Going into the WWE’s Hell in a Cell 2016, the event was looking to be historic for a number of reasons. It was the first Hell in a Cell after this year’s brand split, the first that would feature three main events, and it would be the first time two women would participate in a Hell in a Cell match. Plus, that women’s match would conclude the evening.
So with all of those firsts, and with so much hype about this being a massive turning point in WWE history, especially when it comes to the women’s division, how did Hell in a Cell measure up?
Here’s our final thoughts on RAW’s WWE Hell in a Cell 2016!
Cedric Alexander, Lince Dorado & Sin Cara vs. Tony Nese, Drew Gulak & Ariya Daivari
Reactions: If you missed this pre-show match, it’s certainly worth going back to, as it surprisingly ended up being one of the most solid of the evening. As usual, the Cruiserweights deliver a match that is incredibly fast paced and full of impressive flips left and right, with Sin Cara and Cedric Alexander being the clear standouts. The crowd was pretty into it as well, which is surprisingly considering how uninterested they’ve been on Raw recently. When Cedric Alexander, Lince Dorado and Sin Cara landed a perfectly coordinated suicide dive and crushed Tony Nese, Drew Gulak and Ariya Daivaria all at once, a massive and much-deserved “Yes!” chant broke out. There was also a huge pop when Cedric Alexander tagged in and scored the victory, and it would be surprising if we don’t see him getting a push in future weeks. Overall, this wasn’t exactly one for the record books, but it was a well executed and consistent piece of sports entertainment that particularly stands out during such an inconsistent night.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Roman Reigns (c) vs. Rusev (Hell in a Cell Match for the WWE United States Championship)
Reactions: What an ending, huh? This is one of those matches that almost needs to be reviewed in two parts, with the ending as a completely separate review. For the most part, this is a Hell in a Cell event full of thrilling spots, and the big takeaway is that Rusev comes out looking more terrifying than ever. It all starts hitting the fan when Rusev grabs the Kendo stick from under the ring, releasing all his anger on Roman and slamming him over and over and over in the chest. This would probably have a greater impact if Roman were not wearing a vest for it, but either way, it works. There’s also a nice bit where Rusev sets up the steel steps on the top rope, but nothing is done with them until later, leaving us in a state of anticipation wondering who’s going to experience that horrible pain. Just when we thought the Kendo stick was awesome, Rusev grabs a chain from under the ring, hitting Roman with it and then, incredibly, delivering an Acolade with the chain on the top of the steel steps. It’s a jaw-dropping moment…yet somehow Roman is able to get out of that, and he takes down Rusev with a single spear and that’s it. Really? To call this anticlimactic would be an understatement, and it verges on self-parody how preposterously Roman Reigns overcomes the odds out of absolutely nowhere just because it was decided that this is how the match would end. The majority of this match lands just fine, but boy was the ending not a good way to kick off the show.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Stars
Bayley vs. Dana Brooke
Reactions: Well, at least it wasn’t arm wrestling. It’s hard to imagine most viewers will even remember the details of this match within a half hour of it occurring, and it’s hard to blame them. The Bayley and Dana Brooke matchup was just flat, uninteresting, and weirdly paced. There is no real momentum to it, no back and forth or much of a story being told at all. Bayley and Dana just sort of hit each other, Bayley’s arm is hurt, but she works through it and wins. Alright, so what? Didn’t these two just start feuding like literally two weeks ago? Bayley’s finisher also continues to be hilariously lame as a way to close a match. There’s just not much reason for this whole match to have existed other than to fill time. Bayley is an incredible entertainer, but the WWE really needs to give her something more interesting do on the main roster.
Rating: 1 out of 5 Stars
Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson
Reactions: Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows actually won for once! Wow! This feud has been kind of a bust, but despite that, we got a surprisingly good match out of it. Big Cass comes across particularly well here, at one point having no trouble taking on both Anderson and Gallows at the same time. It’s quite promising to see them win clean, particularly after several months of being made into a complete joke, losing constantly and seeming to pose no threat whatsoever. Let’s just try to forget that whole “fake doctors” phase. Could this be the beginning of a comeback for Anderson and Gallows? Let’s hope so.
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Kevin Owens (c) vs. Seth Rollins (Hell in a Cell Match for the WWE Universal Championship)
Reactions: Of the three Hell in a Cell matches, this was without question the best of the bunch. The underlying feud has been built up well, the pacing is excellent, there are at least three jaw-dropping spots including a few bits of comedy, and a nice twist is thrown in that does not feel cheap. It’s pretty much everything you’d want, delivering what you tuned in for while not going too far above that. A great moment occurs early on when Kevin Owens has two tables in his possession and spends a few moments clearly trying to work through some sort of plan here. He winds up placing one of those tables up at an angle, and this winds up being used later when Seth Rollins throws Owens through both tables in what is by far the best moment of Hell in a Cell 2016. Oh, and for this move, Rollins managed to lift up Kevin Owens – a 266 pound man – on his shoulders. Chris Jericho’s involvement is more than welcome, and the setup to this – with Kevin Owens accidentally spraying a referee with a fire extinguisher and with Jericho running in while a new referee enters – did actually not feel forced. It’s potentially a bit disappointing to see Seth Rollins lose his seventh title match in a row, but walks out of the cell more a face than ever, and the dynamic between Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho gets to continue for just a bit longer, which is certainly welcome. In retrospect, there’s no question that this should have been the main event (as in, the final main event).
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars