Hell in a Cell has come and gone, my friends, and while I did not get to see the live Twitter-verse reactions, I can tell that the overall impressions are positive. As they should be, it was a quality show, which as many who don’t #PromotePositivity as much as I do would say, is a rare thing.
I had a fractured viewing of it (watched the first hour last night and the remainder between 3:45 and 5:15 this morning), so I’m probably not the best person to judge the overall product. However, while I did enjoy the vast majority of what I saw, I can’t help but feel like I am wanting more. In some cases, that’s a positive, but in others, not so much.
Maybe its that I have more questions than answers right now, so for today’s review, here’s what’s in store:
We start with the pre-show, where besides Paul Heyman’s deliciously disdainful commentary, the best part was
Impressions: I had hoped for some more overt signs of dissension in the ranks but it seems WWE is going with the slow burn for these two. Perhaps that is because Sandow is making The Miz look so damn good. The patter between the two was fantastic - I went from being legitimately annoyed at Miz for interrupting Sandow’s brilliance to laughing out loud with glee at their mutual exchanges of bro-love. Most people (not me!) just wanted Miz to go away and never return, but now I think they are actually entertained by him. Such is the power of Sandow.
Moment: Sandow going back and forth between trying to copy the Miz’s words and yet be touched by the sentiment. We discussed this on Twitter recently, but it bears repeating - Is Sandow a top 10 talent in WWE on a pure entertainment scale? Could he even be top 5?
As for the question and what is next, we’ll save that for the match later in the evening.
We move on now to an unadvertised match, such as it was…
Mark Henry vs. Bo “Washington” Dallas
Impressions: Not sure what the point of all that was, especially when you add it to the results of the Rusev match later on. My biggest impression is that Bo Dallas needs more exposure and mic time.
Moment: Bo’s entire promo, both pre and post match. He was topical, heelish and yet still hilarious, even after getting his butt kicked. I still Bo-lieve!
Question: Could we see Bo Dallas become a mid-card title contender? I’ll get to this with the next match, but it feels like we’ve seen all of the possible combinations of matches with the current crop of IC and US contenders. Sliding Bo Dallas into the IC title picture makes sense to me, though I don’t think it’s what’s next.
What’s Next: For Henry, we’ll once again wait ‘til the Rusev match. As for Dallas, I think he continues to languish in the undercard for a while. I don’t think WWE sees him as I do, as a guy who could give Ziggler a run for his money. He’ll continue to be fodder for the guys they like, but don’t have a place for at the moment.
Now, onto the show proper. As predicted, we began with what I truly (and incorrectly) thought would be the match of the night…
Ziggler vs. Cesaro
Impressions: You know what happened here? I fell victim to one of a WWE fan’s classic blunders. No, thankfully it did not involve a land war in Asia, but it was almost as bad. I fell victim to my own hype. I spent so much time lauding this match as a potential all-time classic that when it was just an excellent match, I wound up disappointed.
I had really expected WWE to give these two 25 solid minutes to tell their story, and so when they moved from chain wrestling to the pinfall roulette in the first 5 minutes, I thought it was rushed. Had I been more realistic and expected 15 minutes of action, I might not have felt that way.
I’m glad Ziggler is getting the chance to be a legit IC juggernaut in getting the win in straight falls, which I am sure nobody expected. Cesaro also looked beastly, thanks to...
Moment: Of course it’s the superplex. That’ll be a highlight of his for a long, long time. Serious strength required there. Still. . .
Question: What happens to Cesaro now? He’s failed at capturing both the US and IC titles, and while this feud with Ziggler could continue, Ziggler made his point pretty clear that he was the better man. With Cesaro still hugging the “tweener” line, there’s no obvious place for him to go. Considering he is, in my mind and the mind of many others, the best in-ring talent WWE has, that’s a travesty.
What’s Next: The fact that there is no clear cut place for Cesaro or Ziggler for that matter makes me think this feuds continues regardless of last night’s outcome. Perhaps this brings out a darker, more vicious side of Cesaro since he was embarrassed at HIAC? I’d sure like to see that.
This just in, folks, hold on, I’ve got something in the headset here. . . What’s that? . . . Really? . . . No way around it? . . . Damn. . . Well, sorry gang, but I’ve been told that I need to discuss the Bella match. I was going to gloss over it, but rules are rules. . .
Nikki Bella vs. Brie Bella
Impressions: Considering I was barely in the room and had the volume all the way down, my impressions are few and far between. I’m sad this feud needs to continue and I weep for the real women’s wrestlers who are on the sidelines while these two hog the spotlight. Seriously, why aren’t all the Cena haters blaming him for this?
Moment: Nikki stealing the Yes! chants after winning. For all I know, that’s been happening for weeks with this feud, but I got a kick out of it. I’ll admit Nikki has the “evil woman” look down, though my ears fill with wax and my vision goes all fuzzy every time she grabs a microphone.
Question: Can this be over now, please? Of course it can’t, we’ve got at least another 30 days of this, but I think that was just about everyone’s sentiment last night. Charlotte is languishing down in NXT right now, more so than any other talent considering she is so far above her competition, yet we’ll be getting 4 weeks of Brie getting coffee or being put in otherwise humiliating situations.
What’s Next: I could honestly care less.
Dust Brothers vs. Uso’s
Impressions: Another solid match by two solid teams. My biggest impression is the one I always get watching the Dust’s - Goldust, at 45 years old, is in the best shape of his life. He’s been wrestling for over 20 years, I’ve seen most of it, and he’s never looked better than he does right now. The other impression is how much Cody Rhodes is obviously loving being Stardust. A lot of people keep hoping Cody comes back, but honestly, when this team breaks up, I think it’s going to be Stardust vs. Dustin, not Cody vs. Goldust.
Moment: When Michael Cole mentioned that the last team to hold the tag titles that weren’t in this match were the New Age Outlaws. In 2014, only 3 teams have held the tag gold - These two teams, and a couple guys whose primes were over a decade ago. Let that settle in for a minute.
Question: Is the tag-team division dead? I somewhat joked about this idea in my prediction column, but seriously, could we see the tag belts disappear? The division is void of solid teams and the guys in NXT, as much as I love the Vaudevillains and the Lucha Dragons, aren’t going to save it. I have to wonder if at some point, Vince and Co. will just decide to say “Screw it” and drop the belts for a year or two. This is sad.
What’s Next: Barring the formation of another team or, even more unlikely, moving forward on the Kofi / Big E duo, don’t these two teams have to keep fighting each other? You can’t honestly tell me Slater-Gator or Los Matadores are contenders, can you?
Time for the most shocking moment of the night, when fans realized that WWE actually seems to know a bit about how to build a wrestling card.
Randy Orton vs. John Cena
Impressions: WWE Blunder 2 - Never bet against #KidsAndTroops. Many of us were really convinced Orton was going to emerge victorious, even if it was shady, and get a shot at Lesnar, but no such luck. Instead we get Cena vs. Lesnar III: Suplexes In Space!
I think this is WWE’s way of covering their bases. You’ve got a champion with questionable health (though reports say it’s not as bad as we originally thought), all the most likely Rumble comeback guys (Bryan, Reigns, etc.) also have doubts, so Cena once again is playing the role of the fall-back option. If Lesnar can’t continue wrestling, Cena wins the belt and we move along. If DB or Roman aren’t ready, Cena is, sadly, the best candidate to main event with Brock at ‘Mania.
I hate how this makes sense.
Moment: I loved that Orton is becoming a DDP-level master of doing the Ace Crusher out of nowhere. One of the best things about Dallas Page was that every week, we seemed to see a new version of the Diamond Cutter. That’s what’s happening now with the RKO. I’ve been toying with the notion of a series of Finisher columns for months now, but really, isn’t the RKO the best finisher going?
Question: When does Cena / Lesnar take place? I think we have a pretty good idea of where both guys are heading (hint: it’s the same direction) so the only question is when Brock comes back. I’m still thinking it’s the Rumble, though that’s a lot of Heyman / Cena promos to sit through, and even these two can’t keep it going for 2+ months.
What’s Next: Rollins. Cena and Seth have unfinished business after Night of Champions and I’m sure we’ll get more Authority strife tonight. Rollins rubbing it in Orton’s face that Mr. MITB won while Mr. RKO lost. One half of the main event of Survivor Series right now looks like a Triple Threat between these guys.
Sheamus vs. Miz
Impressions: Meh. This was the one match I probably paid the least attention to that didn’t involve a Bella. I kept an eye on it in case of any Miz-communications (Sorry, Shannon, but I’m sticking with my pun), but outside of that, it was a match. That’s it.
Moment: Since it took place during the match itself, I’ll go with Mizdow selling the Beats of the Bodhran with a slight victory over the Sheamus puppet show post-match. I’m telling you, Top 5 in entertainment value.
Question: How long can Mizdow take it? While, to be fair, he’s being featured more prominently now than at any time since he held the MITB briefcase, I have to think Sandow rebels sooner rather than later. We didn’t see any huge problems between the two last night, but they were there. Maybe Miz takes issue with Mizdow copying his employer’s beaten form rather than trying to save him from humiliation…
What’s Next: Miz in the same boat as Cesaro, really. He’s battled, and lost, both the IC and US champion. He can’t go back to Ziggler already, just like Cesaro can’t go back to Sheamus. This mid-card scene is a funny place right now.
As for Sheamus, I think he has a date with the Bulgarian Brute on the horizon.
Rusev vs. Big Show
Impressions: Solid match with confusing finish. I’m sick of the uber-Russian gimmick and of people having to pick up the defense of America. Like a lot of feuds going on now, I’m ready to move on.
Moment: Big Show putting Rusev in the Haas of Pain was my favorite wrestling move of the entire night, and yes I’m even counting the SuperDuperPlex. I loved every second of that, and if Rusev had tapped, I’d have celebrated. I know Big Show is huge and has a legit knockout punch, but the Haas of Pain should be his finisher from now on. So awesome.
Question: What was the point of Mark Henry being out there? He didn’t attack Big Show, didn’t get him disqualified, didn’t even really factor into the match at all. I don’t get the booking there. We seem to be heading down a road towards another “battle of the giants”, why not start it on Sunday?
What’s Next: Rusev goes after Sheamus. He’s beaten just about everybody else, so unless Luke Harper comes back tonight as The Patriot 2.0, Sheamus seems to be the next logical step. I don’t know if we’ll ever see the Russian title, but I’d pencil in these two for Survivor Series.
AJ vs. Paige
Impressions: AJ looks like Punk more and more every week. These two, compared to our first Diva’s match, can actually wrestle. Paige tapped much too quickly.
Moment: Paige doing her own version of the Cesaro Swing, though AJ’s rotation kept getting interrupted by the ringside barrier.
Question: Aren’t these two destined to be together? Both are being booked as being crazy with no friends. Both obviously have the love / hate thing down to a science. Do we need to wait for Charlotte to come up before these two join forces?
What’s Next: With Paige turning on Alicia, we’ll see some Triple Threat matches, I expect. Much like the tag division, it’s not like there are a lot of contenders out there for either talent to face.
Ambrose vs. Rollins
Impressions: Someone should study what they’ve done to the Cells over the years to protect people from massive blood loss. Seems like in the original years you could get busted open just by looking at Satan’s Structure, now it seems like you can actually be forced through the holes of the Cell and still come out non-crimson.
The dual fall felt forced, especially from Ambrose, who seemed to just jump off to be like his friend Seth. That moment felt very much like they were just shooting the highlight reel moment for the next 10 years of Cell matches.
Moment: The elbow-drop onto the balanced table, however, now that looked amazing. I seriously believed someone had broken a limb in that, especially with the way both wrestlers were tangled up at the end.
And, of course, Bray’s return. It was a thing of beauty, although his uranage suplex (Rock Bottom for those playing along at home) is a better looking move than Sister Abigail.
Question: How does Bray justify his actions? As much as I have wanted to see these two feud (crazy has never been so much fun), Wyatt is going to have to make a very compelling case. He can’t just be another Authority lackey nor can it just be because “I was unstable long before you” - there has to be a legit reason. The only way I can see it going is for Bray to take issue with the fact that the WWE fans have rallied around Ambrose to save the company, when it is Wyatt himself who is their savior.
Either that or they need to drop the savior act altogether and Bray just did it to get noticed - picked the most over guy in the yard and beat him down. Unlikely, but with more possibilities.
What’s Next: Chaos. And I can’t wait.