Part-Time Roman Reigns Is Giving off Brock Lesnar Vibes, More WWE Raw Takes
Just days before Hell in a Cell, the May 30 edition of WWE Raw set the brand's final stage for the card.
Mustafa Ali was set to take on Ciampa for a shot at United States champion Theory, but the titleholder had other ideas.
Cody Rhodes and Seth Rollins shared words and fists, trying to start their next match early. The two will end their rivalry in brutal fashion inside Hell in a Cell on Sunday.
Ezekiel picked up more momentum over Kevin Owens before their match at the pay-per-view, but little more has been revealed about Elias' younger brother.
Conspicuous by his absence again was Undisputed WWE Universal champion Roman Reigns. While The Usos fought on behalf of The Bloodline, The Head of the Table looks set to spend another month on the sideline without defending his titles.
This show was far from the exciting buildup Hell in a Cell needed, but it did leave us with some important takes ahead of the PPV.
Roman Reigns' Dual Titles Have Not Been Good for Raw and SmackDown
Roman Reigns ended his feud with Brock Lesnar in dominant fashion at WrestleMania 38, and he did so with such power that he seems to have taken The Beast Incarnate's part-time schedule as well.
The dual champion has been absent for weeks and has not defended the Raw and SmackDown main titles once since his win at The Show of Shows on April 3.
While Reigns remains the biggest box-office attraction in wrestling, his absence is bad business for both WWE shows. He is leaving the brands without key stories to tell.
Cody Rhodes vs. Seth Rollins has felt like a No. 1 contender feud, but it is hard to say when The American Nightmare will actually get his shot. Drew McIntyre had The Head of the Table running last month, but he is now playing back-up to The New Day.
SmackDown especially is languishing in obscurity with no story worthy of Hell in a Cell beyond The Usos' cross-brand rivalry with Riddle.
At least when Lesnar was champion, one of the brands still had a world title feud to bring to a PPV. Reigns needs to lose one of the titles he holds, even if that means vacating it.
It would be nice to at least set up challengers for him upon his return.
Once Ezekiel Is Past Kevin Owens Feud, He Will Struggle to Stand Out
Kevin Owens vs. Ezekiel is one of the best rivalries on Raw because both men are so committed to the story. Their comedic chemistry is electric.
However, Ezekiel's gimmick is too limited beyond the one story of being attached to Elias. Unlike "his brother," Zeke does not sing and has no clearly established character traits beyond being a WWE fan.
The joke won't last once he has proved himself to Owens.
In order to salvage this, Ezekiel needs to either become more than just Elias' younger brother or we need to see the actual return of Elias.
The performer behind the character is charismatic enough to pull off most anything. It's just down the writing behind him.
Mustafa Ali Must Win United States Title in Home Town
Mustafa Ali has worked for WWE since 2016, but he still doesn't have a single accolade to his name. He has always played second fiddle to someone else deemed more worthy of gold.
He was due to face Ciampa for the right to challenge Theory for the United States Championship at Hell in a Cell, but the titleholder attacked his rival and demanded a match for the belt there and then. WWE official Adam Pearce said the fight had been unfair and rearranged it for Sunday instead.
Ali was a leading figure in 205 Live before his move to the main roster in December 2018. Since then, though, Kofi Kingston took his spot in the WWE Championship picture and his role as the leader of Retribution descended into a joke.
The 36-year-old's staying power as a featured singles star should be proof enough that he deserved those chances to shine. But the opportunity to give him a real run is now there.
The U.S. title might not be the biggest prize in WWE, but Ali could use the spotlight it could give him.
His match against Theory on Sunday will be at Allstate Arena in Chicago. This is Ali's hometown, and there is no better time for WWE to give him a title run.
Cody Rhodes Must Defeat Seth Rollins Again to End Feud
Cody Rhodes vs. Seth Rollins will reach its conclusion at Hell in a Cell.
Arguably the biggest feud in WWE since WrestleMania, this story has gone on for the right length of time to show the talent of both men without overstaying its welcome.
What matters most now is establishing The American Nightmare as a future world champion. As great as Rollins is, he cannot win now.
If Rhodes loses at Sunday's PPV, it comes off as classic WWE 50-50 booking: No one wins, and the former All Elite Wrestling star looks vulnerable just weeks after his return to the company.
This must be the clearest showcase of why Rhodes is the rare Superstar who can legitimately defeat Roman Reigns. He does not need to end The Head of the Table's record-breaking Universal Championship reign, but bringing the WWE title back to Raw would be a significant achievement.
Rollins will lose nothing in the end, and Rhodes will simply be established as the rare man who has his number. Even Reigns has not looked dominant against The Visionary in this way.