WWE Hell in a Cell comes to you from the ThunderDome for the last time (on PPV, at least). Dave and Gavin Hillhouse team up for a Father’s Day report, for a show where there are two WrestleMania rematches and three titles up for grabs.

Pre-show Match: Natalya VS. Mandy Rose

Gavin: This is incredible. The beginning of a feud between the women’s tag champs and the only other women’s tag team in the WWE? Who could have ever seen this coming?

Dave: Rose confidently locks up but Natalya seemingly toys with her, applying a head scissors while Rose uses a cartwheel escape. Rose hip-tosses Natalya but is soon transitioned into another head scissors. There’s a slow chain-wrestling sequence as the announcers promote Rose as Natalya’s equal so far. Natalya is focusing on Rose’s left arm, but Rose responds by foregoing the mat wrestling with a rope-assisted clothesline and stomps in the corner.

Gavin: I haven’t watched Raw in forever, but Mandy Rose is certainly a better wrestler than the last time I saw her. She still doesn’t hold a candle to Natalya though, in my opinion, not many do.

Dave: A hard slap to the face knocks Natalya down and Rose applies her own body scissors, but soon Natalya rolls her over and pummels her. Mandy sits up into something up a guillotine, which Natalya escapes by, as Corey Graves says, “beasting her way out”.

Natalya seems more confused than anything as Rose slipped a little wrestling in tonight. Photo: WWE

Gavin: Rose tries an abdominal stretch, which Natalya reverses, talking smack, and both take a rest after Natalya springboard tosses Mandy to the mat. Rose takes a gamble with a dropkick off the top rope, connecting for a two count. She tries to follow with a pedigree, which Natalya first blocks, then follows with a hard clothesline. A just-as-hard knee to Natalya’s face gives Rose a two count of her own.

Dave: However, a few reversals later and a Sharpshooter finally finishes things.

Gavin: Nobody survives the Sharpshooter these days, which I absolutely love.

Winner via submission: Natalya

Match Rating: Dave: 2/5, Gavin: 2/5

Bianca Belair (C) VS. Bayley – Hell in a Cell Match for the WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship

Dave: Last year, Bayley made a real grade-school level structure with kendo sticks and duct tape. I hope she has big plans for this year. Like maybe a volcano.

Gavin: The two toss taunts at each other to start off the match, before Belair attacks with a slam and a clothesline. Bayley goes outside and grabs a couple of chairs, and she keeps one, shoving the other out of the ring to keep it away from Belair. The champ reverses a chair shot attempt into a roll-up for 2, and when Bayley goes for the chair again, Belair dropkicks it into her face.

Dave: Belair is not quite playing the babyface here. Michael Cole claims that Bayley has spent the last 48 hours making a plan. Is that the standard preparation time, or should we be impressed by that number?

Gavin: The EST of WWE delivers some spears in the corner before putting the Role Model up on the top rope. Bayley slips onto the apron and drives Belair’s face into the ringpost. She runs Belair from corner to corner, into the ringpost, before hitting a running knee into the head of Belair for 2. Bayley notices that the left arm of Belair is injured, and she attacks it mercilessly with an armbar, yanking on Belair’s fingers as well. She pins Belair for 2 before delivering a flatliner to the left arm of the champ.

Dave: “Any time you can eliminate a body part it’s good news in a fight.” Pat McAfee with some solid Ron Burgundy level fight advice.

Gavin: Bayley goes outside and shoves the steel steps into the ring, before going back in and dropping a couple elbows on Belair. Bayley stands on top of the steps and gloats, but Belair pulls her legs out from under her and she crashes onto the steps. Bayley shakes it off and delivers a running knee in the corner for 2, before tying Belair’s braid to the bottom rope. Bayley tries to hit a running knee, but Belair moves and trips Bayley with her hair, sending the Role Model onto the stairs.

Dave: I was hoping Bayley was going to stomp on the ponytail, and Belair would sell it like it was an exposed nerve.

Gavin: Bayley goes outside, and Belair hits her with a sliding dropkick into the cell wall, but Bayley bites Belair’s arm. Bayley grabs a kendo stick and bounces it off the midsection of Belair, before delivering a sunset flip powerbomb that sends Belair into the cell wall. Bayley pulls a pair of two kendo sticks taped together, and sets them up like she tried to last year, between the apron and cell wall. Belair turns the table on her though, as she slams Bayley through the kendo sticks with a spinebuster.

Well, she got to the “setting them up” part this year. Maybe next year, Bayley will actually get to fully execute this move. Good luck, I guess! Photo: WWE

Gavin: Belair grabs a steel chair and bounces it off the back of Bayley, but Bayley gets back at her by kicking it into the face of the champ. Bayley puts the left arm of Belair into the chair and yanks on it brutally, before tying her braid to the chair while laughing in the champ’s face. Bayley goes for a running knee, but Belair hits her leg with the chair, before delivering a chop block. The EST of WWE ties her braid to Bayley’s wrist, and uses it as a way to pull the challenger into clothesline after clothesline.

Gavin: The two go outside, and Belair slams Bayley into the cell wall. Bayley pulls a ladder out from under the ring and slams it into the stomach of the champ, and the two go inside and play tug of war with the ladder. Bayley moves out of the way, and Belair crashes onto the ladder. The Role Model places Belair inside the ladder and delivers a Rose Plant, but her injured knee prevents her from pinning in a timely fashion, and Belair kicks out.

Dave: If Belair’s hair is under the rope, should it stop the count?

Gavin: The two trade roll-ups for 2, and Belair hits a Glam Slam into the turnbuckle. Belair places the ladder on top of Bayley and delivers a brutal senton, before hitting an astonishing K.O.D onto the ladder to pick up the win.

Dave: No shame in losing to that K.O.D.

Winner via pinfall and STILL champion: Bianca Belair

Match Rating: Dave: 3.5/5 – but there was no reason to have it in a cell; Gavin: 4/5

Seth Rollins VS. Cesaro

Rollins must have pressed “X” to run-in! Photo: WWE

Gavin: I get that this is the job that they signed up for, but man, I just wish Rollins could get to be at home with his newborn daughter for Father’s Day.

Dave: Rollins charges Cesaro from behind during his entrance, but Cesaro turns it around and rolls him into the ring. The ref tries to separate them to get things officially started, and when the bell rings, Cesaro scoops Rollins up, slamming him down hard, and a big backdrop follows. Cesaro sets Rollins up on the apron and boots him off to the floor. An uppercut against the barricade, followed by an exaggerated double axe handle back in the ring, seems to put Cesaro in full control. Rollins gains an upper hand, though, dragging Cesaro’s face across the ropes, followed by a DDT.

Gavin: Happy to see that Cesaro is still re-purposing Scott Steiner’s old headdresses into wrestling shorts.  Also, is the medical tape on Cesaro’s right shoulder just a part of him now?

Dave: Rollins yells “One punch!” as he delivers his second. Cesaro blocks a suplex and hoists Rollins up for his own, doing it very slowly just to be impressive. A couple of knees to Cesaro’s head, one out on the floor and one springboarded into the ring, gives Rollins the hammer again. It goes back and forth from there, with punches by Rollins and uppercuts by Cesaro. Cesaro pulls ahead with some more powerful slams and a cross-body off the top, which Rollins rolls along with to catch Cesaro with a near-fall.

Gavin: Pat McAfee just said that Cesaro punted Rollins’ glove out of the ring like a “piss missile.” What?

Dave: I am becoming a big fan of McAfee on commentary. Rollins hits Cesaro hard in the back of the head.  He badmouths him and stomps him into the mat, wrenching Cesaro’s arm behind his back. A falcon arrow gets a two-count. Rollins thinks curb stomp, but receives a big lariat instead. Yeah, it was more a lariat than a clothesline. A Cesaro swing that falls well short of the inflated record dizzies Rollins up nonetheless, followed by a sharpshooter transitioned into a cross face as Rollins reaches for the ropes.

As Cesaro pulls Rollins in for another sharpshooter, Rollins rolls him up for the surprise three count. Bret Hart would surely approve of the sneaky reversal of the submission move.

Gavin: Heel Rollins is better than face Rollins. I will not be fielding questions on the matter.

Winner via pinfall: Seth Rollins

Match Rating: Dave: 3.5/5; Gavin: 3/5

Alexa Bliss VS. Shayna Baszler (w/ Nia Jax & Reginald)

Gavin: Alexa stares down Shayna to start off the match, but Reginald distracts Alexa, and Shayna attacks with a clothesline and a series of vicious strikes in the corner. Alexa shakes them off and attacks with a right hand and a flipping senton for 2.

Reggie tries to interfere again, but Alexa stares at him, and he shields his face to avoid hypnotization. Shayna attacks from behind with a forearm, and follows with a gut punch and a running knee. Alexa laughs it off, so Shayna hits her with a gutwrench slam for 2. Shayna locks in an arm submission, and she stomps the arm of Alexa, which gets a scream of pain from her. Unfortunately for Shayna, the scream of pain quickly turns into a laugh, so Shayna goes back to the submission.

Alexa hypnotizes Shayna into letting go of her arm, before delivering a forearm and a DDT for 2. Alexa gets frustrated and throws a tantrum, and she strikes with a knee and a dropkick that sends Shayna outside. Alexa locks eyes with Nia Jax, and she hypnotizes her into slapping Reggie in the face.

Alexa Bliss with a dropkick to Shayna Baszler. Photo: WWE

Shayna tries to lock in the Kirifuda Clutch, but Alexa reverses it into a throat punch. She delivers a Sister Abigail type DDT, before hitting Twisted Bliss to get the win.

Dave: I like Bliss a lot. I like Baszler a lot. I like The Fiend and all his nonsense. This match, though, was silly, and I obviously had nothing to add to it.

Winner via pinfall: Alexa Bliss

Match Rating: Dave: 1/5; Gavin: 1.5/5

Sami Zayn VS. Kevin Owens

Dave: Owens versus Zayn with no Logan Paul is very promising. Owens is out of the gates fast with chops, whips, stomps … but he is still sporting a nasty cough courtesy of Commander Azeez’s Nigerian Nail on Friday. Zayn goes to the floor for a breather but Owens follows, chasing him back in, where Zayn absorbs more chops. Finally, there’s an offensive surge by Zayn with a clothesline, aggravating Owens’ throat. KO gives him one in return, following with a corner cannonball. Zayn drops Owens throat first on the ropes, sending him to the floor, and Zayn dives over the top to keep up his attack.

Gavin: Sami Zayn sells a simple turnbuckle collision like it’s the last thing he’ll sell, which I deeply respect. 

Dave: Michael Cole starts throwing out the idea that the ref may have to stop the match, pointing out that Owens is having trouble breathing and favouring his left wrist. The right wrist works fine, though, as he clotheslines Zayn to the floor before rolling back in the ring.

Gavin: I love the complete consistency of Kevin Owens’ gear throughout his WWE career. 

Dave: Owens delivers a senton off the apron but Zayn raises his knees, soon after dragging Owens into the ring for a Blue Thunder Bomb and a two count. Owens mounts a comeback, but he can’t quite commit to the stunner with one working arm, and Sami turns it into a suplex. Owens goes to the floor and, when Zayn chases him, he does get the stunner. Zayn gets back into the ring on the count of nine (kind of a babyface moment for him).

Gavin: I don’t remember when, how, or why the Stunner became Owens’ finisher, but I miss the Pop-Up Powerbomb as his finisher.

A stunner seems to hurt everyone involved. Photo: WWE

Dave: Both wrestlers, on their knees, slug it out, with ol’ one-armed Owens gaining the upper hand momentarily, but Zayn drives Owens throat first into the top rope and follows with a Helluva Kick for the win.

Gavin: Two rematches from WrestleMania, two matches where the heel wins this time instead.

Winner via pinfall: Sami Zayn

Match Rating: Dave: 3.5/5; Gavin: 3/5

Rhea Ripley (C) VS. Charlotte Flair – for the WWE Raw Women’s Championship

Gavin: Flair immediately attacks Rhea, before the match even starts. When the bell rings, Flair strikes with a big boot that sends Rhea outside. The champ re-enters the ring and stares down her challenger, before trapping her in to the corner and raining down punches on the Queen.

Flair whips Rhea into the turnbuckle, but Rhea explodes out of the corner with her own big boot. The Nightmare goes to the top rope, but Flair knocks her down and stomps on her in the corner. The Queen locks in a headlock, and when the champ fights out, Flair clotheslines her out of the ring. Flair kicks Rhea into the barricade and brings her back in and pins her for 2. She pins her a couple more times, clearly frustrated with the lack of a 3 count.

Dave: At least this version of Flair’s character doesn’t break into tears when she only gets a two-count (I’m looking for positives).

Gavin: Flair focuses on the legs of the Nightmare, softening her up for the Figure-Eight Leglock. She tries to stomp the leg of Rhea while it’s propped up on the ropes, but Rhea moves out of the way, and she strikes with a series of clotheslines and a headbutt.

Flair escapes to the outside, and locks in an ankle lock with the leg of Rhea tied up in the ropes. Rhea responds with a sliding dropkick, and then goes to the top rope and hits a flying dropkick for 2. Rhea locks in her cloverleaf submission, but Flair reverses it and sends Rhea into the turnbuckles. Flair delivers Natural Selection, but Rhea kicks out at a close 2. Flair goes for a big boot, but Rhea reverses it into a German suplex.

So many completely emotionless ThunderDome faces. I really miss live crowds; nothing beats completely emotionless in-person faces. Photo: WWE

Gavin: Flair hits a Flatliner into the turnbuckles and climbs the ropes for a moonsault, but when Rhea moves out of the way, Flair lands on her feet and delivers a standing moonsault.

Dave: So Flair leaps off with a moonsault, but because Ripley moved out of the way, it still acted like a regular Flair moonsault where she completely misses her opponent.

Gavin: Flair goes for the Figure-Eight, and Rhea reverses it into a pin for 2, but Flair delivers an Andrade-esque big boot into a back elbow for 2. She goes once more for the Figure-Four, but Rhea kicks her to the apron. The Queen climbs to the top rope, but Rhea meets her there, and the Nightmare delivers a superplex for 2. The two trade punches and chops, but Rhea catches Flair and hits the Riptide. However, Flair is able to get her foot on the rope.

Dave: I’d love to see a superplex finish a match again someday.

Gavin: Flair goes to the outside, and Rhea chases her, but Flair kicks the bad leg of the champ into the steel steps. She brings the Nightmare back into the ring and locks in the Figure-Eight Leglock, but Rhea is able to get to the ropes. Rhea drags herself and Flair to the outside, and she hits Flair with the cover of the announce table, getting herself disqualified. Rhea doesn’t stop the attack even after the bell rings, raining down lefts and rights on the Queen. Flair fights back, and the whole situation devolves into a brawl, with Rhea hitting the Riptide to end the scuffle.

Dave: Why was the ref standing on the outside yelling for them to break it up, and not physically getting between them? He looked silly.

Winner via disqualification: Charlotte Flair, but STILL Champion: Rhea Ripley

Match Rating: Dave: 3/5; Gavin: 2.5/5

Bobby Lashley (C) (w/ MVP) VS. Drew McIntyre – Hell in a Cell Match for the Universal Championship

Dave: The two go immediately to the floor, with Lashley thrown into the cage just seconds into the match.  McIntyre has the stairs in the air about a minute in, although Lashley dodges the attack. The two take turns back and forth throwing each other around, with McIntyre winning as he suplexes the champ into the cage. Then, it’s two steps to the head for Lashley — there’s no way they can keep this pace up for long.

Back in the ring, McIntyre is thinking Future Shock DDT, but Lashley wriggles away, only to be suplexed, belly to belly, halfway across the ring (Graves said it was two-thirds of the way; I disagree). McIntyre shows that he only thought about this match for 24 hours ahead of time, instead of Bayley’s 48, as he pulls out a mere single kendo stick to attack with. As McIntyre leans a table against the cage, MVP slips his cane through the mesh and Lashley drives it into the challenger’s throat.

Gavin: A kendo stick truly has no logical business being in a wrestling match. I know, chairs and tables are also objects not related to wrestling, but at least they’re common items. A kendo stick is such a strange, specific thing to add to your non-kendo related sports entertainment product.

Dave: McIntyre fights back with an air raid crash on top of the stairs, and pulls out another table. McIntyre rams Lashley’s head repeatedly into the cage, but it’s hard to count how many times with the spastic camera changes. McIntyre continues to augment the feng shui of the ring, bringing in chairs and loosening a top turnbuckle. He brings Lashley down onto one of those chairs with an Alabama Slam, then climbs to the top rope with chair in hand. As he lands, though, Lashley dodges the chair and almost gets The Hurt Lock in … but not quite.

Gavin: The Hurt Lock is such an amusingly simplistic and literal name for a submission move. I love it

Dave: The fight goes outside again, and Lashley takes another shot to the head with the stairs, this time with a cartoonish gong sound. Lashley stops the next attack and uses the steps to ram McIntyre into the cage a few times. MVP uses a kendo stick through the cage to trap McIntyre in the corner, allowing Lashley to attack him unfettered. Back in the ring, Lashley assaults the challenger with a kendo stick, but McIntyre grabs it under his arm and starts battling back. McIntyre gets a thumb in the eye, which causes him to inadvertently hit the ref with a chair.

Thanks to MVP, McIntyre is trapped and helpless, while heartless photographers and videographers just do their jobs. Photo: WWE

Gavin: You’d think, after all this time, they’d give refs training to dodge errant attacks.

Dave: He then hits a Future Shock DDT on Lashley but there’s no ref — so no count. As McIntyre asks for a new ref, Lashley does get The Hurt Lock on briefly, but Drew breaks out and lands a Claymore Kick. A new ref starts a count, but MVP has slipped in and pulls the ref to the floor. McIntyre turns his attention to MVP instead with a Claymore. As McIntyre leaves the ring to taunt MVP, Lashley finally gets on a solid Hurt Lock on the floor, but McIntyre runs back into the leaning table to break the hold.

Back in the ring, Lashley ducks a Claymore, and as McIntyre ends up on the apron, Lashley chokeslams him through a ringside table on the floor. At which point, something unusual pops up.

I hope nobody gets fired over this.

We reviewed this sequence several times to try and figure out why a hand was sticking out from under the ring, positioning some broken pieces of table. After deciding that it couldn’t be anything quite so conspiratorial as McIntyre not actually landing on the table, we figure it was simply a stage hand getting caught doing some set dressing.

Lashley drags McIntyre back into the ring, but a Glasgow Kiss gives McIntyre the upper hand. He hits another Future Shock DDT but, even with the champ looking down and out, McIntyre doesn’t try for a pin. Instead, he lines Lashley up for another Claymore, but MVP grabs McIntyre’s foot, giving Lashley a chance to roll him up from behind for the pin.

Winner via pinfall and STILL champion: Bobby Lashley

Match Rating: Dave: 4/5; Gavin: 3.5/5


Hell in a Cell 2021

Dave: I think that the non-cell matches were the better attraction tonight, on the whole. Lashley and McIntyre impressed me, however, as they kept up a vigorous pace and impact level for their whole match.

Gavin: Honestly? This was an almost entirely forgettable pay-per-view. I enjoyed it well enough while in the process of watching it, but I can’t say that I’ll care enough to remember much of it. The only thing that really stuck with me was Bayley coming prepared with the pre-taped kendo sticks, that was quite fun.