I’ve written about my feelings on WWE’s gimmick themed pay-per-views several times before (most notably here and here) so I’m not going to bang on about the subject again now. For those that haven’t read my previous posts (and can’t be bothered to click the links provided in the lines above) I can summarise by saying that I am broadly against them as they devalue the gimmicks in question.
This year’s Hell in a Cell instalment will feature two of the titular matches: John Cena v Alberto Del Rio v CM Punk and Mark Henry v Randy Orton. With two of the company’s best workers and a man who does better in gimmick matches than he does in regular ones the triple threat bout is likely to be the superior of the two encounters. The match is also likely to advance the recent storylines centring on Triple H, John Laurinaitis and CM Punk. Punk’s role in the story has been lessened in the last few weeks but this match is still linked to those events thanks to Laurinaitis’s recent interest in involving himself in WWE title affairs.
I’m expecting a run-in by Kevin Nash or Miz and R-Truth (all three appearing is possible but not likely). Nash’s appearance at Night of Champions having been future endeavoured indicates that Truth and Miz will appear on camera before being rehired and I imagine it will be in a role similar to the one Nash has occupied since returning at SummerSlam, with the reveal coming later that Laurinaitis has been, to quote JR, directing traffic. With David Otunga and various other talents filing a lawsuit against Triple H I still think the goal is to relieve Triple H of his on-screen position and replace him with Laurinaitis.
As far as a winner goes I’m picking Del Rio. It looks like Punk will remain involved in the Triple H storyline for the foreseeable future and Cena has been confirmed for a traditional Survivor Series match alongside The Rock at Survivor Series in November. Neither will require the WWE championship for those roles which makes Del Rio the likeliest candidate to head into Madison Square Garden with the belt. There’s a chance Cena will keep hold of the title until Vengeance on October 23rd or that he’ll lose it on an episode of RAW but I’m convinced he’ll have dropped it before SS and HIAC is as good a time as any to put it back on Del Rio.
‘The Viper’ versus ‘The World’s Strongest Man’ will be a slow-paced match with one or two key spots included to highlight Henry’s strength and aggressive nature. There will be nothing special or exciting going on. I expect Orton to put Henry over for the second straight pay-per-view simply because WWE didn’t spend six months building Henry up only for him to lose the title two weeks after winning it.
Henry’s not as bad as he’s been in past years but he’s still not credible as a champion. Why not? Two words: Mae Young. Whenever I think of Mark Henry that’s what I’ll see, no matter how much he improves or how hard he’s pushed. He cannot be taken seriously.
In non-caged bouts we have Sheamus v Christian. It’s nice that WWE haven’t rushed into this and have let it build naturally. It will likely get around ten to fifteen minutes and be a very strong match. I think the likelihood is that Sheamus will win to set up him as a challenger to Mark Henry, allowing Christian to move on to a new feud with someone lower down the card (in an ideal world it would be Daniel Bryan).
Sheamus versus Henry needs to be Henry’s next big feud as there are no other babyfaces ready for that spot. Orton v Henry isn’t likely to continue after Hell in a Cell (the gimmick’s traditionally a feud-ender) and ‘The Apex Predator’ seems to be headed for a rivalry with Cody Rhodes. I’d be happy with all three feuds as it would allow three new guys the opportunity to advance and the three more established guys fresh opponents.
Kelly Kelly will defend her Divas’ championship against Beth Phoenix for the third pay-per-view in a row. I’m assuming this will be the match where Beth finally wins because if she doesn’t there will have been no point to pushing her for two months. It’s not beyond WWE to build towards something for an extended period only to not do it, but they seem to have been moving in a fresh direction lately which makes me think they’re going to follow through on Beth winning the title.
Will the match be good? It should be as good as their last two encounters and as enjoyable as any other match involving Double K. I’d still like to see an Eve Torres heel turn. If she were to align with the Divas of Doom Kelly could bring in Kaitlyn and AJ to even up the numbers. This would allow two new women the chance to get over as stars, Eve to refresh her act, and give the women’s division a new direction with plenty of singles and tag match-ups. There’d be a natural six woman match to blow the feud off at a pay-per-view too.
Confirmed at the SmackDown taping was Sin Cara v Sin Cara. While this may sound like a man wrestling himself (which Ric Flair has claimed (many times) he could do in an entertaining fashion) it’s actually going to be the original Sin Cara (Mexican wrestling star Luis Ignascio Urive Alvirde a.k.a. Mistico) facing the “imposter” Sin Cara (developmental wrestler Jorge Arias a.k.a. Hunico).
The somewhat convoluted story is this: the original Sin Cara was put on the injured list at Money in the Bank when he was power bombed through a ladder and while he was off recuperating an imposter infiltrated WWE events pretending to be Sin Cara for an as yet undisclosed reason. This imposter behaved in a less sportsmanlike fashion than the original, refusing handshakes and jumping people after matches. The original eventually returned and has had numerous staredowns and cruiserweight-style exchanges with his taller and more muscular double. Said staredowns have been fairly confusing and elicited silence from audiences because the men have been dressed in the same gear and look similar enough that one cannot be told from the other at a glance.
New black gear (including a mask) was debuted by the imposter at Tuesday’s taping which should make it easier to distinguish the two men from one another and encourage more vocal contributions from crowds. Sunday’s match is likely to be the first of many between the two men: due to the language barrier, size differences and style clashes there are few people that can work matches with Alvirde so Arias is likely going to become a regular opponent for him. I imagine Sin Cara will win this first encounter but Hunico (or whatever name he ends up taking) will attack after the match to get some heat and set up a rematch.
That’s it for the announced card but there are rumours of a tag match pitting Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger against Air Boom. That would be a nice addition to the card and should be entertaining if it’s given ten minutes or more. It’s not clear where the Ziggler, Vickie and Swagger story is going but this should advance it. In an ideal world the challengers would be announced as “Zig-Swag” but that’s probably not going to happen. Shame.
Considering the company only had two weeks to prepare for Hel in a Cell I think they’ve done a pretty good job of arranging a decent card. Vengeance is only three weeks away so I’d expect seeds to be sown for that event (Cody Rhodes jumping Orton to set up a Vengeance encounter would be logical) as well as Survivor Series in November. Ultimately I think that’s what this event will be remembered as: a stepping stone to bigger and better things.