In this episode of Wrestling Night in America, PWTorch columnist Greg Parks breaks down both nights of WrestleMania with callers and emailers. Topics include the quality of the Firefly Funhouse match, the decision to put Charlotte over Rhea Ripley, the potential of wrestlers getting more creative freedom in the current environment, and more.
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Refresh throughout the night for Hell in a Cell PPV coverage, including John Cena kicking off the live PPV with a U.S. Title Open Challenge. Plus, Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker inside the HIAC structure.
WWE Hell in a Cell PPV Results
October 25, 2015
Los Angeles, Calif.
Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor (@jctorch)
– The pre-show panel is Renee Young with Booker T, Byron Saxton, and Corey Graves.
– In a backstage interview, John Cena announced that he will open the live PPV with the U.S. Title Open Challenge.
– Outside of the Staples Center, IC champion Kevin Owens cut a promo heeling on sports, the Lakers, and Magic Johnson, who has a statue outside of the arena.
A — CESARO & DOLPH ZIGGLER & NEVILLE vs. RUSEV & SHEAMUS & KING BARRETT — six-man tag match
During pre-match introductions, Stardust and The Ascension were shown sitting in the crowd taunting Cesaro. Apparently they had to buy a ticket to make it on the show. The heels isolated Ziggler going in and out of a mid-match Network break. Cesaro hot-tagged and cleaned house, including putting Barrett in the crowd-pleasing Big Swing for 20 big revolutions. Cesaro dropped Barrett right in the corner, prompting a tag to Neville, who climbed to the top turnbuckle for the Red Arrow. It was good for the win.
WINNERS: Team Cesaro at 11:30. All six guys came in cold for a throw-’em together six-man tag match, but Cesaro stood out with his offensive assault leading to Red Arrow. Solid warm-up match getting the crowd feeling good with the babyfaces winning.
– At the social media lounge, Tom Phillips interviewed the Dudleys. Bubba Ray talked about getting rid of Xavier Woods on Raw, allowing them to get a fair Tag Title shot against New Day tonight. Ray and Devon predicted a Tag Title victory tonight.
– The pre-show closed with The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar hype video.
LIVE PPV COVERAGE
– Michael Cole, joined by JBL and Jerry Lawler, introduced the show before U.S. champion John Cena’s music played to kick off the show. Cena bounced out on-stage to the “John Cena Suuuuucks” sing-song before hitting the ring. WWE cut ringside to show Hollywood couple Joe Manganiello & Sofia Vergara sitting ringside for the PPV.
Once Cena’s music stopped, Cena paused to listen to the crowd before opening up the title challenge. Cena said he had a long, drawn-out speech to offer, but he can tell Los Angeles wants to see some action right now. Cena said a special edition of the U.S. Title Open Challenge starts.. right now. Cena handed off the U.S. Title belt and prepared to face his opponent. Suddenly, Jack Swagger’s music played and Zeb Colter came out on-stage in a scooter, returning to TV for the first time in months.
Colter spoke from his scooter that he thinks Cena is a divider, not a uniter. He thinks Cena should lose the U.S. Title to someone who will do more with the title than Cena has. He presented … Alberto Del Rio as his opponent. The announcers called this a shocker (a) seeing Del Rio back in WWE and (b) Colter associating with Del Rio. The L.A. crowd went wild for Del Rio returning to WWE as the title challenger. It’s strange to see Del Rio return to WWE after going on Mexico TV basically calling WWE racist when he was cut by the company in August 2014.
1 — U.S. champion JOHN CENA vs. ALBERTO DEL RIO — United States Title match
Cena and Del Rio felt each other out early on as the crowd buzzed for the big return. Cena sold an ankle injury and rolled out of the ring trying to shake it off. They paused for a “Let’s Go Cena / Cena Sucks” chant, matching Colter’s pre-match declaration of Cena as a divider. Cena fought back against Del Rio, who was the default heel in the match despite the crowd pop for his return. Cena nailed the Five Knuckle Shuffle, but Del Rio answered with a backstabber. Del Rio followed with a swift kick to the face. He covered Cena and it was good for the win, unceremoniously ending Cena’s title run.
Post-match, Del Rio grabbed the U.S. Title and stood next to Colter. Colter extended his hand, Del Rio looked at him, and they shook. Del Rio smiled down at ringside as Cena recovered in the ring, selling the effects of the kick to the head. Del Rio and Colter headed to the back as Cena continued to sell in the ring. The announcers talked about the Open Challenge finally catching up to Cena.
WINNER: Del Rio at 7:48 to capture the United States Title. Del Rio is a new/different name to add into the mix, but is he a difference-maker? It depends on how’s presented week-to-week, especially as it relates to winning and losing non-title matches. As for Cena, this felt like a quick exit for WWE’s top star, dropping the U.S. Title in short, anti-climatic fashion. After all, he’s kicked out of pop-up powerbombs, superkicks, Zig-Zags, and every other imaginable finisher in the book during his back-to-back title reigns, and he suddenly gets pinned on a standing kick? (**1/4)
– Backstage: Triple H and Stephanie McMahon gloated about that being how to start a PPV. WWE World champion Seth Rollins walked in wanting to join the celebration. Okay, Seth, what do you want? Seth said what he’s thinking is … suddenly, Corporate Kane walked into the conversation. Kane said he’s off suspension and here to serve. Seth said he’s here to serve himself. Everyone knows Corporate Kane and Big Red Kane are the same person. Hunter cut off the argument, saying this is not the place. Kane wished Seth “good luck” tonight, gritting his teeth.
– WWE ran a video package on the Bray Wyatt vs. Roman Reigns feud leading to their Hell in a Cell match up next.
Bray Wyatt was introduced to the ring first and without his Wyatt Family brethren. Roman Reigns then came through the crowd, walked down to ringside, and slowly circled the Cell structure before entering the Cell to square off with Wyatt.
2 — ROMAN REIGNS vs. BRAY WYATT — Hell in a Cell match
Reigns dominated early on, over-powering him with bodyslams in the ring. The fight then moved to the floor, where Reigns continued to smash Bray, including throwing him repeatedly into the Cell wall. The crowd was seemingly indifferent to the early onslaught from Reigns. Bray then surprised Reigns with a Kendo Stick that he pulled out from under the ring. Bray continued to bash Reigns with the stick before going under the ring again to retrieve a chair. Bray thought about smashing Reigns with it, but opted to unfold it, sit in it, and smash Reigns with the stick from a seated position.
Reigns fought back against Wyatt and smashed the Kendo Stick in half, scaring Wyatt. Reigns then retrieved two of his own sticks before chasing Bray around ringside. Reigns finally caught up to Wyatt and smashed him repeatedly, firing up the crowd. Reigns then went under the ring to retrieve a table, popping the crowd. Reigns tried to grab Bray, but Bray fought him and resisted a suplex. Bray suddenly reversed and lifted Reigns into the air to deliver a huge uranage off the ring apron through the table down below, sending Reigns crashing through the wood to the floor. Bray needed a breather while Reigns sold, then he rolled him back into the ring and scored a two count with Reigns having ample time to recover.
Bray followed with a sustained attack as the crowd broke into a dueling chant of”Let’s Go Roman / Roman Sucks.” Exit Cena, Enter Reigns. Bray then retrieved a second table before going back to punishing Reigns. Bray unfolded the table, took Reigns to the top turnbuckle, and teased a superplex through the table, but Reigns blocked. Again. A third time. They traded blows, then Reigns suddenly jumped down to the mat, grabbed Bray in powerbomb position, and put him through the table. But, Bray kicked out before three.
Reset at 16:00 with both men recovering in the ring. Reigns came up firing, then tried the spear, but Bray grabbed him in mid-motion for Sister Abigail. The crowd popped and shrieked, but Reigns blocked and hit the Superman Punch for a close two count. The fight then moved to the ring apron, where Reigns punched Bray before spearing him off the apron through a third table down below on the floor. Both men took a blow on that move.
Reigns eventually came to his feet, slowly dragged Bray back into the ring, tried a cover, but Bray kicked out again. Reigns then held himself up in the corner looking to spear Bray, who slowly came to his feet. But, Bray blocked Reigns with a boot to the face. Bray immediately hit Sister Abigail, but Reigns kicked out of a pin. Wyatt initially sold frustration, then began laughing to himself.
Bray picked up the broken Kendo Stick and smashed Reigns with it. He then wedged the stick pieces in the corner and tried to shove Reigns’s face into the broken pieces, but Reigns blocked. Reigns turned the tables by whipping Bray with the stick, then he nailed the spear. Reigns covered for a three count to win.
WINNER: Reigns at 23:03. They really benefited from the placement on the show doing an elaborate HIAC match as the second match of the PPV and third match of the night when the crowd was not burnt-out by nearfall kick-outs and weaponry. Overall, this was good, despite HIAC being reduced to a backdrop and not really an added weapon. Bray is good in these types of matches, while Reigns did his part. Still no sense of Reigns being a future top star, as Bray gets the nod for driving the match, but Reigns was still good. Not great, but good. (****)
– WWE followed up with a video package on The Undertaker approaching the 25-year anniversary of his WWF/E debut. WWE hyped next month’s Survivor Series PPV as recognizing 25 years of Taker.
– WWE ran a video trailer for Randy Orton in “The Condemned 2.”
– Down at ringside, Mark Wahlberg and Billy Gibbons of Z.Z. Top were shown sitting in the crowd.
– WWE hyped the Dudleys challenging New Day for the Tag Titles up next. Cole brought up a tweet from Xavier Woods noting he was in the hospital after taking a Dudley Powerbomb on Raw.
New Day walked out first to defend the Tag Titles. They were of course without Xavier Woods, so Big E. and Kofi Kingston handled the pre-match walk-and-talk promo. Big E. noted this situation is as sad as the Lakers, and all they have left of Brother Xavier is his trombone. Kofi and Big E. vowed to play some instruments on Bubba Ray and Devon tonight. This brought out the Dudleys as the challengers.
3 — WWE tag champions NEW DAY (BIG E. & KOFI KINGSTON) vs. THE DUDLEYS (BUBBA RAY & DEVON) — WWE Tag Title match
The Dudleys got in some early offense, but New Day cut off Devon and isolated him. Kofi and Big E. tagged in and out working over Devon as Bubba begged for a tag. Big E. took things too far saying they were going to “do that thing,” and tried to hit Team 3D’s “Whassup” combo, which fired up the Dudleys. Devon fired back and tagged in Bubba, who teed off on Kofi and Big E.
Suddenly, Kofi grabbed the trombone, tossed it to Bubba, and fell down to the mat. The ref turned around to see Bubba holding the trombone and Kofi on the mat selling a fake injury, Eddie Guerrero style. The crowd broke into a mix of “Eddie” chants and “no!” toward the ref, imploring him not to DQ the Dudleys. The ref started to walk toward the timekeeper, but kind of saw Kofi smirking out of the corner of his eye, so he decided not to call the DQ because he did not say a trombone attack.
Kofi threw a fit, arguing with the referee. He turned around and took a reverse neckbreaker from the Dudleys for a close two count. Big E. then snuck into the ring and smashed Bubba with the trombone. Devon clotheslined Big E. and himself out of the ring, but Bubba walked right into Trouble in Paradise. Kofi covered Bubba for the win.
WINNERS: New Day at 8:24 to retain the Tag Titles. And the Dudleys continue to be thwarted in their attempt to win the Tag Titles. It just does not seem like they will win the titles at this point, as WWE removed any sense of hope by having them lose a straight-up tag match removing Xavier from the equation. Meanwhile, New Day came across as more serious heels without Xavier at ringside doing the trombone comedy antics being “too entertaining.” (**1/2)
– WWE ran a video package on the Divas Title feud featuring new champion Charlotte against former champion Nikki Bella.
Back in the arena, Eden Stiles announced that no one is allowed ringside for the Divas Title re-match. Nikki Bella came out first getting her re-match from Night of Champions. Charlotte was out next in something from the Bam Bam Bigelow collection making her first title defense.
4 — Divas champion CHARLOTTE vs. NIKKI BELLA — Divas Title match
Even start with a clean lock-up and exchange of moves. Nikki then cut off Charlotte and roughed her up on the outside before following up in the ring. Long beat down on Charlotte as Nikki targeted her legs. Nikki could not put away Charlotte, though, and eventually airballed a top-rope move. Nikki sold a leg injury on the landing, giving Charlotte an opening to start working toward the Figure-Eight. Charlotte eventually applied the hold, but Nikki reversed and got the ropes for a break.
The match suddenly spilled to the outside, where Nikki planted Charlotte into the ring apron with a hard slam. Back in the ring, Nikki could not capitalize and Charlotte surprised her with a second figure-eight. Nikki fought, but dramatically tapped out.
Post-match, Charlotte celebrated alone until Paige and Becky Lynch stormed the ring. Paige kind of pushed Becky out of the way so she could celebrate first and get the spotlight. Charlotte broke away for a second to salute Ronda Rousey’s MMA Four Horsewomen on the front row (off-camera).
WINNER: Charlotte via submission at 10:39 to retain the Divas Title. Good effort all-around. It’s just that Nikki is associated with a really poor era of Divas matches, so it’s difficult for the so-called “Divas Revolution” to get off the ground associated with the previous era. NXT’s Women’s Wrestling movement was centered on a new crop of talent taking over the scene and delivering in the ring. That has not happened on the main roster because of the roster mix. (**1/2)
– WWE ran the Survivor Series hype video on recognizing 25 years of The Undertaker next month.
– Backstage in the locker room, Roman Reigns was wincing in pain. Dean Ambrose entered the room to shake hands with Roman Reigns and congratulate him on beating Bray Wyatt. Dean asked if he’s ready for what’s next. Reigns said he’s just going to focus on tonight. “Yeah, we celebrate!” Dean excitedly said. Reigns slowly sat down and continued selling the effects of the Cell match against Wyatt.
– WWE showed more celebrities in the crowd, including Seth Green.
– WWE ran a video package on the Seth Rollins vs. Kane issue leading to their WWE Title match up next.
WWE Champion Seth Rollins was introduced first to make his latest WWE Title defense. Cole hyped Survivor Series in Atlanta next month, where they “celebrate 25 years of Survivor Series.” And, WWE wonders why people don’t take their stories seriously when – if this is supposed to be real – WWE is celebrating Taker when he is currently positioned as a heel after low-blowing Lesnar to cost him the WWE Title at Battleground and cheating to beat Lesnar at Summerslam. In any event, Big Red Kane was out next to challenge for the WWE Title.
5 — WWE World Hvt. champion SETH ROLLINS vs. BIG RED KANE — WWE World Hvt. Title match — Corporate Kane is relieved of his duties if Kane loses
Rollins landed an early suicide after the fight quickly moved to the floor. Rollins then smashed Kane into the ringpost before going for a flip dive that caught Kane in the head, knocking him down to the floor. Seth followed with elbows to the throat. Back in the ring, Seth continued to pound away on Kane with kicks and stomps.
Seth took Kane to the top turnbuckle looking to finish the challenger, but Kane blocked and nailed a superplex. Both men sold on the mat before Kane came up looking for a chokeslam, only to have Seth block. Kane blocked a Pedigree attempt, then hit the chokeslam on his second try. But, Seth kicked out of a pin.
Kane regrouped and called for the Tombstone Piledriver, but Seth wiggled free and rolled right out of the ring. Kane followed to the outside and slammed Seth across the announce table. Kane cleared the announce table before placing Seth on top of the table looking for a chokeslam. But, Seth slipped underneath Kane and kind of powerbombed him onto the Spanish announce table. It did not break. Instead, the table toppled over on top of Kane, making for a light visual without the impact they were going for.
Kane beat a 10-count back into the ring, so Seth kicked him in the head and nailed a springboard knee to the side of the head. Seth then climbed to the top turnbuckle for another knee to the head. Seth followed with a standing kick to the head. And a second. Five blows to the head in total. Seth then climbed to the top turnbuckle for a frogsplash, but Kane kicked out. “Eddie, Eddie” chant as Seth and Kane recovered.
At 14:00, Seth came to his feet muttering to himself about Kane just being a man. Nothing more. Seth approached Kane, who grabbed him around the throat. But, Seth kicked free of the grip, then grappled Kane for the Pedigree. He kind of executed it, then covered Kane for the pin and the win, putting Corporate Kane out of work.
After the match, Rollins took his title and gleefully left the ring. “Good-bye!” Seth mockingly said from the outside with a heelish smile. No sign of Sheamus for a MITB cash-in.
WINNER: Rollins at 14:35 to retain the WWE World Title. It was a title match. Seth shined in the ring, but the entertainment value was mainly dependent on your investment in the never-ending Seth-Kane corporate-driven battles and how it relates to The Authority. (That captures a lot of what’s wrong with Raw.) But, this was ultimately a credibility-booster for Seth, who needs quality wins on his resume. Beating Kane isn’t what it used to be, especially in this feud, but every little bit helps. Whether for Seth’s credibility as top champion or simply to be a better meal to be served to the babyface who conquers him. (**1/2)
– WWE went to the pre-show panel for some words from Renee Young, Booker T, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton. WWE also showed clips of the pre-show match, focusing on Cesaro.
– Ryback was introduced first for the Intercontinental Title match positioned in the semi-main event slot. Defending champion Kevin Owens was out next with a big heel smile on his face.
6 — IC champion KEVIN OWENS vs. RYBACK — Intercontinental Title match
Ryback dominated early on, drawing some boos from the crowd that was partial to the “cool new act,” Owens. Ryback nailed a Meathook Clothesline, then climbed to the top turnbuckle, but Owens cut him off. They had a collision that knocked Ryback to the floor and rocked Owens in the ring. The fight resumed in the ring, where Owens caught Ryback with the pop-up powerbomb. Owens covered Ryback for the win.
WINNER: Owens at 5:35 to retain the IC Title. The match just didn’t seem to have juice following the WWE Title match and featuring a lukewarm babyface challenger. TV quality. (**1/4)
– WWE ran the trailer for their new Network series “Breaking Ground,” which premieres on the Network after the PPV.
– Cole, Lawler, and JBL were shown on-camera at ringside to reset the show. Cole flashed back to “earlier tonight” when Zeb Colter returned to TV and brought back Alberto Del Rio, who beat John Cena for the U.S. Title.
The announcers then set the stage for the Hell in a Cell main event of The Undertaker and Brock Lesnar. A video package followed on the Lesnar-Taker feud, leading to the advertised blow-off match tonight.
Back in the arena, Brock Lesnar’s music played to a big reaction. Lesnar bounced out on-stage flanked by Paul Heyman, then walked down to the ring and entered the Cell. After a pause, The Undertaker’s music played to bring out Taker for the slow, methodical walk to the ring eying the Cell structure and Lesnar. Meanwhile, Cole hyped the 25-year anniversary celebration of Taker next month at Survivor Series. They’re stopping short of advertising Taker for the PPV, though. Taker stopped at ringside to remove his gear, revealing slicked-back black hair, a black goatee, and dark eyebrows. Very sinister look. Taker took one step inside the Cell, emphatically slammed the door, and then closed it before entering the ring. Taker and Lesnar had a super-stare down in the middle of the ring before Taker did the throat-slash gesture. Brock laughed and backed away to his corner before the opening bell sounded.
7 — THE UNDERTAKER vs. BROCK LESNAR (w/Paul Heyman) — Hell in a Cell match — Recent Series tied 1-1
Taker and Lesnar bounced around the ring with their fists out ready to fight. Lesnar ducked a punch, then Brock drove him into the corner. Brock wanted Suplex #1, but Taker dumped him out of the ring to block the move. Taker and Lesnar walked and brawled around the Cell, and Lesnar came up bleeding from his forehead. It appeared that Brock bladed when Taker tossed him into the ringpost and Brock “got his hand up” to block.
Back in the ring, a bloody, bloody Brock smashed Taker with several chair shots. Taker sold in the corner, so a doctor was allowed inside the Cell to check on Brock and wipe blood off his forehead and chest. Brock then whipped the chair across Taker’s upper body. The gloves came off for a one-sided hockey fight in Brock’s favor. But, Taker reversed a suplex and suplexed Brock on the floor.
Back in the ring, Taker stalked Brock, then slammed Brock’s bare fist inside a chair.And, Taker was bleeding now. The camera zoomed in on Taker’s forehead covered in blood. Taker tried to follow up with a big corner attack, but Brock ducked and wrapped his arms around Taker for Suplex #1 in the ring. Suplex #2 followed. How about Suplex #3, at Heyman’s urging.
Taker slowly came back to his feet, so Lesnar delivered the F5 in the middle of the ring. Lesnar covered, but Taker kicked out. “After three suplexes and an F5, Undertaker is still in it,” Cole declared. The ringside doctor (all too easily) returned to the Cell to check on Taker, then Lesnar, but Lesnar flung the doctor aside to a pop. Lesnar then dropped Taker with a second F5, but Taker kicked out again.
Lesnar left the ring at 11:00 to retrieve the ring steps and smash Taker back inside the ring. Lesnar covered, but Taker kicked out again. After a breather, Lesnar tried to drop the ring steps onto Taker, but Taker rolled out in time. Lesnar tried again, but Taker kind of lifted his legs to kick the steps away.
Both men sold on the mat until Taker surprised Brock with his Hell’s Gate submission in the middle of the ring. Brock refused to tap, then fought out of the hold and snapped on Taker, pummeling him with left and right hand forearm strikes. Taker collapsed to the mat, then Lesnar found a hole in the middle of the ring and ripped open the mat, exposing the padding. Brock ripped away the padding, revealing the boards. Taker sat up, though, and turned the tables on Brock by chokeslamming Brock onto the exposed boards.
Both men struggled back to their feet at 16:00. Brock stumbled backward toward Taker, who lifted him in the air for a Tombstone Piledriver. Taker connected, folded Brock’s arms, JBL said it’s over, and Brock kicked out just before three. Taker’s eyes bugged out after Brock kicked out of his finisher.
Taker stood up and throat-slashed Brock, who suddenly low-blowed Brock hard in the crotch. Heyman shouted that it’s time. Brock then hoisted Taker into the air and delivered a third F5, this time onto the exposed boards.”Not like this!” the announcers said. Brock covered and it was good for the win.
WINNER: Lesnar at 18:10. Easily the best of their three recent matches. It could have meant more with better build-up and without Taker’s kinda-heel turn that left fans conflicted. Then, they used the low-blow to end the feud, flipping it to Brock now kinda heelish? But, Taker showed Brock respect afterward, so does that cancel everything out because Taker acknowledged his one-up in the low-blow department? Apparently it’s just two big dogs pulling out all of their tricks to win a big fight. It just wasn’t clear throughout how viewers were supposed to feel about this story or the characters, making for an ultimately unsatisfying ending to the feud. Overall, a messy set-up, but a strong main event. (***3/4)
Post-match, the Cell was lifted to the ceiling as Lesnar slowly left the ring with help from Paul Heyman. Taker sat up for a second and pointed his finger toward Lesnar with a show of respect, then collapsed back to the mat. Lesnar fell down on the floor, then got up and hobbled to the back with Heyman. Back in the ring, Taker struggled to sit up. Brock’s music stopped and the crowd applauded Taker, who winced as he tried to sit up. He finally sat up to applause, then gathered himself while wincing in pain. “Thank you, Taker” chant from the crowd. This is what Triple H was going for in this same building after losing to Brock in the main event of Summerslam 2012.
Taker eventually collected himself and stood in the middle of the ring to strong applause. Taker then knelt down, but Bray Wyatt’s theme suddenly interrupted. Bray, who lost to Taker at WrestleMania earlier this year, walked out in the darkness with Wyatt Family members. The announcers sold indignation over the Wyatts interrupting this moment. In the ring, Taker dropped his straps ready to fight. The lights came up to reveal all four Wyatt members down at ringside.
The Wyatts circled the ring, then all four entered the ring to beat down Taker. JBL said this is making him sick. No one came out to make the save as Bray held up Taker before punching him in the gut. The crowd booed as the Wyatts continued to beat down Taker, who was now back to the “respected legend” position. Did all of the babyfaces go home before the main event? The announcers continued to hype this as a travesty, making viewers wonder even more why someone did not make the save if the announcers were talking up Taker so much as a respected figure.
The Wyatts eventually hoisted Taker in the air and carried him out of the ring in the position of a cross. The lights dimmed and the credits flashed as the PPV ended 52 minutes past the top of the hour. And, WWE just made every babyface on the roster a terrible person by not coming out to save Taker.
Did you watch the PPV? Send in your Reax, 0-10 Score, and Best/Worst Match to firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Join Caldwell and Greg Parks on the Livecast post-game show at 11;30 p.m. EST breaking down the Hell in a Cell PPV at PWTorchLivecast.com.