Hell in a Cell 2019 kicked off with two great matches in Becky Lynch versus Sasha Banks and the tornado tag match pitting Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan against Luke Harper and Eric Rowan. Then the show went downhill. It could have been saved by an electric main event, but sadly that main event ended up being both the final and most painful nail in the coffin.
I'm reluctant to call Hell in a Cell a bad show, since the two opening matches were so strong. But of all the wrestling events with two great matches on them, this is as bad as it gets. The show was laid out in a way that made most of it skippable, and the ending was fantastically stupid. So, y'know what? Yes, I'll say it. This was a bad show.
The quick things you need to know: Lynch beat Banks to retain her title while Charlotte Flair beat Bayley to become 10x women's champ. And Seth Rollins versus The Fiend in a Hell in a Cell match, a bout specifically designed to yield a clear victor, ended in a no contest. Yep. Below you'll find full results and recaps, from the end of the show to the beginning.
Seth Rollins retains his championship in a no contest
It's not just internet wrestling nerds like me, or the crowd who paid money for a clean ending, who are mad. X-Pac, doing WWE's own Watch Along talk show, was flustered.
The Fiend is unbeatable. After about 10 minutes of wrestling, Rollins hit about a dozen curb stomps and got only a one count. He hit Bray Wyatt in the face with a chair for another one count. He stacked a ladder, chairs and a tool box on Wyatt's face, then got a sledgehammer and smashed Wyatt with it. And the ref called for the bell, because Rollins had, I dunno, gone too far?
The crowd booed. Wyatt killed Rollins after the match with the mandible claw, and hit Sister Abigail onto the concrete. WWE didn't want to beat The Fiend, but it didn't want to put the title on him either. So it resorted to a finish that made zero sense. The show ended with the crowd booing, chanting "AEW" (for WWE's new rival promotion) and "refund."
Rating: 2 stars. The Fiend is still cool as hell, but here was a dumb finish that made no sense. Hell in a Cell matches have no rules, and several have included a sledgehammer. So the ref called the match off for literally no reason.
Charlotte Flair is 10x Women's Champion.
This show had a great start but it's been a slow hour-plus since the tornado tag. The crowd is deflated as Bayley versus Charlotte Flair begins.
The match centered around the two women working over each others' legs. Crowd wasn't into it, until about a minute before the finish when they started loud dueling chants of "Let's go Charlotte" and "Let's go Bayley." Finish came moments later when, after Bayley was caught putting her feet on the ropes during a roll-up, Charlotte got her in a Figure Eight for the submission.
Charlotte taunted Bayley on her way up the ramp. Bayley cried.
Rating: 2 stars. After following so many no-heat matches, these women never really had a chance. It was just OK.
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Chad Gable beats Baron Corbin, is christened as Shorty Gable
Baron Corbin started the match off with a promo about Gable being short. My housemates walked in at this point and I had to explain why he was wearing a crown. It was a bad time to be a wrestling fan.
After a long match that the crowd didn't care much about, Gable rolled up Corbin for a three count following Corbin trying to hit Gable with his sceptre. During the match, Corey Graves kept referring to Chad as "Shorty Gable." After the match, Greg Hamilton announced that "Shorty Gable" had won. Somewhere, Vince McMahon is laughing his ass off.
Rating: 2 stars. It was fine. Crowd for the most part didn't care.
The O.C. vs. Braun Strowman and The Viking Raiders ends in DQ
Braun Strowman was The Viking Raiders' surprise tag team partner, so you know The O.C. had no chance.
After a Raw-quality tag team match, the O.C. triple teamed Braun Strowman and the ref called a DQ. There wasn't much to this match. The Viking Raiders had beaten Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson twice on TV already, and WWE was prepping Strowman for an angle with boxing star Tyson Fury. So no one really expected the heavily-bearded team to lose.
After the match the Viking Raiders hit stereo suicide dives on Gallows and Anderson. Styles worked over Strowman in the ring. He went for a phenomenal forearm but Strowman hit a huge punch while Styles was in midair. Styles did a great job afterwards selling that he was knocked out, stumbling up the ramp and asking the ref which city he was in.
Rating: 2 stars. It was fine.
Kabuki Warriors win the tag titles
Asuka is the best female wrestler on the roster, and among the best performers on the roster full stop. Kairi Sane is also fantastic. So the fact that these two have been so underused is criminal.
Hopefully, this marked the beginning of a change. The two won the Women's Tag Team titles from Nikki Cross and Alexa Bliss after Asuka spit green mist into Cross' face and caught her with a high kick. Like the last match, this was hurt by having no build-up on TV. There was little crowd reaction and it wasn't helped by Asuka and Sane inexplicably being heels now.
Rating: 2 stars. No build-up, and the Kabuki Warriors being villains with no explanation meant the crowd didn't have much interest. Hopefully Asuka and Sane, two great performers, can bring meaning to these titles.
Randy Orton RKO's Ali into oblivion
Hell in a Cell only had four matches announced as of Saturday, and two of those matches had already gone on. So we had some time to fill, and Randy Orton versus Ali isn't a bad way to fill it. On paper, at least.
This was a good match in a technical sense. Ali's offense is crisp, and he played his underdog role well. Orton is Orton, meaning he's not particularly exciting to watch but he does feel like a star. But, since this had no build-up on TV at all, the crowd didn't care for most of the contest.
Orton suplexed Ali onto an announcer's table early in the match, giving Ali a gnarly scrape on his abdomen for the rest of the bout. The only real moment of note was Ali's creative counter of an RKO, which saw him hit something of a handstand to stop his head from hitting the mat. It would only be a few moments later that Orton would hit an RKO for real, though.
Orton was putting a concerted effort into nodding at the fallen Ali, and pounding his chest in admiration. So the idea here was probably to make Ali look good by doing so well against Orton.
Rating: 2.5 stars. Good wrestling, dead crowd.
Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns beat Erick Rowan and Luke Harper
These guys beat the crap out of each other.
This match was contested under tornado tag rules, which means no tagging in or out and, well, no rules at all. The match started with a big blitz, with suicide dives and superman punches, but Harper and Rowan got control and slowed the pace down. There was a long period of heat, of Harper and Rowan slowly beating down both Bryan and Reigns, to reset the crowd. Then the two good guys made their comeback.
This was another terrific match. The second half was loaded with creative spots. The best part came when the two big men tried to double powerbomb Bryan through the announce tables, but Bryan countered with a hurricanrana, sending Harper to the floor. Reigns then followed up with a huge spear to Rowan, flattening him through another announce table.
Reigns and Bryan got the pin after a Superman punch, running knee and spear combo on Harper. Then the two hugged it out after the match, which was wholesome.
Rating: 4 stars. Bryan, Reigns and Harper are all fantastic performers. How could it be bad?
Becky Lynch defeats Sasha Banks
This was a great match, and by far the best of Becky Lynch's reign as champion. The crowd started lukewarm -- perhaps a bad omen for the rest of the card -- but the two women got them well and truly invested in the match. And, despite the bevy of weapons used throughout, it wasn't cheap. This was a match that methodically built, at a steady-but-not-boring pace, to the climax, which saw Lynch tap out Banks with her "disarmer" armbar.
The Hell in a Cell Match began with a lot of brawling on the outside of the ring, which led to chairs, a table and even a ladder being brought out from under the ring. All of those weapons would end up being put to use. Lots of great spots, mostly involving Banks' meteora, a move which sees her jump off the top rope (or any high platform) and descend knees-first onto her opponent's shoulders.
Banks hit a meteora from the apron onto Lynch into a standing ladder. She hit the meteora from the top rope onto Lynch through a chair. And later, through a table. Banks was in many ways the hero of this match, with a lot of sharp offense and great selling too.
The crowd ended very hot for this. Banks set up a bunch of chairs in the ring and ascended the ropes, only for Lynch to throw a chair at her, hit an exploder suplex from the second rope into more chains, and then lock in the disarmer.
Rating: 4 stars. Great match.
Only one match on this preshow, and it's one you've seen multiple times over the past few weeks if you watch Raw.
Natalya defeats Lacey Evans: Evans tapped out to the sharpshooter.