Cody Rhodes painfully stole the show with torn pec at Hell in a Cell

Cody Rhodes, whether you agree with his decision to wrestle injured or not, delivered a show of resilience and fortitude that will be talked about forever.

Rhodes, according to WWE, partially tore his pec during his brawl with Seth Rollins on Raw last week and then it ripped off the bone working out in preparation for their match at Hell in the Cell pay-per-view at Allstate Arena in Chicago on Sunday. His grit helped right a sometimes uneasy-to-watch fitting final chapter to he and Rollins’ story. While Hell in a Cell lacked a game-changing moment or surprise that would have taken it to another level, it was a pay-per-view filled with some superb wrestling that’s starting to become a pleasant regular occurrence for WWE.

Here are five takeaways from Hell in a Cell:

Pec-tacular performance

Cody Rhodes’ gutty performance with a torn pec inside Hell in Cell will be remembered for a long time and will only bolster the mythos around him in WWE when he does return. I hear the portion of fans that will say he shouldn’t have been out there and how could you have Rhodes with that serious of an injury earn a clean win over Seth Rollins – who continued his wardrobe savagery dressing in Dusty Rhodes polka dots?

Cody Rhodes
Seth Rollins

Firstly, it was Rhodes who made it clear after the show it was his decision to be out there and, along with his very-bruised right pec, he appeared to be in plenty of pain, but was still able to perform at a very high level. He smartly waited until the very last moment to remove his jacket and got a dramatic gasp from the crowd when they saw his injury.

A Hell in a Cell match could be turned more into a brawl that would limit the amount of lifting Rhodes had to do. And that’s exactly what they did, using keno sticks, sledge hammers, tables and bull ropes – a Rhodes family specialty – to write the final chapter. Rhodes, who will address his injury on “Monday Night Raw”, used a couple of Cross Rhodes and finally a sledgehammer shot to put Rollins down and end this fantastic trilogy with an epic match.

Was it uncomfortable to watch Rhodes take bumps at times and deliver those Cross-Rhodes? Yes. But Rhodes has always said, “Do the work” and tweeted for “the love of the game” prior to the match. He did exactly what fans should want from a top babyface. In reality, he delivered an all-time moment for the fans who paid to see him at the top of the card. As far as his character goes, he fought through a serious injury and dug deep to finally put his rival down. When you are trying to write the level of story Rhodes is in WWE, this moment will mean so much more in the long term than Rollins getting some momentum from a win with Rhodes going on the shelf. Where WWE messed up was not having Rollins win the middle match. The right man won and Rhodes should earn a new level of respect in the process.

Triple Delight

Rhodes and Rollins maybe topped it in the main event, but man did Bianca Belair, Becky Lynch and Asuka set a really, really high bar with a sensational triple-threat match for the Raw women’s championship to open the show. All three of these women are over with the crowd and Asuka’s striking and style brought a refreshing element to what we have already seen from Lynch and Belair.

This match was constant action – including a lot of offense that involved all three competitors – and plenty of false finishes. Belair feels like she’s hit a different level. Her confidence is really letting her athleticism shine through. There is a little extra flair and fluidness to her power moves, flips and moonsaults. It had the crown oohing and aahing a little more than usual. Asuka’s double ankle lock got a similar reaction, but it was clear who the superstar was here.

The finish had Lynch hit a Manhandle slam on Asuka but Belair – who Becky has just tossed out of the ring – came back and pulled Lynch off to score the pin and retain the title. It’s something “Big Time Becks” also tried to earlier in the match too, so it felt perfect to have it go against her. Belair gives Lynch more to complain about by beating her at her own game and maybe drives her a little further into madness. With the Raw women’s roster thin on stars, we may not have seen the end of Belair and Lynch, whose reaction of disbelieve and disgust was great.

All-in on The All Mighty

Bob Lashley may be in the best position to take over as Monday Night Raw’s top babyface with Rhodes likely to miss significant time and he may do so with at least Cedric Alexander by his side. Alexander, trying to get back in MVP’s good graces, interfered in the match to try to help his former manager and Omos defeat Lashley. Instead it backfired, giving Lashley the opening he needed to spear Omos and slap the Hurt Lock on MVP to score the win in the handicap match. It got a big pop from the crowd that got even louder when Lashley picked up a replica WWE championship out of the crowd and held it up.

He was later shown backstage matching up with Alexander, forgiving him for his interference. There is nothing stopping the Hurt Business potentially getting back together as a babyface faction. They could be used as a potential opponent for The Judgment Day down the road and maybe you pull Belair in to get a championship angle with Rhea Ripley started.

Still Got an Edge

It feels like Edge has added to his Hall of Fame list of accomplishments by being the first in a long time to figure out that having a woman in your faction that the guys are not allowed to hit by WWE rules can help you win matches. That’s how The Judgment Day kept rolling as Rhea Ripley stepped in front of Finn Balor’s Coup de Grace attempt and he ended up walking into an Edge spear that led to the 1-2-3. Overall this was a very good match, but WWE had three high-level babyfaces in Balor, AJ Styles and Liv Morgan go down convincingly. It will be interesting to see what WWE does next with the Judgment Day because, unlike AEW, there are not a ton of factions – if any – for them to feud with.

On a side note, WWE appears to have somewhat reversed course on allowing Ripley to show off her tattoos. In the past, her gear covered a lot of her body. Sunday night she had fishnet leggings on that allowed you to see her tattoos there. Hopefully WWE continues to give her more freedom with her gear. Also it feels like WWE needs to cash in on how much Liv Morgan has improved other than her being the third wheel and losing – though his short stink with Balor and Styles did her some good.

Makes you wonder

There were a few book decisions that surprised me. One potential good one, is Kevin Owens winning clean over Ezekiel (Elias). This could mean this entertaining story is over because I’m not sure how much else they can do with it. Maybe Owens moves on to something bigger and better, but I’m not sure what that is right now. He deserves if after the work he’s put in recently. Corey Graves did have a tremendous line saying, “You have to wonder what Elias thinks about this outcome?”

The one that left me scratching my head was how Madcap defeated Happy Corbin. The whole purpose of this feud should be to get Madcap over as a serious babyface, so having him win by using the same heel smashing-a-chair-around-your opponent-neck move Corbin used on him three weeks ago felt like an odd choice. Madcap’s win got a lukewarm response from the crowd. Let’s hope WWE didn’t undo all the work it did with one move.

Other Matches

Theory (c.) Over Mustafa Ali (United States Championship)

While nothing was particularly bad about this match, I was expecting more from these two as it felt like they were still learning each other its fluidity and there was maybe only one moment it felt like Ali might win. Theory won clean and Ali being a strong babyface only helped add to the crowd’s distain for him, so mission accomplished.

Biggest Winner: Cody Rhodes and Bobby Lashley

Biggest Loser: Ezekiel

Best Match: Bianca Belair Vs. Askua Vs. Becky Lynch (Raw women’s championship)

Predictions: 7-1

Grade: B +


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