WWE TV has hit a low point in the last month, with Raw posting its lowest ratings since 1997. The build for this show has mostly been forgettable or outright bad, but I think the card actually looks pretty strong. The roster is stacked with talent, but WWE’s creative has consistently failed to build new stars or even just come up with interesting rivalries. One thing about this show that’s a consistent theme from recent months is how rematch heavy it is: The only match that isn’t a rematch from the last few months is Kane vs. Rollins, and that happened on Raw two weeks ago.
So without further ado, here’s WWE Hell in a Cell 2015:
John Cena’s U.S. Title Open Challenge
These challenges have really haven’t been the same since Cena got the belt back. They’ve sort of run out of opponents and they seem to be deliberately dialing the matches down a notch. Which isn’t a bad idea, because I don’t think Cena could keep having the kinds of matches he was having without getting hurt.
The hottest rumor was that Daniel Bryan would be challenging Cena, but that was definitely wishful thinking. What we got instead though was a pretty damn big shock…
Yes, Dutch Mantell on a scooter.
United States Championship: John Cena (c) vs. Alberto Del Rio
Wow. I had heard the rumors of Alberto coming back and always figured we’d see him in WWE again at some point, but never thought it would be here. I love the guy, but I’ve never thought WWE did a good job with him. Only time I felt like they were close was when he was the face champion on Smackdown. Given their current lack of Hispanic stars, this was definitely a good move. Curious that they brought him back right after they finished the Mexico tour, but maybe that had something to do with his commitments to AAA.
I feel like these two always had good matches together, and this one was a respectable entry in the series. There was definitely something off the whole time, but that was the story of the match with Cena just seeming out of sorts. Del Rio with the win out of nowhere with a Superkick was not the finish I was expecting, but I really wasn’t expecting anything about this to happen.
Rating: **¼. Not a bad match, but shorter than I was expecting. Goodbye Cena, hello Alberto. Let’s see if the U.S. Title can keep its momentum up without Cena.
Backstage segment with Triple H, Steph, Seth, and Korporate Kane. Same old shit. Seth is Triple H and Stephanie’s petulant child.
Hell in a Cell Match: Bray Wyatt vs. Roman Reigns
These guys have been feuding for months at this point and I don’t feel like either is better for it. This feud got more interesting when other people were inserted into it, but I can’t get into it when it’s just Bray vs. Roman. Reigns has so much talent but is consistently put in bad positions. Long promos, lame backstage segments. They’ve got to just let him smash people. I don’t have answers for Bray at this point. I think he’s one of the best performers on the roster, but it just feels like he’s been on a downward slide for a year and half, ever since the feud with Cena.
Hate that this is inside The Cell. Taker vs. Lesnar felt like the kind of match that could give The Cell some weight again, but then they had to go and throw this one on the card too. Feud doesn’t deserve Hell in a Cell.
These two guys look like stars. Huge and incredibly athletic. They’ve been feuding for months and months. And they’re in a Hell in a Cell match, one of the most infamous gimmick matches in wrestling history. So why is the crowd dead? Because they don’t care about this feud. These guys have been fighting forever for no reason. It’s the same patterns as all Wyatt’s feuds where he just randomly targets someone and then they feud forever and ever, and it keeps not working. They have to give Bray some more concrete motivations.
But these guys deserve credit, because they managed to win the crowd over. Really cool and innovative spots with the weapons and suddenly the crowd was popping like mad. Wyatt’s Chokeslam always looks great, and the one through the table was the best he’s ever done.
Reigns comes back with a monster Powerbomb through a table. Picked up 300 plus pound Bray like he was a cruiserweight.
Reigns with a monster Spear off the apron through a table. That really should have been the finish.
An exchange of finishers ends with Reigns smashing Wyatt with the Spear and getting the pin. A little anti-climactic for the finish to just be a Spear after all the stuff that preceded it, but quite a good match and a strong end to this feud.
Rating: ***½. Fine match. Best thing that has come out of this feud. Strong showing for both guys. Big win for Reigns. Wyatt still taking too many losses for my taste.
WWE Tag Team Championship: The New Day vs. The Dudley Boyz
Big E and Kofi have really come into their own as far as their personalities go. A few months ago it was really Xavier carry things on the mic, but now the other two seem just as comfortable.
This was deliciously entertaining. Mostly the same tag stuff as always, but these two teams are just a cut above everyone else. New Day is so obnoxious and the Dudleyz are maybe the best ever at getting the crowd going. I loved Xavier’s Eddie Guerrero tribute, throwing the trombone to Bubba and acting like he’d been hit with it. So happy for New Day to retain here. Let’s hope they keep the belts all the way to Wrestlemania.
Rating: **½. Solid tag match. Ready for these two to move on to new things.
Diva’s Championship: Charlotte (c) vs. Nikki Bella
Feels like Charlotte should have moved on to something new here. Charlotte vs. Paige would have been a lot more interesting than another round of this.
I thought this was the best main roster women’s match in a long time. Still nothing compared to the Sasha/Bayley classics, but a big step forward. A basic story with Nikki working on Charlotte’s back, Charlotte selling the back and not being able to hit some of her moves, and some really crazy high-impact stuff with the Super German Suplex reversal and the Alabama Slam into the apron.
Good stuff. We can build on this.
Rating: ***. Best women’s match on the main roster since…
And then we take a step back with Paige celebrating with Charlotte. Seriously, Paige is a heel because she’s jealous of Charlotte. Not her friend.
WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Seth Rollins (c) vs. Kane
I feared this program back when they were teasing it in the spring. Then they dropped it. Then Kane got hurt. I was sure we were in the clear until Kane returned last month and attacked Rollins. So here we are. With WWE’s roster being stacked with young talent like Cesaro, Ryback, Finn Balor, Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, Kevin Owens, Rusev, and many others we’re stuck with Kane getting a pay-per-view world title match in 2015. At least when WCW pushed guys who were past their prime they had been big stars back in their day.
I think we can sum up this feud and match by the announce table not breaking when Seth Powerbombed Kane onto it. At least Rollins won clean. Now let us never speak of this program again.
Rating: *½. Kane was off his game, and I don’t think this would have been all that good even if he was.
Intercontinental Championship: Kevin Owens (c) vs. Ryback
Another feud that seems to have been frozen in time since Night of Champions. It’s really like nothing happened on TV between pay-per-views.
This felt like it was cut short due to time constraints. Wasn’t a ton of reason for it to happen period. Let’s get Owens a new challenger next month.
Rating: *. Just filling time.
Hell in a Cell Match: Brock Lesnar vs. Undertaker
While this was abrupt, it was definitely the right call to do the blow-off here rather than dragging it out until Wrestlemania. Definitely not enough juice left in this program to be big enough for the biggest Wrestlemania ever.
I expected a war from these two, and they didn’t disappoint. Brock was busted open like two minutes in with an absolute blatant blade job. Brock going to the bare knuckles is such a great little touch. How many other guys can get a reaction by taking their gloves off? Taker smashed Brock’s throat with a chair. Brock Suplexed Taker straight to Hell and hit him with the F5. Brock threw the doctors away, which made him the biggest babyface in wrestling history.
Lesnar broke out of Hell’s Gate by pummeling Taker. Absolutely brutal. And then he borrowed a move from Bully Ray in TNA by tearing the ring mats up…and paid for it when Taker Chokeslammed him onto the wood. Then a Tombstone on the wood. But he still couldn’t keep Lesnar down.
Helluva finish with Brock going low to set up the F5 on the wood.
Rating: ****. Another damn fine match between these two. Brutal stuff. Fitting end to their rivalry.
Emotional moment with Taker fighting up to his feet. And then a stinger with The Wyatt Family interrupting to set-up our Survivor Series main event. Real heat on Wyatt? First time that’s ever happened. And I’m ready for Wyatt Family vs. Team Taker next month.
Overall: Strong pay-per-view. The most clean finishes we’ve had in a really long time. I really don’t have a ton of complaints about this one, I think this could have been a classic if we had a strong WWE Championship match. They blew off a lot of feuds, so we should get some new stuff next month. Hopefully we can put an ugly October behind us and move on to a stronger November.