Well it’s that spoooooky time of year again, where the WWE universe is graced with the unforgiving, demonic structure known as Hell in a Cell. Now, it’s important to not get the Cell confused with other structures. Hell in a Cell is demonic structure, whereas the Elimination Chamber is a brutal structure and the Punjabi Prison is a barbaric structure. But at the same time, they are all unforgiving. If you’re ever unsure of which buzzword matches which structure, please consult your JBL/Michael Cole handbook.
Shane McMahon vs. Kevin Owens (Hell in a Cell)
HIAC is always a good time, while also filling us with anxiety than someone is going to do something crazy, reckless and career threatening. In this case, as it is in many cases, we look to Shane McMahon. As gimmicky as it is, whenever Shane is in a big match, we already know he’s going to perform some death defying stunt of sorts. What makes this feud wonderful is the fact that Kevin Owens doesn’t hold back from practically roasting Shane in his promos. Making fun of Shane for surviving a helicopter crash to impress his father was one of the better lines in the buildup to this match. But now that Shane has jumped off the top of the cage, there’s only so much he can do to top himself. I’m guessing this one will be more of a tremendous beatdown at the hands of Owens. Considering they gave KO the green light to beat up Vince McMahon, they clearly have a certain level of faith in him as a performer. They don’t let just anybody beat up Vince.
[Tag Team Champs] The New Day vs. The Usos (Hell in a Cell)
Once again these two teams battle for the Smackdown Tag Team Championships. This is yet another title that’s been passed back and forth a little too much between these two, but at least they’re having consistently great matches. The Usos have expertly taken to their roles as a heel team and have evolved from their high flying, crowd pleasing nature into a perfect foil for the upbeat New Day. It feels like this feud has been going on forever...and it has...but the tag division on Smackdown isn’t deep enough to experiment with other combinations. And even though Breezango are arguably the most over gimmick on Smackdown right now, they’ve already run a brief program with the Usos, and feuding with New Day wouldn’t make much sense. So, for the time being, we’ll enjoy our Fashion Files and our New Day/Uso matches respectively.
[WWE Champ] Jinder Mahal vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
This has been somewhat of an unusual feud. It’s almost as if WWE Creative took all of the pent up racism that they couldn’t utilize throughout the PG era and are utilizing it through Jinder Mahal. But hey, heat is heat. Mahal is the recipient of the first “That’s too far” chant that I’d ever heard. While mocking the way that Shinsuke looks may feel like a blast from the past in wrestling logic, Jinder Mahal has been increasingly impressive on the mic. It’s fair to say that he’s exceeded expectations as champion. Unfortunately, Nakamura’s english language skills are still a hindrance on his ability to cut a promo (though admittedly, it’s also part of his charm). But hey, it’s still foreign heel vs. foreign face; and that’s progress, right?
Dolph Ziggler vs. Bobby Roode
I’m anticipating this one to be a dark horse for match of the night. Both Roode and Ziggler have something to prove. Bobby Roode was called up to Smackdown from NXT with little fanfare, despite his extravagant entrance. And his Smackdown career has been off to a slow start. This is the first feud we’ll see Roode involved with since being bumped up and for those members of the WWE Universe who may be unfamiliar with Roode’s work, he has to be his most glorious self. Ziggler, on the other hand, has to be feeling the stagnation of his career trajectory and will have to prove his worth as the self-proclaimed best in-ring performer in the WWE. Considering he’s on the same show as AJ Styles, that’s a pretty bold statement. In order to make his new gimmick believable, Dolph Ziggler is going to have to show us that he really is that damn good, while Roode shows us that he’s much more than an entrance.
So, while there are a few more matches on the card, these four should be the most impressive. Even though AJ Styles will be facing Baron Corbin for the United States Championship, I don’t expect it to be The Phenomenal One’s best work. And then we have the Flair/Hart battle between Charlotte and Smackdown Women’s Champion, Natalya. I think this will be a great match, but I’m a little disappointed they didn’t make it a Hell in a Cell match to raise a little interest. Then Randy Orton and Rusev will have a solid match, being the solid workers that they are; but storywise, I don’t see it going anywhere.
Regardless, enjoy Hell in a Cell. At the very least, these gimmicky structure-based events tend to deliver on some exciting and nearly cringe worthy action.
Nathan Burke is a standup comedian based in Boston. He hosts the comedy podcast, "So Now I'm the Asshole" on Fans.FM and can be found on Twitter @IamNathanBurke