WrestleWatch- WWE Hell In A Cell 2022
By Mick Robson
Time for another WWE PPV! Oops, I mean "premium live event". This PLE has flown under the radar for many fans, myself included. After a well received WrestleMania 38, WWE kept the momentum rolling with a Backlash event (I refuse to attach "WrestleMania" to the name). So why is this event occuring with seemingly little fanfare?
Well, as good as Backlash was, conspicuous by his absence was the reigning WWE Universal Heavyweight Champion, Roman Reigns. And he's also gone MIA for this Hell In A Cell show. Man took Brock Lesnar's title AND his schedule. Also missing is Ronda Rousey, Charlotte Flair, Randy Orton, Riddle, The Usos... I don't know why so many major players are sitting out, especially when a few of them have been active on recent TV episodes, but that's where we're at.
Much like Double Or Nothing this past weekend, interest in this show was boosted by some outside the ring drama. The morning of the show, it was reported that Cody Rhodes tore his pectoral muscle while weight training. That poses a major problem as Cody was one of the few major stars on the show, main eventing in the titular match, completing a PLE trilogy with Seth Rollins. However, torn pec and all, it was reported that Cody was still going to wrestle. How the hell could he pull that off?
Let's do this!
The Pre-Show was a thing that happened. Lots of aimless chatter, with the only thing of note being news about Cody's injury for those that missed it on Twitter. I guess they're just not doing kick-off matches these days.
Match 1: Raw Women's Championship- Bianca Belair (c) def. Asuka & Becky Lynch (at 18:55)
Thoughts: Well, damn! What a match! These ladies set the bar high with the opener. Becky flew around the ring with more reckless abandon than usual, Asuka appeared to have real venom in her striking flurries, and the champion Bianca showed off her incredible blend of power and agility. Becky kept trying to steal the win after big offensive moves from her opponents, but in some poetic justice, Belair did it back to her to get the winning pin, and Big Time Becks was furious. This was chock-full of big moves, finishers, reversals, and dramatic moments. Excellent work all around. (****1/4)
Match 2: Handicap Match- Bobby Lashley def. MVP & Omos (at 8:25)
Thoughts: Boy, oh boy, Omos is one limited MFer. No one's expecting him to do 450 Splashes, but he moves around the ring so awkwardly. A real throwback to the 80s era with the lumbering giants they had then. Omos does get one good spot as he charges Lashley through the ringside barricade, but most of this was Omos getting heat beating down Lashley, then Lashley and MVP having more spirited exchanges. In the end, Big Bob locks MVP in the Hurt Lock, and the part time wrestler/manager eats the loss. Wasn't terrible, but not exactly what you would call "good" either... (**)
Match 3: Kevin Owens def. Ezekiel (at 9:20)
Thoughts: This is one stupid angle, but god bless Kevin Owens. He's selling the shit out of it to really try and make the angle work. For the unaware, Ezekiel is the artist formerly known as Elias, just wearing new gear and with a shaved beard. It's very obvious, but "Ezekiel" is claiming to be Elias' younger brother, and everyone goes along with it, which drives Owens crazy. Ezekiel almost gets a flash win in the opening seconds with a flying knee and a top rope elbow drop but KO escapes and is able to get on offense. He repeatedly screams, "You're Elias!" and the Chicago crowd has a little fun with it. Ultimately, a cannonball in the corner, followed by the Stunner, gets Kevin the win. It was fine. Big step down from facing Stone Cold at Mania, but that's what makes Owens such a valuable commodity- he can main event Mania or fuck around in the midcard in a comedy feud, and he can make either scenario work. (**1/2)
Match 4: The Judgment Day (Edge, Damien Priest & Rhea Ripley) def. AJ Styles, Finn Balor & Liv Morgan (at 16:00)
Thoughts: All Horny Twitter wanted to focus on regarding this match was Rhea Ripley's change from tights to trunks, but the action in this was fun and chaotic. From Liv getting launched by AJ into a rana, to a fun dive sequence featuring the former Bullet Club members, to a rapid fire exchange between Balor and Edge that made me wish for a singles match between the two... this was frenetic to say the least. Edge pins the Prince, and while this wasn't a classic, it was certainly never dull. I don't know if I'm sold on Judgment Dsy as a faction, but I will say that Ripley seems to be embracing this role better than Priest right now. And I'm not just saying that because of the trunks. Honest. (***1/2)
Match 5: No Holds Barred- Madcap Moss def. Happy Corbin (at 12:05)
Thoughts: This was the one and only Smackdown match on the entire show, so Pat McAfee couldn't be bothered to jump on his private jet for this one. Understandable. Madcap showed great aggression and intensity, while Corbin held up his end by keeping the pace a gear above his usual. Corbin ran into the corner and took a chair to the head that looked wicked. Moss showed great strength by delivering a fall away slam on the 280lb Corbin into the steel stairs. He then hit his Punchline finisher (which is just a simple neckbreaker), before wrapping a chair around Corbin's throat and dropping the stairs onto him for the big victory. Not bad at all. (***)
Match 6: WWE United States Championship- Theory (c) def. Mustafa Ali (at 10:25)
Thoughts: Ali was wrestling in his hometown of Chicago, which in WWE is a death sentence. Mustafa started off hot with some ranas and flying arm drags that put the champion on the back foot. Later in the match, Ali goes for the 450, but Theory rolls away for the crash and burn. A Town Down follows for the clean victory. In case you missed it, Theory is Vince's pet project. (**3/4)
Match 7: Hell In A Cell- Cody Rhodes def. Seth Rollins (at 24:20)
Thoughts: Cody Rhodes is a mad man. Seth came out wearing Dusty-inspired polka dot attire, and Cody made his entrance all smiles. Once he stepped inside the Cell, he took off his ring jacket. And dear lord, it was gruesome. Deep dark bruising along Cody's pec and bicep. He really shouldn't have been out there, but all the respect in the world for doing so. The injured pec obviously played a role in the story of the match, before getting into some big table spots and finisher spam towards the end, but what would have been a very good to great main event became instantly legendary as we watched a man who was clearly in very legitmate pain struggle through a big marquee match, it added a certain type of drama that I'm not sure we've seen before in wrestling and I'm not sure we will again. I've seen some idiots call into question how real the injury is. It was swollen and got some noticable red spots as Cody tried to use the arm at certain points. A classic performance, but I hope we never see anything like that again. I've seen some compare it to Triple H tearing his pec in Saudi Arabia and continuing, and while it's a close parallel- it happened within the match. Cody turned up to work like that and gutted it out. Plus, Hunter was in a tag match and got to sit the majority of the match out. Cody is built different, man. And kudos to Seth, too, for his role in making a match with a one-armed man compelling. (****1/2)
The score given here is purely on the strength of the first and last matches. All 5 wrestlers put forth a gargantuan effort, but nothing will top the courage, heart (and maybe stupidity) of Cody Rhodes. Who knows how much gutting it through a 25 minute match will affect his surgery and recovery. Besides the opener and the main event- which were Mania worthy- the rest of the card wouldn't have looked out of place on an episode of Raw or Smackdown. Definitely ended on a thrilling and dramatic high note though.
Overall Score: 7/10
Until next time, take care.