WWE Hell in a Cell 2018: Final Picks and Predictions for Entire Match Card
The tenth installment in Hell in a Cell pay-per-view history could wind up being the best yet with what's on tap, including two anticipated Hell in a Cell matches and a slew of championship clashes with Superstars from SmackDown Live and Raw.
The build-up to the event has left a lot to be desired on the Raw side in recent weeks with most of the attention going to Super Show-Down and Evolution instead. Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman and Alexa Bliss vs. Ronda Rousey have received decent hype, but neither bout is as exciting on paper as anything SmackDown has to offer at the moment.
AJ Styles and Samoa Joe have been carrying the blue brand on their shoulders lately with their heated feud over the WWE Championship. Meanwhile, Daniel Bryan and The Miz have continued to go back and forth in their feud by upping the ante and involving their wives Brie Bella and Maryse, respectively.
Elsewhere on the card, tensions will rise when Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch finally go one-on-one for the SmackDown Women's Championship and Jeff Hardy and Randy Orton collide inside Hell in a Cell. On top of all that, The New Day will defend their newly won SmackDown Tag Team Championship.
Fans have been speculating for weeks about which stars will reign supreme, not only in the main event but across the card. With WWE's most hellacious night of the year nearly upon us, these are the predictions that matter most.
Kickoff Match: The New Day vs. Rusev Day (SmackDown Tag Team Championship)
In a somewhat expected turn of events, The New Day knocked off The Bludgeon Brothers for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship on SmackDown Live two nights removed from SummerSlam. As a result of Rowan getting injured, a search ensued for new contenders to the championship and thus a tag team title tournament was announced.
Ultimately, Rusev Day prevailed over their competition and punched their ticket to Hell in a Cell by beating The Bar this past week on SmackDown. They certainly weren't the favored tandem in the tourney early on, if only because Rusev and Aiden English have teased tension more often than not dating back to July.
Despite that, they currently find themselves in prime position to become tag team champions for the first time on Sunday. As entertaining of an act as they are, however, it's far too soon to take the titles off New Day, who have a handful of teams to work with through the next few months.
Rusev Day won't remain a cohesive unit forever, so perhaps a loss here will be the catalyst behind Rusev finally turning on his longtime cohort. It should be noted that they're better off together than apart, but the division doesn't need them and New Day have more of an upside as champions for the foreseeable future.
Regardless of whether Rusev Day split up at the event, New Day are a surefire pick to leave with the titles.
Prediction: The New Day retain the SmackDown Tag Team Championship.
Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton (Hell in a Cell Match)
Randy Orton returning to WWE TV at July's Extreme Rules pay-per-view as a heel by targeting Jeff Hardy was the best thing that could have happened to him. Since then, he has come across much more comfortable as a character and on the mic than he has in years and it has been a refreshing chance of pace.
Hardy, on the other hand, is the perfect first feud for heel Orton because of how popular Hardy is with the WWE Universe. Fans have felt sympathy for Hardy through Orton's various attacks on him and will want to see him give The Viper his comeuppance that much more at Hell in a Cell.
It's no secret that Hardy has lobbied for a Hell in a Cell match for years, even well before re-signing with WWE in April 2017. Ideally, that is how he wanted to end his career (against The Undertaker), but he has made it quite clear in recent weeks that he has plenty more left in the tank.
Despite that, there really isn't much of a reason for Hardy to beat Orton in their encounter at Hell in a Cell. Hardy can always bounce back down the road, whereas Orton desperately needs this victory to get his latest heel run off to a strong start.
Expect Hardy to do something insane off the top or side of the structure and for that to be what costs him the win.
Prediction: Randy Orton wins.
Ronda Rousey vs. Alexa Bliss (Raw Women's Championship)
When Ronda Rousey received her second shot at the Raw Women's Championship against Alexa Bliss at SummerSlam, their match wasn't expected to last longer than five minutes. Sure enough, Rousey put Bliss away in decisive fashion by forcing her to submit, taking her title in the process.
In the weeks that have followed their initial one-on-one encounter, Rousey has ruled over Raw's women's division and dominated everyone who has stepped up to challenge her. Bliss, of course, has her contractually obligated championship rematch, yet has done nothing to convince viewers she has a chance of regaining the gold.
Immediately after beating Bliss in tag team action on Monday night, Rousey suffered a kick to the midsection at the hands (and feet) or Little Miss Bliss. Beyond that, the former SmackDown and Raw Women's champion has barely gotten any offense over her rival in recent weeks.
Needless to say, victory is virtually guaranteed for The Rowdy One. She should remain in possession of the gold through WrestleMania 35 season and continue to crush the competition in the months ahead. That includes Bliss, who has had her time in the spotlight and is ready to move on.
Mickie James, Alicia Fox and Natalya are bound to play some sort of role at ringside, but it would best for the shenanigans in this matchup to be kept to a minimum.
Prediction: Ronda Rousey retains the Raw Women's Championship.
Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella vs. the Miz and Maryse
The Miz succeeded in what he set out to do by defeating Daniel Bryan one-on-one at SummerSlam. However, that was far from the end of what already has been a long-running rivalry between them, dating back to their NXT days in 2010.
With their wives Brie Bella and Maryse getting involved soon after, they have managed to keep the feud fresh over the past month through their confrontations. Bella and Maryse have held their own as well, and although their recent one-on-one outing on SmackDown Live was fairly abysmal, they can have Bryan and Miz to do most of the in-ring work for them at Hell in a Cell.
No matter which duo reigns supreme on Sunday, it's unlikely this match will serve as a blow-off to the program. Bryan and Miz have been confirmed to face off again in singles action at WWE Super Show-Down in early October, where the winner will earn a future shot at the WWE Championship.
In order to keep Bryan in chase mode, Miz should come out on top in that matchup while Bryan and Bella win at Hell in a Cell where the stakes aren't nearly as high. The two rivals can always rekindle their rivalry down the road, preferably at WrestleMania 35 with the WWE title up for grabs.
For now, though, Bryan and Bella giving the egotistical couple their comeuppance at Hell in a Cell would seem to make sense.
Prediction: Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella win.
Ziggler and McIntyre vs. Rollins and Ambrose (Raw Tag Team Championship)
Raw's tag team division has been in a state of flux for months due to a stunning lack of credible tandems on the brand. The B-Team were hardly more than a comedy act as Raw Tag Team champions, so the recent move to transition the titles from them onto Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre was a smart one.
With Ziggler and McIntyre aiming to take over Raw by holding every piece of gold there is, it was only logical for them to capture the twin titles eventually. It also makes their match with Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose at Hell in a Cell that much more meaningful with it being contested for the Raw Tag Team Championship.
Ambrose and Rollins are former tag team champs together and them regaining the gold would make The Shield an even more unstoppable force than they already are. However, Ziggler and McIntyre are fresh off their title win and should reign as champs through the next few months at the very least.
After all, Rollins' current focus should be on the Intercontinental Championship and not the tag team ranks. The Intercontinental title feels marginalized as it is and wouldn't be defended regularly if Rollins was a tag team champion as well.
Ziggler and McIntyre can be the key to the reviving Raw's tag team scene and should successfully retain their titles at Hell in a Cell.
Prediction: Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre retain the Raw Tag Team Championship.
Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch (SmackDown Women's Championship)
There can be no question that Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch are miscast in their current roles, but their heated feud dating back to SummerSlam has been made for must-see TV, nonetheless.
Despite being a natural babyface, Lynch has really come into own as a heel and has embraced her new character tremendously well. She has plenty of momentum on her side right now after ambushing her former friend several weeks in a row and is aiming to reclaim the championship at Hell in a Cell.
It's clear that this feud will last at least another few months, so there is no rush to get the belt on Lynch. She will win the title eventually and there isn't a need for it to happen as soon as Sunday.
However, Lynch should still be made to look strong in defeat to warrant a rematch at a later date (i.e. WWE Super Show-Down and/or Evolution), or even go so far as to viciously attack Flair post-match. For The Irish Lasskicker to be defeated decisively would be a mistake right now and do damage to her credibility as a heel.
Lynch has Charlotte's number and will come close to capturing the championship at Hell in a Cell, but a small slip-up of some sort will lead to her downfall and give Charlotte her first real boost since SummerSlam (ensuring the program isn't as one-sided as it has been in favor of Lynch recently).
Prediction: Charlotte Flair retains the SmackDown Women's Championship.
AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe (WWE Championship)
AJ Styles and Samoa Joe took their rivalry to new heights at SummerSlam during their one-on-one war when Joe targeted Styles' family at ringside. Out of anger, The Phenomenal One got himself intentionally disqualified and awarded the win (but not the WWE Championship) to Joe.
Logically, a Hell in a Cell match should have been the next chapter in the story, but they are not currently scheduled to clash inside the structure as of now. Nevertheless, they have done an excellent job of maintaining fan interest in their program heading into the event and making viewers want to see Styles give Joe the beating he deserves.
Amidst the chaos, the fact Styles has been WWE champion for over ten months has been forgotten about. No one is on a hotter roll right now than Joe and this would be the appropriate time for him to win his first WWE world title.
Unfortunately, the involvement of Styles' family all but confirms that Styles will prevail in the end and hold onto the title for a little longer. Of course, he has been a tremendous champion since late last year, but Joe would be a fresh face as champ, if only temporarily before Styles gets the belt back.
This is a matchup that can easily go either way, but in order for the aforementioned Styles vs. The Miz feud to come to fruition before the close of the year, Styles needs to walk out of Hell in a Cell with his title intact.
Prediction: AJ Styles retains the WWE Championship.
Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman (Universal Championship Hell in a Cell Match)
As Mr. Money in the Bank, Braun Strowman has been in hot pursuit of the Universal Championship for months, and at Hell in a Cell, he has promised to walk out with the gold in his grasp.
Strowman's unexpected heel turn was done to add a definitive dynamic to the latest incarnation of their feud to avoid two babyfaces battling each other. Sadly, it has backfired badly because now fans couldn't care less who emerges from their upcoming clash inside Hell in a Cell as Universal champion.
To make matters worse, Mick Foley being thrown into the mix as the special guest referee feels forced and unnecessary. It's doubtful he will be taking bumps inside the structure he helped make famous, so unless he's there to prevent outside interference from The Shield, Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre, he is a pointless addition to this match.
Lest we forget, Strowman has fallen short of capturing the championship on countless occasions over the last year and another loss could hurt him considerably. Then again, Reigns just kicked off his latest stint with the strap at SummerSlam and therefore he's the safe bet to win here.
It would surely be a refreshing change of pace to see Strowman as Universal champion and rule Raw as its top heel. Perhaps his time will come at some point in the next several months, but it almost certainly will not be at Hell in the Cell, a night that will belong to The Big Dog.
Prediction: Roman Reigns retains the Universal Championship.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is an Endicott College alumnus and aspiring journalist. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.