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Coming off of a hot streak with WrestleMania 38 and WrestleMania Backlash, WWE now approaches an event that has struggled in recent years. Hell in a Cell has been in danger of damaging the legacy of the iconic match type, inserting it into feuds, rather than it organically being used for the right reasons. However, this year’s event featured just one Cell match on the card, and one that look set to rock the house…little did we know exactly what would happen. Here is what went down at Hell in a Cell 2022.
On the kick-off, Breaking news is addressed of an injury suffered by Cody Rhodes, as he tore his pectoral muscle off the bone in training but is determined to enter Hell in a Cell later tonight with Seth Rollins. Is this a work? Is it real? We shall see…
The show opens with a video package dwelling on the dark and deadly, as it builds up of the Cell’s – nowadays much diluted – legacy, as we prepare for the show ahead.
1. WWE Raw Women’s Championship Triple Threat Match
Bianca Belair (c) vs. Becky Lynch vs. Asuke
This was an excellent choice as an opener, and a terrific Raw Women’s Championship Triple Threat match. Champ Bianca Belair had a real fight on her hands here, as everyone in this match looked like they had an equal chance of victory, even if smart money was indeed on Belair retaining. The recent obsessive Cruella-esque streak of Becky Lynch saw her try anything to win, while Asuke was a her usual electric self and Belair pulled out some wowing moves too. This went back and forth so many times and was a thrilling watch, though in the end the smart money talked the talk, as Belair snatched the win from under Becky’s nose by pinning a fallen Asuke and playing “The Man” at her own win-stealing game. Great start to the show.
Backstage the persistent Cedric Alexander tries to offer to help Omos and MVP tonight but is definitively verbally cut down and rejected by MVP.
2. 2-on-1 Handicap Match
Bobby Lashley vs. Omos and MVP
This was a strange choice in which to end this feud, as when MVP had the chance to name the stipulation on Raw a few week’s back, a Last Man Standing match seemed more appropriate, instead of getting in on the action himself in a Handicap match. That said, this was ok, undoubtedly the weakest of Bobby Lashley and Omos’ surprisingly strong series of matches but it did the job in giving ‘The Almighty’ a measure of payback over his former friend in MVP (who tapped to the Hurt Lock to give Lashley the win, after Cedric Alexander ran interference), while keeping Omos’ credibility as a monster intact. Not sure where everyone goes from here though.
3. Kevin Owens vs. Ezekiel
The “You Are Elias” storyline between Kevin Owens and Elia…I mean Ezekiel has had no right being as enjoyable as it has been and that is largely down to Owens, who has sold the whole thing beautifully. Through BBQ sauce skewed DNA tests and miraculous lie detectors, this has been very watchable silliness, that has now built – finally – to a one on one match on PPV (or rather PLE nowadays). And, while this could have lost the audience or faltered, this match kept the crowd invested by being a fast moving, very well worked and mapped out clash. Arguably the most underrated match on this show and a sleeper hit of a match. This one was a lot of fun to watch, and came with a refreshing finish, as Owens hit the stunner for the clean as a sheet victory, his first on an event in what seems like some time! In fact his first singles Premium Live Event win sin WrestleMania 37!!
4. Six-Person Mixed Tag Match
The Judgment Day (Edge, Damian Priest and Rhea Ripley) vs. AJ Styles, Liv Morgan and Finn Balor
I like The Judgment Day, they have a Ministry of Darkness kind of feel, but undeniably there is a way to go in establishing the faction, though a match like this certainly helps. This Mixed Six-Person Tag was an all-out affair as the gothic warriors sought to vanquish their defiant mixed bedfellows opposition. Everyone got their shots in and Rhea Ripley especially took the spotlight here in a scrappy affair, which saw her be the key to her team’s victory, when she stood in the way of harm to save her mentor Edge. Who ultimately claimed the win with a Spear on Finn Balor. Side note: AJ Style got a very nasty cut in the final moments to this match but was thankfully ok. Another win for the dark side, hope WWE does not make the mistakes they made with Retribution, though if anyone caught the Raw after this show, you’ll see that Edge’s mountain of omnipotence has certainly had a scenery change already! Let’s see if it works out. Seems too soon.
5. No Holds Barred Match
Happy Corbin vs. Madcap Moss
I am getting very tired of this feud admittedly but will give credit where it is due when I say that this was actually rather entertaining. The stipulation added to the match and made it standout far more than their previous forgettable WrestleMania Backlash contest. Story-wise it also made sense as the likeable Madcap Moss put the ever-detestable Happy Corbin flat on his arse and indeed on a stretcher, with the old debilitating chair round the neck spot, only this time using steel steps to snap the chair shut…nasty. Crowd chanted for tables but I’m guessing they were leaving that for the main event later, whatever shape it may take.
6. WWE United Staes Championship Match
Mustafa Ali vs. Theory (c)
I come to the weird realisation in this write-up that this match was perhaps the most underwhelming one on the card, and that’s nothing against the great Mustafa Ali but rather against the eye rolling inevitability of this match. Yes, it is nice to see the US Title get card space but this was just a very lifeless match that needed the spark of seeing hometown hero Ali get a surprise win. Even if they immediately took the belt back, that jolt would have been great for Ali and the crowd, instead we just got another notch on the cocky very smackable young champ Theory’s win column. After he hit the ATL move to win, and took a selfie afterwards. Ali deserves a proper feud where he is treated as more than title retention fodder and Theory needs a challenge, and a match that is not so predictably booked.
7. Hell in a Cell Match
Seth “Freakin” Rollins vs. Cody Rhodes
Call me a cynic but I think a few of us wondered just how legit that pre-show report was of Cody’s injury. After all, wrestling is often crossing fact and fiction, and playing us, but if true, it was an absolute heartbreak for Cody at the height of his triumphant return and ahead of this much anticipated third and final clash with Seth Rollins. Naturally we all thought, if real, this match would have some kind of swerve or something. Right? Well, not since The Undertaker’s broken Streak or The Fiend’s debut entrance have I seen the wind taken out of a crowd in recent years, like when Cody removed his jacket and showed his alarming bruised body when entering the ring for this match. Rollins came out in yellow polka dots, proving he really is the ultimate in wind up merchants! What followed – and I am in no way being grandiose in saying this – was a Bret Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin WrestleMania 13 style moment in wrestling history. In this performance, Cody Rhodes has cemented his own legacy and shown us all just how much he loves this business and the fans who adore it. Dusty would be very proud. On a torn pectoral muscle, he and Seth tore the house down, not only safely working round the injury while keeping the match aggressive and violent akin to this stipulation, but actually making this unfortunate injury a part of the in-ring story. It was a remarkable piece of work in what had to be a very tough situation for Seth and even mores Cody. These two masters told a story of sacrifice, guts and passion across 30 glorious minutes and considering the very real stakes at play, it had us wincing, fearful and genuinely on the edge of our seat’s. Ultimately Cody hit his finish and claimed the impossible win in a moment that will last the ages. This match was the gutsiest performance in the Cell since Mick Foley got up off that stretcher, and not only did it show how brilliant Rhodes is, or how excellent a worker Seth is but it showed that (like 2015’s Undertaker/Brock Lesnar match or Triple H and Undertaker at “End of an Era”) the Hell in a Cell match can still maintain its gruesome reputation, even in this day and age. Should Cody have done it, hell no! But he makes his decisions and I respect the man 1000% for what he gave us on this evening. Match of the Year candidate? I think so. I could not believe what I was watching. And for once the commentary was pretty darn brilliant too.
Overall, Hell in a Cell 2022 was an upgrade on previous Hell in a Cell PLE’s, as it prioritised one Cell match over copious amounts crammed onto a show, and instead of focusing on quantity, instead opted for quality in a miraculous main event. As said main event used tragic and unfortunate circumstance to its utmost advantage, creating a seat edge and somewhat frightening wrestling moment that will stand the test of time. The show in summary was good, without a truly terrible match on the card (if some were less stand out than others), but in spite of the excellent opening triple threat and some great little contests throughout, arguably Cody/Seth will be the match that this show is remembered for and what they accomplished cannot be minimised, just as Cody’s effort and passion for the business and the fans cannot ever be forgotten or denied. This was a moment and renewed some of the Cell’s horrifying and recently lost legacy.