Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Hell in a Cell preview

No, your eyes don’t need checking. Hell in a Cell is a WWE pay-per-view that won’t feature a John Cena match. This is a rarity, one supposedly brought on by Cena’s slower than expected recovery from routine elbow surgery. I say supposedly because I’m not convinced that Cena is unable to wrestle.

Look at it like this: WWE has created a popular new star in Ryback and want to solidify him as a top card player. The best way of doing this is having him wrestle the company’s most highly regarded in-ring performer, WWE champion CM Punk. There is no better way of portraying him as the company’s number two babyface than to have him fill-in for its number one babyface.

Perhaps ‘The CeNation Leader’ is genuinely healing slowly. The rigours of being on the road for years, rehabbing various injuries every few months may have started taking a toll on his body. I’m not convinced though. Cena’s slow recovery seems a little too convenient for the rise of Ryback.

This match will be a big test for both men. For Phil ‘CM Punk’ Brooks it’s a chance to prove he truly is ‘The Best in the World’ and carry a notably limited opponent to a passable encounter. Meanwhile the Punk character needs to leave HIAC with the title in order to continue his quest for respect and progress to the match with The Rock that was set up at RAW 1000.

For ‘Big Hungry’ it’s a chance to launch himself from the doldrums of WWE’s bleak middle card zone to the pinnacle of the company. Ending CM Punk’s eleven month championship reign would solidify him as a bona fide star in one night and create a number of much-needed fresh booking options for WWE.

Taking everything into consideration I cannot see ‘The Human Wrecking Ball’ capturing the WWE championship on this particular occasion. As noted above Ryback would make an interesting (and welcome) addition to the existing main event crew but his win would set him on a collision course with ‘The Great One’. That’s not a match I can imagine WWE promoting.
A controversial new look for CM Punk
‘The Voice of the Voiceless’ has to be the favourite to head into the Rumble as the champion. While it’s possible he could lose the strap and regain it before then it would make his lengthy run a little pointless and make his battle with ‘The Brahma Bull’ feel a little less special. It would also mean giving Ryback a short championship reign, which would harm him long term.

If Ryback were to lose clean it would ruin him at this point. With the two men meeting inside the Cell booking a finish that keeps the title on Punk but also protects Ryback will be tricky to book, but not impossible. Punk could use a chair or other weapon to gain a tainted win. Presumably Heyman will be at ringside and Cena is likely to make an appearance, so they could be utilised too.

A scenario that could protect both men would be to have Ryback power Punk through the cage. That would establish the challenger’s incredible strength and create a way out (quite literally) for Punk. The match could end with the champ heading backstage and refusing to compete. Poor finish to a PPV main event yes, but it would obtain the desired result and protect the rising star.

Perhaps a better option would be for Punk’s fellow “Paul Heyman guy” Brock Lesnar to show up, break into the Cell and cost ‘Big Hungry’ the gold. That would not only be a convincing way of having Ryback lose but it would also set up a future clash between Ryback and ‘The Pain’. Handled correctly that could be a big draw for Survivor Series, Royal Rumble or WrestleMania XXIX.

However they do it I’m sure Punk will leave as champion. The quality of the match and how the finish goes down is where I’m less clear.

The company’s other world title will also be defended at Hell in a Cell, but not inside the cage. Yes, it’s the first official confrontation between Sheamus and Big Show. That ‘The World’s Largest Athlete’ has been placed into this match despite having failed to capture the WWE championship over the summer illustrates how shallow the main event bracket is.

It also illustrates that management are not as serious as they should be about elevating new stars. Wade Barrett would have been an ideal PPV opponent for ‘The Celtic Warrior’, as their recent outings on RAW and SmackDown prove.

Sheamus v Big Show could be entertaining but I’m not going to get my hopes up. Both men are okay as characters, but Sheamus works far better when facing smaller grapplers or brawlers of his own size. Big Show is a lump who would be of more use to the company as a babyface.

I don’t think Show will be leaving as champ. ‘Great White’ will overcome the “overwhelming” (listen out for that word during the broadcast) odds which have been established (Show having a more powerful finisher, for example) and topple the giant. As Sheamus has had the belt for over six months now and I’m beginning to think that a change is coming, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Dolph Ziggler cashed in his briefcase and left as the new World Heavyweight champ.

If Show struggles to his feet and immediately starts battering Sheamus after doing the job you’ll know to expect ‘The Show Off’. Making a cash-in slightly more likely is the fact that Ziggler is not booked to appear on the show. As one of the few stars WWE seems to be dedicated to helping I’m fairly sure he’ll be appearing.

The once meaningful Intercontinental championship will be defended on the show too. The title is most commonly used these days for provoking cheap pops on landmark episodes of WWE programming. See Kofi Kingston's victory over The Miz on Main Event, and 'The Awesome One's' defeat of Christian on RAW 1000.
Kofi only began his fourth reign a couple of weeks ago so I don't expect him to lose it so soon, especially to the man he took it from. If this bout is allocated enough time I think it could be the best technical outing on the card. Hopefully time will be on their side.
Kofi has headed up WWE’s tag team division for over a year. With his partnership with R-Truth now consigned to the history books now feels like a good time to award him a serious singles push again. Kingston is an ideal candidate to build the mid-card division around. Getting the title onto him is a good first step. Calling up some fresh talent would be a good second.
Speaking of the tag team titles: the surprisingly entertaining, not to mention over, Team Hell No will defend the WWE tag team championship against the Rhodes Scholars. Sandow and Rhodes are clearly the best choice of team to oppose Bryan and Kane. They are established antagonists and great wrestlers. Expect to see them isolate Bryan, allowing 'Goatface' to work the majority of the match for his team.
Will that lead to a hot tag and a Kane-gained victory or will the Scholars successfully wear Bryan down and become the new champions? Tough call. On the one hand Team Hell No are such a popular act that WWE would be foolish to make any big changes to them just yet. On the other the dysfunctional duo, being (sort of) goodies, may work better if chasing a heel tandem for the gold.
As they've only had the straps for a month I'm going to predict a victory for Team Hell No. Perhaps the Rhodes Scholars will get a rematch at Survivor Series. Or perhaps the Prime Time Players will get back into the title hunt.
The PTPs looked like the favourites to dethrone Kingston and Truth before Bryan and Kane proved a hit. That WWE spent so long building them up as a team to be reckoned with means they'll probably get their turn at some point. HIAC was originally to have seen the Players facing Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara, presumably after costing them the tournament finals on RAW. It seems as though Mysterio's undisclosed stomach problems (maybe he's got what Matt Hardy had around the time he was in TNA) have put a stop to that.

This week’s SmackDown taping saw a Divas title match added to the show. Eve will defend against Layla and Kaitlyn. The story that’s been running since Night of Champions hasn’t been in vain after all! Missed it? Basically Kaitlyn was scheduled to challenge for the pink belt at NOC but was attacked by a mystery assailant. Eve took her place, became the new champion, and has been accused of being the mystery assailant ever since.

The drama!

A title change strikes me as unlikely. I think a swerve turn from Kaitlyn is a greater possibility. The programme has been trundling towards this inevitable three-way for six weeks Something unexpected needs to happen to keep it fresh. Maybe Kaitlyn and Eve have been in cahoots all along, cooking up this deplorable scheme because they dislike Layla. I wouldn’t blame them if that were the case.

On a side note, what does it say about the pay scale in the Divas division when the champion has to work a second job as a PA?
The final match announced for the pay-per-view is Alberto Del Rio v Randy Orton. I have been calling for a fresh opponent for 'The Essence of Excellence' for months now and I'm pleased he finally has one. That said I'm still not especially interested in the match.
The feud doesn't seem to be about anything. There is no reason for ADR and 'The Viper' to clash beyond the fact that neither has anything better to do. Del Rio constantly referring to Orton as a "little snake" hasn’t helped matters. It has only served to make a boring rivalry silly too.
I'm hopeful that once they lock up my attitude will change. Both men are very good in the ring and if they tell an interesting enough story (which again relies on time as much as anything else) then the lack of a compelling issue between them won't really be an factor.
With an Orton heel turn happening at any moment I suspect he'll win to be kept strong for his renewed push as a bad guy. Should the two tangle in another singles match at Survivor Series ADR can be given his win back then. Should the office think he needs it that is.
There are plenty of options for last minute additions to the show. As noted above Dolph Ziggler doesn't have a match. Neither do popular acts such as Santino, Zack Ryder and Brodus Clay. Wade Barrett would benefit from an appearance too, considering his recent well received outings against World champ Sheamus. A United States title defence by Antonio Cesaro could by good too, especially if it were preceded by one of his anti-US vignettes.
The Hell in a Cell pay-per-view doesn't look bad on paper but, as with last year's event, it does highlight the fact that the structure is best used only when needed rather than having it on a show because marketing dictates it must be so. Ryback v Punk doesn't need the Cell in order to draw money or appeal to fans. If anything the cage will prove a hindrance. Here's hoping that the show name is retired next year and the Cell goes back to being a rare treat used to finish off only the bitterest feuds.

Predictions summary:
CM Punk to defeat Ryback
Sheamus to defeat Big Show
Team Hell No to defeat the Rhodes Scholars
Kofi Kingston to defeat The Miz
Randy Orton to defeat Alberto Del Rio
Eve to defeat Layla and Kaitlyn


  1. a quick comment on ADR. I agree, he's very good in the ring but that doesn't make much difference to the fact he's just simply boring. He's the one common denominator in the last couple of years worth of boring WWE championship bouts and story lines. When your ring announcer is better viewing than you are there's something wrong.

    Some guys just don't have it and put simply, whenever his music hits I hit the fast forward.

  2. Agreed.

    Stay tuned for an article talking about him tomorrow evening. I have some ideas that could make him worthwhile again.

  3. I really hope the Miz is a babyface now. Even the Mrs thinks he is awesome. It will give him some fresh opposition.