Previously on the Best and Worst of Hell in a Cell: WWE turned Hell in a Cell into the TNA Steel Asylum to make watching matches inside of it as annoying and difficult as possible. Also, WWE tested out ending their Hell in a Cell main event with a no contest and thought, “this worked great, let’s do it again next year.”
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Here’s the Best and Worst of WWE Hell in a Cell for October 6, 2019.
Best: Hour One
We had some pretty low expectations for Hell in a Cell going in, with only four matches announced until literally Sunday afternoon when they added four more. When we were only two matches into the show, though, we were suddenly wide-eyed and hopeful that WWE had turned the pay-per-view it cared the least about this year into one of its best.
The opener between Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks is one of the best WWE matches of the year, and should be in consideration for one of the best WWE pay-per-view openers ever. Yes, it would’ve been improved by existing in a magical, amalgamated WWE where women’s wrestling had some respect on its name and Hell in a Cell matches were still actually violent because of the Cell structure, but they worked with what they were given to build an intense, creative match that brought the crowd and the audience at home along.
Highlights include Lynch building on the New Day vs. Usos kendo stick trap to create a makeshift lifeguard chair for Sasha Banks, just so she could dropkick her into the cage. I think Banks is the only person light enough to do this spot without their weight breaking the sticks.
I don’t know why there are a bunch of kendo sticks under wrestling rings these days, especially since Steve Blackman hasn’t had a match in 17 years, but there’s both a functioning court system and literal Christian Hell under there, so it’s more of an existential question than a nitpick.
Banks was especially great inside the Cell, going full big match CIMA to break out every creative Meteora she could imagine. We got a Meteora off the ring apron into a ladder and a Meteora through a table, not only popping the crowd but righting the wrong of what happened with tables the last time she was in the Cell. The finish is a full-on ECW special: someone throwing a bunch of chairs into the ring only to get thrown onto them and lose the match.
I wasn’t expecting Lynch to retain the championship, especially not after they made such a big deal out of the Raw Women’s Champion being a focal point of Friday Night Smackdown. I’ve never agreed with the idea that “wins and losses don’t matter,” but if I can punch it up, I’ll say this: wins and losses don’t matter as much, as long as the match is good. If it’s a shitty match, the result matters. If you leave the bout thinking better of both competitors and actually enjoyed watching them compete, yeah, sure, then it can be more about the journey than the destination. This’ll become important later.
The women’s Hell in a Cell match is followed up with an interesting choice: another “hardcore” match where we’re all expecting one thing, but get another.
I was really hoping for a Daniel Bryan Horseman swerve, as it felt like the only thing that made sense after weeks and weeks of ridiculous murder mystery, but Bryan reclaiming his spot as a conquering underdog hero who kicks the yes out of people and hugs it out is fine. I love evil conservationist asshole Bryan, but he’d probably make them more money the other way.
This ended up having some surprisingly great action from bell to bell, with the tornado tag helping out a lot more than I was anticipating. I like the drama of southern-style tag team wrestling, but if you’re going for a wrecking ball-style brawl with dramatic saves and combo attacks, you could do a lot worse than these four. Bryan is the best wrestler in the world, full stop. Reigns is the epitome of the John Cena archetype and is big and strong enough to believably crash through walls and tables and shit. Erick Rowan is super secretly very good at this, even if he looks like a gamma-radiated mole-rat got trapped in a Virginia teenager’s closet, and Luke Harper is on the short list of guys who most deserve big match opportunities. If anything, it over-delivered.
One thing, though …
Worst: Hell In The Sell
Dear Daniel Bryan,
I assume this was you selling the violent match you’d just had, but the combination of you having once had to retire due to injury and the camera quickly cutting away from it made it feel disconcertingly real. You are not allowed to be this good at selling damage to your head and neck in this tense sociopolitical climate.
p.s. please do not running knee Luke Harper out of the company on Friday night
Raw Is Hell
With the first two matches in the books and the final two still 45 minutes away, WWE decided to cram in a bonus episode of Monday Night Raw. It’s not the worst thing they could’ve done, I guess, and some of the wrestling’s watchable-to-good, but it gets less and less engaging as it goes on. Maybe they just wanted to emotionally prepare us for the main event?
Anyway, the best of the randomly occurring matches is probably Randy Orton vs. Ali, but suffers the same “boring as shit until the RKO” as every other Randy Orton match ever. Lots of stomping, lots of plodding. It’s what he does. Ali did his best, though. His headstand counter to the RKO — somebody’s been watching PAC! — is awesome and memorable (and probably should’ve been the finish), and hurt only slightly be the fact that his dumb ass followed it up by doing a forward roll into a JUMP INTO THE RKO. BRUH, YOU JUST AVOIDED IT.
After that, we get a Women’s Tag Team Championship match with not even a Sunday afternoon’s worth of build. The good news? Asuka and Kairi Sane leaned heel the entire match, Asuka has added POISONED ASIAN MIST to her WWE moveset, and The Kabuki Warriors are the new Women’s Tag Team Champions. Finally.
The bad news? I’m pretty sure Alexa Bliss losing the Women’s Tag Team Championship means WWE’s going to forget about it again, and we’re never going to see it defended on TV. Maybe they’ll move Sane and Asuka back to NXT to defend the championship there for a while? Sasha Banks and Bayley established it as a cross-brand championship that could be defended at Full Sail, and oh man, how hard would Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir shit their shorts if Kairi came back for revenge and brought a Dilophosaurus-ass Asuka with her?
At the very least, I hope Paige shows up on Monday or Friday like, “hooray, we did it,” only for them to mist and elbow her. I’ll save my, “AND THEN PAIGE GOES AND GETS TENILLE DASHWOOD AND THE ACTUAL PIONEERS OF THE WOMEN’S REVOLUTION COME FOR REVENGE,” fantasy booking for another time.
I guess we can’t mention the women’s division content from Hell in a Cell and how much all of it felt like Raw without mentioning Lacey Evans vs. Natalya on the kickoff show. I tweeted this as a joke …
Natalya just defeated Lacey Evans. Can Natalya defeat Lacey Evans? Find out on Monday Night Raw, tomorrow night!
— Brandon Shroud (@MrBrandonStroud) October 6, 2019
… and then about halfway through the pay-per-view, they announced this.
WWE Studios should remake Groundhog Day, but when Bill Murray’s character starts feeling sad about being stuck in a time loop, Corey Graves shows up and tweets, “hmmmmm, it’s like somebody doesn’t realize this is a movie 🤔🤔🤔” at him, like that’s supposed to do anything positive.
As for Graves, he’s (somehow) at his very worst during the fresh match-up of King Baron Corbin vs. Chad Gable. He calls the match like somebody offered to pay him a thousand dollars for every time he could say “short” into the microphone. It was the Super Troopers “meow” game, on pay-per-view. I thought getting dude away from Renee Young would chill him out a bit. Turns out she was the only one keeping him from going full boot-licking Matt Striker.
Anyway, Corbin and Gable was fine. They’re great opponents for each other, which is something we’ll stop saying six months from now when they’ve only ever wrestled each other. It should be noted that Greg Hamilton announces Gable as “Shorty Gable” when the match is over, so apparently THAT’S a thing. Vince McMahon’s pulling a Mr. Burns and only naming his wrestlers after baseball players from the 1890s. Can’t wait for the debut of Shelton “Three Fingers” Benjamin.
In the most Raw match of the night, Braun Strowman teams up with the Viking Raiders to take on The O.C. This happens for two reasons:
- they have to suddenly make Braun Strowman good at punching if he’s going to feud with a boxer, which is bonus hilarious when you realize his catchphrase has been “get these hands” but he’s just been kicking and powerslamming people for a year
- they needed to test how the Sacramento crowd would react to WWE’s worst match finish: disqualification for doing too well. Gallows and Anderson get disqualified for slightly too aggressive six-man tag team wrestling, and the crowd boos. Not enough to dissuade WWE from doing the same finish on a much larger, much stupider scale three matches later, though!
*they ask you how you are, and you just have to say you’re fine when you’re not really fine, but you just can’t get into it, because they would never understand*
[cute the sad piano music]
We’ve decided to go full “crying on the floor” with Sasha Banks and Bayley now, as they both lose their respective championship matches and respond with extreme, tear-soaked close-ups. You’d have thought even Bayley would know she was losing the Smackdown Women’s Championship to Charlotte Flair. Between Hell in a Cell 2016 and Hell in a Cell 2019, Flair went from a 3-time Women’s Champion to a 10-time Women’s Champion.
The way the finish is set up, Bayley gets her feet on the top rope trying to pin Charlotte and gets caught, which leaves her open for a big boot and the Figure-Eight. So I don’t know if Bayley is crying because she lost and is a brat, or if she’s like, regretting her recent life choices and feeling sad that she tossed being beloved by children in the garbage to still be the fourth most important Horsewoman. I’d offer some booking suggestions, but right now my solution to everything is SEND EVERYBODY I WANT TO LIKE BACK TO NXT WHERE THEY’LL HAVE PERSONALITIES AND GOOD MATCHES AGAIN.
Worst: And Now, This
Brother, you know your match sucked a full-on dick when a porn studio is burning you with story structure tweets.
Hey WWE, let us know if you need advice on how to craft logical and coherent storylines with satisfying finishes #HIAC
— Brazzers (@Brazzers) October 7, 2019
In case you weren’t on the Internet last night, WWE handled our concerns that they’d yet again shit the bed with Bray Wyatt’s momentum and whole career by shitting every bed in America. If you did miss it, congratulations, you missed one of the most egregious character assassinations of all time in one of the dumbest, least thought-out, and hardest to watch WWE main events ever.
All you had to do here was have The Fiend wreck Seth Rollins and win the Universal Championship. That’s it. Dude’s already dealt with a career of aborted creativity blown off in some of the worst matches ever — Hell in a Cell hologram lanterns, WrestleMania bug projectors, the HOUSE OF HORRORS with its backwards-rolling tractors and random teleportation — and he’s finally rebuilt his image and momentum with a new character positively received by fans and critics. Instead, we got:
- Kane lighting, making it impossible to see, especially when the cage is already dog dick red
- Rollins getting booed every time he’s on offense, because EVERYBODY WANTS THE FIEND TO FINALLY WIN THIS AND BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY
- Rollins responding to this by not only hitting his finish, but hitting it 11 times
- When that doesn’t work, he wanders around the ring looking for weapons and shit while Wyatt lies motionless in the center of the ring, listening to the crowd slowly lose faith in him and die
- Rollins hitting Wyatt in the head with a chair, lying the chair on his face and hitting it with a ladder, lying the ladder on his face with a chair sandwiched between the sides for some reason and hitting that over and over with a tool box, and then lying the tool box on the chair and ladder sandwich and hitting it with a sledgehammer
- the referee deciding to take the moral high ground and demand Rollins not hit the pile of rubbish with a hammer, because THAT is too far, even though I guess trying to to smush his head with a seven-foot metal ladder isn’t
- Rollins somehow getting disqualified for this, in a Hell in a Cell match where anything goes and you’re supposed to go to some “dark place” to win, per the announcers
- WWE deciding it’s actually a “ref stoppage” instead of a disqualification, mostly after even the people they pay to sit and enjoy the show were loudly calling it stupid as shit and not enjoying the show
— Jay Miller (@midevenings) October 7, 2019
After all of this, Wyatt miraculously comes back to life to grab Rollins with the mandible claw, setting up a lazy post-match attack that not only negates all the emotional character work Rollins was going for, but renders the on-screen violence super fake and makes Wyatt look like an idiot (again) for not triggering his dumb Undertaker sit-up when the match was still going on and he could’ve won the Universal Championship. Wyatt then beats up Rollins on the floor outside of where the Hell in a Cell would’ve been, because reasons.
There are going to be “actually I watched it and liked it” types on the Internet today, because Jesus Christ, there always are. Corporate yes-men who work for the company are already running damage control with passive-aggressive tweets. All we’re left with is a bullshit ending to a boring match that felt especially insulting to anyone who still tries to give this company good will and the benefit of the doubt, or thinks the wrestlers we’ve watched fart away the primes of their careers on constant restarts and corporately mandated creative resets might actually go somewhere or do well without years of us frustratedly badgering the company about it until they’ve exhausted their complete to-do list of terrible fucking ideas. This was not only stupid, but made anyone watching it feel stupider by proxy. I’m gonna guess they didn’t write the main event with AEW chants and a boo-covered black screen in mind.
The worst part is that they’re gonna say they did it on purpose to “get a reaction” out of the fans, or whatever, never allowing us the nuance to understand the difference between being genuinely unhappy and being the fun kind of worked unhappy. WWE’s created an entire generation of people who only grew up with one wrestling promotion that doesn’t give a shit about them and taught them to be happy with whatever they’re given. We’re just gonna keep asking for seconds of gruel.
Sorry, Bray. You deserved better.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night
Wrestling is the worst hobby in the world. It never makes me feel worse than when I have to question why I’ve watched this garbage for twenty three years and when it makes me stare down the fact that the momentous, true bright spots aren’t worth what I put up with to get there anymore.
Not A Crook
same old Bray Wyatt finish
BEST: Me canceling WWE Network on Friday after Smackdown.
WORST: I can’t cancel WWE Network twice.
Young Bucks, Adam Cole, and Johnny Gargano: “wow that’s a lot of no selling”
For anyone somehow questioning how good Sasha is, just look at that last Disarmher, see the way she struggles and tries to yank at her hair and reach for the chair. You can literally see her thought process play out on her face as she tries to think of an escape plan in the few seconds she has left, and the anguish and shame when she finally submits. That’s an attention to detail most people will never achieve.
“Off with his head.”
No, Corey, that’s the Saudi show
Hell in a Cell turned into a 95 WCW PPV so gradually, I didn’t even notice
Tamina looks lost, almost like she’s wrestling in a real match.
Bad News Burke
Everyone knows the only way to win a Hell in a Cell match is to successfully develop some photographs
The Best & Worst of WWE Hell in a Cell 2019: NO, DISQUALIFICATIONS!
Listen to the crowd after Hell in a Cell went off the air 😮 pic.twitter.com/efVcpXaZIG
— Ryan Satin (@ryansatin) October 7, 2019
That’s it for Hell in a Cell 2019, a show everyone enjoyed. When you read someone say the “smarks” didn’t like it, remind them that every kind of wrestling fan didn’t. Unless they only sell tickets to smarks.
Thanks for reading. Sorry. Drop a comment down below to let us know what you thought about the show — yes, even you, “actually I really loved the ending” guy, perhaps you most of all — and give us a share on social media to keep us in the business of putting up with this. Join us throughout the week as we try to stay positive about wrestling between Thursday mornings and Wednesday afternoons.