Wednesday 21 September 2011

Highway to Hell (in a Cell)

WWE need to reconsider their approach to pay-per-views. While there was nothing wrong with the amount of time between SummerSlam (held on August 14th) and Night of Champions (held on September 18th) there is something very wrong with the amount of time until WWE’s next PPV extravaganza. Hell in a Cell will be held exactly two weeks after Night of Champions on October 2nd. Two weeks is never going to be sufficient time to construct a worthwhile card. Three weeks is barely enough (and coincidentally that’s the amount of time WWE has allocated to promote Vengeance, the show after HIAC).

The smart thing to do would have been to cancel Hell in a Cell altogether. Shows based around gimmicks place unnecessary hindrances on the promotion’s booking and take away from the natural pacing of feuds. As feud pacing has been a problem for several years now you’d think WWE would want to avoid constricting themselves further. Had Hell in a Cell been dropped there would have been another five week gap between shows, which could have been used to build a meaningful event as opposed to the two shoddy ones we’re likely to see in reality.

That said WWE have been in smart in immediately announcing its two main event matches for the show: John Cena v CM Punk v Alberto Del Rio for the WWE championship and (deep breath) World Heavyweight champion Mark Henry defending the title against Randy Orton. Both will be Hell in a Cell matches.

The Hell in a Cell used to be WWE’s premier gimmick bout. It still is, but it’s fallen on hard times: being a prop wheeled out to fulfil the requirements of an annual show rather than the only way to settle a grudge between two bitter rivals has lessened the Cell’s aura, and it’s tougher to have an impactful bout without the shortcuts of blood and weapon shots.

The Cell used to be built to gradually. At first glance neither match announced for the October 2nd show warrants the gimmick, but that’s not the case. The CM Punk v John Cena feud has technically been going since the June 27th RAW (when Punk cut his infamous promo). They’ve wrestled on pay-per-view twice during the feud, taking a month off to face different guys at Night of Champions. That’s a nice approach to feuds that we don’t get to see enough. Del Rio involved himself in the feud at SummerSlam when he beat Punk the title, meaning he has faced both of his Hell in a Cell opponents on pay-per-view. It’s a natural three-way match, which is rare, and one that’s been constructed over the course of months, not weeks.

The World Heavyweight championship bout may not have as much build behind it but there’s still an appeal there. That Mark Henry beat one of WWE’s two most protected main event talents (the other, of course, being Jonathan Cena) clean on a pay-per-view was shocking. It could be argued that guys like Christian and Sheamus deserve to be World champion for more than Mark Henry (I’d argue that point, for example) but it’s largely irrelevant: ‘The Viper’ lost clean and wants to get revenge. That’s a simple reason for promoting a match and clean losses from Orton are so rare that people will be willing to pay to watch this match almost exclusively to see if Henry is permitted to go over two shows in a row.

I personally think the SmackDown match would be drastically improved by adding ‘Captain Charisma’ and ‘The Celtic Warrior’. While Orton versus Henry at NOC wasn’t appalling it was no match of the year contender either. From an entertainment standpoint a second singles match (no matter what the gimmick) between those two doesn’t appeal. Sheamus and Christian would ensure a higher quality of match.

I’m not convinced we’ll see that though. A Sheamus v Christian match is looking likely, and that should be a very good match. Another option is for a feud between Christian and Daniel Bryan based around Christian’s longing for title opportunities immediately after scheduled defences. Were Christian to challenge Bryan to a match for his Money in the Bank briefcase it would provide a sensible storyline development and produce a top notch match. This may not happen at Hell in a Cell, but bear it in mind for the weeks following the show.

The big question for Hell in a Cell right now is what role The Miz and R-Truth will play. You may well have read their “future endeavours” announcement on Tuesday morning but don’t let that fool you. It’s been done to further the angle that closed Monday Night RAW (Triple H sauntered onto the stage and told the duo they were fired).

That WWE is finally beginning to understand how to utilise things like Twitter and its own established routines (such as the future endeavours message) to its advantage in the building of angles and storylines is a very good sign. It makes suspension of disbelief easier and injects some uncertainty into a product that has become formulaic and predictable.

So what’s next for Truth and Miz? I think they’re going to perform at least one run-in. That or appear on RAW next week as if nothing happened saying they’ve been rehired by John Laurinaitis. Hopefully it will be the interference. It’s possible it will happen on next week’s RAW but I think the HIAC PPV is more likely, and the WWE title triple threat match is the most likely match to see them involved.

I stated in my Night of Champions preview that I believe Johnny Ace is trying to take the COO position and I still think that. He may have denied it on RAW when CM Punk voiced the accusation but look at the facts: Laurinaitis was the one who signed Kevin Nash to a contract; Nash stated that he had Jack-knifed Punk after his SummerSlam victory after receiving a text; Johnny Ace was shown texting during Night of Champions, moments before Nash appeared; Laurinaitis has been shown on various occasions to be fairly pally (or as pally as he’s capable of portraying) with Alberto Del Rio; and he told Triple H on his first full week in charge how Vince would want things run.

It looks as though they’re building to a reveal that Johnny Ace is part of a conspiracy to take control of WWE, using ‘Big Sexy’, Miz and Truth as henchmen. Part of his goal appears to be having the title on Alberto Del Rio (that guy that Vince told to cash-in on CM Punk back at Money in the Bank remember?). How it’s all going to come together on-screen is still a mystery, but it certainly looks as though he’s behind it all.

Although I don’t think he’s the mastermind. There’s only one character WWE would promote as being as devious and crafty as this (even though this isn’t particularly devious or crafty, but bear with me) and that’s... VINCE MCMAHON! Yeah, I’m fully expecting Laurinaitis to reveal at some point in the future that all his texts, hirings, firings and unsubtle attempts to influence WWE’s on-screen balance of power have come from Vince McMahon. It’s not the worst thing that could happen, but it would be fairly unimaginative.

For now though, we have Hell in a Cell to look forward to. Two world titles matches and a fairly good chance that the company’s lead storyline will progress significantly? Not bad with only two weeks to build a show... even if it does mean sitting through a Mark Henry world title reign.

No comments:

Post a Comment