It’s the go-home show for Raw’s next pay per view event, Hell in a Cell. Raw rolls into the Twin Cities of Minnesota tonight at the Target Center in Minneapolis. Last Monday, Goldberg made his return to WWE to tell Brock Lesnar that he’s not only next, but last. Brock Lesnar is slated to show up tonight in what used to be his hometown. Will he tell Goldberg where and when he wants to fight? Who will try to get a leg up in their feuds heading into Boston? Rusev got the better of Roman Reigns last week – will Roman respond or will Rusev be too much for him again? Charlotte and Sasha Banks sat down and talked about their match last Monday – will they cross paths tonight? Also, New Day and Sheamus and Cesaro are set to square off, as are Chris Jericho, Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens. Who will win?
Show Open, Live from the Target Center in Minneapolis, MN:
After the normal intro video, the commentary team of Cole, Graves and Saxton checked in to hype the triple main events of Hell in a Cell, as well as Brock Lesnar appearing to address Goldberg’s comments from last week. They said that Chris Jericho, Kevin Owens, and Seth Rollins would face off in a triple threat. Cue the Ayatollah with The List.
Jericho looked despondent and said he had bad news, saying that the triple threat match tonight against Seth Rollins and his best friend, Kevin Owens was postponed indefinitely. He said something unfathomable and so terrible it could ruin lives and alter the course of WWE had happened. He looked down the barrel of the camera and said someone stole The List of Jericho. He said he wouldn’t wrestle, participate backstage, or anything else until the List was returned. He also said he wouldn’t leave the ring until someone mans up. Cue Kevin Owens.
The crowd got a “Where’s the List?” chant going, and Jericho asked Owens where it was. Owens said he didn’t know and didn’t care. He said he would help Jericho find the list once they took care of Seth Rollins. He told Jericho they need to take care of business and get on the same page. Jericho lamented that his deepest darkest secrets were on the list, it was his property, and there would be no match unless he got it back. That brought out Stephanie McMahon, who told Jericho she would help him get the list back but he needed to listen to his best friend.
Steph told Jericho to stop being ridiculous, and he has a match for the main event of the show. Jericho said he was tired of being interrupted and being told what other people wanted. He reiterated that there would be no match until he got the list back. Out comes Seth Rollins, list clearly behind his back. Jericho went nuts, and Stephanie demanded Rollins bring it to the ring.
Rollins said she might be interested in knowing that Jericho put her on the list for booking Owens in the Hell in a Cell match. Owens said that Rollins wouldn’t get away with this. Rollins continued that the last name on the list was “my former best friend, Kevin Owens.”
Jericho got upset and said Rollins had gone too far, claiming Owens an honorable man fit to be his best friend. He demanded the list back, and Rollins said he would give it over after some alterations. Rollins said his list won’t be of stupid idiots but instead all of the body parts on Owens that wouldn’t be the same after Hell in a cell. He closed with Owens’ ego, and said when he Pedigree’s Owens through the mat, he would send a message to Owens and the McMahons that he would stop at nothing to tear down the new establishment. Rollins told Jericho if he wanted his list back, he could come get it and left.
Bill Says: A fun “panic attack” type reaction to Jericho’s list being missing, but I can’t help but feel like Rollins and Owens were just side players to that aspect of the story. I’m not buying into Rollins as the anti-establishment babyface yet. He seems to be connecting at some levels, but they seem to be playing him in a way that’s not quite fully connecting. Owens has been defined down as champion so far, which is disappointing.
Backstage, Steph came across Seth Rollins, and she demanded to know where the list was. Rollins asked if she wanted to know if she really was on the list. She said she didn’t care, and Rollins blew her off. He said she’s a narcissist and it’s always been about her, but after he wins the Universal Championship he would put an end to the establishment running the show.
In the arena, Enzo and Cass came out and did their routine, but Gallows and Anderson interrupted by cutting Enzo’s mic. Gallows and Anderson said that their show had been canceled and they were happy to put an end to the nonsense. Enzo and Cass improvised by relying on the live crowd to follow along with their voice and movements, which came off well.
Match #1 – Enzo Amore (w/Big Cass) vs. Karl Anderson (w/Luke Gallows);
Winner: Enzo Amore
The Summary: Enzo landed some early shots but took a spinebuster from Anderson going to a break. There were some shenanigans after the break with the men outside the ring during the back and forth action. Gallows tried to interject but Cass called him out to the official. On the distraction, Anderson tried to roll Enzo up with help from Gallows. Cass landed a shot that allowed Enzo to get the win.
This feud is struggling. Gallows and Anderson have been so defined down that they don’t feel important and there’s nothing really on the line here at all. There is some entertaining stuff going on, but it needs some life interjected into it somehow to get away from feeling “cute” and entertaining and get to where it feels like a meaningful feud for both teams.
They hype hearing from Roman Reigns and Rusev later in the show.
We got a pre-recorded video package from Rusev, talking about the upcoming US Championship match at Hell in a Cell. He said he would leave with the title. He talked about the despicable things Reigns has done to him and his wife, and now he would extract his revenge in the Cell. He said Reigns would walk to the cell as champion but leave crushed.
Bill Says: This was fine, but I wished they’d have taken a more serious tone with Rusev from the start rather than the disastrous wedding celebration stuff.
Match #2 – New Day vs. Cesaro and Sheamus; Non-Title Match
Winner: Cesaro and Sheamus
The Summary: Early on, New Day took shots at Sheamus going into the break. Out of commercial, Cesaro and Sheamus make a comeback. Kofi was able to dodge a charge from Cesaro and tag in Big E. E hit three big suplexes on Sheamus to a pop, then danced. He missed a follow up splash and took a backbreaker from Sheamus for two. Sheamus followed with a thrust shot and a high knee. Big E came back with a counter slam for two. Sheamus took a powder on the apron, but Big E went out after him. More brawling went on, and Sheamus and Big E spilled to the floor. In the ring, Cesaro hit a big deadlift suplex on Kofi, only for Kofi to respond with the SOS for a good near fall.
Finisher sequence time. The teams went with rapid fire moves, and Cesaro set up for the swing on Big E. Kofi threw a cross body block to break that up. Cesaro somehow managed to avoid most of the contact and tagged. Big E threw Kofi onto Cesaro, and he hit a big uppercut in a neat spot. Big E turned around and ate a Brogue Kick and Sheamus covered for the win.
Afterward, Sheamus and Cesaro bickered about who was more dominant and did the most damage. The announcers moved on to set up a video package for Goldberg’s return from last week. They said Lesnar would respond later in the show.
The tag match was fun, but it feels like there’s a need to shake up some direction here. I really feel like it’s time to pull the titles off New Day and move them into chase mode as their act is stalling out a bit. Sheamus and Cesaro are the latest “odd couple” tag team, but as of right now it’s not really working all that well for me. We’ll see if they gel come Sunday.
Backstage, Jericho was hunting for The List. He came across Titus O’Neil, Jinder Mahal, and the Shining Stars. He called the Stars “from The Dominican,” told Titus his brand sucks, and mocked the breathing exercises Jinder was doing.
Dana Brooke was in the ring when Bayley made her way out. Dana got a mic and said she was outraged that fans thought her win last week was an upset. She said someone that looks like her beating someone like Bayley can never be considered an upset. She said because she’s a good person she would offer a rematch, but in an arm wrestling match.
An official arm wrestling table got set up and the official brought them in. Dana insisted Bayley use the bad arm, and quickly won. She offered another shot and let Bayley use her good arm, and this time Bayley put up a fight. Bayley started to get an advantage then Dana hit a cheap shot, focusing on Bayley’s bad arm. Dana threw the table down but turned right into a Bayley to Belly. Bayley trash talked Dana, who rolled to the floor.
Bill Says: Dana and Emma was working, and I have no idea why they’re not pairing the two of them up again. This stuff right now with Dana isn’t working very well. It’s almost like she’s trying to be comedic or something when she really needs to be serious. She would work well as a pest with the right character and I think Emma provides that. And Bayley needs a stronger character to work off of in terms of her underdog role.
They hyped the contract signing between Charlotte and Sasha Banks for later, as well as the triple threat main event.
Jericho was backstage demanding that Steph help him find the list. She told him he was off his game and she is working on putting together teams for Survivor Series and making sure Hell in a Cell goes off without a problem. He said he wouldn’t compete until he had the list, and she told him he would be suspended if he didn’t compete – list or not.
Curtis Axel was in the ring, and he talked about Bo Dallas laying him out last week. He said he had to reevaluate what he believed in. He talked about digging into his past and recalling he carries the legacy of his grandfather Larry The Axe and his father Mr. Perfect. He led a “skol Axel skol” chant that got some response. Bo Dallas came out to the ring for the match.
Match #3 – Bo Dallas vs. Curtis Axel;
Winner: Bo Dallas
The Summary: Bo threw an early cheap shot but Axel fired back. Bo threw a kick and set up his finish, but Axel countered into a PerfectPlex for a near fall. Bo regrouped outside, then pulled Axel into the apron and took shots at him. Axel fought back to his feet out of a chinlock then hit a running elbow. He played to the crowd momentarily then hit a running knee. Bo took advantage of a moment of hesitation and rolled him up, using the ropes for leverage.
Dallas hasn’t been handled all that well since his NXT days, and Axel, while talented, struggles in the charisma department so it’s hard for fans to connect with him. The crowd was quiet aside from the hometown cheers for Axel. Here’s two guys you could exchange with NXT and get them rebuilt and bring up some other guys, maybe?
Backstage, Jericho found Braun Strowman, who had The List. Strowman told Jericho to say Please, and he would give it over. Jericho complied, and Strowman handed it over. He said Sami Zayn wasn’t on the list. Jericho put Strowman on the list after he was a safe distance away.
Bill Says: How good is Jericho that a list of names got him over?
Roman Reigns talked in front of a black screen. He said Rusev had no idea what it’s like to win inside the Cell, but he does. He said Rusev accused him of making things personal but he hadn’t. He will though at Hell in a Cell. Reigns said that Sunday won’t be about Rusev’s wedding celebration, it will be about the United States Championship. He told Rusev he would see him in Hell.
Golden Truth and Mark Henry came to the ring, and we saw the words to the entrance song on the Tron with Goldust and Truth’s heads bouncing between them. The Shining Stars got their entrance along with Titus O’Neil.
Match #4 – The Shining Stars (w/Titus O’Neil) vs. Golden Truth (w/Mark Henry);
Winner: Golden Truth
The Summary: Primo and Epico controlled the early going, hitting a double team drop kick for a near fall. Epico then ran into a powerslam from Goldust. Both teams tagged, with R-Truth cleaning house on Primo with a splash and a forearm. Titus low-bridged R-Truth to send him to the floor, then Mark Henry got in Titus’ face. Primo went top rope, and Henry tossed Titus into the ring, which crotched Primo. Golden Truth hit Solid Gold and won.
I miss “The Hall of Pain” version of Mark Henry. He could have a lot more impact than he did here.
Charlotte and Sasha Banks were shown walking backstage, and their contract signing is up next.
Mick Foley was in the ring to officiate the contract signing. He said that one of the great things about being a WWE superstar is never knowing when a moment would be immortalized. He said there is a chance at any time that something you do will be remembered forever. He said Sunday would be the first ever women’s match inside Hell in a Cell, and introduced Charlotte and Sasha Banks.
The two shoved their chairs away. Mick talked about how they have shattered glass ceilings on their way to becoming two of the biggest superstars in WWE. He took a shot at those who say HIAC is too barbaric for women, but once they sign the contract it will be official. Sasha said she has never been more ready for anything in her life, and Charlotte said she was ready to put the title back on the shoulder of the queen. She got angry at Mick for not handing her the contract immediately.
Mick told them to listen. Sasha said she knew what she was getting into, but Mick chided both of them for not understanding. He said it would haunt their dreams for the rest of their careers, and just when they think it’s behind them it will sneak up and make them cry like children. Charlotte spoke up and said that the only reason the title means anything is because of her, and just because a second rate talent holds it now doesn’t mean she won’t be the greatest WWE Women’s Champion in history.
Sasha said she might be the second, but she will be the greatest of all time because no matter how many times she falls she comes back more legit than ever. She said she was ready to enter the Cell and has no fear. Charlotte said she has no fear either. Mick cut them off again and said they should be. He said he hobbles to the ring with pain because of decisions he made and what the Cell did. He talked about his injuries, including spinal curvature and bone-on-bone contact in his knees and hips because of his career. He said they know the pity he gets backstage and he wanted them to acknowledge the risk that lies ahead once they signed the contract.
Mick told Charlotte that the only thing he and her dad agree on is how much they believe in her. He told Sasha that his kids gave her signed pictures of Eddie Guerrero, and that he was a part of his legacy now, and how proud he would have been that he inspired her career. He admitted to being a jaded fan not long ago but the women’s revolution made him believe again. He demanded that the two recognize what the Cell might mean for their future.
Charlotte grabbed the contract and signed, telling Sasha she would see her in Boston. Sasha signed and told Charlotte she would see her in hell.
Bill Says: A good segment, and I think in part because of what Mick Foley brought to the table. Sasha and Charlotte were okay, but they don’t have that “next place” to go to cut a promo. Mick added an element that they don’t have. Charlotte confuses raising her voice for emotion, and Sasha still gets caught at times mumbling. Mick brought it all together well and it ended up being an effective segment. And don’t get me wrong, the ladies will get their issues sorted – it’s only been a bit more than a year since they were called up.
They hyped TJ Perkins up next and Brock Lesnar for later in the show.
TJ Perkins joined the commentary team for the next match. Brian Kendrick made his entrance and stared Perkins down the whole time. Perkins called Swann “His guy” when he made his entrance.
Match #5 – Rich Swann vs. Brian Kendrick;
Winner: Rich Swann
The Summary: Kendrick started off with a shoulder block, but Swann came back with a great drop kick. Kendrick landed outside, and Swann followed with a nice plancha that ended up landing awkwardly. Swann landed butt-first on Kendrick’s neck and shoulder.
Kendrick took over the offense during the commercial, locking in a headlock as we came back live. Swann struck his way free and they started to scramble. Swann hit a jumping double stomp for a near fall. Kendrick went top rope but Swann took him down with a head scissor. Swann hit a double underhook powerbomb, but Kendrick kicked out on two. Swann tried his standing moonsault but Kendrick got the knees up.
Kendrick hit a kick to the head, but couldn’t lock his submission in. He tried again, but Swann slipped out, rolled through and rolled Kendrick up for the win. Swann celebrated, and Kendrick and Perkins stared each other down.
This was good in terms of action but it still feels flat. Kendrick is slotting himself into the heel role well, but Perkins seems like he’s overwhelmed or something. I think he can get better, but he’s struggling right now on the mic especially as he tries to sell his half of the feud.
Tom Phillips interviewed Kevin Owens backstage, and he asked how the triple threat would play out after all that has happened with the list. Owens said he and Jericho are on the same page and they would break Seth Rollins tonight. Whatever is left of Rollins would hobble to Hell in a Cell on Sunday, in a pathetic attempt to take his title. Owens talked about the first HIAC match and how crazy it was, and said that despite how intimidating it might seem it’s exciting to be a part of it. He said that’s why Charlotte and Sasha begged to be in it.
Owens said he would leave a permanent scar on Rollins, and there’s nothing he won’t do to keep his title. He said that he and Seth would go to hell together, but he’s the only one coming back.
This was good, despite the fact that Owens is feuding with a guy who is feuding with other people. Rollins seems more interested in Stephanie and Triple H than he does Owens.
Braun Strowman came to the ring as they recapped Sami Zayn confronting him last week. Sami came out afterward. Strowman said he didn’t see any real competition in the ring, and demanded Foley do something about it. Zayn attacked Strowman and slapped him in the face. Zayn ran around and baited Strowman into position for some kicks. Zayn tried a leap, but Strowman caught him and threw him into the railing. Strowman left, and Zayn got in the ring and called for him to come back for more.
This has my interest. I think Zayn is positioned better as an underdog so it makes sense, and we’ll see where it goes from here.
Backstage, Kendrick approached Perkins, who was unwrapping tape from his wrists. Odd. Kendrick said that if he loses Sunday, all he has left is his family, and without a win on Sunday he can’t feed them or keep a roof over their heads. TJ said he can’t help the man he is now, and if Kendrick wants it bad enough he will go out there and try to win on Sunday. Kendrick said trying wasn’t enough and Perkins needed to let him win. Perkins stared and walked off.
This didn’t do much for me, but it could be a set up for something on Sunday at the pay per view. Maybe when Kendrick gets too aggressive, he makes a mistake? Thinking too much about “taking care of the family?” Cheating to get the win? We’ll see how it plays out.
Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman made their entrance. Heyman said that his client has authorized him to address “this…guy…this, super dad…this wannabe super hero, this guy Goldberg.” Heyman claimed that Goldberg thinks he was Brock before there was a Brock. An audible “Goldberg” chant got going. Heyman said those chants are pissing off Brock. He said Goldberg will be like humpty dumpty and those chants won’t put him back together again after Brock Lesnar breaks him into pieces. Heyman waited out mixed “Suplex City” and “Goldberg” chants, with most chants for Lesnar due to being in Minneapolis.
Heyman told the crowd to stop with the Goldberg chant or Lesnar would take matters into his own hands with them. They waited more chants out, then Heyman said that Lesnar comes home and half the chants are for Goldberg. He blamed Goldberg for hte chants, then walked away. The crowd didn’t comply, and chanted Goldberg sucks.
Bill Says: That was really lackluster and I know Twitter deadpanned it. I think WWE was hoping for a different reaction than the live crowd actually gave, but Lesnar’s reaction was lukewarm at best and Goldberg didn’t seem to have a ton of support either. If you were in the building, let me know what you thought of that reaction – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Backstage, Owens and Jericho crossed paths and Owens said that Jericho found his list so they could be on the same page tonight. Jericho said that Owens said earlier that all that mattered was the Universal Championship, but their friendship mattered too? Owens played it off, and Jericho said to not worry because no matter what happened tonight they would remain best friends. Owens looked concerned as he took a sideways look at The List. Out in the arena, Rollins made his entrance.
Match #6 – Seth Rollins vs. Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Owens;
Winner: Seth Rollins
The Summary: Early, Owens took a powder to ringside as did Jericho, looking confused. They tried to surround Rollins and attack from different sides but Rollins slipped away. They tried it out on the floor, but Rollins bested them and took them both down. Rollins tossed Owens out then went after Jericho. The two took turns throwing each other into the railing, with Rollins getting the better of it. Jericho intervened, throwing Rollins into the crowd. Rollins surprised both men with a splash from the barrier.
Jericho got tossed to the fans and Owens got tossed in the ring. Owens hit Rollins with a big clothesline a couple of times, then cued up the cannonball. Rollins escaped and followed with a springboard knee for two. He went top rope but Owens rolled away. Rollins gave chase and set up the Pedigree, but Jericho cut him off. Jericho tried for the Walls and failed, then Rollins got the knees up on a Lionsault attempt.
Rollins looked for the Pedigree on Jericho but Owens cut him off. Jericho and Owens finally got the double team going, beating up on Rollins all over the ring and ringside area. They tried a double team move in the ring with a helpless Rollins, looking for a pop up into a Codebreaker, but Rollins held on to the ropes. He low-bridged Owens then hit Jericho with a side kick. He hit a suicide dive on Owens, then tried a frog splash but failed. Jericho hit the Codebreaker but got only a near fall.
Jericho threw Owens into Rollins to assist a cannonball. A “stupid idiot” chant got some traction as Owens and Jericho set up a superplex, but Rollins slipped out and rolled both men up for the win.
Afterward, Jericho and Owens sold shock then roughed up Rollins. Owens hit a running kick and Jericho threw him into the ring steps. Owens and Jericho left, with Jericho walking ahead of Owens. Rollins jumped Owens after shaking off referees. They battled back to the ring, where Owens got the upper hand and thought about walking away but didn’t. He hit a powerbomb on the apron then screamed at Rollins that he’s the man. He walked up the ramp, grabbed the title belt, then went back to the ring to pose as the show ended.
I liked the logic of Rollins winning the battle but not the war. This is the kind of stuff they needed to do initially with the feud – make it a personal issue between Rollins and Owens and this goes far in making that happen. Rollins seems distracted by Steph and Hunter though still, so we’ll see. We’ll also see how, or if, Chris Jericho factors into this. If they choose to keep the belt on Owens (I think they will), they can establish a future feud for the winter with Jericho and Owens if done right, while breaking Seth away to deal with Hunter if that’s where it’s all headed.
We got some good focus on the major HIAC matches for Sunday on this show, but everything else felt like it was treading water, to the point the undercard feels lost. If you tighten this show down to two hours, it’s a much more effective go home show because they’d focus better and not have to worry about filling so much time.
Drew Koscelek will have more to say about this show tomorrow on Around the Ring and will have your Smackdown live coverage as well. He and I will come back together on Wednesday for Ring Rap Audio where we will preview Hell in a Cell and talk all things wrestling. See you then!