DETROIT — The Falls Count Anywhere Hell in a Cell brawl between Shane McMahon and Kevin Owens did indeed feature splintered tables, dented trash cans, and one of The Prodigal Son’s infamous leaps. But it was a late-game appearance by Sami Zayn, of all people, that turned the tide and allowed Owens to walk out of the place where rivalries are settled forever with the win in hand.
Before Zayn made a decision that will reverberate for weeks, if not months to come, however, Owens and Shane unleashed a barrage of punishment on each other that hadn’t been seen since — well, since about three hours earlier, but this particular Hell in a Cell Match had an extra layer of animosity to it. In keeping with his insults and injury to the McMahon family over the last few weeks, Owens grinded Shane’s face into the steel in full view of his family and yelled that he, rather than Shane, should be his children’s role model.
Shane responded by working KO like a speed bag, and then nearly pinned him at ringside after Owens whiffed on a running cannonball through a table. When that didn’t work, he whacked Owens over the back with half of the pine and went Coast-to-Coast with the assist of a trash can. Methodical but not manic, surgical but not savage, deliberate but not demented.
And then he looked up.
With chaos in his eyes, Shane used a pair of bolt cutters to pick the lock of the Cell, causing the brawl to spread around and, eventually, atop the Cell itself, where Shane pursued Owens after KO hesitated on a leap of faith of his own. The ensuing fight left millions of WWE fans clutching their chests, especially when a Pop-up Powerbomb from Owens nearly buckled the Cell a la Mankind in 1998.
After a lengthy fight, Owens seemed to think better of the entire enterprise and attempted to climb down the cage. Shane pursued in a mad fury, hammering KO with kidney punches and slamming his head into the Cell until he fell off the side and plummeted through an announce table below. Shane seemed primed to seize the pinfall after ushering a squad of paramedics away from KO, but then he thought better of it … or rather, decided to finish the job.
Shane hauled Owens one table over and headbutted him into a prone position. He then ascended the Cell one more time before plunging off the side for the Leap of Faith … and then, all of a sudden, Kevin Owens wasn’t there. Because Sami Zayn had pulled him aside.
Owens’ best friend and greatest enemy, the man he had antagonized and injured and left in ruins, had saved him. And nobody knew why. Even Sami didn’t seem to know why. He only snapped out of his trance to haul Owens onto Shane’s body and shove the referee down to count the pinfall amidst the ruins of the table.
Although battered beyond belief, Shane, thankfully, flashed a thumbs-up as the paramedics wheeled him out. Sami seemed even more shaken up, exiting in a daze. Owens walked off on his own two feet, albeit with a little help, the only man to leave Hell under his own power. Give the win to Owens, but the assist to the angel on his shoulder.