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Hell in a Cell 2021 was a professional wrestling pay-per-view and WWE Network event produced by WWE for their Raw and SmackDown brand divisions. It took place on June 20, 2021 and was broadcast from the WWE ThunderDome, hosted at the Yuengling Center in Tampa, Florida. It was WWE's second and final pay-per-view held at the Yuengling Center as well as the final pay-per-view broadcast from the ThunderDome as the company resumed live touring with fans in mid-July. It was the 13th event under the Hell in a Cell chronology and the first to be held in June, as the event is generally held in October.

Seven matches were contested at the event, including one on the Kickoff pre-show. In the main event, Bobby Lashley defeated Drew McIntyre in a Last Chance Hell in a Cell match to retain the WWE Championship. In other prominent matches, Charlotte Flair defeated Raw Women's Champion Rhea Ripley by disqualification, thus Ripley retained the title, Seth Rollins defeated Cesaro, and in the opening bout, Bianca Belair defeated Bayley in a Hell in a Cell match to retain the SmackDown Women's Championship.

Production

Background

Hell in a Cell is an annual gimmick pay-per-view (PPV) and WWE Network event produced by WWE since 2009, generally held in October. The concept of the show comes from WWE's established Hell in a Cell match, in which competitors fight inside a 20-foot-high roofed cell structure surrounding the ring and ringside area. The main event match of the card is contested under the Hell in a Cell stipulation. The 2021 event was moved from the October slot to June, which will only be the second time for the event to not be held in October; the first time was the 2018 event, which was held in September. The 2021 event will be the 13th event under the Hell in a Cell chronology. It is scheduled to be held on June 20, 2021—the previously scheduled date for Money in the Bank, which was moved to July 18—and feature wrestlers from the Raw and SmackDown brands.

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic that began affecting the industry in mid-March 2020, WWE had to present the majority of its programming from a behind closed doors set. Initially, Raw and SmackDown's television shows and PPVs were done at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. A limited number of Performance Center trainees and friends and family members of the wrestlers were later utilized to serve as the live audience. In late August, these programs were moved to a bio-secure bubble called the WWE ThunderDome. The select live audience was no longer utilized as the bubble allows fans to attend the events virtually for free and be seen on the nearly 1,000 LED boards within the arena. Additionally, the ThunderDome utilizes various special effects to further enhance wrestlers' entrances, and arena audio is mixed with that of the chants from the virtual fans. After being hosted at Orlando's Amway Center and Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, the ThunderDome was relocated to the Yuengling Center in Tampa, Florida in April 2021. On May 21, WWE announced that they would be returning to live touring in mid-July, thus Hell in a Cell will be the final pay-per-view to be presented from the ThunderDome.

Storylines

The show comprised seven matches, including one on the Kickoff pre-show. The matches resulted from scripted storylines, where wrestlers portrayed heroes, villains, or less distinguishable characters in scripted events that built tension and culminated in a wrestling match or series of matches. Results were predetermined by WWE's writers on the Raw and SmackDown brands, while storylines were produced on WWE's weekly television shows, Monday Night Raw and Friday Night SmackDown.

At WrestleMania Backlash, Bobby Lashley defeated Drew McIntyre and Braun Strowman to retain the WWE Championship. The following night on Raw, MVP and Lashley issued an open challenge to anyone on the Raw roster except McIntyre and Strowman. Later in the main event, it was revealed that the open challenge was just to face Lashley rather than a title match. The New Day's Kofi Kingston answered the challenge and defeated Lashley thanks to McIntyre's distraction. The following week, WWE official Adam Pearce scheduled a match between McIntyre and Kingston where the winner would face Lashley for the WWE Championship at Hell in a Cell, only for it to end in a no-contest after interference from Lashley and MVP. A rematch was scheduled for the following week where if Lashley and/or MVP were at ringside or interfered in the match, Lashley would be suspended for 90 days without pay; McIntyre defeated Kingston to earn another title match against Lashley at Hell in a Cell. During the match contract signing on the June 7 episode, the match was made a Hell in a Cell match with a further stipulation that this would be McIntyre's last chance at the WWE Championship as long as Lashley is the champion.

At WrestleMania Backlash, Rhea Ripley defeated Charlotte Flair and Asuka to retain the Raw Women's Championship. The following night on Raw, Flair confronted WWE officials Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville, demanding another opportunity at Ripley for the championship as Flair did not take the pin in the triple threat match. Pearce and Deville stated that if Flair won her match against Asuka, they would consider it. However, Flair lost the match thanks to a distraction from Ripley. The following week, however, Flair defeated Asuka. A match between Ripley and Flair for the title was then scheduled for Hell in a Cell.

At WrestleMania Backlash, Bianca Belair defeated Bayley to retain the SmackDown Women's Championship. On the following SmackDown, WWE official Sonya Deville hosted a parade of champions to celebrate SmackDown's champions. Bayley interrupted, taking issue that she was not acknowledged as the longest-reigning SmackDown Women's Champion and claimed that Belair had cheated at Backlash by using her hair as a weapon. On the June 4 episode, Belair challenged Bayley to a rematch at Hell in a Cell with the title on the line and Bayley accepted. Two weeks later, Belair changed the stipulation of their match to a Hell in a Cell match.

During Night 1 of WrestleMania 37, Cesaro defeated Seth Rollins. On the following SmackDown, Rollins interfered and attacked Cesaro during the latter's match, with Rollins proclaiming that their rivalry was not over. Cesaro defeated Rollins in a rematch on the May 7 episode, which also earned himself a Universal Championship match against Roman Reigns at WrestleMania Backlash, which Cesaro lost. Following the title match, Rollins came out and brutally attacked Cesaro, smashing his arm in a steel chair. On the following SmackDown, Cesaro attempted to challenge Reigns to a rematch for the title only for Rollins to attack Cesaro once again, this time resulting in Cesaro being taken out on a stretcher. On the June 18 episode, another match between Cesaro and Rollins was scheduled for Hell in a Cell.

During Night 2 of WrestleMania 37, Kevin Owens defeated Sami Zayn, who was accompanied by YouTube personality Logan Paul. On the following SmackDown, Zayn claimed that he lost to Owens because he was distracted wondering if Paul was okay. Zayn then called out Owens for a rematch. Owens defeated Zayn by count-out after Zayn retreated from the ring, after which, Owens brought Zayn back to the ring and performed a Stunner on him. Zayn would continue to be a hindrance to Owens over the next several weeks, and another match between the two was scheduled for Hell in a Cell.

Canceled and rescheduled match

On the June 4 episode of SmackDown, The Usos (Jey Uso and Jimmy Uso) challenged Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship, however, the match ended in a controversial finish in which the referee did not notice that Jimmy had his shoulder up during the pin. The Usos were granted a rematch later that same night, but during the rematch, The Usos' cousin and Universal Champion, Roman Reigns, interfered by attacking the Mysterios, not wanting The Usos to embarrass themselves again. Following the match, Reigns brutally attacked Rey's son Dominik, which Jimmy felt Reigns took too far, also furthering tensions between Reigns and Jimmy. The following week, Rey confronted Reigns and challenged him to a Hell in a Cell match, wanting to take revenge on Reigns for what he did to Dominik, and a brawl ensued. The next day on Talking Smack, Reigns' special counsel Paul Heyman accepted Rey's challenge on Reigns' behalf with the Universal Championship on the line. On June 17, however, Rey posted to Twitter, stating that he did not want to wait until Sunday, and it was announced that the match would instead take place on the June 18 episode of SmackDown, marking the first Hell in a Cell match to take place on an episode of SmackDown; Reigns defeated Rey to retain the title.

Event

Pre-show

During the Hell in a Cell Kickoff pre-show, one-half of the WWE Women's Tag Team Champions, Natalya (accompanied by her tag team partner, Tamina), faced Mandy Rose (accompanied by Dana Brooke). In the end, Natalya forced Rose to submit to the Sharpshooter to win the match.

Preliminary matches

The actual pay-per-view opened with Bianca Belair defending the SmackDown Women's Championship against Bayley in a Hell in a Cell match. During the early half of the match, as Belair attacked Bayley with her ponytail, Bayley blocked the attacks with a chair. Later, Bayley tied Belair's ponytail on the bottom ring rope and as Bayley attempted to attack Belair, Bayley tripped and fell onto the steel steps. Bayley would also bite the arm of Belair. In the end, Belair performed the Kiss of Death on Bayley on a ladder to retain the title.

Next, Seth Rollins faced Cesaro. During Cesaro's entrance, Rollins attacked Cesaro from behind and a brawl ensued in the ring where the match officially began. In the end, Rollins pinned Cesaro to win the match.

In the next match, Alexa Bliss faced Shayna Baszler (accompanied by Nia Jax and Reginald). After both got in some offense, Bliss used her supernatural mind control powers to have Jax slap Reginald, causing a distraction for Baszler. Bliss then hit the Twisted Bliss on Baszler to win the match.

After that, Sami Zayn faced Kevin Owens. In the end, Zayn rolled-up Owens to win the match.

In the penultimate match, Rhea Ripley defended the Raw Women's Championship against Charlotte Flair. The climax brought the match outside the ring where Flair tried to attack Ripley by the announce table, however, Ripley grabbed the top cover of the announce table, pulled it off, and slammed it into Flair's head. Ripley was disqualified, thus Flair won the match but did not win the title as titles do not change hands on a disqualification unless stipulated.

Main event

In the main event, Bobby Lashley (accompanied by MVP) defended the WWE Championship against Drew McIntyre in a Last Chance Hell in a Cell match. Midway through the match, the referee was knocked out. McIntyre called for the referee guarding the cell door on the outside of the cage to take over and officiate the match. MVP used the opportunity to get inside the cage when the referee opened the cell door. After more fighting, McIntyre set up for the Claymore Kick, but MVP held his leg to prevent him from attacking Lashley. As McIntyre tried freeing himself from MVP's grip, Lashley rolled up McIntyre with a schoolboy to win and retain the title. As per the stipulation, McIntyre can no longer challenge for the WWE Championship as long as Lashley is the champion.

Aftermath

Raw

On the following episode of Raw, Bobby Lashley gloated about not having to defend the WWE Championship against Drew McIntyre ever again. The New Day's Kofi Kingston, who had defeated Lashley in a non-title match on the May 17 episode of Raw and also stated that he never received a rematch after losing the WWE Championship in October 2019 at SmackDown's 20th Anniversary, came out and challenged Lashley for the title and Lashley accepted. The match was subsequently set for Money in the Bank.

Also on the following episode of Raw, Charlotte Flair confronted Raw Women's Champion Rhea Ripley and claimed she was "proud" of Ripley and told her that she had never seen Ripley as a "strategic champion". WWE official Sonya Deville then scheduled a rematch between the two at Money in the Bank.

Qualifying matches for the men's and women's Money in the Bank ladder matches also began on the following episode of Raw. Alexa Bliss, Shayna Baszler, and Nia Jax competed in a tag team match where the two members of the winning team would be entered into the women's ladder match. Nikki Cross, now dawning a super hero gimmick, teamed with Bliss and they defeated Baszler and Jax to qualify. For the men's match, Drew McIntyre lost his first qualifying match. However, he won a last chance triple threat match the following week to earn Raw's final spot in the men's ladder match.

SmackDown

SmackDown Women's Champion Bianca Belair and Cesaro continued to feud with Bayley and Seth Rollins, respectively. On the following episode of SmackDown, Bayley and Rollins defeated Belair and Cesaro in a mixed tag team match in which Bayley pinned Belair. This led to a rematch between Belair and Bayley being scheduled for Money in the Bank as an "I Quit" match. Rollins and Cesaro were scheduled for a rematch on the July 9 episode, which will also be a qualifier match for the men's Money in the Bank ladder match.

On the July 2 episode of SmackDown, Kevin Owens defeated Sami Zayn in a rematch, which was contested as a Last Man Standing match. This was also a qualifying match for the men's Money in the Bank ladder match.

Match Preview

Natalya vs. Mandy Rose Preview
Bianca Belair vs. Bayley Preview
Seth Rollins vs. Cesaro Preview
Alexa Bliss vs. Shayna Baszler Preview
Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens Preview
Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte Flair Preview
Bobby Lashley vs. Drew McIntyre Preview

Results

Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
(c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.

Other on-screen talent

Commentators
Pre-show Panel
Interviewers
Ring announcer
Referees

See also

DVD release

External links

Hell in a Cell 2021 previews

Rhea Ripley v Charlotte FlairBobby Lashley v Drew McIntyreBianca Belair v BayleyNatalya v Mandy RoseSeth Rollins v CesaroAlexa Bliss v Shayna BaszlerSami Zayn v Kevin Owens

Hell in a Cell
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2021 World Wrestling Entertainment pay-per-views

Royal RumbleTakeOver: Vengeance DayElimination ChamberFastlaneTakeOver: Stand & DeliverWrestleMania 37WrestleMania BacklashNXT: In Your HouseHell in a CellMoney in the BankSummerSlamTakeOver 36Extreme RulesCrown JewelSurvivor SeriesWarGames

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