Hell in a Cell took place in Miami, and we got what we were expecting from this. And I mean that in every possible way.
For those who missed Dave’s Bound for Glory review, the criteria for these is simply: “Did I get my money’s worth?” in terms of the individual matches and the PPV as a whole, using the tried and true “what was this trying to do, and how well did it succeed” rubric.
Each match is rated plus or minus on a sliding scale between 1 and -1, with matches worth multiple rewatches worth 1, a just-quite-PPV quality match being 0, and things that make me reevaluate being a fan earning up to a -1 score. The higher the number, the better Bang For Your Buck on the PPV. We’ll (eventually) keep a running tally for each PPV, and a handy list of PPVs we review to give you (and us) a better idea of what we thought was worth the time to check out in terms of matches and PPVs. As for the scale, it’s not particularly complicated but here are the basic levels (on a per-match average):
Like always, we’re going to be using what I said during the What’s the Worst That Could Happen preview to see how close I was to “predicting” what unfolded, and how it stacked up to my best hopes and worst fears. Enjoy!
Cody Rhodes & Goldust (c) vs.
Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins vs. The Usos
For the WWE Tag Team Championships
What Nick Wants to Happen: More than 10 minutes of wrestling, the Usos to not be completely buried and the Rhodes boys to start a feud with the Wyatt Family after narrowly, but cleanly, defeating the Shield.
Man, if them Rhodes Boys continue to put on performances like this, that “Goldust getting a run with the WHC before giving it to Cody” might have more traction than we think. The Usos continue to be the most underrated THING in wrestling, and may have been the stars of this match. These are three of the more exciting WWE tag teams in a long, long, long time and this was the best possible way to open what should have been a super hot show (Spoiler Alert: it was not.) This also featured maybe the best “babyface in peril” work in recent memory from Dustin, Roman Reigns showing why he is a future World’s Champion and, seriously if Cody Rhodes isn’t buying Seth Rollins a six-pack after every time he sells the Cross Rhodes P-E-R-F-E-C-T-L-Y, he’s a bad friend. I would pay to see matches like this until the day I die.
Summer Rae and Fandango vs.
Natalya and The Great Khali
Easily the most surprising match of the night, and not just because it was unannounced. Summer Rae continues to build on her EXCELLENT — genuine top of the card — work on NXT, and Fandango wrestling on/around Khali was as well done as anything this side of his SummerSlam match with Triple H. While this isn’t a match you’d show your friends to get them to want to watch more, being pleasantly surprised by a good match for a PPV you were tepid — at best– about is something really really nice that doesn’t happen often enough. Throw in some a few really nice spots between Summer and Nattie — including a really smooth bridge spot — along with Mrs. Tyson Kidd’s takedown of Fandango, and you have a match that far far exceeded expectations. And not just because there weren’t any.
Match: +.3 | PPV: 1.3
Big E. Langston vs. Dean Ambrose(c)
for the U.S. Title
This match happened as a result of “an injury to Curtis Axel”, though, considering that the match jumped from the Kickoff show to the main show it seems like there was a logical reason behind the switch. You’d have to think that logical reason was “we think that Dean Ambrose is better than Curtis Axel”. And while they may not be totally right about that, this match did exactly what it was supposed to do: put Big E. Langston — who seems to be on his way to a biblical push — in the “Authority” storyline, allowing him to logically be in inevitable Survivor Series match. This match, while not anything to write home about — other than maybe that DISGUSTING cut on Big E.’s face/Dean’s chin — did exactly what it was supposed to do, and featured one truly fantastic spot: the spear through the ropes. All in all, a perfect spotlight for a guy with as bright a future as anyone in the business.
Match: +.3 | PPV: 1.6
CM Punk vs. Ryback & Paul Heyman
(Handicap Hell in a Cell Match)
What Nick Wants to Happen: This feud to end.
Even getting what I wanted didn’t really help me much with this match. The crowd was deplorable the entire night, and this was easily the worst match from that perspective. And while this may have been one of Ryback’s best performances — in terms of fluidity of movement, telling a story and safety (see: the gentle but effective atomic drop onto the edge of the table) — CM Punk continues to look like he’s going through the motions until he could finally move on from this feud. He showed by far the most enthusiasm at the end, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence. While not a bad match, let’s just say this won’t be going on either man’s Essential Viewing.
Match: +.5 | PPV: 2.1
Los Matadores vs. The Real Americans
What Nick Wants to Happen: A match that doesn’t feel like filler, people actually start to get into Los Matadores and Zeb chases El Torito around the ring while they play Benny Hill music over the PA.
A mehburger with a nice tall glass of lukewarm indifference, the WWE continues to squander perhaps the best natural talent since Brock Lesnar in Antonio Cesaro. The magic of Los Matadores entrance has wained, mostly because fans don’t really seem interested in it, which is a bummer. At least they went over?
Match: +.0 PPV: 2.1
Alberto Del Rio (c) vs. John Cena
for the World Heavyweight Championship
What Will Happen: John Cena will win, Damien Sandow will cash in and lose.
Despite these two being probably my favorite performers in the company outside of Mark Henry (and maybe Sheamus), it’s clear that John was limited here, and while that didn’t make the match unwatchable, it was not up to what these two are both capable of. Which seems to be the theme of the night. But, even with that, this was a match John Cena fans will love (because he overcame the odds), Alberto del Rio fans (me) will enjoy because ADR looked way-better-than-good (which sometimes a problem in matches he loses) and sets up an actually interesting story for a title that needed it.
Match: .65 | PPV: 2.75
AJ Lee (c) vs. Brie Bella
for the Divas Championship
Best Case Scenario: AJ Lee wins clean, ends this never-ending feud so that they can finally bring up the extremely talented girls from NXT.
Brie continues to get better and better, and it’s really great to see that even Nikki has begun to understand the difference between “performing” — playing yourself up to eleven (see: the Bellas reactions during the “pipe bombshell”) — and “being a performer” — using your own personality to inform how your character would react in specific situations (Brie’s reaction to accidentally hitting Nikki). That this also likely ends what has been a somewhat enjoyable if needlessly long feud, allowing AJ to feud with (hopefully) the girls from NXT and Brie to feud with Nikki actually makes this as good a match as you could expect from this combination. Which is to say, a mediocre one.
Match: .3 | PPV: 3.05
Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan
for the WWE Championship (Hell in a Cell Match)
Worst Case Scenario: An actual screwjob.
What Will Happen: An actual screwjob. (For the fans, at least.)
An excellent, enjoyable match between the two best workers in the company right now. This feud — which, for those that complain about continuity and hot-shotting has been going on since Act III of the Team Hell No saga — continues to deliver in the ring from the beginning of the match until SOMEWHERE NEAR the end. I — and this entirely a personal preference — very much enjoy the chase they are making Daniel Bryan go through, but I totally understand why other people don’t, and I can totally see why people thought this botchy-mcbotched ending was not anyone’s idea of a good time. HAVING SAID THAT, I will be watching tomorrow to find out about the fallout from this, thought the work before the WCW-execution on what would have been a really GREAT ending was unsurprisingly amazing, and at the very least, finally gave us a champion. This could have been their best match, even the ending had been better, and while because of that it ended up being the worst out of the three, it is definitely definitely worth watching (especially before the ending).
Depending on how you felt about the ending of the DB/RKO match, this was a decent PPV, with better matches than Battleground, just less of them. This is something that would be a GREAT non-premium PPV once the network comes out, but for now, this is a less than great buy.
PPV: 3.8 | Match Avg: .475 (.48 if you’re nasty)