Friday, 30 December 2016

Hell In A Cell 2016

Image Source: Amazon
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 184 Minutes
Certificate: 15
Number Of Discs: 1
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Released: January 2 2017

(Thanks to Fetch Publicity for arranging this review.)

Hell In A Cell 2016 was a historic night in WWE, as it would be the first time ever that a Pay-Per-View event was headlined by an all-female encounter, which is a testament to the talent and popularity of Sasha Banks and Charlotte, the two combatants in said match. But does HIAC 2016 measure up as a major show in terms of quality?

The event starts on a decent note with Roman Reigns vs. Rusev inside the Cell for the United States Championship; whilst it is not as good as Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt from HIAC 2015, it's still an enjoyable brawl, and a fitting way to cap off their fairly lengthy rivalry. Next up, Bayley battles Dana Brooke in a match which is unspectacular, but still better than their previous Raw match where Dana's inexperience and inferiority to Bayley were extremely evident (in the Raw match, Brooke pinned Bayley clean when she was meant to use the ropes to secure a win by nefarious means, which made Bayley look ridiculous).

Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. The Club is decent but nothing more; it essentially exists as a way to promote Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson rather than being a memorable match in its own right. Fortunately, Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins inside HIAC for the Universal Championship is an improvement upon their main event at Clash Of Champions, with a couple of particularly high-risk spots wowing the Boston crowd. It won't be remembered as a classic Cell match, but it is the best match on this particular event.

Unfortunately, TJ Perkins vs. Brian Kendrick for the Cruiserweight Championship only demonstrates why the Cruiserweight division has struggled since its return to Raw following the highly-successful Cruiserweight Classic; the talents work hard and try to tell a story, but without being able to use many high-flying moves that are synonymous with the division, the crowd is clearly disinterested, and the Cruiser matches are no different to bouts involving anybody else on the roster (imagine the Hardcore division, which is a fond memory of the Attitude Era, returning to Raw in 2017 but without any weapon-related combat whatsoever, and you get an idea of why the Cruiserweight division is in need of rehabilitation). The New Day vs. Cesaro and Sheamus is alright but has a cop-out finish, partly to keep the record-breaking New Day reign as WWE Tag Team Champions going beyond HIAC (otherwise, I suspect that we would have had a title change here).

The main event, as stated, was Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte in HIAC. It is more enjoyable on second viewing because of the wild rumours as to what the ladies had planned prior to the show, meaning that watching it live was a bit of a nerve-wracking experience. Fortunately, Sasha and Charlotte (who had both taken massive chances in previous encounters, with at least one almost resulting in serious injury) do provide enough thrills and spills, and a surprising amount of violence for an all-women's match in the PG era, to justify both the stipulation and their main event slot. A slightly blown finish and what some considered to be an anticlimactic outcome dampen the fan reactions to what should have been one of the year's most memorable matches, but so long as you're not a die-hard Sasha supporter, you'll probably enjoy this match for what it is. (By the way, there are no DVD extras due to the card running long; in fact, a few minutes from the show have been trimmed off in order to make the running time of the DVD.)

In many ways, Hell In A Cell is a perfect embodiment of Raw in the post-Draft era (not unlike the previous red brand PPV event Clash Of Champions). There are several enjoyable matches, and the talent are clearly grafting, but some strange booking decisions, a lack of crowd interest during a number of bouts, an overly-long card, a lack of high-flying spots in the Cruiserweight showdown and filler encounters between the crucial matches all serve to make the show seem worse than it actually is. If you're a new fan to WWE, or if you're a first-time viewer, you'll probably consider this to be a strong effort by the Raw crew, but those who watch the product week in and week out will class this to be little more than a PPV version of Raw itself. It's a commendable effort by the red brand, but it won't be winning any Card Of The Year honours for 2016.

Overall Rating: 6.5/10 - Okay

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