Hell in a Cell is one of WWE’s top gimmick matches. For the most part, aside from a special WrestleMania stipulation, we see the match once per year and last night in the main event of the appropriately-named pay-per-view, Braun Strowman challenged Roman Reigns inside the cell in the show’s main event for the Universal Title.
Then, Brock Lesnar showed up.
What? Really? Brock Lesnar? Didn’t he leave the company?!
That’s what we thought after SummerSlam, when Lesnar lost the Universal Title — cleanly, mind you — to Reigns in the main event. From there, reports were that Lesnar was heading back to the UFC where he would almost immediately challenge for the company’s UFC Heavyweight Title. But here, in a surprise twist to close out Hell in a Cell, Lesnar returned. The Minnesota brute kicked down the Hell in a Cell door and entered the ring, hitting both Reigns and Strowman with F5’s as Paul Heyman sprayed Mick Foley, the special guest referee, with mace.
After the assault, a new official ran to the ring and called for the bell, ending the Hell in a Cell match in a … draw?
I’m sure WWE wanted to protect both Reigns and Strowman here, but that finish doesn’t exactly instill a lot of confidence in Reigns as a World Champion. Kevin Nash has been critical of WWE for his run as WWE Champion in 1995, when in his first big title defense he went to a draw with Bret Hart at the 1995 Royal Rumble.
At the same time, WWE seemed to know that the non-finish could be a disappointment. Reigns and Strowman laid in the ring for about 10 minutes before Lesnar came out, so that Dolph Ziggler, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Drew McIntyre fought on top of the cage. Rollins and Ziggler fell off the side of the cage and went through the table. That sequence felt like it was there only to makeup for the fact that the match was going to go to a non-finish. It was smoke and mirrors.
The other thing that stood out was that Reigns, albeit underrated as a wrestler (in my opinion), he’s nowhere near good enough to carry Strowman in a main-event level match.
What’s interesting is the end game with Lesnar. Does this build up to a three-way match for the title? Does Strowman blame Lesnar for costing him his Money in the Bank match, and Strowman vs. Lesnar is next month’s main event?
Or, was this simply a distraction? Did Vince McMahon, knowing he didn’t want a finish in this match, throw a bunch of money at Brock Lesnar to destroy the main event, knowing full well that this won’t lead to an immediate match? Does Lesnar go away again, and go back to training for his UFC return while taking a few hundred grand from WWE for one night’s work?
Lesnar will be back for a match at some point. He’s not going to fight in the UFC forever, and if he loses his first two fights, he’ll be back sooner rather than later. But Lesnar not returning right away will certainly feel like a disappointment for fans who never wanted to see Lesnar leave the company.