Filmhounds Magazine

All things film – In print and online

“One of the Greatest Performances in Professional Wrestling History” – Five Key Takeaways From WWE “Hell in a Cell”

7 min read

For their latest PPV (sorry, Premium Live Event) offering, Hell in a Cell, WWE graced the legendary Allstate Arena in Chicago with their presence. On paper, Hell in a Cell appeared to be the latest in a long line of forgettable secondary WWE PPVs. However, an epic conclusion to and ' trilogy inside Hell in a Cell, along with a host of other matches surpassing expectations and the “hot” Chicago crowd, meant this PPV wound up being a high-quality show. In addition to producing arguably the match or moment of the year, the show also maintained WWE's recent string of very well booked PPVs. So here are our 5 key takeaways from Hell in a Cell.

  1. Any Combination of & is Must See:

HIAC - Becky vs. Bianca vs. Asuka

It's hard to imagine people looking past a match featuring Becky Lynch, Bianca Belair, and , but arguably that is what transpired in the lead-up to HIAC. One cannot really blame WWE or the fans for this due to the Sasha Banks-Naomi drama and the Raw Women's Championship match quickly coming together because of it. However, the three women did not need long to remind us what they can do. Plus, for Becky and Bianca, it was another chance to once again compete against Cody and Seth for the honours of the match of the night.

The match was fast and furious from the offset, with all three women getting a chance to shine. Asuka looked noticeably more aggressive. Her combo of strikes on Becky earlier in the match looked vicious, and the Chicago crowd was lapping up every blow. There were plenty of fantastic joint spots with all three superstars and countless believable near-falls that brilliantly enhanced the respective stories within the match, such as Asuka being a thorn in Becky's side by constantly breaking up her pins at the very last second. Also, Becky's constant covers and reactions also showed her newfound desperation to get back her prized possession, the RAW Women's Championship.

HIAC - Becky vs. Bianca vs. Asuka 2

The end of the match came when Lynch threw Belair out of the ring and hit Asuka with The Manhandle Slam. However, Belair quickly returned the favour and entered the ring to throw Becky out and pin Asuka one, two, and three. It ended with another great bit of storytelling, as Belair beat Becky again, this time at her own game, which was evident by the former Champion's look of shock and embarrassment. The ending only advances this evergreen tale of Becky and Belair while perfectly paving the way for Asuka to stay involved. Incredible opener and a reminder that any match involving Becky and Bianca has show-stealing potential.

HIAC - Becky vs. Bianca vs. Asuka 3

  1. vs. Roman Reigns? … Why Not?

HIAC Lashley vs. Omos & MVP

Bobby Lashley vs. MVP & Omos in a handicap match was never designed to set the world on fire, but to the credit of all involved, this feud has seen steady improvement in the in-ring work and the structure of the matches involving these behemoths. In a surprising turn of events, this handicap match continued that trend, with the live crowd playing their part as they were solidly behind ‘The All Mighty' at every turn. But perhaps more importantly, this match seems to have put Lashley back in a title picture while also protecting Omos from suffering another pinfall loss.

The match was simple, but it flowed well. Omos controlled a large portion of it, even delivering one of the more memorable moments by running Lashley through the barricade. Not only did it look great, but it provided Lashley with a great ‘close call' as he beat the count, much to the delight of the fans. MVP played the cowardly heel to perfection, becoming overconfident at times and selecting opportune times to strike Lashley at his weakest. In the end, after Cedric Alexander interfered with the aid of Lashley (after being rejected by MVP earlier in the show), Lashley was able to spear Omos and apply the hurt lock on MVP to get the submission victory. The crowd popped big for Lashley, and interestingly, in his celebration, he not only gestured to putting the belt around his waist but raised a WWE title he plucked from the fans high in the air. Seemingly suggesting he's next for Roman. Whether this is the case remains to be seen. However, Lashley vs. Roman is a fresh and marquee match, so few would complain about this pairing.

HIAC Lashley vs. Omos & MVP 2

  1. Makes Everything Work!

Kevin Owens vs. Ezekiel was a surprisingly strong bout that highlighted, in case you needed any reminding, how good Kevin Owens is. Although Ezekiel (not Elias) more than did his part, this match clicked thanks to the antics of Owens. He sold for Ezekiel when needed, and his mid-match berating of Ezekiel only increased the crowd's involvement, all be it sometimes that meant Owens being cheered more than his opponent. The match had some good near-falls, but ultimately, Owens superkicked Ezekiel twice, who was aiming for a top rope manoeuvre, before hitting a stunner while hilariously screaming “Elias!” A fun bout in what has been a consistently fun rivalry.

HIAC - Kevin Owens vs. Ezekiel

  1. is Officially Rolling:

HIAC - Balor, Liv, AJ vs. Judgement Day

The Judgement Day officially became a group at Backlash 2022 when Rhea Ripley became the third member. Since then, they've produced some strong promos, but it was finally time to see the group in a big match, and they had the perfect opponents in AJ Styles, Finn Balor, and Liv Morgan.

The match started fast, with the fiery babyfaces clearing house and Liv Morgan being thrown high in the air by AJ Styles, only to catch Ripley in a hurricanrana. It got the match off to an exciting start, with fans getting behind their favourites and giving them some momentum before The Judgement Day took back control. What followed was a pretty basic (yet effective) formula for the remainder of the match, as it mostly consisted of Judgement Day cutting off the ring and limiting Styles' involvement, particularly against Edge.

HIAC - Balor, Liv, AJ vs. Judgement Day 2

In the end, Styles entered and finally hit the Phenomenal Forearm on Edge in a match. The commentators, to their credit, sold this fact, and Edge not moving post-the Forearm helped sell the impact of it too. However, after Balor looked to hit the Coup De Grace on Edge, Ripley once again stood in Balor's way, and the ruler of the Mountain of Omnipotence found an opening and hit Styles with a spear for the win. It's now official, The Judgement Day is officially rolling, and they did so after prevailing in a very fun match. Kudos to all involved, and considering what transpired on RAW, it makes this outcome all the more effective.

HIAC - Balor, Liv, AJ vs. Judgement Day 3

  1. Cody Rhodes Delivers One of the Greatest Performances of All Time:

HIAC - Cody Rhodes vs Seth Rollins

In a full-circle moment, the city that played host to ALL IN also happened to be the host for Rhodes' first PPV main event in WWE. Unfortunately for Rhodes, he had to wrestle it with a full torn pectoral. The majority of fans likely knew that Cody Rhodes was entering Hell in a Cell with Seth Rollins with a torn pectoral, but few realised the extent of the injury and what they were about to be in store for in this epic main event. After Seth Rollins' entrance, which saw him reveal an outfit draped in polka dots (ala Dusty Rhodes), Rhodes entered while noticeably not raising his right arm much. As the two stood in the ring, Rhodes removed his jacket to reveal a giant purple bruise on his pectoral and right arm, which stunned and brought the typically rowdy Chicago crowd to a hush. That moment set the tone for what followed in this surreal blurring of reality and fiction.

Minutes into the match, it was apparent Cody Rhodes had many limitations, and this created a sense of sympathy that's difficult to generate in wrestling today. The performance no longer mattered to fans. Collectively, they were likely willing to accept Rhodes' best efforts and hope he comes out of the match okay, and possibly with a win! It felt one-hundred percent real, and both superstars in the ring expertly used this to their advantage to create a captivating pro wrestling match.

HIAC - Cody Rhodes vs Seth Rollins 2

The bout largely consisted of simple spots, which involved Rhodes selling the arm while Rollins tried to take advantage of the obvious bullseye. Rhodes selling (or genuine anguish) was powerful, and it was difficult not to grimace watching his struggle. However, weapons came in abundance to up the ante (and emotion), as did the continued Dusty Rhodes and later Triple H inspired gimmicks. Rhodes pulled out a bull rope, screaming at Rollins to put it on, and the two fought over that. The grandson of a plumber incredibly took a powerbomb through a table, and despite the pace of the moves being slower, the conclusion still saw countless brilliant near-falls that had you on the edge of your seat. Every Cross Rhodes, every Curb Stomp, and every moment Rhodes winced while clutching his injured body part was captivating television, and it became apparent we were witnessing a truly special performance.

In the end, Rhodes hit two Cross Rhodes on Rollins, but instead of hitting a third, he dropped his rival and used the sledgehammer to deliver the final devastating and symbolic blow. Rhodes won in an all-time classic that will undeniably go down as one of the greatest performances in professional wrestling history. Dave Meltzer called it: “among the most compelling matches in pro wrestling history,” and no matter your opinion of Meltzer, it's hard to argue with that statement. This is a match and a performance that will be talked about for years to come, as Cody Rhodes truly made himself “undeniable.”

HIAC - Cody Rhodes vs Seth Rollins 3

The rest of the card saw Madcap Moss defeat Happy Corbin in a solid No Holds Barred match, while Theory retained his US Championship against hometown boy Mustafa Ali, which was also a strong bout. However, the number one takeaway from this Hell in a Cell card will be Cody Rhodes vs. Seth “Frickin” Rollins inside Hell in a Cell.

All images are courtesy of WWE

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *