After Sasha Banks and Bayley tore the house down at WWE Hell in a Cell, it’s now abundantly clear that women are just better at Hell in a Cell matches.
This year at WWE Hell in a Cell, we got to see the women of WWE step inside the eponymous structure for only the third time since Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker christened Hell in a Cell over two decades ago. Sasha Banks and Bayley brought over five years of build to a worthy climax in one of the greatest Hell in a Cell matches we’ve ever seen.
In their creative and brutal contest, Sasha Banks and Bayley came up with new and inventive moments while calling back to key parts of their storied rivalry. It was the nuance that made the match stand out the most, and that’s what will make it stand the test of time.
While it might not be controversial to say it was one of the best we’ve seen, stating that women are just better at Hell in a Cell matches could seem like a stretch to some, but it really shouldn’t. The thing that’s most important to remember here is the context of the times they’re working in.
While Hell in a Cell matches have been happening since 1997, only three of the 45 Hell in a Cell matches in WWE history involved women. That’s less than 7% of all Hell in a Cell matches.
Despite having only that minuscule resume to work with, in those three matches we’ve seen four women, The Four Horsewomen no less, tear into each other in some of the most unforgettable ways.
Working within a modern day WWE system
Now, there’s an important distinction here. Personally, my favorite Hell in a Cell match will probably always be the 2002 clash between Triple H and Cactus Jack. It was brutal and violent and everything I want out of a Hell in a Cell match.
However, that match would never take place in modern WWE. If Triple H and Cactus Jack tried to put that match together in today’s world, most of the moments would’ve been nixed.
The falls would’ve been safer. The barbed wire and thumbtacks likely wouldn’t have been there. There definitely wouldn’t have been anything set on fire on top of the structure.
These are relics of the past. They’re relics I love to go back and relive, but relics nonetheless. That kind of recklessness and violence is gone from WWE, and some would argue that’s for the better.
The improvements in safety certainly aren’t a bad thing, but WWE’s gone overboard in recent years and the constrictive structure of the way they plan matches and what they will and won’t allow talent to do has made things often feel stale.
Drew McIntyre and Randy Orton put on a decent match at WWE Hell in a Cell, but it was one filled with things we’ve seen before. Not only had we seen those moments before, but we’d seen them more violently, more recklessly, and with more powerful story and emotion behind them.
In a vacuum, McIntyre and Orton did a good match, but it wasn’t anything special or memorable. The same can’t be said for Sasha Banks and Bayley, who thought outside the box and gave us never before seen moments like Banks’ various meteoras.
Even as the match came to a close, Sasha Banks finished off Bayley in a unique and unforgettable way by locking on The Banks Statement with a steel chair. Bayley had spray-painted “1-0” on the chair, indicating on her way into the structure that she’d be “1-0” inside Hell in a Cell when it was over.
When Sasha Banks had Bayley locked in at the end, the chair was positioned upside down so that it instead read “0-1,” as moments later Bayley would tap out and indeed become “0-1” inside Hell in a Cell.
Failure was not an option
Going back to WWE Hell in a Cell 2016, Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks had a mountain to climb as the first women trusted with the challenge of facing off inside Hell in a Cell, as well as being the Main Event of that show. They had to give us something special while also mitigating the pressure of knowing that they had to succeed.
If Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks had failed to deliver, chances are WWE would’ve taken it as a sign that the women just didn’t belong inside Hell in a Cell and we may not have seen another match like that since then. Even with all of that on their shoulders, Banks and Flair knocked it out of the park.
While we didn’t get one in 2018, last year Banks entered Hell in a Cell for the second time and delivered an instant classic against Becky Lynch that was also creative, unique, and unforgettable. Then, just a few weeks ago, Banks did it again with Bayley.
In just three matches, the women have shown us that despite the obstacles in their way, the constraint of the current WWE system, and the challenges of entering this world nearly two decades after the match was created, they still excel. It’s time to face the music. Women are just better at Hell in a Cell matches.