I get the feeling that WWE writers don't know how to plan more than two weeks ahead. Or maybe it's just that they're not allowed to. Or maybe it's just that so many of them have been musical-chaired in the last few weeks that it's too much to hope for a little consistency so soon afterward. Regardless, the build-up to Hell in a Cell hasn't left me feeling particularly enthusiastic despite how fresh it is after three months of Punk-Cena and five months of Del Rio-Sheamus. The only match on the card that is an extension of a previously-standing feud is Eve-Kaitlyn-Layla, which I could only care less about if the build actually had anything to do with Layla. Before I go through the card match by match, let's talk about the stuff not on it, with emphasis on one subject in particular:
John Cena Destroys Everything I Love
I actually put effort into trying not to despise John Cena's onscreen role. Apparently I missed the most grating acts of his character before getting into WWE programming about a year and a half ago, but starting last year at Night of Champions and thereafter occurring with ever-increasing frequency, the guy started to bug me. And gradually, everything he touched withered and died. Zack Ryder became infected by the Cena touch and turned into a corporate shell of his former self. John Laurinaitis was written off television in stupid, STUPID feud. CM Punk suddenly didn't deserve respect. And I know none of that is directly John Cena's fault, he is simply something I associate with those events because WWE bookers wanted him to be associated with those events. Except, you know, in a positive sense.
And now here we are with cute nerd diva turned heel champion's maligned but dedicated girlfriend turned manipulative crazy chick turned general manager TURNED FUCKING HELPLESS CRYING DAMSEL IN DISTRESS AJ Lee. JOHN CENA IS A CHAMPION FOR WOMEN, EVERYONE. HE WEARS PINK BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MERCHANDISE AND IS SOMEHOW THE GOOD GUY WHEN HIS HITTING ON A GIRL GETS HER FIRED. "No it's not like that we're just friends" fuck you John. You hit on your boss in the middle of a promo acting all the world like you expected her to skip out, rip off (more of) her clothes and drop to her knees immediately afterward, and I'm supposed to cheer for you hugging her and telling her everything will be alright? You want me to buy into your selectively chivalrous behavior, jumping to the aid of a girl who less than half a year ago led on three different men so they'd try to destroy each other, when less than half a year before that you publicly slut-shamed a woman and got the crowd chanting "hoeski" at her simply for announcing her intentions? No. No I won't root for you. I hope you lead a crusade against Vickie Guerrero and Dolph Ziggler comes out to defend her and beats you in the face with his briefcase until your nose is coming out of the back of your head. I don't want you to fight AJ's battles, I want her to fight for herself and win. This is a girl who went through severe emotional stress and came out of it in a position of power because of her own ability to make an impact with her charisma and wits. She won a job that she absolutely loved and fought to keep it, but in the end it was yanked out from under her. The last thing she should be doing is waiting passively for someone else to do the dirty work for her.
Or maybe she's actually manipulating John the same way she's manipulated Punk, Daniel Bryan, and Kane. That'd be a pretty satisfactory conclusion to this bullshit story, actually.
Everything Else Not On The Card
The United States Championship has not been added to the match card yet, which is a shame because Antonio Cesaro has really broken out since breaking off from Aksana. He doesn't have the most magnetic personality, but he's really throwing himself into his arrogant foreigner gimmick, and he's been allowed to look dominant. He's different from really any other prominent heel on-screen right now, since he doesn't run away from competition and wins matches cleanly, and he's doing it without being over seven feet tall. Additionally it looks like he's in the opening chapter of a feud with a sympathetic favorite of mine, Justin Gabriel, which according to B.S. (BackStage) rumors AS REPORTED BY THE DIRTSHEETS is the beginning of a singles push for Gabriel. I know the US Championship is one of the lowest priorities for WWE's bookers, but I'd really like to see a story of substance get put together around either one of these guys, let alone both together.
But given a choice between the two, I will take 3MB over Cesaro and Gabriel any day.
I'm serious. I love these guys, and not even in an ironic sense. It's three idiots who formed a wrestling stable that is somehow also a rock band when none of them play instruments nor can sing to save their lives, so they just make awful music puns, throw up rock fists, and play air guitar. That is fucking awesome, and it is exactly what I would do if I were a pro wrestler and got to pick my heel stable's gimmick. We would call ourselves the Alliance That Rocks so we could have the same initials as All That Remains, and we would cut promos entirely consisting of death metal growls and poorly written song lyrics, and our group finisher would be the Mosh Pit. Jinder Mahal might still stick out like a sore thumb in this group, but I don't care, he's throwing himself into it even if he doesn't know how to properly form a fucking rock fist. I want these guys to eventually win the Tag Team Championships, immediately lose them, have a failed follow-up attempt, then implode and break up violently, and get a Behind the Music-esque post-breakup video package six months later when everyone would otherwise forget they existed to begin with. Please, do this right.
Divas Championship Triple-Threat Match: Eve (c) vs. Kaitlyn vs. Layla
The 'mystery' angle involving these three (and Aksana but who cares) has evolved so damn slowly that it's exposed how little substance there is to this match. The stakes really haven't changed at all since Night of Champions - somebody attacked Kaitlyn and screwed her out of her match against Layla, and Eve stepped up and won the championship instead. Since then the evidence for Eve being the culprit has slowly come out, but really, everyone in the audience knew who the attacker was from the time Eve reported the incident to Booker T. Many knew from the moment Kaitlyn said she'd attacked. Hell, a whole ton knew before the pay-per-view even started. The only way this could've really worked is if Eve seemed suspicious to most people - scratch that - to Booker T, the only guy that mattered, but her careful planting of evidence, logical arguments for her innocence, and sheer charisma seemed convincing enough to cast doubt on suspicions of her guilt. She did get to do that a bit, and it was good to see her completely shut down Teddy Long and basically every single diva who had a beef with her just by keeping calm and sounding mature and patient while she lied her ass off. On the other hand she kept on setting people off by abusing her power as Booker T's assistant in exactly the same way a person in that position shouldn't when they are already under suspicion for a different act. I think this whole thing would've been much better if THE CRUCIAL BLONDE WIG EVIDENCE came out in like, week two, and Eve was practically confirmed as having arranged the attack in week three, and then Eve continued to deny it and was just really convincing about it. As it actually turned out, the storyline was generic, unrealistic, and slow. Also Layla keeps on talking.
Look, about Layla...hearing her talk about this scenario is like watching Dora the Explorer with a little kid who's really into the interactive part of the show. Like they're enthusiastically counting the planks of wood missing from the bridge and jumping up and down while telling Dora that her map's in her backpack because of course it's in her fucking backpack but you don't get mad about that, it's supposed to be obvious, it's a show for really little kids and you should be happy that they're learning to do simple math and recognize patterns and that the best way to stop a fox from stealing is to tell him not to. Okay, now imagine that same little kid showed up and pointed out everything happening in a show you were watching and making absolutely sure to reiterate everything they'd learned from this new show. For five minutes of every Raw, that's Layla. Every time this woman is mic'd up I completely forget that she's an athletic woman in her upper twenties and wonder why the hell WWE saw fit to stick a six-year-old British child on their program to explain to you over and over that the villain is bad and then cheer and clap her hands like a brain-dead chimp whenever something bad happens to said villain. She has single-handedly turned a story that was already insubstantive and turned it into toxic waste. Please, oh please, stop giving this woman a live microphone.
Intercontinental Championship Match: Kofi Kingston (c) vs. The Miz
Three weeks ago there was no hint that this match would take place at HIAC, and there was no hint that Kofi would be the champion instead of Miz. The build-up to the title switch was short and simple - Kofi embarrasses Miz, Kofi challenges Miz, Kofi kicks Miz in the head and takes his title. There hasn't really been a build to their rematch, however, and since the title has already changed hands it seems like a foregone conclusion for Kofi to retain. Seriously, WWE's best attempt at demonstrating Miz's determination to reclaim the title is having him squash Yoshi Tatsu. On Smackdown. If it were up to me, I would have still had Kofi appear to be on a roll, but held off on him winning the championship, and I understand why that wasn't done. Having a championship change hands on Main Event allows WWE to pimp their new television show with the continued promise of long, entertaining, and relevant matches. There was probably no way to achieve an optimal outcome with this storyline with the amount of time it was given to unfold, but it honestly seems as if it's hit its high point and the PPV match won't be important. I don't see this feud lasting much longer, at least as a one-on-one bout.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Randy Orton
This match has been given a very simple, straightforward build. Granted the idea of Del Rio wanting to be the NUU AYPEX PRAYDATORE is a bit weird, but honestly it's really easy to stick anyone in a feud with Orton because of how big an asshole his character is. He RKO's someone because they look at him weird, they retaliate, they beat each other up in sneak attacks for a month and then they fight. Del Rio has brought a nice touch to the standard Orton build though. It's difficult to tell if he's mimicking Orton's mannerisms just to mock the guy, or if he's becoming obsessed with proving he can be a better Orton than Orton (the "TOP RANDY, TOP! TOP RANDY!" to Zack Ryder seemed...weird). That could be interesting, if the feud were to continue beyond HIAC, if as things go more heated, Del Rio dropped the 'mocking' aspect of mimicking Orton and just did it because Orton was driving him nuts. I hesitate to suggest making things a bit more original and three-dimensional, because Del Rio's last feud contained a whole ton of extraneous and pointless crap, so I think keeping things simple is good for now. If this feud goes on though, seriously, give me crazy Del Riorton.
Tag Team Championship: Team Hell No (Daniel Bryan and Kane, c) vs. Team Rhodes Scholars (Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow)
Thank goodness Rhodes Scholars won the tag team tournament, because no other team would've had the chance to build a feud with Team Hell No. This build, as is, has been fantastic. A full week focusing on the upcoming match between these two would've been great, and in fact that was probably the original plan, but Rey Mysterio's flu bout prevented that and it's nobody's fault that we didn't get it. But really, this storyline has been incredibly consistent and effective. A bunch of new tag teams cropped up because they saw Team Hell No as weak champions - most prominently, Cody and Sandow. Team Hell No have been held back by their inability to see eye to eye, whereas Team Rhodes Scholars see themselves as perfect partners and clearly get along with one another. They've come together as a team quickly and smoothly, whereas Bryan and Kane have gone through a lot of growing pains. This entire story has been built around that theme, as Bryan and Kane struggle to get on the same page while Rhodes and Sandow do so effortlessly. There's a real sense of danger that Team Hell No could run out of lucky breaks and one of their arguments will finally cost them. Great stuff all around. The only thing I dislike about about this build is that about halfway through, suddenly the idea that Bryan was the weak link in the team got brought up. There really hasn't been follow-through on that idea in particular, and I think it would've been better left unspoken.
World Heavyweight Championship: Big Show vs. Sheamus (c)
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Sheamus has gotten aggravating as a face champion. He's too dismissive of his opponents in the way he pokes fun at them. He talks about how much the championship means to him and it doesn't seem genuine, because then he shoves a Brawlin Buddy in Big Show's face and goes "LOOK A THIS, FELLA AIN'T E CUTE!?" When you do that repeatedly, it takes away from the sense that the good guy is in danger of losing. I'm glad that Big Show has stopped getting into arguments with Sheamus and has just taken to reminding him "I'm bigger than you, stronger than you, and I'm going to beat you." Because there's no worth in beating Sheamus on the mic, but if you beat him in a straight-up power contest, that's the biggest victory you can get over the guy. Big Show has come out of this looking good, but Sheamus' antics continue to devalue every feud he's put into. I wish this entire past week had been spent indicating that he finally understands how dangerous Big Show is, and taking the competition seriously - as opposed to simply saying that he is.
Also Dolph Ziggler is doing absolutely nothing but waiting to jump in with his Money in the Bank briefcase. I get that this is part of his 'showing off', but...dude needs to stop telegraphing.
WWE Championship: CM Punk (c) vs. Ryback Inside Hell In A Cell
Hm. This is interesting.
Let's put aside the fact that we have no idea how, nor how well this match will turn out. All sorts of theories are flying around on what WWE will do - keep Punk's title reign going, or keep Ryback's momentum going, or try to keep both going with some sort of a non-finish, like interference by Brock Lesnar. It's an interesting conundrum, and I'm curious to see what WWE will do. I think Punk will retain, but I'm not certain of that at all.
The fact is, this is a bit of a Frankenstein storyline that's been cobbled together from two different ideas that had to be strung together quickly and unexpectedly. Cena's injury and Vince McMahon's demands for results pushed Ryback to the main event unexpectedly early. Hence, a lot of emphasis has been placed on Ryback and a lot of it has been taken away from Punk's demands for respect. On the one hand, I feel like I should go easy on the writers for having been so put upon while figuring out what to do. On the other, I feel as if there was a lost opportunity here. When Dolph Ziggler and David Otunga came out this past Monday and complained about Ryback getting a title shot, I felt like that argument should've been employed by Punk instead. You've got this guy who's been given a sudden impromptu push all the way to the top of the card entirely because McMahon wanted him to be given it - both out of and in character. You'd think that'd be plenty of fuel for Punk to tear the guy down, but instead, the focus has just been placed on how unfair Punk thinks it is for him to have to face Ryback because of how absurdly powerful he is. I feel like there should've been more of a balance between the two. Maybe it could've played out that way if there'd been more time for this story to unfold, and so instead there had to be a lot of hype around Ryback to make him appear to not only have a chance of beating Punk, but to be the favorite. So basically, this is also Cena's fault.
I'll be watching the show in about an hour. Hope you guys enjoy it.