By: Brian McDonald (@sackedbybmac)
Not all WWE Pay-Per-Views based around a gimmick match were created equally.
When it’s the Royal Rumble and that gimmick match determines who faces the World Champion at WrestleMania, it feels important and significant, but obviously that’s not the case for the annual Hell In A Cell PPV.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Hell in a Cell matches, but scheduling them for one annual PPV feels forced.
Gimmick matches with extreme rules should be used to end feuds, with the tension and drama of the feud building up gradually over several months, until it’s so hot that a demonic structure like Hell in a Cell is the only way to give the story a dramatic and fitting end.
Whether or not their feuds are hot enough to warrant a Hell in a Cell match is debatable, but at least with Roman Reigns vs. Rusev, and Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte, their matches at this PPV seem like the end of those feuds after months of battling each other.
This will probably be the final match between Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins for awhile, but I don’t think their feud has been built up enough to deserve a cell match at this point.
On top of that problem, putting three cell matches on the same card waters down the overall impact the violence is intended to have for the audience. Once we’ve seen the expected high spots a couple times, what keeps those moments fresh for the third match? Too much of a good thing is a problem.
So why will their WWE Universal Championship match take place inside Hell in a Cell? The only guess I have that makes sense is they didn’t want their main title match to feel less important than the two Hell in a Cell matches already on the card.
If the three Hell in a Cell matches hit their high spots, the PPV will be a fun three-hour show and the problems with its setup will be forgotten. So with that in mind, let’s get right to the predictions.
One final quick note: In this article the predicted winner will obviously be who I think WWE will book to win, while the fantasy booking part will be who I think should win and what that means for the story lines going forward.
And make sure to follow me on Twitter during the event for live updates and opinion.
WWE Universal Championship: Kevin Owens (C) vs. Seth Rollins inside Hell in a Cell
Predicted Winner: Kevin Owens by pinfall
Fantasy Booking: This feud needs to end now because both performers have other programs already building. It seems likely the story line best-friendship between Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho will end soon and transform into a feud, while I assume Seth Rollins will start the build up to his expected WrestleMania match with Triple H by the end of the year.
Since they used Triple H as the champion obstacle for Roman Reigns to conquer at WrestleMania 32, it seems unlikely they’d repeat the same story line for Seth Rollins at WrestleMania 33. So if that’s the case, Seth Rollins shouldn’t come out of Hell In A Cell with the championship. I love the idea of a Seth Rollins vs. Triple H match at WrestleMania 33, but it shouldn’t be for the title.
By the way, I can’t wait for the Owens vs. Jericho feud.
WWE United States Championship: Roman Reigns (C) vs. Rusev inside Hell in a Cell
Predicted Winner: Roman Reigns by pinfall
Fantasy Booking: Let me go back a little bit by saying they should have saved Roman Reigns going over on Rusev for this Hell in a Cell match, instead of having him win the title at Clash of Champions last month. Reigns chasing and winning the title from Rusev this month, would have been a better finish to the rivalry than him defending the title.
We can’t turn back time, but as a WWE fan I like Rusev as the United States Champion more than I do Reigns. Rusev is an effective anti-American heel, whereas Reigns doesn’t pull off the rah-rah go America act very naturally.
Anyway, Reigns needs to win this match so he can move on to defending the title against the next heel challenger. We all know Reigns will eventually win this feud—and all other feuds—so booking Rusev to win would extend the rivalry to a point where it dragged on and bored most fans.
I’m afraid to suggest this because I don’t want him to get buried, but I’m intrigued by a Reigns/Braun Strowman feud going forward for the United States Championship.
For Rusev, a feud with Sami Zayn could be interesting. Of course I know they’re currently building something between Strowman and Zayn, but that doesn’t seem like a long-running feud, so they could go to what I suggested quickly after that ends.
WWE Womens Championship: Sasha Banks (C) vs. Charlotte inside Hell in a Cell
Predicted Winner: Sasha Banks by pinfall
Fantasy Booking: They’ve already flipped the title back and forth too quickly between these two the last couple months, so I’d like to see Sasha Banks get an extended run as champion, and hopefully start a championship program with Bayley in the not so distant future.
This feud between Sasha and Charlotte has been great, but I didn’t like the decision to put this match inside Hell in a Cell.
I don’t dislike Sasha vs Charlotte inside HIAC because it’s women in an extreme match, I just hate matches that don’t live up to the advertised gimmick. The wrestlers involved have to live up to the implied violence of the gimmick or the match doesn’t work.
Sasha is a great wrestler, but of the two, only Charlotte is physical enough to work that type of gimmick match. Just look to their recent RAW match when Charlotte did a corkscew moonsault from the top rope to the outside, but Sasha just put an arm out because she couldn’t catch her like a stronger wrestler would.
Sasha worked parts of violent matches against Bayley in their August and October 2015 NXT Women’s Title matches, but did so mostly giving and not taking those moves. Again, I like Sasha as a personality and she’s really good in the ring, but she’s not big enough or strong enough to execute HIAC type bumps and spots.
If they stick with what Mick Foley said about it being the main event and have it follow the two other HIAC matches, that will make the booking even worse. Rusev vs Reigns, and Rollins vs Owens are going to do all the big, violent HIAC spots that Sasha can’t pull off, and their match will fall flat.
That or they’ll have to book the other two matches with less flashy moves to protect the women’s main event.
I’m all for extreme rules gimmick matches if the performers can live up to the implied violence while still working safely. Sasha can’t, that’s all.
WWE Tag Team Championship: The New Day (C) vs. Sheamus and Cesaro
Predicted Winner: The New Day
Fantasy Booking: At some point The New Day will need to lose their belts to let them chase as challengers and freshen up their story lines, but we haven’t reached that point yet. For the short term, The New Day should hold on to their belts for a couple more months so they can break the longest tag team title run currently held by Demolition, since they’re within 50 days of that record.
Longer term, and I know this would be baby face vs. baby face, but I’d like to see them go into a title feud with Enzo and Cass where they eventually put over that duo and drop the belts to them.
I like Cesaro and Sheamus, but random tag team pairings don’t work and they shouldn’t be given a title run.
WWE Cruiserweight Championship: T.J. Perkins (C) vs. Brian Kendrick
Predicted Winner: T.J. Perkins
Fantasy Booking: With the division just coming to Monday Night RAW last month, they need to establish someone as their top star and really put that person over. T.J. Perkins is charismatic and performs well in the ring, so keep the belt on him and help get him over.
Oh and as a child of the 90’s, I love the 8-bit music his uses for his ring entrance (above).
Dropping the belt now and switching it too quickly would be a mistake while trying to establish a top star for their new division. Oh, and they should reconsider presenting it as it’s own show with different lighting and different colored ring ropes.
Tag Team Match: Enzo and Cass vs. Gallows and Anderson
Predicted Winner: Enzo and Cass
Fantasy Booking: The question that needs to be answered to book this match is, who do they need to put over before going into a bigger program? This feud seems temporary to keep them active while waiting for something bigger, so this match can’t be booked 50/50 with a non-finish and instead must build momentum for the winner.
Gallows and Anderson just ended a title feud with The New Day, so it seems unlikely they would go right back to facing The New Day again after this Hell In A Cell PPV.
So the more logical option would be to book Enzo and Cass for the win. They’re by far the most over group of the two involved in this match and deserve a championship feud soon. Plus they’d be the better fit to face Sheamus and Cesaro if those two win the titles from The New Day.
Bayley vs. Dana Brooke
Predicted Winner: Bayley
Fantasy Booking: It has to be Bayley.
She’s the star here and needs to keep building momentum, especially since Dana Brooke has gone over on Bayley a couple times recently on Monday Night RAW, including that ridiculous arm wrestling bit last week.
Going forward Bayley should go into a championship feud with the winner of the match between Sasha and Charlotte.