WWE Hell in Cell 2021 Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights
Did the WWE champion successfully defend his title or was The Scottish Warrior able to earn title No. 3?
What else went down on a card peppered with title clashes and grudge matches? Find out the answers to those questions and more with this recap of the June 20 spectacular.
- WWE Championship: Drew McIntyre vs. Bobby Lashley (Hell in a Cell)
- SmackDown Women's Championship: Bianca Belair vs. Bayley (Hell in a Cell)
- Raw Women's Championship: Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte Flair
- Cesaro vs. Seth Rollins
- Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn
- Alexa Bliss vs. Shayna Baszler
Kickoff Show: Natalya vs. Mandy Rose
Women's tag team champion Natalya kicked off Sunday's festivities, squaring off with Mandy Rose in a preview of her impending title defense with Tamina against The Golden Goddess and Dana Brooke.
Early grappling gave way to Rose earning the upper hand, grounding the more established competitor and working her over with body scissors, then a guillotine. Natalya fought back into the match and rocked Rose with a discus lariat but could not put her away.
Reversals, counters and near-falls dominated the closing moments of the match until The Queen of Harts trapped her opponent in a Sharpshooter, forcing the submission and earning the hard-fought victory.
Natalya defeated Rose
Much was made of Rose's attempts to prove herself as a wrestler through her improvements, and for good reason. The former fitness model was very good here, showing a definite upgrade as she worked with one of the best in-ring performers in the women's division.
Nattie was excellent, selling her opponent's offense admirably and going a long way in showcasing Rose's evolution as an in-ring performer.
The argument can be made that Rose should have gone over here to help her and Dana Brooke continue to build momentum ahead of their title opportunity, but that is countered by the fact that Natalya is the more experienced worker and should be able to beat Rose, regardless of how good she may be at this point.
A solid match with strong performances from both women, it was a quality way to kick off the show, even if most were unlikely to remember it by the time the cage lowered to signal the start of the main card.
SmackDown Women's Championship Hell in a Cell Match: Bianca Belair vs. Bayley
The SmackDown Women's Championship match kicked off with Bianca Belair defending her title against Bayley and inside Hell in a Cell for the first time in her young career.
The cerebral champion targeted her opponent's arm, bit her, used a kendo stick and a sunset flip powerbomb as she dominated the action. Belair absorbed it, fought back and tied her own hair to Bayley's wrist, making it easy to beat her around ringside without an easy escape.
Late in the bout, Bayley introduced a ladder that would prove her downfall. Belair avoided damage, delivered a senton to the lower back of her opponent, and finished The Role Model off with the K.O.D. on the open ladder for the definitive victory.
Belair defeated Bayley to retain
Kudos to Belair and Bayley for delivering a match that was innovative and creative, inside a steel structure that has been anything but in recent years. Whether it was The Role Model's taped kendo sticks, the tying of Belair's hair to the ropes and a steel chair, or The EST's emphatic finisher, there was a ton to love about this contest.
Bayley looked like the cerebral, smart and focused former champion she is while Belair's toughness again was on full display. She fought from underneath, proved her resilience and earned another hard-fought victory to preserve her title reign.
The question now is where this leaves both women moving forward.
Bayley is almost certainly out of the title picture after a second loss to Belair, especially given the exclamatory finish here. Could a program with Liv Morgan that helps elevate her be in the cards? There aren't a ton of fresh faces for her to work with on SmackDown otherwise, unless the creative team renews her rivalry with a returning Sasha Banks.
As for Belair, she also faces uncertainty due to a lack of credible opponents. Lately, we have seen renewed interest in Carmella by the creative staff. Could she be in line for a showdown with The EST?
Whatever the case may be, Belair figures to hold onto the blue brand title for the foreseeable future, especially given the effort put into building her by those in power.
Performances like this one will only intensify those efforts.
Cesaro vs. Seth Rollins
Seth Rollins attacked Cesaro during his entrance, immediately putting The Swiss Superman on the defensive.
Outside of a few spurts of offense from Cesaro, Rollins dominated the action, seeking to avenge his WrestleMania 37 loss. But the Swiss Superstar fought back, using uppercuts and jabs to stun The Architect.
Rollins reestablished control of the match momentarily, but Cesaro delivered the swing. He looked for the Sharpshooter, then a crossface, but Rollins ultimately outwrestled him with a roll-up for the pinfall victory.
Rollins defeated Cesaro
From a strictly in-ring perspective, this felt like a better match than their WrestleMania showdown. The lack of a live crowd for Cesaro's singles push definitely hurt, but the performers made up for it with physicality and good old-fashioned grappling.
For all the good, though, there is one glaring issue: Cesaro lost.
The Swiss Superstar was, just two months ago, as hot a babyface as there was in WWE. Not only did he cool down significantly following the creative team's insistence that his feud with Rollins continued, he has now lost clean in the center of the ring to the former world champion.
Some will suggest there is no harm in losing to someone as established as Rollins, but The Messiah is creatively bulletproof. He's not going to be hurt by losing a second straight time to Cesaro. If anything, he will be helped because more established acts make for stronger opponents down the line.
Instead, 50-50 booking struck again and, unless the goal is to book a rubber match between the two—further watering down the effect of Cesaro's WrestleMania victory—this served no purpose and did more damage than good.
Alexa Bliss vs. Shayna Baszler
Shayna Baszler sought to exorcise the demon that is Alexa Bliss in the main card's third match, taking the fight to her from the opening bell.
The Goddess responded with laughter, smiles and further mind games. Baszler doubled down, targeting the left arm of her opponent with a sickening stomp, only for Bliss to menacingly laugh it off.
Bliss fought back, hypnotized Nia Jax into slapping Reginald, escaped the Karafuji Clutch and delivered Sister Abigail to Baszler. She followed with Twisted Bliss for the win.
Bliss defeated Baszler
Bliss is great with her facial expressions and has clearly bought into the storyline. She is wholly invested in what she's doing and that, at the very least, helps the quality of her angles and matches.
But that's where the positivity ends.
This was hokey supernatural stuff that makes the Papa Shango-Ultimate Warrior shlock of 1992 seem cultured. It's not particularly well-executed and is the sort of thing that will make fans of the industry embarrassed to show their friends.
Bliss, like The Undertaker and Kane before her, believes in what she is doing but that devotion to the character only goes so far. Eventually, the creative has to support it or it all looks like third-rate, science-fiction nonsense.
We've crossed that line with this story at this point.
Worst of all, Baszler has been sacrificed in its name, further devaluing someone who was the most badass, dominating woman to come out of NXT.
Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn
The never-ending feud between Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn wrote its latest chapter Sunday night.
KO, still reeling from the Nigerian Nail he endured at the hands of Commander Azeez Friday on SmackDown, found himself on the defensive through much of the early portion of the match.
Owens nursed his arm, speculated to be a shoulder or wrist injury by the commentary team, essentially making him a one-armed man in a fist fight.
He would mount one valiant offensive, but the bloodied Zayn sprinted across the ring and delivered the Helluva Kick for the win.
Zayn defeated Owens
These two performers could wrestle every week for three months and have a unique, engaging match every time. Their chemistry between the ropes is such that they are almost guaranteed never to have a bad contest.
Owens appeared to be hampered by the arm injury and, if it was not legit, he did a great job of selling it. Lately, he has taken a page from Bret Hart's playbook and demonstrated an unmatched ability to take an ass-kicking and build sympathy through it. This was no different, as he put over the tenacity and ruthlessness of his former best friend en route to yet another loss.
Hopefully, someone on the booking team is paying attention because there is a hell of a story to be told surrounding KO rediscovering his edge and no longer allowing himself to be the punching bag in WWE.
As for Zayn, it was nice to see one of the company's low-key MVPs pick up a quality PPV win. He has been extraordinary over the last year, developing a character that has been a blast to watch.
Who knows where he goes from here, especially as a character of its type would seemingly have a ceiling on it, but The Great Liberator will thrive out of sheer will power alone.
Raw Women's Championship Match: Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte Flair
The most devastating loss of Rhea Ripley's career occurred at WrestleMania 36 last year, when she lost the NXT women's title to Charlotte Flair.
Sunday, she had the opportunity to avenge that defeat and retain the Raw Women's Championship against The Queen.
Flair cheaply used the women's title before the bell to distract Ripley and seized control from the opening bell. She predictably targeted the knee of her opponent, absorbed every burst of offense The Nightmare mustered and executed a picture-perfect standing moonsault.
Ripley fought back, but The Queen caught her with a dropkick to the knee that sent her into the ring steps. The Figure Four followed but the champ fought through the pain.
The Nightmare then used a piece of the announce table to blast Flair, drawing a disqualification.
Flair defeated Ripley via disqualification
Flair and Ripley are made to wrestle each other. Their styles mesh so well, and they have such solid in-ring chemistry that every match feels significant and can steal any given show. With that said, the overall grade is adversely affected by two things: the storytelling and the finish.
First, the finish was awful. It insulted the fans' intelligence, if only because they have watched countless performers throw their opponents through an announce table and face zero consequences. But Ripley barely hurls a piece of it at her opponent and the righteous referee decides that's too much?
Second, neither woman was particularly sympathetic. Both were presented as heels and failed to win the crowd over. By the time Ripley demanded her title at ringside, confused viewers were left wondering who they should be rooting for in this battle for women's wrestling supremacy.
Flair and Ripley definitely are not finished with each other, as evidenced by said finish. Their differences are unsettled and another PPV match is almost a certainty—as is a superb in-ring offering. As much as it is cool to cite nepotism for The Queen's success, she is at the top of the list of the best women's wrestlers on the planet.
She could carry a broomstick to a great match. Luckily for her, Ripley is significantly better than an inanimate object and more than capable of carrying her own against the measuring stick in the women's division.
Hell in a Cell for the WWE Championship: Drew McIntyre vs. Bobby Lashley
WWE champion Bobby Lashley and Drew McIntyre went blow-for-blow early and often in Sunday's Hell in a Cell main event, with their battle confined to the vent's titular match.
The All Mighty utilized MVP's walking cane as a weapon while McIntyre shook off its effects and delivered a spine-shattering Air Raid Crash on the ring steps.
The Scot followed with a reverse Alabama Slam, driving his opponent face-first into a steel chair. He escaped a desperate Hurt Lock attempt and downed the champ for a two-count. Lashley answered by shoving the stairs into the challenger, which drove him into the cage.
Later, a referee bump led to another official unlocking the door and entering the structure, only for MVP to follow and break up a pinfall attempt. Now locked in the cage with the vengeful babyface, he ate a Claymore Kick.
MVP popped up later in the match, holding McIntyre by the foot and allowing Lashley to score a cheap roll-up for the win.
Lashley defeated McIntyre
Chemistry was the theme of this year's Hell in a Cell as so many of the matches could be chalked up to the fact that these Superstars have worked with each other so many times.
The same can be said for McIntyre and Lashley, who have perfected the heavyweight hoss fight. Sunday, they threw in some weaponry, clever booking and a great finish to enhance things.
Some will find fault with The All Mighty utilizing a schoolboy roll-up to win a HIAC match, but that's why it was such a great finish. Champion and challenger threw everything they had at their opponent but were unable to secure the title. So how does the heel retain his belt? He capitalizes on a distraction and uses the cheapest move imaginable.
It's such a great "screw you" to the idea of a blood feud ending with an appropriate finish. Lashley builds heel heat by winning in the cheapest way imaginable and fans feel for McIntyre, who was turned over.
The dejected Scot, realizing he cannot challenge for the WWE title as long as Lashley is champion, will likely leave him trying to find ways to get the title off of The All Mighty.
Conveniently enough, with Money in the Bank ahead on July 18, the potential for such a thing is very real.