The SmarK Rant for WWE Hell in a Cell 2017 – 10.08.17
Since I have a day off and I hate leaving gaps in my PPV collection, let’s get this one wrapped up so you’ll leave me alone. I was actually away at a work conference when this one happened, so it wasn’t ever viable for me to do it live anyway. Regardless, NXT and Survivor Series did ungodly huge numbers for the blog this week, so that may have motivated me.
Live from Detroit, MI
Your hosts are Tom Phillips, Bryon Saxton & Corey Graves
Smackdown tag team titles, Hell in a Cell: The New Day v. The Usos
I’m still not 100% clear why New Day wanted a Cell match with the Usos. Also, what the heck does “Day One Ish” even MEAN? Kofi gets locked out of the cell, which I’m sure will stand, and the two teams throw weapons in immediately and start brawling. Big E drops Xavier onto Jimmy with a chain and gets two, but he charges at Jey and hits the cage. Jimmy tosses Xavier and follows with his own dive into the cage, but then E regroups and spears Jey into the cage. Back in the ring, Xavier beats on Jey with a series of trombones (“strategically placed under the ring”, notes Corey) and then he’s got a fever, and there’s only one cure…
Sadly, Big E gets caught with a superkick and Jey gets two, and Usos take over. They beat on E with kendo sticks, including the New Day’s own rainbow unicorn stick. To the floor, where Woods gets butt-splashed into the cage to get rid of him for a while. Back in the ring, Big E takes another superkick, but catches a charging Jimmy on the apron and slams him into Xavier’s knees outside. Back in, the Midnight Hour gets two on Jimmy. Xavier finds even more kendo sticks under the ring and they give Jey some bamboo-scented revenge, wedging him into the corner of the cage by using kendo sticks. Now that’s a creative spot! They put Jimmy onto the stairs and Xavier heads to the top of the post for something, but Jey manages to escape his prison and makes the save. Jey puts Big E onto his shoulders outside and Jimmy dives onto him with a shoulderblock into the cage. Back in, Usos with stereo splashes for two. Next up, the Usos handcuff Xavier around the post and destroy him with the kendo stick so that Kofi can watch from the outside. Man, that’s just MEAN. That’s not the wacky fun kind of spot, that’s a nasty and uncomfortable one. Big E makes the comeback and he’s PISSED, suplexing the Usos all over and then spearing Jimmy into the cage, and then into Jey as well. Back in, the Big Ending gets two. Superkick is blocked by a stretch muffler, but Jimmy saves with a superkick of his own and it’s SUPERKICK PARTY time. The Usos go up with another stereo splash, but Woods makes the save after escaping his predicament. And he’s still cuffed! Usos beat the hell out of Woods with the sticks while he’s still handcuffed, but Woods fights back alone until they double-team him again and he goes down. So they put a chair on him and it’s a stereo splash to finally finish and win the tag titles at 21:55. Wow, that started out wacky and fun and turned EVIL. Just like the election last year, am I right? ****1/4 And Kofi actually stayed out of the cage!
Meanwhile, AJ Styles will not be backing down tonight, even in the face of Ty Dillinger being added to the US title match.
Rusev v. Randy Orton
This was apparently set up by Orton rudely interrupting Rusev Day with an RKO on Aiden English. Hopefully this can break his string of shitty PPV matches in 2017, although Survivor Series didn’t do him any favors. Orton quickly tries the RKO and Rusev bails. Back in, Rusev stomps away in the corner, but Orton retaliates with the Garvin Stomp. Draping DDT is reversed to a backdrop that puts Orton on the floor, and Rusev slams him into the railing to take over. Back in, Rusev goes to a dramatic chinlock and they fight to the floor, where Rusev works the back and goes nowhere. Back in, Orton makes the comeback at half-speed with the powerslam for two. Rusev blocks another draping DDT and hits a high kick for two. Accolade is quickly escaped by Orton and they head to the floor again for another kick from Rusev, but he goes up and misses a splash. Orton hits him with the draping DDT and then hits the RKO to finish at 11:33. Yawn. ** Like really, why did Orton need to win here? Clearly he’s hasn’t cared in months and both guys were just going through the motions here.
US title: AJ Styles v. Ty Dillinger v. Baron Corbin
I’m glad Ty made it to the main roster, but this will likely end up being his ceiling in the business. I’m still not feeling this new music for Corbin, as the original one seemed to fit him better. Although the announcers note that Corbin has a 33% chance here, the numbers don’t add up. AJ is the Phenomenal 1, and Corbin is the Lone Wolf, while Ty is the Perfect 10, so really it’s a 1/12th chance for him. SCIENCE. Styles and Dillinger immediately team up and chase Corbin out of the ring as the crowd continues to razz Corbin about the lost briefcase. Phillips actually makes a rare good point: What exactly DID Corbin do to earn a title shot here? The faces dump Corbin and Ty immediately turns on Styles with a rollup for two, but Corbin tosses him and beats on AJ in the ring. Ty comes back in to save, but Corbin tosses AJ into the post to get rid of him, and he chokes Ty out in the corner. Corbin’s got some good trash talk, you have to give him that. Corbin tosses AJ again and they brawl on the floor, which results in AJ getting whipped into the railing. Back in, Ty comes back on Corbin, but gets caught in a hold as Borin’ Corbin lives up to his name. Corbin continues beating on Ty in the corner and that gets two. AJ finally comes back on Corbin after 10 minutes of this boring match and puts him down with a clothesline off the strike combo. AJ finally dumps Corbin to get rid of him, but now Ty makes the comeback on Styles. Ty slugs away in the corner and faceplants him into a punt for two. AJ escapes the Ty Breaker and reverses to the Styles Clash, but Ty escapes that, so AJ rolls into the Calf Crusher and Corbin saves. AJ hits Corbin with a forearm to the floor, but Corbin sends him into the post. Back in, Ty catches him with a cradle for two and a rollup for two. Corbin comes back with Deep Six on Dillinger and chokeslams a flying AJ for two. Everyone throws kicks at each other and Ty falls on top of Corbin for two. AJ with the springboard 450 on Corbin for two, but Dillinger saves. Ty and AJ exchange strikes and AJ hits the forearm, but Corbin tosses him and pins Ty to win the US title at 19:16. I really hate that “steal the pinfall” finish because it’s so overused by WWE. Mostly a boring match, as Corbin is best when he’s got little guys flying all around him while he sneers, and this was mostly him on offense. Just kind of a weird mish-mash of styles that didn’t really work and went too long. **3/4
Smackdown Women’s title: Natalya v. Charlotte Flair
Charlotte quickly goes for the leg and gets dumped to the apron, and Nattie goes after the knee herself. And that goes on for a while until Nattie tries the Sharpshooter and Charlotte breaks. Backslide gets two. Charlotte comes back with chops and a suplex that sets up a moonsault, but Natalya catches her with a powerbomb instead, for two. Nattie works the count, which I always appreciate, and Charlotte tries a comeback but the knee gives way again and they head outside. Nattie sends her into the stairs, and back in for another Sharpshooter, but Charlotte powers out of it and sends Nattie into the turnbuckles in the process. Charlotte slowly goes up again, but Nattie bails to escape, so Charlotte follows with the moonsault to the floor instead. She kind of over-rotated on that one as well. And then Nattie just uses a chair for the DQ at 12:00. Yeah, that one didn’t really go anywhere, although thankfully it would be somewhat paid off by Charlotte winning the title on Smackdown a month later. Would have been pretty decent with an actual finishing sequence, but we never even got the comeback or climax, it just ended abruptly like a TV match. **1/2
And now, to waste more time on a 3.5 hour show, it’s the FASHION FILES. The fashion board with “Allergic to sleeves” is great. Breezango reminisces about solving the “2B” case, but the Ascension delivers a poster of themselves saying “We want 2B Your friends”, keeping the mystery alive. And then they get a Pulp Fiction briefcase, which sets up something on Smackdown. None of this is ever going to pay off, I’m pretty sure.
WWE title: Jinder Mahal v. Shinsuke Nakamura
Now, you’d think this match would have been in the Cell, but no, it’s just a match. Jinder works the arm to start, but Nakamura takes him into the corner for Good Vibrations before throwing knees. Jinder bails to escape and Jinder sends him into the post and into the front row. Back in, Jinder works the arm, but Shinsuke comes back with a running knee in the corner for two. Nakamura heads out and goes after the Singhs, but misses a kneedrop off the apron and lands on the floor with it instead. Thankfully he didn’t land on the apron, because it’s the hardest part of the ring. Back in, Jinder with a suplex for two. Jinder tries the cobra slam, but Nakamura reverses to a rollup for two and comes off the middle rope with a knee. The Singhs get involved again and Nakamura fights them off and comes back with a rollup for two on Jinder, so the ref sends them to the back while Nakamura hits the Kinshasa for two. Jinder runs away from another try, ducks a blind charge, and hits the Khallas to finish at 12:00. Marginally better than Summerslam, I guess. This whole feud just killed off Nakamura’s aura, though. **3/4
Bobby Roode v. Dolph Ziggler
OK, this show is already way over 2 hours as it is, we don’t need this match. I mean, it’s one thing if there’s a bunch of hot feuds tearing the house down, but this whole show has been a parade of mediocrity. Dolph’s new entrance is that he now has no music. So effective that he wasn’t even on the Survivor Series card. Ziggler works a headlock to start, but Roode informs us that he’s Glorious and goes to his own. Dolph rakes the eyes on the ropes to take over and gets a neckbreaker for two. Wait, is Dolph the heel? I’m confused. Dolph with the wristlock, but Roode fights out and gets a uranage for two. Dolph with Zig Zag, but Roode blocks, so Dolph goes to a sleeper and hits a half-assed fameasser for two. The crowd is just dead for this match. Dolph sets up for the superkick, but Roode makes the comeback and they trade rollups using the tights until Roode gets the pin at 11:32. And then Dolph lays him out with the Zig Zag immediately afterwards as they these two poor bastards continue to flounder in the middle. ** Dolph has gotta get out of here, move to RAW, go be a “comedian” for a few months and freshen himself up, SOMETHING.
Hell in a Cell: Kevin Owens v. Shane McMahon
Shane, with his “extensive MMA training background”, attacks Owens before they can get into the cage and comes off the railing with a clothesline. Owens retreats into the cell, and Shane kicks the door into his face, but Owens runs him into the cage and stomps him down to take over. Kevin doing the Shane Dance while Shane’s kids look on and laugh is somehow apropos. Shane fights back, but KO beats on him in the ring and gets a senton for two. He goes up with another senton, but hits Shane’s knees on the way down and Shane fights back with his shitty punches and back elbow. Hurricane DDT and Shane goes up and misses a shooting star press. Kevin gets a frog splash for two, but Shane counters the pop-up powerbomb into a triangle choke. Owens bails to escape and slams Shane onto the stairs for two. Finally Owens grabs a table as we hit the three hour mark of the show with no end in sight. Owens misses a senton and puts himself through the table, which gives Shane two. Back in, Shane comes back with the Van Daminator, and that gets two. The announcers actually point out the ref shouldn’t have stopped the count, since Owens had his foot on the ropes but it’s falls count anywhere. Shane heads out and finds bolt cutters, which seems like an odd choice for officials to allow under the ring, and he cuts the lock open to free himself from the cell. So they fight outside the cell for reasons I’m not entirely clear on, especially since this match is already 20:00 in and I’m already over it, and Owens beats him up on the floor. Shane gets put on the table and Owens does the big climb, then agonizes over the dive while Shane revives and climbs up after him. They slug it out up there and Shane slams him on the roof while the crowd chants “This is awesome”. Really? What specifically is awesome? They’re just doing simple moves on top of the roof. It’s been half an hour, wrap it up already. Owens comes back with a superkick and senton, but tries a powerbomb and Shane backdrops him to escape. They’re doing all their moves on the same square of the cell so obviously there’s something going on with it. Owens does a pop-up powerbomb on him and still nothing is giving way. Like seriously, they’re just standing up there and doing moves on the roof, WTF is the point? They’ve been up there for nearly 10 minutes. They just keep slugging it out and nothing happens, and finally Owens decides to just head back down. Shane follows and they fight on the side like it’s Super Mario World, and finally Owens bumps through the table. Really? 15 minutes of buildup for THAT? And then we get more downtime with the EMTs checking on him. Instead of Shane just pinning him, he decides to put him through another table, because I guess this match needs to be MORE self-indulgent and up its own ass. So Shane climbs to the top of the cage again and dives, but Owens gets yanked off the table by Sami Zayn at the last second. Replay shows that Shane wouldn’t have hit him anyway. So Shane is out, because apparently had his elbow made contact with Owens on the way down, he would have been fine, but it missed, so he’s in need of medical attention. But first, Sami drags Owens on top of Shane for the pin at 38:42. Shane was so hurt that was back by Survivor Series captaining his team and lasting until the end, when it took 3 people to beat him. Meltzer rated this one pretty high, but I was about as bored with it as I was the rest of the show. It was just all too long. ***
Nothing really bad on the show, but at 3:30 it was struggling to hold my attention. The New Day match was great and those into the specific sub-genre of “Shane McMahon falling from high places” will likely enjoy the main event, but the rest was house show-level time filler. Thumbs in the middle.