Hello everyone and welcome to Planet Kayfabe. It was a big week in wrestling and it is capped off with WWE's Hell in a Cell PPV that I think everyone, including WWE, forgot about. After Friday's Smackdown episode there were still only 3 matches announced with a fourth added on Twitter later on... Not added on the show that 4 million people watched, though. Ok.
Hell in a Cell takes place live this Sunday from Sacramento, California. I'll talk about the advertised matches first and then give my thoughts on this week's television shows after.
Bayley (c) vs. Charlotte Flair (Singles match for the WWE SmackDown Women's Championship)
This was the match added on Twitter. I'm picking Bayley to get the dirty win or perhaps escape by DQ. This prediction also kind of plays into a later prediction of mine.
Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns vs. Erick Rowan and Luke Harper (Tag team match)
The Daniel Bryan double-cross is a bit obvious, but that doesn't mean it won't happen. I'm picking Rowan and Harper to go over here since Bryan and Roman looked strong on TV this week.
Becky Lynch (c) vs. Sasha Banks (Hell in a Cell match for the WWE Raw Women's Championship)
Becky has looked strong all month long and they are playing off Sasha's experience in the Cell due to her match with Charlotte, which I thought was crap so the less said, the better. Will this match be less crappy? Who knows. Maybe. I doubt it, but I am enjoying the feud so hopefully, they aren't over-exposed in that cell.
I can see Bayley getting involved in helping Sasha win. Yeah, its Hell in a Cell, but this is WWE and by this point, there's probably been more interference in Cell matches than there haven't been. Somehow I feel Sasha Bank will walk out of this match as champion.
Seth Rollins (c) vs. "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt (Hell in a Cell match for the WWE Universal Championship)
My pick here is Bray Wyatt because he has to win -- doesn't he? Seth has come off as such a little wuss during this feud, too. Crying and screaming just because Bray Wyatt is out there in dim lights and a mask. Dude... You're supposed to be the top hero on Raw and you act like that? You ever see an old western and John Wayne cries in fear when the toughest outlaw in town is on the loose? Come on.
If Bray loses, he is simply the same Bray as before. All clever talk and flashing lights with no meat on his bone. Just a guy there to be something other than a normal guy until he loses just like all the normal guys on this roster. That Bray Wyatt. Remember him? That's who he would be if he loses.
You may think its too soon to put the world title on him despite him already being a former world champion, but what can you do now? The match has been booked. He has to win.
This week in wrestling we had the season premiere of Raw, Smackdown's debut on Fox, NXT as usual now and the debut episode of AEW. A big week.
Some quick thoughts: I thought AEW Dynamite was the best show this week by a hair over NXT. Raw was not a good show and Smackdown had its moments but felt rushed.
Smackdown was a fine show for your new viewer, lapsed fan or casual sampler. However, it did very little to promote this Sunday's PPV, the same goes for Raw. Both shows have new sets. I think Smackdown's is fine. I think Raw's is terrible. It might even be my least favorite Raw set. I just hate this LED spam kick WWE is on. When I watch these shows between the stage and the ring posts and the apron and the lights there's always a red or blue glare on screen that is annoying. That's not even the main reason why I don't like all these LED boards. I just think it looks cheap. It looks like if someone were to film a movie entirely in front of a green screen with no actual locations or practical effects. I wish WWE would stop being so f***ing cheap and just build a damn set. How hard is that? Just build a set. An entire stage made out of LED boards that looks like a skate ramp is not a set.
The only really bad thing I'd say about Smackdown is coming out of that show we basically saw that the "real stars" are The Rock, who might never be on the show ever again or at least for years, a boxer, an MMA fighter and another MMA fighter in Brock Lesnar who made the 6 month reigning WWE Champion Kofi Kingston look like a total and complete fluke champion when he beat him in 7 seconds with one move. Bray Wyatt looked good when he attacked Seth Rollins, even though the Firefly segment was a little weak and lame in my opinion. That's about it for your current stars. There was no real moment where a Roman Reigns type was made to look like that big of a deal compared to the legends, part-timers and outside celebrities and pro-athletes. This has been a problem with WWE throughout the 2010s. They pretty much sacrifice their full-time workers to pop short-term gain by bringing in stars from the past or stars from outside WWE. That's why they don't have any real stars on the roster. I would have had Brock beat Kofi, too, but damn... Give the guy some dignity. He was WWE Champion for 6 months and won it by having one of WWE's best matches this year with Daniel Bryan. They booked the guy to go over everyone in Gauntlet Matches and as champion, he was booked very well. Then one TV match with Brock and he's done in 7 seconds. How do you rebound from that? I guess back to the US title picture where Kofi made his living before. As soon as the match was over, Kofi was instantly old news. Brock won. Rey Mysterio's music hit and UFC's Cain Velasquez hit the stage with him to make his WWE debut and enacting revenge on Brock for an attack on Rey and his son, Dominick, on Raw by Lesnar. It was a cool moment, but again, who are the real stars? The fake WWE Superstars? Nope... The "real fighters" on a WWE show.
As for AEW, they had a very good first showing on TV. The product looked new and fresh. Their viewership was great at 1.4 million but perhaps the bigger story is how they killed WWE in the 18-49 demo and WWE's audience continued to trend older. If I have a negative its that I hope AEW doesn't fall into the same trap TNA did by taking every nickel and dime WWE midcarder and pushing them as main eventers in AEW. Jake Hager, the former Jack Swagger in WWE, made his AEW debut as a heel at the end of the show and helped clear the ring alongside the world champion, Chris Jericho.
I'm fine with Hager being there, but... He's Jack Swagger and now we are supposed to take him seriously as some tough threat to the top babyfaces in the company. Why? Because he was in WWE? If Jake is going to be a top guy in AEW they can't just plug him in that role like TNA would. They need to build his credibility up or else what does it say about them if some geek who spent years losing dark matches and in comedy segments and one of the poorest booked champions in WWE ever is suddenly some big deal in AEW. It gives off the impression that any low level, nothing happening geek in WWE can easily be a top guy in your promotion simply because he came from the bigger company.
All that being said, AEW could use a guy like Hager because he has good size and experience. For now, I would just have him be in a sort of bodyguard role. Toss a few smaller guys around. Rarely talk. Establish him as a bad ass before you start giving him quality wins over AEW talent because Hager left WWE about as low as a contracted wrestler can be with that company. He spent his last year or so losing to everyone and rarely picking up a dark match win against the likes of Curtis Axel or Tyler Breeze. Yes, he won a few titles in WWE but who hasn't in this era? They put f***ing belts on everyone. When Jack Swagger was a world champion I don't think he won a single match. You have to think of the average fan turning on the TV and you need to give Hager some time before you have fans turning on TNT just to see the "We The People" guy who couldn't buy a win in WWE is suddenly the top heel in this new upstart promotion.
There are my thoughts and predictions for tomorrow's Hell in a Cell PPV and everything else that went down in wrestling this week. The ratings talks are fun, but the real story is going to be where these shows are 6 months to a year from now.
Enjoy the show and follow me over on Twitter @PlanetKayfabe for my live thoughts as the show happens. Take care and God bless.