The blue brand in WWE held the first Smackdown exclusive PPV event since July tonight. The Shane VS Owens match was promoted more than the rest of the card combined. Everything else, I went into the event with neutral expectations on. I didn't agree with all of the results but I liked the show more than Raw's No Mercy last month. Let's look at the matches.
Pre-show: Hype Bros VS Shelton Benjamin & Chad Gable
There was nothing special here. It's a pre-show match that would have fit in fine on any normal editions of Smackdown.
New Day VS The Usos [Smackdown Tag Team Championship]
This was a good opener and really fun to watch for the most part. The ending brings it down a bit for me as I wanted New Day to retain. The spots with the kendo sticks and musical instruments were great.
Randy Orton VS Rusev
This dragged on a bit and oddly enough was a bit boring. This feuds needs to end. They really don't work that well together. At least we got a full match this time.
AJ Styles VS Baron Corbin VS Tye Dillinger [United States Championship]
This was a great match! The second best of the night. I didn't agree with Corbin winning. I hope it means AJ is moving on to better things like the World Heavyweight Championship. Tye winning would have also been better than Corbin. A match worth checking out if you missed it. It has to be the best Corbin match I've seen, though they did have both Tye and AJ in there so that's not a surprise that the quality would go up.
Charlotte VS Natalya [Smackdown Women's Championship]
Pretty good. It had a tough task in following the US Championship match. I'm honestly glad Natalya retained. We don't need anyone joining Alexa Bliss yet in the list of those who have held both of the modern Women's Championships. I would have been fine with Charlotte winning, however Natalya retaining was a better call for this reason. I'm also glad Carmella did not cash in yet. Decent match that's also worth a look.
Jinder Mahal VS Shinsuke Nakamura [World Heavyweight Championship]
This was disappointing. While a step up from the Randy matches, Jinder continues to prove that giving him the title was a stupid decision. Shinsuke should have won. One can only hope that AJ wins the belt if he gets the next opportunity.
Bobby Roode VS Dolph Ziggler
Hated Dolph's "entrance". The match itself was ok, I didn't hate it as much as some others did, yet you really missed nothing relevant if you haven't seen it yet.
Kevin Owens VS Shane McMahon [Hell In A Cell match]
Match of the night. Kevin Owens and Shane did great here. The battle on top of the cage was crazy, as was the dive that Shane did at the end. Sami's involvement was very unexpected. Much better than Shane's match with Taker and one of the better Hell In A Cell matches in recent memory. I really liked it. Definitely check this match out. It got by far the most promotion going into the event and deserved to close it.
Loved that The Fashion Files are back. So, overall, even though I disagreed with some of the results this show was a step up from No Mercy. The blue brand wins yet again this PPV cycle. I put Hell In A Cell at 7th of the year so far, making it fall toward the middle in my rankings of this year's events. AJ and New Day retaining as well as Shinsuke winning would have bumped it up a lot. Watch Owens VS Shane and the US Championship matches if you missed out on this show. The rest isn't necessarily bad, although a lot of the other matches were skippable.
Dagger's 2017 WWE PPV Rankings
1. Wrestlemania 33
2. Great Balls Of Fire 2017
3. Summerslam 2017
4. Money In The Bank 2017
5. Elimination Chamber 2017
6. Royal Rumble 2017
7. Hell In A Cell 2017
8. No Mercy 2017
9. Backlash 2017
10. Payback 2017
11. Extreme Rules 2017
12. Battleground 2017
13. Fastlane 2017
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Pre-show match was fun, nothing particularly notable, could have sworn we could get a clear heel turn from either Ryder or Mojo.
New Day Vs The Usos was a great opener, and honestly match of the night for me personally. Lots of great spots here, Xavier Woods really shined as a gutsy underdog despite the New Day losing. Some people are getting tired of this feud but honestly, I'm not and I wanna see them do some more stuff in different environments.
Orton Vs Rusev was just passable. I'm not even sure where they're going with Rusev at this point, they don't seem to be building him up for anything. Then again, nowadays that's not saying much, considering what little build up Jinder had towards his title win.
I really liked the triple threat United States Title match. Tye Dillinger actually added an interesting dynamic for one, there were times where I legitimately thought he might win the thing. Above all it's a great fresh start for Baron Corbin, hopefully nothing screws it up for him this time around.
Charlotte Vs Natalya was the basic babyface Charlotte match I'd gotten used to from 2015. Heel works over her leg, she sells it like it's hell, still comes back near the end. The difference here is the finish, where Nattie hit her with the chair for the DQ. It was an alright match. I never was a big fan of Natalya as a character, but she can work for the most part and Charlotte is always fun to watch.
Jinder Mahal Vs Shinsuke Nakamura was just meh, and the finish was painful to watch. I could not, and never have cared less for Jinder Mahal, but I understand his push from a business perspective, it's just a shame that Shinsuke has to lose to him until their tour of India is over with. Shinsuke should have been the big babyface to finally take it off of him, instead of constantly losing to him by getting pinned. I just don't have anything positive to say about this, I really like Shinsuke but he's just been weak throughout this entire program. I can't wait until Mahal's reign ends.
Bobby Roode Vs Dolph Ziggler was pretty solid, but the crowd was dead at times due to the underwhelming WWE Championship match. Despite that, Roode was somewhat over, and Ziggler managed to be even more over. But during the match itself there were instances of silence and the fans fucking around with their chants. The match itself was decent, up until the finish which I absolutely loved, which made it a pretty damn good match in my book. The finish was a great sequence, and I loved the immediate post-match attack. Roode went over, Ziggler never lost clean, inevitable continuation and rematch. I'm not complaining, they were obviously holding back somewhat for this match.
Owens Vs Shane was just good. Yeah yeah, it was filled with "holy shit" moments and spots, but nothing I hadn't seen before. From a storytelling perspective I loved Owens' performance, mocking Shane's kids, it would have helped if his kids knew how to sell it and weren't laughing their asses off though.
Sami turning heel(?) was the highlight of the night, very unpredictable. I can't wait to see where they go with this.
Overall it was a good show. Nothing bad, but nothing great either.
Personally, I thought that this was overall a pretty good show. The 2 hell in the cell matches delivered. Orton vs rusev was o.k for what it was. The women's match was disappointing for who was in it but they told a really good story so I didn't mind it as much
The u.s title match was good even through fhe outcome was predictable.
Jinder vs nakamura was better then I was expected and while this might not be a popular comment, jinder proved to me that he deserves the push he's getting because this was is best match to date as champion.
Roode vs ziggler was the perfect buffer match and I'm glad this wasn't a one off.
Might only complaint about the show would be the long overun for this show, if they were short on time, you could have cut some of the segments that you truly didn't on the show like the KFC spot and the fashion files that could have been move on the preshow.
Finally I'm intrigue with this heel turn for zayn and we're does this lead.
All in all, even with the overun, this was a solid show but fhat how most smackdown ppv are so I'm not really surprise.
WWE Hell In A Cell Kickoff Show
1. Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin vs. The Hype Bros. - A throwaway match, as kickoff show matches are, but quite good for a throwaway match. The crowd was energetic, they were invested in what the wrestlers were doing in all four of them worked hard to put on a fun 10.5 minute tag team match. Benjamin scores the win for his team via the powerbomb/clothesline finisher he does with Gable. ***
WWE Hell In A Cell Main Card
1. WWE SD Tag Team Championship Hell in a Cell Match - This was nothing short of fantastic and from an overall quality perspective has to rank among the top Cell matches in history. These two teams have been tearing it up with show stealing matches for the past few months but I don't see how they can top this as it was a legit match of the year contender. The spots felt fresh and this match also came off as a lot more violent than what we're used to seeing in WWE. They were able to make you "believe" that they wanted to hurt each other without having to go overboard, or really even using, dangerous spots. Personally, I loved all the kendo stick shots as that loud slapping sound really helps you to suspend disbelief that they're beating the shit out of each other. They told a great story with both teams showing that they were willing to go all out and I was especially surprised that New Day was showing such a vicious side. The match was packed with believable near falls and they kept everything at a fresh, energetic. My only complaint is that the Usos regained the titles, I'm just not a fan of rapid fire title changes and WWE has done a lot of that with several of their titles this year, though one reason why this irks me is because you can't fathom how they're going to top this. At any rate, I can't fault New Day or the Usos for that, it's not their call, they just went out there and delivered a classic match that made great use of the HIAC concept that didn't have to resort to anything crazy. ****3/4
2. Randy Orton vs. Rusev - Maybe it was some residual high from the HIAC bout that had something to do with it but I enjoyed this match. I wasn't at all invested or interested in the program leading up to it, but I thought the two of them did a good job to put on a good match. I was expecting the crowd to be flat for this as it was following one hell of an opening effort from the Usos and New Day, but the fans were into it and both guys did work hard. As expected, Orton pops up with an RKO a little before the 12 minute mark for the win. I get the feeling more and more that Rusev may be on his way out, he's just cooled off to such a degree that I have this sense of impending doom concerning him. **3/4
3. WWE United States Championship: AJ Styles vs. Baron Corbin vs. Tye Dillinger - An entertaining threeway dance, though part of me would've preferred that they kept it a 1 on 1 bout as I just don't see anything special about Tye Dillinger. However, the part of me that was glad Dillinger was in the match was because he was the one who ultimately took the fall rather than Styles. The match was a little slow at times, mostly around the middle as there were several minutes where Corbin was just slowly walking around delivering punches or forearm shots but things did eventually pick back up and energy was pumped back into it. One thing I liked about this is that there was a distinct lack of finishers being used. Sure, some were attempted but the only thing that really counted was Styles getting Dillinger in the Calve Crusher, though you knew he'd get out of it. The end came about the 19.5 minute mark, I figured this match would go 14 minutes tops, when Styles hits Dillinger with the Phenomenal Forearm but before he can make the cover, Corbin pops up out of nowhere and kicks Styles through the ropes, makes the cover and becomes the new United States Champion. I would've liked to have seen Styles retain so we could go onto have a proper return for the US Open Challenge, but Corbin winning doesn't bother me as I think he's in a spot that he's genuinely more cut out for rather than the main event. ***1/2
4. WWE SD Women's Championship: Natalya vs. Charlotte Flair - I had some mixed feelings on this one. I enjoyed the slower pace here personally, I just sorta dug that Nattie spent so much time working on Charlotte's knee and I thought Charlotte did a really nice job of selling it throughout the match. The crowd was pretty flat here, though I expected that as the previous three matches on the main card, well the tag team match on the kickoff show as well, had a much brisker pace than this one. I did like the story that was told as Graves kept emphasizing that this wasn't the Charlotte of old, she didn't have the focus or the ruthlessness that'd defined her whereas Nattie seemed to have stepped up. The ending to the match was pretty weak as, after Charlotte hit a nice looking moonsault from the top onto Nattie outside on the floor, Nattie grabs a chair and starts to work over Charlotte's knee, leading to a DQ. Given the DQ finish, you have to suspect that this ultimately ends with Charlotte regaining the title. **1/2
5. WWE Championship - Jinder Mahal vs. Shinsuke Nakamura - The low point of the night, in my opinion, as this match just had so little going for it. Jinder continues to be one of the dullest, most one dimensional in-ring workers in WWE and continues to demonstrate a complete lack of ability warranted to be WWE Champion. As for Nakamura, I like the guy but don't get me wrong, I've never seen him as the end all/be all game changer than dirt sheet writers claim him to be. I've seen a lot of his New Japan matches via YouTube and while they're good, I haven't seen the greatness Dave Meltzer proclaims while in basking if the afterglow of jerking off to Nakamura's matches. Still, it's painful to watch Nakamura slow himself down so much in order to compensate for such a painfully less skilled opponent. The biggest moment of the match was when the fans popped for the Singh Brothers being thrown out by the ref. Nakamura hits the Kinshasa but the ref is busy making sure the bros. are leaving, so Jinder has time to recover. The end comes about the 12 minute mark when Jinder sidesteps Nakamura, Nakamura crashes into the corner, Jinder hits the Khallas, or however the hell you spell it, for the win. I fully expected Jinder to remain as there's just so little chance of him dropping the title until WWE's tour of India is finished so my guess is that Jinder is champion until, at least, the Royal Rumble. *1/4
6. Bobby Roode vs. Dolph Ziggler - I thought these two worked a fun match, though the crowd was completely flat as the wind has been taken out of their sails, as I figured it would be, from Jinder Mahal retaining the WWE Championship with the reign that just don't die. Roode is so much better as a heel, it's just so much easier for his personality to shine through and I kept thinking that his role with Ziggler should've been reversed in some ways. I don't mean Roode should've been doing this thing Ziggler's been doing the past month or so, but that Roode should be this cocky heel who loves displaying how superior he is while Dolph is the stalwart babyface. The match started off kinda slow but it picked up nicely and the fans did come alive for the second half. The ending comes via a series of reversed O'Connor Rolls, one in which Ziggler tries to use the tights only for Roode to reverse the move, pull the tights himself and score the win at the 11.5 minute mark. Ziggler immediately pops up to hit the Zig Zag as he leaves dejectedly. Maybe they can put some heat on this feud since it's not a one off as I was expecting. **3/4
7. Hell In A Cell: Shane McMahon vs. Kevin Owens - There were some things here that gave me some mixed feelings. It wasn't the ceaseless stunt show I was expecting, which was a good thing, and they had a lot of great drama and storytelling. My biggest complaint was I thought the match went a little too long and they tried to make Shane look too strong. Shane, in my opinion, shouldn't have come out of this match looking as strong as he did and this has always been my complaint about putting him in matches every so often. Shane was never a real wrestler, he was always a novelty, a memorable novelty, but a novelty all the same and it just doesn't sit right with me to have someone like Owens, who spent over 6 months as a World Champion, is a 3 time US Champion and 2 time Intercontinental Champion have to struggle so hard to overcome someone that's wrestled a total of maybe 20 televised matches since he was in his mid 20s. Aside from that, however, the match was a helluva lot of fun; it wasn't on the level of the Usos and New Day, but it was a great match where both men really worked hard. I especially liked all the stuff on top of the Cell as you genuinely got this feeling that people were holding their breath, that they were waiting with a mixture of excitement and trepidation that someone was getting tossed off the cell or that a section of the Cell roof was going to collapse at any second. Prior to that, Owens did a great job of teasing leaping off the Cell onto a prone Shane McMahon, it was quite easy to believe in his hesitation, which ultimately led to Shane climbing up so they could fight on top, because it had to be scary. I'm glad Owens didn't jump off and while that might've gotten some boos, I don't need to see a guy almost kill himself just so people can do their fucking "this is awesome" and "holy shit" chants. As they were fighting while climbing down from the Cell, Owens still took a great looking bump through the Spanish announce table; it wasn't as spectacular as what would follow or as spectacular as a frog splash from the top of the cage would've looked, but it worked just fine. As I said, I don't need to see someone almost die just so I can get my jollies. Instead of going for the pin, Shane climbs back up to deliver his flying elbow; he'd left a prone Kevin Owens lying atop one of the other announce tables and leaps off. As he leaps off, Sami Zayn appears out of nowhere, pulls Owens off the table and Shane crashes through it. Both guys are selling as though they're half dead, which is extremely easy to suspend disbelief for, and as they're about to load Shane onto a stretcher, Sami Zayn pushes them out of the way and drags a prone Kevin Owens onto Shane before pushing the referee down to his knees to count, which he reluctantly does, and Owens picks up the win a bit past the 38 minute mark. ****1/4
Final Thoughts - Hell in a Cell was a newsworthy show that had some highs and lows. The two Cell matches delivered in a huge way; the tag title Cell match is a strong MOTY contender in my eyes as New Day and the Usos worked their asses off to deliver a quality match that has to be among the top 3 Cell matches of all time. Shane McMahon and Kevin Owens also worked extremely hard to put on a very fun outing with lots of drama and though I didn't think Shane should've looked so strong against Owens, the overall spectacle, drama and work the men put into it can't be overlooked. Orton vs. Rusev was a solid outing, much more so than I expected, while the United States Championship match was a very fun threeway dance that saw a new champion crowned. I enjoyed the SD Women's Championship match as I enjoyed the more technical change of pace, the ending left something to be desired but I still enjoyed it. The WWE Championship match was another opportunity to show how mediocre Jinder Mahal is. There was no heat to the match, no drama and Mahal retained over a much more over and skilled opponent. Mahal is going to remain champion for the rest of 2017, we might as well resign ourselves to it as that's what Vince wants. Roode vs. Ziggler was a good match, though the crowd was flat due to the disappointment of Jinder retaining the title against Nakamura. What people will be and are talking about are the two Cell matches, the US Championship match and the apparent heel turn of Sami Zayn. Hell in a Cell, overall, was a fun show that started out very strong, dipped in the middle and recovered at the end.
"What Do I Know Of Cultured Ways, The Gilt, The Craft And The Lie?
I, Who Was Born In A Naked Land And Bred In The Open Sky.
The Subtle Tongue, The Sophist Guile, They Fail When The Broadswords Sing.
Rush In And Die Dogs - I Was A Man Before I Was King."
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