It's been another crazy week in the grappling world, with a WWE PPV, two TV shows and much more. We have a whole host of topics to cover this week so I'll dive right in with WWE Hell in a Cell.
Hell in a Cell
The build-up for Hell in a Cell may not have been the best, and as I mentioned last week there were a number of reasons to be skeptical about the booking going into the PPV. However, it was an enjoyable show with some interesting booking decisions, and a few that made less sense. In the main event we got the historic Cell match between Sasha Banks and Charlotte for the Women's Championship. I liked that they went the whole hog with the entrances, making it seem like a really big deal. The match itself was really good, and although we thankfully avoided any insane spots (there was a rumour doing the rounds that someone has proposed a moonsault off the cage be included, which would have been needlessly reckless), the big table/cage spots were spaced out well, giving them a bit more purpose and meaning. This was far from the best match these two have had, but given the unfamiliar surrounding it was a good effort and a very entertaining main event, probably the best match on the card.
The other two cell matches were pretty enjoyable on balance. Kevin Owens vs Seth Rollins for the Universal Title was a very good, heated contest with more logical booking. Chris Jericho's involvement was predictable but not unwelcome, and Rollins looked good in defeat. I'd question the logic of the 2-on-1 attack, but I suppose this paints the heels as outsmarting the system, so it works well enough. Roman Reigns vs Rusev for the US Title was also a well-booked and entertaining match, although I hope this is the end of the road for those two, and a fitting end it should be with a definitive win for Reigns. Three cell matches is probably a little excessive, but they at least went to the effort of ensuring that all three felt individually different and unique, and they were well spaced out so this worked out fine.
Outside of the cell matches, we got Bayley beating Dana Brooke convincingly, Gallows & Anderson looking dominant in victory over Enzo & Big Cass (which was very good to see), New Day sneakily hanging on to their tag titles in vaguely heel-ish fashion (which leads me to believe a turn is on the horizon) over Sheamus and Cesaro, and we crowned a new Cruiserweight Champion in the form of The Brian Kendrick, who toppled the increasingly bland TJ Perkins through nefarious means to pick up the strap. All of these matches were very enjoyable, and contributed to a cracking and probably under-viewed show from WWE.
Coming off a fairly well-received PPV, we actually got a decent Raw this week. Obviously the big hook was the appearance of Bill Goldberg to continue the build for Survivor Series, featuring his verbal joust with Paul Heyman and physical altercation with Rusev. This segment was a really well put together, in contrast to last week's mess with Brock Lesnar, and has genuinely added to my excitement for this match. Good stuff all round.
Elsewhere, Chris Jericho and Roman Reigns had a good match in the main event, although i could do without seeing them face-off again for a while. It feels a bit stale. However, I enjoyed the post-match with Seth Rollins and the stare-down with Reigns, in an appearance that possibly marks Rollins first successful fiery babyface spot after weeks of failing miserably to get this across as his character. The segments that built this with Owens and Jericho were also great fun, and I hope they hold off as long as possible before doing the break-up with them because the slow build would actually be really beneficial, and selfishly I don't want this cracking partnership to end. Sadly, that likely means WWE will hotshot the break-up imminently.
To round up everything else, I liked the continued progression of the Sheamus/Cesaro team, the battle royal and push for Braun Strowman to be on the Survivor Series Raw team was excellent, and even Nia Jax looked impressive against Bayley. Obviously that strong showing has its own downside with making Bayley look weak, but there may be a bigger story to be told there so I won't fault that for now. There were also some low points, especially the Halloween Street fight which undid all the good work with Gallows & Anderson of the past few weeks, and the less said about The Golden Truth and the haunted house the better. Overall, this was a good show for the first time in a long while with a solid promotion for Survivor Series begining and all the pieces aligning ready. Let's (probably completely in vain) hope for more of the same next week.
For me, this week's Smackdown was a bit of a drop off from the last couple of weeks. The AJ Styles-Dean Ambrose match was very good and the James Ellsworth stuff is interesting, but it feels a bit dragged out now and, I for one, am ready to see AJ move on to a new feud, which he will presumably after the blow-off with Ambrose at TLC.
It was nice to see them ingratiating Randy Orton into the Wyatt Family properly here, with their alliance seemingly cemented. You know this leads to Orton turning on Bray Wyatt eventually, but I hope they hold off for a while and milk the turn for a month or two. I could do with less Kane in my life in 2016 though.
The rest of the show was enjoyable if not more based on setting up for Survivor Series, with The Usos and American Alpha qualifying for the big tag team match at Survivor Series, and further cementing Alexa Bliss as a real, dangerous challenger for Women's Champion Becky Lynch. They storylines are simple, and the execution basic but it works for Smackdown, and it's still a very good show. However, this week felt like a set up for next week's show and beyond to Survivor Series, which is not a bad thing necessarily, we all need a breather occasionally.
TNA: lawsuit and loss of TV deal
Another week, another TNA story. This week in some miraculous fashion Dixie Carter has won her legal battle with Billy Corgan, meaning he has no claim to the company. I was surprised, and saddened really because this company is on life-support now and Carter is clearly out of her depth. However, no matter how bad things have gotten TNA have always been at least able to depend on their UK TV deal, but alas that is no more too now after Challenge announced they are pulling the plug in January. This is going to be a huge blow to TNA, with the UK traditionally one of their strongest markets. Between this and the lawsuits, lack of cash flow, and growing creative issues you have to imagine TNA is all but done. But then, I've said that before and they are still here, clinging to life parasitically leeching off whatever host is stupid enough to continue to sustain their life-force.
World of Sport Pilot
Earlier this week the taping for the all new World of Sport wrestling pilot, as mentioned here a few weeks back, took place. With the show due to air on ITV somewhere over the Christmas period I won't spoil anything, but it sounds like a very good show that will appeal to the casual and die-hard fans alike, featuring UK favourites like Dave Mastiff, Grado, El Ligero and many more. There are a few quibbles, especially that the notorious Alex Shane will be on commentary alongside Jim Ross but hopefully that won't detract too much. I'm not a huge fan of Shane given his self-serving antics and general persona in the industry. That being said, he has arguably worked very hard to get British Wresting back on terrestrial TV for years now, so I suppose his inclusion makes sense. There were also a number of accounts of logistical issues around the tapings themselves involving queues and ticketing which is a shame, but if it means this does well in terms of ratings it will be a minor concern. Here's looking forward to seeing this onscreen later this year.
Austin Aries injured
Finally, we have the report that NXT Superstar Austin Aries will be out till 2017 with a broken orbital bone. It's sad news for Aries who was gaining some real traction in NXT, and it's a nasty injury as showcased graphically on his Instagram account. The injury occurred as a result of a boot from NXT Champion Shinsuke Nakamura but I hope this doesn't end with Nakamura being branded unsafe (ala Seth Rollins); having seen the footage of the incident it was very much a freak accident. It's annoying, but hopefully "the greatest man who ever lived" will be make a speedy recovery and be back in no time. Not great news if you're Roderick Strong, however.
Well that is it from me for this week, join us next Thursday for more from the world of pro wrestling, and whatever craziness goes down over the next seven days. In the meantime check out Screenjabber for all you movie, game, Blu-ray and DVD reviews as well as film news, competitions, blogs and much more. Till next week, so long folks.