The WWE Hell in a Cell pay-per-view takes place Sunday night at the brand-new Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. It’s the first time WWE will hold an event in the arena, so the crowd should be hyped up for it.
The main event of the show is a Hell in a Cell match between Kevin Owens and Shane McMahon, while WWE Champion Jinder Mahal defends the coveted title against Shinsuke Nakamura. It may seem weird that the WWE Title match isn’t the clear main event, but in this case, I think it should be Owens vs. McMahon considering the feud has been building for the past three months.
Here’s a closer look at Owens vs. McMahon followed by the rest of the card.
The Build to Kevin Owens vs. Shane McMahon in a Hell in a Cell match
A big reason why this is going to main-event the show is because it has been built up very well. Kevin Owens has been whining about being on Smackdown since the day he got there in April. As the summer progressed, Owens feud with AJ Styles leading to controversial referee decisions that caused Shane to intervene as the Commissioner of Smackdown.
From there, things escalated with Shane trying to keep things fair during Owens vs. Styles and when Styles ultimately won the feud as well as the US Title, Owens blamed Shane for it. That led to the Sept. 5 Smackdown where Owens crossed a line by saying that Shane was a disgrace to his family and he kept mentioning Shane’s kids, so that led to Shane attacking Owens.
On the Sept. 12 edition of Smackdown, Vince McMahon appeared on Smackdown to tell Owens he would face Shane McMahon at Hell in a Cell. Owens was excited about it and when he was assured he could do whatever he wanted to a McMahon, Owens nailed Vince with a headbutt. That led to Vince rolling around in the ring as a bloody mess while Owens finished him off with a Frog Splash. It was one of the best segments on Smackdown this year.
Both men have done well to build this match up. Shane is a non-wrestler who performs well on the big stage, so clearly Vince and other WWE officials believe Shane will do his part.
Crowd Reaction for Owens vs. McMahon
Owens is a heel who knows how to get heat, but he also gets cheered a lot because fans know he’s a great performer.
Shane is clearly in a face role. He’s well-liked because of his ability to take risks in matches like this. I don’t think his character is that entertaining, but he’s earned the respect of the fans and that’s why they love him.
I feel like the crowd may be dead for some parts of the match, although I fully expect some entertaining high spots that the crowd will be interested in.
Match Quality for Owens vs. McMahon
It should be a violent, physical match. It’s a Hell in a Cell match that will see them use tables, chairs, kendo sticks and whatever other wrestlers they want. There is also a very good chance that they will leave the cell to fight outside the ring too.
We also need to remember what happened the last time Shane had a Hell in a Cell match at WrestleMania 32 last year in Dallas. A lot of us figured Shane was going to jump off the cell and when he did it, that was one of the loudest reactions I’ve ever heard in person. The visual of that leap by Shane crashing through the table was insane. I know they can put padding and make it safe, but it was still crazy to even do it.
I think they’ll have a fun match with a few big high spots. I really hope Shane doesn’t jump off the cell again or take a bump off the top. Going off the side is probably fine, but there’s no need to do something riskier than that. Shane is nearly 50 years old and needs to be smart when it comes to those huge spots.
What’s Next for Owens and McMahon
There are rumors that Owens may be moved to Raw after this show, which I don’t agree with. I’m not sure if there’s any validity to the rumors or if it’s just random guessing by people. I think Owens should remain on Smackdown because the roster is already thin on the heel side and if they were to lose him, it would hurt. As for what’s next, a feud between Owens and Shinsuke Nakamura would be cool to see.
As for Shane, he’ll probably stay in his role as the Smackdown Commissioner. It’s possible he’ll be involved in a Survivor Series match next month, but I can also see Shane staying out of the ring until the next WrestleMania. Perhaps he’ll turn heel to do something different. There aren’t any rumors of it. I just think it would be an interesting twist to have Shane as a heel with Daniel Bryan as a face while they bicker as the guys in charge.
The Winner of Owens vs. McMahon
I’m going with Owens to win. There’s no reason for the non-wrestler Shane to win the match. Since Owens attacked Vince, somebody could say that’s a reason to give Shane the win because Shane was seeking revenge for what happened to his dad, but I think Owens losing to a non-wrestler would be a bad idea. Put Owens over and let them move on from there.
Prediction: Kevin Owens wins
WWE Championship: Jinder Mahal vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
I predicted Shinsuke Nakamura to win the WWE Title at SummerSlam because I think the Smackdown brand has become worse since Jinder Mahal won the WWE Title in May. While I understand WWE wanting to try something different by putting over Mahal in a big way, it’s clearly not working because attendance is down at Smackdown shows and he hasn’t had any standout matches. After a while, Vince McMahon used to cut the cord with a guy, but in Jinder’s case it keeps going.
There’s also news out this week that WWE has two Raw brand house shows in India this December and Jinder’s going to be a part of it even though he’s on Smackdown. Is it likely that WWE is going to take the title off him when they have shows in India? I really doubt it. It’s possible that Nakamura wins here and Mahal wins it back at one of the India shows, but I think it’s more likely that Mahal finds a way to retain the title again, thanks to cheating from the Singh Brothers watching his back.
Their match at SummerSlam was poor. Since then, they’ve wrestled a bunch at live events and likely have better chemistry, so it should be a better match. I just don’t think their styles mesh that well or if Mahal is capable of really having a championship-worthy match. I’ll go with Mahal retaining the title. If Nakamura wins, it will probably be a disqualification or something cheap like that.
Prediction: Jinder Mahal retains the WWE Championship
WWE Tag Team Championships – Hell in a Cell Match: The New Day vs. The Usos
It’s a good thing that this match is going to be inside Hell in a Cell because this feud needed something extra on it. I really enjoyed the Street Fight title match they had in Las Vegas a few weeks ago. This feels like the end of the rivalry, whether WWE wants to admit it on television or not. They’ve wrestled each other for long enough with several title changes, and I’m not sure what else they can do. I’m not going to say I’ve gotten sick of their matches because I still enjoy them. This should be a great match too. It’s just a case of wanting to see these teams face others.
Looking elsewhere in the division, there are babyface teams waiting in the wings like Breezango and Shelton Benjamin/Chad Gable, so it makes more sense for The Usos to get the gold. Normally, I’d use that logic to predict a title change. Not this year in WWE, though. They like to go against what makes sense, so I’ll pick the New Day to retain even though there are a lack of challengers on the Smackdown roster.
Prediction: The New Day
WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship: Natalya vs. Charlotte Flair
These two always have good matches. That’s why WWE is going to this match again after they feuded last year when Charlotte was a champion. Their history of matches has seen Charlotte win nearly every time, so the story should be about Natalya the champion wanting to prove herself. Sadly, the creative team hasn’t told much of a story.
This prediction pains me because I’m a big supporter of Natalya for many years and I’m so happy she won the Women’s Title at SummerSlam, but I feel like it’s going to be a short reign that ends here. There’s a lot of sympathy for Charlotte right now since her dad Ric Flair has had health issues. He’s doing better, but the fans obviously support her a lot. If Natalya holds on, I think it would only be a disqualification-type finish because WWE will want to keep Charlotte strong and then do a title change when they have another match. I’ll pick Charlotte here, just because I think Natalya won the title from Naomi so that she could drop it to another face in Charlotte.
Prediction: Charlotte wins the Smackdown Women’s Championship
United States Championship: AJ Styles vs. Baron Corbin
The worst thing about Smackdown post-Superstar Shake-Up (way back in April) is that the great AJ Styles has been written out of the WWE Title picture so that he can carry around a secondary title while having average matches. If you watch 2016 AJ Styles compared to this year, it’s not even close because in 2016 he had one of the best years I’ve ever seen in terms of match quality. This year? Not so much, aside from my WWE Match of the Year at the Royal Rumble with John Cena and he had the best match at WrestleMania too.
A title change is possible because Corbin has yet to win a title on the main roster and he failed his Money in the Bank cash-in, so having him beat Styles for the title would help his status in the company. Since Styles just ended that US Title feud with Kevin Owens, it probably means he’ll hold onto the title for a few more months. Corbin may be the one that beats him for it, but not yet.
Prediction: AJ Styles retains the US Title
Randy Orton vs. Rusev
Orton got the win at SummerSlam in a match that went only 10 seconds. Orton needed that win because it’s been a bad year for him since he lost his feuds with Bray Wyatt and Jinder Mahal. Both of those feuds were poor too. That’s why I expected Orton to win. Rusev got some revenge a few weeks ago with an impromptu win in about 10 seconds followed by a massive celebration that Orton ruined last week.
Rusev needs the win more as the younger guy who’s on the rise, but that doesn’t mean that he’ll get it. If he does, it will probably be a cheap win. I’m going with Orton just because that’s how these matches tend to go.
Prediction: Randy Orton wins
Bobby Roode vs. Dolph Ziggler
This is pretty simple. A few months ago, when Ziggler put over another newcomer from NXT in Shinsuke Nakamura. Ziggler’s going to lose in a glorious way to Roode to give Roode his first PPV win. It should be a good match between two veterans who are very capable of putting on an entertaining match when they are given time to do so. This one will probably be about 10 minutes with Roode winning clean.
Prediction: Bobby Roode wins
This feels like it will be an average show that doesn’t have a standout match. I expect everything to get a decent amount of time, so nothing will feel rushed. It just doesn’t come across like a great card with one only match that stands out more than most. If there is a show-stealer, then it’s probably the Tag Team Title match just because of how good those teams are. I was more excited about Raw’s No Mercy show two weeks ago than I was for Hell in a Cell.
You can watch WWE Hell in a Cell this Sunday on WWE Network at 8 p.m. ET with a Kickoff Show starting at 7 p.m. ET. Unfortunately, I won’t have a review of the show because I’m flying home from a friend’s wedding on Monday. I’ll be back next week for the Raw review and Smackdown as scheduled, which is when I may touch on some of the Hell in a Cell matches.