The Real Winners and Losers from 2021 WWE Hell in a Cell
WWE Hell in a Cell kept a clear focus on major rivalries. Every match was built on the heat between rivals where the competition fought as hard as possible to put one over on their opponent.
Bianca Belair managed to do just that with an emphatic victory over Bayley. She survived The Role Model's best tactics to emerge with the win.
Cesaro was less successful. While he had Seth Rollins on the ropes early, he could not put him away and was caught in a schoolboy pin eventually.
Shayna Baszler hoped to put Alexa Bliss and Lilly behind her. Instead, The Goddess twisted the minds of everyone at ringside before overwhelming The Queen of Spades.
Sami Zayn is one of the best in the business, but very few casual fans have gotten a chance to see it. Luckily, he regained a modicum of respect with a big victory over long-time rival Kevin Owens.
This night was all about wins and losses. The biggest victors built momentum toward the return of live crowds while the losers fell behind when it mattered most.
Winner: Bianca Belair
Bayley was one of the first wrestlers to step up to help Bianca Belair rise to the top, but it was appropriate that The EST of WWE ended this feud that stretched from before WrestleMania 37.
The Role Model sold just how much better Belair was in the end. She threw out every trick in the book but could not put her opponent away. In fact, Bayley got to a point where she just wanted to escape before falling hard.
When building a true star, matches like this are vital. Bayley and Belair brought it all to a fun story-driven opener that made the SmackDown women's champion look incredible.
At this point, it is tough to imagine anyone can defeat The EST. Unless Sasha Banks returns and takes back her title, the only woman set up to dethrone the dominant titleholder would be the winner of the Money in the Bank briefcase next month.
Belair has earned her spotlight with consistent strong performances. No matter what, she should never return to a point where she cannot get TV time after this run.
There is no shame in losing to multiple-time world champion Seth Rollins.
Cesaro has looked dominant against him in every battle, and this was no different. Rollins even had to steal the victory in the end.
The problem for The Swiss Superman is that he has been made vulnerable in a rivalry where he was originally looking to win out. This feud is suddenly not over, and there is a chance that Cesaro might not win it. That possibility did not exist after WrestleMania in April.
The Swiss Superstar is on the verge of either a huge main event run or a crash back down to the midcard. WWE is heavily invested in him, but it will come down to crowd reactions upon the return to touring.
Cesaro is in a more precarious position than he has been since his push first started. This loss should be an opportunity to set him up for an emphatic rebound in front of a live crowd, but nothing is guaranteed.
Loser: Shayna Baszler
Shayna Baszler came into this match as a sacrificial lamb, but she got in more offense than expected. In the end, though, she still fell to the strange power and ferocity of Alexa Bliss.
It could have been far worse for the former MMA fighter. She had a solid if relatively short match with Bliss in which she sold that she lost because she was spooked by the abilities of her unorthodox opponent.
Baszler has been poorly utilized since she arrived on Raw. Her awkward team with Nia Jax earned her gold, but it did not allow her to showcase her ability in the ring often.
It is possible that The Queen of Spades could benefit from this loss, though, if Bliss can continue the legacy of Bray Wyatt and push opponents over the edge to force them to change.
The Queen of Spades may finally break away with Jax and Reginald, allowing her to become the dangerous fighter who showed such ferocious offense in NXT. That is the only positive at the moment for Baszler, who continues to lose badly.
Winner: Sami Zayn
While Kevin Owens walked into this match at a disadvantage, he was still the favorite against Sami Zayn, who had not won a match solo by pinfall since October 2, 2020. Somehow, though, The Great Liberator pulled this one off.
It was an intensely physical contest, one of the best in their long-running rivalry, and the added physicality made Zayn look particularly dangerous. He took advantage of KO's weakness and added more damage.
Owens sold fully for The Great Liberator in a way that elevated the former WWE intercontinental champion to the level he stood before he lost his gold. Hopefully, there is a plan to build off this victory, though it is more likely it was a one-off victory.
KO has been one of the priority targets on the blue brand. He has approached a victory over Apollo Crews and is likely to get another shot at the champion.
Meanwhile, Zayn needs more wins to build some momentum.