By Graham "GSM" Matthews
WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day def. Randy Orton and Dean Ambrose (Non-title)
Orton and Ambrose vs. Luke Harper and Braun Strowman is a fine addition to the Hell in a Cell card, but it feels more like a Raw-caliber match and it's obvious they have no other plans for Ambrose and Orton at this point. It's possible they have them feud following the pay-per-view which would be something we haven't seen before, but who do you turn heel in that scenario? As for this match, it was a good opener for the show and I appreciated they were given as much time as they were. The New Day were able to score a credible victory and the tension teased between Ambrose and Orton cost them the win, so this was well-booked all around.
Nikki Bella def. Naomi
While the match itself was fine from an in-ring standpoint, and I apologize for sounding like a broken record, it was hard to invest in anything that was happening because it was contested between two heels. And worse yet, both of them played to the crowd! That's just being sloppy. I guess this was their way of planting the seeds for Naomi and Tamina growing jealous of Sasha Banks and Team B.A.D. parting ways, so at least it's another step forward in doing away with these faction wars once and for all.
United States Champion John Cena def. Dolph Ziggler
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't holding out hope for a bigger surprise than Ziggler to answer Cena's open challenge, but Ziggler was a logical choice considering New Day screwed him out his title shot last week. As expected, they had one hell a match despite the ending outcome never being in doubt. I also liked how they incorporated a few new moves we haven't seen from them before (i.e. Attitude Adjustment into the Fameasser). That said, Cena winning clean still didn't give us any indication of what's next for him. I'd assume Ziggler raking the eyes of Cena towards the end means he'll be turning heel before long, but will there be a rematch at Hell in a Cell? If so, why considering Ziggler was beat without any controversy here?
The Dudley Boyz def. The Ascension
In writing up my initial review of the show, I forgot to include this match because it was so insignificant. That's not to say it was bad or pointless, however; it was effective in furthering The Dudley Boyz' momentum and giving them an easy, clean win. The Ascension are beyond dead at this stage, so they can take the loss and it doesn't matter. It was short and sweet, so the match didn't overstay its welcome.
Sheamus and King Barrett def. Neville and Cesaro
I've always liked the pairing of Sheamus and Barrett and have thought they should have formed some sort of alliance/stable years ago. It's just a shame it had to come under these circumstances. It was actually a pretty fun match and both duos worked well together, but riddle me this: are any of them over right now? It was cool to see Cesaro back on Raw, but it was in a losing effort. Sheamus and Barrett won for once, but it came at the expense of Neville, who continues to be booked like a loser. This, my friends, is the current state of WWE's midcard division.
Roman Reigns def. Braun Strowman by Count-out
I would have held off on doing this match for a while (if at all) given how inexperienced Strowman is. Reigns was forced to carry him most of the match, which he isn't capable of doing at this point. It was a dull and slow match that the fans didn't seem to care for at all. Neither of them should be losing right now, so why bother booking the bout in the first place? By the way, who the hell thought it was a wise idea to put a live microphone in Reigns' hand in Chicago and have him talk longer than he should have? You could tell he was nervous and the chants were getting to him, and it's unfortunate because he's improved his mic game big time since the fans began rejecting him around the Royal Rumble. Here's hoping we don't see another Reigns vs. Strowman match any time in the foreseeable future.
Ryback def. Rusev
We've seen this match several times before (even as recently as Thursday's SmackDown) and this wasn't one of their better outings. Ryback is preparing to face Kevin Owens for the Intercontinental Championship at Hell in a Cell, so it was obvious he would win here. As for Rusev, like Neville, he is quite the loser himself right now. After being quickly disposed of by Ryback, Summer Rae proceeded to emasculate him and slap him across the face. The whole storyline with Rusev, Lana, Summer and Ziggler has been atrocious to begin with, but what an awful way of ending it out. Please let this be the conclusion and we won't have to sit through another five months of terrible segments with Rusev and Lana battling on the mic with Summer and her new boy toy.
Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens def. Kalisto (Non-title)
After Owens squashed Sin Cara last week, I guess they felt the need to have him beat the other member of The Lucha Dragons this week to establish them as being inferior (which is true but why point that out?). Owens mocking the "Lucha!" chant was perhaps the best part, but these two could have a much better match with some storyline support. Kalisto is a singles star waiting to break out, but because he and Sin Cara have mostly been afterthoughts since coming to the main roster, he had to take a decisive loss here.
Brie Bella and Alicia Fox def. Divas Champion Charlotte and Becky Lynch
I foolishly thought things wouldn't get worse with the women after Naomi vs. Nikki from earlier. Well, I was wrong. Again, the match quality was passable, but Paige referring to Charlotte and Lynch as "her girls" on commentary despite splitting from the group and attacking Natalya at ringside is so convoluted that it's more confusing than anything else. Charlotte getting beat clean by Brie with a dropkick (A DROPKICK!) was just the icing on the cake. The Divas Championship means less than it did before this whole debacle began, which I figured was impossible. Again, I was wrong.
Kane def. WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins in a Lumberjack Match (Non-title)
Whose bright idea was it to give a Hell in a Cell main event match away on Raw? Kane making himself Rollins' opponent could have been seen coming a million miles away that I couldn't believe they actually went with it. It wasn't a terrible match, the booking was just asinine. Rollins taking yet another loss didn't help matters, either. I understand wanting to make Kane look as strong as possible going into the title match, but beating the champ clean in a non-title singles match? Come on, that's bush league. On the other hand, it was fitting way of closing out a terrible show.
I was able to catch the first 20 minutes of the program, but I was glad I missed the rest of it live. Even watching it back it was difficult to digest because most of the match results and booking decisions left me scratching my head. Cena vs. Ziggler was far and above the best thing of the night (other than Cena dancing with his "haters" at ringside, New Day rocking out to Rollins' entrance theme and the cool Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar video package) as everything else fell flat for this viewer. What's even more disconcerting is that this show emanated from Chicago, and if you have a bad show in Chicago, you know there's something wrong creatively. Hell in a Cell has potential, but my excitement for the event significantly decreased coming out of this episode. Will special appearances from Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, Lesnar and Undertaker be enough to salvage the show next week?