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WWE Hell in a Cell is this Sunday and it has the potential to be the best SmackDown Live branded pay-per-view of the year, although I’ll admit, that isn’t really saying that much. As good as SmackDown was last year it has been just as bad this year. There has been little reason to tune in each week and that’s reflected in the fact that attendances at the shows have been dropping pretty sharply. In fact, to find a SmackDown branded pay-per-view worth watching this year, you’d probably have to go all the way back to Elimination Chamber in February. However, that doesn’t takeaway from the fact that there are some meaty looking matches lined up on this card that are worth looking forward to, and there’s no better way of getting excited for it than by looking at each match, and trying to predict which way it’s going to go.
So, here’s our predictions for Hell in a Cell 2017.
Kick-off Match: Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin V The Hype Bros
Okay, I’ll be honest, this doesn’t back up my “strongest pay-per-view of the year” claim too well. It is just the pre-show match however and having Shelton Benjamin on it (whose return we got extremely excited about a couple of months ago) might be big enough of a draw to get people to tune in early without having to relegate any of the main programmes off the main show. I have to say, I’m a little disappointed Benjamin hasn’t been featured more prominently since returning, but hopefully, he and Gable might get pushed towards the tag team title picture once the New Day/Usos feud is over. I think they are much more likely to be moved up the card than the Hype Bro’s, especially given that WWE have been doing a lot of teasing that they might be splitting up the latter, which might even happen here. Based on that I think Gable & Benjamin will walk out this one as winners.
Our Prediction: Shelton Benjamin & Chad Gable
Randy Orton V Rusev
Please lord let this be Rusev! The Bulgarian Brute has been back to his best in the last few weeks, from giving hilarious backstage promos to declaring September 26th “Rusev Day”, he really deserves the win here. WWE seems to favour Orton (which isn’t surprising given everything he’s already achieved in the company), however Rusev is rumoured to be challenging for the US Title in the near future and he’s going to need to look strong going into that. Plus, Rusev hasn’t won a big match since returning from injury earlier this year and really needs this win to gain back some momentum, especially after his burial (and I don’t use that term lightly) at the hands of Orton at SummerSlam. In comparison, Orton in 2017 has won the Royal Rumble, won the WWE Championship at WrestleMania, and as mentioned, scored a nine second win against Rusev in their previous meeting. He might have lost to Jinder Mahal three times, but he’s already got enough out of 2017 as far as big wins are concerned. It might be more wishful thinking, but I’m going to side with Rusev on this one.
Our Prediction: Rusev
Bobby Roode V Dolph Ziggler
Booby Roode’s first main roster pay-per-view match is against Dolph Ziggler, who is at a pretty weird point at the minute. This whole gimmick of copying other people’s entrances kind of works because he has a motive for doing it. He’s not just blindly antagonising the crowd for the sake of it, he’s trying to make a real point about how WWE fans favour characters over wrestling ability. More specifically, preferring other wrestlers because of their gimmicks over his ability. It hasn’t been received all that well though and it’s pretty easy to see that it can’t go on too long before it becomes too repetitive and predictable. In fact, I think many have already reached that point. I can only see a win for Roode here. WWE are reportedly considering pushing Roode as the new main star of the show at some point in the future and if that’s the case, they aren’t going to have him lose his first main roster pay-per-view match. Especially not to someone like Ziggler, who despite being a very good wrestler, WWE have never seemingly put all their faith into.
Our Prediction: Bobby Roode
AJ Styles V Baron Corbin (United States Championship)
Don’t know how I feel about this one. AJ Styles hasn’t quite been hitting the heights he did last year in this run, but I sort of want to see him get pushed back up the card. The US title very much feels like a midcard belt at the minute and I think AJ Styles is a bit above it. Corbin could certainly do with scoring a big result, and winning the belt from someone like AJ would be great for him, but it’s hard to tell whether or not he’s still in the doghouse with WWE over his recent antics backstage and on Twitter. Losing his Money in the Bank cash-in match and being beat by Cena in humiliating fashion would seem like punishment enough, but I certainly wouldn’t put it past WWE to continue making an example out of him. Plus, as mentioned earlier, Rusev is rumoured to be challenging for the US title soon and guess who he is rumoured to be feuding for it over: AJ Styles. After all, Corbin winning the belt would make that a heel V heel feud and that wouldn’t really make any sense. Although it is possible that Corbin could win and go on to feud with Tye Dillinger (who is also weirdly embroiled in this feud) I think it’s more likely that Tye will intervene here, and cost Corbin his opportunity and allow AJ to take the win, setting up a feud between himself and Corbin without a Championship being involved.
Our Prediction: AJ Styles
The New Day V The Usos (Hell in a Cell match for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships)
What a war this has been. These teams have had numerous great matches now and have already traded the belts three times between each other since this feud began in June. The titles may have been treat a bit like hot potatoes here, which is reportedly because WWE are wanting The New Day to break the record for most number of title reigns as well as for the longest reign. I’m one for long title reigns and I am usually against this, but the way the two teams have been giving it everything and constantly trying to one up each other just to get the belts makes them seem more important, not less important. They’ve really brought the best out of each other and because they’ve had such a war, it makes perfect sense for this to culminate inside a Hell in a Cell. It doesn’t feel like they are being shoved in a Hell in a Cell match just because it’s the name of the show, it feels like the finale of a herculean tag team saga. Their matches have been epic, and the promos in between have felt different and entertaining. It’s likely to be a great match and is one of the highlights of the card going into the event.
In terms of the result, I think this is the blow-off match to the feud. They’ll struggle to find a way to top a Hell in a Cell match so this should be where it ends. Considering that, I think they’ll have The New Day walk away as Champions. There are more face than heel teams on SmackDown at the minute, so in theory, it would make sense to have The Usos win, as there are more potential feuds there. However the WWE prefer The New Day, and I think they’ll want to use them to give other teams the rub (as they have done with The Usos) going forward, and this will be done more effectively if they are doing it as Tag Team Champions.
Our Prediction: The New Day
Natalya V Charlotte Flair (SmackDown Women’s Championship )
I kind of expected Natalya to be defending her title against Naomi at this pay-per-view, but that rematch was thrown on a random episode of SmackDown a few weeks ago, and that was the end of that rivalry. That was rushed out the way it seems so that Charlotte Flair could return after taking time off while her farther Ric Flair recovered, and go straight into the title picture. Ric Flair’s ill health has been brought up multiple times during this feud and I’m not really a fan of exploiting someone’s real life suffering for storyline purposes, especially while it’s still this raw. However it has added a bit of spice to it and it was always going to get Natalya some heat. There’s a few different ways this match could go. As good as she is, I’m not sure Natalya was ever likely to be a long term Champion, and there’s also talk of Carmella cashing in her Money in the Bank briefcase. I see this feud going on a little bit longer, but at the same time, can’t picture Natalya holding on to the belt for too long. I’m not sure about a cash in just yet, but I think Charlotte will get the win.
Our Prediction: Charlotte Flair
Jinder Mahal V Shinsuke Nakamura (WWE Championship)
Man this is a depressing situation. When was the last time you cared less about a WWE Championship match? When was the last time you cared less about a Shinsuke Nakamura match? Too many more programmes like this for Nakamura and that mystique that everyone says he has isn’t going to last long. I think this is primarily because they’ve paired together two superstars who aren’t strong at cutting promos. Shinsuke can barely speak the language, so it’s been down to Jinder to build the hype for their match, and because he’s inexperienced on the mic at the main event level, he has struggled to do so. The build up to this match has been made up of weak promo’s about constipation and facial expressions that have been childish (and at one point even racist!) and it’s never felt like a main event match. That’s epitomised by the fact that, well, it isn’t. The WWE Championship match doesn’t seem to be billed as the main event here, and although it might seem damaging to the title for it not to be at the top of the bill, for the sake of the show it’s a good thing. This isn’t the match we’re tuning in for, so we don’t want to see it ending the show, as it’s unlikely that it’ll be able to top what came before it. I feel sorry for those involved though, I don’t really think it’s their fault, they’ve really not had much to work with in terms of booking to make this a hit.
I’m also glad that this match hasn’t been put in Hell in a Cell. In storyline terms it would make sense, as it could serve to prevent the Singh Brothers interfering like they did in the last match. But as mentioned, I think it’s a match type that should be reserved for more explosive rivalries, and this certainly doesn’t fit that bill. However, the fact they haven’t put in the cell leaves this open for the Singh Brothers to interfere and cost Nakamura the match again, and that’s exactly what I think is going to happen. There is talk of having Jinder lose the title and having him win it back before they tour India in December so he can be billed as a 2 time WWE Champion, but I’d rather not see that happen. If Shinsuke is going to win the title, I want for it to be more than just for a short transitional phase at the end of a poor feud.
Our Prediction: Jinder Mahal
Shane McMahon V Kevin Owens (Hell in a Cell Match)
It’s amazing what a slow build can achieve when it’s executed properly. Just like the tag title match, this feels worthy of being a Hell in the Cell match. The build up to this has been fantastic, everyone has a motive and the promo’s have been executed to perfection. It feels like there’s a load of tension between the two and you get the feeling that they are going to explode when they meet in the ring, and putting them in a Hell in a Cell only magnifies this. It’s great for Kevin Owens as well, any feud involving the McMahon’s is always treat like a big deal, so by insulting Shane and his kids, and attacking Vince McMahon, it feels as though he is being massively elevated. A few are complaining that it’s a sign of how bad SmackDown has been this year because a 47 year-old who isn’t even a wrestler is in the main event and it’s the most interesting it’s been in months. This is a daft perspective though, as the same people will harp on about how great the attitude era was, where Vince McMahon would often main event. If Vince main eventing was fine then, what’s wrong with Shane main eventing now?
Plus, as mentioned, this is doing wonders for Owens. If he wins this he’ll seem like a monster heel and a huge push can’t be far off. It’s nothing more than he deserves either, he’s played the cocky heel role to perfection and clearly belongs in the main event scene. An Owens win is the only way this match can go. Shane hasn’t won a match in seemingly ever but his role as of late has been to make other stars feel bigger, and it’s hard to do that by beating them. Here, we’re more tuning in to enjoy the ride rather than find out the result. It’s likely to be an enjoyable, spot-filled match, and while that might not cut it for the purists, I can’t wait.
Our Prediction: Kevin Owens
Those are our picks for Hell in a Cell 2017. Who do you think is going to win, let us know in the comments and if you liked the article give it a like and a share, we’ll really appreciate it. Also, to keep up to date with out latest articles, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.