Matthew Roberts takes a look at the latest WWE Home Video release, one of the most controversial PPV’s of the year: Hell in a Cell 2019.
Wrestling is a funny thing and makers of rose tinted glasses could earn a fortune from its fans. Hell in a Cell 2019 saw one of the angriest outpourings of venom from the “IWC” in recent times. The same people who want a return to the Attitude Era or mourn the passing of peak WCW now seemed to have a problem with an overbooked main event with a daft finish which made a mockery of a match gimmick that was once reserved for a violent feud ender that overshadowed what was otherwise generally a decent show.
And that was before we got to the elephant in the room; if you are going to whinge and moan incessantly about a match finish, at least make sure you get it right before embarking on an epic rant. For the record, Seth Rollins against Bray Wyatt did not end with a DQ.
Now I’m not here to defend the main event per se; it wasn’t very good. It wasn’t very good even before all the sub-par Vince Russo booking kicked in. For all the plus point of his new character, it was too soon for Bray Wyatt to be in the title picture. Double down on that if you are booking and don’t want Seth Rollins to drop the belt at this time. You see, sometimes the WWE would be much better off NOT listening to what the fans want. And that sums up my own main problem with it. You should never book a PPV main event, especially one held in Hell in a Cell, where you don’t want one guy to lose and yet can’t have his opponent taking the loss because that would destroy his character.
But for all the disaster that the main event was, should that unfairly taint what was good underneath it? You know, in the same way that people now claim that whilst the main events of WCW ppv’s invariably sucked when certain guys were in them it didn’t really matter because the undercard had the good stuff anyway.
The opener was certainly worthy of being in the “good stuff” category. Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch actually had a feud that had progressed to the level of a Cell match being a good idea. They had the sense to make it hard-hitting and make you believe the animosity between them. They had some cool, previously unseen, spots thrown in and kept the fans attention from start to finish. Add in the fact that the booking had the balls to deliver a clean, decisive finish and you have a match that whilst not up with the VERY best of the Cell oeuvre was certainly one of the better efforts.
It was followed by another very good match as Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan took on Luke Harper and Erick Rowan in a Tornado Tag Team Match. It had a fast pace from bell to bell that hardly ever slowed, had things going on all over the place and was a competitive affair that treated everyone equally. Randy Orton and Ali couldn’t really follow the opening two matches, largely because the fans were disinterested in it compared to what had gone before and they never really gave them anything out of the ordinary that would have ignited them. That’s not to say it was bad though; it was a perfectly acceptable contest which featured some cool moments. In a logical booking world this sort of hard-fought loss to a “superstar” would eventually lead to Ali making a big breakthrough against other superstars and getting a big high-profile revenge win over Orton. Shame, that!
The action picked up again with the Women’s Tag Team Title defence by Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross against the Kabuki Warriors. Asuka and Kairi Sane are, of course, simply wonderful and they, to an extent, carried the match by leaning heel all the way to the mist-blowing finish that saw them become the new champions. But despite all the brickbats thrown her way by those “knowledgeable” people on the internet, Bliss can work and the chemistry between her and Cross is sublime. A well worked effort that was (not so) arguably the best straight tag match the division had seen up to that point.
The Viking Warriors and Braun Strowman battled the OC next in a match that had an mid 1990’s ECW vibe to it in some ways, but was let down by the unsatisfactory DQ finish. Perhaps we should have taken that as foreshadowing over what was to come at the end of the show. What made the non-finish worse is that would it really have hurt either side to take a pinfall loss here? King Corbin and Chad Gable didn’t fare that much better; their match was OK but was a couple of notches below their King of the Ring final. All that was left of the undercard was the Smackdown Women’s Title match between Bayley and Charlotte which was another slight disappointment. It’s perhaps becoming more and more of a moot point these days to even mention Charlie’s numerous title reigns but as this one only seemed to set up the “shocking” switch back to Bayley on Smackdown, you really wonder what the point was.
There’s a fair bit of justified negativity that can be thrown towards Hell in a Cell 2019. The main event was not very good and the fact that most of the card was unknown until mere days before the event reeks of laziness from the WWE. But to dismiss an entire card on this basis would be unfair. There’s some very good action on the show and nothing, main event aside, that could be deemed offensive. By no means the greatest night of WWE action from 2019, but with a sense of perspective held by the viewer there’s plenty to enjoy too.
Format Reviewed: DVD
Photographs courtesy of Fetch and WWE
Thank you to our friends at WWE Home Video for the review copy of Hell in a Cell 2019 which is out Monday 18 November on DVD. You can buy your copy from WWEDVD.co.uk by clicking here.
You can find me on Twitter @IWFICON