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[2016-10-30-WWE-Hell In A Cell] Sasha Banks vs Charlotte

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Eddie Guerrero died of a heart attack 11 years ago aged 38.

As I started watching this match I sat there and wondered. Wondered what they planned for this occassion. As I give these matches a chance time and time again and conclude I get way more out of Emma and Nia Jax roughing someone up for three minutes, I wonder whether THIS time is the one they got it. Think back to the good match(es) they had in NXT. Think about how the longer build for this match could mean there was more planning for it. Maybe a better structure. More practice. No clumsiness. Maybe the big spots can look dangerous without verging into "she's gonna break her neck soon too".

And so the match started with Charlotte taking Sasha out with a cheapshot. This was great. Came totally out of nowhere, took me out of my seat. Perfect way to start the match off. Them stopping the cell while it was moving down because Sasha would've been crushed underneath it otherwise? Perfect.

And so the match starts, and they immediately go into quasi-brawling, and I'm not really sure what some of the strikes they're throwing are supposed to be, but that's really no different from any WWE crowd brawling ever, even the AJ-Reigns match from Extreme Rules had some of that, whatever.

The table spot happens. Not good. The "babyface fights of a stretcher" spot almost never looks good. You have Sasha being put in a neckbrace and then she fights off and has twenty more minutes to wrestle. There's just no way that's going to work. Charlotte does some solid heeling inbetween, gettin on your nerves with some repetitiveness. The stretcher spot only works when you have a heel like Finlay fake it or when Trauma 1 sells it like he actually can't move his neck. But, whatever, some questionable psychology, I sat through Rollins-Owens, my skin is thicker than that.

Then the match starts again, and, well, I'm not really sure what to make of it. Charlotte attacked Sasha's back time and time again, Sasha didn't really sell it any differently than she sells anything ever. I mean I'm not a fan of Sasha looking like she's about to cry in *every match* but, if that's what she does, and you're telling the narrative of how she's seriously injured, she needs to sell even more. The only signs of her selling her back happen near the end of the match when she collapses on a Powerbomb attempt. But we'll get to that later.

The Powerbomb spot was also stupid because, just in the two HIAC matches earlier, there were what feels like 15 tables broken. And in the case of Rollins/Owens the Powerbomb looked even more dangerous than the one in Sasha/Charlotte. It didn't feel like big enough of a spot to warrant that angle. Is a Powerbomb through a table not being a big enough spot for that angle a problem in the current WWE style? I don't really have an answer right now, but it's how things are and that's how it needs to be addressed.

Nothing encapsulated this match as much as the fans booing the spot where they didn't properly break the table. YOU HAVE TO BREAK THE TABLE! Why? Because the fans care about the idea of the table than they do about the performers or the match.

There's no doubt the work was gritty and violent-but it felt like white noise to me. I just grew numb to it. If they're not smart enough to milk Sasha's finishers in a meaningful way (I really like the spot where a wrestler escapes the way Charlotte did here, it's particularly great in Last Man Standing matches-but it was a transitional spot and it got zero reaction, which isn't how you should use such a big move obviously).

Another moment that really resonated with me was when Charlotte put Sasha into the Figure 8 and, it just wasn't a beliavable finish. Why? Because there was a table ready to be broken near her. You can't end the match before you break the table. We know that.

I actually did like the finish-it was the first time Sasha really sold the back and Charlotte repeteadly throwing Sasha into the table before putting her away was a cool visual. Put it comes as no surprise many people didn't like it-they've been conditioned you need to finish such a big match with so much violence in a bigger way. And also break the table. Cause that's what really matters.

Lastly-I'm not really sure how they wanted me to react. I mean-I KNOW that they wanted me to think Sasha-great babyface hero queen and Charlotte-evil person booooooooo, and they used some basic psychology in the match with the injury angle and all that, but beyond that they didn't really bother. Am I supposed to be amazed at the violent spectacle like I'm watching Ikeda-Ishikawa? That's not how it was presented. Am I supposed to get behind Sasha like shes' Kikuchi? Why is she getting so much offence in then? And why won't she sell the back? Or is that in 2016 a lot of wrestlers simply don't know how to work and their idea of a great match is "I'm gonna do a Meteora of the cell it's gonna look so cool" but they've also been brainwashed with an idea of psychology in the performance center (heels do this, faces do that) yet when they're asked to connect those two the end result is failure.

That's what this was. And that the faux-historic first women's PPV main event happened on a lesser show with the decision made last minute shows just how important women are to WWE. Best you can hope for is that they go back to the midcard with a respectful presentation like they've in NXT.

I hope the opening line of this post isn't how Sasha Banks is going to be talked about when wrestlers of future generations talk about how much she inspired them.

 

 

 

 

I don't know how to rate this. My instinctive reaction is to call it average-but my reaction to it wasn't average. I don't usually respond to **1/2 matches with this much text. It will have to sink in.

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I'd estimate there's been between 150-200 women's matches on WWE PPV over the years. So it's about time they were given the opportunity to main event. And there's only ever one main event on a card.

 

Quite why Eddie Guerrero got canonised by the WWE I'm not sure. They've never really given a shit about all the other young men dying over the years.

 

Charlotte is a great heel. To actually get a desired heel reaction these days is a minor miracle. Sasha is a highly effective babyface. She has an attractive vulnerability about her whilst also having enough strength to not appear weak. I do worry she might get injured taking some of those back bumps. So from a rivalry and storyline perspective I did enjoy this. From a physical standpoint you couldn't have asked more from the participants either. Apart from blood, which isn't allowed. I've been trying to think of a great cage match that didn't involve the crimson and couldn't come up with one. Not having blood on TV is fine, but why not on the Network?

 

My problems with this match are mainly the same problems I have with all WWE matches these days. The jarring overproduction and complete absence of subtlety prevents me from immersing myself into the match. I can't lose myself and forget that everything is pre-planned because every few minutes there has to be a BIG MOMENT. When the BIG MOMENT has to be intricately set up in advance the effect is even more thudding. And they all require plenty of laying around and selling to emphasise just how BIG the BIG MOMENT was and show all the replays. Wrestlers don't get to do there own promos anymore and they barely get to do their own matches either. Everything is so rigidly and obsessively pre-planned and micro-managed. As a result the HIAC match just felt like a series of set pieces on a tick sheet. I'm sure they could make a great highlight reel from it, but it felt like a long half hour.

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This is one my favourite PG Hell in a Cell matches (not that high a praise). I really loved how they build to the violent spots rather than just doing them so it makes them feel more effective. Like with the chair how they spend a good amount of time trying hard to avoid being put through the chair to establish that they really really don't want that to happen to them. The whole feel of the match is harsh and violent which I think is much preferable to the highly choreographed spotfest from KO-Rollins earlier on this show.

 

The match (in fact all the Sasha-Charlotte 2016 matches do) has a story that follows up from their 2014-15 NXT feud rather than anything on the main roster. It's quite annoying how bad the writing on Raw was that their talking segments have no narrative thread at all when you watch through the weeks, just random nonsense that's probably written 1 hour before the show starts with no long-term plan. You need to have watched NXT to understand why Charlotte is pleading almost in tears at Sasha "you will respect me. Respect me!" Charlotte looks up to Sasha as a great wrestler from when they were stablemates in the BFFs and still does, but it pains her that Sasha treats her like she got all these advantages through being Ric Flair's daughter. She wants Sasha to respect her the same way back even if she has to brutalise her to get it out of her.

 

Hate the stretcher spot. It's been so over done nobody buys that someone's genuinely injured when they bring the stretcher out anymore. Just harmed the flow of the match when it got a really hot start that it never really got back.

 

***3/4

 

The Powerbomb spot was also stupid because, just in the two HIAC matches earlier, there were what feels like 15 tables broken. And in the case of Rollins/Owens the Powerbomb looked even more dangerous than the one in Sasha/Charlotte.

 

 

I see where you're coming from but I think you're criticising the wrong people, It's not their fault that the KO-Seth match before them was a terrible display of excess. Within the prism of their own matches the escalations here were mostly logical.

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