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The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: Hell In A Cell 2017



Last year's Hell in a Cell may have seen the first ever women's cell match, but this year's event may arguably be the first to really earn the right to have the iconic match as its theme.

Hell in a Cell had long suffered the problem of the WWE's rush to theme most of its PPVs in this decade: in an attempt to force the marketability of PPVs, they wanted the events to be centered around a certain match type, following the example of the Royal Rumble and Survivor Series. The exceptionally dumb ones include TLC, the Elimination Chamber, and to some extent, Hell in a Cell.

That's because you really don't stick these matches as a goalpost and make the feuds work toward them. You're supposed to build your stories organically, and if they get hot enough to deserve the match, that's when you go for it. Hell in a Cell has historically always been reserved for the bloodiest of blood feuds, and the last decade of Hell in a Cell events have diluted much of the match's potency.

Until SmackDown Live took over.

SmackDown gave us two Hell in a Cell matches, and both rivalries deserved every ounce of the stipulation's potential. It was finally an arena for everyone to take their hatred out on their enemies. The first thing they did right was to set the matches up in a way that creeped up on everyone, but made sense at the end of the day. The Usos and the New Day have been trading the tag team championships with each other all summer long in different matches, so it was only right that their true climax was inside the Cell. Shane McMahon and Kevin Owens ramped up their feud even when you thought they weren't feuding, and giving them the Cell was also all but necessary.


Its best uses were also in full display in the event. Usos vs. New Day used the Cell to exact a measure of finality in their long-running feud, because everyone knows differences are best settled inside a 20-foot steel monstrosity. Kevin Owens vs. Shane McMahon used the unpredictable nature of the match to set up a brand-new storyline to keep people invested—in Sami Zayn's newfound, possibly starmaking role, and in SmackDown as a whole

Two Hell in a Cell matches is still one Hell in a Cell too many, but everyone involved brought it and made it work with their own brand of action. For the first time in forever, the Cell was the true special attraction it was always meant to be, instead of an obligation we all had to go through because it's October again. 


It doesn't really matter that much now that the Women's Championship match ended in disqualification or that Jinder Mahal retained the WWE Championship clean over Shinsuke Nakamura (although I bet this one still would come Tuesday)—the Cell was the star of the show, from the beginning 'til the end. A-

Match of the Night

Despite both Hell in a Cell matches deserving props just for how wonderfully crafted they are as marathon matches, for an outing that's nothing but pure fun, I'll give Match of the Night honors to the United States Championship triple threat. Adding Tye Dillinger was a good idea to keep the match going nonstop in the middle of the show, even if they should've added him a long time before this. For all its flaws, SmackDown is still firing on all cylinders right now, and giving Corbin the title revitalizes all the possibilities the midcard holds (and opens AJ Styles up to helping Shane out come Survivor Series).



*****

  • You know I love SmackDown, but I have to say it: this show ran way too long. No one's really to blame except for the agents, as the roster is now so deep that the people who could hardly get TV time are now all getting on the Network airtime. You'll notice that things like Fashion Files and Dolph Ziggler finally get represented. It doesn't help that both Hell in a Cell matches needed the time they got in order to succeed, but you'd think the agents would work around this. Not every match needed the time they got, and time management is usually SmackDown's strong suit. 
  • Rusev vs. Randy Orton was a good, solid bout, but anyone will tell you that Rusev needed the win here. Guess it's not over yet.
  • Not a fan of the DQ finish to the SmackDown Women's Championship match. These things just don't work when cheating would've been fine to build heel heat.
  • I can understand the fatigue people have with Jinder Mahal's championship reign, I really can, but that match with Shinsuke Nakamura is the best one he's had so far. He was there for every spot, livened his work up a bit, and made sure the match wasn't basic. The only problem in sight is that Nakamura has been beaten clean, giving him no reason for a rematch. I'm not too worried as Baron Corbin's title win proves that SmackDown can rehab anyone they really wanted to, but eventually troll booking will sap too much good will to recover. It's good they're compensating for it in other storylines, but if they just did better they wouldn't have to compensate.
  • At the risk of sounding redundant... Dolph Ziggler and Bobby Roode ran way too long. They had the unenviable task of going out there and trying to liven up a tired crowd who just wanted to see the main event. This card didn't seem like it was optimally planned out, and it made the show look a tiny bit amateurish.


Photo from WWE
*****

Romeo Moran (@roiswaris the Editor in Chief of Smark Henry and one of the three hosts of the Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast. He gets by in this hard knock life through working in publishing. Smark Henry was his and Stan Sy's original vision of a watering hole for local wrestling fans. He roots for the undersized guys who hit hard, but really hates Davey Richards with his entire soul. He likes taking your wrestling questions over on his CuriousCat account.

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