Written By: Mark Armstrong
Running Time: 217 Minutes
Number Of Discs: 2
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Released: October 29 2018
(Thanks to Fetch Publicity for arranging this review.)
When Hell In A Cell was transformed into an annual PPV event back in 2009, and coming after WWE had gone PG (which greatly hindered the potential for blood and violent spots inside the massive cage), few expected the HIAC supershow concept to remain. But here we are, and the next wrestling DVD is for the tenth annual HIAC card. More impressive is the fact that this year’s Cell card was largely a success, making it one of the better PPVs this year.
Things kicked off with a Cell match pitting Jeff Hardy against Randy Orton, which is unexpectedly brutal (and includes a gruesome spot where Orton twists Hardy’s pierced earlobe with a screwdriver, one of the more shocking WWE sights of the entire PG era), though Jeff thankfully chooses not to try a Swanton Bomb off the 20-foot structure, which could genuinely have been a career-ender. Next up, Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair clash for the SmackDown Women’s Championship in a very good bout, and I was surprised to see Becky win the title so early in their feud.
The high-quality action continues with a terrific tag team match, as Dolph Ziggler/Drew McIntyre and Seth Rollins/Dean Ambrose overcome the somewhat lame pretence of their feud to put on as good a doubles bout as you will see all year. AJ Styles and Samoa Joe have the fourth consecutive match that is of a really good standard, and while some may frown at the finish (Joe pinning his own shoulders to the mat as AJ tapped to the Coquina Clutch, albeit with the referee not seeing the tap-out), it doesn’t take anything away from the performances of both.
From there, things take a slight tumble. Daniel Bryan/Brie Bella vs. The Miz/Maryse is okay but nothing more, and Brie does little to change the perception that her in-ring showings have been inferior to anyone else in the women’s division. Ronda Rousey vs. Alexa Bliss is a competent bout, and Alexa is at least more competitive than she was when Rousey dethroned her at SummerSlam. So, this match achieves its goals, but is not a runaway success by any means.
Finally, it’s Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman inside the Cell with Mick Foley as special guest referee. What sounds like a sure-fire belter on paper is instead a disappointment, partly because the fans seemed disinterested for the first half, and partly due to the booking of the second half. Ziggler, McIntyre, Rollins and Ambrose interfere and have an extended brawl around and on top of the cage, leading to Seth and Dolph flying off the cage in an eye-catching yet contrived fashion. All the while, Roman and Braun are down on the canvas, but just when we think the match will restart, Brock Lesnar makes a surprise appearance to pound both men. That cameo was fun, but the HIAC match suddenly ends, which left a bad taste in many people’s mouths. Add to that Foley’s unnecessary spot as the official, and you have a main event that doesn’t meet expectations on a card which greatly exceeds them.
(As I write this review, we’re just a few days removed from the announcement that Roman Reigns is battling leukaemia, and for a second time in his life. It goes without saying that everybody is wishing the very best for Roman, and my biggest hope in the short-term is that Joe Anoai is able to overcome and defeat this illness, regardless of in-ring activities. Of course, if he is able to resume in-ring competition, it will be a massive story and I will be delighted to see him return, but before then he has to beat this disease. Get well soon Roman; fans all over the world are rooting for you.)
Summing this up, Hell In A Cell 2018 is a very enjoyable PPV DVD (we also get a strong New Day vs. Rusev Day tag bout from the Kick-Off Show as an extra). The first four matches are well worth watching, and though the show takes a downturn from there, there is enough consistency and memorable action (with Hardy/Orton and the Raw Tag Team Championship being particularly noteworthy) that I would prompt you to check out HIAC 2018 again.
Overall Rating: 8/10 – Very Good