Despite this event being historic for its location and participants, it still lacked the substance required for a successful WWE Hell in a Cell match. So why are we afraid to say so?
The ending to the WWE Hell in a Cell pay-per-view on Sunday, October 30 was good, not great. This match was certainly historic, but not because it is going to be remembered for its quality. Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks’ performance had some good moments for sure but it also had several missed spots and an abrupt ending that left many fans scratching their heads.
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After the match, I took to media and expressed my disappointment in what could have been. It felt this was a missed opportunity for a women’s division that needed to be taken to the next level but ended up being average. As was expected, the backlash was swift and absolute. Since this is a family-friendly website, I can’t reproduce the same language most people used as they attempted to convince me I was wrong. There were phrases mentioned like “5-star quality” and “match of the year”. Did we all watch the same show?
This match wasn’t awful by any means. If anything, it was decent but not memorable. It was a good showing by two fantastic competitors but will not appear on anyone’s Top 10 list. The backlash I received made me wonder if we are uncomfortable when it comes to criticizing women in the WWE. We seem to have no hesitation when it comes to dispensing disdain towards management and even to Stephanie McMahon – because she’s not a competitor in this same sense – so why are we so hesitant to use constructive criticism on the women themselves?
Perhaps the reason is because any comments besides absolute praise are unfairly viewed as condescension even if they are well-intended and respectful. As previously noted, my concern was about the use of the cell. Ultimately, the cell is what sets this gimmick apart from all others. The structure itself is as much a character for this match as the competitors and should, therefore, be part of the story. If it is not, then we are left with little more than a glorified cage match.
“While they may put on a quality match, the cell itself won’t come into play very much (if at all) and critics will consider it a wasted opportunity which would be a valid critique. Why have this match using the HIAC gimmick if you aren’t going to use it?”
As we saw on Sunday night, the cell was used sparingly and a good chunk of the time was taken up by Sasha selling her back injury after the great table bump right at the beginning. The women used the cell for spiderman spots and a few slams against the chain links but a very valid question still remains: what spots couldn’t have been done in a regular cage? Was there a single move or moment that necessitated the use of the HIAC structure specifically and couldn’t have happened anywhere else?
In our quest to give more respect to the women’s division we can’t be reticent to criticize their performances when necessary. We do ourselves no favors if we see them as untouchable porcelain dolls who should be admired from afar and never judged on the most important characteristic required of a WWE Superstar. The beauty of these women should not be the primary trait by which they are measured. There are millions of beautiful women in this world but very few of them can compete in the WWE. How they perform in the ring should always matter most of all and we owe it to them to view and comment on their performances as equals.