Howdy, folks, and hope you’re having a fine Halloween. And in the interest of keeping things eerie, I’m going to deviate ever-so-slightly from my “five takeaways” formula on this occasion. Indeed, I shall be deviating from my usual rubric and, instead, offering several bullet points per match that I shall call, “Kenny’s Considered Synopses of The Evening’s Contests.” Really rolls off the tongue. So from Chris Jericho’s ass-slip to Charlotte and Sasha ruling the show’s rear end, here are my considered, match-by-match synopses from 2016’s Hell in a Cell.
Match No. 1: Rusev vs. Roman Riegns (For U.S. Title)
- You have to really contort yourself into a contrarian stance to motivate the Bulgarian Brute with, “Let’s go Rusev” chants.
- It’s been more than a minute since someone believably took a set of stairs to the temple.
- Gonna say it right now that I ain’t afraid of no kendo sticks.
- Wouldn’t the “epitome of barbaric,” as Corey Graves put it, be wrapping the chain around Roman’s throat rather than straining his jaw?
- Reigns’ limitations may have actually been exposed in this match, one in which something more innovative than a slightly elevated spear was merited after Rusev’s match-long assault.
- Winner: Roman Reigns
Match No. 2: Dana Brooke vs. Bayley
- Solid job by Dana of playing defense on behalf of her hair extensions while Bayley bashed her into the turnbuckles.
- Lest you were lacking clarity, we can now confirm – thanks to Corey Graves – that Dana Brooke did not earn her stripes at Full Sail, but rather under Charlotte’s “learning tree.”
- Pretty sure, based on how vocal fans typically are during any Bayley match, that they’re not particularly provoked by Dana one way or the other.
- Winner: Bayley
Match No. 3: Enzo and Cass vs. Gallows and Anderson
- I’m sorry, but between flipping the middle Bird and sloppy jalopy, why am I still breathless about how witless Enzo and Cass can be?
- That said, I enjoyed the House of Pain sleight of hand.
- Well, nothing like an anticlimactic ending to an interim feud.
- Cass can’t go solo soon enough.
- Winners: Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson
Match No. 4: Seth Rollins vs. Kevin Owens (For Universal Championship)
- What, you didn’t know it was called Kinesio Tape?
- Not sure how they could have done it differently, particularly given Finn Bálor being sidelined, but it still feels like Seth Rollins’ face turn has been a bit forced.
- Though it may not matter when the bottom line is you get to watch two guys who, collectively, are a composite of everything good about professional wrestling today flawlessly execute one quid pro quo after another.
- There are so many reasons why Owens owns WWE right now, but the most important is he takes as good as he gives. That spinal bump on the apron, and his popping up in a daze, were illustrative of what an equal opportunity performer he is. (Doubly so for getting power bombed through that table, insult to injury.) KO conquers when called for, and withers just enough. Despite his in-character braggadocio, Owens’ success is owed his selfless commitment to the craft.
- Too Much Jericho Butt Crack.
- Not at all too much of wondering what Chris Jericho’s end game is.
- Winner: Kevin Owens
Match No. 5: Brian Kendrick vs. T.J. Perkins (For Cruserweight Championship)
- Re: whoever shouted, “Get a fuckin’ haircut, hippie!” to Brian Kendrick, he’s a wizard, damnit.
- A la response to Dana Brooke, the silence for this match spoke volumes.
- Fair to say T.J. is the 1-2-3 kid of 2016?
- If this division wants to earn its storytelling chops, it can do better than the old, “fake injury for sympathy” routine.
- Winner: Brian Kendrick
Match No. 6: Sheamus and Cesaro vs. The New Day (For the Tag Team Championships)
- Between Kofi and Big Cass, does anyone realize the Red Sox aren’t actually in the World Series?
- I enjoyed Xavier Woods’ springboard elbow drop off the top rope. Guy is, in more ways than one, a gamer.
- Wood’s slow-climb to the top turnbuckle till Sheamous booted him off? Slightly less subtle.
- A fairly crafty ending with a lot of moving parts. It’s good for New Day’s historic run, and prolongs Sheamus and Cesaro’s circumstance without muddying it beyond logic. In short: a functional, if not phenomenal, penultimate bout.
- Winners by DQ: Sheamus and Cesaro
Match No. 7: Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks (For Women’s Championship)
- Nice touch dropping the cage post-introductions.
- Smart myth-making for Saha to pull a Mick “I’m not dead yet” Foley resurrection out the gate, crocodile tears and all.
- The best heels in each brand right now may well be Charlotte and AJ Styles, respectively. How the hell were they both faces mere months ago?
- Charlotte muttering in-match notes nearly undid the drama of those stiff chair shots. Nearly.
- There was a lot of theater before the bell rang, but that final few minutes was tactical, nuanced and utterly believable. This is the best WWE feud going.
- Let’s not quibble over whether it was contrived: A women’s Hell In a Cell title fight headlining a WWE PPV is historic. Glad to see we’ve gotten here.
- Winner: Charlotte