SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
KELLER’S WWE HELL IN A CELL PPV REPORT
JUNE 20, 2021
AIRED LIVE ON WWE NETWORK
Raw Match Announcers: Jimmy Smith, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton
Smackdown Match Announcers: Michael Cole, Pat McAfee
Panel: Kayla Braxton, Jerry Lawler, JBL, Peter Rosenberg, Sonya Deville
-Various video packages aired along with panel conversations. JBL, for whatever it’s worth, predicted a Cesaro victory and that he’d become WWE Champion within a couple years.
(A) NATALYA (w/Tamina) vs. MANDY ROSE (w/Dana Brooke)
On commentary, Graves sided with Natalya & Tamina in the war of words with Rose and Brooke. Late in the match, they went into a series of two counts with one counter after another. Natalya then won via tapout with a Sharpshooter.
WINNER: Natalya in 10:00.
MAIN PPV CARD
-An introductory video package aired followed by pyro.
-A preview video aired for Belair vs. Bayley.
(1) BIANCA BELAIR vs. BAYLEY – Hell in a Cell match for the Smackdown Women’s Title
After ring entrances, the bell rang to start the match 13 minutes into the hour. Belair twirled her hair and skipped her way to the ring with no change in her pre-match demeanor despite this being her first HIAC match. The ring canvas had lip smooch marks via augmented reality when Belair entered the ring. She shifted to a more serious look when the bell rang. They battled over a chair in the opening minute. McAfee said no moment is too big for Belair. He yelled, “Are you kidding me!?” when Belair backflipped off the second rope to avoid Bayley. Bayley worked over Belair’s left arm and shoulder. Bayley slid the top of the ringside steps into the ring. She pulled on Belair’s hair while standing on the steps. Next, Bayley tied Belair’s braid to the bottom rope. Belair tried to untie the knot, and she avoided a running Bayley knee. Belair broke free and threw the steps at Bayley at ringside, but Bayley moved.
Belair rubbed Bayley’s face across the cage. Bayley bit Belair. “Did she penetrate skin!” gasped McAfee. “What the hell was that?” Bayley hit Belair with a kendo stick and then sunset-bombed her into the side of the Cell. Belair made a comeback and slammed Bayley onto kento sticks bridged at ringside between the ring and the cage. Belair scored a two count in the ring. Belair bashed Bayley with a chair in the ring. Bayley kicked a chair at a charging Belair to reverse momentum again. Bayley put Belair’s arm in the chair and yanked on it a few times. Bayley tied her braid to the chair. Bayley laughed and told Belair she’s trapped. Belair punched her and took control.
Belair went after Bayley’s knee. Bayley begged the referee outside the Cell to let her out. He patiently explained that’s not how it works. Belair bashed Bayley into the side of the cage a few times. Bayley pulled a ladder out from under the ring and jabbed Belair in the gut with it. Bayley rammed Belair into the ladder in the ring. Bayley put Belair between the ladder sides and stepped on it. Bayley slammed Belair’s head on the mat, but sold her injured knee also. Bayley scored a two count.
Belair came back and rammed Bayley into the turnbuckles. She placed the ladder on Bayley on the mat, then leaped off the top rope. Bayley moved. Belair senton splashed Bayley’s back. She picked up Bayley and delivered the KOD onto the ladder for the win. They piped in an “EST!” chant as Belair stood over Bayley after the match.
WINNER: Belair in 20:00 to retain the Smackdown Women’s Title. (***1/2)
(Keller’s Analysis: A good match. I think they would have maybe done more if it was the final match on the show and not the opener, but that said the use of the chair, kendo stick, steps, and ladder was sufficient to make this feel more brutal and violent than a typical match. They didn’t use the cage itself much, though.)
-Sarah Schreiber asked Belair backstage about her first experience inside HIAC. Belair said Bayley kicked her butt, but she’ll never forgive her for that.
-They showed Bobby Lashley and MVP with women in the locker room. Lashley was smiling and the women were dancing.
-Alexa Bliss on her swing said Lilly is still serving her time out for being naughty. She said Baszler was more naughty than Lilly, and Baszler brought on whatever happens to her, so it’s not her fault. She said there are lessons to be learned. “Expect the unexpected, because when you knock on my door, you never know who or what is going to answer.”
-They went to Cole and McAfee at ringside. They threw to a video package previewing the next match.
(2) SETH ROLLINS vs. CESARO
Seth attacked Cesaro from behind during his ring entrance. The bell rang 43 minutes into the hour to start the second match. Cole here, and the announcers during the Kickoff Show, really emphasized how upset Seth still is over losing to Cesaro at WrestleMania. Cesaro fended off Seth and knocked him to ringside. He threw Seth into the ringside barricade. Back in the ring, Cesaro leaped off the top rope and forearmed Seth leading to a one count. Cole noted this is the final PPV at ThunderDome.
Seth took sustained control after a rake of Cesaro’s face. Cesaro fired back with an uppercut at 7:00, but Seth brushed it off. Cesaro threw a barrage of uppercuts and punches seconds later to take control. Cesaro countered a Seth attempted Stomp into a powerslam for a near fall.
Seth took over again at 12:00 and went for an armbar submission. He turned that into a falcon arrow for a two count. Seth landed his leapover back hook kick for another two count. Cesaro came back with his Cesaro Swing into a sharpshooter mid-ring. When he dragged Seth to mid-ring by his legs, Seth caught him with a small package roll-up for a sudden three count.
WINNER: Seth in 16:00. (***1/4)
(Keller’s Analysis: All-around good match, and really good for its place on the card.)
-Commercials aired for WWE returning to live events with fans followed by a Peacock ad and then a Money in the Bank ad…
-They went to the panel where Lawler told Kayla, JBL, and Rosenberg he in particular likes the looks on the faces of wrestlers after they lose.
-A video package previewed the next match.
-Schreiber asked Baszler about her experiences with Alexa and Lilly. Baszler said she didn’t want her to say the name of that stupid doll again. She said Alexa has fun playing with dolls and she has fun hurting people. Nia Jax said there’s nothing wrong with having fun. Reginald tried to kiss her hand, but she slapped him. Jax consoled Reginald.
(3) SHAYNA BASZLER (w/Nia Jax, Reginald) vs. ALEXA BLISS
Baszler made her ring entrance followed by Bliss. When the bell rang 10 minutes into the second hour, Bliss stared down Baszler but didn’t want to engage with Baszler. Reginald stood on the ring apron. Baszler then attacked a distracted Bliss. She stomped away at her in the corner. Bliss crawled out of the corner in a weird manner as she’s done lately. Baszler rubbed her eyes. Bliss took over with aggressive offense including a two count. Baszler took over and worked over Bliss’s arm. Graves said it didn’t seem to be that effective. Bliss’s double-jointed limbs worked in her favor. Bliss began laughing. Baszler went back to a wrist and arm twist, but again Bliss was able to endure it without selling pain. Bliss then appeared to hypnotize Baszler, who let go. Bliss then rallied and scored a two count at 5:00.
Reginald went over to check on Baszler at ringside. Meanwhile, Jax and Bliss locked eyes. Bliss seemed to hypnotize Jax. Reginald tried to snap Jax out of it. Jax, instead, slapped Reginald. Bliss screamed. Jax screamed. Baszler then put Bliss in a sleeper from behind. Bliss then twisted Baszler head-first onto the mat. Bliss then landed Twisted Bliss for the win.
WINNER: Bliss in 7:00. (*1/4)
(Keller’s Analysis: That was weird, as expected, but no major twists to satisfy those who have invested themselves in this story other than Bliss appearing to temporarily hypnotize Jaz. It didn’t really play into the finish, though. There wasn’t a lot to this overall.)
-Commercials aired including for the ESPY Awards.
(4) KEVIN OWENS vs. SAMI ZAYN
During Sami’s entrance, they replayed Owens getting hit with a Nigerian Nail by Commander Azeez. Owens was coughing and struggling to breath from the start of the match 24 minutes into the hour. He went after Sami at the bell aggressively in the corner including an early senton. He tossed Sami hard into the corner and Sami took a wild bump out of the corner. Owens scored a two count after a cannonball, but sat up gasping for breath. Cole said it was only 48 hours ago he was spiked in the throat. Owens landed a cannonball in the corner and scored a two count. Sami ducked and yanked Owens throat-first into the middle rope. He then dove over the top rope onto KO at ringside.
As KO gasped for breath at ringside, Cole said the referee might have to stop the match. Sami chased KO back into the ring. KO made a comeback with a double-leg takedown. KO clotheslined Sami at ringside, then went for a leaping senton off the ring apron, but Sami lifted his knees. He went on the attack on KO in the ring with a Blue Thunder Bomb for a two count. KO couldn’t use his left arm, but tried a comeback against Sami. When he went for a Stunner, Sami half-nelson overhead suplexed KO on his head for a near fall. Sami kicked KO to the floor. Sami was bleeding from his mouth or lip at this point of the match.
Sami went after KO at ringside, but KO kicked him and landed a quick stunner at ringside. KO rolled into the ring and then Sami barely beat the count at nine. KO and Sami sat up. KO headbutted Sami and then went on a flurry of offense. Sami came back by yanking KO’s arm over the top rope and then landed a running Helluva kick for the clean win. Cole called it a courageous effort by KO. Sami celebrated and yelled about karma as his music played. He got in Cole’s face and said he didn’t want him to win, but he did.
WINNER: Sami in 13:00. (***1/4)
-Montez Ford talked about the joy and importance of fatherhood.
-Cole threw to a video recap of the Roman Reigns vs. Rey Mysterio match in the Hell in a Cell structure from Friday. No explanation was offered why it took place two days early. Surely some people tuned in tonight not knowing it already happened on Friday with only 24 hours notice.
-Graves thanked Ozzy Ozbourne for the theme song for Hell in a Cell.
(5) RHEA RIPLEY vs. CHARLOTTE – Raw Women’s Title match
During Charlotte’s ring entrance, Graves said at one time Charlotte was in a position like Ripley is now of needing to prove herself night after night that she belongs on top. Ripley came out second. As the ref held up the belt, Charlotte yanked it out of the ref’s hands, threw it at Ripley, and then attacked her. The ref checked on Ripley and called for the bell 52 minutes into the second hour. Charlotte scored an early two count. Ripley bailed out to the floor and kicked the ringside barricade in frustration.
Ripley made a comeback and climbed to the top rope. Charlotte knocked her off balance to the mat and stayed in control. Eventually Ripley hit two short-arm clotheslines and a headbutt. She leaped off the top rope with a dropkick for a two count at 6:00. Charlotte powered out of a leg submission attempt by Ripley, sending her into the corner. She then hit a Natural Selection for a two count. Charlotte landed a moonsault next for another two count. Smith’s word of the match was “tenacity,” used to describe Charlotte earlier and Ripley here.
Ripley knocked Charlotte off balance on the top rope and then superplexed her off the top rope for a two count. Ripley sold a leg injury. Charlotte sat up and had some words for Ripley. They exchanged rapid-fire strikes. Ripley avoided a charging Charlotte, who went head-first into the corner. Ripley landed Rip Tide conspicuously near the ropes. Charlotte put her leg on the bottom rope. Smith called it a “veteran move” by Charlotte.
Ripley went after Charlotte at ringside, but Charlotte kicked Ripley’s injured leg. Ripley yelled in pain. Charlotte speared Ripley back in the ring and then applied a figure-four. Ripley tried to fight out of it and eventually rolled over to grab the rope and force a break. They rolled to the floor. Ripley threw the lid of the announce desk into Charlotte’s head. The ref promptly disqualified Ripley.
They continued to fight back in the ring. Ripley gave Charlotte a Rip Tide, then went to ringside and yelled for her title belt to be handed to her. When Charlotte was announced the winner, they piped in boos. When Ripley was announced as still the champion, they piped in a mixed and ambiguous response. Graves called it an intentional disqualification by the champion.
WINNER: Charlotte in 15:00 via DQ so Ripley retained the Raw Title. (***1/4)
(Keller’s Analysis: Another really good match, marked down a bit for a weak finish. The lack of a likable person in this battle also takes away from the investment in the comebacks and near falls.)
-A commercial aired for Broken Skull Sessions with Mick Foley after HIAC. Then a Peacock commercial and a Money in the Bank commercial.
(6) BOBBY LASHLEY (w/MVP) vs. DREW MCINTYRE – Hell in a Cell for the WWE Title
Drew made his entrance first, with a serious gameface on. Then Lashley’s short video played before he made his way to the ring with MVP. Graves said some athletes hit their stride at just the right time and believe they are unbeatable, and that’s the mindset of Lashley these days. Lashley briefly looked at Drew before turning around and posing on the second rope. They shot off pyro as Lashley’s music faded. Drew continued to stalk Lashley and stare at him. Formal ring introductions took place. The bell rang 22 minutes into the third hour.
Lashley rolled to the floor to grab something under the ring, but Drew caught up to him and shoved his face against the cage wall. Then he powered him into the cage and the ringpost. Then he release-suplexed Lashley into the side of the cage. When Lashley stood, Drew hit him with the ring steps twice.
Back in the ring, Drew kicked Lashley in the face and then gave him an overhead suplex across the ring. Back at ringside, Drew placed a kendo stick across Lashley’s throat and yanked him back into the cage. Then he set up a table and leaned it into the corner against the cage. Lashley jabbed Drew in the throat with MVP’s cane. Saxton stressed it’s all legal, no matter how underhanded it is. A minute later, Drew lifted Lashley and slammed him back-first onto the base of the ringside steps.
After some more back and forth at ringside, Drew wedged a chair in the corner. Lashley caught Drew with an elbow, but Drew catapulted Lashley onto the chair on the mat at 11:00. Smith asked if they’re seeing a more cold and ruthless Drew than they’ve seen before. Drew bashed Lashley across his back with a chair. He climbed to the top rope, but Lashley avoided Drew and applied a Hurt Lock. Drew drove Lashley into the corner to break the hold, then hit a spinebuster for a two count. He hit a quick sitout powerbomb for another two count. Drew was slow to get up as Lashley was down on the mat, not moving.
At ringside, Drew stomped on Lashley’s head. He then hit Lashley in the head with the steps. Lashley shoved the steps into Drew’s head next and then pummeled him in the corner. MVP slid a kendo stick through the cage and trapped Drew in the corner as Lashley beat on him. Lashley then drove Drew face-first into the mat at ringside. Smith marveled at Lashley’s comeback. Back in the ring, Lashley drove Drew head-first into a chair set up in the ring.
Lashley blocked a swing of the chair by Drew, then shoved Drew, who knocked over the referee. Drew reversed Lashley into a chair wedged in the corner. Drew delivered a Future Shock DDT, but the was out and couldn’t make the cover. A second ref entered, but as he counted a pin, MVP yanked him out of the ring. Graves called it “perfectly legal.” MVP ended up locked inside the cage. Drew beat him up at ringside and then delivered a Claymore. “Are you kidding me!?” exclaimed Smith. As Drew was at ringside near MVP, Lashley came up behind and put him in a Hurt Lock. Drew shoved Lashley backward through a table wedged in the corner. “Are you kidding me!?” exclaimed Smith.
Drew sat up, breathing hard and planning his next move. He rolled Lashley into the ring and picked up a chair. He looked down at Lashley and smiled, before bashing him across his back and shoulder a half dozen times. He then set up a Claymore. Lashley ducked. Both were down. Lashley then chokeslammed Drew off the ring apron onto the floor. Graves said it’s looking very good for the champion now.
Lashley rolled Drew into the ring and waited for him to stand. Drew side-stepped a charging Lashley and scored a leverage near fall with a backslide. He landed a Future Shock DDT next and then set up the Claymore again. MVP grabbed Drew’s leg. Lashley then rolled up Drew and yanked on his trunks for the win. Drew soaked up the agony of the finality he was feeling as Graves emphasized that Drew cannot challenge Lashley for the WWE Title again.
WINNER: Lashley in 25:00 to retain the WWE Title. (****1/2)
(Keller’s Analysis: Excellent HIAC match. It lacked blood, but felt like an intense brutal fight start to finish. Lashley and Drew were both really good in this match. The potential, if not inevitable, decisive interference by MVP loomed in those final minutes after he got locked in the cage. Drew was so dominant early, it portended a likely loss on his part. This was the type of loss that “keeps him strong” should he move to Smackdown for a fall or winter feud with Roman Reigns on Smackdown.)
Where was the red light???
The red light isn’t for HIAC; it’s for the Fiend. No Fiend, no red light. And let’s hope that’s over, forever. That’s also where the Spooky Alexa gimmick needs to go.