Hell In A Cell: Your Fantasy WWE Strategy Guide
The Hell in a Cell match used to be the most destructive of all of the “big matches” in WWE, the culmination of a long feud, ending in a bloody battle inside the demonic Cell. Of course, the Cell is simply a steel cage with a roof on it but still, it was the best of what WWE had to offer. After the Cell was introduced, Tables Ladders and Chairs, as well as the Elimination Chamber, came to fruition; but there was always something about Hell in a Cell that felt special. Perhaps it goes back to the very first Hell in a Cell match between the Undertaker and Shawn Michaels, still perhaps the best match ever inside the Cell. Or, there is obviously the most famous match in WWE history, featuring the most famous call in WWE history, with Mankind flying off the top of the cell. The video and call are still relevant today and are ingrained in the mind of every twenty-something that watched that event live. The truth is, Hell in a Cell was a brutal hell, and it was guaranteed to be an awesome match. The Undertaker has wrestled in the match 12 times, Triple H, nine. These men are legends and the match had become synonymous with legendary battles. Until WWE decided to do what WWE always does - milk an idea for everything its worth.
What used to be an attraction once or so a year, Hell in a Cell became an event. Like…they literally named a PPV Hell in a Cell. It didn’t matter what the storylines dictated or if a rivalry was incredibly intense or just getting under way; when October rolled around that meant the main event was going inside Hell in a Cell. This worked out very well at times (say last year’s Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton match), and at times it completely made no sense (say, CM Punk vs. The Undertaker). A match that should only happen in the rarest of cases just became another stop on the road, to uh, road to WrestleMania. This year’s offering, once again, has two matches taking place inside the Cell. One that has made the most sense for the last four months, while the other we have seen countless times…INCLUDING ALREADY INSIDE A CELL! I would say this card is top heavy and the rest of the card consists of rematches of things we have seen before, but I’m sure you already knew that. WWE does not know how to book a rivalry/feud/angle anymore. The past few weeks since Night of Champions have demonstrated this point over and over.
Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins have been feuding since the Shield broke up in June. It’s been a classic, old school, bitter rivalry with both wrestlers dying to get their hands on each other. This has been the one match that WWE has gone to the well over and over and overall, it hasn’t been boring. This is a major credit to the performers who have kept this feud interesting all throughout the summer. It seemed only natural that these men would fight and perhaps main event Hell in a Cell, to finally end what has seemingly been a year-long conflict. Except, over the last six weeks there has been speed bump after speed bump for us to get to the Cell.
Part of the reason for this is the lack of presence from the champion, Brock Lesnar. As noted here many times, Lesnar is only signed to a limited date deal with the company, and thus only appears a few times per year. This is never usually a problem, as it’s always a marquee attraction when Lesnar returns. But for now, with Lesnar the WWE Champion gone, there is a massive hole on the top of the card. Throw in Roman Reigns’ major injury and there are five current main event level talents on the roster. And all five have wrestled each other for the last five weeks in a row. In some fashion, the main event of Monday Night Raw every week since Night of Champions has been Randy Orton teaming with Seth Rollins, and Kane against John Cena and Dean Ambrose. Every. Single. Week. That’s not a way to start a rivalry. That’s the way to kill one.
It was Seth Rollins that cost Cena his match against Lesnar last month, causing Cena to temporarily block Ambrose’s path to getting his hands on Rollins at the Cell. Cena and Ambrose both wanted Rollins who, after being somewhat of an afterthought in the Shield, has become the number one everyday heel in the company (not including Triple H or Brock Lesnar). Originally, the plan called for Ambrose and Cena to open Hell in a Cell with a match and the winner would fight Rollins. When that plan leaked, they moved the match up to Raw, with Ambrose winning a “contract on a pole match” (A match that Cena can lose and not get pinned), for the right to face Rollins. Essentially, WWE ran an angle for a few weeks to just get us where we should have been the entire time - at Ambrose vs. Rollins in the Cell. This match should not only be the show stealer, but it should also be the main attraction, for as per usual, an underwhelming card. If given the main event slot (we’ll get to that in a minute), this may be WWE’s first true changing of the guard in years. Ambrose and Rollins officially making it to the top - the question remains, will they stay there come ‘Mania season, or will we revert back to the same boring feuds we have been watching for years?
So, Ambrose beats Cena, getting his chance to fight Rollins with no interference from the Authority. For the first time in months, it’s one on one with no shenanigans, the end of line. This is obviously the culmination of the night, right? Common logic would obviously dictate that, but since when has WWE ever preached logic? Although the company never came out and said the words, the loser of the Ambrose/Cena match on Raw was going on to face Randy Orton, also inside the Cell. This, once again, puts Orton up against his arch rival, John Cena. We saw this exact match five years ago in 2009, if you would like to see a state of the company. To be fair, I am happy that we are getting Cena vs. Orton again rather than wasting either Rollins or Ambrose in this spot. So WWE, knowing they are giving us this match for around the 60th time, needed something to spice things up. They fought earlier this year at the Royal Rumble, and before that they united the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships in a good TLC match at the TLC PPV (yes, another PPV centered on one of those previously awesome special event matches). So, after John Cena vs. Randy Orton part 60 became official it was announced that this match would be to determine the number one contender to Brock Lesnar’s championship. So basically, Cena lost his match to Ambrose, lost two previous matches to Brock Lesnar, and now has a chance to again be the number one contender? Randy Orton has been playing second fiddle to Seth Rollins, Triple H, and Batista, and now is in the mix to be the next in line for Lesnar? If the point of fake wrestling is to be the WWE Champion, why would the two afterthoughts/losers be in a match to determine a champion, while Ambrose, who WON a match, is relegated to fighting his arch rival for nothing but retribution? I realize this is needed to spice up Cena and Orton again, but how can it be at the expense of Rollins and Ambrose? It makes no sense.
Looking a bit long-term, it seems as though Orton will defeat Cena (picking it on Kountermove, even though Orton is the biggest favorite on the board) and go on to face Lesnar. I have to assume Seth Rollins costs Orton that match, leading to an Orton face turn, and officially, a feud that has been simmering with Rollins. Reigns will come back and presumably win the Royal Rumble to fight Lesnar at Mania, leaving the plan unchanged, although, I would absolutely love to see a Shield triple-threat main event at ‘Mania with Ambrose vs. Reigns vs. Rollins. That legitimately makes three guys, dawns a new era and is really awesome. John Cena, on the other hand, the patriot himself, I’m sure will eventually make his way into a feud with the current dominant foreigner.
Rusev is still undefeated as he heads into Hell in a Cell for a match against the Big Show. Of course, this is a match we saw a few weeks ago on Raw, which brought along interference from Big Show’s BFF Mark Henry. Show and Henry destroyed Rusev after the match, a surprising heel-like tactic. I’ve really come around to Rusev over the past few months because he’s not a run-of-the-mill foreigner. He has a fantastic look, is super impressive in the ring, and his girlfriend/manager is ridiculously hot when she’s not trying to be an evil Russian (okay, even then). I expect this Sunday, Henry turns heel on the Big Show, turning on his country, causing JBL to have a coronary and Rusev to again be victorious. I still believe the natural next step for Rusev is to fight Sheamus and defeat him for the United State Championship. These two foreign brawlers would make Sheamus interesting for the first time in three years and is a natural fit for the next step for Rusev. That is, unless Kurt Angle returns. Please make this happen.
Speaking of Sheamus, while he may not be Mr. Entertainment, his storyline leading into Hell in a Cell has actually been really fun. That’s all thanks to The Miz and Damien Miz(San)dow. The Miz and Sandow is my favorite act to watch in WWE right now, with Sandow impersonating Miz’s every movement. From his attire, to his entrance, to his poses, to every move he performs, to every move he gets hit with, Sandow has taken everything like a stunt double would. It’s absolutely hysterical to watch and has made the Miz more interesting than he has been in about four years. In a six-man tag match last week, Sandow pinned Sheamus, causing Miz to celebrate since “he won” because Sandow is Miz’s stunt double. It was really funny comedic writing and this act has completely rejuvenated the Miz and Sandow. When Sandow eventually gets the better of Miz and becomes a full fledged babyface, it’s going to be gold. Sandow has proven over and over again that he can get over with the crowd doing any gimmick, and he deserves a major push after this gimmick has run its course.
The other members of that six man tag match were The Usos and the Rhodes Brothers, Stardust and Goldust. For the second consecutive PPV these teams will face off against each other for the tag team titles. As I wrote last month, there is no juice behind this feud at all, as it has basically been relegated to background noise for other feuds. I’ll assume that Goldust and Stardust retain until the next (NXT) team steps up. I’ll again assume it’s the Ascension, but I’ll take anyone really. Personally, I’m hoping for Enzo and Big Cass.
When we aren’t getting The Miz/Mizdow teaming with The Rhodes Brothers, we’ve gotten Stardust and Goldust team with Cesaro. Cesaro, who was feuding with Sheamus for the United States Championship last month, has simply swapped places with The Miz and will now take on Dolph Ziggler for the Intercontinental Championship this Sunday. Of course, since WWE has no idea how to book a rivalry anymore, these two wrestlers faced off in singles competition in each of the last two shows before Hell in a Cell. Sunday, they face off in a best two out of three falls match. Naturally, with Cesaro and Ziggler being two of the best wrestlers in the company, this one has the chance to be a match of the year candidate. Odds are they will get the same 15 minutes they normally get to showcase their talents, and we will again be begging for more from Ziggler and Cesaro.
The last two matches on the card are divas matches. The first is for the Divas Championship, and for the fourth straight PPV I believe, AJ Lee takes on Paige. This feud has gone from fluky to awesome, to having lesbian overtones, to being like every other divas feud ever…boring. Much like the other divas match on the show (I’ll be there in a second), all of the juice that was in this feud has completely been taken out of it since the matchup is just no longer fresh. Interestingly enough, this week it was announced that Paige and her recent BFF Alicia Fox would be added to Total Divas for the next season, leaving AJ Lee (and I believe Layla and Emma) as the only WWE divas not to be featured on the reality show. This could bode well for Paige winning back the title this Sunday, or it could mean absolutely nothing. Lee has said in the past that she has no interest in ever being on the show, as she wants to be seen strictly as a wrestler, not a reality star. Oh, she’s also married to the man that just decided to pack up his stuff and leave in the middle of WrestleMania season, so there’s that. If they brought that Total Divas stuff into this storyline instead of focusing on how AJ has no friends, they may have been able to reinvigorate this rivalry. Instead, it’s just beating a dead horse at the moment.
In what has seemed like another feud going on forever, Brie Bella finally takes on her sister Nikki Bella in a one on one match, with the loser having to be the other one’s servant for the next thirty days. Initially, it was thought that this match could go inside the Cell and be the first ever Divas Hell in a Cell match. Then, both Bellas talked. After the rancid Jerry Springer segment and follow up interviews, this feud has really been put on the back burner. They have actually already locked up in tag team competition, leaving that first standoff kind of meaningless now. In Kountermove, I’m picking Nikki to cheat and win because what would be the point of the face Brie having Nikki as her servant for 30 days. That’s not ‘good’ television. Of course, none of it will be good television, but that’s not what Vince McMahon thinks! Back at Summerslam, the Bellas were in a main event level spot with Stephanie McMahon; just two months later, this match might as well just be the best match ever.
I used to look forward to the dramatic Hell in a Cell matches. There was always going to be an insane bump. Mick Foley set the standard, twice in one match, with his death defying falls. Even Rikishi flew off the cage, cementing the legacy of the demonic structure. But in recent years, that legacy, much like the feuds of today have been watered down. The climax that was the Hell in a Cell match has become just another event, another benchmark on the WWE calendar. There’s no more blood or the culmination of a hated rivalry; there’s simply just Hell in a Cell and then onto the next match, the next Raw, the next Smackdown, the next PPV. Hell in a Cell is no longer an end; it’s just a pit stop.
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