The final WWE pay-per-view of the Thunderdome era was a mixed bag with some great matches, unexpected and occasionally maddening endings and a grand total of zero title changes.
Bobby Lashley needed every bit of MVP's help to gain the cheapest of roll-up wins, but officially locked Drew McIntyre out of future shots at his WWE championship. Rhea Ripley got herself disqualified to retain her title against Charlotte Flair, but that story, on the other hand, is far from over.
While there wasn't a lot of change on paper, that doesn't mean there aren't significant consequences in the fallout from Hell in a Cell beyond McIntyre's loss. As WWE ramps up towards its celebratory return to the road surrounding Money in the Bank, there's plenty of ground to mine from what we saw on Sunday night.
Will Sami Zayn become even more unbearable after beating Kevin Owens? Will Ripley lean more and more heavily toward the dark side after triggering the DQ? Could Cesaro go off the rails after a tough, fluke loss to Seth Rollins? And how much deeper into the occult will Alexa Bliss slide?
If you missed any of the action at Hell in a Cell, here's how it played out, match by match.
Hell in a Cell match for the WWE championship: Bobby Lashley (c) def. Drew McIntyre
There was only going to be one of two outcomes in the main event of Hell in a Cell -- either McIntyre was finally going to break through and become a three-time WWE champion by gaining satisfying revenge against Lashley, or Lashley was going to find a way, no matter how desperate, to hold onto his title and lock McIntyre out of any future world title shots for as long as he's champion.
Predictably, when you take a volatile, hyper-physical style of wrestling like we've seen previously between Lashley and McIntyre, and put it inside the Hell in a Cell cage, violent things are going to happen. Despite the narrow gap between the cage and the ring, a big chunk of the match was spent out there. Multiple tables were broken. Weapons of every kind were introduced, with steel stairs utilized in innovative and increasingly violent ways, including as a wedge that trapped McIntyre's head between steel and steel as it was bounced repeatedly. Cuts and welts were visible all over both men's bodies.
The outcome came down to MVP, of course. He inserted himself into the match for the first time by passing Lashley his cane through the chain link fencing of the cage. Lashley cracked McIntyre in the throat, which he'd repeat later in the match. Then, when McIntyre seemingly had the match locked up, only for the referee to get smashed in the face with a chair, MVP followed the replacement ref into the cage.
After McIntyre crushed Lashley with a Claymore kick, MVP pulled the ref out of the ring, stopping his count. McIntyre made MVP pay, gaining a certain measure of revenge with a Claymore and more destruction, but MVP remained in the cage and left to recover as the match went on.
McIntyre turned his focus back to Lashley with mixed results. Lashley failed to connect his fingers for the full force of the Hurt Lock multiple times, with McIntyre blindly driving himself and Lashley backwards through a table braced against the cage to break the hold.
McIntyre lined Lashley up for another Claymore, but Lashley ducked at the last possible second, and chokeslammed McIntyre off the apron and through another table on the outside. Lashley missed a spear, McIntyre got a two-count from a backslide, and then seemingly locked in his victory sequence: A Glasgow kiss. Future shock DDT.
But as McIntyre lined up for the final blow, a third Claymore, MVP popped up and grabbed McIntyre's leg just long enough for Lashley to roll McIntyre up, grab McIntyre's tights and get the three-count for the win.
What's next: There's are only two ways for McIntyre to re-enter the world title picture -- Lashley losing the belt, or by winning the Money in the Bank briefcase. The latter seems unlikely, with McIntyre due for some soul searching. The former, however, could serve the purpose of renewing and inflaming tensions between Lashley and McIntyre, while ending a Lashley title reign that doesn't seem to have another worthy challenger to step up for.
Then again, with WWE heading back on the road, what better time to bring back a legend that's been away for a long time to really up the excitement level, like a John Cena or Brock Lesnar?
Raw women's championship: Charlotte Flair def. Rhea Ripley (c) by disqualification
This was a good match with a pretty terrible finish. Ripley was disqualified when she hit Charlotte with the cover of the announcers table, which is funny because much worse things happen on the outside in WWE with no disqualification being called. But hey, referee's discretion, right?
Both women performed very well in a match that went nearly 15 minutes. The lackluster finish should likely continue the program, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Then again, there are definitely better ways to do that if that's the aim.
After the bell, Ripley sent Charlotte back into the ring and hit her Riptide finisher, then went back outside, grabbed her belt and left the ring. It was the second time Ripley hit the Riptide, with the first time, late in the match, resulted in Charlotte breaking the count by putting her bottom foot on the rope. Ripley sold her frustration of not being able to put Charlotte away well. Following that false finish, Charlotte got Ripley on the outside and drop kicked her leg into the steel steps. Back inside, Charlotte applied the figure-four leglock, only for Ripley to roll both of them under the bottom rope to the floor, which led to the finishing sequence.
Charlotte showed off some moves she clearly learned from her fiancé, Andrade, including a double moonsault -- she missed and landed on her feet from the top rope, then landed a standing moonsault -- and a spinning back elbow. Both are staples of Andrade's offense.
What's next: More Ripley and Flair, surely. Flair will likely need to get her heat back after the DQ finish and Riptide afterward. Flair is positioned as the heel here, but Ripley definitely was not acting like much of a babyface. And if you're trying to get her over as a babyface, that sort of finish is not exactly going to get the job done.
On a positive note, more matches between these two are welcome. Both can go and working with Flair is only going to get Ripley better. I don't think Ripley is as far along at this juncture as Bianca Belair is, but she's getting there.
Sami Zayn def. Kevin Owens
The last time Sami Zayn won a one-on-one match was in December 2020, when he defeated Big E by countout. The last time Zayn won a one-on-one match by anything other than countout was in October 2020, in a successful title defense against Jeff Hardy.
That long winless streak came to an end Sunday night as a predictably entertaining and original match between Zayn and Kevin Owens ended in a highly unpredictable way -- when Zayn had his arm raised following a pinfall victory.
Much of the tension in this match was built upon the events of the last few months, and especially what happened on SmackDown. Zayn caused a distraction in a tag team match on Friday that allowed Commander Azeez to hit Owens with a strike to the throat on two occasions.
Even in Owens' dominant early barrage, he had to take time to catch his breath and recover, which stunted his momentum. Zayn took every advantage he could in targeting the throat at every turn. Owens was driven forward through pure rage and adrenaline, but that couldn't sustain him for long, extended stretches.
Owens was further hampered landed a flying tope over the top rope to the floor, damaging Owens' left arm. Zayn eventually connected on a Blue Thunder Bomb, but only drew a two-count. Owens, still hobbled, looked to connect with a one-armed Stunner in the ring, failed, fell victim to a half-and-half suplex, and then spilled to the outside.
Owens successfully connected on a one-armed Stunner on the outside of the ring, rolled back into the ring, and nearly picked up a countout win. But Zayn made it into the ring at the last moment and a fist fight erupted with both men on their knees and damaged.
Zayn attacked Owens' left arm, and then hit a running knee to the back of Owens' head, sending him throat-first into the bottom rope. Owens struggled to his feet and directly into position for a Helluva Kick, which landed flush. With the three-count, Zayn added another layer of intrigue to his conflict with Owens as he danced and called the victory karma, and justice.
What's next: After spouting off about conspiracy theories alleging the entire WWE was against him, and running into brick walls every single time he lost, Zayn looked at this victory as justification for everything, and will likely fall even farther down the rabbit hole. Owens will not let this loss lie.
Bliss won with a Twisted Bliss at around the seven-minute mark. The story of the match was Bliss absorbing all of Baszler's offense and coming up laughing and smiling. Baszler stomped on Bliss' arm and Bliss popped up laughing, landed a Thesz Press on Baszler, then a DDT. On the outside, Nia Jax and Reginald were ringside to support Baszler. Bliss and Jax met eyes and somehow Bliss possessed Jax to slap Reginald, sending him crashing to the ground. That was certainly an interesting sequence. The finish immediately followed that.
What's next: Likely the continuation of this weird story. It would be interesting to see them explore Bliss and Jax, since they are close friends and real life and have a lot of storyline history with one another. Perhaps that is what they were teasing with that odd possession sequence. I'm sure we'll get the reappearance of Lily at some point down the line, as well. I'm not exactly sure who is getting over with this program, but I'm at least curious to see where it will go and how long Bliss will be basically the female version of The Fiend.
Seth Rollins def. Cesaro
Seth Rollins has leaned into being a world class troll of late, and he used that ability to overcome a largely one-sided match to frustrate and infuriate Cesaro enough to take advantage and secure a roll-up win.
After back-to-back losses to Cesaro in recent months, including one at WrestleMania 37, Rollins has been on the warpath aggravating Cesaro's injuries and causing new ones, turning Cesaro's momentum against him. That dichotomy has been a tremendous driver of this story. Rollins gave into his frustrations and channeled them by using cheap shots and underhanded attacks. Cesaro let the worst of Rollins get to him, and thus, even with a wide spectrum of offensive wonders, he ultimately lost the match.
Even before the opening bell, Rollins was working to get into Cesaro's head with a pre-match attack. And though Cesaro anticipated the chicanery and stifled the attack, it just continued to pile upon the frustrations Cesaro was feeling throughout the match. The offensive back and forth throughout the match was stunning, as expected, with both men flying around the ring hitting uppercuts, flying boots, uppercuts and everything else under the sun to try to keep each other down.
Rollins had brief moments when he controlled the pace, but Cesaro kept grinding and kicking out -- getting a little bit angrier each time. When Rollins went for Cesaro's eyes, he exploded in anger and frustration. He peeled Rollins' glove off, stuffed it in Rollins' mouth and then connected on a ripcord clothesline for good measure.
Rollins hit a Falcon Arrow, but missed his signature stomp. He used it as a dummy attack, instantly recovering and landing a spinning back kick to the back of Cesaro's head. A spinning lariat by Cesaro to Rollins left both men stunned on the ground. Following a Cesaro swing of about 15 rotations, Cesaro slipped right into the Sharpshooter in the middle of the ring. Rollins struggled, but Cesaro countered directly into a Crossface in the middle of the ring. Rollins attempted a pinfall to break up the submission, but Cesaro stepped right back into the sharpshooter. Cesaro stomped Rollins' arm three times trying to do whatever he could to keep Rollins down. But in his aggression, Rollins slipped into a tight small package and picked up the fluky-looking three-count win.
What's next: This conflict doesn't seem likely to end on such a note. Cesaro getting overwhelmed with his frustration and aggression after Rollins' trolling is an interesting thread to pull at as well, both in terms of this story and the directions Cesaro can go in as he continues to get angrier and angrier.
Hell in a Cell match for the SmackDown women's championship: Bianca Belair (c) def. Bayley
In her first gimmick match like this, Belair definitely showed out. Bayley had the experience from last year's Hell in a Cell match with Sasha Banks, which was fantastic. This one wasn't quite at that level, but Bayley and Belair beat the heck out of each other with their bodies and weapons.
Bayley set up kendo sticks between the ring and the cell, telling Michael Cole at the broadcast position to shut up in the process, which continued to add the perfect layer of Bayley's personality. It was a funny moment, but Belair gave Bayley her comeuppance seconds later, sending Bayley through those kendo sticks with a spinebuster. Belair also had a cool moment where she tied her braid to Bayley's wrist for some offense. Bayley had a nice sunset flip bomb that sent Belair crashing into the cell on the outside.
A ladder came into play late in the match with Bayley trying to inflict damage on the defending champ. It mostly backfired on her. Belair landed a running senton onto Bayley, who was laying on the ladder. Following that, Belair landed her finisher, the Kiss of Death, onto the open ladder in a brutal-looking spot. That was enough for the clean finish.
What's next: Potentially more of Belair and Bayley, which is not the worst thing in the world. In a postmatch interview, Belair said she'd never forgive Bayley even after the violent match. This program will likely continue, but you do have to wonder when Sasha Banks will return to Smackdown and the title picture. Belair, though, has done more than her part in keeping the title significant. She has absolutely risen to the occasion as champion and you have to believe she is only getting better. We could be looking at a future transcendent star here.
Natalya won -- cleanly -- with a Sharpshooter submission at about the 10-minute mark. The two had some clunky but effective reversals and transitions in the finishing stretch. It was not a bad match, on the whole. The finish was somewhat of a surprise, however, as Rose and Dana Brooke have seemingly been angling for a women's tag team title shot against Natalya and Tamina. A Rose win could have furthered the program between the two teams.
What's next: Probably the program continuing between the two teams, regardless of Sunday's result. There isn't a ton going on right now in the women's tag team division. Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke might as well be future challengers. Natalya and Tamina haven't defended those belts since May 24. And two other possible tag contenders that had been lining up for a shot -- Lana & Naomi and the Riott Squad -- are out of commission courtesy of recent WWE releases of Lana and Ruby Riott.