Sunday’s Hell in a Cell pay-per-view marks the return of a popular stipulation match. The iconic Hell in a Cell (HIAC) bout has played host to many iconic superstars and matches over the past two decades. The Undertaker, Shawn Michaels and Triple H are some among the many superstars who’ve become synonymous with the match type.
This Sunday, Kevin Owens, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Rusev, Charlotte and Sasha Banks will enjoy their own chance to add their legacy to the historic match type. Three HIAC matches on one card might be overkill, but that doesn’t mean each doesn’t have the potential to be special.
Elsewhere, three of Raw’s biggest teams and its brand new, reluctant one will all be in action. Not to mention that T.J. Perkins will defend his Cruiserweight championship for the second time ever.
With six matches announced, HIAC’s a little lean. But as the saying goes, it’s about quality over quantity, and the card has quality in abundance. At first glance, there isn’t a bad match on the card, which makes it among the more difficult ones we at Today’s Powerbomb have had to rank. But that won’t stop us from trying.
That being said, let’s take a look at each match at Sunday’s HIAC special and rank them based on expectations heading in and whether or not we expect them to meet, exceed or fall short of expectation.
6. Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson
Nothing against either act here. Enzo and Cass have had a relatively entertaining, though cookie-cutter history with Gallows and Anderson to date. There hasn’t been anything particularly memorable, save for maybe Enzo and Cass pumping the crowd without the use of microphones, but that doesn’t necessarily make the program a bad one. It’s just that, on a show without a bad match, one has to rank last.
One major reason this match ranks last is there’s nothing in the way of ramifications. It’s not being billed as a No. 1 contender’s match. Instead, it’s a way to keep two teams who the WWE likes just a little less than the New Day relevant. It’s fine for what it is, but not exactly must-see stuff either.
5. United States Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Rusev
This match is sort of in a strange spot. Roman Reigns and Rusev are undeniably among the WWE’s more prized young talents. That much is evidenced by all they’ve accomplished in their relatively brief WWE careers. In fact, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to suggest this match, with this stipulation, is main-event caliber.
Just not right now, at this show. Reigns and Rusev are almost certain to go on first in a night that will boast three HIAC matches. Their job will be to whet the fans’ appetite. And that’s something you can expect the two brutes to do a fine job of.
Their match should be hard-hitting and show off the carnage of the stipulation. However, their feud has run overlong and their matches have been seen by fans time and again. On a night with so much to offer, very few are eagerly anticipating Reigns vs. Rusev.
4. Raw Tag Team Championship: The New Day (c) vs. Cesaro and Sheamus
The build for this tag team show down has been, as with anything involving the New Day, fun. Maybe it’s been overly silly at times, but, again, it’s the New Day. They get away with being overly silly cause they’re damn good at it. And, of course, the caliber of action we should get from Kofi Kingston, Big E, Cesaro and Sheamus definitely makes this matchup a dark horse to steal the show.
But what may be most interesting about this match is its outcome. Many feel like the New Day’s title reign has run its course. And if the odd couple pairing of Cesaro and Sheamus is going to take off, they’ll likely need to win the titles in their first crack at them. But, with how many times the New Day has successfully defended their gold already it’s no certainty.
3. Cruiserweight Championship: T.J. Perkins (c) vs. Brian Kendrick
T.J. Perkins and Brian Kendrick have had an interesting little feud. It started ordinarily enough, with Kendrick goading Perkins into a championship rematch after coming up short. However, the program’s gained some ground in recent weeks with Kendrick indicating to Perkins that this might be his last chance to make it in the WWE.
Mind games aside, this match slots in the top half of this list because it’s unlike anything else on the card. In three matches on the card you’ll see men and women bashed off cages, and in the other two, you’ll see WWE’s entertaining, if a little too familiar, tag team match formula. The cruiserweights have brought a needed breath of fresh air to the WWE audience and that’ll be on display again come Sunday.
2. Universal Championship: Kevin Owens (c) vs. Seth Rollins
The build for this matchup hasn’t exactly been up to par. It’s been centered around Seth Rollins’s adversarial relationship with Stephanie McMahon and tensions within the alliance of Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho. Owens and Rollins have, of course, been gunning at each other in between, but the tension between these two has never been at the center stage of this rivalry.
So, no, the feud may not be befitting of the stipulation, but the match certainly can be. Rollins and Owens are two of the best in-ring workers in the WWE today and, if they’re anything like the characters they portray, they’re probably a bit steamed about not getting the main event. That said, don’t be surprised if these two pull out all the stops in an effort to tear the house down.
1. Raw Women’s Championship: Sasha Banks (c) vs. Charlotte
A few months ago, putting two women in the marquee on any pay-per-view might’ve seemed contrived. Like the WWE merely wanted to pat itself on the back for engineering change with the “Women’s Revolution.” But, in the case of Sasha Banks and Charlotte, it’s more than well-deserved. It’s overdue.
Banks and Charlotte’s long-standing rivalry has been a bright spot on WWE television for the past several months. Their matchups have never failed to amaze the WWE audience. The WWE’s rightly trumpeted the importance of the first ever women’s HIAC match and there’s no doubt that Banks and Charlotte want to prove why they were given such an opportunity.
Don’t be surprised when, come Sunday, they do just that.