SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
We’re almost there, folks. Fans are set to return to WWE shows in just about a month and the WWE ThunderDome will fade into the darkness of a scary, uncertain time. Think about it, though. The Hell in a Cell PPV on Sunday will hopefully be the last PPV event of the ThunderDome, pandemic era of WWE. What a ride.
It’s a momentous occasion in a lot of ways, but you wouldn’t know it by watching any WWE programming outside of the Roman Reigns angles. Psst, yes WWE the fun starts with fans in a month, but there are shows to produce and events to put on right damn now.
Roman Reigns is Roman Reigns and like usual, what he’s been touching has turned to gold. Elsewhere on the Hell in a Cell card, it’s murky. Who are we cheering for between Rhea Ripley and Charlotte Flair? Drew McIntyre is the babyface, but is he really? For a good guy, he’s awfully mean to backstage announcers trying to do their job. Bobby Lashley is as cool as they come – don’t cheer him though? Why are Alexa Bliss and Shayna Baszler fighting?
ThunderDome fatigue? Senioritis? Bad booking? Doesn’t matter. That’s over half the card, with severe narrative gaps and inconsistencies. Less than ideal and something WWE will want to correct on upcoming PPV events with opinionated fans in the crowd.
Call this a preview, a calm look into the distant future, or a gaze into a wondrous crystal ball; just don’t hold me to anything, ok?
Charlotte Flair vs. Rhea Ripley – WWE Raw Women’s Championship
Regina George #1 vs. Regina George #2. The build to this match feels like high school mean girl drama instead of a high stakes fight with a major championship on the line. Ripley has struggled to find her groove with the character and Charlotte Flair doesn’t seem interested in helping get her over. The pull apart brawl was effective, but couldn’t overcome the insurmountable hole this feud is in. Ripley is cold and with a big Summerslam show on the horizon and Becky Lynch waiting in the wings to return, look for Charlotte to take the title to setup a summer of big matches.
Bobby Lashley vs. Drew McIntyre – WWE Championship Hell In A Cell Match
From a build perspective, I’ve enjoyed this. Lashley and McIntyre have put the WWE Championship into intense focus and they have a big match, with major stipulations to play everything out in. Thumbs up on that. Thumbs down elsewhere, though. WWE has booked themselves into a tight corner with this program. McIntyre has put it all on the line. He’s a big game talking babyface and usually that means the babyface wins, so as to stay credible with fans. Well, Lashley could use the win too. He’s on fire, but the WWE Championship is a big reason why. Losing that will derail some of his momentum. So, what do you do? It’s a Hell in a Cell match, so I expect a clean finish and Drew McIntyre to walk out with the championship. Simply put, as the heel, Lashley can overcome the loss quicker than a babyface Drew McIntyre.
Bianca Belair vs. Bayley – WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship Hell In A Cell Match
This feud feels like it’s hanging on by a thread. The work of both women has been effective, but with the outcome firmly on the side of Belair retaining her title, the match lacks drama. The Hell in a Cell stipulation will help Belair show a more aggressive side and Bayley is a good opponent to pull that out of her. Expect a good match and Belair to win 100% straight up.
Alexa Bliss vs. Shayna Baszler
Ok, so Alexa Bliss wins via her patented voodoo x-ray vision finish? Too out there? Nah, what’s too out there for this feud? Nothing and we’re likely to see that play out during the match. It was refreshing to see Bliss have a somewhat regular wrestling match on Monday night and though this will stay in that camp for a while, expect an extravagant and theatric finish. A last hurray for the ThunderDome if you will.
Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn
These two are just in a perpetual state of fighting, right? Both guys have worked well enough together where no matter what they do, it works. The build to this match is no different. The question around it all is, what’s next? Owens and Zayn both have lingered in the middle of the card for quite some time now without a viable path out of it. Owens will win here, but that path still will be unclear.
Seth Rollins vs. Cesaro
I’m expecting a very good match between these guys and Rollins walking out with the victory. When that happens, Cesaro’s push is sure to stall out. Cesaro didn’t deliver like I thought he would when given the opportunity at the top of the card. Yes, he wasn’t utilized in the best way while in that role, but he lacked growth and development on the microphone and needed to show some. Rollins goes over and primes himself up for a big showdown at Summerslam.