Tuesday, 27 October 2015

TV Review: WWE Hell in a Cell

It's time to see what happened in Satan's playground as we take a look at WWE's most recent pay-per-view offering, Hell in a Cell, shown in the early hours of this past Monday morning on Sky Box Office here in Britain.

The show began with the first title match of the evening, with John Cena's United States title open challenge answered by new Zeb Colter guy Alberto Del Rio.

ADR's appearance and his new alliance with Uncle Zeb seemed to throw Cena completely out of whack in this short and entertaining opener. The Mexican dominated the majority of the proceedings, with Cena's only major offence coming late on in the match.

But when Cena went to put his man away with the attitude adjuster Del Rio slipped out the back door and countered with a back stabber, and one kick to the noggin later Del Rio took the title-winning pin.

The first Cell match followed as Bray Wyatt went up against Roman Reigns.

As far as PG-level brutality goes this was a pretty decent affair. These guys really did put each other through hell, and in doing so put in great performances.

As the old saying goes it was a brilliant piece of storytelling and a great way to end their feud. For over twenty minutes they beat the proverbial out of each other, and what they couldn't do with their bodies they did with kendo stick, a chair, and some good old fashioned tables.

But despite all of that, and all of the big moves, neither man could put the other away, and when Wyatt put wedged a couple of kendo sticks into the turnbuckles it looked like we were about to go up to the Attitude Era level of brutality. Reigns managed to block Wyatt's attempt to take his eye out, and after ramming his man's head into the end of the kendo stick he took him down with the spear, finally putting his nemesis away for the three count.

It was back to title action for the next few matches, beginning with Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley challenging Big E and Kofi Kingston of the New Day for the Tag Team titles.

Well, apart from one "butt ugly" moment this wasn't too bad. Both teams looked okay out there, with the Duds controlling the early going before D-Von took the punching bag treatment. Kingston and Biggie looked pretty good as a unit, and thankfully there wasn't any annoying trombone playing thanks to the absence of Xavier Woods.

Needless to say D-Von eventually got the hot tag to his brother, signalling the start of the all hell breaking loose segment. At one point Kingston tried to lie, cheat, and steal his way to victory when he tried to convince the referee that Bubba had clobbered him with the trombone. It looked like the referee was going to call for the bell until he saw sense and kept the match going.

In the end Bubba ended up getting clobbered by the instrument, which set him up for Kingston's trouble in paradise kick. A three count later and the New Day crew had retained their titles.

The ladies were up next as Nikki Bella challenged Charlotte for the Divas title.

I guess that since the revolution started we can't call these Divas matches filler material any more, because with their various team-mates banned from ringside these two put on one of the best women's matches I've seen in a WWE ring this year.

The storytelling and pacing was spot on throughout, especially when Nikki was in control and working over Charlotte's back. But despite her best efforts she couldn't put the champion away.

Charlotte came back to deliver a few Flair-like chops, but after Nikki survived the figure four she stopped Charlotte from coming off the top rope. However, when she went for a back suplex the champion flipped out and landed on her feet while the challenger crashed to the mat.

It was all over moments later. Despite her back pain Charlotte took Nikki down with a spear before she locked in the figure eight this time around, and Nikki had no choice but to tap out to give the champion the submission win.

The battle of the Authority followed as the demon Kane challenged Seth Rollins for the WWE World title, and if Kane lost then his corporate alter ego would be out of a job.

This may not have been the main event but it was still a pretty good match. Rollins proved once again why he's becoming such a great champion, while Kane, now firmly entrenched in the veteran stage of his career, did his job perfectly.

As expected Kane controlled the early action until Rollins took over and showed that he didn't feat the demon at all. Control then shifted a few times as both men brought out the big guns and the action spilled out to ringside.

This almost gave us the OMG moment of the match, because when Kane stood atop the announcer's table intent on chokeslamming his man through the Spanish guy's set-up next door Rollins slipped out of his grasp and powerbombed him onto the table. Sadly the table stayed in one piece, although it meant that the Spanish guys would have something to put their drinks on for the remainder of the show.

The rest of the match saw Kane make momentary comebacks as Rollins looked to put his man away as he delivered blow after blow and kick after kick. Eventually he softened him up enough to take him out with the pedigree for the winning pin.

The penultimate match saw Ryback challenging Kevin Owens for the Intercontinental title.

Well, I suppose you could call this one the filler material for the evening, which is a shame considering how hot Owens has been this year. The match itself was a short and sweet affair with Ryback showing his power early on before Owens did his thing after the big guy went charging into the ring post.

From there these two put together some nice sequences before Owens took his man down with his pop-up powerbomb for the title-retaining win.

The main event was the second Hell in a Cell match as Paul Heyman guy Brock Lesnar faced the Undertaker.

Remember what I said about PG-level brutality? Well, I think these guys were aiming a bit higher than that with this one, and as good as Reigns and Wyatt were earlier in the evening these two were a whole lot better.

Everything about this match made it the perfect Hell in a Cell encounter. From the performances of those involved to the blood letting to the brutality to the drama, right down to the basic art of storytelling, it was all perfect, making this the best cell match I've seen in years.

These two threw everything they had at each other, and after all that they both came back for more. Nothing seemed out of bounds for these two, and at a time when WWE are well and truly set in a PG mentality this was just the sort of match this writer was hoping for.

The Dead Man survived the trip to Suplex City and two F5's to come back. The beast survived the Dead Man's attack to come back, and as the match went on you just couldn't help but wonder what it would take to end this thing.

It took something drastic, and when Lesnar began to rip away the canvas and the padding underneath to expose the ring boards you knew that he'd found the drastic measure. It nearly backfired on him when 'Taker took him down with a chokeslam and a tombstone on the exposed boards, but when Lesnar kicked out of the pin Undertaker's expression said more than words could ever do.

Lesnar then connected with a low blow that doubled the Dead Man over, and another F5, this time onto the aforementioned boards, sealed the deal as it finally gave Lesnar the winning pin.

The Undertaker's night was far from over though. After the groggy Lesnar had left the arena, and as the fans willed him to his feet and gave him a standing ovation Bray Wyatt and his boys made their entrance.

The Dead Man didn't stand a chance against Wyatt and his boys, and after they beat the hell out of him they carted him out of the arena as the show came to an end.

In conclusion - so how would I describe this year's version of Hell in a Cell. Well, I think the best way would be as a damn good show.

WWE certainly delivered with this one. All of the matches delivered to varying degrees, and although I was a little disappointed that Kevin Owens and Ryback weren't give a few minutes more the other matches more than made up for that disappointment.

As for my esteemed match of the night no-prize there were a couple of contenders early on, with Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt putting on a good show and Charlotte and Nikki Bella giving us a decent Divas title match. But then the Undertaker and Brock Lesnar had to go and spoil things with their show-stealing effort, so it's the beast and the Dead Man who get the award this time around.

So with all of that out of the way there's just one thing left to do, and that's to give this year's Hell in a Cell show the big thumbs up.