If you were wondering why Mick Foley is suddenly the special guest referee for Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman at WWE Hell in a Cell 2018, then you aren’t alone in this puzzlement. WWE’s decision to add this wrinkle on the go-home episode of Raw makes me wonder if Foley will accidentally cost Reigns the Universal Championship.
On paper, WWE Hell in a Cell 2018 looks like it could be the best show of the year for WWE, which isn’t a statement to take lightly this year. In Money in the Bank, the Royal Rumble, the Elimination Chamber, and SummerSlam, WWE has shown that it can deliver an entertaining product on its biggest shows, in spite of the negativity of its vocal online audience.
The main event of Hell in a Cell will almost certainly be the Universal Championship bout between Braun Strowman and Roman Reigns, which will occur inside of the structure itself. Strowman and Reigns have been the best of rivals for well over a year, and they have put together a brilliant Last Man Standing match before. I’d plan on witnessing them top that performance on Sunday.
That said, Reigns and Strowman will have to navigate the match with an unexpected wrinkle, as Mick Foley was named the special guest referee for this Universal Title bout at Hell in a Cell. Foley is the WWE legend most closely associated with the match stipulation, but it is still puzzling to see him inserted into this match as a referee. Furthermore, his insertion into the match was announced on the go-home show, making me wonder what the plan could be.
Foley was the Raw General Manager before Kurt Angle replaced him on the episode of Raw after WrestleMania 33. He was portrayed as a well-meaning individual with principles, but WWE also made him seem slightly incompetent as a GM. Foley would get berated (and eventually fired) by Stephanie McMahon for issues outside of his control, though he did finally stand up for himself.
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The heels seemed to conspire against him, and no matter what he tried to do to help equal the balance of power in the locker room as GM, the negative consequences of his actions always ended up catching up to him.
I present this background of Foley’s time as Raw General Manager, because it may be an indication of how WWE plans to present him as the special guest referee. My belief is that he will do what’s best to call the match down the middle for both Roman and Strowman, but when the match starts to get out of hand due to possible interference attempts and the sheer brutality of a Reigns/Strowman match, Foley will start to make critical mistakes.
In WWE, these errors usually end up costing the babyface, and that was a common theme for Foley as an authority figure on Raw. I’m not sure if the events at Hell in a Cell will pan out differently either.
Of course, there’s always a chance that Foley ends up costing Strowman. The two of them have a history together, as it was Foley who once nearly threw in the towel on Sami Zayn’s behalf when Zayn had a “time limit” match against Strowman. Thanks to Foley’s actions, which bought valuable time for Zayn, Strowman failed to defeat Zayn in the allotted time limit.
I’m wondering if that could play into Sunday’s story at Hell in a Cell. Strowman may have an axe to grind with Foley, especially since Braun doesn’t exactly seem like the forgiving type.
What makes me so intrigued about the possibility of Foley playing into the finish on either end is the fact that Reigns and Strowman are wrestlers WWE would ideally like to protect. Either man can afford to lose a loss, particularly a loss against one another, but there’s some uniqueness to this situation.
Reigns just defeated Brock Lesnar for the Universal Title and is likely ticketed for a long reign either now or in the very near future. Do they want him to lose in a title match so soon after defeating Lesnar?Credit: WWE.com
Meanwhile, Strowman used his Money in the Bank briefcase to cash in on Reigns preemptively before his shocking heel turn. If Strowman were to lose this match, he would become the second straight man to lose his Money in the Bank briefcase. Clearly, that’s not a disastrous situation for someone of Strowman’s character, but it shows that it may not be ideal for Strowman or Reigns to lose without some sort of shenanigans. While it isn’t ideal to have shenanigans in such a big match, WWE does this time after time. It can even be entertaining if executed properly.
All I can say is that I’m intrigued for this match on Sunday, both because of the two elite athletes competing in the ring for the Universal Title and for the perplexing presence of a Hell in a Cell icon as the special guest referee.