WWE Hell in a Cell 2018: B/R Expert Match Picks, Predictions and Analysis
WWE's annual Hell in a Cell pay-per-view takes place Sunday, and with the card WWE has put together, we should be in for a fun show.
The titular stipulation will be used for two matches, while the other six scheduled bouts will be contested under standard rules.
The Bleacher Report expert panel will look a little different this time around. Each writer will answer two questions on their own slide, and a full list of predictions from everyone will be provided at the end.
The writers will analyze some of the biggest feuds and provide predictions for all of the matches. Our group is made up of the following:
- Anthony Mango (AM) (@ToeKneeManGo)
- Kevin Berge (KB) (@TheBerge_)
- Jeff Johnson (JJ) (@JeffJSays)
- Erik Beaston (EB) (@ErikBeaston)
- Graham Matthews (GM) (@WrestleRant)
Here is a look at the card, according to WWE.com:
- Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre vs. Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose (Raw tag titles)
- The New Day vs. Rusev Day (SmackDown tag titles)
- Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella vs. The Miz and Maryse
- Ronda Rousey vs. Alexa Bliss (Raw women's title)
- Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch (SmackDown women's title)
- Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton (Hell in a Cell)
- AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe (WWE title)
- Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman with Mick Foley as special guest referee (Hell in a Cell, universal title)
Anthony Mango (Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton and New Day vs. Rusev Day)
Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton
Q: Who would be Orton's best target after he is done with Hardy and why?
AM: If, by some chance, AJ Styles retains the WWE Championship at both Hell in a Cell and Super Show-Down, Randy Orton should definitely target The Phenomenal One next. As the champion, he should be the focal point and the best possible person to make a statement against. Plus, Orton and Styles haven't feuded before, and the matches could be incredible. If not Styles, the only other option is Daniel Bryan. But we've already seen that, so it wouldn't resonate as much.
The New Day vs. Rusev Day
Q: Predictions aside, which team do you want to see win this matchup? Why?
AM: I'd be lying if I didn't say it would be interesting to see Rusev Day get the surprise victory just for the shock, but I've been a huge fan of The New Day since the beginning, and I'll pretty much always root for them. It's a shame the Super Show-Down match was already announced, and it spoils the outcome of this. But it should still be a decent match.
Kevin Berge (Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman and Bonus Question)
Reigns vs. Strowman
Q: Which Raw Superstar would you add to this match to make it a more exciting Triple Threat Hell in a Cell? Why would they be a good choice?
KB: If you were going to add anyone to this match, it would have to be someone fast who could add some high-flying offense to this battle of heavyweights. Finn Balor fits the bill best. He's already been involved with both Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman in recent weeks and has a legitimate claim to be a top contender to the Universal Championship.
That said, I don't know that this match needs a third competitor. While the story has been rushed, Reigns and Strowman have had great matches together, and this should be no different. They can brutalize each other inside the Cell and have a Match of the Year contender.
Q: Which non-HIAC match would you have booked inside the structure? Why?
KB: I want to say Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch, but their feud is just getting started. For that reason, the only answer is AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe, as it is baffling that the two could have a regular contest after all they have been through.
Hell in a Cell would allow them to go all out without getting disqualified again, with The Phenomenal One giving in to his impulses while Joe tries to manipulate him. Styles vs. Joe inside the structure would also be a phenomenal match worthy of the stipulation in a way that Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton is not.
Jeff Johnson (The Bryans vs. The Mizanins and Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch)
Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella vs. Miz and Maryse
Q: Do you think this should be the final match between Bryan and The Miz for the time being, or should WWE continue the feud?
JJ: After this match, WWE could tease something bigger on the horizon for the two. They're mortal enemies, and the tension will always be there. They could employ the entire SmackDown roster to choose between one of them or just handle other business. The feud will never truly end.
Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch
Q: What does WWE have to do to make the crowd boo Lynch?
JJ: The only way the crowd will boo Lynch is if she rejoins Charlotte and becomes her enforcer. Either that or screw over Daniel Bryan. The fans have seemingly made their decision that they support her, similar to "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's tweener role.
Graham Matthews (Ronda Rousey vs. Alexa Bliss and Bonus Question)
Ronda Rousey vs. Alexa Bliss
Q: Has WWE done enough to make Bliss look like a convincing challenger to Rousey? If not, what more could have been done?
GM: As entertaining as the Ronda Rousey-Alexa Bliss rivalry has been since the summer, Bliss has not at all felt like a legitimate threat to the champion. It's wise to keep Rousey dominant because of her believability, but it is coming at the expense of Bliss, who doesn't have the slightest chance of regaining the gold at Hell in a Cell.
At the very least, she should have won the tag team match on the go-home Raw by pinning Natalya. Having her kick Rousey in the gut afterward was fine and all, but it won't change anyone's prediction for this SummerSlam rematch. Rousey will retain and put a definitive end to this angle.
Book a match with Superstars not booked on the show, and explain why it would benefit the PPV.
GM: Bobby Lashley vs. Kevin Owens. KO has been a staple of WWE pay-per-views for years, so it's slightly stunning he isn't booked for the event in some form or fashion. Granted, his quick return to Raw recently was disappointing, but he appears to be primed for a program with Lashley.
I don't know how much it would do for either guy, but at least it gives them something to do. If anything, expect this to be added to the Kickoff. It's the least WWE could do for Lashley after leaving him off the SummerSlam card.
Erik Beaston (AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe and The Shield vs. Dogs of War)
Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre
Q: Which brand has the better tag team division? Explain your answer.
EB: SmackDown's tag team division is infinitely better, primarily because the top duos on the blue roster are actual tag teams, not thrown-together pairings of singles stars. Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins vs. Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre may be a great one-off pay-per-view match, but all that does is make the full-time tag teams look bad.
The blue brand has teams like New Day, The Usos, The Bar, Rusev Day and Sanity routinely delivering some of the best matches of any show every week. And best of all, they are not sacrificed to put over a mix-matched team for a short-term storyline.
AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe
Q: What should WWE do in terms of storylines with Styles if he loses the WWE title to Joe at Hell in a Cell?
EB: If Styles loses to Joe, it is likely because he let his emotions get the best of him. The natural course of action is for Styles to refocus himself and go back after the title he legitimized for the past year. Whether that includes immediate rematches with Joe or a longer storyline is the question.
The initials for each writer will appear after their predicted winner for each match.
The New Day (AM, JJ, EB, KB, GM, CM) vs. Rusev Day
Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston and Big E were the BR writers' unanimous choice. Sunday might not be a happy Rusev Day for everyone.
Rollins and Ambrose (EB, CM) vs. Ziggler and McIntyre (AM, JJ, KB, GM)
Ziggler and McIntyre are the favorites to retain the titles, but if Beaston and I are right, The Shield might leave Hell in a Cell with all of the belts on Raw.
Charlotte (JJ, EB, KB, GM) vs. Lynch (AM, CM)
Charlotte is favored to retain over Lynch, but don't count out The Lass Kicker. She has been doing some of the best work of her career, and WWE may want to capitalize on her momentum.
Rousey (AM, JJ, KB, EB, GM, CM) vs. Bliss
Nobody thinks Bliss is going to defeat Rousey for the Raw women's title. WWE has tried to make The Goddess look like a wily challenger, but nobody expects Rowdy Ronda to lose in her first title defense.
Hardy vs. Orton (AM, JJ, EB, KB, GM, CM)
This match feels like a way to write Hardy off television for a little while, and in order to do that, Orton has to win. Every B/R writer on the panel thinks that how it will go down.
Bryan and Bella (AM, JJ, KB, EB, GM, CM) vs. The Miz and Maryse
Once again, we are all in agreement. The Miz won the big showdown with Bryan at SummerSlam, so it's only fair for Bryan and Bella to get the win at HIAC. WWE loves its 50-50 booking.
Reigns (AM, JJ, KB, EB, GM) vs. Strowman (CM)
I am alone in thinking The Monster Among Men will walk out of Hell in a Cell with the Universal Championship. It makes sense for Reigns to retain after spending a year chasing the title he won in August, but WWE can't wait forever to pull the trigger on Strowman.
Styles (JJ, KB, EB, GM) vs. Joe (AM, CM)
Mango and I believe this is Joe's time to shine, but everyone else is backing Styles to retain once again. This is the most personal feud on the card, so we should expect a war.
What are your Hell in a Cell predictions?