When Sunday began, Hell in a Cell felt like a pay-per-view forgotten by the company and the fans. Only four matches had been booked, as everyone, fans included, had been so focused on the major TV shows this week. By the end of the night, it became clear fans would indeed remember the show, but not for reasons WWE would want.
The Hell in a Cell match between The Fiend (Bray Wyatt) and Seth Rollins told a simple, if maybe controversial, story for most of it. Seth Rollins was on offense for a large portion of the match. He threw move after move at The Fiend, including Stomps and a Pedigree. The Fiend would shake it off or, if he did go down, would kick out quickly from everything. At one point The Fiend did get control, but didn’t seem too interested in pinning Rollins. Rollins, when he regained control, kept raising the stakes with weapons, going bigger and bigger while The Fiend kept kicking out. Much like a horror movie, he would try something new. Finally, while The Fiend was covered by a ladder, chair and tool box, Rollins went under the ring and found a sledgehammer. The ref begged Rollins not to use it, and while it looked like Rollins would acquiesce at first, he then swung the sledgehammer into the pile of weapons.
That’s where things really went off the rails. The ref, for some reason, immediately called for the bell. The crowd, who had begun to turn on Rollins as he went more extreme, erupted in boos when the bell rang. The cell started to raise and refs poured out. However, when Rollins went to stand over The Fiend, he was caught with a mandible claw. The Fiend would continue the attack, taking Rollins to the outside with the claw and also hitting Sister Abigail on the outside, drawing blood from Rollins. The show would eventually go to black much like Clash of Champions did, with The Fiend’s laughter. We would later find out via the @WWEOnFox Twitter account that the ref had ruled the match a disqualification, despite the fact that Hell in a Cell is a no-DQ match, and Rollins had retained his title. The tweet was later deleted, and wwe.com posted the result as “The Universal Champion Seth Rollins vs. ‘The Fiend’ Bray Wyatt ended in match stoppage.”
The big concern going into the match was that they would have Rollins simply slay the monster, and Bray Wyatt would fall into his usual cycle of being extremely over while rarely winning. WWE managed to do something worse than that. Their champion, who just slayed the Beast, beating Brock Lesnar completely cleanly, somehow has come out of this match looking like an unworthy champion, one that the fans do not want holding the belt. It’s an outcome that seemed unthinkable six weeks ago, when WWE went out of its way to make him look as good as possible. Mark my words, he will not get a hero’s ovation on Monday night. It’s likely that he would have looked better had he simply lost the title instead of retaining in this fashion.
The match didn’t just cast a pall over the competitors, it gave the entire night a sour note. Which is a shame. Despite the fact that only half of the matches were announced coming in, and many of the results seemed random, the show was a fairly light, entertaining night with some major highlights. Some were putting the Becky/Sasha Hell in a Cell match among the greatest matches ever fought in the structure. However, by the end of the night, all of that was forgotten. Instead of elation, anger spewed from the crowd, complete with “refund” chants alongside the chants of “AEW” — All Elite Wrestling.
Now, WWE has a problem on their hands. The stench of this isn’t going away soon. Seth Rollins will likely hear from the crowd the second he comes out on RAW. Will WWE respond? Or will they pretend the crowd didn’t exist? We know from history what the answer is, but maybe this time will be different. If they recover, this becomes a blip. Continue to stumble, and Hell in a Cell 2019 becomes remembered for all the wrong reasons.
The rest of Hell in a Cell:
-The show opened with the match between Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks in the cell. The two put on an absolute show, using the cell in ways it had never been used before. While some of the weapon spots were contrived, they were so creative that even those who have become jaded by weapons spots had to take notice. In the end, Becky ended up sending Sasha off the top turnbuckle with a suplex into a pile of chairs that Sasha had set up for the win. While some questioned the decision to have Becky go over, nobody could deny that these two put on one of the best matches in the cell, and a true match of the year candidate.
-While Becky Lynch retained her women’s title, the same couldn’t be said about Bayley. The match was structured oddly. Bayley would use some heel tactics, and then Charlotte would match her. So the crowd, which was already split because it was close to Bayley’s hometown, split even further. There wasn’t a truly clear face in the match. However, after Bayley tried to cheat with feet on the rope and was caught, that gave Charlotte an opening to take her down, and apply the Figure Eight, to become a 10-time women’s champion.
-One other women’s title would change hands at Hell in a Cell. This one was quite a bit less predictable than Charlotte Flair winning a title. Seemingly out of nowhere, WWE booked Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross to defend their titles against the Kabuki Warriors, Asuka and Kairi Sane. The match was fairly straightforward, though it was certainly noticeable that Asuka and Sane were acting slightly disrespectful to their opponents, if not clearly heelish. At the end of the match, the ref would be distracted as Alexa Bliss and Kairi Sane fought on the outside. Asuka then spat the Green Mist that so many Japanese wrestlers have made famous at Nikki Cross, blinding her, and then kicked her in the head for the win. This seems to be a heel turn for the Japanese duo, though it’s hard to tell as the crowd got excited for the mists. Either way, a team that it seemed the WWE had no interest in pushing, or even putting on TV, is suddenly the tag champs.
-Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan beat Erick Rowan and Luke Harper in their tag match. Harper and Rowan dominated most of the match, absolutely wreaking havoc on both, but especially Daniel Bryan. At the end, Bryan was able to evade Harper in the ring, which allowed Reigns to sneak under and hit a Superman punch. Bryan followed with a knee, and Reigns finally hit a spear to put Harper away. Reigns and Bryan hugged at the end of the match.
-One of the matches that was announced shortly before the PPV was The OC taking on the Viking Raiders and a mystery partner. That mystery partner ended up being Braun Strowman. The match devolved after a short time, with each person taking turns hitting finishers. Finally, Braun was left in the ring with AJ Styles, and Gallows and Anderson hit the ring, triple-teaming Braun. The ref called for the bell when the others refused to leave the ring, giving the DQ win to Strowman and the Raiders. The three ended up fighting off the OC, and Braun punched AJ, which will likely play into the Strowman/Tyson Fury angle that was teased on Smackdown.
-Randy Orton beat Ali in a fairly competitive match. This match will likely be best remembered for a counter to the RKO that Ali used, as he ended up in a handstand instead of going straight down when Orton tried to hit him with the move. Ali would lose shortly after, but that’s the spot that will be remembered going forward.
-Chad Gable beat Baron Corbin. Corbin tried to use his scepter to hit Gable, and Gable rolled him up for a pin.
-Natalya beat Lacey Evans on the preshow. The two will fight again on Raw.