I wouldn’t say I’m about to write a live blog of the WWE’s Hell in a Cell pay-per-view reluctantly, but it would also be fair to say that I wouldn’t have done so without the encouragement of my
legion handful of fans readers.
So, thanks to that elite fraternity, I present to you my real-time (or close enough) impressions of one of the WWE’s non-major shows that still costs $55. I add the following provisos at the outset:
1. Should I lose power thanks to our friend Sandy, all bets are quite obviously off.
2. While many live blogs have the most recent posts at the top, I’m not going to bother doing that. It will read better for people who see this for the first time tomorrow (what can I say — I’m an optimist).
3. I’m missing the possible deciding game of the World Series, Sunday Night Football, Boardwalk Empire, and, most importantly, The Walking Dead in order to watch and analyze this pay-per-view.
In short, this show better f***ing deliver.
Let’s get to it.
As I said, this will be updated in real-time, so click refresh every 15-20 minutes for updates. Going into the PPV, I’m most interested to see how they handle the World Heavyweight Title, since Big Show seems like a credible challenger, and Ziggler has guaranteed he’s going to cash in. It would be interesting to see Big Show win the
belt championship, only to lose it in short order via another cash-in. I actually think it may be the other way around.
I assume the WWE Title stays put (while keeping Ryback looking strong), unless the WWE has lost its collective mind.
The show starts in about 45 minutes. See you then.
(8:11 p.m.): Opening match is Alberto Del Rio vs. Randy Orton. The idea is to keep both guys relevant, despite not being in the World Title picture at the moment (see also Team Hell No). This is one problem WWE has right now. It’s a nice problem to have, but there are at least a half-dozen guys I could see as World Champion or, in some cases, even WWE Champion, but only so many top-level angles to go around. This group (for me) includes Del Rio, Orton, Kane, Daniel Bryan, The Miz, Dolph Ziggler, Wade Barrett, and Damien Sandow (admittedly, I’m a huge Sandow mark). I may even be leaving someone out. Ryback is not that someone.
Oh, and Orton has dispensed with the long-ish hair he’s been sporting lately in favor of his more usual haircut, reminiscent of the Marine Corps from which he received a dishonorable discharge.
(8:24 p.m.): According to JBL, Del Rio would have competed at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 were it not for the fact that Mexico didn’t have the money to send an Olympic wrestling contingent. Cool finish to the match. Orton wins. Not sure where Del Rio goes from here, long-term. It feels like he might wind up in limbo (a la Miz) for a while, then go back to Mexico. Good opener, but the finish doesn’t look quite as impressive on replay. Hey, it almost worked. Solid match.
(8:30 p.m.): Discussing the “A. J. Lee Scandal,” JBL calls Vicki Guerrero “the best General Manager since Kennesaw Mountain Landis,” which is problematic on two fronts. One, Vicki Guerrero isn’t the General Manager of RAW (She’s the “Managing Supervisor”). Two, Landis was a Commissioner, not a General Manager.
This is dumb. I’m bored. I don’t care about fake affairs. Next.
(8:32 p.m.): Next up is the Tag Team Championship match. I should digress here to say that Damien Sandow is maybe my favorite wrestler at the moment. Thankfully, he addresses the crowd in an attempt to correct the grammatical train-wreck of “I’m the tag team champions.” Also, Cole keeps referencing straw polls taken among the WWE locker room as far as the outcomes of these matches. Not sure if that’s going to be a “thing” now, but we’re two-for-two.
(8:38 p.m.): JBL drops the first Notre Dame reference of the night in response to a barb from JR. Ross has no reply. Nor should he.
(8:44 p.m.): Daniel Bryan reminds me that, if you’re going to have vitiligo, having it on an elbow and a hip is probably the way to go. Anyway, Kane just broke up his own tag partner’s pin, and it’s becoming clearer that Rhodes and Sandow are just here to be supporting players in Team Hell No’s playlet. I’m actually ok with this, as I would prefer Sandow continue to develop as a singles wrestler.
(8:45 p.m.): The match ends in a DQ when Kane goes crazy. This keeps the THN reign going for a while longer. I guess WWE feels like there’s some more comedy to be mined there. I can’t disagree, but, the longer this angle goes on, the tougher it becomes to maintain.
(8:46 p.m.): Big pet peeve—a commercial for a TV show (something called “Doomsday Preppers” on National Geographic) in the middle of a pay-per-view. I’M PAYING FIFTY-FIVE DOLLARS FOR THIS. THAT SHOULD ENTITLE ME TO A COMMERCIAL-FREE EXPERIENCE. I’ll tolerate one (1) ad for the next WWE PPV, but that’s it. No movies, no TV shows, no sports drinks. This should never have been allowed to happen a year or two ago. Terrible precedent.
(8:49): The Miz partially redeems the commercial by referencing it in his backstage promo. Something about society crumbling as a result of Kofi having the IC title, and the Miz improbably preventing the apocalypse by “continuing to be awesome.” If only we had known that was an effective defense against Armageddon during the Cold War! We could have saved a shitload of money.
(8:52 p.m.): Time for Kofi vs. The Miz for the IC Championship. The Miz enters through the “AWESOME!” letters (seen here at the Royal Rumble), which usually means he wins.
(8:54 p.m.): Cole makes reference to the “26th Annual Survivor Series.” Couple of things. One, that PPV is in three weeks. Two, it’s NOT the 26th anniversary. It’s the 26th event. It’s the 25th anniversary. Your wedding day is not your first anniversary. That WWE continues to f*** this up (probably intentionally) is frustrating.
(8:56 p.m.): JBL with his second Notre Dame reference, and again no response from JR. I will laugh every time JBL does this tonight, by the way.
(9:00 p.m.): Short match, but good. I like both of these guys. Kofi has been treading water for a while, so getting a good run as Intercontinental champ isn’t a bad thing. I’m a huge Miz fan, though, and I have to wonder where he’ll be in a year-and-a-half. He’s already a major overachiever, though.
(9:05 p.m.): Kane accuses Daniel Bryan of losing focus thanks to fantasizing about “vegan candy.” Bryan astutely points out that it’s a little hypocritical for the guy who wears that outfit and mask year-round to accuse someone else of losing focus due to Halloween. What I like best about these segments is that Bryan can just barely keep a straight face about half the time.
(9:09 p.m.): Next up is Antonio Cesaro vs. Justin Gabriel for the U. S. Championship. Cesaro is from Switzerland, Gabriel is from South Africa, and the PPV is in Georgia, which means the chances are high of seeing one of my favorite wrestling moments, the inappropriate “USA!” chant.
(9:10 p.m.): Nice moment from JBL and Cole . . .
JBL: “Justin Gabriel’s grandfather was knighted, John Gabriel Lloyd . . . I should be knighted.”
Cole: “I am knighted.”
(9:15 p.m.): The crowd is bored. And so am I. Both of these guys are good athletes and good wrestlers, but I’m just not into this.
(9:16 p.m.): Cesaro wins, and I don’t think enough is made of the fact that his finisher is called the “Neutralizer” (Switzerland – get it?). JR throws out a “Not even Mack Brown could screw that up” as Cesaro gets the pinfall. No response from JBL. I am enjoying this.
(9:18 p.m.): Breast cancer spot with Layla. Despite showing an old picture of Layla as a baby with her mother, no additional light is shed on Layla’s somewhat-mysterious, non-specific ethnicity. I may have to research it to solve the puzzle. Also, I should reiterate here that I think the heels SHOULDN’T wear the ribbon.
(9:21 p.m.): Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara battle the Prime Time Players in an unscheduled tag-team match. My response is to check the score in the World Series and Sunday Night Football. Also, JBL just made his second Kennesaw Mountain Landis reference of the night. For the record, Landis died 68 years ago.
(9:41 p.m.): Well . . . that was definitely a wrestling match. I guess I shouldn’t be so lukewarm. At least WWE is making an effort to create a viable tag division (which is to say, more than the three teams that traded the number-one-contendership for months without ever winning the belts. Weird Rolling Stones promo by Cole after the end of the match. World Heavyweight Title match coming up next.
(9:44 p.m.): Just to be clear, this World Heavyweight Title match is NOT a Hell in a Cell match. The only actual HIAC match on the Hell in a Cell PPV is the WWE Title match. I should also point out that Tony Chimel is ring-announcing the Smackdown matches because Lillian Garcia apparently got clipped by a car a few days ago. She’s “resting comfortably” at home. As for the match, my guess is that Sheamus retains, barely, but Ziggler cashes in and wins. Or maybe he just teases the cash-in for the millionth time. I could honestly be happy with any of the three guys being World Champion at the end of the night. Lots of possibilities with any of the three.
(9:51 p.m.): It is pretty amazing how well Big Show can move. JBL references the fact that Big Show beat Hulk Hogan and won a world title in his first-ever match, which I think speaks more to how dumb WCW booking was at times than it does to Big Show’s (kayfabe) wrestling prowess.
(10:02 p.m.): Big Show has dominated the match, but they seem intent on keeping the title on Sheamus (or they’re laying groundwork for Ziggler’s cash-in). We’ll see.
(10:05 p.m.): JR deems it “ironic” that the Irishman Sheamus would use a “clover leaf” submission maneuver. Sheamus manages to lift Big Show up and hit the “White Noise,” which didn’t score the pinfall but was darn impressive.
(10:06 p.m.): After spending a month establishing that the
WMD KO Punch is the most powerful move in wrestling, Sheamus kicks out of it after Big Show clocks him.
(10:08 p.m.): And Big Show returns the favor by kicking out of the Brogue Kick. If Ziggler doesn’t cash in tonight, I’ll have a problem with that from a narrative standpoint.
(10:09 p.m.): Big Show wins after a second KO Punch. The match was slow in the middle, but had a nice build at the end. Fun. Announcers now making sure audience knows that Sheamus isn’t weak just because he lost. Waiting for Ziggler’s music . . .
(10:12 p.m.): Ziggler doesn’t cash in. I wonder if he’ll wait until the end of the night, when the Cell is down. Divas title match is up next.
(10:13 p.m.): Zack Ryder and Santino are backstage, dressed as a witch and Lady Gaga, respectively. Ron Simmons shows up. You’ll have to order the replay to find out how that segment ended, because I’m not telling!!!
(10:15 p.m.): Punk and Vince backstage. Punk is asking Vince to cancel the Cell match. Vince says no. Fin.
(10:18 p.m.): While the Divas Championship match is getting underway, I’m going to take this opportunity to point out that one of the (erstwhile) Bella Twins recently got breast implants. Now, they were gorgeous before, and certainly didn’t need cosmetic enhancement, but the important point is that you’ll note that I said ONE of them got implants. Maybe this stems from my infatuation with The Prestige, but one of them getting implants seems like a horrible career move. I think you have to go the “full Borden” there: Either both get implants, or neither does.
(10:24 p.m.): Anyway, Eve wins the match and retains (although she sort of missed her last spot). The Divas division has had a lot of turnover just in the past few months. I think a year-end video package to remind us of which Divas have departed, a la the Oscars’ Hollywood dead montage.
(10:28 p.m.): One match to go. Punk vs. Ryback. JR says that “a lot of people” think Ryback will be WWE Champion come Survivor Series. That is some old-school salesmanship right there.
(10:32 p.m.): The Cell comes down, and we get pet peeve #3 for the night: The champion enters first. Cole notes that Punk is very close to passing Diesel(!) for ninth-longest reign ever. JR points out that neither Punk nor Stone Cold(!!) have ever won a match in the Cell.
(10:34 p.m.): FEED. ME. ROIDS.
(10:35 p.m.): Ryback’s record on Season One of NXT: 2 wins, 5 losses.
(10:39 p.m.): Ryback using lots of power moves while Punk does most of the work, as expected. I just hope Punk gets out of this injury-free.
(10:41 p.m.): Heyman pleads with Ryback (“HE’S A HUMAN BEING, FOR CRYIN’ OUT LOUD!) as Punk hides under the ring and the crowd serenades Ryback with “GOLLLLD-BERG” chants.
(10:42 p.m.): Watching Ryback kick a chair into Punk’s head makes me very worried that some kind of botch is inevitable if this thing goes more than ten minutes.
(10:47 p.m.): Punk beats Ryback with a kendo stick. Ryback responds by no-selling and Hulking up. The ref is the same one who missed Punk’s foot on a rope a few weeks back, by the way.
(10:49 p.m.): Wow. That ref hits Ryback with a low blow when Ryback had Punk up, about to hit his finisher, then assisted Punk in making the cover (while also counting). Punk wins, and I have no problem with any of this. BEST IN THE WORLD!
(10:50 p.m.): After the match, Ryback Irish whips Punk to the cell wall, and Punk grabs the cage and climbs to the top. Ryback joins him. Uh-oh . . .
(10:51 p.m.): Ryback hits his finisher. Punk thankfully doesn’t smash through the roof of the Cell. And . . . that’s your PPV.
Final thoughts: A decent show. They did as much as they could with Ryback, but he’s certainly not ready for that kind of match with that kind of opponent. I thought going in that it would have to be heavily-booked, and it was. But the right guy has the belt, and we’ll be on to bigger and better things tomorrow night.
Otherwise, I think Big Show getting the WHT is good. Smackdown has been a little stale for the last month or two. I do think they needed to pay off Ziggler’s guarantee somehow, though, even if that meant merely having him bail out in a cowardly heel manner. But showing him in the back during the match, then never mentioning it again, isn’t satisfactory. The undercard was fine but forgettable.
I’d call this one ok, but not great: I don’t regret the purchase, but I won’t need to revisit this show ever again. In an environment in which WWE is doing a PPV every month or so, that’s about all a customer can reasonably expect.