Hell in a Cell (2019)
|Hell in a Cell (2019)|
Promotional poster featuring Bray Wyatt as himself and "The Fiend"
|Date||October 6, 2019|
|Venue||Golden 1 Center|
|WWE Network event chronology|
|Hell in a Cell chronology|
Hell in a Cell (2019) was a professional wrestling pay-per-view and WWE Network event produced by WWE for their Raw and SmackDown brands. It took place on October 6, 2019 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California. It was the eleventh event under the Hell in a Cell chronology.
Nine matches were contested at the event, including one on the Kickoff pre-show. The main event, which was a Universal Championship Hell in a Cell match between defending champion Seth Rollins and "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt, ended by referee stoppage with no winner. In the other Hell in a Cell match, which opened the main show, Becky Lynch defeated Sasha Banks by submission to retain the Raw Women's Championship. Other prominent matches saw Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns defeating Erick Rowan and Luke Harper in a tornado tag team match, and Charlotte Flair defeated Bayley by submission to win her record fifth SmackDown Women's Championship and her record tenth championship overall on WWE's main roster.
The show comprised nine matches, including one on the Kickoff pre-show. The matches resulted from scripted storylines, where wrestlers portrayed heroes, villains, or less distinguishable characters in scripted events that built tension and culminated in a wrestling match or series of matches. Results were predetermined by WWE's writers on the Raw and SmackDown brands, while storylines were produced on WWE's weekly television shows, Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live (with the latter renamed to Friday Night SmackDown two days prior to the event).
Amid speculation that Bray Wyatt would challenge for the Universal Championship at Hell in a Cell, Wyatt seemingly confirmed the rumors in a Firefly Fun House segment on the September 2 episode of Raw. Following Seth Rollins' successful title defense against Braun Strowman at Clash of Champions, Wyatt appeared as his sinister alternate persona The Fiend and attacked Rollins with a Sister Abigail and the Mandible Claw. The following night on Raw, Rollins addressed The Fiend's attack and announced that he would be defending the Universal Championship against The Fiend in a Hell in a Cell match at the event.
At Clash of Champions, the Raw Women's Championship match between Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks ended in a disqualification win for Banks; thus Lynch retained as titles do not change hands via disqualification unless stipulated. Following the match, Lynch and Banks brawled throughout the arena. The following night on Raw, Banks challenged Lynch to a rematch at Hell in a Cell, and Lynch accepted as a Hell in a Cell match.
Prior to Clash of Champions, Erick Rowan had attacked Roman Reigns backstage and lied about it, resulting in him and Daniel Bryan splitting as a tag team. Rowan then defeated Reigns in a No Disqualification match at Clash of Champions thanks to the returning Luke Harper, reforming their tag team. On the following SmackDown, Rowan explained that he began to target Reigns to scare him and to show that Reigns was not the dominant figure he was presumed to be. Rowan also said that he had been overlooked, underappreciated, and disrespected and that he was not Bryan's equal, but better than him. Bryan later stated that regardless if he was a face or a heel, he had never lied, and he thought of Rowan as his friend. He was interrupted by Rowan and attacked by Harper. Reigns came out to Bryan's aid, only for Rowan and Harper to dominate Bryan and Reigns. The following week, Rowan defeated Bryan and following the match, Harper and Rowan attacked Bryan. Reigns again came to Bryan's aid, where they eventually overcame Rowan and Harper. Bryan and Reigns then challenged Rowan and Harper to a tag team match at Hell in a Cell which was made official. On SmackDown's 20th Anniversary on October 4, Reigns defeated Rowan in a lumberjack match and Bryan shook Reigns' hand out of mutual respect. The day of the event, their match was made a tornado tag team match.
At Clash of Champions, Bayley controversially defeated Charlotte Flair by slamming her head into an exposed turnbuckle to retain the SmackDown Women's Championship. Their feud would continue on subsequent episodes of Raw and SmackDown, also involving Sasha Banks and Raw Women's Champion Becky Lynch. On SmackDown's 20th Anniversary on October 4, Flair and Lynch teamed up against Bayley and Banks where Flair forced Bayley to submit to the Figure Eight Leg Lock. Because of the win, Flair earned herself a rematch for the SmackDown Women's Championship at Hell in a Cell.
In the King of the Ring final on the September 16 episode of Raw, Baron Corbin defeated Chad Gable to win the tournament, subsequently changing his ring name to King Corbin. The following night on SmackDown after Corbin insulted Gable, Gable attacked Corbin. A rematch between the two on the September 23 Raw ended in a disqualification after Corbin attacked Gable with his scepter. Another rematch was scheduled for Hell in a Cell.
On the September 16 episode of Raw, The O.C. (United States Champion AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson) defeated Cedric Alexander and The Viking Raiders (Ivar and Erik) in a six-man tag team match. Following the match, The O.C. attacked Alexander and The Viking Raiders. The following week, The Viking Raiders defeated Gallows and Anderson in a tag team match. On October 6, a match featuring The Viking Raiders and a partner of their choosing against all three members of The O.C. was scheduled for Hell in a Cell.
The day of the event, Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross were scheduled to defend the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship against The Kabuki Warriors (Asuka and Kairi Sane), the team that Bliss and Cross last eliminated in a fatal four-way tag team elimination match to win the titles back in August.
|Commentators||Vic Joseph (Raw)|
|Jerry Lawler (Raw)|
|Dio Maddin (Raw)|
|Michael Cole (SmackDown)|
|Corey Graves (SmackDown)|
|Spanish commentators||Carlos Cabrera|
|German commentators||Carsten Schaefer|
|Ring announcers||Greg Hamilton (SmackDown)|
|Mike Rome (Raw)|
|Pre-show panel||Jonathan Coachman|
During the Hell in a Cell Kickoff pre-show, Natalya faced Lacey Evans. In the climax, as Evans attempted a moonsault on Natalya, she avoided it and forced Evans to submit to the Sharpshooter to win the match.
The actual pay-per-view began with Becky Lynch defending the Raw Women's Championship against Sasha Banks in a Hell in a Cell match. In the end, Banks threw several chairs in the ring and attempted a meteora on Lynch who was laying on top of the chairs, only for Lynch to intercept Banks with an Exploder suplex from the top rope onto the chairs. Lynch then forced Banks to submit to the Dis-arm-her to retain the title.
Next was the Tornado Tag Team match where Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns faced Erick Rowan and Luke Harper. In the end, after Harper and Rowan dominated most of the match, Bryan performed a running knee on Harper, followed by Reigns performing a Superman Punch and a Spear on Harper to win the match. Following the match, Reigns attempted to shake Bryan's hand out of respect, only for Bryan to insist on a hug and the two eventually embraced.
After that, Randy Orton faced Ali. In the end, Orton performed an RKO on Ali to win the match.
In the fourth match, Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross defended the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship against The Kabuki Warriors (Asuka and Kairi Sane). In the climax, Sane distracted Bliss outside the ring while Asuka spat green mist in Cross' face and performed a roll-up on Cross to win the title.
After that, The O.C. (United States Champion AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson) faced The Viking Raiders (Ivar and Erik) and a partner of their choosing, which was revealed to be Braun Strowman. In the end, after Strowman dominated The O.C., the trio attacked Strowman and were eventually disqualified.
Next, King Corbin faced Chad Gable. In the climax, Corbin attempted to use his scepter on Gable, who avoided it and rolled up Corbin to win the match, with the ring announcer announcing him as Shorty Gable (upon Corbin's request).
After that, new 24/7 champion Tamina emerged from backstage to hide among the international broadcast teams. In a scuffle involving Funaki, Carmella performed a superkick on Tamina, followed by R-Truth pinning Tamina to win the 24/7 Championship for a record 20th time.
In the penultimate match, Bayley defended the SmackDown Women's Championship against Charlotte Flair. In the end, Flair forced Bayley to submit to the Figure Eight Leglock to win the title for a record fifth time, and her overall record tenth women's championship on WWE's main roster.
In the main event, Seth Rollins defended the Universal Championship against "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt in a Hell in a Cell match, which was bathed in red lighting. During the match, Rollins performed a total of eleven Stomps and one Pedigree on The Fiend, with The Fiend kicking out at one in every pinfall attempt, except the final, in which he kicked out at two. The Fiend used a gigantic mallet on Rollins, and later performed Sister Abigail on Rollins for a nearfall. Rollins then resorted to using a steel chair, a ladder, and a toolbox with Rollins specifically targeting The Fiend's head. With The Fiend buried under the weapons, Rollins obtained a sledgehammer but the referee urged him to not use it. After contemplation, Rollins slammed the sledgehammer on top of the weapons over The Fiend, and the referee called for the bell to stop the match without any winner. After the cage was raised, paramedics tended to The Fiend, who got up and attacked Rollins with the Mandible Claw. Outside the ring, The Fiend performed Sister Abigail on Rollins and then performed a second Sister Abigail on the exposed concrete before incapacitating Rollins with the Mandible Claw as blood poured from Rollins' mouth as the event ended.
Hell in a Cell received negative reviews, with the main event match being the overwhelming focus of criticism. Of note, the crowd rejected the perceived illogical finish of the main event match (a referee stoppage of a match under no DQ rules that traditionally doesn't end in such a manner), chanting "bullshit", "refund", "restart the match", and also "AEW", in reference to All Elite Wrestling, a rival wrestling company. On social media, the event ended up trending "for the wrong reasons", as WWE fans made "memes about the ending to Hell in a Cell while questioning the logic behind the promotion's booking". Also trending after the event was #CancelWWENetwork. According to Dave Meltzer on Wrestling Observer Radio, the main event was perceived by WWE as "a disaster, and that’s an understatement". WWE Hall of Famer X-Pac, who appeared on WWE's live reaction talk show Watch Along, reacted indignantly to the end of the main event. Acknowledging that WWE may not invite him back to such reaction shows, X-Pac nevertheless questioned: "how the hell do you get DQ'd in a Hell in a freakin' Cell?"
Dave Meltzer, on the Wrestling Observer Radio, stated that from a "decision making" and "mental booking standpoint", Hell in a Cell was "one of the worst" professional wrestling pay-per-views of all time. Alternatively, from a "wrestling execution standpoint", Hell in a Cell was a "better than okay" show, with two opening matches being "really good" and the middle being "fine", but it was just "killed by the last match". On the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, the event was described as a "disaster". Meltzer rated the two opening matches 4 stars, and the main event -2 stars. The latter was described as "perhaps the worst main event in pro wrestling history where the fault doesn't at all lie in either of the competitors", due to "the tinting of the visual, the overly long match, the babyface who the crowd was rejecting more-and-more and a finish that can't be explained". Meltzer also criticized the "wonky match order", as after the first two big matches were over, the crowd "was just waiting for the main event" (only three matches were promoted on TV), resulting in a "blah" middle of the show that seemed like it "took forever".
Philip Martinez of Newsweek stated that Hell in a Cell "may go down in history for one of the more disappointing finishes in modern WWE history." Daniel van Boom of CNET called Hell in a Cell "a bad show", "as bad as it gets" for any show with "two great matches on them" (the Raw women's title match and the tornado tag team match), as most of the show was "skippable, and the ending was fantastically stupid".
Mike Tedesco of WrestleView declared Hell in a Cell to be the worst WWE PPV held in 2019 within the United States thus far. Tedesco wrote that the main event's "bad storytelling" hurt the perception of its participants and the Hell in a Cell match gimmick. Banks-Lynch was "slow at times with some mistimed spots, but they were innovative in this and worked hard," while Orton-Ali "was pretty damn good" for an unannounced match. The tornado tag match and Bayley-Charlotte were "decent." The trios match was "really, really bad", the women's tag title match was "painfully dull", and Gable-Corbin was "just there".
Adam Silverstein and Jack Crosby of CBS Sports stated that Hell in a Cell would be remembered by the "sentiment of the fans to the booking" of the main event - WWE's "confounding" choices left the live audience "understandably upset." They graded the main event "C+," stating that the match was "heading in the right direction until the endless stomps began," and the ending "was typical WWE not delivering." In spite of the main event, there were "a variety of other enjoyable moments over the course of the show." Natalya-Evans on the pre-show was rated "C-," yet was the "best match of their (too long) rivalry." Banks-Lynch was an "A+" "barn burner," although the reviewers were left "wondering whether the right person went over in the end -- if Banks is not going to beat Lynch, who actually will?" Charlotte-Bayley was "B+" "good," although "another Flair title reign is ho-hum." Lastly, the women's tag match was rated "B": "Highly entertaining for an unexpected match".
Jason Powell of Pro Wrestling Dot Net stated the "show peaked with the first two matches, but that awful main event finish is one that will be talked about for years to come." It "was one of the most idiotic finishes" he'd "ever seen." Powell also criticized the finishes to the trios match and Bayley-Charlotte. Wade Keller of Pro Wrestling Torch called the main event a "disaster start to finish," stating that it was "stupid" that a Hell in A Cell match was ended because it got too violent. Therefore, Keller declared AEW the winner of the main event. As for the rest of the show, Keller described Lynch-Banks as "tremendous," 4.25 stars out of 5, and the tornado tag match as "excellent," 4 stars. Corbin-Gable as their "least inspired effort so far," the 24/7 title events as "really flat" including "stereotypical zany comedy antics" by the former Japanese wrestler Funaki, and lastly, Orton-Ali as lacking excitement.
Matt Fowler of IGN stated that Hell in a Cell ended like "everything's ruined." The event was "almost like an afterthought," with only four matches announced a day before the show. It could have been "lean and mean" but ended up the opposite: "a lot is needless bloat." Lynch-Banks was an "instant classic" as the wrestlers "truly went to hell here." The tornado tag match was "non-stop," and although its finish was "predictable," the match "did a decent job of making us forget that the story that got us here was pretty damn dumb." Ali's continued losses to Orton is "getting uncomfortable," and the trios match was "not important." Asuka's usage of the mist was "ferociously fun," while Bayley-Charlotte was "good." The main event left Fowler "pissed" because the ending was inexplicable, and also questioned the red lighting.
On the following Raw, all the women's champions were put into a champions showcase tag team match, featuring Raw Women's Champion Becky Lynch and new SmackDown Women's Champion Charlotte Flair against new Women's Tag Team Champions The Kabuki Warriors (Asuka and Kairi Sane). The Kabuki Warriors won after Asuka spat green mist in Lynch's face and Sane pinned her. After the match, former tag team champions Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross ran out and attacked The Kabuki Warriors.
The 2019 WWE Draft began on the following episode of SmackDown. On that episode, Bayley, sporting shorter hair and destroying her Bayley-buddies during her entrance, reclaimed the SmackDown Women's Championship from Charlotte Flair. On the subsequent Raw, number one Raw draft pick Becky Lynch was scheduled to face SmackDown draftee Sasha Banks in a non-title rematch to determine which brand would receive the first draft pick of the night. Banks, however, was unable to compete due to injury and was replaced by Charlotte Flair. Lynch won and Flair was later drafted to Raw.
Also during the following SmackDown (the first night of the 2019 draft), Universal Champion Seth Rollins (representing Raw) faced Roman Reigns (representing SmackDown) with the winner earning that brand the first draft pick that night. At the climax, "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt appeared and attacked Rollins, resulting in Rollins winning via disqualification and earning Raw the first draft pick. Wyatt was later drafted to SmackDown. On the following Raw (night two of the draft), Rollins was drafted to Raw, but scheduled to have a championship rematch with The Fiend at Crown Jewel in a Falls Count Anywhere match.
King Corbin faced Chad Gable, now officially going by Shorty Gable, in a rematch on the October 11 SmackDown which Corbin won.
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