WWE Smackdown will host “Hell in a Cell” this Sunday on PPV. Here are thoughts on each match, as well as some predictions. Card is subject to change.

Pre-Show: Shelton Benjamin/Chad Gable vs. Hype Bros

I am excited that Shelton Benjamin is back with the WWE. I’m almost as excited that he’s teaming with Chad Gable, right now. I’m not quite as excited about the Hype Bros. as a whole, but I am intrigued that the ‘split-up’ angle is being heavily teased. In what feels like an “elimination” match for a SD Tag Title Match, I think Benjamin/Gable will be too much.

Winners: Benjamin/Gable. After the match, it would not surprise me to see the Hype Bros not split; instead, they could go full heel and attack (likely) Chad Gable.


Randy Orton vs. Rusev

I don’t know how much clearer the following statement should be: this feud should not have a match on a pay-per-view. Both men have been stuck in a character purgatory for months. Yes, Orton was WWE Champion for a little bit… but has he really had a significant feud since the early days of the Wyatt Family story line? Rusev spent weeks fighting John Cena but capped that feud with a mediocre Flag Match. The build up for this match? Double Squashes and “Rusev Day”. If you are excited for this match, that is awesome. Please let me sample some of whatever you’re drinking or eating (not smoking, however). Me: I’ll hold my nose and watch.

“Winner”: Randy Orton, via DQ. Are there any ‘winners’ in this feud?


Bobby Roode vs. Dolph Ziggler

As confused as I’ve been by these two’s characters, I am looking forward to this match. Ziggler has been mocking everyone by coming to the ring dressed as different superstars. He hasn’t had much TV ring time, however. Roode feels like a heel – the “arrogant, ‘I’m better and richer than all of you!’ type” – but his entrance is so popular right now, he’s getting cheered like crazy. How about the match start with a double eye poke, marking both guys as heels?

Nevertheless, the match itself should be very interesting, probably in the top half of the card, in terms of quality and entertainment. Roode feels like he has a ton of momentum and I think it carries on after HIAC.

Winner: Bobby Roode, via ‘Glorious DDT’

Aftermath: Roode continues to slowly move up the ladder. Ziggler gets increasingly frustrated and… does much of nothing on Smackdown.

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Shane McMahon vs. Kevin Owens (Hell in a Cell)
You can lock the following events down as “happening”:
  • Shane will jump off of some portion (side, top) of the Cell
  • Vince McMahon will come down to the ringside
  • There will not be a ‘clean’ finish

How do we get to the finish? Through a 15-20 minute, pretty physical/brutal, suspenseful match. Owens has arguably been the WWE MVP since his debut and I don’t think he’ll disappoint in his match on Sunday. Shane will have his handful of ‘spots’, including the most awkward-looking punches in the history of humanity. I think a combination of a missed Cell fall/jump, and maybe some outside shenanigans, gets Kevin Owens the win.

Winner: Kevin Owens, via ‘Pop-Up Powerbomb’ and Interference.

Aftermath: I am not sure if either Vince or Stephanie interferes; the end result, regardless, is that Shane loses this match. It could also lead to some kind of inter-brand Survivor Series match, where Shane and the “good guys” (from any brand) take on Vince and/or Stephanie and 5 “bad guys” (from any brand). 


WWE United States Title: A.J. Styles (c) vs. Baron Corbin
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I really wish I could get excited about this match. Styles has been one of my favorite wrestlers since his NWA-TNA days. Corbin caught my eye after he destroyed CJ Parker, in about 45 seconds, on an NXT Takeover a few years back. However, we have seen some form of Styles-Corbin in a Title Match for months now (a problem that WWE has had with various feuds for years). Corbin is hanging on to a few thin threads of upper-midcardom but the threads keep breaking: lost the MITB Briefcase cash-in, lost to John Cena at Summerslam (in a better-than-expected match), and has losses to Styles and Tye Dillinger in recent weeks. Lose this match and Baron Corbin’s last threads will break. Finally.

Winner: A.J. Styles, via ‘450 Springboard Splash’. 
 

Aftermath: What’s next for Styles and Corbin? For Styles, maybe a feud with Michael Bennett? Maybe something with Bobby Roode? For Corbin, I’m not sure. He might not have much until Survivor Series, if he loses.


 WWE Smackdown Women’s Title: Natalya (c) vs. Charlotte

This has potential to be the 2nd Best Match of the Night. There is a special in-ring connection between Natalya and Charlotte that dates back to NXT. It’s nice to see Natalya have another run as Champion, while it would be nice to see Charlotte become the first Triple Crown Women’s Champion (NXT, Divas, Women’s). With Naomi seemingly out of the title picture, Becky Lynch being used as an afterthought, and Carmella holding on to the MITB Briefcase (and, for some reason, James Ellsworth), I can see this feud going on for a few more weeks, and that means a title change.

Winner: Charlotte (new Champion)

Aftermath: like I said, I see this feud lasting a few more weeks, possibly into Survivor Series. I think Carmella cashes in by the end of the year – successfully cashes in.


WWE Smackdown Tag Team Titles: The New Day (c) vs. The Usos

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I do not want this rivalry to end.

Remember, about 12 months ago, when The Usos were putting on outstanding match after outstanding match, only to get increasingly lukewarm-to-cold reactions from the crowd?

Remember how The New Day were putting on outstanding match after outstanding match, on Raw, plus were also extremely entertaining during their promos and interviews?

A collision between the two teams happened for the first time… and the rest, as they say, was glorious history.

It’s somewhat odd that the Tag Team Title Match is in a Cell but there are no complaints from this end. It is my pick as Match of the Night; it has potential to be Match of the Year in the WWE (it’s going to take a lot to pass that United Kingdom Championship Match between Dunn and Tate, though). Sit back, pop some popcorn, drink your beverage of choice, and enjoy another classic between these two teams.

Winners: The Usos (new Champions)

Aftermath: I think you might see whoever loses this match take on a new team for a month or so, win that feud, then the two teams probably meet up at the Royal Rumble. The wrench in those plans would be for an NXT team (looking at YOU, Authors of Pain!) to show up, post-match, on Sunday.


WWE World Title: Jinder Mahal (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

I do want this rivalry to end.

I was very intrigued by Jinder Mahal’s win to get into the World Title Match with Randy Orton. I was pleasantly surprised when Mahal beat Orton to win the Title. I’ve been very ‘meh’ed by Mahal’s title reign, especially after he beat Orton in the Punjabi Prison match (that match was not terribly good but it was pretty boring).

The build-up to the defense against Shinsuke Nakamura felt waaaay too juvenile for a feud involving someone with the name power as Nakamura. Name-calling and almost no physical interactions (until the Smackdown before the PPV) just doesn’t do it for me, in this case. I hope that Mahal eats 2 or 3 Kinshasaaaaaaa’s and we wash our hands of this feud… but I think the opposite happens.

 
Winner: Jinder Mahal, via ‘Khallas’ and Interference from The Singh Brothers
 

Aftermath: For Nakamura, it is probably the end of his World Title chase for a while. I can see him getting involved in the U.S. Title hunt. For Mahal, it’s not looking good. The problem is that Smackdown feels very thin at the top: Styles has (as of Saturday) the U.S. Title, and a guaranteed rematch, if he loses the title; Owens is tied up with Shane McMahon; Rusev and Orton… ugh. Could the next opponent actually be… Sami Zayn?


Those are my thoughts and predictions on “Hell in a Cell”. On paper, about half of the card looks to be entertaining and/or good. Let’s all hope that that isn’t the case; lets hope that all 8 matches will at least keep us entertained for about 3 hours total.