WWE Hell in a Cell 2016: B/R Expert Match Predictions and Analysis
WWE Hell in a Cell 2016, on paper, could be the most exciting pay-per-view of the year. It could also be the most historic.
Not only are there three matches inside Hell in a Cell on Sunday, but Raw women's champion Sasha Banks and Charlotte are set to become the first women to do battle inside the structure. In addition, the three HIAC matches are being billed as a triple main event, and speculation has ramped up that the women's championship match will be the final match of the evening.
If that were to happen, Banks and Charlotte would become the first women to headline a WWE-brand pay-per-view.
The match card (as of Friday) shapes up like this:
- Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins (Universal Championship, Hell in a Cell match)
- Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte (Raw Women's Championship, Hell in a Cell match)
- Roman Reigns vs. Rusev (United States Championship, Hell in a Cell match)
- T.J. Perkins vs. Brian Kendrick (WWE Cruiserweight Championship)
- The New Day vs. Sheamus and Cesaro (Raw Tag Team Championships)
- Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson
- Bayley vs. Dana Brooke
- Cedric Alexander, Lince Dorado and Sin Cara vs. Tony Nese, Drew Gulak and Ariya Daivari (Kickoff Show)
As always, Bleacher Report has put together a panel of experts to answer the tough questions heading into WWE Hell in a Cell 2016 and to predict who will be victorious in Boston. Let's meet the team.
B/R Expert Panel Lineup
Bleacher Report's lineup answers the tough questions about the WWE landscape and provides predictions for each match on the WWE Hell in a Cell 2016 card.
This team features the following:
- Anthony Mango (@ToeKneeManGo), founder of SmarkOutMoment.com and host of the podcast Smack Talk.
- Graham "GSM" Matthews, founder of Next Era Wrestling and host of WrestleRant Radio.
- Ryan Dilbert (@ryandilbert), lead writer for @BR_WWE.
- Kevin Berge (@TheBerge_).
- Yours truly, James Moffat (@jamesmoffat).
It's time to tie up those laces and get ready to rumble. The predictions start now.
Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson
Q: Which of these teams is more likely to be the next Raw tag team champions?
Graham Matthews (GM): Enzo and Cass have a much better chance of becoming tag team champions than The Club do. It blows my mind Enzo and Cass have yet to beat New Day for the belts. I'm sorry, but I have completely given up on The Club. They always lose when it matters most, and although the same can be said for Enzo and Cass, at least they're allowed to be entertaining—and they are better as underdogs, anyway. Regardless, I'm feeling a Club win at Hell in a Cell, though it's not like it matters much.
Match Prediction: The Club wins.
Anthony Mango (AM): Gallows and Anderson had more than enough championship matches but came up short. Enzo and Cass, on the other hand, have never had a proper shot on their own. While it would seem weird to transition from a babyface team to another babyface team, I would lean toward Enzo and Cass having a better chance at getting the gold.
Match Prediction: Since Enzo and Cass are so over with the crowd that they don't even need to cut their own promos anymore, they can afford to lose. Gallows and Anderson win as an attempt to rehabilitate them after their horrible record from the past few months.
Kevin Berge (KB): I thought Gallows and Anderson would already have held the Raw Tag Team Championships by now. Now I’m not sure they ever will. Meanwhile, Enzo and Cass have to be front of the line to end New Day’s record-setting title reign, as they have become so incredibly over.
Match Prediction: Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson take their one, and perhaps only, victory in this feud because they can’t lose every match, right?
Ryan Dilbert (RD): Amore and Cass. It looked inevitable that Gallows and Anderson would get a run with the gold, but WWE has since cut them off at the legs. They don't feel like contenders anymore. The Realest Guys in the Room are too popular to not get a crack at being champs at some point.
Match Prediction: Amore and Cass.
James Moffat (JM): I don't trust what WWE is doing (or not doing) with Anderson and Gallows. They came into the company as renegades, became sidekicks and then comedians. Now they're back to renegades. The only consistent thing has been that they've lost along the way. I'd put my money on Enzo and Cass holding the belts first.
Match Prediction: Enzo and Cass.
TJ Perkins vs. Brian Kendrick (WWE Cruiserweight Championship)
Q: We’re one month removed from the debut of the cruiserweight division. How would you grade WWE’s reintroduction of the cruiserweights?
GM: The reintroduction of the cruiserweights has been far from perfect yet not tremendously terrible. The matches have been good, but the character development is still lacking big time. T.J. Perkins is settling nicely into his role as champion, but Kendrick has a better-defined persona than him and would be a better fit as champion for the time being.
Match Prediction: Brian Kendrick wins the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.
AM: Given the struggle of having to introduce the audience to a whole new roster filled with relatively unknown talent, they deserve an A-plus for being able to consistently put on great matches while steadily getting their characters over with the crowd.
Match Prediction: T.J. Perkins might stumble a bit, but he'll retain the championship.
KB: C—and that might be generous. Now they’ve settled in, the cruiserweight division always gets the same spot on Monday Night Raw, a two-segment match that sees the commercial break kill the momentum. I like the guys involved, but they are just guys on Raw. Only Kendrick and Perkins have characters and a story developing.
Match Prediction: T.J. Perkins takes the victory, sending Kendrick into a dangerous tailspin.
RD: C-plus. WWE has booked fun pairings that have led to fun matches. Kendrick's story has been fun to see unfold. But there hasn't been enough character development for anyone else. We know too little about Lince Dorado, Tony Nese and others. Perkins' video game-heavy promos aren't working, either. He hasn't been strong enough as the centerpiece of the division.
Match Prediction: Perkins.
JM: I rate this a C-minus thus far. WWE has not provided any story depth to the guys in this division beyond Kendrick's shot at redemption and Perkins as his one-time protege. The promotion is giving the Superstars time in the ring because they're exciting and skilled but hasn't put much else into developing the Superstars themselves. WWE is fumbling the ball when it should be an easy path to the end zone.
Match Prediction: Kendrick wins the title.
The New Day vs. Sheamus and Cesaro (Raw Tag Team Championships)
Q: The New Day is inching closer to Demolition’s all-time record of 478 consecutive days as tag team champions, which they could break shortly after Survivor Series. When do you predict The New Day will drop the titles?
GM: WWE might as well have The New Day break Demotion's record-setting reign. Otherwise, why wouldn't they have dropped the straps to The Club over the summer? Expect them to lose the titles shortly after breaking the record, which I believe will happen sometime in December. In other words, Sheamus and Cesaro won't become tag team champions.
Match Prediction: The New Day retain the Raw Tag Team Championships.
AM: I wouldn't be shocked at all if they dropped the belts the next chance possible after passing the record. If they make it past Demolition's reign, all eyes should be on Roadblock in December for their loss.
Match Prediction: Hopefully The New Day retain.
KB: I believe they will lose the championships at WWE Roadblock, which would put them just over Demolition’s record. WWE would not be placing them in matches against makeshift teams and constantly touting their nearness to the record if it had no plans to let the trio take the top spot. This would also make their ultimate loss an even bigger deal, as it will feel like a passing of the torch.
Match Prediction: The New Day continue their march toward history.
RD: At Hell in a Cell. The New Day have not been as red-hot as they were during their peak. WWE is likely to get restless and let yet another reluctant tag team come together to win gold.
Match Prediction: Sheamus and Cesaro.
JM: I don't think they drop the belts until the Royal Rumble or beyond. There's not a team that can credibly challenge The New Day. Enzo and Cass, the only duo that might, have yet to gain that signature win. Plus, I'm not sure WWE isn't setting Cass up for a singles push on the Road to WrestleMania.
Match Prediction: The New Day.
Bonus Question No. 1
Q: It’s been the subject of massive speculation in recent weeks, so we ask the experts: Which match should headline WWE Hell in a Cell 2016?
GM: There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the Raw Women's Championship match should headline Hell in a Cell. I mean, why wouldn't it? It isn't as if the other two Cell matches are more heated than this one. Besides, they will be in Boston, Sasha Banks' hometown. The story writes itself. Sure, it might be WWE's way of making history, and that's the sole reason why the company is doing it, but the women deserve the honor. It just makes sense.
AM: Sasha Banks and Charlotte need to take that final spot. Not only is Sasha the hometown girl, but she's also likely to retain the title, meaning the show ends on a high note instead of seeing Kevin Owens keep his belt or hearing the crowd boo Roman Reigns. The match itself is historic no matter what the quality ends up being, whereas the other two will be forgettable by next year unless some crazy spots happen. Backtracking and not allowing the women to go on last would cast a negative image on the company, hinting it doesn't have faith in its own women's revolution.
KB: The most hyped and best-built match should always headline the show. Generally, that should be the Universal Championship match, but that is absolutely not the case for WWE Hell in a Cell 2016. While Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins are great wrestlers, their feud has been bogged down by poor storytelling. Banks and Charlotte deserve to main-event because they have told the most personal story and the clash has the most history behind it. This is not about just letting the women headline. They have legitimately outshone the rest of the card in the build to Sunday.
RD: Banks vs. Charlotte. Without a doubt. It's the best story Raw has going ahead of Hell in a Cell. Owens vs. Rollins just doesn't have the spark that these rivals do. And WWE would be wise to embrace an era so rich with female talent by going all in on the women's revolution.
JM: It has to be the Raw Women's Championship match between Sasha Banks and Charlotte. Beside being the most compelling story the Raw brand has told in recent weeks, the women are making history by competing inside the Hell in a Cell structure. The question becomes, do they follow a potential show-stealing bout between Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins, or does the United States Championship match go on before it as a buffer?
Roman Reigns vs. Rusev (WWE United States Championship—Hell in a Cell)
Q: Where does Rusev go from here should he lose again to Reigns?
GM: I fear Rusev will fade off into obscurity once Reigns runs through him. The same thing happened once John Cena conquered him as many times as he did last year. It's unfortunate because Rusev is a strong heel, but I don't even know with whom he would be placed in a program beyond Hell in a Cell. Seth Rollins, maybe? Meh.
Match Prediction: Roman Reigns retains the United States Championship.
AM: At Survivor Series, Rusev should be on Team Raw and not be eliminated too quickly to hurt his image. He also needs to start a feud with someone noteworthy enough that he can look like a credible threat heading into the Royal Rumble. Given the roster, Cesaro is the best option.
Match Prediction: Roman Reigns retains the championship.
KB: Just before his feud with Reigns began in the summer, Rusev was on the roll of his career. While the two have great chemistry, they have both been hindered by this conflict, with several terribly scripted segments standing out. Rusev needs to get away from it and move on. Let Reigns run with the title and get Rusev back on the winning path.
Match Prediction: Roman Reigns wins a physical contest to end this feud.
RD: Rusev's next story should be about him climbing back into contention and regaining momentum. He should first tangle with a feisty Neville during that journey.
Match Prediction: Reigns.
JM: This latest Rusev story arc is getting eerily similar to how The Bulgarian Brute was treated during his feud with John Cena in 2015. He's probably headed into a feud with someone like Mark Henry again. It's a shame too since Rusev was just getting on a roll again, similar to his U.S. title domination pre-Cena.
Match Prediction: Reigns.
Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte (Raw Women’s Championship—Hell in a Cell)
Q: What’s the most important thing for the women to do in what may be the most important match in women’s wrestling history?
GM: I hope the women don't feel pressured to go out there and kill their bodies simply for the sake of "making history." If they can just have as great of a match as they had on Raw earlier in October, that's all that matters. If they go on last, as I think they should and will, they shouldn't go overboard with crazy spots or even busting each other open. Contest a compelling match with a solid story, and they will deliver.
Match Prediction: Sasha Banks retains the Raw Women's Championship.
AM: Above all else, they need to walk out of the match safe but looking like they didn't specifically wimp out. Fans can't get the impression that the women weren't tough enough to wrestle inside the cage and that it was a waste of the gimmick, but at the same time, it's not worth risking their health to do anything too over the top. Basically, they need to put on the best possible match they can without getting in their own way by overbooking it or copping out.
Match Prediction: Sasha Banks is victorious.
KB: They must show that the cell is not merely a prop. While Charlotte and Banks have had a bad tendency of taking unnecessary risks, there are good ways to show brutality and physicality, which is what Hell in a Cell is all about. These two are supposed to be the worst of rivals, wanting to hurt each other as much as gain victory. Therefore, they must use weapons and the structure liberally at every turn.
Match Prediction: Sasha Banks gives Charlotte her first singles loss on PPV.
RD: There has to be a balance between delivering big spots and being safe. Banks and Charlotte already do cringe-inducing things in normal matches. In a Hell in a Cell clash, someone is bound to end up in the hospital. Yet if they don't create enough dangerous moments, they will be criticized for not belonging in that structure in the first place. It's an impossible situation to be in.
Match Prediction: Banks wins a classic.
JM: Most importantly, they shouldn't try to do too much. These women have shown they can put on terrific matches, so they should let the match flow normally. The Hell in a Cell structure will lend itself to amazing spots but none that should put either competitor at too great a risk. They need to resist the urge to make a moment. This match is already historic; there's no need to force the issue and get injured in the process. If Sasha and Charlotte let the action come naturally, they'll put on a classic.
Match Prediction: Charlotte wins, becomes champion.
Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins (WWE Universal Championship—Hell in a Cell)
Q: Is WWE booking Kevin Owens’ championship reign too similarly to Seth Rollins’ run as champ with The Authority?
GM: Yes. It is being booked too similarly; a standout talent is being overshadowed by overbearing authority figures and constant interference despite having good matches. That sounds about right. There is still time to fix that problem, though, so I hope Owens doesn't suffer the same fate Rollins did.
Match Prediction: Kevin Owens retains the WWE Universal Championship.
AM: Yes and no. He doesn't exactly have the same setup with support from The Authority, but there's still too much of the babyface going against the system for it not to feel like it's retreading familiar ground. Seth Rollins should be fighting more with Owens than with Stephanie McMahon.
Match Prediction: Kevin Owens retains after cheating in some fashion.
KB: I’m not sure it has been that similar. Owens has not been protected or unfairly challenged. He has merely had Stephanie occasionally try to help raise his odds behind Foley’s back. If anything, it might have helped to more directly show parallels to give more weight to Rollins’ claims that Owens is being pampered. The run has not been great so far, but I wouldn’t blame it on any rehashing.
Match Prediction: Kevin Owens steals a brutal win with a Jericho assist.
RD: It's much like Rollins' run in that it lacks focus. There isn't enough attention being paid to the titleholder. Chris Jericho, Stephanie McMahon and even “the list” are getting more character development than Owens. The beastly version of Owens we saw on the go-home Raw is what he needs to become more consistently.
Match Prediction: Owens wins with some help from a returning Triple H.
JM: The players have changed, but the storyline is the same. Owens has become a carbon copy of Rollins during his reign as champion with The Authority behind him. There are slight differences, but Owens avoids confrontation, slithers away from harm's way and talks a better game than he's shown as champ. KO needs to stand on his own and a signature win that he gets without any assistance to be more than a paper champion.
Match Prediction: Owens wins but with help from either Triple H or Chris Jericho.
Bonus Question No. 2
Q: As always, for our finale: Which Superstar are you most disappointed is NOT on the pay-per-view card?
GM: Unless he's added to the WWE Universal Championship match at the last possible second, which would be stupid considering he's lost the last three weeks, it's criminal Chris Jericho won't be in action at Hell in a Cell. He was the star of the show on Monday night, so I assume he will appear at the event in some capacity. But as someone who will be in attendance for the pay-per-view, I'm disappointed Jericho presumably won't be wrestling.
AM: Braun Strowman and Sami Zayn definitely need to have some sort of confrontation, whether it's on the pre-show or just a buffer match on the main card. Teasing a match between the two only to ignore the pay-per-view and hold it off until Raw doesn't do either man any favors.
KB: I wouldn’t have believed I would say this a few weeks ago, but I’m extremely disappointed we won’t see more from Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel. The two have made a low-card feud interesting with committed and aggressive performances. While not everyone can fit on a bill with three long Hell in a Cell matches, it still feels like a waste of two guys doing their best work to date in WWE.
RD: Neville. The fact he doesn't have a storyline, isn't part of the cruiserweight division or one-half of an electric tag team is baffling. He's far too talented to be below Bo Dallas and Titus O'Neil in the pecking order.
JM: I'm a little surprised WWE hasn't done more with Braun Strowman. The story with Sami Zayn is interesting enough, but to not even book the Superstars in a match at Hell in a Cell is puzzling. Strowman needs a signature win to boost his credibility, and getting it over Zayn in a pay-per-view would have gone a long way. Instead, both men still sit on the sidelines.