The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the views of WrestlingInc or its staff
Hell in a Cell marked my return to PPV, the first WWE one I have attended since Money in the Bank a couple years ago. Here is a chronological breakdown of my thoughts on the show. Just a reminder that I don't rate matches that I saw live, as my experienced differed from 99 percent of the rest of the people who saw the show.
•Getting into the Garden was kind of hard because they only had one real entrance and the line was backed up. Once the gates opened it wasn't that bad and I was able to breeze right in. Walking around beforehand let me know that this was going to be a crowd of a lot of hardcore fans. A lot of people dressed up; Razor Ramon being a particular big hit. Most popular T-shirts were Seth Rollins and The New Day by-far. Definitely the fewest Cena shirts I have seen at a WWE event.
•Pre-show the crowd started out dead but came around for all the highspots in the cruiserweight six man tag. I thought Drew Gulak was fantastic in this match and was the star of the pre-show. I'm not sure why they didn't have Rich Swann in this match, since I think he has the best chance right now of being a star and is likely going to face Kendrick for the title soon.
•Opening match was solid. Rusev was the crowd favorite although Reigns certainly had some fans and the crowd reacted largely positively to his victory. It was a good, not great match; but they kept things simple as far as the big spots and allowed Rollins/Owens and Banks/Charlotte to do a lot of the really big stuff. My only issue would be that Reigns; like Cena, has an indomitable quality about him and it makes matches like this tough. Even when Rusev was choking him with the chain you knew Reigns would never submit and in a move straight out of the SuperCena playbook he powered out of the move, hit his finisher and one the match. It's the same ending they do for most of his big matches and it isn't helping him get over. I don't know who is next opponent is going to be and I sure as hell don't know what is next for Rusev; who I thought was terrific in this feud.
•The second match was a dud. The crowd liked Bayley and popped for her entrance and when she won, but they didn't care much for the match. Dana Brooke is just so limited in the ring that it makes any singles match she is in pretty boring, even while working with someone as over as Bayley. The one good thing about a potential injury to Banks is that it will allow Bayley to slip away from Brooke and work with Charlotte; which is a tremendous upgrade.
•Enzo and Cass were super over; even if the pandering to Bostonians by a pair of New Yorkers was completely out of line. The match was uninspired, I really think Enzo and Cass should work with The New Day instead of keeping them away from each other. During this match a fight broke out in my section and when security escorted the perpetrator away the fans started chanting "Delete! Delete! Delete!"
•Midway through the Owens vs Rollins match the jumbotron (the one used during basketball and hockey games, not the one on the stage) went down and the fans started chanting for it to be fixed; which got really over. When it finally was fixed the crowd started going crazy and doing the "YES!" chant. This coincided with Rollins making a babyface comeback so it probably looked at home like they were cheering for him when they were really excited about the jumbotron. The s--t that gets over these days…
•The Universal Championship match was excellent. The crowd was hot for most of the match and while both men were over; Rollins was the most over male performer on the show. Really good high spots in this one; Seth took some crazy dives into the cage and the table spot on the outside was very creative. The finish was a little bit sudden but that is really a nitpick; without question this was the match of the night and one of the better matches the company has had in 2016. The feud doesn't look to be ending nor should it as these men can do so much more together.
•The Cruiserweight Championship match was a real let-down. I understand that at home it was clear they were telling a story in the ring, but live it was hard to get that vibe. Particularly in moments like when Kendrick tied Perkins up in the turnbuckle; it was hard to see that from far away and it looked awkward to the crowd which kind of killed it. Another thing is that I think the cruiserweights really need to work at a fast pace to stand out; otherwise it just looks like a normal match between two people the fans don't really care about. Bo Dallas and Curt Axel could have had that match for the most part.
•The New Day really brought the crowd back with their intro. Really they rivaled Sasha Banks as the most over act on the show as the crowd ate them and their promo up. The match was okay; I'm fine with the DQ finish as it keeps things even between the two teams. People keep speculating that The New Day are getting stale; and I may have thought that before tonight but it is hard to think that after experiencing the reaction they got tonight.
•I'm going to break down the main event in a couple different bullet points so hang in there. First Banks was crazy over—I'm not quite sure how well it transferred onto television but it did feel like a special reaction. I wasn't the biggest supporter of the match heading into the show, but the mood in the arena did feel like something really big was happening and the opening of the match was well done. Charlotte did a great job getting heat on her at the start of the match and brawling into the crowd was a nice touch.
•The stretcher job wasn't my favorite thing; it is kind of an overdone gimmick in WWE and pretty much everyone knew she was going to get off the stretcher and it killed the crowd for a bit. They did pop for her when she got back in the ring though which helped things out.
•The match suffered a couple of errors, including two botched table spots, a really weak chair shot to break up the Figure Eight, some awkward landings and just a poorly executed match; that is really what it came down to. WWE is obligated to make a big deal about the match being special and this being great achievement, but the reality is the match was not very good; even excluding the finish.
•About half-way through the match I told my friend next to me that it seemed like a bad idea to have a recently-returned from injury Sasha Banks take a bunch of crazy back bumps. In hindsight, it was ridiculous that they designed the match that way; there were a lot of ways for them to have a really solid, relatively safe match and they instead did a lot of dangerous stunts that eventually looks like it led to Banks getting hurt for real. Either that or the finish was to have Banks bounce off the table twice like a basketball off the parquet floor during a Celtics game and then take Natural Selection for the pin.
•The finish to the match decimated the crowd. The hot crowd was really shocked with the finish and everyone exited the building almost in a funeral march. Even if the finish had been done properly; beating Sasha was such a STUPID idea by WWE. Clearly they had something special in her reaction from the Boston crowd; a really rare connection with the audience; so of course WWE had to do their typical plan and beat her in her hometown, killing the crowd and leaving a bad taste in everyone's mouth. It also devalues the RAW Women's Championship by having it change hands so often. I like Charlotte and eventually she should regain the championship, but it certainly should not have been tonight in Boston. In hindsight, if Banks is hurt then they are fortunate Charlotte is now the champion—but that is a mere coincidence and shouldn't excuse such a crappy booking decision.
•The real tragedy in this is that it hurts the women's wrestling movement in WWE. According to reports, Vince McMahon was really reluctant to have the women close the show, and after tonight's disaster it is unlikely that they will get another shot any time soon. For obvious reasons they are going to push the opinion that the match was a great achievement and a huge step forward for women's wrestling, and in some ways it was because the crowd was hot for it. But outside of the crowd the match was really sloppy and had one of the worst endings in a long time; not to mention one of the top stars appeared to be injured. The sad fact is that on a night when women's wrestling was supposed to take a great leap forward it instead took about a dozen steps back.