The Hell in a Cell pay-per-view was SmackDown’s last major stop before Survivor Series, with four title matches and two contests held inside of the cage As the night rolls on inside of Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena, Matt Wilansky provides recaps of the action, match-by-match, and ESPN Stats & Information’s Sean Coyle has in-depth ratings for each contest, on a one-to-five scale based on five different categories.
This was updated in real time.
(c) – Denotes defending champion(s)
– WWE (@WWE) October 9, 2017
Coming off of a fantastic 203-day NXT championship reign over the past year, Bobby Roode made his anticipated main roster pay-per-view debut tonight.
In a lot of ways, it was a re-debut for his opponent as well. Dolph Ziggler has been trying to find his way since his compelling rivalry with The Miz over the Intercontinental championship a year ago. Since that time, he has floundered, unable to gain any momentum. Tonight was the pay-per-view debut of the new, callous persona Ziggler has been trying to foster.
The match-up, which looked enticing on paper, did everything it could to rise above its buffer segment placement in between the WWE championship match and the main event.
The two started things slowly, trading advantages before Ziggler mounted a flurry of offensive strikes on Roode in the corner. It didn’t take long for Roode to rebound with a vicious clothesline.
Soon after, Ziggler hung Roode over the top rope and nailed one of his spectacular dropkicks. He followed that up with a neck breaker and slowed the match down dramatically with a sleeper hold.
Roode broke the hold with a belly to back suplex, swinging the momentum back in his favor. After some brief bouts of offense, Roode took Ziggler down with a blockbuster from the middle rope and a uranage spulex.
He then attempted his Glorious DDT, but Ziggler reversed it into a pinning combination and an elevated DDT of his own.
Both men climbed to their feet looking to gain the upper hand. After a failed Zig Zag attempt by Ziggler, he was able to once again lock in a sleeper hold. Roode, once again, found his way out, only to fall victim to ZIggler’s ‘Famouser’.
The final sequence saw Ziggler set Roode up for a super kick, tuning up the band like Shawn Michaels, but Roode ducked out of it and then hit a spinebuster. Roode again tried to hit his Glorious DDT, but Ziggler rolled through and they traded roll up attempts several times, with Roode finally able to grab Ziggler’s trunks for the three count.
Ziggler immediately popped up and left Roode laying with a Zig Zag.
While is wasn’t emphatic, Roode kicked off pay-per-view career with a win — but Ziggler got the last laugh. This rivalry seems far from over, and these two should be able to build on this in a much bigger way as we move forward. They are far too talented not to.
SmackDown women’s championship: Charlotte Flair def. Natalya (c) via DQ
It’s been that kind of year for Charlotte Flair — both in terms of storyline and in real-life drama.
Since moving to SmackDown Live, Charlotte had not been able to carry over her momentum from Raw, where she was a four-time women’s champ. But more disconcertingly, she had to deal with the dire health of her father, legend Ric Flair, who had suffered from multiple organ failures and subsequently spent time in critical condition, taking her away from WWE for a stretch.
But he recovered, and Charlotte, feeling reinvigorated that her father had rebounded, promised to make the most out of every remaining opportunity she had left in the WWE.
But wait, there was also the X factor. Not only would Charlotte have to defeat Natalya to win the SmackDown title, but she would have to keep one eye on Carmella as well, who seemed primed to cash in and take out whoever the champ was and foil her night.
The match started off with multiple swings of momentum, and as it wore on, Charlotte began to fall into in a groove, nailing Natalya with a series of backhand slaps. But the champ recovered with a power bomb that almost gave her an early pin. Later, she would catch Charlotte with a sharpshooter, but to no avail.
But on one good leg, which Natalya focused on through much of the match, Charlotte summoned the will to climb the top rope and land a huge moonsault. Good as it was, the match would take a sudden twist, when Natalya weaseled her way out of a seemingly inevitable loss and got herself disqualified by ruthlessly clobbering Charlotte with a chair.
Just like that, it was over, no title change, no rebirth of Charlotte, and no cash-in. Of course, we shouldn’t take anything away from Natalya, who has slowly built herself into a top heel on SmackDown. And perhaps it’s a smart decision to let her build on that cachet for the time being; on a night with two other title changes, and Hell in a Cell matches to come, there’s time yet for a title change to happen.
With the briefcase still waiting for a cash-in, the three-way saga between Charlotte, Natalya and Carmella should linger on for weeks to come.
United States championship: Baron Corbin def. AJ Styles (c) and Tye Dillinger via pinfall (on Dillinger)
Tye Dillinger made his case during the Hell in a Cell Kickoff show. He had beaten Baron Corbin, the No. 1 contender to the United States championship, “fair and square” this past Tuesday on SmackDown, so he felt he deserved to be a part of that title match at Hell in a Cell.
SmackDown general manager Daniel Bryan accepted Dillinger’s request with alacrity, and a triple-threat match was born. The biggest ramification, of course, was not only that could Dillinger win his first WWE title, but that defending champ AJ Styles could lose the belt without getting pinned.
The fans in Detroit sang “AJ Styles” as the match began, and it was clear at least from the beginning that The Phenomenal One would have some help in taking out the heel Corbin, as he and Dillinger teamed up to beat down The Lone Wolf. But the temporary partnership quickly dissolved as all three had fleeting moments of success.
Corbin, though, began to get into his groove. He tossed Styles around like a ragdoll and methodically wore down Dillinger, while barking to the crowd, which had been chanting “where’s your briefcase?” a mocking reminder of how Corbin had blown his chance to cash in the Money in the Bank briefcase just days before SummerSlam.
In typical Corbin fashion, the pace of the match was slow and calculated — especially compared to the first two bouts on the card. But Corbin continued his mastery of his two opponents with mostly pugilistic tactics. Not pretty, but effective. Finally, though, he was tossed out of the ring, allowing Styles and Dillinger to spend time trying to wear each other out.
Surprisingly, it was The Perfect 10 who dominated most of that one-on-one time until Styles caught him in a calf crusher that nearly ended the match, only for Corbin to drag Dillinger out of the ring. Styles then converted a huge Phenomenal forearm to Corbin outside the ring.
Now, it was Corbin’s turn again. First a Deep Six to Dillinger, then a devastating choke slam backbreaker on to Styles, who was perched on the top rope at that moment.
Later, in a cool sequence of events, Styles hit Dillinger with a Pele kick, sending Dillinger on top of Corbin, which almost resulted in a pin and title change. That decision would come just a few moments later, after a springboard 450 on Corbin and a last-minute break from Dillinger.
Styles delivered a perfectly executed Phenomenal forearm to Dillinger, but Corbin, who had regained his wits, sent Styles outside the ring with a pair of kicks. He then jumped on a completely laid-out Dillinger. One, two, three and, a new United Stated champion was crowned.
Finally, the wait for Corbin to capture gold had ended. We had waited and waited for well more than a year for him to build off his Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal win at WrestleMania 32.
He may have won and then lost Money in the Bank, but Corbin is no longer one of the great talents to fail to live up to his potential. Even without the help of a briefcase, he’s now a champ.
Coming into tonight on a four-pay-per-view losing streak — the longest such streak of his career — you could make a case that no one on the SmackDown Live roster needed a big win more than Rusev.
The match started off on a positive note, in that it was longer than their previous two matches put together (10 seconds each), but Rusev and Orton not only received the necessary time to tell their story, they did well with it from a performance perspective.
Following an early RKO attempt by Orton, Rusev secured the early advantage. Orton attempted a comeback, but Rusev used his power to maintain control, including a wonderful looking fallaway slam onto Orton outside of the ring into the barricade.
Back inside the ring, Rusev took his time, dissecting Orton with strikes.
After a spinning heel kick by Rusev to Orton, the two found themselves back on the outside of the ring, where Orton executed a belly to back suplex to Rusev onto the top of the barricade.
Again, in what was one of the themes of the match, Rusev found a way to fight off one of Orton’s brief offensive flurries and illustrated his dominance. A missed splash into the corner by Rusev opened up the door for Orton to begin to show some signs of life.
Orton proceeded to hit his signature snap powerslam, but again, Rusev rebounded with a perfect superkick to Orton’s jaw.
As they made their way to the outside of the ring for the third time in this match, Rusev nailed another, even more stiff looking superkick.
A missed headbutt from the middle rope by Rusev allowed Orton to set Rusev up for his elevated DDT, which he hit. Moments later, Rusev rolled from underneath Orton and nearly locked on his Accolade finishier, only for Orton to slither his way out and hit an RKO out of nowhere for the win.
As mentioned, Rusev needed this win badly. He didn’t get it. It feels like curious booking here as it leaves Rusev without any direction, and doesn’t do much for Orton, at least on the surface. Hopefully brighter days are on the horizon for Rusev, but it’s hard to remain optimistic at this point, in the face of the evidence we have.
Hell in a Cell for the SmackDown tag team championships: The Usos def. The New Day (c) via pinfall
About 15 minutes or so before the start of Sunday’s Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, backstage cameras caught Xavier Woods donning a pair of boxing gloves and smacking photos of Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso, respectively.
Yes, it was amusing, but also fitting, because the physical nature of the SmackDown championship match to come would be far more intense than we ever could have imagined.
The recent history between these teams is unforgettable; between SummerSlam and their Sin City street fight, these two teams already put on aerial displays that might go down as two of the best matches of the year.
Now enter Hell in a Cell. The potential was limitless, especially when you consider the tag team titles were on the line inside of this structure for the first time ever.
It was announced at the start that Kofi Kingston would be locked out of the cell, making it a strictly two-on-two match. Both teams tried to get an early advantage as chairs, chains and kendo sticks were brought into a ring. The New Day struck the first blow when Big E dropped Woods, who was wearing a chain around his neck, into Jey.
Moments later, Jimmy and Big E put their bodies on the line. First Jimmy flew over the top rope into Woods, sending him into the cage. Then Big E speared Jimmy into the cage.
From there, things became even more violent. Xavier Woods unearthed not just one or two, but three Francescas (trombones) to beat down his opponents. There was also a gong and a golden cowbell involved. But The Usos would not be undone, as they found more kendo sticks, which they used to their advantage. The street fight found another level and continued to escalate, as The Usos almost incapacitated Woods, who was trapped in a corner of the cage and trapped with a kendo stick, as the villainous brothers jumped on him.
The first near-fall of the match took place when the brothers landed a double splash on Big E, who kicked out on two. It was the beginning of more brutality by The Usos, who chained and handcuffed Woods to the ring post and beat him senseless with, yes, more kendo sticks.
It wasn’t long after that an enraged Woods, still in handcuffs, reappeared and started ripping Jimmy and Jey apart, but it didn’t last long. The Usos laid out Woods in the ring and placed a chair on him before delivering another double splash. That was it.
The Usos prevailed in their second straight pay-per-view against the New Day to three-time SmackDown tag team champions, and five-time WWE tag champs overall.
Vicious and physical as this match was, and there’s no doubt all four competitors will be feeling the residual pain Monday. Perhaps the physical nature of the match took away from some of the aerial theatrics they put on earlier this year. But what a way to start this pay-per-view. And there’s still a mandatory rematch to come.
Kickoff show: Shelton Benjamin & Chad Gable def. The Hype Bros via pinfall
As part of the Hell in a Cell Kickoff show, Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin defeated The Hype Bros in an entertaining opener. Each performer got their moment to shine, but Gable stood out most after a double leg takedown -> overhead belly-to-belly suplex -> moonsault combination midway through. We didn’t see the dissolution of The Hype Bros, but that may be coming on Tuesday or in the weeks to come.