WWE Hell in a Cell, a pay-per-view which showed several painfully obvious signs of being thrown together at the last minute, felt like a long episode of Raw until the main event. Not only did the match take a different tone given the general presence of The Fiend, but the red lighting and unique storytelling gave the plunder-filled championship brawl a heightened sense of urgency.
The match also was unique for the worst of reasons. A mind-boggling referee stoppage resulted in a familiar scene of an arena filled with WWE fans leaving in bitter outrage and disappointment as WWE emerged a the biggest loser.
Loser: Sasha Banks
Though she gave a whale of an effort in a strong opening match that may as well been have been match of the night, all things considered, Sasha Banks once again failed to capture the WWE Raw Women’s Championship in her second pay-per-view match since her return.
Banks seemingly has nowhere to go but down as her credibility took a hit despite an exhilarating return on the August 12 edition of Raw. It certainly didn’t help that her best friend Bayley also suffered a loss, thereby dropping the SmackDown Women’s Championship.
Ali’s match against Randy Orton, while fine, was nothing to write home about. But judging by Orton being booked to appear impressed with the up-and-comer’s effort in the match, Ali’s loss appears to be the beginning of a bigger story that could culminate in what would be a career-reviving victory over the future WWE Hall of Famer.
After a false start during WrestleMania season that he still has yet to recover from, a potential feud with Randy Orton is Ali’s best-case scenario.
Winners: The Kabuki Warriors
Back from the dead, Asuka and Kairi Sane surprisingly defeated Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross to capture the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships, complete with a new—and of course stereotypical—mist gimmick for Asuka.
No duo has truly succeeded in instilling any type of value in these titles, so the win—while promising—can be taken with a grain of salt for now. If WWE even halfheartedly invests in this team’s immense talents, however, the fledgling careers of each Kabuki Warrior will benefit.
Loser: Chad Gable
Sure, Chad Gable gained his second victory over Baron Corbin, this time on pay-per-view, but in addition to the match failing to connect with fans, Gable appears to have been re-christened “Shorty Gable.” Despite having a skillset that speaks for itself, WWE is dead set on saddling Gable with a limiting gimmick where his main weakness—his height, or lack thereof—is top of mind every time he wrestles.
Sure she lost her SmackDown Women’s Championship, and her best friend Sasha Banks also came up short against Becky Lynch, but this feels like the beginning of much-needed character development for the newly minted, not to mention haphazard, heel.
Leading up to her loss against Charlotte, Bayley continued to act like a babyface, insisting she was a role model all while mystifying fans. But after throwing an uncharacteristic temper tantrum following her title loss, the true heel version of Bayley seems to be on the horizon. If Bayley manages to pull this off, she could finally develop some consistency in what has been a start-and-stop run on the main roster.
Loser: The Fiend (and WWE)
After emerging as undoubtedly WWE’s hottest star, WWE seemingly had one job at Hell in a Cell during during the same month as Halloween. Simply crowning The Fiend world champion as he continued his ascent was supposed to be a foregone conclusion, but once again, WWE overthought this one and became skittish with a miserable referee stoppage inside Hell in a Cell.
The baffling call only added momentum to AEW, as if it needed it, while compromising one of WWE’s most popular match types. The finish of this pay-per-view served as yet another indictment of a promotion that just can’t seem to get out of its own way.