Sunday, August 7, 2022

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Hell in a Cell in Review: Ruthless Aggression

The Harts take on the Flairs in yet another battle in the lineage of family battles tonight at Hell in a Cell. After competing for the NXT Women’s championship, Divas championship, and the RAW Women’s championship, Natalya and Charlotte will face off once again, but for their fourth title, the SmackDown Women’s championship. Will Neidhart finally get the upper hand in a title match? Or will the Nature Girl reign supreme over her long-term rival?

Before the show we join Kayla Braxton in the Social Media Lounge as she talks to tonight’s challenger, Charlotte. One fan asks Flair for her strategy in tonight’s match, and Flair seems confident about it. She reflects on the fact that she beat Natalya in all of their previous title matches, meaning that Neidhart will now know “every counter”. So with that in mind, Charlotte must try “twice as hard” to win this time.

Another user asks about the possibility of Carmella cashing in. Flair insists that her focus needs to first be on the match, and she will deal with the cash-in when it comes. Wise, or foolish?

Before closing the interview, Charlotte’s last words to Natalya are that the “Flairs are always better than the Harts.”

Onto the match!

After a promotional video plays the women head out for the contest. We see it start off quite equally, with both women getting the upper hand of one another. With a few pin attempts and some takedowns, the battle could go either way.

However, things take a dark turn as Natalya switches her focus to Charlotte’s legs. Smart move. Considering that both women’s finishers revolve around the legs, Flair could be in danger. With a ton of kicks, punches and knee smashes into the Nature Girl’s left leg, it proves to leave a lasting effect.

When Charlotte does manage to get up on her feet, it isn’t for long. She boots her opponent down and whips her chest a couple of times, but the damage is done. Flair is hurt. A climb to the top rope is then halted by her injury, and Natalya uses this moment to insert an epic powerbomb!

As the match goes on and Charlotte’s leg isn’t healing anytime soon, Natalya quickly takes advantage by implementing more damage to the lower region, forcing Flair to yell in agony. At one point, as she senses the end of the match, the champ puts the challenger in a gruelling Sharpshooter. Although we see Flair claw her way to the ropes, she doesn’t quite get there. However, with the ring awareness in mind, she twists herself around and dumps Natalya right into the bottom turnbuckle, with the back of her head taking the fall. Now it’s anyone’s game.

Charlotte, still struggling with the leg damage, climbs to the top rope for a Moonsault. But her opponent swiftly moves to the outside. And although the champ attempts to take advantage of this, she gets taken down almost immediately and rolls outside. Charlotte, aware of her new-found dominance, decides to attempt a Moonsault again, this time onto the outside. Fortunately for the challenger, she takes down the champ, sending her into a wave of worry.

Just as Charlotte is taking control of the match, Natalya gets to her feet. And instead of continuing the match inside the ring, Neidhart gets ahold of a steel chair and hits it across the body of Flair. Ring the bell!

She then hits her again, and again, targeting the injured leg. Charlotte yells in agony and Neidhart bathes in the sound of it. She may have lost, but she’s still the champion. And that’s not going to stop her from taking the title and bragging about it.

After the match, Natalya is confronted by about her win. Although she’s in a rush, she quickly tells us that she’s proud of the way she won as “the Harts will always be better than the Flairs.” I guess she proved Flair’s earlier words wrong.

Thoughts: These two women are capable of more. They’re capable of putting on a 5-star clinic (much like their Roadblock and Takeover matches), but this wasn’t up there with the best of them. Though the match delivers good storytelling, it may not have been the best choice, booking wise.

The intention of the match is to show Neidhart as a ruthless champion, knowing no bounds as long as her title is involved. She wants to keep the title, she needs to keep the title. So in order to keep the championship around her waist, she needs to inflict as much damage as possible by any means necessary. With the constant attacks to the leg – Flair’s toughest component – she aims to dismantle the challenger to the point of no mercy. That part of the match makes sense. The psychological storytelling is brilliant.

But this doesn’t defer from the fact that it’s a dull contest. The match feels very slow. It can be one-sided, as that’s what the story requires, but the movement is too sedated to be captivating. Whether we could see back-and-forth action or more intense movements, we just need to see something more engaging. We need to see the ruthless aggression exemplified with the pace and feel of the match, rather than with slow targets. The match could easily be better, but it fails in that department.

The ending is definitely the best part and makes the most sense. Charlotte has defeated Natalya in every other championship encounter the pair have had. So to lose her first title since 2010 to this woman would be an even bigger embarrassment to add to the feud’s history. She needs to maintain this title as it’s the only reason she is even looked at within the women’s division. And Flair, the one woman whom she can never truly defeat in a feud, is standing in her way. So when the hurdle gets too high, as regardless of the damage on Flair’s leg she’s still fighting, Neidhart needs an easy escape. She doesn’t care to necessarily win, she just needs the championship to keep her spot on the roster. So inserting a chair shot to not only damage her opponent but to keep the title, makes the most sense. Neidhart isn’t here for cheers or record-book wins, she’s here for a title around her shoulder and the glory of being on top.

What this now does is it allows the women to have something in their feud. Instead of focusing on their family members of the past, and relying on all of the heat then to transcend into now, something between the two of them is being formed. Natalya is using her own methods to take over the match, rather than relying on her father or (ex) uncle. Flair is forced to not accomplish the goal of winning all 4 championships she’s ever challenged for, so the hunger inside of her will take over.

So whilst the match may be dull, it’s set the two up for a good feud from here on out. We’re now going to see them further their feud for what it should be. A personal rivalry revolving around their own issues, not because the men in the family used to hate each other way back when. And, just like Roadblock and Takeover, they’re bound to have a brilliant contest. Let’s just hope that the other women aren’t left in catering and are given a side feud whilst it happens.

Did you enjoy Hell in a Cell? What are your thoughts on the feud? What will be the fallout in the coming weeks? Let us know your views in the comments below!

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