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LECLAIR’S WWE HELL IN A CELL 2022 REPORT
JUNE 5, 2022
CHICAGO, IL AT ALLSTATE ARENA
AIRED LIVE ON PEACOCK (U.S.), WWE NETWORK (Int.)
Announcers: Michael Cole (Smackdown), Jimmy Smith & Corey Graves & Byron Saxton (Raw)
-The show opened with a video package focusing first on the Hell in a Cell match between Cody Rhodes and Seth Rollins, followed by a run down of the undercard.
Pyro exploded from the stage, filmed from a new, unique side angle. A sweeping shot of the Allstate Arena was narrated by Jimmy Smith welcoming the audience to Hell in a Cell. At the announcers desk, Smith introduced his partners, Corey Grave and Byron Saxton. Graves said they’ve just been alerted to an injury involving Cody Rhodes. He said they’d keep the audience updated as the night progressed.
Saxton turned focus to the triple threat match for the Raw Women’s Championship. Smith threw to a video package for the match.
-Becky Lynch entered first, sporting an abstract headpiece. Graves said it’s an opportunity for Lynch to take a giant leap in her path to redemption. Smith talked about how the match became a triple threat. Lynch received a pronounced mixed reaction. Asuka entered to a strong reaction from the crowd. Bianca Belair entered to a decent reaction, being stared down by a stone-faced Lynch the whole way.
Mike Rome provided standard championship match introductions. All three women received star reactions.
(1) BIANCA BELAIR (c) vs. BECKY LYNCH vs. ASUKA – Raw Women’s Championship Triple Threat match
All three women circled one another to open up the match. Becky Lynch broke the circle and pushed Bianca Belair. Asuka grabbed Lynch and tripped her up. Belair dropped Becky again and shooed her to the outside. Belair and Asuka engaged in a quick nod, then they locked up. A dueling chant broke out. Asuka took Belair down with a snapmare. Belair shot to her feet and shrugged off a shoulder tackle. Asuka hit the ropes again, but Lynch grabbed her leg and pulled her outside.
Becky Lynch caught Bianca Belair with a pair of kicks from the apron. She climbed the ropes, but Belair recovered and pressed her to the mat. She covered for a quick two count. Belair flipped out of the corner and gave Lynch a dropkick. Asuka delivered one of her own to Lynch. She followed up with a double bulldog on both Belair and Lynch. Asuka began kicking both women in the chest. She dropped Belair with a kick to the face, then hip checked Lynch in the corner. Belair scooped Asuka up for the K.O.D., but Asuka slid free and grabbed an Arm Bar. Belair dead-lifted her off the mat and Powerbombed her into the corner.
Lynch returned to the apron and tossed Asuka onto Belair. She covered both women for individual two counts. Becky tossed Asuka into the ring post, then delivered a running leg drop to the champion for another two count. Belair pulled herself up using the ropes for leverage. Becky backed her into the corner, then draped her over the ropes. Lynch roughed up Bianca in the corner, then taunted the crowd at around 5:10.
Asuka returned to the apron, but ate a shoulder from Belair. Lynch tossed Bianca to the apron, draped her over the middle rope, and delivered a leg drop to the back of the neck from the middle rope. Becky covered for a two count. Lynch began toying with the champion, kicking her lightly in the head and daring her to get up. Becky set up for the Disarm-Her, but Belair blocked it. Lynch managed to hit the Bexploder. She climbed to the top rope and connected with a leg drop. Lynch covered, but Asuka just saved the pin.
Belair rolled to the outside. Lynch and Asuka began trading punches and kicks. Asuka got the better of the exchange and caught Becky with a snap German Suplex. Lynch stumbled to her feet and ate a spinning back-fist. Asuka scored a near fall. Lynch battled to her feet and tried to lock in the Disarm-Her. Belair returned and broke it up. She went for the K.O.D., but Lynch fought free. Belair hit her with a stalling Suplex instead, high-stepping with Lynch suspended in air. Belair cornered both her challengers. She hit ten punches to both women simultaneously. After the last one, Lynch slid between her legs and pulled her down by the braid.
The champion shook it off. She planted Lynch first, then Asuka. She hit a handspring moonsault on both women, then covered them for two. Belair rolled Asuka to the outside and pointed to Becky. She set her up on the top turnbuckle. Belair hooked Lynch up for the Superplex, but Asuka returned to spoil her plans. Belair backflipped over Asuka’s head. Asuka caught Bianca with a Codebreaker. Lynch dove, but Asuka gave her a Codebreaker too. Asuka tried covering both women, but only scored two counts.
Asuka put Lynch in an Ankle Lock. Belair tried to intervene, but Asuka tripped her up and twisted her ankle too. Belair and Lynch briefly worked together to roll Asuka out of the hold, freeing themselves. Belair and Lynch limped to center to meet each other at 13:15. Belair rolled Lynch up for two, then Lynch transitioned into the Disarm-Her. Belair kept a vertical base to avoid full torque. She lifted Lynch into the air with one arm, then moved her into K.O.D. position. Belair’s ankle gave out and she dumped Lynch to the mat.
Lynch climped the turnbuckle and dove, but Belair caught her for a flam. Asuka dropkicked Lynch’s back. Lynch hit Belair with the Man-Handle Slam and hooked the leg, but Asuka broke up the pin. All three women rolled around on the mat. Belair dropped to the outside. Lynch and Asuka traded slaps and punches. Becky went for the Man-Handle Slam, but Asuka blocked it. She kicked Becky in the face. Asuka hit Becky with a release German Suplex. Lynch rebounded into the ropes. Asuka charged for a Hip Attack, but Becky moved. Asuka got caught up in the middle rope. Belair returned to the apron and scooped Lynch over the ropes for a K.O.D., but Asuka broke it up.
Asuka and Becky traded roll ups for two counts. Asuka transitioned one into the Asuka Lock. Lynch rolled through it into a cover, but Asuka maintained her grip and got the shoulder up. Belair returned and broke the hold. Asuka kicked Belair in the face and whipped her to the corner. Asuka went for a hip attack, but Belair caught her and dumped her into the corner. Belair set Asuka up for the K.O.D., but Lynch broke it up and tossed Belair to the outside. Becky bit Asuka with the Man-Handle Slam and went for a cover, but Belair slid in the ring and tossed Lynch outside. Belair stole the pin for a three count.
WINNER: Bianca Belair in 18:55 to retain the Raw Women’s Championship
(LeClair’s Analysis: Good match with an overplayed finish, but one that made sense for this story. Lynch did everything she needed to do to get the win, but ultimately, ended up being outsmarted by the babyface. While I don’t love the babyface stealing the pinfall, I do like that the finish made Belair look smarter than the heel Lynch. It played into Becky’s slow descent to madness, and should give her plenty to complain about going forward. Asuka felt like she was there to eat the pin, but her big spots went over well with the crowd and they seemed to buy into the idea that she could get Lynch to submit to the Asuka Lock deep in the match. It did appear as though Lynch got a few too many visual wins over Belair, who was saved at the last moment by Asuka. The announcers even pointed out that Belair owed plenty to Asuka should she go on to win the match eventually. Good way to open the show.)
-Cedric Alexander approached Omos and M.V.P. backstage. He offered his help, going through a scenario where he could guarantee victory. M.V.P. cut him off. He said the Hurt Business is over, and they won’t be associates again. Omos told Cedric that it’s time for him to go.
-Jimmy Smith tossed to a video package hyping the handicap match, featuring a rap from M.V.P.
Omos and M.V.P. headed to the ring. The camera comically looked like it was positioned below the floor to emphasize Omos’ size. Saxton talked about M.V.P.’s diss track against Lashley, which was included in the video package. Bobby Lashley entered to a solid reaction, which grew stronger when he posed in the ring.
(2) OMOS & M.V.P. vs. BOBBY LASHLEY – 2-on-1 Handicap match
M.V.P. started the match for his team. circling Bobby Lashley. As Lashley approached, Porter ducked into his corner and tagged in Omos. Lashley gave him some room to get in the ring, then the two locked up. Lashley grabbed a waist lock, but Omos broke it quickly. Lashley gave Omos a shoulder tackle, but Omos stood firm. Omos shrugged off another waist lock. Bobby circled the giant. Omos challenged him to a test of strength.
Lashley threw a punch instead. He charged at the big man and sent him stumbling. Bobby knocked M.V.P. off the apron. Omos recovered and crushed Lashley in the corner. Omos gave him a hip toss, then tagged in M.V.P. Porter stomped Bobby, then covered him for a one count. “This your almighty?” he asked the crowd. Lashley stood and began blocking M.V.P.’s shots. M.V.P. raked Lashley’s eyes to gain control. Porter tagged out. Lashley recovered quickly, dropping both Porter and Omos. Lashley set Omos up for a Suplex. Omos blocked it and gave Bobby a front Suplex instead.
Omos scooped up Lashley and delivered Snake Eyes to the turnbuckle. He crushed him in the corner again and again. M.V.P. tagged himself in. He gave Lashley a running boot in the corner. Lashley flew over the top rope and onto the floor. M.V.P. tagged in Omos. Omos dropped off the apron and charged at a recovering Lashley on the outside. He tackled Bobby through the time keeper’s area. Omos rushed back into the ring. The referee reached a count of nine before Lashley returned to the ring.
M.V.P. tagged in. Lashley crawled toward him. Porter dropped him and covered for one. M.V.P. mounted Lashley and threw a flurry of elbows as the match approached 6:30. Lashley recovered quickly and hit M.V.P. with a Spear. He covered, but Omos broke up the pin immediately. Cedric Alexander appeared on the top rope. Omos grabbed him by the throat and threw him to the outside. Lashley hit Omos with a Spear. Omos rolled to the outside. Lashley put M.V.P. in the Hurt Lock. Porter tapped.
WINNER: Bobby Lashley in 8:23
After the match, Lashley took a WWE Championship replica belt from a fan at ringside. Jimmy Smith said Lashley was sending a message. “I’m coming!” Lashley yelled.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Not much to this one. Lashley did his best, but Omos is still unable to do much more than get from Point A to Point B. M.V.P.’s in-ring involvement was limited to quick flurry attacks when Lashley was already hurting. Alexander’s interference seemed telegraphed from the moment M.V.P. rejected him before the match. This just doesn’t help anyone. Lashley only won because of Alexander’s interference. Omos doesn’t eat the pin, but still loses. No one has come out of this feud looking good at all, and they certainly didn’t emphatically close the book on it tonight, either, even with Lashley’s not-so-subtle post match attempt to turn the page.)
-At the announcers desk, Jimmy Smith talked about Cody Rhodes’ pectoral injury. He said Rhodes was not injured this weekend, but rather, suffered a partial tear in his brawl with Seth Rollins on Monday. He said Rhodes tore the pectoral off the bone while working out earlier. Graves added that Cody will still compete tonight.
-Kevin Owens headed to the ring. Graves said KO has been made to feel like a liar. Smith added that he’s been made out to be delusional. The announcers threw to some clips building the match. The crowd cheered Owens heavily. Ezekiel entered to a modest reaction. Saxton talked over more clips.
(3) KEVIN OWENS vs. EZEKIEL
Kevin Owens looked around, annoyed. “You’re a damn liar,” Owens said. The crowd broke into a “Zeke” chant. Owens charged, but Ezekiel caught him with a leaping knee to the face. He climbed to the top rope and hit a big diving elbow for a near fall. Owens rolled to the outside to regroup. Ezekiel followed. The two men brawled back and forth around the announcers desk. Owens countered an Irish Whip, sending Ezekiel crashing into the ring post.
Owens tossed Ezekiel back in the ring and covered him for a two count. “That was three!” he argued. He stomped Ezekiel and gave him a Senton. Owens hit a leaping moonsault off the middle rope for a two count. “That’s Elias!” Owens pointed and yelled. He grabbed a chin lock. The crowd willed Ezekiel to his feet. Owens chopped him down again. Owens shoved Ezekiel’s face into the camera and pulled his lips apart to make him smile. “That face is Elias!” he screamed.
Ezekiel threw a weak looking punch, but Owens chopped him down again. Ezekiel pulled himself up and whipped Owens into the corner. KO took the corner flip bump and landed hard. He slowly rose and the two men traded right hands. Owens caught Ezekiel with a boot out of the corner and a Tornado DDT for a two count at 5:38. Owens climbed to the top rope. He went for a Senton, but Ezekiel got his knees up.
“You know who I am!” Ezekiel yelled at Owens. He shoved Owens into the corner. The crowd opened up a dueling chant of “he’s Elias/no he’s not.” Ezekiel gave KO a Spinebuster and covered him for a near fall. He dragged Owens to his feet. KO went for a Stunner, but Ezekiel shoved him away. He charged, but Owens gave him a Pop Up Powerbomb for a near fall of his own. “You’re Elias, admit it!” Owens slapped Ezekiel repeatedly. Ezekiel slapped him back. Owens went for Stunner again. Ezekiel blocked it and rolled Owens up for two. He hit Owens with a knee to the face and climbed to the top rope. Owens recovered and kicked Elias off the top rope.
Ezekiel slumped down into the corner. Owens backed up and hit a Cannonball. He dragged Ezekiel to his feet and gave him a Stunner. Owens covered Ezekiel for three, yelling “Elias” as he scored the pin.
WINNER: Kevin Owens in 9:20
(LeClair’s Analysis: Nice to see Owens get a clean, decisive win here. The crowd was almost fully behind him, with the few “Zeke” chants seeming to come in almost jest. The match was slow and plodding, based mostly in the story of Owens slowly losing his mind while trying to prove his point. I know some people have enjoyed this angle, but I simply don’t find it compelling. I think it’s well beneath Owens, but I can appreciate the level of commitment he’s displayed throughout it all. Still, I think it’s time to move on. Ezekiel, meanwhile, seems to be approaching his very limited ceiling very quickly. There’s nothing to grab onto there, short of the joke that everyone is in on.)
-The announcers thanked Ozzy Osbourne for “Straight to Hell”, the theme for Hell in a Cell.
-Byron Saxton set the stage for the six-person mixed tag team match. He tossed to a video package.
The Judgment Day entered first. Damian Priest and Rhea Ripley appeared onstage first, receiving little to no reaction. The crowd popped when Edge stepped between them. Liv Morgan entered next, slapping hands with fans and then backing up to await her partners. Finn Balor elicited a strong response from the crowd. He pointed to Liv, and she did his arm pose with him. They shared a fist bump. A.J. Styles entered, leading the team to the ring.
(4) THE JUDGMENT DAY (Edge & Damian Priest & Rhea Ripley) vs. A.J. STYLES & FINN BALOR & LIV MORGAN = 6-Person Mixed Tag Team match
Rhea Ripley and Liv Morgan began the match. Graves explained the rules. All four men in the match entered the ring quickly and a full brawl ensued. Ripley was left alone in the ring with Stylex, Balor, and Liv. Styles and Balor helped whip Liv toward Rhea. Ripley tried to counter into a Powerbomb. but Morgan turned it into a Hurricanrana. Ripley shrugged it off and gave Liv a vicious headbutt. Morgan checked her teeth.
Ripley gave Morgan a pair of Suplexes, stalling for a while on the second. She covered and scored a two count. Rhea slapped at Morgan, who covered up. Ripley whipped Morgan into the ropes, then drove her into the turnbuckles repeatedly. Liv caught Rhea with a kick and dropkicked her into the corner. Ripley teased a tag to one of her partners. Morgan beat her to the punch and tagged A.J. Styles. Edge instructed Damian Priest to enter. The crowd booed.
Priest threw a kick, but Styles caught it and chopped him. He hit a big dropkick, then followed up with a Pale Kick. Styles tagged in Finn Balor. Finn twisted Priest’s arm. Priest scooped Balor up, but Finn slid down the back, hit the ropes, and kicked Priest’s legs out. Balor worked over Priest’s leg and ankle in the corner at the 4:30 mark. Edge distracted Balor long enough for Priest to gain control. He tossed Balor to the outside, then tagged in Edge.
Edge elbowed Balor into the announcers desk. He slammed him from desk to apron, then tossed him back inside. Edge played to the crowd. They booed. Balor stumbled to the heel corner. Edge tagged in Priest, who kicked Balor in the gut. Priest caught Balor with right hands, then a leaping elbow. He hit a clothesline out of the corner and covered Balor for two. Priest tagged in Edge. They continued cornering Balor, cutting him off from his partners. Balor eventually fought out of the corner, but Edge cut him off with a face-plant and cover for two.
Damian Priest took over. He clotheslined Balor and grabbed a grounded chin-lock. Morgan and Styles tried to will Balor to life. Finn reached desperately for Styles. Priest pulled him into a spinning backbreaker for another two count. Priest mocked Balor, daring him to stand. Balor gave Priest a massive chop, then an overhead Pale Kick. Priest tagged in Edge. Balor tagged in Styles. A.J. hit a flurry of kicks and slaps. He gave Priest a sit out face-buster. He hit a leaping clothesline on Edge in the corner, then an Ushigoroshi for a near fall. Edge sent Styles to the apron. Styles kicked Priest in the head. He shoved Edge and set up for the Phenomenal Forearm. He hit it and covered, but Priest pulled Styles to the outside to break the count at 11:05.
Styles dragged himself back to the ring. He tagged in Liv Morgan. Rhea entered and took another ‘rana from Liv. Morgan hooked up Ripley and hit a Crucifix Driver for a two count. She jumped on Ripley’s back, but Rhea flipped her into a half-Suplex. Rhea covered for a two count. Ripley set up for the Riptide. Morgan slid out of it and tagged in Balor. Styles entered to meet Edge. Priest entered to meet Balor. The three babyfaces wound up in separate mounts, punching the heels.
The heels regrouped on the outside. Balor and Morgan flipped onto their opponents on the outside. Balor tossed Priest back in the ring and kicked him in the face. Finn climbed the ropes, but Ripley shook him off. She laughed maniacally from ringside. Priest tagged in Edge. Edge went for a spear, but Balor kicked him in the head. Priest gave Balor a Chokeslam. Styles, now bleeding from the head, hit Priest with the Phenomenal Forearm. Edge tossed Styles awkwardly into the ring post. Styles slid outside the ring awkwardly. Edge tried to spear Balor, but Finn rolled him up for a near fall. He caught Edge with a Sling Blade and climbed to the top rope. Rhea Ripley blocked him. Liv leapt on Ripley’s back and the two tumbled out of the ring. Balor went for the Coup De Grace, but Edge moved. Edge caught Balor with a spear and pinned him for a three count.
WINNERS: The Judgment Day in 16:02
The crowd was focused on the outside corner of the ring for much of the final sequence, where A.J. Styles was receiving medical attention. The camera briefly showed Liv Morgan looking concerned.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Decent match that picked up in the final minutes. The early chunk of Balor being isolated by the heels dragged on a little long, and the crowd seemed to be growing impatient. There seems to be very little interest in the Judgement Day as a group, with Ripley and Priest both receiving little to no reaction. Edge received star cheers, but otherwise, there’s just very little investment there. It dragged the match down. Balor, Styles, and Morgan were all well-received, and their big spots got good reactions. Mostly, though, it just felt like there wasn’t much interest in this angle. I’ve been very vocal about my dislike of this character change for Edge, and I still think it’d be wise to pivot from it quickly. The dark, brooding theatrics seem so fake and put on, and it seems like the audience sees right through them. I’m inclined to think Liv Morgan’s pairing with Balor and Styles does far more for her than Ripley receives being associated with this low-rent community theater Judgment Day stable. As an aside, Styles appears to have been injured on the turnbuckle crash at the end of the match, or perhaps before. He was bleeding when he hit the Forearm on Priest, but seemed otherwise fine and coherent. Not sure what happened, but hope he’s okay.)
-Bobby Lashley was seen walking backstage. He stumbled upon Cedric Alexander. Cedric said he didn’t do it for Bobby, he did it for himself. Alexander said he needs to find a way to stand on his own two feet. Lashley said he’s proud of him, but told him not to mess with one of his matches again. He gave Alexander a friendly slap on the chest.
-The Raw announcers teased Happy Corbin vs. Madcap Moss in a No Holds Barred match. They tossed to a video package.
-Samantha Irvin announced the rules of a No Holds Barred match. Happy Corbin entered. Michael Cole had joined the announcers desk with Corey Graves. Cole said Pat McAfee had the night off. Madcap Moss entered as Cole and Graves discussed Moss’ chances of breaking out.
(5) HAPPY CORBIN vs. MADCAP MOSS – No Holds Barred match
Madcap Moss quickly knocked Happy Corbin outside the ring. The two men brawled up the ramp way and toward the stage. Corbin tossed Moss into one of the staging pieces. It flickered snow. Moss recovered. He and Corbin took turns slamming each other into the crowd barricade on their way back to the ring. They worked their way around the ring and toward the announcers desk. Corbin tackled Moss into the barricade. He grabbed a chair, teased using it, then tossed it aside. He tossed Moss over the desk instead.
Moss recovered quickly, throwing Corey Graves’ desk chair right at Corbin’s head. He slammed Happy into the ring steps. The crowd chanted “we want tables.” Moss chased Corbin around ringside with steel steps. Corbin leapt over the barricade into the crowd. He caught Moss with a clothesline, then Suplexed him on the barricade. Corbin drove his knee into Corbin’s upper back and shoulder repeatedly. Moss had developed some welts on his back. Happy began to retrieve a table, but quickly put it back, eliciting massive boos from the Chicago crowd.
Corbin teased throwing Moss into the fans. He tossed him into the ring instead and called the fans “idiots.” Corbin gave Moss a Chokeslam from the apron. He retrieved a steel chair. Corbin drove it into Moss’ ribs, then cracked it across his back. Corbin wound up and drove the chair into the back of Moss’ neck. The announcers called back to Corbin’s attack that injured Madcap’s neck. Moss managed a drop toe hold onto the chair, then he turned Corbin over for a neckbreaker. Corbin countered it into a Deep Six for a near fall at 5:45.
Happy tossed the bent chair from the ring and grabbed a fresh one. He choked Madcap with it. Happy wedged he chair between two turnbuckles. He whipped him toward the corner, but Moss caught himself. Corbin completed his ’round the turnbuckle run, but Moss ducked the clothesline and tossed Corbin head-first into the wedged chair. The crowd asked for tables again. Madcap retrieved a chair, the crowd booed. Moss hit Corbin with the chair repeatedly. He gave him a DDT on the chair and covered for two. Madcap speared Happy in the corner twice, then gave him a shoulder tackle over the top rope to the floor.
Moss got a running start around the ring, but Corbin gave him a chop block. Corbin tossed Madcap into the timekeeper’s area. He bent him over the announcers desk and punched him repeatedly. The crowd begged for tables. “You’re not getting any!” Corbin said. He grabbed another chair. He stuck Moss’ neck through the opening and rammed him into the desk. Moss collapsed with a vacant look on his face. The referee checked on him.
Corbin tossed Moss back in the ring and dragged in the base of the steel steps. Corbin set up for a Buckle Bomb into the steps, but Moss slid free. He gave Corbin a Fallaway Slam onto the propped steps. He followed up with the Punchline. Moss grabbed the chair and closed it over Corbin’s neck. He yanked the steps from the corner, lifted them up and slammed them on the head of the chair, choking Corbin. He pinned Happy for a three count.
WINNER: Madcap Moss in 12:04
(LeClair’s Analysis: This was a serviceable walking brawl, but the crowd just didn’t care about either of these guys. They wanted to see a table spot, and they didn’t get one. Moss could’ve had a big moment here by obliging the audience and pulling out a table, but instead, they just ran through their litany of chair sports and went 4-5 minutes longer than the crowd had patience for. I get that they’re likely saving tables for the main event, but it hurt Moss here. It’s clear they see a lot in Moss, but they’re going to need to do a lot more with him. The generic music, plain black shorts and and shedding of any real personality he had with Corbin is bound to have limited upside. Hopefully this marks the end of this feud.)
-Theory headed to the ring. The Raw announce crew tossed to clips showing how the U.S. title match came to be. Mustafa Ali received a hometown entrance, wearing a “CHI ALI” shirt. He got a decent pop.
(6) THEORY (c) vs. MUSTAFA ALI – WWE United States Championship match
A loud “Ali” chant broke out as soon as the bell rang. Mustafa Ali and Theory circled the ring, then locked up. Theory worked Ali’s arm. Ali flipped free using the ropes. He delivered a quick chop, then a big arm drag. Theory left the ring in a hurry to regroup. The championed returned and grabbed a headlock. He shot Ali off the ropes and delivered a shoulder tackle. Theory flexed his muscles. Ali popped up and hit a pair of quick arm drags. Theory left the ring again, slapping the announcers desk in frustration.
Theory returned to the ring at the referee’s count of five. Ali tried to grab him, but Theory left the ring again. Ali delivered a dropkick through the bottom rope and then climbed the turnbuckle. He connected with a cross body to Theory on the outside. Theory recovered and lifted Ali into the ringpost. He tossed the challenger inside and stomped away at him. Graves said Theory is displaying ruthless aggression. The crowd opened a loud “Theory sucks” chant.
Ali managed to trip Theory into the turnbuckle. He tried to leap to the top rope, but Theory swept his leg. Ali crashed to the floor, landing with a hard thud. Graves said he might have broken a rib. Theory brought him back inside and delivered a Fallaway Slam, covering for two. Theory grabbed a seated side headlock. The crowd willed Ali to his feet. Theory gave him a snapmare and stomp, snuffing out the rally.
Theory grabbed Ali by the leg, but Ali managed to spin free and catch the U.S. Champion with a heel kick. Theory stumbled into the ropes. Ali flipped over his back and hit a heel kick from the apron. Ali rolled through the middle rope and caught Theory with a neckbreaker. Theory shrugged it off and climbed to the top turnbuckle. Ali rose to meet him. Theory shoved Mustafa off the ropes, but he landed on his feet. Theory jumped and got caught with a Superkick. Ali got up favoring his leg.
Ali set up on the middle rope. Theory leapt to meet him and hit a Spanish Fly. He mounted Ali and began punching him, then rolled him up for a two count. He covered a second and third time, each time keeping Ali down for shorter counts. Ali battled back with a monkey flip. He climbed the ropes again, but Theory crotched him. He set up him up for the Cutter, but Ali countered into an STF. Theory reached the rope as the match hit 9:15.
Theory regrouped on the apon. Ali hit a tornado DDT through the ropes. He climbed to the top turnbuckle and went for a 450, but Theory rolled out of the way. He gave Ali a chop block to the injured leg. Theory scooped Ali up and connected with A-Town Down for a three count.
WINNER: Theory in 10:23 to retain the U.S. Championship
Theory grabbed his title and took selfies over Ali.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Really good, competitive match. The crowd was heavily invested into hometown guy Ali. which certainly helped. It’s a shame they hadn’t done more with Ali prior to this moment, as the match could’ve felt quite a bit bigger. Impressive, clean win for Theory and a good showing for Ali, who certainly deserves a bigger spot on weekly TV. One of the better matches, if not the best match, on the show thus far. The announcers played heavily into the idea of Theory as an up-and-coming star, and his gear looked a bit like Kurt Angle’s from around the time John Cena debuted. Could be foreshadowing there.)
-The Raw announce crew talked up Money in the Bank on July 2nd.
-The Hell in a Cell cage began to lower as Smith, Graves, and Saxton hyped the main event. Saxton said Rhodes and Rollins are looking to close the book. They tossed to a video package.
Seth Rollins entered first, wearing Dusty Rhodes’ polka dot gear. The crowd sang him to the ring. Rollins cackled, showing off his attire. The lights went out and the crowd popped big for Cody Rhodes. He received a big, star reaction when they saw him. Rhodes gave his weight belt to a young fan at ringside. He climbed the turnbuckle and riled the crowd up. Saxton said Cody’s challenge is much greater with his injury. Smith said they don’t know what percentage Rhodes is fighting at. Mike Rome delivered post-entrance introductions. Cody removed his ring jacket to reveal a massive bruise running over his whole peck and down the side of his right bicep.
(7) SETH ROLLINS vs. CODY RHODES – Hell in a Cell match
Seth Rollins cackled at the sight of Cody Rhodes’ arm and chest. He challenged Rhodes to lock up. Cody slapped him hard. Rollins retreated to the corner and shook it off. Rollins stepped to Cody. Rhodes gave him some quick jabs. He hit a Disaster Kick. Rollins popped up. Cody hit the ropes and connected with the Cody Cutter. Rhodes immediately grabbed at his pectoral. He slapped the mat in obvious pain.
Rhodes set up for Cross Rhodes. Rollins broke free. Cody tripped Rollins up and applied a Figure Four. Rollins crawled desperately to the ropes. He slid his upper body through the ropes and reached under the ring, first retrieving a toolbox, then a Kendo stick. Rollins cracked the stick right on Rhodes’ torn pectoral. Seth drove the point of the stick into the bruise on Rhodes’ chest. He tried to crack the stick across Cody’s ribs, but Rhodes caught it and ripped it away. He leapt to the apron, but Rollins gave him a shove right off the apron and into the steel of the cell wall.
Rollins dove onto Cody outside in the ring. He tossed him into the cell wall. Seth backed Cody against the steel and drove the Kendo Stick into the pectoral again. He cracked it across Cody’s stomach. Rollins racked Cody’s face against the chain link as the match ticked toward 5:00. Rollins led Rhodes back into the ring. Cody managed some shoulder tackles. He tossed Rollins to the outside and shook out his injured arm. Cody headed outside, but Rollins met him with steel steps right to the bruised area. Rollins tossed him inside. The crowd booed.
Seth found Cody’s jacket at ringside. He put it on and laughed. Rollins pulled a back from underneath the ring. It contained a polka dotted weight belt with the word “visionary” on it. He cracked it over Rhodes’ exposed back. The crowd began serenading Rollins’ with his theme song. Rollins hit Cody with the belt a second time. Cody rolled over to protect his back. Rollins whipped the torn pectoral. Rollins covered for a two count.
The referee asked Rhodes if he could continue while Rollins retrieved a table from underneath the ring. “Thank you Rollins,” the crowd said. Cody dragged himself to his feet. Rollins raked his eyes. Seth hoisted Cody onto the top turnbuckle and gave him a chop. Cody managed to fight out and slide underneath Seth’s legs. He set up for a Powerbomb, but Rollins blocked. He pulled Cody down and gave him an elbow. Seth laid Cody out on the table and climbed the ropes. He went for a frog splash, but Rhodes moved. Rollins crashed through the table.
Cody picked up Rollins’ visionary belt, but tossed it aside. Instead, he retrieved a bull rope and cowbell from underneath the ring. He buckled one end to his good arm and challenged Seth to take the other end. Rollins contemplated, then obliged. Rhodes pulled Rollins in, got Seth caught between the rope and flipped him over. Seth picked up the cowbell, but Cody caught him with a Superkick. Rhodes cracked the bell over Rollins’ head. He hooked the leg for a near fall.
Rhodes dragged Rollins outside by the rope. Rollins kicked him and Cody collapsed against the cell wall. Rollins pulled him shoulder first into the ring post, then freed himself from the rope. Cody writhed on the floor as the match crossed 15:00. Rollins pulled out another table. He propped it up in the corner of the ring. Seth tried to to give Cody a Buckle Bomb through the table, but Cody slid free. He whipped Rollins toward the table, but Seth caught himself. Rollins stumbled in Cross Rhodes. Cody covered for a near fall.
The right shoulder of Cody gave out on a Powerbomb attempt. Rollins kicked him in the face. Seth connected with the Buckle Bomb through the table. He covered, but Rhodes powered out at two. Both men struggled to stand. Rollins returned to his knees first, looking dejected. He rolled to the outside and came back with a sledgehammer. Graves mentioned Seth’s comments from Raw and pleaded for the match to stop. Seth charged, but Cody kicked him in the gut. Rollins went for a Pedigree. Cody blocked it and hit the Pedigree himself. He covered for a believable near fall. Both men were laid out at 20:30.
Cody rose to a knee. His eyes caught the sledgehammer across the ring. Rollins sensed it and went on the run. Cody gave chase, but Seth baited him back in the ring and hit the Stomp. Rollins hooked both legs for a near fall. The crowd broke into a loud “this is awesome” chant. Rollins went for the Stomp again. Cody sidestepped. Rollins hit him with Cross Rhodes. Seth rolled Cody to his feet, looking to steal the move a second time. Cody countered into a Cross Rhodes of his own, but couldn’t make the cover. The crowd rose to Cody’s aid. Both men crawled desperately for the sledgehammer. Cody got to it first. Rollins kicked it out of his hand, but Rhodes hooked him and hit Cross Rhodes. He rolled through and hit it again. He tossed Rollins to the side and grabbed the sledgehammer. He hit Rollins with it and covered him for a three count.
WINNER: Cody Rhodes in 24:18
Rhodes celebrated in the cell, showing the wounds of battle. The camera showed Rollins on the outside, collapsed against the wall of the cell. Rhodes knelt in the middle of the ring and kissed the mat as the show went off the air.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Really good, consistently entertaining, hard-hitting brawl. Rhodes’ pectoral tear was front of mind and on full display the entire match. The announcers sold it plenty, but they hardly needed to – it was visually stunning, and made Rhodes look like a valiant (but also crazy) badass. Rollins brought his A-game, as he’s done throughout this series of memorable matches. Rhodes gets a signature win in his first PLE main event. The look on his face after the bell told the story – it was a gritty, gutsy, and painful performance. My only minor complaint was giving Rollins’ the table moment. The crowd waited all night to see a table, and they should’ve let Cody be the one to pull it out. Small gripe in an otherwise excellent match. This was the only logical end to the match, and to the feud, and sets Rhodes up for a title match before too long, pending the recovery time for his injury. For Rollins, three consecutive losses make it hard to view him as a significant threat, but WWE will need to rebuild him quickly, because their lack of depth makes him a crucial piece of the puzzle, especially if Cody misses time. Ultimately, this match saved the show from falling into weekly TV fodder territory.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: A weak card that translated into a relatively weak show, and certainly a disappointing event for a Chicago audience that usually gets a lot of WWE’s biggest punches. While the main event undoubtedly sent people home happy, the undercard left plenty to be desired. The women’s triple threat was good, but under-delivered slightly. The mixed tag was fine, but marred by the continued disinterest in the Judgement Day. The U.S. title shined above the rest of the undercard, but felt like a good TV match that simply lacked the build to feel like a proper PLE offering. Only the main event felt truly worthy of its stage, and the drama was certainly heightened with Rhodes’ gnarly looking injury. This wasn’t a bad night, but it suffered from a lack of major star power, a weak undercard, and a bunch of matches that felt better suited for weekly TV. I suspect WWE will ramp up their creative headed into Money in the Banks, which as become one of the year’s bigger events. With that in mind, I’m intrigued by the direction to come, even if tonight felt underwhelming as a whole. Without question, though, go out of your way to see the Hell in a Cell match.