LECLAIR’S WWE HELL IN A CELL REPORT 6/20: Alt perspective, detailed coverage of Lashley vs. McIntyre, Belair vs. Bayley, Rollins vs. Cesaro, more

By Brandon LeClair, PWTorch contributor


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LECLAIR’S WWE HELL IN A CELL REPORT
JUNE 20, 2021
TAMPA, FL IN WWE THUNDERDOME AT YUENGLING CENTER
AIRED LIVE ON PEACOCK

Announcers: Jimmy Smith, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton (Raw), Michael Cole, Pat McAffee (Smackdown)

-The opening video package featured a montage of clips over the Hell in a Cell theme by Ozzy Osbourne. Pyro shot from the stage and from around the cell, partially lowered into place for the night’s opening match. Michael Cole welcomed the audience to the Thunderdome “for the final time on Pay-Per-View”

Pat McAfee talked up the Hell in a Cell structure, mentioning the match between Roman Reigns and Rey Mysterio from Friday’s Smackdown. Cole tossed to a video package for Bianca Belair vs. Bayley.

Following the video package, Cole said that there’s no champion’s advantage in a Hell in a Cell match. Bayley entered first. Cole said that Bayley knows what she’s getting herself into, because her record breaking reign as Smackdown women’s champion ended at last October’s Hell in a Cell. McAfee said he sees Bayley’s last loss in the cell as an advantage in this bout.

Bianca Belair headed to the ring sporting new white attire with flames. Cole talked about her year thus far, including winning the Royal Rumble and main eventing WrestleMania.

(1) BIANCA BELAIR (c) vs. BAYLEY – Hell in a Cell match for the Smackdown Women’s Championship

Bayley pointed to the referee locking the door as the bell rang, telling Bianca she’s stuck. “Do you know who am?” she asked before locking up with the champion. Bianca Belair immediately dropped Bayley with a body slam, then a second, and finally, a clothesline to send Bayley to regroup on the outside.

Belair tried to pull Bayley back in the ring, but Bayley caught her jaw over the middle rope, buying her time to grab some chairs from beneath the ring. Belair kicked one of the chairs out of the ring and rolled up Bayley for a quick one count. Bayley grabbed the remaining chair to create separation. Belair wound up her braid and used it to block Bayley’s attempted chair shot.

Bayley retreated to the corner. Belair drove her shoulder in Bayley’s midsection and hoisted her to the top rope. Belair hooked Bayley for a superplex, but Bayley blocked it and shoved Belair. Belair immediately shot back to the top rope and tried again. Bayley slid to the apron and slammed Bianca’s head into the ring post. Bayley tossed the champion into the opposing ring post and covered her for a two count.

Belair clutched at her arm and tried to shake it out, selling the post collision. Bayley went to work on the arm, tying it up in the bottom rope and wrenching back on it. Bayley sat on Belair’s back and pulled her injured arm back, manipulating the fingers and hand of the champion. Belair tried to fight back, but Bayley took her down and covered her for a two count at the 5:00 mark.

Bayley retrieved the steel steps from the outside. She dragged them to the corner, then stepped on the end of Belair’s braid. Bianca pulled it away. Bayley didn’t let him, shoving Belair into the corner and driving her knee into the face. Bayley covered for two. Bayley tied Belair’s braid around the bottom rope. Bayley tried to hit a running knee, but Belair ducked just in time. Bayley tripped over Belair’s hair and face planted on the steps. She rolled to the outside in retreat. Belair, now free of the rope, tossed the steel steps over the top rope, but Bayley dodged them.

Belair joined Bayley on the outside. She raked Bayley’s head across the steel of the cell. Bayley bit Belair on the arm to free herself. McAfee sold it as an unthinkable act. Bayley retrieved a kendo stick and cracked it across Belair’s stomach. She followed up with a sunset flip powerbomb into the wall of the cell. “You wanted this match,” Bayley screamed as she climbed over the fallen champion.

Bayley pulled out two kendo sticks, taped in the center, creating a longer stick. She threaded the sticks between the ring and the cell wall. Belair chased Bayley back into the ring, then back to the outside. She caught Bayley with a spinebuster through the propped kendo sticks. She tossed Bayley back in the ring and covered for a near fall at 11:00.

Belair grabbed a chair and cracked it over Bayley’s back. Bayley rose in the corner. Belair charged, chair in hand, but Bayley kicked it back into her face. Bayley opened the chair and pulled Belair’s injured arm through its opening. She slammed Belair’s arm into the steel repeatedly. Bayley tied Bianca’s braid to the bottom of the chair and sat down. She put her boot on Bianca’s shoulder and pulled on the braid. Belair managed to pull the chair out from underneath Bayley, catching her in the knee.

Bianca untied her hair again, then tied it to Bayley’s wrist. Belair dropped Bayley repeatedly with shoulder tackles. She ripped Bayley to the outside and threw her into the cell. Belair peppered Bayley with a kendo stick, then rammed her into the cell again. Belair drove her shoulder into Bayley against the cell. Bianca untied the knot and returned to the ring. Bayley begged the referee to let her out of the cell. Belair climbed to the apron and kicked Bayley in the back of the head. Bayley took off around the side of the ring.

Bayley managed to find a ladder under the ring, catching Belair with a hit to the ribs at around 15:00. The two women engaged in a tug-o-war for control of the ladder in the ring. Bayley won the exchange. She drove Bayley to the mat with the ladder and dragged her body in between the two halves. Bayley hit a Rose Plant with Belair trapped inside the ladder. Bayley sold her injured knee. Belair tried to rolle from the ring. Bayley caught up to her and hooked the leg for a near fall. Cole said the knee injury may have cost Bayley the title.

Belair and Bayley traded quick roll ups for two counts. Belair scooped Bayley into Glam Slam position and dumped her into the corner. Belair placed the ladder on top of Bayley and climbed to the top rope. She dove, but Bayley rolled with the ladder. Belair returned and hit a senton onto the ladder anyway. Belair opened up the ladder, grabbed Bayley, and hit the K.O.D. on top of the open ladder, covering her for a three count.

WINNER: Bianca Belair in 20:00 to retain the Smackdown Women’s title

(LeClair’s Analysis: Pretty good match. Belair continues to improve, and Bayley is impressive as always as an effective foil for a babyface. Her incorporation of yelling to/at Cole during her heat spots is a such a great wrinkle for her character.The right woman won, and Belair is now able to move onto something else, likely a rematch with Sasha Banks come SummerSlam. Neither of Belair’s matches with Bayley really lived up to what we saw from she and Sasha at WrestleMania, but they weren’t really designed to do that. I questioned putting this particular match inside the cell, and I don’t think they really gave me any reason to to feel differently. To me, Rollins and Cesaro had a bit more bad blood and could’ve benefited from the cell more than this match. The cage was used sparingly, as the match was built almost entirely around the braid tie-down spots. Still, decent psychology here, some creative hair spots, and a fun, brutal looking finish. This did what it needed to do.)

-Bianca Belair was interviewed about her cell win. Bianca said it was brutal. She said Bayley beat her up, but she’ll never forgive her.

-Bobby Lashley stared as his WWE title, surrounded by women and MVP, who told him to get in the zone.

-Alexa Bliss was shown on her playground. She said Lily is in timeout, and thanked Shayna Baszler for “coming to play” with her in hell (…in a cell, she added.) She said to expected the unexpected.

-Cole tossed to a video package for Cesaro vs. Seth Rollins.

Cesaro headed to the ring, but was attacked almost immediately from behind by Seth Rollins. The two traded blows at ringside, then spilled into the ring. The referee separated them long enough to ring the bell.

(2) CESARO vs. SETH ROLLINS

Cesaro immediately dropped Seth Rollins out of the blocks with a back drop. Rollins grabbed the ropes to try to keep Cesaro at bay, but Cesaro gave him a big boot to the outside. “Cesaro is fired up and he’s ticked off!” Cole exclaimed. McAfree did a good job explaining why this feud is continuing. Cesaro tossed Rollins back in the ring and climbed to the top rope, connecting with a double axe handle and covering for a one count.

Rollins retreated to the corner, but Cesaro didn’t let up. He peppered Rollins with uppercuts and quick jabs to the sternum. Rollins managed to duck a punch and trip Cesaro into the second turnbuckle. He raked Cesaro’s eyes across the middle rope and regrouped. Rollins caught Cesaro in the eye, then planted him with a DDT. Seth covered for a one count.

Seth paced around the ring slowly, dropping Cesaro with punches over and over. He drove his knee into Cesaro’s midsection off an Irish whip. Seth went for a suplex, but Cesaro blocked it, deadlifted Seth, and delivered a suplex of his own. Rollins rolled onto the apron at 5:00.

Rollins managed to backdrop Cesaro over the top rope and to the floor. Rollins caught him with a leaping knee to the face off the apron. Rollins tossed Cesaro back in the ring and connected with a springboard knee for a near fall. Seth dropped Cesaro with a jab to the chin. Cesaro shook it off. Rollins raked at Cesaro’s eye. He went for a kick, but Cesaro caught his leg and delivered an uppercut. Cesaro shrugged off Rollins’ punches and hit a flurry of uppercuts.

Cesaro pulled of Rollins’ glove and stuffed it in his mouth. He clotheslined Seth and covered him for a two count. Cesaro punt kicked the globe out of the ring, then hit Rollins with a running uppercut. He went for another, but Rollins caught him with a spinning kick. Seth shot Cesaro off the ropes, but Cesaro hit a rolling power slam for a two count.

Rollins flipped through a hold and Cesaro went for the Neutralizer. Rollins blocked it. Cesaro climbed to the top rope, but Rollins leapt up to meet him. Seth went for a superplex. Cesaro shoved him off and caught Rollins with a cross body. Seth rolled through it for  a two count. Rollins followed up with a step-up enziguri. He set up for a neckbreaker, but spun out of it and elbowed Cesaro in the back of the neck. He covered for a near fall.

Seth stomped at Cesaro’s face. “You haven’t learned a damn thing!” he yelled. He grabbed an arm bar. Cesaro powered to his feet to break the hold. He went for a sidewalk slam, but Seth blocked it and transitioned into a Falcon Arrow for another near fall. Rollins hit a step-up enziguri to the back of the head for a third consecutive near fall just past 12:00. Rollins rose to his feet gingerly. He stalked Cesaro, looking for the stomp. Cesaro surprised him with a spinning clothesline.

Both men were laid out in the center. Rollins dragged himself up using the ropes. Cesaro dropped Seth by his legs and initiated the swing. He completed a dozen or so rotations, then turned Seth over into the Sharpshooter. Rollins dragged himself toward the ropes, so Cesaro transitioned into the crossface. Seth rolled through it into a cover, but Cesaro kicked out and immediately locked in the Sharpshooter again. Seth tried to reach the ropes a second time. Cesaro grabbed his arm and stomped on it. He did it again, then a third time. Rollins rolled Cesaro into a small package and caught him for a three count.

WINNER: Seth Rollins in 16:00

(LeClair’s Analysis: Really good, creative, hard hitting match with a cop-out finish. Cesaro needed to win this feud, and this should’ve been the end of it. No one really looks good here. Cesaro still owns two impressive victories over Rollins, while Seth gets a roll up win with recency bias. 50/50 booking is a killer, especially on a thin, divided roster. Cesaro had built an impressive amount of momentum over the last several months, and now it feels like it’s virtually all been spent. Between the loss toe Reigns last month, and the fluke loss to Rollins here, it feels like they’re already turning the page on Cesaro’s push, and that’s really unfortunate. I get that they are, in all likelihood, turning the page to Seth Rollins facing Edge at SummerSlam, and that’s fine. But, if your goal is to rehabilitate Rollins and you’re all but done with Cesaro, give him a decisive win. If you’re going to spend the final pieces of Cesaro’s push here, do it in a way that actually puts Rollins over.)

-An ad aired for Money in the Bank. Cole and McAfree talked up the return to live audiences, then tossed to the pre-show panel.

-Kayla Braxton ran down the night’s results thus far, throwing to Jerry Lawler, JBL, and Pete Rosenberg for comment. Kayla tossed to a video package hyping Alexa Bliss vs. Shayna Baszler.

-Shayna Baszler, Nią Jax, and Reginald joined Sarah Schreiber in gorilla. She asked Shayna for comment on Bliss’ saying to “expect the unexpected.” Baszler said that Bliss started it, and she’s going to end it. Jax agreed, and tried to make amends between Shayna and Reginald. Shayna blew him off and headed to the ring.

Baszler called for Jax and Reginald to follow her once she got onto the stage. They trailed her, somewhat reluctantly, chatting amongst themselves.

The Thunderdome transformed into Alexa’s playground as Bliss headed to the ring. Baszler stared her down, unintimidated. Bliss

(3) SHAYNA BASZLER vs. ALEXA BLISS

Alexa Bliss gave a sly smile as the bell rang. Shayna Baszler circled her, but kept her distance. Reginald jumped onto the apron. Alexa Bliss looked away, allowing Baszler to hit a quick clothesline and toss Bliss to the corner. Baszler stomped Alexa repeatedly. Bliss smiled and no sold the attack. She rolled out of the corner and crawled awkwardly toward Baszler.

Bliss caught Shayna with a pair of right hands, then hung her up over the middle rope. Bliss dropped Baszler to the mat and hit a quick senton for a two count. Alexa shot a glance toward Reginald. Reginald shielded his eyes. Jimmy Smith said it looked like Reginald was entering a hypnotic state. Baszler attacked Bliss from behind.

Shayna deadlifted Bliss out of the corner and gave her a side slam for a two count. Bliss laughed. Shayna twisted Bliss’ arm, forcing her elbow toward her back. Bliss grimaced. Shayna brought Bliss to the mat and manipulated her hand. She stepped on the hand and then jumped onto the elbow. Bliss screamed in horror, but soon began laughing again. Baszler grabbed her by the arm, again contorting the wrist. Bliss screamed for Baszler to look her her. Shayna finally did, immediately breaking the hold.

Bliss dropped Baszler with a pair of shoulder tackles, then a spike DDT for a near fall at around 5:00. Bliss pounded the mat in frustration. She sat cross legged, then spun around and kicked Baszler in the face. Bliss hit a running dropkick to a prone Baszler, sending her tumbling to the outside.

Reginald went to check on Baszler, but Nia Jax locked eyes with Alexa Bliss. Bliss began controlling Nia with er gaze. Bliss forced Jax to slap Reginald. Baszler tried to grab he clutch, but Bliss fought out of it and hit Sister Abigail. She climbed to the top rope and hit Twisted Bliss for a three count.

WINNER: Alexa Bliss in 7:00

(LeClair’s Analysis: Yikes. I guess this is our taste of the supernatural Alexa Bliss character in front of a live audience. Bliss no longer relies on costume changes and ring blackouts, but instead, mind control. Baszler, Jax, and Reginald all fell victim to Bliss’ gaze at one point or another during the match. WWE purposefully went heavy handed here, with the announcers very quick to somehow know exactly what was going on. This isn’t good. I’m not sure how live audiences are going to react to this, given the genuine affinity for Alexa Bliss. As usual, Bliss was committed to the role and I commend her for that, but this just isn’t want I want out of wrestling. What’s the end goal here? To make Bliss a title contender? This kind of story would not work against the likes of Charlotte Flair and Rhea Ripley. It’s too cute, too ridiculous, and too over the top in a way that would surely demean the women’s title.)

-Sami Zayn headed to the ring as Pat McAfree talked up his Espy nomination (for “kicking scumbag Adam Cole.”) Michael Cole tossed to a clip from Friday’s Smackdown, showing Kevin Owens getting laid out with the Nigerian Nail twice thanks to Sami Zayn.

Kevin Owens headed to the ring, stepping quickly to Zayn and temporarily forcing him out to the apron.

(4) SAMI ZAYN vs. KEVIN OWENS

Kevin Owens pounced on Sami Zayn as soon as the bell ring, cornering him. Zayn begged for mercy and dragged himself to the opposite set of turnbuckles. Owens gave him a knife-edged chop. Owens clubbed Zayn in the chest. Cole wondered if Owens would have trouble breathing tonight as a result of the Nigerian Nails on Fridays.

Owens scraped Zayn off the canvas and elbowed him in the jaw. He followed up with a back elbow and a senton. Owens dropped to a knee, selling the story of the Nail. Zayn rolled to the outside. Owens followed, tossed Sami into the ring post and then slid him back in the ring. Zayn recovered enough to toss Owens to the corner and hit a few punches. Owens sold more breathing trouble. Zayn caught him with a shot to the throat. He tried to grab a headlock. Owens choked, but got out of it.

The referee held Zayn back for a moment. Owens gagged. Sami went for a suplex, but Owens blocked it and tossed Zayn onto the ropes. He caught Zayn with a running clothesline in the corner, then a running cannonball. Owens covered for a two count at 4:00. Sami managed to trip Owens throat first into the bottom rope. Owens rolled to the outside. Sami hit a swanton dive over the top rope onto Owens. KO recovered first, climbing back in the ring clutching at his arm.

Sami returned to the ring. The referee tried to held him back to check on Owens, but Sami kicked him in the face. Cole said the referee is going to have to consider stopping the match. Zayn mounted Owens and delivered a series of punches. KO rolled to the outside, clutching his wrist and struggling to breathe. Owens returned to the ring and stymied Zayn with wild punches. Owens dropped Zayn in the corner. Zayn rolled to the outside. KO followed. He dropped Zayn with a big clothesline, then doubled over again. Owens rolled in the break the referee’s count at seven. He returned to the apron and went for a rolling senton, but Zayn got his knees up.

Zayn tossed KO into the ring and hit a Blue Thunder Bomb for a near fall at 8:00. McAfee said they’re in “overtime of game 7”, an analogy he’s used a couple times already tonight. Zayn propped Owens up in the corner and punched him repeatedly. KO returned the favor with quick chops and kicks. Owens went for a Stunner, but Zayn blocked it and hit a Tiger Suplex for a near fall.

KO rolled to the outside. Sami came up bleeding from the mouth. Zayn rolled to the outside and Owens caught him with a Stunner. Owens rolled back inside. Sami made it back in the ring just before the ten count. Both men rose to their knees and traded punches. Owens switched to head butts. Zayn collapsed to the apron. Owens approached, but Sami caught the bad arm on the rope. Sami kicked Owens throat first into the bottom rope, then connected with the Heluva Kick for a three count.

WINNER: Sami Zayn in 13:00

(LeClair’s Analysis: Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn can have absolutely stellar, top notch matches any night of the week. This wasn’t necessarily that, but it wasn’t designed to be. Don’t get me wrong, it was good, very good, even, for what it was, but it was hampered at times by Owens’ selling of the breathing issue. These two did their best with that handicap, and for the most part, it worked. The finish, though, simply didn’t. Sami Zayn is a lower card bit player. Kevin Owens, injured or not, shouldn’t be going 50/50 in a feud with Sami Zayn. This, like the Cesaro/Rollins match earlier in the night, does little but advance a storyline that is long past its expiration date by giving a tainted win to the heel who needs the momentum far less than the babyface.) 

-Michael Cole and Pat McAfee reset at the announcers desk, tossing to a video recap of Roman Reigns vs. Rey Mysterio from Friday’s Smackdown.

-A hype video for Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte Flair aired.

-Charlotte Flair headed to the ring in new, Maleficent-inspired gear. Rhea Ripley followed. Corey Graves said this is the tallest task of Ripley’s young career. Mike Rome provided customary championship introductions. They piped in boos for both women.

Charlotte Flair stole the women’s title from the referee and tossed it at Ripley before the match began.

(5) RHEA RIPLEY (c) vs. CHARLOTTE FLAIR – Raw Women’s Championship match

Charlotte Flair caught a quick school girl roll up as soon as the bell rang. Rhea Ripley kicked out at two and rolled to the outside. The two jawed back and forth for a moment before locking up in the center of the ring. Ripley tossed Charlotte to the corner and hit her with a series of elbows. Flair fired back with several of her own.

Ripley caught Flair with a spinning back elbow. The two traded run-ins with the turnbuckle. Ripley climbed to the top rope but Flair tripped her up, downing her in the corner and driving her boot into Ripley’s throat. Flair grabbed a grounded headlock. Charlotte wrenched on the head and neck for Ripley for a short while before lifting her into a suplex attempt. The two wound up spilling to the outside. Flair stayed on the offensive, shoving Ripley into the barricade with a boot to the face. She tossed Ripley back in the ring and tried to cover her three times, each time only netting a one count.

Flair taunted Ripley, dolling out kicks to keep her grounded. She twisted Ripley’s knee around the bottom rope, eventually breaking her grasp at the referee’s count. Ripley fired back with a quick right and caught Flair with a pair of short-arm clotheslines. Flair missed wildly with a chop. Rhea caught Flair with a head butt, then a kick to the jaw. Flair retreated to the apron. She grabbed Rhea’s leg and hooked an ankle lock while hung up in the ropes. The referee broke it up. Ripley delivered a dropkick, but sold the damage to the leg.

Ripley climbed to the top rope at the 6:00 mark, hitting a dropkick for a two count. Ripley locked in the Inverted Cloverleaf. Flair used her length to improve her own leverage, eventually flipping Ripley into the turnbuckle. Flair hit Natural Selection for a near fall, attempting to place her feet on the ropes at the last moment.

Flair went for a body slam, but Rhea slid down her back. She hit a release German suplex, sending Flair into the corner. Ripley shook out her injured knee. She charged at Flair, who surprised her with a backbreaker into a turnbuckle slam. Flair climbed to the tope rope and went for the moonsault. Rhea moved, but Flair landed on her feet. Charlotte hit a standing moonsault for a two count.

Charlotte went to work on the injured knee. She set up for the Figure Four, but Ripley turned it into a roll up for two. Flair caught Ripley with an elbow for a two of her own. She hit Ripley with a handful of elbows to the face. Flair went for the Figure Four again, but Ripley kicked her to the apron. Flair climbed to the top rope. Ripley rushed to meet her. Rhea climbed to the top rope and hit a superplex, covering Flair for a near fall just before the match crossed 11:00.

Rhea slapped Charlotte in the face. The two women began trading rapid fire punches. Flair came out the better, catching Ripley with a number of chops. Ripley shook them off and hit Flair with the Riptide out of nowhere. She covered, but Flair got her foot on the bottom rope to break the count. Ripley screamed in frustration.

Flair rolled to the outside. Ripley followed. Flair tripped Ripley into the steel steps, then kicked her knee into the side of the steel. Ripley and Flair barely answered the referee’s count. Flair hit Ripley with a spear, then locked in the Figure Four. She bridged halfway into the Figure Eight, but Ripley turned her over and reached the ropes. The two rolled to the outside together, hold still applied. Ripley screamed in agony. Flair grew agitated. Ripley ripped the top off the announcers desk, hitting Flair in the face as she did. The referee rang the bell.

WINNER: Charlotte Flair in 14:00 by disqualification, Ripley retains

The two continued to brawl after the match. Flair said “I know what you did”, intimating that Ripley got DQ’ed on purpose. Ripley hit Flair with a second Riptide. She grabbed the title and sat on the announcers desk as Mike Rome announced Flair as the winner.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Good match marred by a completely bogus finish. I thought this was Rhea Ripley’s best showing of a rather unimpressive early campaign on the main roster. Much of that is undone by the awful finish, though. Ripley played as much the heel as Flair, making it hard for either to gain any sort of heat during the course of the match. The DQ finish made Ripley look weak. The DQ, in general, was weak. Wrestlers use the steps to their advantage all the time. Wrestlers toss each other on the announcers desk all the time. I get that Ripley “moved” the topper, but, come on. Do better. Flair seemingly had Ripley dead to rights and Ripley took a shortcut to get out of it. Flair comes out looking not quite sympathetic, but still, the better of the two.  None is likable here, and this helps no one – which seems to be the theme of tonight’s show. I’d like to say they wouldn’t dare do this in front of live audiences, but, let’s be honest, they had no issue doing it prior to the pandemic and I’m sure they won’t hesitate in the very near future.)

-A hype video for Bobby Lashley vs. Drew McIntyre aired.

Drew McIntyre headed to the ring. Corey Graves said it’s his final opportunity to regain the WWE Championship. He said though Drew isn’t afraid of much, he has to respect the environment he’s in tonight.

Bobby Lashley headed to the ring, flanked by MVP. Byron Saxton said that Lashley can be sadistic, but wondered if he can carry it into a Hell in a Cell match. Graves said Lashley seems to live in a mindset of being unbeatable. Smith pointed out that Lashley may be having doubts about being in the Cell for the first time, though we’d never see it. Mike Rome introduced the match.McIntyre and Lashley stood face to face the whole time, refusing to break each other’s gaze. Lashley held up the title before handing it to the referee.

(6) BOBBY LASHLEY (c, w/ MVP) vs. DREW McINTYRE – Hell in a Cell match for the WWE Championship

Bobby Lashley held up a single finger, signifying Drew McIntyre’s final chance at the WWE title. Lashley immediately rolled to the outside to retrieve something from underneath the ring. McIntyre followed, cutting him off and driving him into the cell. McIntyre retrieved the steel steps. Lashley kicked McIntyre’s legs out from underneath him. Drew fell in a heap to the corner of the cell. Lashley drove his boot into McIntyre’s neck.

McIntyre fought to his feet and managed to suplex Lashley into the cell. He grabbed the steps again, this time connecting with a shot to Lashley’s head. MVP shouted instructions from just outside the cell. McIntyre hit Lashley with the steps a second time. He dragged Lashley back to his feet and into the ring. McIntyre set up for the Future Shock DDT, but Lashley blocked it and hit Drew with an elbow. McIntyre shrugged it off and gave Lashley an overhead belly-to-belly. Lashley rolled to the outside.

Drew McIntyre retrieved a kendo stick from under the ring and cracked it over Bobby Lashley’s ribs. He wrapped the stick around Lashley’s throat and swept him into the cell. McIntyre dragged a table from under the ring. He set it up against the cell. MVP slipped his cane to Lashley through the steel. Lashley hit Drew in the throat with it, then tossed him into the cell. Lashley drove his boot into Drew’s head and neck. Bobby shoved Drew into the LED apron on the ring, then climbed up the remaining half of the steel steps. McIntyre fought Lashley off, scooped him up, and hit White Noise onto the base of the steps just after the 6:00 mark.

McIntyre retrieved another table. He set this one up against the apron. Drew returned to Lashley, tossing him repeatedly into the cell. McIntyre dragged Lashley back to the base of the steps, planning to suplex him off the base and through the table. Lashley fought out of McIntyre’s grasp. The two men fall to the base of the steps and traded punches. Lashley gained the upper hand. He tossed McIntyre into the cell, but Drew rebounded with a bit clothesline. Drew bounced Bobby’s head off the other half of the steel steps, then slid him back in the ring. Drew tossed a trio of chairs in the ring.

Lashley struggled to stand as McIntyre wedged a chair into the ropes. He elbowed Lashley and hit a reverse Alabama Slam onto a chair, covering for a near fall as the match passed 10:00. McIntyre cracked a chair over the back of the champion. He climbed to the top rope, chair still in hand. Drew went for a chair shot from the top, but Lashley ducked it and tried to grab the Hurt Lock. McIntyre powered out and hit Lashley with a spinebuster for a two count. Lashley rose to his feet, but walked right into a sit-out powerbomb for another two count.

McIntyre watched Bobby struggled to pull himself to the ropes. He kicked Lashley to the outside. MVP looked on with grave concern. McIntyre hit Lashley with the steel steps again. Bobby struggled to his feet and blocked a fourth shot, instead forcing McIntyre’s head back into the cell, wedging it between the cage and the steps. Lashley repeated this. Drew collapsed. Lashley  retrieved a kendo stick.

“You asked for this!” MVP told McIntyre. Lashley threaded a kendo stick to him through the cell. MVP used it to trap Lashley in the corner. Lashley jabbed McIntyre’s exposed stomach with lefts and rights. McIntyre managed to break the kendo stick to free himself, but Lashley dropped him with ease. He rolled Drew back in the ring. Saxton said the odds of McIntyre regaining the title are slimming quickly.

Lashley set up a chair in the center of the ring and gave McIntyre a pair of reverse STOs onto its seat. Drew regained his composure and fought Lashley off. The referee was knocked down in the chaos. McIntyre hit Lashley with the Future Shock DDT. The outside official began unlocking the cage to take over in-ring duties. Lashley attempted the Hurt Lock, but McIntyre fought it off, hit a chair shot, and followed up with the Claymore. Drew covered with the new referee in place, but MVP pulled him out of the ring.

McIntyre locked eyes with MVP, who realized he’d been locked in the cell. McIntyre slammed MVP’s head off the cell, the apron, and the ring post. He rolled in the ring. McIntyre set up and hit MVP with a Claymore at the 20:00 mark. MVP rolled to the outside in a heap. McIntyre followed, taking his necklace from around his neck. Lashley appeared, grabbing the Hurt Lock. Drew struggled in the hold, but managed to throw his body backward, sending both he and Lashley crashing through the table propped up in the corner of the cell.

Lashley and McIntyre struggled in the rubble of the table. Drew rolled Bobby into the ring and followed. He dragged Lashley to the center and grabbed a chair. He drove the chair into Lashley’s back again. Lashley looked on, expecting more punishment. McIntyre gladly obliged, bending the chair over Lashley’s back. McIntyre set up in the corner and went for the Claymore, but Lashley collapsed, avoiding it.

The camera caught the the thick welts forming on McIntyre’s back as he teetered on the apron. Lashley grabbed Drew by the throat and choke slammed him off the apron, through the table set up on the outside of the ring. Lashley pounded his chest and retrieved the challenger. Lashley took a knee in the corner, stalking McIntyre. Drew rose. Lashley charged for the spear, but McIntyre side stepped it. Lashley collided with the turnbuckle. McIntyre rolled up Lashley for two, then hit the Glasgow Kiss. He immediately grabbed Lashley and connected with the Future Shock DDT.

McIntyre paced wildly. He set up in the corner, but MVP grabbed his leg. McIntyre kicked MVP away, but Lashley rolled him up and grabbed the tights for a three count.

WINNER: Bobby Lashley in 26:00 to retain the WWE Championship

(LeClair’s Analysis: Great match, yet again marred by a really, really bad finish. There’s just no need for this. If Lashley is going to keep the title, and you want him to be a dominant champion, than let him dominate. Lashley won the last couple of matches in cleaner fashion than this one – what portends to the final encounter. There’s something to be said for recency bias, as I mentioned earlier in the Rollins/Cesaro match. The last chapter of this feud concludes with a roll up and a tights grab, thanks to interference from MVP. McIntyre had the match won, they told us as much. Now, Lashley looks weaker for having visually lost the match, and McIntyre looks weak for being unable to dispose of MVP while giving up his right to challenge for the title again.)

FINAL THOUGHTS: My negative feelings toward this show are in no way because of a lack of effort. The wrestlers busted their asses, to mostly positive results from an in-ring perspective. As usual, creative failed them, in a big way. Bad finish after bad finish after bad finish led to a series of increasingly bitter tastes in the mouth as the show progressed. This show aimed to put guys like Bobby Lashley and Seth Rollins over in a big way, and, as far as I’m concerned, completely failed in doing so because of horribly uncreative, wishy-washy finishes that aim to be “decisive” without hurting the opponent. Feud blows offs aren’t the time for that kind of finish, and yet, they went to that well on multiple occasions tonight. Ultimately, a night of really good wrestling brought down considerably by a reluctance to truly to commit to absolutely anything. WWE has truly thrown in the towel until they return to live audiences, and are expecting the talent to carry their dead weight with stellar matches.

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