Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE Hell in a Cell: Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks made history by main-eventing a pay-per-view inside Hell in a Cell, The Brian Kendrick became Cruiserweight Champion, and Kevin Owens won a Hell in a Cell match via interference from his best friend. Guess which of those three things happens again THIS year!
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Here’s the Best and Worst of WWE Hell in a Cell for October 8, 2017.
Best: Match Of The Night, Again
Let’s get the easiest talking point for Hell in a Cell 2017 out of the way first; the New Day vs. the Usos stole the show at Battleground, it stole the show at SummerSlam, and it stole the show here. If they say nuts to the “final match” of the feud stuff and give New Day their rematch at Survivor Series, it’ll steal Survivor Series. It’s almost like these guys are very good at tag team wrestling, and like tag team wrestling is the best thing in the world.
- Big E needs a singles push. I’d say “now,” but he probably needed one a year ago. You don’t have to break him away from New Day. In fact, don’t. New Day helps put his weird personality into context. Just give him singles matches designed around letting him shine, and then let him truck dudes until he’s too old to truck. Bonus points if you bring back “five.”
- Xavier Woods is the truth, man. I think the biggest accomplishment of the Usos vs. New Day feud has been turning Woods from a horn-blowing manager who never gets to wrestle into the MVP of the team, and maybe the best pure in-ring babyface WWE’s got right now. He’s out Sami’ing Sami, especially after tonight. Woods’ headbutt when he was cuffed was magnificent, and if we’re truly getting New Day away from the tag straps for a while, send Woods after Enzo when Kalisto fails. How great would it be to see a smart guy who can work dissecting a prawn Muppet who can talk but has the working IQ of a pile of felt?
- The Usos are the greatest. They happened to time getting great character work with having great matches to be my favorite thing about these shows in a really long time.
- This also might’ve been the best Hell in a Cell match since they stopped being about cages and bleeding. The cavalcade of weapons, some personalized, some not, were great. Woods having multiple trombones and colorful kendo sticks under the ring was a nice touch. I also liked how creatively a lot of the props were used, so it wasn’t just watching dudes set up spots and go through the motions.
Speaking of that, shout-out to the kendo stick trap, even if it didn’t hold Uce for very long.
Great stuff. Far and away the best part of the night, because it combined a lot of the ridiculousness spottiness of McMahon vs. Owens with an actual, functional, believable pro wrestling match. If I had to rank the series, I’d go SummerSlam, Hell in a Cell, Battleground, and then the Smackdown street fight. But they’re all great, so rank them however you want.
Uce and Uce vs. Breezango next, yes? Yes?
Best: The Fashion Files
Speaking of the one thing Smackdown should never be without again, Tyler Breeze and Fandango (finally) return to either wrap up or totally not wrap up the “2B” story and accidentally shade The Ascension to their faces. I think the happiest thing about the Fashion Files segments is how they’ve managed to make Konnor and Viktor into likeable characters, even when they’re dressed like delivery men with Hulk Hogan mustaches.
I decided to put the Fashion Files bit here so I wouldn’t have to write about the Randy Orton match.
Worst: No Day Is Rusev Day
At about this point, I came down from the high of the Hell in a Cell match and remembered the middle two-ish hours of the card. If you enjoyed this show, more power to you. I’m not in the business of being “right,” I’m just telling you what I thought of the show, and what I thought of everything between the first Hell in a Cell and the final moments of the last was, “I’m sure glad this Indians/Yankees game is on.”
Randy Orton is Randy Orton. He’s the worst best wrestler ever. Everything he’s done since WrestleMania feels like forced dentistry, and watching him lie around on the ground for 11 and a half minutes before countering one overly choreographed thing into an RKO. This didn’t do anything for Randy, who has already beaten this dude in three seconds, and it certainly didn’t do anything for Rusev, who keeps getting paired with these top guys and tries to do good work just to get shit on constantly. It’s not a secret opinion so many of us have. Rusev is great. Randy Orton is great if you’re five years old and only like the popular guys or an adult who likes watching a mannequin stand still for 10 minutes and then fall over.
The wrong guy won. One sentence review.
Best: Colonel Sanders Is A Playable Character In WWE 2K18
Mustafa Ali and Drew Gulak didn’t make the roster, but a chicken salesman who’s been dead for almost 40 years did!
Worst: The Undeserved Baron Corbin Win We’ve Been Waiting For
From our predictions post for Hell in a Cell:
There are few things WWE likes more than making a guy look weak as shit for weeks and weeks leading into a title shot, lose a match right before it, then win somehow and become champion. I feel like that’s what Corbin’s about to do. Scott has it right in the staff picks, if you scroll down a little. Then maybe Styles ends Jinder’s reign, and we build to Styles vs. Nakamura for the championship at Mania like all good people want.
And what Scott said:
For the upset, I’m picking Corbin, who becomes the new Bad News Barrett in the process — he’ll spend the next six months losing every single non-title match then will somehow manage to retain on PPV.
The only thing we didn’t get right is that it took twenty (20) minutes, and that Tye Dillinger was added last minute to the one-on-one match based 100% around Baron Corbin “not being able to take shortcuts” to make it a triple threat and give Baron Corbin a way to take a shortcut. Styles hits Dillinger with a Phenomenal Forearm, and Corbin runs in and kicks Styles out of the ring and takes the pin.
I seemed to enjoy this a little less than everyone else — Styles was certainly working slash bumping his ass off to make both guys look good — but at least it (god willing) accomplishes the task of separating Styles from Corbin and sending him after Jinder Mahal. Once that India tour is over, I don’t want to have to sit through another goddamn WWE main event Jinder Mahal match again.
Worst: Another Goddamn WWE Main Event Jinder Mahal Match
Jinder Mahal has one match. We’ve written about it a lot. He does bad jobber chinlocks and other assorted bad jobber offense and is just generally a very veiny turd in the ring until the Singh Brothers interfere, and he’s allowed to hit his finisher and win the match. This time around they do Jinder’s one match with a bonus: the Singh Brothers get caught and ejected, so Jinder is forced to pin Shinsuke Nakamura clean with his finisher. The rest of the match is identical.
Bro. I don’t know. I don’t know! I don’t know what they’re doing. It’s important enough to get Jinder to India as WWE Champion, even with the Bryan Alvarez rumor that they’d been advertising him as a “two-time WWE Champion” and would maybe give someone else a chance for a month, that they’re willing to sink Shinsuke Nakamura’s North American career and the ENTIRETY of Smackdown in the process. People use the Superstar Shake-up™ as the point when Smackdown went off the rails, but shit, it was Jinder’s title win. Everything on the show aside from Breezango, New Day, The Usos and select Kevin Owens promos has been confusing and miserable.
This has gone from “wait and see” to an actual nightmare. Just piss-poor pro wrestling on all levels, from the bottom up. Great job with your championship, guys. You put the one world title you actually get on your shows in the toilet.
Worst: Mixed Up Alignments And A Whole Lot Of Nothing
Up first in this category is Natalya vs. Charlotte Flair, which builds for 12 minutes based around Charlotte selling her knee just to end in a disqualification. The point is supposed to be that no matter what Natalya does, she can’t destroy Charlotte’s indomitable spirit, but that only works on paper. In practice, Natalya is a terrible heel who is barely even believable as a human being, and Charlotte is everything in the world but a sympathetic babyface. She’s a FLAIR, guys.
Charlotte smiling and thanking us for our thoughts and prayers only works if she ends it by telling a fat boy to shut up and dropping an elbow on her jacket to show she’s better than someone. We only cheered Ric Flair after like 20+ years of him being the world’s greatest dirtbag. Charlotte should bury Natalya and pave over her before the 12 minute mark.
Not to go to that well again, but this is clearly a stop on the Road to Starrcade Brand House Show®. From the predictions:
I think Natalya retains, because the better Charlotte title win is doing the crossbody off the top that knocks her opponent backwards over the referee Ric Flair/Harley Race title change spot at Starrcade ’83 in the steel cage match at Starrcade 2017. Why have a Flair main-event a Starrcade in a cage match if you aren’t gonna do that?
Second in this category is Bobby Roode vs. Dolph Ziggler, in which we’re still trying to get Robert By God Roode over as a babyface. What are you doing? And after watching him fail at it multiple times, why are you relying on DOLPH ZIGGLER to wrestle a 12-minute pay-per-view debut with someone you’re trying to get over? It didn’t work with Shinsuke Nakamura, it worked even less with Baron Corbin, and now it’s not working with Bobby Roode.
To clarify, this wasn’t really a “bad match,” but like Charlotte vs. Natalya, most of the triple threat and selections from Nakamura/Jinder, it was so by-the-numbers counter-productive that it might as well have not been happening at all. When Charlotte did a moonsault off the top to the floor with a busted up knee and Natalya “caught” her by like, slapping her on the way down, I was completely checked out. Smackdown has put no effort into making me care about anything outside of the tag feud and some good video packages for Shane and KO, and this pay-per-view was straight-up another episode of Smackdown. It’s why the Hell in a Cell matches actually held inside the Hell in a Cell were the only things worth watching.
Have Ziggler disappear into the ether and have Roode show up on Tuesday to be the world’s greatest shit-heel and pretend like most of this never happened.
Best/Worst: Pray For Shane-O
Hell in a Cell’s main event can be divided into three separate matches.
The spots. These are pretty crazy, as you can see in GIF detail here. Shane took the big jump off the Cell again a la WrestleMania 32 and missed, again. Owens took the Shawn Michaels Memorial Fall Off The Middle Of The Cage Wall, which was weirdly foreshadowed by Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins talking about doing that exact spot on WWE’s YouTube. There was also a lot of lesser crazy stuff, like Owens’ cannonball through a table, Shane’s missed shooting star press that he loves to do and all the cringeworthy spots on top of the cage.
The actual match. This was the drizzling shits. Seriously, it was. It was the worst parts of Shane vs. the Undertaker with like, 10 extra minutes added in. Shane’s gotta be the least believable striker in wrestling history. Dude makes Raja Lion look like Tomohiro Ishii. Watching Owens have to drag his increasingly blood red ass around the ring, ESPECIALLY having to drag him around on top of the cage, was a chore. It felt like they fought on the roof of the cell for 20 minutes. Give me one good goddamn reason why a Shane McMahon stunt match in the year of our lord 2017 needed to go 39 minutes.
The finish. Here we go.
In a legitimately surprising moment, Kevin Owens is saved from a Shane McMahon elbow drop from 20 feet up at the last second by Sami Zayn. I don’t know if it’s a heel turn or just a complicated male friendship involving a guy who hates Kevin Owens but still loves him somewhere deep down enough to not want to see his career ended, or if it’s a half-and-half with Zayn not really going evil but siding with Owens on the issue of Smackdown’s “land of opportunity” motto being bullshit. No matter what it is, it accomplished something that more wrestling shows should do these days: it gave us something to wonder about, and be interested to find out about on the next episode.
Frankly, I hope they’re friends again. I hope they don’t actually change alignments at all but become best friends again, so we get a big leagues version of face El Generico teaming with heel Kevin Steen and everyone being cool with it. And then when they break up again — give it a couple of years at least, please — it’ll be even MORE devastating, because we’ve spent time with them as best buds in the actual WWE. So it’s not just “believe us, they were friends and now they aren’t.” It’s showing your work, and it’d be brilliant. Plus, I mean they’re forever connected anyway.
I also hope this is the end of Shane McMahon on television for … a long time. Even if we get Stephanie taking over on Smackdown and a bunch of Authority/Daniel Bryan stuff, just get Shane to a recliner somewhere with a glass of water and tell him to sit still until he turns back into a regular person.
YOUR KIDS HAVE SEEN YOU WRESTLE, THEY WERE LAUGHING AT YOU. No more!
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night
Dolph Ziggler has been coming out to complete silence for a while.
Dolph’s sleeper hold is so effective it’s put 16,000 people to sleep.
Some say Natalya ended the women’s revolution.
This is an odd mix of compelling and boring.
Damn, finally we can see a wrestling match!
– Guys sitting in section 224.
Shane looking like me after I finally get a fitted bed sheet to stay in place.
Beige Lunatics, King of String Style
The arena says “Little Caesar’s,” but Shane’s punches say “little seizures.”
The Real Birdman
Alright SDL, you can have Jinder as World Champ, Nattie as Women’s Champ or 15 minute Ziggler matches, but you absolutely cannot have all three
Move like a butterfly sting like a breeze.
Vince: “say it! I need to hear you say it!”
Corbin: “…concussions aren’t real and CTE is a communist plot.”
Vince: “good wolfie. Here’s a title belt.”
That’s it for Hell in a Cell. Please stick around for 20 minutes of Baron Corbin explaining himself to Peter Rosenberg on Talking Smack.
Join us in two weeks for TLC, in which I hope the crowd chants, “we want cages.”