Contrary to what you may have seen on Monday Night Raw this week, the next major show won’t be taking place in Australia and men will indeed be wrestling on the card. This Sunday will see Hell In A Cell, featuring two matches inside the Cell and a bunch of other stuff that won’t be heavily featured as there’s only so much that can take place when we have the other two shows to build towards. Let’s get to it.

Kickoff Show: Smackdown Tag Team Titles: New Day (c) vs. Rusev Day

Rusev Day won a (yet another) tournament to earn the title shot in a bit of a surprise. The team was a hot act in the spring but since WWE has to WWE, we’re finally getting somewhere between the two of them in the middle of September. New Day has held the titles for about a month now and since the division basically consists of four teams, it’s not like they have a bunch of competition.

I’ll go with New Day to retain, likely as Rusev Day implodes for good because WWE doesn’t want them together for whatever reason. Other than that the match should be entertaining and will likely see a rematch this week on SmackDown Live. Rusev is in need of some kind of a success but given his track record in WWE, odds are we’re going to be waiting a very long time to actually see it happen.

Rusev Day vs. The Bar - Winners challenge New Day at Hell in a Cell: SmackDown LIVE, Sept. 11, 2018

Raw Women’s Title: Ronda Rousey(c) vs. Alexa Bliss

This one has me more confused with each step of the build. First of all, Rousey smashed her way through Bliss on the way to the title at Summerslam. You know, how she should have done because it’s RONDA ROUSEY vs. Alexa Bliss. The match was about five minutes long and Rousey was never in anything resembling trouble. Again, how it should have been. So how are we going to make a rematch work?

I’m really not sure, though Rousey of course retains, likely with more involvement from the Bella Twins because we need Nikki Bella vs. Rousey in our lives. Before I go on that rant, I’ll go with Rousey retaining in a match that isn’t as dominant as it should be. Rousey will likely sell the rib injuries from Monday, though that really shouldn’t be enough to keep her in trouble for very long.

Ronda Rousey & Natalya vs. Alexa Bliss & Mickie James: Raw, Sept. 10, 2018

Smackdown Women’s Title: Charlotte(c) vs. Becky Lynch

This is the first case of “well, we’re not having this Cell ready match in the Cell because….reasons”. Last month Charlotte won the title and Lynch snapped and turned on her, with the fans wanting to cheer Lynch but WWE dragged their feet and is going with more of a shades of gray feud because they don’t know how to listen to what the audience clearly wants.

As for the match itself, I’ll go with Lynch winning the title. I know WWE doesn’t exactly get the idea here a lot of the time, but this is as much of a layup as you can have. On top of that, is there anyone else who can possibly take the title off of Charlotte? The only way I could imagine it not happening is if Charlotte does a hard heel turn to make Lynch the super face that she needs to be. I could live with that, but that’s about the only way they could go other than Lynch flat out beating her.

Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch engage in a war of wars: SmackDown LIVE, Sept. 4, 2018

Raw Tag Team Titles: Dolph Ziggler/Drew McIntyre(c) vs. Dean Ambrose/Seth Rollins

Let’s not even pretend that this is going to be the big, final match between these teams. These four plus Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman are going to fight for the next few months and there’s no way around that. The titles might change hands here but it’s far from likely to be the final title change between them. The wrestling should be good, but the storyline stuff isn’t exactly going to matter.

I’ll say the champions cheat to keep their titles, which will set up a rematch where the Shield boys want to use a variety of weapons. Say like tables, ladders and chairs. Along with Reigns. And Strowman. With all three belts above the ring at once. There’s not much else to say here and that’s a really bad sign given how many eggs WWE has put in the Shield’s basket.

Dean Ambrose returns before SummerSlam: Raw, Aug. 13, 2018

Daniel Bryan/Brie Bella vs. The Miz/Maryse

When this match was first announced, I was a fan of the idea. It advances the story while preventing the overload of Miz vs. Bryan, which is almost guaranteed to keep going all the way into 2019. Then it became clear that this was going to be the Maryse/Bella show and that’s one of the scariest things you can have. We’ll have to hear about what a legend Bella is and how awesome she looks after having a baby a year ago, all while she botches everything she does and shouts BRIE MODE before doing some of Bryan’s stuff. Yay for us.

It doesn’t make sense to have Miz and Maryse win here so I’ll take Bella beating Maryse here in some form. Bella can’t do much properly in the ring but the YES Lock looks passable enough. Maryse doesn’t need to ever win anything again as she just has to put on one of her outfits, strike her model pose and insult the crowd in French to be right back where she was before. Bella and Bryan win in hopefully the last match from the women for a long time.

Brie Bella vs. Maryse: SmackDown LIVE, Sept. 11, 2018

Randy Orton vs. Jeff Hardy

Here’s your Smackdown Cell match (even though the Cell is now red) because….why is this the Cell match actually? I know the logical answer would be so Hardy can dive off of the Cell like an idiot, but my guess is more that they didn’t want to do a Cell match on Smackdown but since WE MUST HAVE A CELL PAY PER VIEW, this is the default match instead. Just in case you need more proof that having a Cell pay per view is a really bad idea.

I’ll go with Orton winning as Hardy tries to do something stupid and winds up taking the RKO for his efforts. Orton has an interesting character if he goes from one short range feud to another where he destroys a variety of popular faces. Knowing WWE though, they’re going to do something stupid with it and waste a lot of potential because that’s all WWE is capable of doing at the moment.

Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton: SmackDown LIVE, Aug. 21, 2018

Smackdown World Title: AJ Styles(c) vs. Samoa Joe

On paper, this should be where Joe gets the title. He took Styles to the limit in their first match and has been even more physical since then. Logic on the street would suggest that he wins the title here by overwhelming the emotional Styles and choking him out so he can hold up the title and say OH WENDY, DADDY’S COMING HOME! That makes sense in theory, until you remember that WWE has already announced a third match between these guys in Australia at Super Show-Down.

That’s where I think the title change actually takes hand. I mean, it doesn’t really matter when Joe wins the title as long as he does, though Styles is rapidly approaching CM Punk’s 434 day reign with that very title. On top of that, he actually defends the thing and has great matches while making others look good. Hence why he’s likely about to drop the title. Styles isn’t a guy who does the same three moves over and over again when he wrestles four times a year. What value is there for that?

AJ Styles unleashes painful retribution on Samoa Joe: SmackDown LIVE, Sept. 4, 2018

Raw World Title: Roman Reigns(c) vs. Braun Strowman

And then there’s this, which is one of the most oddly booked matches in a long time. They do have a long history between each other, but their last singles match was eleven months ago in October. That’s all well and good as the blowoff to a long running feud (Undertaker and Mankind hadn’t had a singles match in over a year when they had the Cell match), but does anyone believe that this is the last match between these two?

I’ll go with Reigns retaining as Strowman is sacrificed again in the name of getting him over. I still have no idea what the end game is supposed to be for Reigns, who is beating (arguably) his chief rival in his first feud as champion (the fourth time he’s been champion that is). Why is him beating Strowman in the Cell supposed to make me care? Is it just because he’s that awesome or something? I’m sure WWE could explain it to me, though I doubt it would still make sense.

Roman Reigns brings the fight to Braun Strowman: Raw, Sept. 10, 2018

Overall Thoughts

I know I talk about this a lot but it’s pretty amazing to see how much difference it makes to have one show focused on Sunday and another focused on everything else involved. There’s a lot of stuff that can be done to set up Sunday’s show and Smackdown has done that far better than it’s Monday counterpart. The pay per view will have its moments, but it really does feel like they’d like to get this show out of the way so they can focus on the other stuff instead.

Just look at the card. There’s a lot of big stuff on here and there is a grand total of one match (Styles vs. Joe) that I’m interested in seeing. That’s not acceptable on a card that features two Cell matches and a bunch of big title matches. How can you possibly have this kind of a card and have so little interest in the whole thing? WWE is ice cold right now and I don’t see that changing for a long time to come, which makes for a very rough end of the year.

Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at, or check out his Amazon author page with 28 wrestling books. His latest book is the the Complete 2003 Smackdown Reviews.

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