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For some reason, WWE’s booking mentality for Sunday’s Hell in a Cell’s card resulted in several championships’ omissions from the show.
Shinsuke Nakamura’s United States title, the Intercontinental Championship and Cedric Alexander’s Cruiserweight Championship have all been left out of the mix. But at least every other title is on the line.
Alexa Bliss will attempt to regain the Raw Women’s Championship from Ronda Rousey, Becky Lynch will seek redemption for her loss at SummerSlam when she challenges Charlotte Flair, AJ Styles and Samoa Joe will clash again for the WWE Championship, both tag team titles are up for grabs and the main event will see the Money in the Bank contract cashed in, as Braun Strowman will face Roman Reigns inside Hell in a Cell.
There is always a chance to see title changes at any show because anything can happen in WWE. However, looking at this lineup more closely reveals that there are only a few new champions who could realistically be crowned.
Which titleholders are most likely going to retain their belts, and which challengers will walk out of Hell in a Cell with gold?
Let’s take a look at the titles most likely to change hands at Hell in a Cell 2018.
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Heading into SummerSlam, Becky Lynch was set up extremely well to be the fan favorite to win the SmackDown Women’s Championship.
WWE did such a great job building up that hype that it backfired and ruined the plans of what would come after.
Fans were clearly supposed to sympathize with Charlotte Flair after Lynch’s heel turn and be mad at the Irish Superstar for doing that to her friend. But no matter how many times WWE tries to paint that picture, audiences continue to embrace Lynch over Flair.
The angle is hot, but it’s a reversal of fortune because it isn’t what WWE wants. How the writers react to it will be interesting. They could either stubbornly ignore the crowd or roll with the punches.
Assuming this is another Roman Reigns situation, wherein it doesn’t matter what people think and WWE will go through with the plan no matter what, Flair will probably retain the title. The commentary team will desperately try to push WWE’s narrative despite the audience’s reaction.
However, Lynch’s reception could be too strong to disregard, which may make this championship the most likely to change hands Sunday.
WWE could go with the flow and put Lynch over as a babyface victor, having her win the title to pop the crowd. There’s even an option to have Flair turn heel afterward if it wants the pair to switch roles in an even trade.
Alternatively, if WWE remains firm in wanting Lynch to be a heel, there’s still a strong chance she takes the title here by cheating or pulling some shenanigans that accentuate the change in her character’s disposition.
That would please the fans who want to see the belt on Lynch, but it would also continue to illustrate her heel mentality and reiterate that Flair is the one we should be supporting.
It also creates more of a reason for the two to face each other again at Super Show-Down, as Flair would have her built-in rematch clause in play. If she retains here, there would be no reason for Lynch to get a third opportunity to win the title.
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Similar to the situation with Lynch and Flair, there is already another match advertised between AJ Styles and Samoa Joe for Super Show-Down.
This means if Joe fails to win the WWE Championship at Hell in a Cell, it will be a stretch to justify giving him a third title shot after coming up short twice.
However, it’s easy to understand why they would fight a third time if Styles drops the title and has to use his rematch in an attempt to get it back.
This is also the most logical progression of this story. Their first encounter ended with Styles getting the upper hand. Having that happen again would greatly diminish Joe’s status as the more imposing of the two—to a point he would seem all but guaranteed to lose.
Putting the belt on Joe helps with a few other problems too, like restoring some of his credibility after he’s accomplished nothing on the main roster.
Another major benefit is to shake things up. Styles has not only held the championship for nearly an entire year, but he’s also had a feud of needless repeated matches in which he retained the title against Shinsuke Nakamura for months.
By no means is this a given, as Styles could hold the title because he’s on the cover of WWE 2K19, which comes out one day before Super Show-Down in October. But making Joe the new champion would do more good than harm, and it makes the most sense overall.
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It’s a long shot, but if there is to be a new champion crowned, the only one who stands out is Braun Strowman.
Even that is a bit far-fetched in light of WWE’s love for Reigns, but it’s at least conceivable given some of the circumstances.
Since Super Show-Down will feature The Shield against Strowman, Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre, WWE will either choose to balance out the titles between the six or put the babyfaces at a disadvantage.
Seth Rollins is already holding the Intercontinental Championship, so it’s unlikely he and Dean Ambrose will also win the Raw Tag Team Championships. WWE rarely has wrestlers hold two titles at the same time. This means if the heel trio goes into Australia with more gold, it’s up to Strowman to tip the scales in their favor.
Beating Reigns for the Universal Championship should be no easy feat, but heels do have the ability to bend the rules to rig the game more in their favor.
Plenty of times in the past, though the Hell in a Cell is meant to specifically nullify outside interference, there have been run-ins from people who find a way inside. That is something McIntyre and Ziggler could do.
There’s also the slim chance Mick Foley’s role as the special guest referee will not be impartial and that his job will be to turn on Reigns to help Strowman seize the title for whatever reason WWE will come up with after the act.
Then again, Foley may not even actively choose to influence the outcome. He could be taken out in the chaos, and Strowman could capitalize to steal a victory while there is no referee in control.
The odds aren’t in Strowman’s favor simply because his opponent is Reigns. But it’s still worth pondering a bet on Mr. Monster in the Bank to get his hands on the title.
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.