I was sort of looking forward to this show. Sort of. I thought some matches could actually be good, despite them not really announcing the whole show before the show.
I thought this would be a semi-decent way to spend a Monday morning.
Okay, let me be honest here – I think many HiaC matches are over-rated. Sure, the structure looks good, but the matches follow so many of the similar formulae that I have been able to call spots before they happened for a long time. Even the infamous Mick Foley-Undertaker one had virtually no wrestling in it – it was made by some stuntman falls by Foley. I remember The Bossman-Undertaker one involving dogs. I thought Michaels did the best mid-air blade job ever in his against Undertaker, even though the rest of the match was only okay, not the “all-time classic best evah” too many people believe it to be. I am underwhelmed by it all.
And with that unbelievably brief and negative rant out of the way, let’s hit the show!
1) Lacey Evans v Natalya
Okay, interesting – opening with this match in the Kickoff show. I like Natalya as a wrestler. I do not think much of Lacey. This match showed that Lacey is still lacking something. Well, a lot of somethings. She was shown to be lacking against Lynch and has not improved since then. Really? Why not? Plenty of time. But, no. Natalya carried her to something watchable, but Evans still has not sold me, even after this match. She had way too much offence for what she can do. Natalya won with a sharpshooter after a little less than 10 minutes. Thank goodness. And then, post-match, Natalya got herself some bonus points with an awesome women’s right.
2) Raw Women’s Title, Hell in a Cell: Sasha Banks v Becky Lynch (c)
I think Lynch is one of the best female wrestlers I have seen. I think Banks is over-rated AF. So I was meh about this one. Banks jumpstarts the match onto the ramp and then it went to the cell and the plunder started straight away. For over 20 minutes these two beat the living snot out of one another. It surprised me, pleasantly so. The best Banks match I’ve seen (sort of like being the best-looking blobfish) by a long way. But she brought to my mind Kevin Sullivan, whose best match by a long way that I saw was against Chris Benoit and that’s because for both of them, their best match involved a gimmick and weapons. Maybe Banks is suited to matches where wrestling is taken over by weapon shots. Maybe she’s the female version of ECW’s New Jack. That’s right, I’m still not sold on Banks as a wrestler (her taking of moves and long-term selling are still dodgy), but this was a really good HiaC match and a great way to start the PPV. That chair on kendo sticks in the corner dropkick was a stunning visual. After 20-plus minutes, Lynch retained with the disarm-her submission. I’m glad Banks didn’t go over. And I think this keeps Becky strong for an awesome match against a returning Roussey.
3) Tornado Tag Team Match: Roman Reigns & Daniel Bryan v Erick Rowan & Luke Harper
It felt like the crowd have been hanging out to cheer DB again. I would question the wisdom of having a garbage match after a garbage match. Despite the tornado rules, it fell into a good old fashioned “face in peril” tag team formula. I enjoyed this match. All 4 guys put on a fine display. The cynic in me says the WWE knew DB was going to be cheered to the rafters, and because RR has been getting mixed responses at best, pairing them was designed to give that positivity rub to RR, especially against 2 consummate heels in ER & LH. Don’t care – this was a fun match. Ending came after more than 15 minutes when a RR spear on LH wins it for the faces. And post match the faces share a hug.
4) Randy Orton v Ali
A match set up on the pre-show. And where did this Orton come from? He seemed – dare I say it? – motivated. I mean, he’s still not the most exciting worker, but he done good. A decent match, though, with Ali taking what Orton could dish out for over ten minutes. And that includes Ali ending up with a nasty scrape on his torso. The Ali counter to the RKO by propping a handstand was really nice. But Orton hits it for real and gets the pin. And post-match Orton shows some respect, like they were going for an Undertaker-Jeff Hardy deal. Maybe a bit like a Raw match, but it was certainly very watchable.
5) Women’s Tag Team Title: Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross (c) v Kairi Sane & Asuka
Sorry – Kabuki Warriors? Nope. Bliss on the Kickoff rightfully asked why these two should get a shot. However, they got the shot and this match was the result. Considering Bliss was in the match, this was actually good… but the other 3 more than make up for her deficiencies in the ring. Yeah, another decent match, worth watching, with Asuka doing a Great Muta and misting Cross (green, which blinds) hitting a high kick and then gets the cover for the titles, new champs. The WWE wanted Sane/Asuka to be the heels, but the crowd cheered them anyway.
6) The OC v The Viking Raiders & Braun Strowman
This was a standard Raw/Smackdown match. It was what it was. Ending came after less than 10 minutes when the OC were disqualified after they triple teamed Braun. Again, it was what it was – not terrible, just not over exciting. I hate seeing AJ wasted in matches like this.
7) King Corbin v Chad Gable
Pre-match Corbin’s promo is generic, filled with short jokes, calling Gable Shorty Gable. So we come to the match. I knew it – the King of the Ring tournament final was a fluke. This match was the standard Corbin dullness we have come to expect and tolerate. Gable was game, but Corbin was boring. Ending comes after more than 10 minutes when Corbin goes to use the sceptre, the ref takes it away and while he’s distracted, Gable cradles him for the fluke win. Does nothing for either man. A little later on, Gable adopts the name Shorty Gable, only for Corbin to beat the crap out of him backstage… *sigh!* Gable, dude, go to AEW. They might treat you with some respect.
8) 24/7 Title Crap
Backstage at one point, Tamina rolled up Carmella to win the title. Later on, before the Women’s Title match Carmella superkicks Tamina and R-Truth covers to win the title. Let it die already!
9) Smackdown Women’s Title: Charlotte Flair v Bayley (c)
Okay, I admit – I was looking forward to this after the Night of Champions debacle. I knew they had a better match in them somewhere. Well, I’m still looking. For two such good workers, they do not have a lot of chemistry in the ring together. This was a match that was not terrible (and far, far better than the NoC match), but certainly did not hit any great heights. And Flair won with the figure 8 for the submission and the title after 10 minutes. Bayley throws a tantrum (tantie, according to most Australian mums) post-match. For a lo-o-ong time.
10) Universal Title, Hell in a Cell: Seth Rollins (c) v Bray Wyatt as The Fiend
Okay, this had the makings of a great match. Had. But… everything about Rollins’ response to Wyatt (fear, panic, whatever) was ignored and then remembered and then… you get the drift. The red light throughout was distracting. The match was meh, nothing like the opening HiaC match. Same things over and over, a crowd turning on it, Wyatt doing a lot of lying there. The crowd so wanted Wyatt to win here. And then in the end Rollins was DQed for using a sledgehammer… like HHH used in every HiaC match he was ever involved in. Wyatt then decimated Rollins post-match. The crowd booed the crap out of that ending big time. Was that an “AEW” chant I heard along with the “refund” chants? What a crappy way to end the night.
Well, for some-one who does not rate Banks, she and Lynch had match of the night by such a large margin it was embarrassing. But it was not a great show. The final match was not good at all, the 24/7 stuff was useless, Corbin/Gable was dull. Natalya/Evans was mediocre. Flair/Bayley and OC/Vikings & Strowman were serviceable and watchable. Women’s tag, Orton/Ali were surprisingly good. Tornado tag was fun. Lynch/Banks was great. It was like the main PPV was put on backwards.
So, what did I get wrong?
Tags: Alexa Bliss, ali, Asuka, bayley, Becky Lynch, Braun Strowman, Bray Wyatt, Chad Gable, charlotte flair, Daniel Bryan, Erick Rowan, Hell in a Cell, hell in a cell 2019, Kairi Sane, King Corbin, Lacey Evans, Luke Harper, Natalya, Nikki Cross, oc, Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, sasha banks, seth rollins, shorty, The Fiend, viking raiders, WWE