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The Ins and Outs of Hell in a Cell (with a double secret special guest!)
You may not know this beloved readers, but I love you guys. Sure, you could read my Twin Peaks columns more (among other grievances), but overall you're a pretty swell group. And because you're such a swell group, I've got a nice surprise for you today. No, it's not that I'm previewing WWE's Hell in a Cell today, but because of who my special guest is today. Some of you may know him from his days patrolling Lords of Pain, where he made a name for himself as one of the more controversial, brash, opinionated and intelligent wrestling fans around. For those who don't, you're in for a treat. So without further ado, please welcome back my good pal...are we calling you Pen now or is it still PEN15? The people must know!
Good question. I'd rather be called Joe, but Pen probably works best.
We'll work it in to the minds of everyone soon my good man! But let's not waste time; we've got matches to predict! Pen, kick this bad boy off!
Cesaro, Neville and Dolph Ziggler vs. Sheamus, King Barrett and Rusev
With the shift of the matches, the new preshow bout is a 6 man tag between Neville, Dolph Ziggler, and Cesaro vs. Rusev, King Barrett, and Sheamus. Storyline wise, there's very little substance to this one. Sheamus and Barrett have been teaming up to take on Neville, and Cesaro has become a defacto partner. Rusev and Dolph have been having a rivalry that is well known yet not well respected, so there's lingering tension between them, but they seem to be tacked on more out of necessity than logic. I honestly would have made this a 10 or 12 man tag instead, and incorporate Stardust, Ascension, Lucha Dragons, and/or Mark Henry. Or the rumored debut of Tyler Breeze.
Be that as it may, we are getting this rematch from Raw, which was admittedly rather hot. On a night when 3 matches took place in 6 man tag team form, this was the weakest, but still better than average. My guess is they'll improve on that for Hell in a Cell. Also up in the air is if any of these men have to pull double duty vs. John Cena later on. I would hope so, because if Dolph or Sheamus does not accept the U.S. Title Open Challenge, the next logical man is Big Show in my opinion. And nobody wants that.
First off, what the hell WWE? Last night Pen and I put together a nice little breakdown of that Ambrose/Orton vs. Wyatt Family match, only for it to suddenly be pulled in the wake of Orton's injury issues and Luke Harper inexplicably disappearing off the face of the earth. Secondly, who really cares here? The original match in this spot wasn't all that either, but it at least had a storyline behind it. Here, aside from the Ziggler-Rusev stuff (which, let's be real, has been received as well as Ben Stiller's The Secret Life of Walter Mitty), none of these guys have really interacted. You can basically chalk this up to the normal pre-show match that will be entertaining, but has no heat behind it. It also really opens the door for Tyler Breeze to be the guy who faces Cena. I'm surprised you didn't suggest that Pen; Big Show is higher on the totem pole (literally and figuratively), but no one wants to see him vs. Cena again and it be a massively blown opportunity to have Cena put over Show before leaving. Even WWE is that dumb. I can't believe I just said that.
Pen's Pick: Neville, Cesaro and Dolph
Cult's Pick: Neville, Cesaro and Dolph
Intercontinental Championship Match
Kevin Owens (c) vs. Ryback
In the first of many rematches from Night of Champions that we'll be covering, the Intercontinental Championship will be defended as the new champ Kevin Owens will accept the automatic rematch clause being used by former champion Ryback.
And that's basically it. No, seriously. That's it. I was trying to remember what took place recently, and the only thing that really mattered is that Owens won the title last month on the WWE live PPV/Network special. Since then, there's been no real tension added. They might as well have had this match on the Raw following Night of Champions.
This isn't to say WWE hasn't tried to run with this story. It's just not remarkable or memorable in any way. I think both men have spent time on commentary blasting their opponents, and I know Ryback has chased Owens out of the ring at least once following a Owens win with a beat down of his opponent after the bell. I think that's what happens when you leave Michael Cole to narrate the beats to a story, because I haven't forgotten the way the feud started originally with Ryback's love of The Secret, and Owens turning the heel knob up to 11 as only he seems to be able to do when he ripped into the Big Guy for the book. But that was 2 months ago. Now, it's a simple rematch that has no real interest in the buildup.
Everyone's favorite wrestler vs. everyone's favorite...what is Ryback considered these days Pen? I go to LOP, everyone is indifferent (then again, everyone on those forums is indifferent right now). I go to Cageside Seats and the rest of the internet, and he's looked at like Emma Stone during the middle part of Easy A. The internet everyone! Looking into the crystal ball, I predict everyone will be lauding some little thing Owens does during the match, numerous people will be hoping Ryback doesn't CM Punk him and it'll be seven to ten minutes of solid, unspectacular action. Really, aren't we just biding time till Sami Zayn stops hanging out at WWE's AA promotion and returns to take the belt from Owens? Man, I miss Sami and his Reel Big Fish loving ass.
Pen's Pick: Owens
Cult's Pick: Owens
Divas Championship Match
Charlotte (c) vs. Nikki Bella
In the divas division, the Revolution is delivering yet another rematch from Night of Champions. New champion Charlotte will defend against the former champion, Nikki Bella. This is the third televised title match between the two, and basically a rubber match (not that I've noticed Cole mention at all). No additional stakes are on the line. No Iron Woman match on the main roster (would anyone want to see Nikki attempt that?). The main story with the ladies has involved repetition from before the title change, with Nikki saying she'll win the title back (major shift from her claiming she'll keep the title from the previous two matches), Paige being undecided on staying with Team PCB, Natalya returning to the fold, and coverage of Sasha Banks from NXT Takeover Respect. That's right, it feels like the biggest parts of the Divas Division is not involved with the match, which is fine by me. It reminds me of 1997 when Stone Cold Steve Austin was the hottest member of the WWF roster, but still had to wait until March of 1998 to get the top title. Giving Charlotte and Nikki credibility, while Sasha gets established as the next contender and Natalya reminds us that she was able to perform long before NXT arrived, is not a bad thing at all.
I hate to steal your precious blog space here for an opinion of my own, but I love the Divas Division these days. This slow build to get more than just a single contender established is glorious. Whoever walks out of Hell in a Cell as WWE Divas Champion could defend against Sasha, Paige, or Natalya with barely any effort at all. It's nice to see a segment of the roster getting proper time to not only compete, but establish several competitors as threats and personalities. The way I see it, the men outside of the men main event would love to get the attention the women are getting right now. We're seeing several new stars develop, veterans planting themselves into the mix, and even the Bellas are at the top of their game in their current roles of putting over the new talent. And that's how I see this match going, with Charlotte moving on to face one of the previously mentioned three challengers.
The problem with the Divas "Revolution", at least from a distance, is that it's a work in progress. Granted, it's a work in progress that's been co-opted into branding, buzz words and Stephanie McMahon turning more than the Big Show and Derek Zoolander combined, but it's still not something close to being completed. So I can't quite condemn everything I've heard about WWE's attempts to make women's wrestling relevant again, while I also can't give them the same credit I would to NXT or Lucha Underground, which have made, in my opinion, much greater strides. Hopefully, this match here is a step in the right direction, though to be honest, I'm not even sure why these two are fighting. Is it just because of Nikki's rematch clause? Aren't there more interesting things like Sasha Banks, Sasha Banks and whatever the hell I read was going on with Paige than this? I think we'll all agree that will be happier when this is all over so Charlotte (who people are turning on as well, because THE INTERNET!) can feud with someone people didn't give up on in 2013. Also, Paige, stop swearing. Not because I think it's terrible (I actually enjoy it very much, and it somehow makes you even hotter than before), but because WWE's petty levels are right now over the levels of 9,000. Somewhere, Rusev is nodding grimly in agreement while picking out flowers for his wedding.
Pen's Pick: Charlotte
Cult's Pick: Charlotte
Tag Team Championship Match
New Day (c) vs. The Dudley Boyz
The Tag Title match is a slightly better version of the IC title story. There was a match last month and the heels walked away with the titles in hand. Since then, very little has taken place between the two teams. The difference is that the defending champions A New Day have been a large focus on Raw. They haven't interacted with the Dudleys too often, much like Owens and Ryback, but because A New Day has been involved in important segments on Raw, including two challenges for John Cena's US Title in the weekly Open Challenge, this match has more interest going for it. Plus, there was a rematch on the WWE Network special Live from Madison Square Garden less than a month ago. Both at NoC and in MSG, the Dudleys were victorious, by via Disqualification, meaning they did not walk away with the WWE Tag Championships. Stephanie McMahon was rather clear on Raw that she wanted another match between the warring teams, and wanted a clean winner, but did not set up any stipulation to ensure that. So, in the span of just over a month, we'll get the third standard tag match between the defending champions A New Day and the challengers, the Dudley Boys.
Remember when everyone was excited when the Dudley Boyz returned? Pepperidge Farm remembers, and by the buzz online, they're the only ones. Seriously though, who's surprised by this? The only Dudley worth watching any more is Bubba (sorry D'Von, but until you go all Bully D'Von on us, I ain't interested), and their opponents are officially enjoying "GREATEST THING IN THE HISTORY OF WRESTLING" status. And hey, maybe that's overblown, but you can't help but feel good for all the kudos Big E, Kofi and Consequences Woods (I'm calling him that, and I don't care who knows it!) are getting right now. Thus, I don't even have to go to the crystal ball here Pen; the New Day will do something entertaining, someone will go through a table, and these two teams will fight about fifteen more times before Survivor Series when this feud blows off (which should tell you all you need to know about who wins here). Tag Team feuds; the only thing more predictable than them is an episode of NCIS; there will be slaps, there will be bad jokes and the sinking feeling that this is just never, ever going away.
Pen's Pick: New Day
Cult's Pick: Dudley Boyz
U.S. Championship Match
John Cena vs. ?
As announced on Raw, John Cena will defend his United States Championship on another Open Challenge, which will be answered the night of the event. The open challenge has been a success on several levels. The matches on Raw have been the best of the night more often than not. Having Cena in the midcard had helped give space to elevate the rest of the roster. This is the opportunity that will likely be open on Sunday, as Cena is rumored to be taking time off after this Sunday. The door is open for someone to not only win the coveted US Title, but to make an impact by eliminating the biggest name in the business today. That sort of push shouldn't be thrown away randomly, making this Open Challenge tougher to gauge. My guess is that the top runners are Sheamus, Big E, Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, and Dolph Ziggler, with my money on the Show Off. A New Day will be occupied elsewhere, and Sheamus already has the Money in the Bank contract. Dolph just finished his angle with Rusev, and needs to move onto something with substance after a story that expanded on his character. A heel turn has been discussed, and this could be the perfect opportunity to pull it off. I also believe he'll deliver the best match out of the available options.
Pen, the fun of this contest (which hasn't been announced yet) comes from the mystery. Unless Braun "Eugene is totally my father" Strowman manages to wiggle his way into the match, we know this will be an exciting bout that will ultimately lead to Cena losing the title and riding off into the sunset before returning in time to make the internet sad again come Wrestlemania time. The question now becomes who will be the fortunate (or is it unfortunate) soul that gets the honor of beating Cena and then losing to him again months from now? Will it be one of the New Day? Dolph Ziggler making a heel turn to repeat his feud with Cena from 2012? Cesaro, thus leading to one long orgasm across Twitter? Rusev, revealing that the rumors of him being buried were as off as Jake Arreita on Sunday night? Someone else? My guess is that it'll be Tyler Breeze. The dirt sheets indicate he's being called up once more, he's an overall pretty good performer AND his gimmick is one of those I can see Vince McMahon lighting on fire Backdraft style in a month or two unless he gets early momentum. What's bigger than beating Cena in your first match? Plus, didn't Carlito once debut and beat Cena for a title in his first match? I reckon WWE would have no trouble repeating that, especially since the man with the greatest hair in wrestling history just told WWE no a few weeks ago.
Pen's Pick: Ziggler is the surprise opponent, and defeats Cena for the title.
Cult's Pick: Tyler Breeze is the surprise opponent, and defeats Cena for the title.
WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match
Seth Rollins (c) vs. Kane
Do I really have to cover Kane vs. Seth Rollins? C'mon! Actually, as you know, I'm one of the more forgiving members of the WWE Universe when it comes to this match and angle. I've a strong feeling the champion will have a clean victory in this one, and that end result helps me look passed the laughable storytelling between these two. Kane is a veteran “demon”, but has spent the last couple of years showing a different side of his personality as a “director of operations.” Basically, he's a stooge to the McMahon Helmsley regime. He's appeared in suit and tie, and has wrestled in dress pants. Until very recently, he's been open about both sides of his personality, becoming the demon purposely to show he “means business,” which I guess is being used in NXT by Finn Balor with much more success. Kane was in touch with switching both alter egos. That ended about a month ago, when it was played out like he didn't realize he was still becoming the demon Kane. Whether he's legitimately playing a version of himself with multiple personality syndrome that is unaware of the other side, or just messing with Seth Rollins, has not been made clear. Stephanie, Hunter, and Seth have all had to play their roles around the idea that while they are talking to suit and tie Corporate Kane, the demon Kane might be who shows up at any moment. Honestly, it's not something that wouldn't have been out of place in the Attitude Era. Hell, a team between Kane and Goldust with their several personality switches could have been a gimmick of its own. In the so-called “reality era,” it isn't as welcomed.
As paltry as this story is, again, I'm thinking it leads to a clean and credible victory for a very cheap heel champion in Seth Rollins. It's also not even co-main event of the night, so I'm not as bothered as many are, which I've explained to you a few times in our ongoing wrestling discussions. The end justifies the means. Plus, the stipulation means that if Kane loses this match, Corporate Kane loses his job as Director of Operations. I'm not saying that's a good thing, but it's an open door to do something else with Kane. So it feels obvious we'll get a definite decision.
But if this ends with a DQ, and therefore a rematch next month...
Kane is fighting for the WWE Championship in 2015. Let me say that again for you; Kane, a man who hasn't been entertaining without Daniel Bryan since 2002, is fighting for the WWE Championship in 2015. No wonder ratings and attendance are taking a hit. I have no idea why this match is happening, and to be perfectly frank, I join the rest of the wrestling world in saying I don't care. May it end quickly and may the love of Plan's life move on to something better than this. Except you Sheamus. Shit, for a moment, I actually forgot he had the MITB briefcase. Let's hope WWE does this Sunday too!
Pen's Pick: Rollins
Cult's Pick: Rollins
Hell in a Cell Match
Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt
In the first Hell in a Cell match to take place that night, the war between the Wyatt's and Roman Reigns will take center stage, as Bray Wyatt takes on the Juggernaut. The positive side of the story is that while it's one of the longest current feuds in WWE, it hasn't been one that has played out all the options in singles action. For an angle that started in June, Roman and Bray have only faced off in singles action once on PPV, with a recent Raw main event that felt like a PPV quality bout that setup this grudge match to end the rivalry inside the Cell. There have been several tag team matches that help rejuvenate the rivalry from dying the same death several WWE angles die from over exposure (hello Orton vs. Sheamus). It's a solid grudge feud that honestly deserves to end inside the confines of the structure Mick Foley famously fell through and was launched off of. The negative side of it all is that it's still Roman Reigns, who has improved greatly in presentation, but he can't always hide the flaws in his persona. His promo from last week's Raw was tough to get through, while he's always looked like a pale shade of whoever his partners have been in this family feud. Ambrose, Orton, and Jericho have all stood out and made a bigger impression than Roman has when he has shared the ring with partners. On the other side, Bray Wyatt has continued his diatribes, and while they are just as cryptic and well delivered, they are also repetitive and less credible since Bray has yet to really accomplish anything in WWE. These two future main event players are delivering in the co-main event position, and the match has a real chance to steal the show. The problem is that many may not care if they have grown tired of the Roman Empire and the Wyatt cult of three never growing.
This is actually the only match I'm interested in, and it's got nothing to do with a story that I've been informed has involved child stalking, recap promos, tons of tag matches and something about Bray saying "anyone but you" to Roman. What grabs my attention here is how this match is about the WWE's continued attempts to make Roman Reigns look really, REALLY strong, which is hilarious considering he's done a better job doing that than they have. This is, without question, the biggest match of Roman Reigns' life right here. If he and Bray knock it out of the park and the finish is solid, that can buy him more goodwill than even the Wrestlemania main event did. If it's an average at best contest or worse, Vince McMahon better get a new set of earplugs, because he's not going to like how the audience reacts going forward. By the way, notice how I just talked about Roman Reigns for all this section and am only bringing up Bray Wyatt now. What has happened to this man? He looked like a potential breakout mega star just a year ago, now he's likely to lose to Roman and even seems to be less of a deal than the immortal Braun Eugene Strowman. Is it too early to start saying he and Ambrose are under the curse of the hologram? I mean come on; has either guy been the same since that incident last year? It went from being all good to exploding TVs, more cryptic promos and a whole lot of standing still. They're cursed, CURSED I SAY!
Pen's Pick: Reigns.
Cult's Pick: Reigns. Please note that if I'm wrong and Bray wins because Dean Ambrose is turning on Reigns, it'll be a terrible mistake. I'm just warning you all now.
Hell in a Cell Match
Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar
The main event of the evening is undoubtedly Brock Lesnar vs. Undertaker. The story has been recapped in several well produced videos, since neither man has appeared on Raw on a regular basis. Brock had more screen time combating Big Show, both in MSG, and the Monday after to show his continued dominance then aiming for Undertaker. History shouldn't need to be recapped for your readers, but I can cover some interesting parts. First, this isn't the first time Brock and Taker have faced off in a Cell. But you wouldn't know that if you weren’t watching in 2002. This both a smart and stupid move. It's smart to ensure fans believe this is a rubber match after Brock winning and Mania XXX, and Taker winning at Summerslam this year. It's stupid because with the WWE Network at only $9.99, you can advertise to today's fans that they can watch this feud in the Cell from 13 years ago. Giving a direct example of a match that is relevant today to current fans might be the exact best way to sell the past programming to the modern WWE Universe.
As for this match, I know it's the main event, and it feels like a main event... but it's not the reason I'm tuning in. I have no problem with part timers selling shows, but there is a risk of hallow events like this when they aren't on Raw every week. I doubt I'm alone in saying I'm more curious about where John Cena goes from here on Hell in a Cell, with either Dolph Ziggler or a member of A New Day, than I am in this match.
If we could post gifs here Pen, I would post one big yawn with this one. Who really cares? Honestly. My understanding is that these two brawled once, it was awesome, and the rest has been video packages, low blows, Paul Heyman promos, low blows and what would've been the weirdest finish at Summerslam if not for Jon Stewart winning a title for Seth Rollins that he would drop to John Cena months later. In fact, this will be the first time these two have been in the same ring since Summerslam, correct? Whatever. The match will be fine, it'll make some money, it may set up a Mania match for both guys, and we'll all move on to Monday the next day. Really, this match seems to sum up this show in a nutshell; it's a good bout that could've meant so much more if anyone had reason to care. Outside of the name value, doesn't seem like that's here.
Pen's Pick: Lesnar
Cult's Pick: Lesnar
That'll do it! Pen, got anything left to say to the nice internet people?
I always have something to say. Thanks for this opportunity. While I've not regretted retiring from LOP after dealing with political issues, I do miss writing and discussing wrestling. So this was a great treat for me. I hope I've helped your column, and would be glad to do it again whenever you wish. To anyone who appreciated my slightly more positive outlook on current WWE compared most online these days, I suggest avoiding news and rumor sites. It's changed my appreciation for WWE to not be in the thick of things online. I can appreciate the shows much more, while still being critical when it's deserved (like dropping the ball already on The Cosmic Wasteland stable...). Read the better columnists out there, like The Masked Man, and Sir Cultitude himself, but stay far away from Marc Middleton. It'll make you a happier and more mentally stable wrestling fan. Also, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org any time.
Well said my good man! Thanks for joining me here. With that, Pen and I bid the rest of you farewell. I'll be back soon with something, and well, the only thing that's sure about Pen is nothing's for sure. Till whenever, I raise my Pepsi glass to the Cosmic Wasteland. Seriously Vince, what the hell do you have against the Ascension and Cody Rhodes?
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