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Hell in a Cell 2021


Supremo
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My first WWE pay per view since Wrestlemania after only catching a handful of Smackdown episodes, it was mostly the same old, same old. Solid work from the wrestlers, but little else. It’s truly amazing that you can zone out for months and then come back and nothing’s really changed. I’d say they’re on autopilot until the crowds come back but I could equally believe they’ll continue this into the Summer and beyond.

Alexa is still finding new lows with her spooky nonce-baiting bollocks. Drew continues to look like a massive dickhead, forever failing in the most stupid of ways, presumably because Brock Lesnar is waiting in the wings for Summerslam. And everything involving Charlotte continues to have this weird, wonky booking where they’re happy to pump out any old shite and kill whatever momentum they have just as long as Charlotte never takes a clean loss. Heaven forbid. I genuinely have no idea what the viewer was supposed to take away from that DQ finish. Everyone looked dumb. Presuming Rhea is the babyface here, this killed her dead. She looked an absolute berk celebrating that she remained champion. Remember when she was a star? Two years running she’s been Charlotte’d now. She must dread seeing her name on the call sheet.

It wasn’t all bad, though. Bianca vs. Bayley and Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn were both really, really good and as my first taste of the Bellator fella at the desk he was far better and felt far more natural than I ever could have expected. I don’t think it’s a coincidence at all that the best commentators in WWE are almost always the new guys who haven’t had their spirits broken yet. Pat McAfee continues to shine on the blue brand, too.

Fuck everything else though. The best part of this show by millions of miles was this moment, which may have been the best accidental look behind the magician’s curtain in as long as I can remember. They tried to do a crash pad spot on live PPV and, well. Check it out. They gave away how the trick worked in the most comedic of ways.

The little hand pushing the table from underneath the ring! I love it so much! Like something off, “Exposed! Pro-Wrestling’s Greatest Secrets!” “You didn’t think they actually went through tables…did you?

What’s even better is that they felt the need to do a crash pad spot in a match where Drew’s back ended up looking like this anyway.

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In retrospect, a bump through a table from the apron was the least of your worries, young Drew! Poor bastard. Imagine putting yourself through that much punishment to become just another chapter in the book about how Vince McMahon can’t book a top babyface. It’s fully bonkers that Drew was the best booked top babyface of the last decade the whole time they didn’t have fans, and then the moment fans were on the horizon they reverted back to the same nonsense that killed Roman for years, always losing the big matches, always looking like an idiot. Genuinely wouldn’t shock me at this point if the returning fans start booing him. If he’s got any sense he should already be campaigning for the heel turn.

But yeah. It’s so typical of WWE to get on a kick like using crash pads but then take it too far and try to do it on a live show for a relatively safe spot that guys take quite regularly.

Still, we’ll always have the memories. It’s nice when there’s an image so historic that you always remember it whenever you hear the immortal words, “Hell in a Cell.”

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Edited by Supremo
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Hell in a Cell is certainly another victim of the yearly gimmick PPVs watering down everything. That's not to say that they're not capable of delivering good to great matches some years but the overuse does mean the anticipation has gone completely.

Bianca/Bayley was a decent match, which was never in doubt, but yet another rematch and one that didn't need the Cell. Some innovative spots and Belair did a great job in her first Cell effort but hardly a match anyone will be rushing back to watch in future.

Rollins/Cesaro - ah yes, a rematch. Why not. Both guys work exceptionally well together but by the time that sneaky Seth roll up had happened, I felt utterly deflated that it clearly wasn't the end of this feud.

Baszler and Bliss tore the place down. No, I'm kidding. Everyone thought it was going to be shit and it was shit.

The never ending saga of Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens continued but one thing that does impress me with these guys is that they're good at (a) call backs to previous matches and (b) trying to come up with different spots even now. And the fact Sami got a win on PPV for a change was nice.

Now I've not watched RAW properly in forever so I'm only judging on bits I've seen here and there but they've properly fucked Ripley. I hate what her character is now, although that's not even that clear. She should've been as easy as Belair to transition to the main roster. She really didn't need that much tweaking but they've fucked it. I have little to no interest in her anymore.

It makes me wonder where Becky Lynch will fit in - if she goes to RAW then I can't see people supporting Ripley over her, and that just means the Rhea push is over yet again. Over on SmackDown I think Belair has a stronger hold on her position and it's an intriguing match to me but yeah it's a tough call.

I could not care less about Lashley and Drew. At all. And the fact they ran that shitty finish after already doing a surprise roll up thing in Seth's match is just lazy.

The many people making the 'Wrestlemania Backlash Backlash' joke about this PPV on social media were spot on really. It really does feel more than ever like we're in a holding pattern until the fans come back now.

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1 hour ago, Hannibal Scorch said:

“Charlotte is the best woman’s wrestler”

To be fair, that’s working really safe.

 

What’s the issue here? She’s clearly fighting off a John Cena run in.

Yeah… a joke as worn out as all of the rematches on this card.

Did they end a “blood feud” inside HIAC with a roll up? I’m of two minds about that finish. Firstly, what a way to make your valiant babyface look like a wazzock. Secondly, it’s genius, who would expect a roll up when they’ve been trying to kill each other for an hour?! Except, we see roll up finishes about 10 times a week throughout their 50 hours of TV, so losing to one makes you look like a chump.

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Just to balance out some of the negatives with one positive, I thought the opening video for this show was actually pretty good. The radio voice had a bit of The Warriors about it, and it felt like at least some sort of attempt to do something a bit different. But yeah, a nothing show for the most part. Nothing awful, but certainly nothing memorable. 

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Looking at the state of this show, it's never been more obvious that in WWE, you're either Roman or you're nobody. It's why I've lost interest in the Tribal Chief thing. Roman's fantastic, and it's some of the best stuff they've ever written, but ultimately, what's the point? They're never gonna make a new babyface, and nothing else matters. Even Drew and Lashley are being distracted and rolled-up like every other meaningless dork.

The only endgame is Roman. Again, he's great. But it's seven years of it. Him blasting through go-nowhere midcarders and endlessly dominating every babyface until they're ready to pull the trigger on his babyface turn, just makes for joyless, unsatisfying viewing. We'll get to next Wrestlemania season with Smackdown's viewership doing 1.5's and everyone begging The Rock to come back. And the cycle starts all over again.

I'm forever amazed at their ability to take sure-fire stars and slowly reduce them into a tragic mess. The most successful segment of NXT's entire Wednesday night run was where cool, badass Shayna Baszler was finally dethroned by Hulk Hogan in waiting, Rhea Ripley. Now look at them. Running away from dolls and being disposable Charlotte fodder. So frustrating.

Edited by Mr Butternut Squash
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To be fair, Roman has gone over guys like Bryan, Edge and Rey along the way. It hasn't just been midcard jobbers in a Goldberg style build up.

But yes the difficulty does lie in where an actual legit challenger comes from.

All things considered they should be building up Big E for that future role if they had any sense. Could easily have him as a legit contender next year.

But as you say, WWE being WWE means it's unlikely they're being that organised and forward thinking. There will be Cena. Maybe Lesnar. Maybe The Rock. But then what? Big E dethroning him after some huge battles like that would be incredible but they're not exactly known for many star making turns lately.

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Having not watched it yet, I'm a bit confused by that table/crash pad bump.

Was there a table there with a crash pad under it and after Drew went through it someone under the ring pulled the pad back under and put the table back in place. Or, was there never a table there, just a crash pad which a hand then replaced with an already broken table from under the ring?

 Surely it's not the latter? 

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12 hours ago, DavidB6937 said:

To be fair, Roman has gone over guys like Bryan, Edge and Rey along the way. It hasn't just been midcard jobbers in a Goldberg style build up.

But yes the difficulty does lie in where an actual legit challenger comes from.

All things considered they should be building up Big E for that future role if they had any sense. Could easily have him as a legit contender next year.

But as you say, WWE being WWE means it's unlikely they're being that organised and forward thinking. There will be Cena. Maybe Lesnar. Maybe The Rock. But then what? Big E dethroning him after some huge battles like that would be incredible but they're not exactly known for many star making turns lately.

Don't forget a draft is coming up. McIntrye, Lashley and Keith Lee could make potential opponents in the future.

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11 hours ago, rollthedice said:

Having not watched it yet, I'm a bit confused by that table/crash pad bump.

Was there a table there with a crash pad under it and after Drew went through it someone under the ring pulled the pad back under and put the table back in place. Or, was there never a table there, just a crash pad which a hand then replaced with an already broken table from under the ring?

 Surely it's not the latter? 

I was trying to figure it out, and it really looks like the latter, as someone's hand visibly pushes half a broken table out from under the ring. A table had been set up earlier in the match, I can't remember if anyone went through that one or not. 

On one hand, it's commendable that they don't want their talent taking big unnecessary bumps when they can do it more safely, and doing so without a live audience to call them out on it is a good idea. But their filming and production is so god-awful that they can't sufficiently mask it. Even when it's not a stage hand visibly shoving props out of the way, it's impossible camera angles - in the build to Alexa vs. Shayna, they show a camera from the doll's point of view looking up at Shayna stamping on it, then cut to a wide shot where it's clear there's no possible way a camera could be in that position. You can always tell when they've done something prerecorded and awkwardly edited it in, because there's always an impossible angle - they just can't help themselves, they'd rather take the opportunity to "make movies" rather than keep any logical consistency. I'm not one to normally play the "if AEW do it vs. if WWE do it" card, but there were an awful lot of people shitting on Chris Jericho bumping on to a crash pad in a cage match who have kept quiet about this one that I find far more egregious. 

Speaking of Shayna vs. Alexa, fucking hell. If it wasn't for the entire run of The Fiend, it would be one of my least favourite things I've ever seen in wrestling. Shayna reduced from, in her time in NXT and briefly after her main roster debut, being the greatest heel in the company and one of the most believable wrestlers they've got to having to carry this bollocks is criminal. Alexa Bliss' pure nonce-bait gimmick is bad enough, but now she has the same problem of The Fiend where the gimmick actively prevents her from putting on logical or entertaining matches.

Alexa Bliss has shown in the past that she has a double-jointed elbow, so she's able to pull off a trick that makes arm submissions look lethal in a way no one else really can. I think I've seen her do it twice - once in NXT and once on the main roster. When Shayna started working over her arms, I assumed that's what was coming here - her no-selling a seemingly dislocated or broken arm, then popping it back in place, for maximum creepiness. Some actual genuinely scary body horror, directly connected to the story of a wrestling match, and playing to the strengths of her opponent. Nah, none of that, just more am-dram bollocks. An absolute embarrassment.

And the video package building to it, fucking hell. Do you remember when WWE used to make fun of how WCW, years apart, had someone cut a promo on a creepy doll, and had someone act like they were going crazy because they could see something in the mirror that wasn't there, even though the whole TV audience could see it? Now we get all of that within a couple of minutes. 

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