Tuesday, 29 October 2013

WWE Hell in a Cell 2013 Review

Hmmmm...Hell in A Cell....probably the most derided of all the gimmick PPV's that WWE brought in way back in 2009 (Has it really been four years?) and not without good reason. Whether it was a disappointing encounter between CM Punk and The Undertaker back at the inaugural event, or the drab, confusing and thrown together match between Punk and Ryback at last years event, Hell in a Cell has, more often than not, struggled to capture the magic that made the original Hell in a Cell match some of the most fondly remembered contests in WWE history. So with a hit and miss build up, in the three weeks between the last PPV Battleground, and two successively flat PPV offerings, how would WWE handle this years edition of Hell in a Cell? Let's find out shall we.

As expected the show opens with one of WWE's fantastically produced video packages, detailing the history of the Hell in a Cell match, with nice little snippets of interviews with Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley and Edge, before the obligatory commentary from Jim Ross (who will surely be back in WWE at some point in the future) and then moving onto a few of the matches that will take place on the show, Alberto Del Rio defending his World Heavyweight Championship against a returning John Cena, CM Punk's Handicap Hell in a Cell match with Paul Heyman and Ryback, and Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton going at for the vacant WWE Championship inside Hell in a Cell. A quick bit of promo for the PPV's sponsor WWE 2K14 and we are ready for action.

Tag Team Championship Triple Threat Match
Goldust & Cody Rhodes ©
The Usos
The Shield

This match was far and away the best of the night. There was a lot about this match to like, with strong storytelling built upon a base of solid wrestling from all six men in the match. After The Usos and Rhodes Family had gotten the crowd warmed up nicely, the bout found it's groove with The Shield working over Goldust for some, with Roman Reigns looking particularly impressive when in control of the bizarre one. But as soon as Goldust had managed to fight to a position to gain a tag, Rhodes was unable to make the tag after being taken out by Seth Rollins, with The Usos doing a great job of rallying the crowd, it looked like Goldust might make a tag to Jimmy or Jey, only for The Shield to pull both Usos off the apron in a really well timed spot. Of course, Goldust eventually got the tag to Rhodes, with Rhodes errupting out of his corner for a series of well worked near falls, including a beautiful looking diving moonsault. The match was soon breaking down with all six men involved in a series of near falls for all three teams, with the crowd red hot throughout, and ridiculous spot that saw Rhodes superplex Rollins to the outside onto the other four men, there really was a lot to like about this bout. The finish kept up the pace of the previous thirteen minutes or so, with a number of signature moves from all the competitors, before Rhodes attempted a Disaster Kick on Rollins, but got caught in a Powerbomb position, only to slip free, allowing Goldust to hit his signature uppercut and Rhodes to finish Rollins off with Cross Rhodes to pick up the pinfall victory and retain the Tag Team Championships. I'd say this win would have to see The Shield out of title contention as they lost fairly cleanly here to the Tag Team Champions, so it will be interesting to see what direction WWE is moving with that group, whilst The Usos seem in prime position to finally get that Tag Title run they've deserved for sometime, this storyline and this match in particular has helped to get them over with the majority of WWE's audience and the belts wouldn't seem out of place on Rikishi's twin sons.

Winner and STILL Tag Team Champions: GOLDUST & CODY RHODES (14 Minutes, 38 Seconds)

WWE Chief Opperating Officer Triple H and WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michael were shown sharing a joke backstage. Obviously, this was being done to fuel speculation about how Michael's might be involved in the main event later on in the evening, and to remind viewers of the relationships between the main players in that match. Personally, I'd have prefered to see the focus on Bryan and Orton, but this worked well enough.

There was an advert for the “John Cena's Fast Lane” mobile app, which I'm sure had people rushing away from the PPV they had forked out a fair amount of money on, to download and play.

There were more segments on the way, with The Miz coming out to the ring. Apparently, The Miz wasn't medically cleared to wrestle Bray Wyatt, but he wasn't there to wrestle, he was there to fight. Seriously? Is anyone buying this new Miz hard-man gimmick? The Miz doesn't look like he's had a fight in his life! Let alone with someone like Bray Wyatt! I'm supposed to care about The Miz, and quite frankly I want to see him get punched in the face everytime I see him on screen. Wyatt then appeared on screen, cutting on of his usually creepy promos, before the lights came back on to reveal the rest of The Wyatt Family, Luke Harper and Erick Rowan, who beat the crap out of The Miz and made everyone happy. That wasn't the end of it though, as Kane made his return to the WWE after a ten week absence, and after an awkward scuffle with Harper where it appeared that Kane couldn't lift the big man, Kane vanquished the Wyatt Family. Luckily, Kane wasn't there to save The Miz giving Miz a vicious chokeslam to end the segment. A nice little segment and a good way of re-introducing Kane, but could have easily have happened the next night on Raw. At least we might see some direction for The Wyatt Family once again now Kane is back on the scence.

More WWE 2K14 promotion was on the way, this time looking at the Thirty Years of Wrestlemania mode. We'll have a full review of the game as soon as we get our copy, keep your eyes posted on the blog.

Mixed Tag Team Match
Fandango & Summer Rae
The Great Khali & Natalya
with Hornswoggle

Those that had bought this PPV for the talking were more than getting their money's worth tonight, as Fandango had a few words to say before this match. We were then treated to an impromtu “salsa” from Fandango and Summer Rae, before we were “saved” by The Great Khali and Natalya, with Hornswoggle in tow. I think I would have rather seen more dancing if I'm honest, as I pretty much switched off for the entire of this “bonus” match. To be fair, Natalya and Rae did do some decent stuff in the ring, and it was a good decision to give them the majority of this match up. At times this match looked like having some potential, like Natalya attempting to lock in a Sharpshooter on Fandango, but that quickly disappear when Rae “flirted” with Khali, which in terms of the match made absolutely no sense. The finish saw Natalya in control of Rae, attempting to lock in the Sharpshooter, only for some Rae to get to the ropes and steal a roll up victory over the veteran of the women's division. This match was probably better than I expected it to be, but that isn't saying a lot.

Winners: FANDANGO & SUMMER RAE (4 Minutes, 48 Seconds)

It was then up to the Hell in a Cell Kick Off panel, lead by Josh Matthews and including Dolph Ziggler, R-Truth and Kaitlyn. Kaitlyn spoke first and was a nice addition to the panel, bringing some good focus to WWE's Women's Division, talking up Summer Rae's victory in the last tag match, as well as the upcoming Diva's Championship match between AJ Lee and Brie Bella. R-Truth was up next putting over the tag title match competently. With Dolph Ziggler finishing off the panel by putting over The Miz, as well as Kane's return. Personally, I thought this was one of the better panels they've had, as it was clear each panellist was up to date with the current product and had been watching the show, which hasn't always been the case with these panels.

United States Championship Match
Dean Ambrose ©
Big E Langston

This match was made on the Kick Off show, after Langston got into an verbal altercation with Ambrose, giving Langston a replacement for his advertised Intercontinental Championship match with Curtis Axel. When this bout was announced, I was actually pretty excited, thinking that these two would be able to string to together a solid bout that would at the very least be entertaining. I ended up very disappointed by what they put on. The main problem here was that the match was just too long for what they wanted to do, it was clear to every that this simply filling time and treading water and neither Ambrose nor Langston did anything to make anyone think otherwise. Langston dominated most of the match, with Ambrose attempting to run away about five times, before eventually being successful and the match ended up in a countout victory for Langston, meaning Ambrose retained his title. This match either needed to be five minutes shorter, have a load of consectutive pin attempts or not even happen at all. After the match, Langston caught Ambrose and hit the Big Ending to keep Langston looking strong for his Intercontinental Championship bout with Curtis Axel later down the line.

Winner: BIG E LANGSTON (8 Minutes, 43 Seconds)

STILL United States Champion: DEAN AMBROSE

Handicap Hell in a Cell Match
CM Punk
Ryback & Paul Heyman

Before this match got going, Paul Heyman used a Scissor Lift to climb to the top of the cell, which might have been more effective, if the scissor lift hadn't actually managed to make Randy Orton's walk to the ring look sprightly. On his way up to the roof, Heyman cut another top notch promo, detailing himself as Satan, with all the pomposity that we've come to expect from Heyman over the last few months.

Unfortunately, the bout itself couldn't live up to Heyman's promo and the build that had gone before, with very little that made me sit up and take notice. The fact that we'd already see Punk beat Ryback at Battleground, meant that everyone knew how this one was going, and they never really deviate from that path. There were some interesting spots, like Ryback repeatedly suplexed Punk into the cage, but it was the story that strung the spots together that didn't really hold up for this one. The fact of the matter is, no one was interested in seeing Punk vs Ryback, so the match was deflated from the first bell, all anyone wanted to see was Punk get his hands on Heyman and beat him up, and it showed in the reactions from the crowd throughout the bout. With Punk making a comeback, there was way too much actual wrestling and bouncing off the ropes, when this bout needed to deliver a brutal fight, and that showed in the reaction of the crowd when they saw Punk pull out the table, it was as if he'd just pulled out a bag of thumbtacks or something. The finish saw Punk hit a low blow on Ryback, before an Elbow Drop through the table and a GTS picked up the victory for the Second City Saint. A decent finish that looked good visually, but it wasn't enough to make the rest of the bout feel worthwhile.

Winner: CM PUNK (13 Minutes, 50 Seconds)

All anyone wanted to see in this one was Punk finally get his hands on Heyman and that we did. The visual of Punk climbing the Cell with a Singapore Cane and going on to beat the hell into Heyman before nailing him with a GTS was a great way to end this rivalry. Putting Ryback in this rivalry was probably a poor choice, as it was too technical a story for the big man to pull off, especially when tasked to do so in the ring as we've seen at Battleground and now here at Hell in a Cell. Where Punk goes from here, with this storyline clearly done with, I don't really know.

An emotional video package was aired featuring Lilian Garcia, Titus O'Neil and Layla talking about how Breast Cancer has affected their lives, as WWE continues to promote Susan G. Kommen throughout Breast Cancer Awareness month. Can't really complain about this, as WWE continues it's good work in promoting worthy causes.

The lovely Renee Young (Yes, I can say lovely) had some interview time with Daniel Bryan, who cut a very basic promo outlining his match with Randy Orton later on. It was littered with cliches “I'm finally going to go one on one with Orton” before once again reminding the audience of the importance of Shawn Michaels as Special Guest Referee, they are really sign posting this one tonight! To finish up Bryan attempted to rally the crowd, by reminding them that it was this arena that originated the “YES” chant, even if it had been going around the indy scene for months. It wasn't the best promo we've seen Bryan deliver over the last few months, with Bryan looking pretty uncomfortable as he obviously just delivered his lines and the main event probably didn't need this added build up.

Tag Team Match
Los Matadores
with El Torito
The Real Americans (Cesaro/Swagger)
with Zeb Colter

This was a fun little tag team match, that was worked well by all of the competitors. Plenty of comedy with Los Matadores and El Torito, but helped out with a basis of strong wrestling and decent tag team psycology that made for an entertaining five minutes or so. I particularly enjoyed the closing stages with some good worked based around Swagger's Patriot Lock on one of Los Matadores, that saw Swagger crash into Cesaro, allowing Los Matadores to pick up a pinfall victory with a new double team finisher. It wasn't a five star classic, but for what it was and for the time it had, this was a decent tag team contest, and I'm really beginning to warm to Los Matadores.

Winners: LOS MATADORES (5 Minutes, 30 Seconds)

World Heavyweight Championship Match
Alberto Del Rio ©
John Cena

This match had a lot of potential, with an easy to follow storyline that suited both characters down to the ground. Luckily, they went for the obvious storyline, of Del Rio working Cena's injured arm, unfortunately the bout was missing one vital ingredient to really push it on. That vital ingredient is something that has been many people's main criticism of John Cena and that is his selling. There was only one time in the match where Cena really went for selling the arm, and it looked great, but for the rest of the match he simply forgot to do so, meaning that the work that Del Rio was doing working over the arm and telling the story was going to waste because Cena was forgetting that his arm should be in agony the whole time! Cena went on to break out of the Cross Armbreaker, by lifting Del Rio up into the air, which looked visually impressive but would have meant a whole lot more if Cena's arm had given way, meaning more time in the hold, only for Cena to either get to the ropes or reverse into an STF. Unfortunately, this was not to be and Cena went on to pick up the victory following an Attitude Adjustment and become the new World Heavyweight Champion. I'm glad Cena is holding the title, as it gives a lot more focus onto that belt, raising it's profile and meaning that whoever holds it after Cena will be in a much better position for holding a belt recently held by Cena. If only Cena hold sold the arm!

Winner and NEW World Heavyweight Champion: JOHN CENA (15 minutes, 5 Seconds)

They debuted the Survivor Series promo, which features Bray Wyatt and The Wyatt Family. I would say expect big things from The Wyatt Family next month, but the Hell in a Cell promo featured R-Truth so you never know.

It was back to the Kick-Off panel again, as Josh Matthews asked the questions once more. There were some interested presented here, with clearly frustrated Dolph Ziggler saying he wanted to be next in line for a shot at John Cena's World Heavyweight Championship. Unfortunately, that's probably not very likely. R-Truth put over the main evented again, saying that Daniel Bryan was still his favourite to win the match. Before Kaitlyn gave more insight to WWE's women's division, talking about the Diva's Championship match between AJ Lee and Brie Bella. Kaitlyn was certainly a good addition to the panel, and it makes sense for them to have a woman as part of the panel, to give some spotlight on the women's matches, which too often get forgotten about, which is partly the reason that we see a lot of apathy towards the women in WWE from the fans.

Diva's Championship Match
AJ Lee ©
With Tamina Snuka
Brie Bella
with Nikki Bella

Whilst Brie Bella continues to be mis-cast as a face, this bout was actually alright. There was clearly a lot of thought gone into the match, with a followable story, that was basic but effective, even more so if Brie could get over as a face, that saw AJ work over Brie with some solid wrestling holds, before Brie mounted a nice comeback including a missile dropkick. The finish of the bout was strong also, with both Tamina and Nikki getting involved, as AJ ducked running knee from Brie that sent Brie into Nikki, allowing AJ to lock in the Black Widow submission hold and pick up a submission victory to retain her Diva's Championship. This bout was probably the surprise of the night for me, Brie has improved a lot in the ring recently, if only she was still working as a heel. She just isn't going to get over as a face, opposite the much more popular AJ Lee.

Winner and STILL Diva's Champion: AJ LEE (5 Minutes, 35 Seconds)

Backstage, it was time for a little more promotion for WWE 2K14, with The Prime Time Players busy playing the game. They were quickly joined by WWE Hall of Famer, Bob Backlund with Backlund being the batshit crazy guy we've come to expect, in a truly bizarre segment. It made me laugh, and didn't run for too long, so this one get's a thumbs up from me.

More ominous backstage footage of Triple H talking to Shawn Michaels is shown. STOP SIGNPOSTING IT WWE!

WWE Championship Hell in a Cell Special Guest Referee MatchDaniel BryanVersusRandy Orton(Special Guest Referee: Shawn Michaels)

There were a number of glaring problem in this match for me. Firstly, it didn't really need to be a Hell in a Cell match. There was very little interaction with the actual Cell structure, apart from a good looking spot that saw Orton moves out of the way of a Suicide Dive from Bryan, with most of the offense coming in the form of Steel Steps, meaning this could have taken place in any other environment, if they'd have played up the fact that say The Shield couldn't get into the Cell to help out Orton, then it would have been a much more effective use of the Cell, which seemed more of a hindrance to this match, than it actually helped it. Whilst it would be difficult to fault to the wrestling here, even if the logic of Orton's backbreaker on the outside was flawed, this wasn't the environment for chain wrestling and rope running, for example it would have been nice to see Bryan bring some variation to his comeback routine, with maybe some added weaponary to really sell how heated this rivalry had become and the depths that Bryan was willing to go to to win back the WWE Championship. Whilst we saw a glimpse of that later on, with Bryan throwing a hilarious amount of chairs into the ring, the pay-off was lost, when Orton's Superplex completely missed the chairs, with Michael Cole deciding to sell it anyway, when the whole arena knew that it was no way near, a case of a nice idea, but poorly executed. 

Of course, the finish here was the most intriguing part of the match and what everyone was really interested in seeing and with Triple H coming down to ringside it was time to head for that finish. In yet another case of a decent idea being poorly executed, we saw Orton going for an RKO on Bryan, with Bryan reversing sending Orton crashing into Shawn Michaels. Fair enough, if this was a regular referee, but no matter how good Michaels selling would've been here, no one was going to buy that he had been knocked out by the flimsy collision. Maybe, if they'd have had Bryan accidentally hit Michaels with the Busaiku Knee things would have been a little bit different. Of course, this was all a way of getting Triple H into the Cell, with the Hell in a Cell concept continuing to get in the way of the story they were trying to tell. With Triple H checking on Michaels, and Orton down from a Busaiku Knee, Bryan took the oppurtunity to gain an element of revenge on his boss taking down Triple H with another Busaiku Knee, I was perfectly fine with this, it made sense and was a good way of having Bryan get some revenge on his boss and the crowd loved it. With Michaels recovering to deliver a Superkick to Bryan, Orton was able to slither into the pin to win the vacant WWE Championship. For me this just wasn't worked quick enough, it should have finished pacy with each move causing the other within almost seconds, but it was dragged out and became too clear what was happening too quickly. Michaels superkick looked awful and the fact that a retired performer basically got the win here didn't sit well with me at all. If Bryan had kicked out of the Sweet Chin Music, only for Orton to hit an RKO, I would have been a lot happier with this finish.

I have very little problem with the actual result of the match, Bryan will get his chance with the title eventually, and should hopefully get a rematch sooner rather than later, whilst Orton has been revived by this storyline. It was the best they could do with the booking cul-de-sac they had given themselves, it was just horribly executed and not thought through to a high enough level.

Overall, Hell in a Cell was a very “Meh” Pay-Per-View with the Hell in a Cell concept still not working with WWE's current environment and not being helped by having to appear every year at the same time. The tag team title match stole the show, whilst the Diva's Championship was the surprise of the night, but the main feeling coming out of Hell in a Cell for me was a night of missed opportunities, with both World title matches suffering from poor errors of judgment and a dull encounter between CM Punk and Ryback. The three matches that this show were sold on, failed to deliver the goods. 

Quick Results

1. Tag Team Championship Match: Goldust & Cody Rhodes (C) def. The Shield (Reigns/Rollins) & The Usos via Pinfall 

2. Mixed Tag Team Match: Fandango & Summer Rae def. The Great Khali & Natalya via pinfall

3. United States Championship Match: Big E Langston def. Dean Ambrose (C) via Countout

4. Handicap Hell in a Cell Match: CM Punk def. Ryback & Paul Heyman via Pinfall

5. Tag Team Match: Los Matadores def. The Real Americans (Cesaro/Swagger) via Pinfall

6. World Heavyweight Championship Match: John Cena def. Alberto Del Rio (C) via Pinfall

7. Diva's Championship Match: AJ Lee (C) def. Brie Bella via Submission

8. WWE Championship Hell in a Cell Match: Randy Orton def. Daniel Bryan via Pinfall

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