Hell In A Cell may have had a sparse card announced in advance. But what it lacked in quantity, the show more than made up for in notable talking points.
The headline of the night took place in the main event in which Randy Orton claimed his 14th world title in WWE by ending the near seven month WWE Championship reign of Drew McIntyre.
The match was a fierce, methodical affair, as you would expect from these two. The undoubted highlight of the bout was ‘The Scottish Psycopath’ taking an almighty bump from near the top of the cell, through an announce table.
This was McIntyre’s third PPV shot this year and is just reward for a year in which his character and in ring work have been revitalised through long term programmes, first with Edge and latterly with McIntyre.
The second major title change on the show saw Sasha Banks extract revenge over her former best friend Bayley by taking the SmackDown Women’s Title in a lengthy, weapons filled brawl.
The 25+ minute bout ended when Banks locked in a chair-assisted Banks Statement on the champion, forcing the tap out victory and ending Bayley’s record setting 380 day reign. This will go down as the most brutal match in the history of women’s wrestling in WWE and was a more than suitable step in a hugely personal and increasingly violent feud.
The big surprise of the night came in a match that was added to the card late and treated as something of an afterthought. It was announced on Friday Night SmackDown that Otis would defend his Money In The Bank briefcase against The Miz at the PPV. With the company seemingly looking for ways to reverse their short-sighted decision to gift Otis the briefcase in May, it was no shock to see Miz take the win and the guaranteed title shot that comes with it.
What was something of a surprise was the manner of the victory. The finish came when Otis’ Heavy Machinery partner Tucker turned on Mr Mandy Rose and attacked him, allowing The Awesome One to take the victory? Tucker’s motivation? Good old fashioned jealousy.
The final note from the event came in the form of the opening match between Universal Champion Roman Reigns and his cousin, Jey Uso. This intense family feud was fought as an I Quit match with the stipulation set that Uso and his brother would be excommunicated from the Anoa’I family were he to lose.
And lose he did, to nobody’s surprise. The dominant Reigns, in career best form, meticulously picked apart his smaller relative, desperate to make him utter the words that would end the bout. Those words never came though and as Reigns’ assault became all the more sadistic, Jey’s brother Jimmy hit the ring to reason with Roman to spare his twin.
Reigns seemed to have a moment of clarity, questioning his own actions and breaking down with remorse before embracing Jimmy. It was quickly seen to be just a ruse though as the champion then locked the injured Jimmy in a stiff guillotine choke and holding him in it until Jey finally quit to spare his brother further injury.
It was an emotional, incredibly well booked finish that furthered Reigns’ descent into potentially the nastiest heel in WWE history as well as staying true to the family narrative throughout. A narrative that was furthered even more when Reigns’ father Sika and his Wild Samoans tag team partner Afa came on to the stage to present Reigns with the ceremonial garland and formally crowned him the head of the family.
At this stage, it would surely be a surprise if the culmination of this story was anything other than a Reigns vs Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson mega-match at WrestleMania.
WWE’s next PPV will be Survivor Series on November 22nd. It was confirmed during Hell In A Cell that the event will be themed as the 30th anniversary of the debut of The Undertaker.