Wednesday, August 31, 2016

WWE Hell In A Cell 2015 Review

Brock Lesnar & The Undertaker square off inside Hell In A Cell for the 2nd time!

WWE Hell In A Cell 2015
Los Angeles, California 10/25/15

Kickoff Show

1.) Six-Man Tag - Cesaro, Dolph Ziggler, & Neville vs. Sheamus, King Barrett, & Rusev: ***½

In hindsight, it’s kind of amazing that this match was relegated to the Kickoff Show, because it was one of the highlights of the entire show. In fact, I think it might even be one of the best Kickoff Show matches we’ve seen on a PPV that wasn’t WrestleMania. All six guys are very good (to varying degrees, of course), and they went out there and just had a really entertaining Six-Man Tag. It was just fun to watch from start to finish. In the end, the babyface team of Cesaro, Neville, & Ziggler would get the win.


We kicked off the actual PPV with John Cena’s US Title Open Challenge. When Cena comes out and calls for his opponent, Zeb Colter comes out (riding a scooter), making his first appearance on WWE TV in almost 10 Months or so. It seemed like he was going to bring out Jack Swagger (as those two had been a pairing before Zeb Colter disappeared from WWE TV), but instead, Zeb Colter introduces Alberto Del Rio, of all people! For those who don’t know ADR left WWE in mid-2014 after an incident backstage where a WWE employee (not a wrestler, but I think someone who worked with either or WWE’s social media) called ADR some kind of racial slur, which caused ADR to strike him (I believe that was the story. Correct me if I’m wrong on that). ADR then spent the next year wrestling in places like ROH, AAA, and eventually, Lucha Underground. Following the conclusion of Season 1 of Lucha Underground, ADR had a falling out with Lucha Underground, and he (evidently) made amends with WWE, which led to his return here on this show.

1.) WWE United States Title - John Cena vs. Alberto Del Rio (with Zeb Colter): **1/4

So yeah, this wasn’t a very good match. There’s really not much else to say beyond that. It was surprisingly short (just under eight minutes or so), and ADR won with, of all things, a simple superkick. I think people knew Cena was going to lose here (as he would take some time off to film a new TV show for FOX, called American Grit), but this match was just so weak. It was certainly an anti-climactic way to end the whole “John Cena US Open Challenge” gimmick, and it would be the start of a very interesting second run in WWE (to say the least) for Alberto Del Rio.

2.) Hell In A Cell Match - Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt: ***3/4

Our second match of the night featured the first of two Hell In A Cell matches, as Roman Reigns & Bray Wyatt looked to put an end to their feud. This match got a lot of criticism from some right after it happened, but honestly, I really enjoyed this match. Was it the greatest Hell In A Cell Match we’ve ever seen? Absolutely not, but still, considering who was involved, this turned out to be a lot better than I thought it would be. We got some really cool stuff with various weapons (including a bunch of tables, and I’m someone who always likes to see a few tables get used in hardcore environments like this), and as a whole, I found to actually be entertaining. The fact that we didn’t get any shenanigans here (such as interference from The Wyatt Family, or Wyatt himself resorting to parlor tricks or “smoke & mirrors”) also helped this match a lot. Eventually, Reigns would get the win over Wyatt with a spear.

3.) WWE Tag Team Titles - The New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston) vs. The Dudley Boyz: **3/4

So the story here is the The Dudley Boyz took out Xavier Woods, meaning that they finally have The New Day in a fair two-on-two match with Big E & Kofi Kingston for the WWE Tag Team Titles. The match itself was fine. It was really right on par with their previous matches, and (in what was a surprise to me), The New Day retained their titles after shenanigans involving Xavier Woods’ trombone. At the time, I was honestly a little disappointed that The Dudley Boyz didn’t get a run with the WWE Tag Team Titles, especially considering the pop they got when they returned in Brooklyn. Now I’m not saying they needed to have a long run. Quite the contrary. I would have just given them a very short, nostalgic run, which would have ended with The New Day winning the titles back (probably at this PPV). It’s just kind of weird that this feud, when it came to title matches, consisted of two DQ finishes, and then a third match where the heels retained via shenanigans, basically ending the feud. Very strange, but alas, The New Day retain their WWE Tag Team Titles.

4.) WWE Diva’s Title - Charlotte vs. Nikki Bella: ***1/4

Charlotte won the WWE Diva’s Title from Nikki Bella back at Night of Champions, and this is Nikki’s rematch. I thought they actually managed to top their match from the previous PPV. This was a pretty solid match. They got a good amount of time, and despite some sloppiness (and a little lack of selling), there was some good action throughout. At one point, Nikka Bella gave Charlotte an Alabama Slam on the apron, which just looked so nasty. In the end, Charlotte would get the submission victory with the Figure Eight to retain the WWE Diva’s Title.

After the match, Becky Lynch and (for some reason) Paige came out to celebrate with Charlotte. This was so weird to see, since they seeming turned Paige heel and had been doing a breakup angle during the weeks prior on RAW.

5.) WWE World Heavyweight Title - Seth Rollins vs. Kane: ***1/4

Even though this really isn’t a match people were clamoring for, it actually does have a fair bit of backstory, as Seth Rollins & Corporate Kane were seemingly at odds with each other constantly. Things culminated during the summer, when Rollins snapped and attacked Corporate Kane, putting him out of commission. Then, Demon Kane made his return at the end of Night of Champions, attacking Seth Rollins, which led to this match. There is an added stipulation here, as if Demon Kane lost, then Corporate Kane would be fired as Director of Operations. When it comes to the match itself, it was…...good. Nothing more than that. It was solid match that was fine for what it was, but in the grand scheme of things, is completely forgettable. The fact that it felt longer than it actually was worked against it as well. Rollins would eventually get the win to retain the WWE World Heavyweight Title, but the match was by no means memorable.

6.) WWE Intercontinental Title - Kevin Owens vs. Ryback: **1/2

Here, we have another rematch from Night of Champions, but this time, Kevin Owens is the champion, and Ryback is the challenger. Honestly, this was a slight step down from their first encounter, which didn’t exactly set the world on fire. It only went about five minutes or so, and felt more like a short match you’d see on an average RAW. Kevin Owens retained his title, and that’s really the only thing you need to know.

7.) Hell In A Cell Match - Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman) vs. The Undertaker: ****¼

These two actually had a GREAT Hell In A Cell Match at No Mercy 2002, back when Brock Lesnar was still a “super-rookie” and when The Undertaker was still The American Bad-Ass. This time around, the circumstances are much different, as Brock Lesnar has become a much bigger star since then, and The Undertaker is in his Deadman persona. I’d say this was the best match these two have had, in this 2014-2015 feud. It was a wild brawl, and that’s really what it needed to be. Both guys got busted open, and we saw a decent amount of plunder used. We got to see the mat torn apart, as Lesnar exposed the wooden boards that are under the mat. These two definitely brought it here, and they went to war inside Hell In A Cell. Eventually, Lesnar hit a NASTY and VICIOUS low blow on The Undertaker (which seems like a heel move, but really isn’t, as Lesnar was just returning the favor, as The Undertaker had hit a low blow on him numerous times since he re-emerged a few months prior), and hit the F5 on the exposed ring boards for the win.

After the match, Lesnar left the ring, as The Undertaker slowly got to his feet. We got a ton of “Thank You ‘Taker” chants. Then, the lights go out, and when they come back on, all four members of The Wyatt Family surrounded the ring. They proceed to attack The Undertaker (with JBL going crazy on commentary, saying how dare they disrespect such a legend, or something like that). After the beatdown is over, Bray Wyatt orders Luke Harper, Erick Rowan, & Braun Strowman to carry The Undertaker to the back, and they do so, as the show comes to a close.

Overall: 7.25/10

This was a show that had a lot of highs and a lot of lows. The Six-Man Tag on the Kickoff Show was, outside of the Main Event, the third best match on the show, and is actually worth checking out. I would say that the two Hell In A Cell Matches delivered, with both being pleasant surprises to various degrees. I enjoyed Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt, and Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker felt like a throwback to what the Hell In A Cell Match used to be like. Outside of those matches, the other major note was Alberto Del Rio returning to WWE (with Zeb Colter, of all people, by his side), winning the United States Title from John Cena in a mediocre match. There were some other decent nuggets scattered in the undercard, but in the end, this PPV was one that had a lot of really good, a solid amount of average, and a major disappointment.

WWE NXT TakeOver: Respect Review

Bayley defends the NXT Women's Title against Sasha Banks in a 30-Minute Iron-Man Match, while the inaugural Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic reaches its conclusion!!

WWE NXT TakeOver: Respect
Winter Park, Florida 10/7/15

1.) Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic - Semi-Finals - NXT Champion Finn Balor & Samoa Joe vs. The Mechanics (Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder): ***1/2

Back at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn, NXT General Manager William Regal announced that a tag team tournament would be held to honor the late Dusty Rhodes. The opening and second round matches took place on NXT TV, as well as some NXT live events, while both the Semi-Finals & Finals are taking place here at NXT TakeOver: Respect. What interesting about this tournament is that while we did get a ton of regular tag teams, we got some makeshift teams. This match is a great example of that, as (then) NXT Champion Finn Balor teamed up with Samoa Joe, and they’re taking on The Mechanics (Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder) here in the first Semi-Final of the night. Dawson & Wilder are basically a throwback (in a way) to The Brainbusters (Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard), with regards to their in-ring style. I thought this was a really good opening match. Finn Balor & Samoa Joe, for a makeshift team, are actually a very entertaining duo. On the other hand, you really got to see a glimpse of just how good Dawson & Wilder are, and it would be a sign of things to come from these two (as they would, of course, go on to win the NXT Tag Team Titles). Finn Balor & Samoa Joe would eventually get the win to advance to the Finals.

2.) Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic - Semi-Finals - Baron Corbin & Rhyno vs. Chad Gable & Jason Jordan: ***3/4

The second Semi-Final on this show was very similar to the opener, in the sense that we had a thrown together tag team (Baron Corbin & Rhyno) taking on a regular team in Chad Gable & Jason Jordan, who had really started to make waves as a team. At the time, I just found it really off that Corbin & Rhyno were a team, considering that they had been feuding just a few months prior. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this one, but in all honestly, I think this was just a little bit better than the opener. I really enjoyed this match! A lot of that, I feel, had to do with Chad Gable & Jason Jordan. Much like The Mechanics, you really got the sense watching these two that they had a really bright future as a tag team. Chad Gable (aside from being a smaller guy) has the total package, in the sense that he’s a really good wrestler who’s also got a very cool character, while Jason Jordan has been given a new lease on life in this team with Chad Gable, especially when you consider how long he’s been in NXT. Gable & Jordan were great in this match, producing what’s probably one of the best matches their opponents have ever had in WWE. Despite their best efforts, however, Gable & Jordan would eventually fall to Baron Corbin & Rhyno, who advanced to the Finals.

3.) Asuka vs. Dana Brooke (with Emma): ***1/4

NXT made what was probably one of the biggest women’s signings in recent memory, when they brought in international superstar Kana, who is now known as Asuka. She soon drew the ire of Emma & Dana Brooke, which has led us to this match, where Asuka is making her in-ring debut against Dana Brooke. Honestly, I had no idea what to expect here, as I’ve never seen any of Asuka’s work before she came to WWE. I thought this was a pretty solid match, and I think the fact that Asuka got this good of a match out of Dana Brooke just shows how good she is. They told a nice little story here, with Dana Brooke taunting Asuka, even slapping her at one point, which led to Asuka just beating the crap out of her. This really put over the fact that Asuka was a killer, and the fans would really into her. Asuka, in the end, would get the win, in what was a very strong debut.

4.) Apollo Crews vs. Tyler Breeze: ***

Back at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn, Apollo Crews made his NXT debut. Since then, he got into a feud with Tyler Breeze, which has led us to this match. Ever though this was one of the weaker matches on the show, this was still very solid (the fact that one of the weakest matches of the show is a *** match really says a lot about the card as a whole). It wasn’t spectacular by any means, but it was a good match that just went under ten minutes. Crews would eventually get the win here, in what would be the swan song for Tyler Breeze, as he got called up to the Main Roster shortly after this match.

5.) Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic - Finals - NXT Champion Finn Balor & Samoa Joe vs. Baron Corbin & Rhyno: ***

It’s very odd that the Finals of this tag team tournament consists of two makeshift teams. This was easily the worst of the three tournament matches on this show, but it was still a relatively solid match. They had done an angle where Balor had “injured” his ankle (if I recall correctly), and that was quickly targeted by Baron Corbin & Rhyno. The action was fine, and told a nice little story, but again, this didn’t come close to the two Semi-Final Matches earlier in the night. Nothing really much else to say about the match itself, other than that. In the end, Finn Balor & Samoa Joe would score the victory, becoming the first champions of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.

After the match, there was a big ceremony where the family of Dusty Rhodes (including Cody Rhodes & Goldust) presented Finn Balor & Samoa Joe with a huge trophy. This was followed by a short, but emotional, speech from Cody Rhodes, and then the group in the ring celebrated as Dusty Rhodes’ theme song played throughout the arena.

6.) NXT Women’s Title - 30-Minute Iron-Man Match - Bayley vs. Sasha Banks: ****½

After NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn, it seemed like Bayley was moving on to other things after capturing the NXT Women’s Title, but Sasha Banks demanded one more match with Bayley. A rematch for the NXT Women’s Title. NXT General Manager William Regal agreed, and decided to make it a 30-Minute Iron-Man Match, in the Main Event of NXT TakeOver: Respect. I won’t go over every single pinfall/submission in this match, but Bayley eventually won 3-2 in a hard fought match against Sasha Banks to retain her NXT Women’s Title. I don’t think this was quite as good as the match these two had in Brooklyn (I think it’s impossible for them to top that match), this was still a fantastic match. These two just work so well together, and they produced some great action and awesome moments throughout this match. At one point, we even saw Sasha Banks taunting Izzy (the young Baylay superfan who usually sits in the front row of NXT shows in Full Sail). This was just so incredible from start to finish. I know some people would have preferred just a one-fall match, and while I do agree with that point to an extent, these two still had an awesome Iron-Man Match.

After the match was over, the entire roster came out on the entrance ramp. Triple H & William Regal came out with flowers, and presented them to both Bayley & Sasha Banks. Bayley celebrated in the ring as the show came to a close.

Overall: 9.0/10

While I think this particular show will tend to get overshadowed by NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn, this was a sneaky fantastic show. I think that had a lot to do with the fact that this was probably the first NXT TakeOver Special that had no bad matches, or a match that fell under the *** mark. Usually you’d get one of those matches on one of these specials, but not this one. Even the worst matches on the show were, at the very least, good. Obviously, Bayley & Sasha Banks easily had the best match of the night in the Main Event, tearing the house down for the second special in a row. While nothing else cracked the **** mark, again, the rest of the show was still very solid. The two Semi-Finals matches in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic were really good, and Asuka had an awesome debut against Dana Brooke. While Apollo Crews vs. Tyler Breeze and the Finals of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic were the worst matches on the show, both still hit *** for me, and that just shows how great this event truly was. It might not get the recognition it deserves, but NXT TakeOver: Respect was one of the best specials NXT has ever produced.

WWE Live From Madison Square Garden Review

Brock Lesnar returns to MSG to take on The Big Show, while John Cena faces Seth Rollins in a Steel Cage!

So this the second time that the WWE has taken what would normally be a regular house show, and turned it into a WWE Network Special. Both times, it’s mainly been due to the fact that Brock Lesnar is wrestling on the show. This show, part of his “Go To Hell Tour”, features him going up against The Big Show (a longtime rival of Lesnar). We’ve also got some other “interesting” matches on the show, so let’s not waste any time!

WWE Live From Madison Square Garden
New York City, New York 10/3/15

1.) Randy Orton & Dolph Ziggler vs. Rusev & Sheamus (with Summer Rae): ***

This was basically just a tag team match consisting of people who are in the middle of singles feuds. It was a fine match. Nothing really much else to say. The babyface team of Orton & Ziggler would get the win, while Sheamus hit the Brogue Kick on Rusev after the match.

2.) Neville vs. Stardust: **1/2

The feud between these two is basically an offshoot of the Stardust/Stephen Amell feud that culminated at SummerSlam. They were involved in a Six-Man Tag on the Kickoff Show for Night of Champions, and now they’re having a singles match. This was ok. Again, there’s nothing really much else to say here. Neville hits the Red Arrow for the win.

Before the next match, Renee Young interviews Paul Heyman backstage, and Heyman hypes up the Brock Lesnar/Big Show match. I usually don’t include these backstage interviews in my reviews, but it’s Paul Heyman, so why not at least mention it?

3.) Six-Women Tag - Team Bella (The Bella Twins & Alicia Fox) vs. Team PCB (WWE Diva’s Champion Charlotte, Becky Lynch, Paige): **1/4

Now this match is really weird. They’ve been doing a breakup angle with Team PCB on RAW during the weeks leading up to this show. Paige turned on her partners during an in-ring promo two weeks prior, and on the previous RAW, they did an angle where Team PCB still teamed, but Paige walked out on Charlotte & Becky Lynch. Now, for some inexplicable reason, they’re teaming again. It’s all very strange. Anyway, the match was….ok. It was definitely the worst match of the show up to this point. Eventually, Charlotte & Becky Lynch had enough of Paige, and dropped down to the floor when Paige wanted to tag out. This led to Team Bella getting the win.

After the match, Paige cuts a promo where she talked about how her teammates left her, and asked why her “friends” would do such a thing (which is ironic, since she left her partners high & dry on Monday).

Before the next match, Chris Jericho cuts a promo saying that it’s his 25th Anniversary in wrestling, and shouts out Lance Storm, as well as a few other friends from (I’m guessing), his early wrestling days, who are all in the front row.

4.) WWE Intercontinental Title - Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho: ***¼

While the previous match was the worst match on the show, I’d say this match was the best match of the show, up until the Main Event. These two had a really nice back & forth match, and seemed to work very well together. The match wasn’t spectacular by any means, but I thought it was pretty solid. In the end, Kevin Owens would get the win to retain his Intercontinental Title.

5.) WWE Tag Team Titles - The New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston with Xavier Woods) vs. The Dudley Boyz: ***

So after the events of Night of Champions, The Dudley Boyz are getting a rematch against The New Day for the WWE Tag Team Titles, but this time, it’s in their backyard of New York City. For a technical standpoint, this was definitely an improvement over their first match. Unfortunately, it had the exact same outcome as the first match, as Xavier Woods interfered to cause the DQ. In the aftermath of the match itself, The Dudley Boyz would toss out Big E & Kofi Kingston, and then gave Xavier Woods a 3D through a table. Again, this was a bit of a step up from their first encounter, but it was basically a typical house show match.

6.) Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman) vs. The Big Show: **½

As I said in the beginning, these two have had numerous encounters in the past. For the most part, I thought this was fine. The Big Show had an early advantage, hitting three chokeslams in a row, which Lesnar kicked out of. Then Lesnar took control, throwing The Big Show around with German Suplexes and slams, before hitting the F5 for the win. A relatively short match that was pretty much what you would have expected.

After the match, it looks like Lesnar is going to leave, but he comes back to the ring, and hits The Big Show with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex, followed by another F5.

7.) WWE United States Title - Steel Cage Match - John Cena vs. WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins: ****

John Cena regained the United States Title from Seth Rollins at Night of Champions. Rollins has a chance to take back the title, but this time, it’s in a Steel Cage Match. These two have had several great match during this part of 2015, and this was really no exception. It wasn’t quite as good as their matches at SummerSlam or Night of Champions, but this was still pretty great. We saw some very good back & forth action from these two throughout the match. Towards the end of the match, it looked like Rollins was going to escape, but then Demon Kane came out. Rollins wasn’t going to go anywhere near Kane, so he decides to hit a splash on Cena from the top of the Steel Cage. Rollins misses, and this leads to Cena hitting the AA for the victory to retain his United States Title.

After the match, Kane came into the Steel Cage, and hit Rollins with a chokeslam and a tombstone piledriver to close the show.

Overall: 6.5/10

There really wasn’t much to this show, but then again, this was just a regular house show that they aired on the WWE Network because it was from MSG, and Brock Lesnar was on the card. The only things that are worth checking out here are the Cena/Rollins Steel Cage Match, Brock Lesnar/Big Show (if you’re someone who really likes Lesnar’s matches), and the Kevin Owens/Chris Jericho match for the Intercontinental Title. Everything else on the show was basic house show stuff that you don’t need to watch.