By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Brock Lesnar Interrupted The Undertaker
Well, opening the show with Stone Cold Steve Austin was pretty damn cool. It's been over four years since he last appeared live on the flagship show, so that was a cool treat even if it was only for a minute or so. The back-and-forth between Paul Heyman and Undertaker was well done, but there's only so much that can be said at this point and fans just want to see them fight. Nevertheless, it was a solid segment that effectively hyped the Hell in a Cell main event and it was a refreshing change of pace for the night's opener.
WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day def. United States Champion John Cena and The Dudley Boyz
Although we've seen this match in the past, it was well-wrestled and ate up a chunk of television time so I can't complain. Cena will be focused on facing a mystery opponent at Hell in a Cell, so his inclusion in this match was slightly random despite his recent encounters with New Day. The tag champs were able to score the win while allowing the babyfaces to get their momentum back afterward, but it will be interesting to see if The Dudley Boyz enlist someone to counter Xavier Woods on Sunday or if Woods will be ringside at all after taking the table spot here.
Nikki Bella and Alicia Fox def. Naomi and Sasha Banks
Instead of talking of about how little sense it made to put two supposedly heel tandems against each other, I'll just save you the time and myself the energy by saying this match didn't do much for me. It was decent while it lasted and it's always a treat to see Sasha in action. The commentators played up her popularity with the audience, so it seems she'll be splitting from Team B.A.D. sooner or later. If nothing else, it was logical to give Nikki a win heading into her Divas Championship match, but it's asinine Sasha won't be involved in that title match considering how many times she's beaten Team Bella in the last month.
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins Interrupted Shawn Michaels
This beat the hell out of doing a "Legends Panels" with Michaels and all the other top names on this show as they've done in the past. HBK is always in good spirits whenever he appears on Raw and breaks script more often than not, so it was funny he took a bite of a kid's piece of pizza as he made his way down the ramp. The face-to-face encounter with Rollins was excellent because as Rollins emphasized, many comparisons have been made between them in recent months. Rollins saying he was better than the original HBK only for Michaels to say that he should stopping living in his shadow was awesome, along with Rollins demanding the sound guy to "hit his music." The interactions between the legends and current members of the roster are what I want to see more of when they bring them in going forward as it makes for compelling television in my mind.
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins def. Ryback (Non-title)
It didn't do much for Ryback to lose clean in four minutes, but it was to the WWE World Heavyweight champion and Rollins was desperate for a victory. I couldn't remember the last time he won on Raw before this match. It was a fine contest, but there was only so much they could do in four minutes. At least Ryback was able to regain his momentum later in the night.
King Barrett, Sheamus and Ruesv def. Dolph Ziggler, Cesaro and Neville
As much as I enjoyed this match from an in-ring standpoint, I couldn't shake feeling that it didn't mean anything. If they're trying to make a team out of Barrett and Sheamus, then great, but as of now, it looks like they're throwing these six competitors together because they have no idea what else to do with them. Cesaro and Neville are glorified losers at the moment and Ziggler is still immersed in one of the worst angles in years. I'd praise WWE for not reverting back to their even-steven booking, but I don't doubt that the babyface trio will win the rematch on the Hell in a Cell Kickoff show.
Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt Brawled
Did Ric Flair introducing Reigns to ring seem random as all hell to anyone else? Then again, Flair sided with The Shield against Evolution in the spring of 2014 and Reigns was his pick to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Fatal 4-Way at last year's Battleground event, so perhaps Reigns is Flair's "main man" after all. I just wish they found a more meaningful role for Flair on the show, but this has been a trend with him for years because it's possible WWE can no longer rely on him to talk for a long period of time without sounding like he's wasted, so I can't say I was surprised. The talking segment-turned-brawl with Reigns and Wyatt was okay, but I'm ready for this feud to reach its end come Sunday (hopefully). Also, it took me a solid two minutes before I realized Erick Rowan was at ringside. What a lazy way of having him return. No explanation whatsoever!
Divas Champion Charlotte def. Brie Bella (Non-title)
It was wise to give Charlotte her win back over Brie after her embarrassing loss to her last week on Raw, but the crowd couldn't have cared less about the match. They were sitting on their hands for the entire thing. It's more of a reflection of how Charlotte's been booked during her reign as champion thus far than her actual talent, but I still feel she's missing something and I can't place it. I was glad Paige and Natalya's story didn't overshadow the title scene this week and they instead opted to further that story through a good backstage interview with Paige and Renee Young.
Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens def. Mark Henry (Non-title)
Is it just me or does WWE always trot out Henry in his home state of Texas only to lose to someone? The guy's fallen far from where he was at this time a few years ago, but it was absolutely imperative Owens was put over strongly here. The match itself wasn't much of note, but Owens performing his finisher on Henry was pretty damn impressive. Ryback coming out and getting the upper hand on Owens before their title match was smart since it's likely Owens will retain and it allowed Ryback to rebound from his loss to Rollins earlier in the evening.
The Wyatt Family def. Roman Regins, Dean Ambrose and WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins by Disqualification (Non-title)
It both bothered me and amused me that The Shield "reunited" on this show. It's definitely something they should have advertised a week out or even at the start of the show, but at the same time, Rollins bailing on his teammates was predictable, so perhaps it was better they didn't do that and they can fully reunite down the line. It was an entertaining main event despite the obvious outcome, but Reigns spearing Wyatt and then Rowan afterward came off a bit awkward. I imagine Rowan was supposed to eat the initial spear and allow Wyatt to retreat, but Rowan was late so they were both speared. On a side note, it was brought to my attention by someone on Twitter that the one night reunion of The Shield in Dallas might mean they're facing off in a Triple Threat match at WrestleMania 32 in the same city, but only time will tell.
This was a much better show than what we've been treated to since the summer, though a majority of the credit should be given the guest stars Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair. WWE can't have this star-studded of a show every week, so we'll see how they fare in the remainder of the fall. As for the Hell in a Cell hype, it was very well done with most of the matches on this episode meaning something and the talking segments were solid. The pay-per-view has the potential to be excellent, but as is usually the case with WWE, it depends on whether they'll deliver as strong of a show as it looks on paper.