Tim Fiorvanti, Marc Raimondi and Matt Wilansky recapped the Hell in a Cell card as it happened, with ESPN Stats & Info's Sean Coyle breaking down each match with ratings.
Hell in a Cell match for the Universal championship: The Fiend def. Seth Rollins via no contest
Sometimes WWE books its stories into a corner and the end result is magical, memorable and impactful.
Sunday night at Hell in a Cell was not one of those times.
Seth Rollins used every item in his toolbox, and then a literal toolbox, to try to keep "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt down. But when he added a sledgehammer to that equation, the referee deemed it was too violent, even for a Hell in a Cell match where "anything goes" and brought a stop to the match with no result.
It didn't help matters that, less than a minute later after Rollins' sledgehammer attacks, Wyatt rose from a gurney, locked in several of his signature moves and even caused "blood" to spurt from Rollins' mouth. No, with no decisive result and Rollins' title reign preserved at Wyatt's expense, the crowd rained down boos upon the final moments of Hell in a Cell at a level rarely heard in recent times.
At multiple points during the post-match scuffle, there were loud "AEW" chants, calling out for the WWE's recently established challenger in the pro wrestling business.
It's entirely understandable if the feeling among WWE's creative team was that a Universal championship run is too much, too soon for an oddball, outside of the box character like "The Fiend." It's also understandable if they want Rollins and Becky Lynch to be their standard bearers for the foreseeable future, considering the stakes of their new television deal on Fox.
Establishing Wyatt as an indestructible monster is perfectly fine, and you don't want him to slip or fall this early. But then why have this match so soon, if these incompatible thoughts clashed head-first into one another?
WWE tried to have its cake and eat it too, pairing its most popular character of the moment and its chosen standard bearer and trying to extract themselves without a clear result. But Hell in a Cell, as we saw in the show-opening match between Lynch and Banks, has a legacy built on brutality and using every weapon under the sun.
As for the match itself, outside of Wyatt hitting a pair of Sister Abigails and a handful of other moves, it was essentially about Rollins throwing everything he could at Wyatt to no avail. Upwards of a dozen stomps, superkicks, chairs, ladders and tables couldn't keep Wyatt down for more than a two-count.
It may have ultimately made Wyatt look stronger, but made Rollins' best offense look cheap and worthless. When he hits one or two stomps to put away another opponent, how will they not look like a chump compared to Wyatt?
Everything that followed The Fiend's chilling, enchanting entrance, including the decision to bathe the entire match in red light, was a disaster.
What's next: There's certainly not going to be less tension between Rollins and Wyatt after the events of Sunday night. It's a massive match that could theoretically fit on Oct. 31's "Crown Jewel" in Saudi Arabia, but who really knows how the imagery and violence that comes with a character like Wyatt's would fit, culturally speaking. And if Wyatt doesn't ultimately win, what's the point?
SmackDown Women's championship: Charlotte Flair def. Bayley (c)
This was an interesting match in a still-developing story that featured a definitive ending that gave Charlotte Flair her 10th WWE title reign.
The end came when Bayley countered a Flair big boot on the ropes into a rollup. Bayley put her feet on the ropes illegally for leverage and the referee saw it, stopping the count. With Bayley arguing with the referee, Flair went back to the kick and landed it. The impact sent Bayley down and Flair slapped on a figure-four leglock. The figure four turned into the Figure 8, and Bayley tapped out.
The story continued afterward. Bayley rolled to the outside facing the ramp, sat down and started tearing up. She pushed away a referee trying to comfort her. Bayley exclaimed, "Why does it always have to happen to me?" Perhaps the story being told is that resorting to dirty tricks isn't doing Bayley any favors and this short heel run could be coming to an end?
In any event, it was a pretty solid match overall. Bayley got the upperhand early by working on Flair's lower left leg and ankle. Flair got momentum back on her side by returning the favor and working over Bayley's left leg, slamming it into the post and the LED screen outside the ring. Bayley never really had a comeback outside of some near falls on rollups and a small package. It was all solid storytelling and made sense in the bigger picture.
What's next: Another title reign for Flair. And honestly, probably a rematch. With the draft coming up later this week and into next week, it's unclear if Flair will remain on SmackDown or be moved to Raw. If she remains as champion, she's as good of an anchor for that division as anyone with SmackDown on FOX. Bayley will almost surely get another shot at the title, maybe as early as Friday night.
And after what happened following the match, she has the most interesting storyline going forward out of the two of them. Bayley has played her role well.
Chad Gable def. King Corbin
The ongoing rivalry between Chad Gable and "King" Baron Corbin seemingly has no end in sight, and Gable's roll-up victory at Hell in a Cell is unlikely to change that any time soon.
Their clash in the King of the Ring finals had energy, but despite a couple of wildly entertaining spots, this match really dragged at times.
After an early surge from Gable, he attempted to make a comeback for most of the match. The most memorable spot of the contest came when Corbin sent Gable sliding head-first under the bottom rope, into the ring post and to the outside.
It basically broke down to a contest of who could sling Gable's body farther and harder -- Corbin, or Gable himself. In the end, Corbin swung his kingly scepter, missed, and got rolled up for a three-count by Gable.
What's next: Gable has fought long and hard to be relevant again, and saddling him with the nickname "shorty" -- the ring announcer even called him "shorty" Gable in victory -- is asinine and destructive of any kind of real momentum. If they're going to continue the pipeline back to NXT, that's the safest place for Gable right now. As for Corbin, he could use something fresh and new in the upcoming draft.
Viking Raiders & Braun Strowman def. The OC via disqualification
If you're looking for a little extra meat, you might as well bring on the muscle. That's exactly what the Viking Raiders did in announcing Braun Strowman as their mystery partner against The OC.
Eric and Ivar are clearly a team on the rise, and pairing them up with Strowman made sense and gave them that much more clout against a veteran team in The OC.
The Viking Raiders were dominant as the match began, overpowering their opponents until AJ Styles interfered by opening the ropes so Eric would plummet to the mat outside. Styles would then manhandle Eric for a few moments.
After waiting rather impatiently, Strowman ultimately found his way into the match and cleaned house. The six men exchanged high-impact moves and each participant had a brief moment to shine. But as all three OC members entered the ring and ganged up on Strowman, the referee called for the bell, giving the babyfaces the win by DQ.
Afterward, the Viking Raiders simultaneously flew through the ropes taking out Anderson and Gallows, while Strowman, in what was an obvious tease to his Monday Night Raw face-to-face encounter with boxing heavyweight champ Tyson Fury, clocked Styles with a right hand.
What's next: Strowman is without a meaningful storyline, but he might have found one, at least temporarily, as two days after Strowman and Fury had a heated exchange on SmackDown, they will have some sort of showdown. To what extent Fury will be part of the WWE narrative is TBD, but for now, it gives Strowman some good work.
Women's tag team championship: Kabuki Warriors def. Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross (c)
The Kabuki Warriors are the new WWE women's tag champs. Perhaps, they are newly heel, too.
Asuka spit green mist -- reminiscent of Japanese legends The Great Kabuki and The Great Muta -- in the face of Nikki Cross, then landed a head kick for the pin. The Kabuki Warriors were heelish the whole way through. Kairi Sane yanked on Bliss' hair from the outside while Asuka had Bliss in a submission. Sane also poked Cross in the eyes while she was the legal woman and Cross was on the apron waiting for a Bliss tag. The ending was set up by Sane distracting Bliss and the referee, allowing for Asuka, her mist and the head kick.
Overall, it was a solid match and got across the story of Bliss and Cross as babyfaces trying to overcome the surprising heel tactics of Asuka and Sane. Bliss played the babyface in peril and got a hot tag to Cross, who hit a nice cross-body block on Sane from the top rope. Sane was able to get the upper hand to land an Alabama Slam and go for her Insane Elbow from the top, but Cross got her feet up. Now with the momentum, Cross clotheslined Asuka for another hope spot after, but Sane distracted Bliss and the ref and the finish came thereafter.
What's next: For the first time in a bit, it seems like the women's tag titles have some sort of direction. Ditto for Asuka and Sane, who have been incredibly underutilized for months. Asuka is one of the best workers on the roster, male or female. If this spells some kind of a push or bigger story for her and Sane, that's a big positive. Bliss and Cross, an unlikely, yet fun duo, are likely to get a rematch as this program continues. Any time Asuka and Cross are in the ring together, it's a good thing. Their Last Woman Standing match in NXT in 2017 was excellent.
Randy Orton def. Ali
Randy Orton walked out of Hell in a Cell with the victory, but both men proved two things: their versatility and the age-old lesson that styles make matchups.
Even though this match only came together in the hour before showtime Sunday night, and it had to follow two high-energy matches to open the card, Orton and Ali made the most of the opportunity with a very different slow, methodical match that was paced perfectly and ended with a bang.
The moment things picked up was when Ali hit the ringpost with a highlight-reel collision that left a giant red welt on his torso. After spending most of the match fighting fruitlessly from behind, Ali hit a suicide dive that sent Orton over a table, and then Ali launched himself over the table after him.
Ali missed two 450 splashes, but when Orton missed his second RKO of the match, thanks to an Ali headstand counter, Ali appeared to have it all locked up with a tight roll-up. A somersault into a facebuster attempt lined Ali up perfectly for a creative RKO and a victory for Orton.
What's next: This was a textbook scenario of making something out of nothing, and it served as a reminder of how good each guy is in the ring. Orton will look ahead toward Oct. 31 and captaining Team Flair at Crown Jewel. Both will likely be key candidates to move during the upcoming WWE draft.
Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan def. Erick Rowan and Luke Harper
Even before this match began, the story was just as much about whether Daniel Bryan had some sort of master plan, something up his sleeve that would hoodwink Roman Reigns into a further state of confusion. And, given the added stipulation of a tornado match, anything was possible. The ongoing storyline has been long, twisted and not always cohesive. But the idea of Reigns and Bryan teaming up under dicey pretenses made for an intriguing showdown.
Luke Harper and Erick Rowan, who are former tag team champions, overpowered Reigns and Bryan early on, doubling-teaming Reigns with a series of firsts and boots. Then Rowan took it to Bryan before verbally berating his former friend and tag-team partner. Unlike the opening match between Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch, the cadence in this one was slower, but not without a few exciting moments at the end. Harper nearly pinned Bryan with a powerbomb before Reigns broke it up just in time. Harper then speared Reigns with a suicide dive through the ropes and onto the floor. From there, in a truly barbaric moment, Rowan tore apart the barricade, picked it up and ran it into the face of Reigns.
Just when it seemed like the bout might be ending, Bryan, who was being held above a cleared announce table, somehow hit Harper with a Hurricanrana. Reigns, who was previously sent over the barricade, jumped back into the action and speared Rowan on an announce table.
Finally in a quick and well-timed sequence, Bryan ducked a clothesline attempt, Reigns nailed Harper with a Superman Punch, Bryan hit a running knee and ultimately Reigns speared Harper to earn the pinfall victory.
Afterward, Bryan refused to shake Reigns' hand, instead asking for a hug. With the crowd chanting "Yes!" they ultimately embraced and Bryan has officially transformed back into a babyface.
What's next: The complete 180 from Bryan was a little surprising in its haste, but being such a beloved performer, it was probably just a matter of time anyway. With the draft coming up, it's hard to say for sure where any of these four will end up, but this win likely ends this storyline once and for all.
Hell in a Cell match for the Raw women's championship: Becky Lynch (c) def. Sasha Banks
What a tremendous way to start the main show. Lynch and Banks beat the heck out of each other in this match with chairs, kendo sticks, ladders and tables all coming into play. The spots were creative, the matched flowed well and it was extremely hard-hitting. Well done by both of them, and they got time to tell their story -- it went for 21:25.
The end came when Banks threw a bunch of chairs into the ring and hit a prone Lynch three times with one of them. Banks then went to the second rope, going for a meteora onto the chairs, but Lynch threw a chair at Banks to counter. Lynch followed Banks to the second rope and landed a super Bex-sploder onto the pile of chairs. Lynch then applied the Dis-Arm-Her and Banks tapped out.
The match was filled with cool, innovative maneuvers. On the outside, Lynch propped up a chair onto kendo sticks that were stuck into the links of the cell. She sat Banks on the chair and then landed a running, single-leg dropkick from the apron. Minutes later, Banks countered a Lynch powerbomb attempt and landed a Meteora onto Lynch through a table from the second rope. Just about everything in the match was landed stiffly.
They put it all out there. This was the kind of match that would have had absolutely no problem closing the show.
What's next: This result was a bit expected since the draft is next week and Lynch is expected to go to SmackDown on Fox. Of course, a title change could always happen Monday on Raw, but it seems Lynch will go into the draft as Raw women's champion. Maybe a rematch is afoot? For Banks, she needs to remain in a top storyline. She's been outstanding since her return. Maybe she'll pop up later to help Bayley in her SmackDown women's title defense against Charlotte Flair.
Lacey Evans has been on quite the winning streak. She has defeated Dana Brooke, Ember Moon and her opponent on the Hell in a Cell Kickoff Show, Natalya, on consecutive episodes of Raw. She looked for a fourth straight victory on Sunday, but it was not to be.
Things looked good early on for Evans, who was aggressive and controlled the majority of the sequences throughout the match. However, after a missed springboard moonsault, Natalya recovered and locked in a sharpshooter for the victory. Natalya then caught Evans with a forearm post-match, for good measure.
What's next? This is a big win for Natalya. She has some unfinished business with Sasha Banks after Banks attacked her upon her return to the WWE. Depending on the outcome of tonight's Raw women's championship match, Natalya could find her way into the championship conversation. As for Evans, it's back to the drawing board as she continues to improve in the ring. This rivalry appears to have ended.