Hell in a Cell 2020 finds WWE at a time of transition and insanity. A huge portion of the Raw and SmackDown rosters was shuffled up in the WWE Draft in recent weeks, and that hasn’t allowed for enough time for the majority of the title pictures to shake properly before Sunday’s pay-per-view. And yet the three headlining matches, which will all take place within the bright red Hell in a Cell cage, appear to be powerful enough to take the series and make it among the very must-see WWE events of the year.
The WWE championship match between Drew McIntyre and Randy Orton is almost surely the peak of the months of conflict, and their physicality and the narrative they have been telling seems particularly suited to this environment. Roman Reigns’ next Universal championship defense against Jey Uso, possibly the most unexpected breakout star of 2020, feels intensely personal and real.
Reigns have wielded his anger and power to attempt and squeeze Uso into submission, and he’s failed at every step along the way. Adding the”I Quit” stipulation for this Hell in a Cell game makes it feel considerably different from the other two matches within the structure, and will likely serve as a fitting setting for Reigns to further descend into unbridled aggression and ruthlessness.
Then There’s the long-awaited clash between Bayley and Sasha Banks. Bayley, the longest-reigning SmackDown women’s champion in history, has carried that title for over a year, most of that was spent Banks by her side. Collectively, they were the most consistent and interesting attraction of Raw and SmackDown’s”Performance Center” era. Their shared history from the ring and openness to place everything at stake in big matches make accelerating the timeline for this particular chapter of the rivalry right beyond a conventional one-on-one match and right into Hell in a Cell, create sense.
Together with the WWE making several of their”themed” pay-per-views focused on a special type of game, including Elimination Chamber, TLC, Cash in the Bank, and Hell in a Cell, sometimes it feels like the matches that are pushed toward these stipulations are pressured. The remaining portion of the card might be up in the air just days out from the pay-per-view, however, there’s no doubt that these three cornerstone games live up to the hype. Hell in a Cell Match for the WWE Championship: Drew McIntyre (c) vs. Randy Orton the leadup to SummerSlam, Randy Orton was on his main roll in a decade.
Drew McIntyre was just settling in his first reign as WWE champion and was nigh unbeatable. The game was apparently impossible to predict and ended with a fluky pin by McIntyre at a game in which neither guy struck any of his trademark moves. It left the door open for another match. The route to Clash of Champions was a bit rockier, with Keith Lee briefly getting folded into the mix and muddying the waters. But there wasn’t any deficiency of Claymore kicks, RKOs, and punts into the face.
Ultimately, the resulting Ambulance Match was another entertaining effort. The ghosts of Orton’s”legend killer” ago came back to haunt him, and with the guidance of Big Show, Christian, Shawn Michaels, and Ric Flair, McIntyre won that match and it felt as though he was raised in his or her existence. But Orton was undeterred. He utilized night vision goggles to take the four legends throughout their celebration. Orton then scored a pinfall on McIntyre in a six-man tag team match, which might not seem like much until you dig a bit deeper.
It was only McIntyre’s second loss of 2020 — the first coming in a mixed tag team match Asuka against Dolph Ziggler and Sasha Banks. It was the very first time McIntyre was pinned since Reigns had eliminated him at the 5-on-5-on-5 guys’ Survivor Series match on Nov. 24. In fact, McIntyre had dropped only six occasions since August 2019. That brings us to the crossroads of Sunday night. Orton has absorbed two losses with no feeling like he was overmatched in the bout. McIntyre has been shown to be vulnerable, but nevertheless feels fairly unbeatable when it comes down to the big moment.
Prediction: If it’s such a close call, there are not really many bad options. McIntyre winning and decisively would continue to develop his momentum going to the end of 2020. It would likely mark the conclusion of his warfare with Orton, but there are loads of fresh faces to battle with. Orton could beat McIntyre and claim his 14th world title in WWE, inching closer to Flair and John Cena and their record-setting 16 reigns.
That would likely stretch the battle with McIntyre out, and the only question would be the best way to escalate things following an Ambulance Match and a Hell in a Cell. It could go either way, but I will go with McIntyre walking from Hell in a Cell with his tournament complete.
I Quit Hell in a Cell match for its Universal championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Jey Uso
Reigns and Uso are those who’ve been close since childhood, as we have been reminded countless times, and their continued tension and anger boils down to the childish type of conflict there is. After Reigns, the bigger, more established celebrity, crossed the line and refused to stop attacking Jey Uso until he recognized Reigns as the “Tribal Chief” and also the head of the family, it took Jey’s brother Jimmy coming out and throwing the towel into the block the game at Clash of Champions. Jimmy even called Reigns that the Tribal Chief but didn’t give Reigns the recognition he craved.
For months later, as the familial bond continued to fray, Reigns continued to seek Jey’s acknowledgment, but could not get it. Everything escalated to the point at which an”I Quit” match inside of Hell in a Cell became Reigns’ sole solution. On SmackDown, just over a week from the pay-per-view, the last strands of admiration between the two frayed to nothing, as they traded attacks using a steel chair. This leads us to Sunday. As overpowering a favorite as Reigns may be heading into this match, Uso participates in one of the best Hell in a Cell game ever — a tag team title match between The Usos and The New Day. This environment allows for a variety of images in violence, and anticipate Uso to continue to show off what he could do if it’s one-on-one in the cage.
Hell in the Cell match for the SmackDown women’s championship: Bayley (c) vs. Sasha Banks
Bayley and Banks spent nearly 100 days as women’s tag team champions during their second reign with the straps, and a significantly more stretch of 2020 carrying a lot of fat in WWE’s women’s divisions with both Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair away. While they held those belts, Banks won and temporarily held the women’s championship as well. After a long stretch of”will they/won’t they” as a potential breakup loomed through overdue 2019 and early 2020, holding all three major roster women’s titles at once appeared to be a forge that could strengthen their bond and permit them to run roughshod over, SmackDown and NXT.
And yet it was the weight of all of those names that drove Bayley’s selfishness and paranoia beyond the point of no return. Banks sacrificed himself to rescue Bayley’s name from Asuka at SummerSlam, and given the exact same chance, Bayley dropped to assist Banks in the same style, costing her that Raw women’s title. After a couple of weeks and a failed attempt to reclaim the women’s tag team titles, Bayley brutally attacked Banks and then continued to attack her injured neck in the weeks that followed.
The story of Banks and Bayley has so many layers, which attack was the ideal wrinkle in a long and intricate story. Bayley feeling like she had been merely beating inventories to the punch has a historical basis, as inventories were a bitter rival who has proven those kinds of tendencies in the past. And in this instance, it was the greatest betrayal, as inventories believed all of that was in the past and had committed herself to help the girl she truly saw as her very best friend stays on top of the SmackDown women’s division for over a year.
After their 2015 NXT TakeOver game in Brooklyn that helped reshape the understanding of what women’s wrestling could look like, Bayley and Banks have not had the ideal platform and story to prove themselves like that again. Sunday’s game is that opportunity. Banks have had good Hell in a Cell match against Lynch and Flair, both in losing efforts. Bayley has wrestled to a few Hell in a Cell pay-per-view cards, but never within the cage.
While the other two Mobile games will probably be great in their own right, Bayley vs. Banks has the capability to be the volatile battle which establishes an entirely new chapter in their storied rivalry and steals the show. Prediction: In her third Hell in a Cell match, Banks eventually breaks. She will also successfully keep that title in the return match, breaking up the hopeless streak of five name wins and no successful title defenses.
Jeff Hardy vs. Elias
This game, additional Monday, boils down to Elias beating Hardy with a guitar upon his return, and Hardy returning the favor on Monday through a surprisingly skillful execution of Elias and his band’s new tune. Thus far it’s the only other game announced on the card, although it’s likely we’ll hear in The Hurt Business, Retribution, Bray Wyatt and some of at least a dozen other people between today and Sunday.
Prediction: Elias is recently returned so that he wins. On a side note, Elias being bad at music is part of what makes his gimmick so great — a dreadful musician thinking he’s the best, and that being the significant driver of his self. I am not sure what his slowly climbing proficiency implies, but it is a strange adjustment that may not actually do Elias many favors in his wrestling career, in a peculiar, backward manner that only makes sense in this particular business.