Hell in a Cell was the most recent of WWE’s on-the-nose named pay-per-views. Each year, the eponymous Hell in a Cell gimmick is featured, normally in two of the matches. WWE decided on three of them this year. Only two of them actually used the gimmick meaningfully.
It was an odd pay-per-view in that there were only six matches. Well, seven if you count the pre-show match. But the three Hell in a Cell bouts accounted for approximately an hour and a half of the evening. The other three matches totaled less than 20 minutes when combined.
Overall, Hell in a Cell was filled with odd booking choices, some of which actually came as a surprise. But at least the 2020 event didn’t leave fans screaming for refunds. If nothing else, Hell in a Cell 2020 wasn’t completely rage-inducing unlike Hell in a Cell 2019.
R-Truth vs Drew Gulak
The 24/7 Championship was back on the line on the pre-show. R-Truth, the greatest 24/7 Champion in the history of the title, defended against Drew Gulak. The rivalry between Truth and Gulak had proven to actually be interesting, even yielding the occasional solid match.
Naturally, Truth brought his sidekick Little Jimmy to the ring. He’s been gone for a while so it’s nice to see him back. As much as you can see an invisible friend, of course. But Gulak made an early mistake, attacking Little Jimmy and inciting Truth’s rage.
R-Truth busted out some of his classic moves. He also busted out some of John Cena’s classic moves, including the Five Knuckle Shuffle and an attempted Attitude Adjustment. The brilliance of R-Truth is his ability to maintain three entertaining gimmicks during one match.
Hell in a Cell #1
The first Hell in a Cell match of the evening was the next step in the Samoan Bloodline story. Universal Champion Roman Reigns put his title on the line against Jey Uso. As always, Paul Heyman was in Roman’s corner, trying to talk the champ out of doing something stupid. It didn’t work.
As if being a Hell in a Cell match wasn’t enough, the “I Quit” stipulation was added in. This meant a pinfall or submission would not get the job done. On top of that, if Jey lost, he and Jimmy both had to swear their fealty to Roman as the head of their family.
Not surprisingly, Roman won and was crowned king by his father and his uncle, the tag team known as the Wild Samoans. But it wasn’t so much a match as it was a brutal massacre of Jey. The only reason he quit was because Reigns extended the beating to Jimmy.
There was no reason for this fight to be a Hell in a Cell match. It easily could have just been an “I Quit” match and achieved the exact same result. They didn’t make much use of the environment. In fact, the cell just seemed to get in the way of the booking.
Elias vs Jeff Hardy
This match was the extension of a feud fans thought was left in the rearview mirror awhile ago. As part of a leave of absence for an injury, Elias was sacrificed for the uncomfortable storyline between Sheamus and Jeff Hardy. It relied heavily on Hardy’s real-life issues of drugs and alcohol.
The issue wasn’t Sheamus and Hardy. In fact, the two ring veterans had some great matches. But constantly dredging up Hardy’s personal demons wasn’t necessary. Elias was an innocent bystander that Hardy supposedly ran over while drinking and driving. Evidence absolved him of the crime and witness accounts indicated that Sheamus was the likely culprit.
Elias ignored all of that and took the fight straight to Hardy when he returned. Their match at Hell in a Cell was likely only a step in a much larger feud that may finally see Sheamus admit to his crimes. For what it’s worth, Elias won the match by DQ when Hardy hit him with his own guitar.
The Miz vs Otis
After weeks of build-up, The Miz’s unhealthy obsession with Otis came to a head when they faced off over the Money in the Bank briefcase. The Miz essentially forced Otis into a match where the MITB contract was on the line. The winner got the contract.
After John Morrison was ejected from ringside, that left The Miz on his own against Otis. The big man was closing in on the victory when Tucker betrayed him and helped The Miz win. Once again, The Miz has a shot at holding another heavyweight championship.
Tucker’s heel turn was an incredibly confusing piece of booking. The Miz, John Morrison, and Tucker were all traded to Raw as part of the 2020 Draft, leaving Otis on SmackDown. With Otis and Tucker on separate brands, this is going to be a hard feud to play out.
Hell in a Cell #2
The feud between Sasha Banks and Bayley has been one of the most consistently engaging aspects of WWE in the past few months. At one point, they were the Women’s Tag Team Champions as well as both holding singles championships. That was only for a few weeks, though. Then, it all came apart.
After Sasha lost her Raw Women’s Championship, the duo then dropped the Women’s Tag Team Championships. It was shortly after that when Bayley turned on Sasha. Fans didn’t know who would turn on who first, but they did know one would eventually stab the other in the back.
It was a brutal match that saw the duo use the Cell properly. This wasn’t Sasha’s first Hell in a Cell match though it was Bayley’s. Both competitors looked right at home, and got creative with their spots. Banks delivered a double knee shot to Bayley in the corner that looked like it almost took her head off.
The winner was Sasha Banks. She picked up her first SmackDown Women’s Championship while ending Bayley’s historic reign at more than a year. While it’s unlikely to be the end of the feud, fans want to see Sasha retain the title and remain champ for a while.
Bobby Lashley vs Slapjack
To be honest, writing the name “Slapjack” was painful. WWE is doubling down on Retribution and continuing the angle despite all reason and sanity. The wrestlers involved are great but the names and masks are dumb as hell. Retribution would have been a better faction without them.
Bobby Lashley issued an open challenge to any of the members of Retribution who wanted a fight. Slapjack answered the call and got the living crap beaten out of him by Lashley. The rest of Retribution showed up, only to get run off by The Hurt Business.
The booking of Retribution is as confusing as the gimmick itself. On the most recent episode of Raw, they got their butts handed to them by The Hurt Business. Then, they got their butts handed to them seconds later by “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. The loss at Hell in a Cell only compounded their perceived weakness.
At this point, Retribution isn’t a threat to anyone. They have The Hurt Business and Bray Wyatt after them, who fans know they cannot stand up to. Also, both The Hurt Business and Retribution are supposed to be heel factions. Who, exactly, are fans rooting for in this feud?
Hell in a Cell #3
The final match of the night put Drew McIntyre and Randy Orton in the ring, again. Orton has spent a lot of time in Hell in a Cell, facing the likes of The Undertaker, John Cena, Mark Henry, and Daniel Bryan. The only wrestlers in more Hell in a Cell matches than him are The Undertaker and Triple H.
On the other side, this was McIntyre’s first Hell in a Cell match. The two wrestlers beat the holy hell out of each other. And in true Hell in a Cell fashion, the fight got taken up to the roof. McIntyre took the big bump, falling off the side of the cage and through the announcer’s desk.
Orton came out on top and won the WWE Championship. Apparently, Randy just needs infinite chances and he’ll eventually win. This feud should have been over at Clash of Champions. The upside was McIntyre getting a good, long championship reign before the inevitable handoff to Orton.
It’s unlikely that any significant storylines came to an end at Hell in a Cell. This is obviously just the beginning of the Samoan Bloodline story. The Usos are being folded into it, leaving fans to wonder who will be next to join and who their first target will be.
What happens next for Orton and McIntyre should be equally interesting. Raw has several contenders around for the big title such as AJ Styles, Keith Lee and The Miz with his newly acquired MITB briefcase. And given his history with Bray Wyatt, Orton should be watching out for “The Fiend.” The only real question is how quickly McIntyre will be cut out of the main event scene.
Keeping all of that in mind, it’s quite likely that The Miz will not successfully cash in his new contract. If was going to be successful, he would have cashed in on Orton in the moments after his victory. That would have been amazing. This seems like a setup for failure for The Miz.
Otis came out in the worst position tonight. He lost the MITB briefcase. His storyline with Mandy Rose is all but dead. And he no longer has a tag team partner. Hopefully, WWE has some big plans on what to do with him or fans just witnessed his push coming to a grinding halt.
Then there’s Sasha Banks. WWE has put the Raw Women’s Championship on her five times. But she has never successfully defended a singles title on the main roster. Banks has more than earned a reasonably long run as the SmackDown Women’s Champion, which she should carry until at least WrestleMania.
If WWE plays it smart, Bianca Belair will win the next Women’s Royal Rumble match. She should then challenge Banks for the SmackDown Women’s Championship and win. Banks versus Belair is a WrestleMania caliber match that will steal the show. It’s also time that Bianca won some gold.