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WWE Hell in a Cell 2021: Results, full recap and match rankings

No more WWE Championship shots for Drew McIntyre.

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WWE

Bobby Lashley ended WWE Hell in a Cell standing tall, having beaten Drew McIntyre. That means McIntyre won't be challenging for the WWE Championship for as long as Lashley holds the title. It was somewhat of a fitting end to the last pay-per-view of the ThunderDome era, with the pandemic champion now out of the title picture. 

Hell in a Cell 2021 saw all champions retain their titles in a bunch of very strong matches. Every bout on the show was solid, except for one -- which was extremely not good.

Bianca Belair retained her SmackDown Women's Championship in the opening Hell in a Cell match, and then Seth Rollins defeated Cesaro in a very strong bout. Sami Zayn pinned Kevin Owens in another match that's well worth watching. Alexa Bliss versus Shayna Baszler was, as you probably expected, very not good. The final two match were both very good, although one, the Raw Women's Championship, had a screwy finish.

Scroll below for full results and analysis from Hell in a Cell 2021.

Bobby Lashley retains WWE Championship

Drew McIntyre can no longer challenge for the WWE Championship -- at least, as long as Bobby Lashley holds the strap. Lashley defeated McIntyre in the main event of Hell in a Cell with a roll up. It was an outstanding main event.

Lashley went outside straight away to try and get some weapons, but he got cutoff by McIntyre, who took most of the opening minutes. McIntyre hit a big ol' belly-to-belly suplex in the ring -- objectively the funnest suplex. The stairs eventually come into play, with McIntyre planting Lashley with a White Noise-esque slam onto the steps on the outside. 

Inside the ring, McIntyre obliterated Lashley with a flurry of big moves, including a reverse Alabama Slam onto a chair, a spinebuster and, after evading the Hurt Lock, a huge powerbomb. Then they go back to the outside, where Lashley turns things around by smashing McIntyre with the stairs. MVP and Lashley trap McIntyre in the corner by wedging a Kendo Stick through the cage holes, and after Lashley beats him down he chucks McIntytre back in the ring.

McIntyre began to Hulk Up, but then Lashley shoved him into a ref. With a ref down, McIntyre hit Lashley with a Future Shock DDT -- but there was no ref to make the count. McIntyre then got a Claymore Kick but MVP followed a new ref into the cage and broke up the pin.

McIntyre threw MVP into the ring an decked him with a Claymore Kick. MVP then rolled out of the ring, and McIntyre followed him outside for no obvious reason, and appeared to rip MVP's chain off -- again, for no real reason. It was a distraction, of course, for Lashley put the Hurt Lock on, but McIntyre broke it up by falling back through a table. 

The final few minutes were excellent. McIntyre missed a Claymore, and Lashley chokeslamed him from the apron through a table on the outside. That couldn't keep McIntyre down though, and he came back to hit a Futureshock DDT. McIntyre set up for a final Claymore, but MVP held his leg -- then Lashley rolled up him up to retain his title.

Rating: 4.25 stars. An interference finish for a Hell in a Cell match is unfortunately formulaic, and this was the second roll-up win of the show. But these two beat the crap out of each other and told a captivating story.

Rhea Ripley loses via DQ

"Man, this is great. This could be the match of the night". That's what I said to myself -- about 30 seconds before a terrible disqualification finish.

Rhea Ripley lost to Charlotte Flair by DQ after Ripley took the cover off the announcer's table and hit Flair with it. It came moments after Flair had Ripley nearly beat with a Figure Four in the ring. The finish was a letdown for two reasons. First, the match was working so great. Second, it was a bad disqualification. Wrestlers hit each other with announcer's table stuff all the time. It's an instance of something you've seen a thousand times before being a disqualification just because. It was lazy.

The two started explosively, and went back-and-forth in the opening minutes. It was good: Everything was crisp and intense. Then Flair got the upper hand and worked over Ripley's leg, getting a footlock through the ropes. From there, Ripley sold her leg. And man, she sold her leg. She did an excellent job. That lead to Charlotte getting the Figure Four in the center of the ring, and it legitimately looked like Ripley's title reign would end. Very nice false finish -- just a shame the actual finish was a bummer.

Rating: 3.25 stars. This match ruled until the finish. The upside is that I am very excited about the rematch. 

Sami Zayn beat Kevin Owens

The story here is that Owens still hadn't recovered from SmackDown, when his throat was crushed by Commander Azeez. He couldn't mount consistent offence without coughing an d wheezing, which allowed Zayn to consistantly regain control. Zayn hit a moonsault to the outside, injuring Owens' shoulder. 

From then on, the the last three quarters of the match, Owens was selling both his throat and his shoulder. It was a fantastic performance by Owens, whose selling was outstanding. He almost did get the win after catching Zayn with a Stunner on the outside, but Zayn got back into the ring, narrowly escaping countout. 

The finish came when Zayn kicked Owens, who fell throat-first into the bottom rope. Zayn then nailed a Helluva Kick for the win. The drama of this match would have been significantly improved if it didn't follow the horribly acted and woefully unrealistic Alexa Bliss match.

Rating: 3.75 stars. Excellent performances from both men.

Alexa Bliss vs. Shayna Baszler was awful

Alexa Bliss pinned Shayna Baszler after a modified Sister Abigail and a Twisted Bliss.

As expected, this was very bad. Shayna Baszler, who is awesome and who has a legit MMA background, at various points had to act scared of Bliss crawling at her, and later like she was being hypnotized. The match was more back-and-forth than Fiend matches, which was almost worse because it meant it went on and on.

Eventually Alexa Bliss hypnotized Nia Jax. As she was doing that, Baszler put on the Kirafuda Clutch. Bliss broke out of it immediately, then hit her finishers for the pin.

This sucked.

Rating: Bad.

Seth Rollins defeats Cesaro

Cesaro and Seth Rollins' third match for 2021 culminated with Rollins rolling up Cesaro for the win, bringing their record to 2-1. It was a strong finish: Cesaro was pulverizing Rollins, stomping his arm on the mat in brutal fashion, and went to pull Rollins into the Swing for a second time in the match before Rollins countered. 

The match was predictably excellent. Rollins ambushed Cesaro during the Swiss Superman's entrance to kick the bout off with a brawl. After Rollins got heat on Cesaro, including him trying to gouge out Cesaro's eyes in a casual throwback to last year's Extreme Rules, Cesaro started his comeback with some awesome European Uppercuts.

From there, it was excellent back-and-forth until the finish -- including a Giant Swing with 15 rotations, into a Sharpshooter -- into a crossface as Rollins reached for the rope. The indecisive rollup finish makes me think these two will wrestle again, which is OK with me. Seth Rollins' character is lacking and inauthentic, but watching these two wrestle is so much fun.

Rating: 4 stars.

Bianca Belair pins Bayley

The SmackDown Women's Championship Hell in a Cell match opened the show. Bianca Belair retained her championship, pinning Bayley after hitting a gnarly KOD ontop of a ladder.

Weapons come out straight away. Bayley brought in a chair, but Belair fought her off by whipping the chair with her hair. Belair's long braid came into things frequently -- soon after this Bayley "haircuffed" Belair by tying Belair's hair around the ropes. Towards the end of the match, Belair made a comeback by tying her braid around Bayley's wrist, essentially cuffing them together, before blitzing her with strikes and Kendo Stick shots.

The highlight was Bayley, while wedging kendo sticks between the ring and the cage, telling Michael Cole to shut up as he was talking about her loss at last year's Hell in a Cell. Moments later, Belair gave Bayley a spinebuster through those kendo sticks, which was also dope.

To me, this match was only OK. It felt like a collection of spots moreso than a match, with no real consistent story throughout. Of course, "felt like a collection of spots" is something you could say about many big matches in 2021, but it felt particularly pronounced here. There was also some sloppy coordination early on. Plus, Belair's hair felt overused: It was a big moment when she slapped Sasha with her hair at WrestleMania, now it seems like they're trying to replicate that by working her hair into as many pay-per-view matches as possible.

Rating: 3.25 stars.

Kickoff Show Results

Hell in a Cell's Kickoff Show featured one bout: Natalya versus Mandy Rose. Natalya submitted Rose after 9 minutes with a Sharpshooter.