a Cell)

Well, it’s nice to have something on the show that I don’t have to complain about.

I’m always trepidatious when Hell in a Cell rolls around, weapons-based wrestling is generally my least favourite form of the sport and I generally believe most competitors can put on higher quality matches without it, but I’m happy to say that this was really good, and I enjoyed it more than their encounter from Clash of Champions.

This match managed to avoid almost all of the pitfalls weapons matches can fall into, I though all of the spots looked impressive and impactful, while only one of them looked overly contrived – the chair on the kendo sticks – but I can forgive that because the result looked great and it was a rare example of a brand new spot in a Hell in a Cell match.

Although it’s not what I would’ve done, I don’t have a problem with Becky Lynch retaining, partly because I’ve loved Becky’s title reign and I’m happy to see it continue, but also because I have a hunch Sasha Banks is going to be making her way to Smackdown in this week’s draft after this loss and there’s some good story potential over there with Bayley. Although honestly, after all the mediocre-crap stuff on this show, I’m just happy there’s something I can say was genuinely very enjoyable.

And that’s it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this review, 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 Saturday where I’ll be talking about Celeste!