Before I begin this review, best wishes to Roman Reigns (Joe Anoa’i) as he prepares to battle leukaemia for the second time. The revelation of this at the beginning of RAW last week was a huge shock, but it is overwhelmed by the concern for both Joe and his family. Hopefully, he will be able to defeat this illness as soon as possible, and returning to good health is the biggest priority before he can make a return to the ring (and I’m confident that Reigns will receive one of the biggest reactions in WWE history when he does come back to the company).
On behalf of the entire WDN team, get well soon Roman Reigns!
Hell in a Cell 2018 was expected to flat-line as a PPV, due to the content of RAW being pretty poor prior to the card taking place. But while the show wasn’t without its flaws, there were several high-quality encounters that in theory should ultimately make this a fun show to relive on DVD.
Some people criticized the cover artwork for this one, suggesting that it was ridiculous. I won’t say that this is the best PPV poster WWE has ever done, but I will say that the more creative, stripped-down sleeve is refreshing after so many DVDs that seemed to squeeze as many of the roster on the front cover as possible. Enough about that though, is the latest WWE DVD a trick or a treat?(UK).
Hell In A Cell Match
Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton
Hardy had wished to participate in a Cell match for years, and his first ever HIAC appearance was certainly a memorable one. This was surprisingly brutal for a WWE match in the PG era, with the visual of Orton twisting Hardy’s pierced ear-lobe being particularly tough for the more squeamish to watch. Hardy’s fall from the ceiling of the Cell through a table below marked an abrupt finish; for the sake of Jeff’s health, it was probably a good thing that he didn’t try a Swanton Bomb off the roof itself.
SmackDown Women’s Championship Match
Charlotte Flair (C) vs. Becky Lynch
I enjoyed this match, though I felt that this was only a snapshot of what they could do (see: Evolution). Becky winning the title here so early into their latest feud was a surprise, as I thought we’d get some sort of inconclusive finish to set up future bouts. Nevertheless, WWE struck while the iron was hot with Becky being one of WWE’s most popular performers right now.
RAW Tag Team Championship Match
Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre (C) vs. Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose
This could have been an underwhelming bout, little more than an extended TV match. Instead, all four brought their A-game, and the result is one hell of a tag team match, up there with any other doubles clash in WWE this year. It’s also yet another feather in Rollins’ cap, and it was a reminder that while Ziggler’s character is staler than an old loaf of bread, he can still deliver the goods in the ring.
WWE Championship Match
AJ Styles (C) vs. Samoa Joe
If Joe was going to capture the WWE Title, it would have been here at HIAC following a DQ win over Styles at SummerSlam. But Joe loses, albeit with Styles tapping to his Coquina Clutch as he effectively pinned himself. Joe would get another title shot at Super Show-Down a few weeks later, but it felt like this was his time, if WWE was going to give him the top title. Match quality was very good once again between these two.
Mixed Tag Team Match
Daniel Bryan & Brie Bella vs. The Miz & Maryse
Hmmm. The decision to hold this match made sense, partly to extend the Bryan-Miz feud, but on the night it felt like a missable match. This is okay, but if you’re expecting a great match, you’ll be disappointed. The natural outcome was for the heels to win, and that’s exactly what happened in order to give Bryan a reason to keep hunting down the detestable Miz.
RAW Women’s Championship Match
Ronda Rousey (C) vs. Alexa Bliss
This is longer and superior to their SummerSlam match, which was pretty much a one-sided squash. Alexa had to look more competitive here, otherwise her future prospects would be very bleak indeed, but Ronda still triumphs to retain her title. It’s a credit to Ronda that she has gone from putting on a great performance in her carefully-choreographed debut match at WrestleMania 34 to now more than holding her own in regular bouts against any opponent, all within a matter of months.
Universal Championship Hell In A Cell Match (Mick Foley is special guest referee)
Roman Reigns (C) vs. Braun Strowman
The booking harms this match, making it the least successful Roman/Strowman match to date. The interference by Rollins, Ambrose, Ziggler and McIntyre helps to make things interesting, but their brawl around and on top of the Cell lasts a little too long. Just when you think the actual match will resume, Brock Lesnar appears from out of nowhere, and as Paul Heyman strikes Foley with pepper spray, Brock drops both combatants with an F5, resulting in a deeply unsatisfying no-contest finish (to a HELL IN A CELL MATCH!), and a flat way to end the night.
The bonus material provides us with an adequate SmackDown Tag Team Championship clash between The New Day and Rusev Day from the HIAC Kickoff Show, which would ultimately be the last hurrah for the Rusev/Aiden English tag team.
Also here in a pretty stacked extras list (double-disc set remember) are the announcement of Foley as the referee for the main event and a Roman/Braun brawl from RAW, and from SmackDown we have an AJ Styles message to Samoa Joe, an upset win for Rusev Day over The Bar, and the Brie Bella vs. Maryse angle/segment that closed the pre-HIAC episode of SD.
Judging it on the first four matches, Hell in a Cell 2018 is WWE’s best card of 2018 by a wide margin. When you throw in the last three matches, though, it brings things down a notch. But the overall standard is still strong, mixed with another good match amongst the extras (New Day vs. Rusev Day).
Providing several memorable moments (the image of Orton trying to mutilate Hardy’s ear is a tough one to forget) and numerous great encounters, this year’s Hell in a Cell succeeds in spite of the anticlimactic booking for the main event, and therefore I would still put HIAC up against the top WWE supershows for this year so far, making it a DVD worth adding to the collection.
Get your hands on a copy of the WWE HELL IN A CELL 2018 DVD…
– United States: RIGHT NOW! Get your copy of the HIAC 2018 DVD here on Amazon.com.
– UK/Europe: RIGHT NOW! Get your HIAC 2018 DVD ordered now on Amazon.co.uk.
– Australia: November 21st. Pre-order your HIAC 2018 DVD now over at Madman.com.au.