MCMAHON’S TAKE: The danger of Sasha and Charlotte feeling pressure to live up to the Cell’s reputation for big spots

By Mike McMahon, PWTorch contributor


Charlotte (photo credit Scott Lunn / @ScottLunn © PWTorch)

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It’s 2016, and perhaps I should be more progressive-thinking when it comes to this, but there’s something unsettling about picturing two women, locked in a cage, fighting for our amusement.

There’s something even more unsettling knowing the pressure that Sasha Banks and Charlotte are going to put on themselves, and how that self-imposed pressure could manifest itself in such a way, that someone gets seriously hurt.

It was announced on Monday’s Raw that Sasha Banks will defend her WWE Women’s Championship at Hell in a Cell later this month against Charlotte. The match will be the first time a match in WWE’s Women’s Division will take inside the Hell in a Cell structure.

The UFC implemented a Woman’s Division long ago, and before someone tries to tell me it’s the same thing, no it’s not. UFC fights take place inside of a cage. Wrestling matches take place inside of the ring. 

In WWE, there are certain connotations that come along with the Cell. WWE doesn’t do blood, but back in the early days of cage matches, a ring surrounded by metal meant blood and guts were going to be spewed all over the place. Even the first Hell in a Cell match between Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker in 1997 resulted Michaels bleeding like a “stuck pig,” to borrow a phrase from Jim Ross.

Everyone remembers the third Hell in a Cell match, in June of 1998, when Mick Foley was thrown off the top of the cage by the Undertaker and then, perhaps more dangerously, was chokeslammed through the cage to the ring (one of WWE’s old blue rings, which were stiff as a board).

That match set the bar.

It was a bar that earlier this year at WrestleMania, Shane McMahon felt he needed to at least match, diving onto the Undertaker from the top of the cell in Dallas.

Modern-day cell matches are more or less neutered compared to some of the originals. The cage is used as more of a prop, and with the exception of the Shane McMahon dive at WrestleMania this year, the structure hasn’t posed a danger to many of its more recent participants.

But there’s a unique element at play with Sasha and Charlotte. They’ve been blazing the trail for the Divas Revolution since last summer, and it clear that they put a large amount of pressure on themselves. They’ve talked about it in interviews, and there are times in the ring where they seem to be playing with fire. It’s resulted in some incredible matches, but also some scary moments.

So much of this revolution has been about being innovative and different. Two months ago at SummerSlam, Sasha took scary fall off the top rope when she and Charlotte tried to do an some sort of spot. Essentially, Sasha was dropped on her neck and folded up like a chair. She was hurt, and lucky she was able to even walk away from that.

The narrative after the match, rightfully so, was that the spot wasn’t needed. Together, Sasha and Charlotte can have a great match without one of them having to risk their careers for a two count.

Sasha and Charlotte embody their idols in many ways. Watching them wrestle feels like watching Eddie Guerrero take on Ric Flair. Together, they can have a great wrestling match. I’m worried the pressure of the Cell might persuade them to take risks that are unnecessary, and dangerous.

Putting a women’s match inside Hell in a Cell is innovative, and it is different, but that doesn’t make it the right decision. Mae Young giving birth to a hand was innovative and different, too.

Not only does this match have its flaws, but it speaks more largely to the problem with these branded pay-per-views. There’s no reason for Sasha Banks and Charlotte to have a Hell in a Cell match. Within the context of the actual story itself, a cell just isn’t required. There are other ways to keep Dana Brooke out of the ring. The only reason this match is happening is because of the name of the show.

There are also other ways for Sasha and Charlotte to push the limits and be innovative. What about 30-minute Iron Woman match? Submission match? The Bank Statement vs. The Figure Eight.

This isn’t a matter of risk vs. reward, it’s a matter of whether the risks are even necessary. To me, they aren’t.

I want to see a lot more of Charlotte and Sasha Banks. I don’t want to see someone’s career shortened — or God forbid ended – for the sake of a “This is awesome!” chant.


(Mike McMahon reviews TNA Impact Wrestling every week for PWTorch.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMcMahonPW)

7 Comments on MCMAHON’S TAKE: The danger of Sasha and Charlotte feeling pressure to live up to the Cell’s reputation for big spots

  1. “It’s 2016, and perhaps I should be more progressive-thinking when it comes to this, but there’s something unsettling about picturing two women, locked in a cage, fighting for our amusement.” This is right where you should have stopped. Any other argument you make here is irrelevant, because this isn’t about your fear of their careers being shortened, or an argument that HiaC doesn’t fit the story. You simply don’t think women should be in this type of match, and that’s the exact line of thinking that held back the WWE women’s division for years and years. If we want the women to be viewed in the same competitive light as the men, if we want to see women headline a PPV, you can’t sit back and say “yeah, but only if it’s not violent!” HiaC, cage matches, no DQ matches, these are all staples of the WWE product, and if you say “only men can have this kind of match,” you might as well be arguing that they should be limited to bra-and-panties matches or “Miss Wrestlemania” contests. You can’t half-ass being “progressive” about the women’s division, the only way this works is if it’s all-in.

  2. I agree with you. They don’t deserve a HIAC match. They’ve never even done anything hardcore like pick up a chair or take off the turnbuckle pad. Just regular matches all the time, and the regular match they’ll have will be a disgrace to the already watered down legacy of HIAC. TBH, if there’s no blood, I don’t even consider it Hell in a Cell. It doesn’t count to me. And I guarantee there will be no blood for any of the 3 matches on that show. How lame

  3. I don’t know how “progressive” McMahon really is, but it would be just like one to have that double standard of: “men and women are equal” and at the same time “women should not be in HiaC matches because they’re too weak and fragile and shouldn’t be in any risk for our personal amusement” (as if men are not in risky matches for our personal amusement.)

    Here is the real question, regardless of gender: how about you let grown ups decide for themselves what they want to do?

  4. “It’s 2016, and perhaps I should be more progressive-thinking when it comes to this, but there’s something unsettling about picturing two women, locked in a cage, fighting for our amusement.”

    This is where it should have ended as complete fail: Victoria vs Lita from 11/24/2003 Steel Cage Match, the women have competed in cage matches before, while this is the first women HIAC, cage matches isn’t anything new, TNA’s done multiple women cage matches and don’t even make me bring up all the craziness of women in Japan. Joshi competitors would put most male American wrestlers to shame.

    It’s 2016 time to adjust with the times

  5. He seems to be making the point that they could feel pressure and end up getting injured, just as Sasha almost did in that SS match. I agree, women in cages are nothing new, but I don’t think is his overall point. His point is that he hopes they don’t do anything stupid because of the moment.

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