Matt’s Last Look: Hell in a Cell 2014

It’s known as the most brutal and sadistic (and if you’re Michael Cole, “malignant”) structure in sports entertainment, the devil’s playground, Hell in a Cell. This past Sunday we witnessed the sixth annual Hell in a Cell PPV, a notable event in that it was the first time in recent memory that the WWE World Heavyweight Champion was not only not defended, but not seen at all, on PPV. Instead the show was built around the double main event of John Cena vs Randy Orton for a future shot at Brock Lesnar’s title, and the much anticipated SummerSlam rematch of Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins, this time taking place inside the confines of the demonic structure. On paper for the most card it looked like a really strong show. Its that time again where we take a last look and find out. I didn’t get the chance to see the pre-show for this event. It featured an episode of “Mizdow TV” in which the Miz was the guest to hype his later match with Sheamus on the PPV. The pre-show also saw Mark Henry defeat Bo Dallas in a matter of seconds, getting a measure of revenge for the past few weeks of losses. The actual PPV kicked off with a video package hyping the big two matches of the night and the cell itself. In the arena the announce team was the usual trio of Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler & John Bradshaw Layfield.

WWE Intercontinental Championship – 2 out of 3 Falls Match: Dolph Ziggler (c) vs Cesaro My pick heading in: Dolph Ziggler Winner: Dolph Ziggler by pinfall with the Zig-Zag to win two straight falls at 12:15. Our first match of the night saw the Intercontinental Championship on the line as the champion, Dolph Ziggler continued his reign after the random one day interruption last month, by taking on the aimlessly meandering Cesaro. Its strange to think that earlier in the year it looked like Cesaro was going to be getting a push whilst Ziggler was losing all over the place. Now its basically the reverse with this match. I’m happy for Ziggler, but at the same time I don’t understand what the go is with Cesaro at the moment. Maybe that will change soon with his new look on this night. Anyway, I was really looking forward to this match heading in as a fan of both guys. It did surprise me that we only got two straight falls, but after thinking about it, that makes sense in the feud here. The idea was that Cesaro had been claiming Ziggler was a fluke champion and couldn’t beat him twice, but that was exactly what the champion managed to do here. The first fall only lasted a couple of minutes here, although Cesaro busted out the Swing, so that should calm down the people who complain about them not letting him use it. Its more special if he doesn’t do it every night. It got a two count, but Ziggler came back and rolled the challenger up to pick up the first fall. That surprised me as the heels usually get the first fall in this match type, but now seeing where the match was going it makes more sense obviously. After the thirty second rest period, the action continued with the second fall which saw some really good action between two of the best in ring guys on the roster. There was an awesome spot that saw Cesaro climb the turnbuckle while holding up Ziggler and delivering a superplex to get some “this is awesome” chants from the crowd. After some more back and forth, Ziggler ultimately put Cesaro away with the Zig-Zag to retain his title and continue his renewed momentum. This was a fun match and a good choice to open the show. It was also good to see the I.C title get a showcase match like this again after being a complete afterthought for celebrity commentary last month at Night of Champions. Despite losing two falls here, Cesaro looked strong in the match by putting on an awesome showing including that amazing turnbuckle spot. I’m not sure where this goes from here, as with Ziggler’s definitive victory you would imagine he’ll move on to another feud soon enough. It looks like he’ll be a member of team Cena next month at Survivor Series. I’m just glad that one of these guys seems to be back in the good graces at the moment. Really awesome stuff that could have been even better with another five minutes or so. My Grade: ***3/4

After a quick look back at the ending of the previous week’s Raw, we cut backstage to the Authority along with Kane. Randy Orton interrupted and demanded to know where Seth Rollins was. Triple H and Stephanie calmed him down by telling him to focus on Cena, but Orton said that if they didn’t deal with Rollins, then he would.

Brie Bella vs Nikki Bella My pick heading in: Nikki Bella Winner: Nikki Bella by pinfall following the Rack Attack at 6:21. Up next we had our first of two divas matches for the night as the Bella Twins exploded. While the storyline between these two has been pretty poor at some points to say the least, you have go give credit to Brie and Nikki. If this match took place a year or two ago, it would have been awful. The Bellas have both improved a great deal in the ring, especially Brie. Now this match wasn’t anything earth shattering, but it was much better than I think a lot of people expected it to be. That said, the crowd weren’t really into it and JBL got some chants instead. The match actually had some good near falls and Brie kicked out of the first Rack Attack from her evil sister while Nikki subsequently escaped the Yes Lock. The ending was never in doubt here as the stipulation was that the loser would be the winner’s personal assistant for 30 days. Obviously that means the heel is winning to humiliate the opponent, and that’s what we got here with Nikki scoring the victory with a second Rack Attack. This was perfectly fine for what it was. You know what? I actually like Brie’s new music as well. She looks really awkward when she does the ‘Yes’ gesture though for some reason. I think its that she puts a huge squat into it. Anyway, Nikki wins to commence a month of humiliation for her twin sister. My Grade: **1/4

Before our next match we crossed over to the pre-show panel which as usual was comprised of Renee Young, Booker T and Alex Riley, and their guest of the month, Paul Heyman. They talked about the happenings so far before Heyman mentioned that the winner of the Cena/Orton match would actually be the loser for reason of having to meet Brock in the ring at a later date.

WWE Tag Team Championship: Goldust & Stardust (c) vs The Usos My prediction heading in: Goldust & Stardust Winners: Goldust & Stardust when Goldust pinned Jey Uso following the Final Cut at 10:21. Yeah, I refuse to write Gold and Star Dust. That sounds stupid. Anyway, our next title match was a rematch from Night of Champions as two really good teams squared off once again to determine the kings of the tag division. They had a slightly shorter match this time around, but it was still quite solid and enjoyable. We know the Usos are amazing as they had a great reign as champions earlier in the year, while Cody & Goldust were the top face team this time last year. As I said last month, the heel turn has worked for them despite me not being on board with it to begin with, as the champions haven’t done a whole lot character wise that is different since Cody became Stardust earlier in the year. As expected from these teams we got some fun tag team action with the heels isolating Jimmy Uso before the challengers came back, but ultimately the champions prevailed. It made sense for them to get the win here as I didn’t see the Usos winning back the titles after a month. That said, I wonder whats next for the champions. There’s not a whole heap of other credible teams in the division at the moment, which is a difference from earlier in the year. I thought maybe this heel turn would be a short term thing to get the titles on the Dust Brothers before going face again and feuding with the debuting Ascension, but it looks like the former NXT Tag Team Champions won’t be coming up just yet as they’ll be working down there through to the next NXT Takeover event in December. Of course, there’s the chance they work both there and the main roster like others have done when first being called up, so we’ll see. I suppose the repackaged Harper & Rowan could enter the scene as well when they come back to TV. Otherwise who is there besides the Usos? Los Matadores? My Grade: ***

After a Susan G Komen ad, we returned to the arena where Byron Saxton spoke to some breast cancer survivors at ringside. Its really good to see the WWE get behind the cause for three consecutive years now. We then cut to the video package for the first cell match of the night. I had a feeling Ambrose/Rollins would close the show as it deserved to, but I still was uncertain about it with the addition of the title stipulation to Cena/Orton. I was glad to see they would get it after all. The video package was really good, focusing upon the importance of their rivalry.

Number One Contender – Hell in a Cell Match: John Cena vs Randy Orton My pick heading in: John Cena Winner: John Cena via pinfall following an Attitude Adjustment through a table at 25:57. Ah yes, the never ending rivalry and the first ever Hell in a Cell rematch under the stipulation. There was actually a funny sign in the crowd that said something to the effect of “Enjoy John Cena vs Randy Orton for the 251st time”. The camera man must have only seen the first bit because they zoomed in on it before quickly cutting away. Now, a lot of people shit on these two having so many matches, and I’ll admit, I don’t really get excited for their matches now because they’ve faced off so many times, the fact remains whenever they do go at it, they have a decent to very good match. Their last PPV encounter was at the Royal Rumble, which is remembered for being crapped all over by the crowd, but that was due to the Daniel Bryan fan movement, and the actual match there was fine. This match was much better than that though, and the crowd definitely seemed into it. It was the longest match on the show getting twenty five minutes, but they really went at it and built to the big spots later in the match where they were countering and kicking out of finishers which I always love. Of course, the ending was never in doubt as we knew ever since the ending of Night of Champions that Cena would be getting a rematch with Brock, which will most likely take place at the Royal Rumble next year. It was also pretty clear that a feud with Seth Rollins lay ahead for Orton as a result of their recent issues. Despite knowing Cena was winning here, it was still a really fun match that on a weaker show could have been the match of the night easily. While Orton had cooled off a lot since Mania (or even before since he was pretty much an afterthought going into that show), I’ve really been enjoying his work the past few weeks since he’s been having problems with the Authority and their vision of Seth Rollins as the future. I always say Orton is best as a heel, but maybe he’s actually at his best in the tweener role. Anyway, its a good time for Orton at the moment, especially with the RKO going viral. Back to the match, it was quite physical with the cell, steps and ultimately a table being brought into play. Orton would go through that table due to an AA by Cena for the ending of the match, and John Cena is officially the number one contender to Brock Lesnar’s WWE World Heavyweight Championship. I don’t know what else to really say about this match, other than it was a really fun twenty five minutes between two veterans that know each other well. After the match, Cena gave a nod of respect to the fallen Orton as the announcers talked about how great the match was, which further fuels the coming face turn for Orton. After that, Paul Heyman moved through the crowd from the panel to stare down Cena to lay the seeds for the big title rematch in January. My Grade: ****

Up next we cut to Big Show, who was getting ready for his match later on. Mark Henry came in to give him a pep talk. Show said he was going to beat Rusev for both of them, which Mark did not seem to happy about.

WWE United States Championship: Sheamus (c) vs The Miz w/Damien Mizdow My pick heading in: Sheamus Winner: Sheamus via pinfall with the Brogue Kick at 8:18. Up next we had the second half of the U.S/I.C title contenders swap as former Intercontinental Champion, the Miz looked to end the lengthy, yet unspectacular, U.S title reign of the Celtic Warrior. Now, I like both Sheamus and the Miz, but Damien Mizdow at ringside was the star here. The guy is hilarious bumping around outside the ring emulating the Miz as his stunt double. My eyes were on him for the whole match. Its really good to see he’s got something to do again thats getting noticed. Like most of the matches on this night, the result was predictable, as I think there are other things ahead for Sheamus down the line in the form of a certain Russian, while Mizdow’s popularity will probably turn him face against the Miz sooner than later. The match was okay for what it was, but it really seemed like it was just there, which is a bit of a trend for secondary title defences, although tonight it was the other way around from Night of Champions where the US title had the good match while the Intercontinental one was nothing special there. As I said, Mizdow was the star here and he got some “Mizdow’s awesome” chants in appreciation from the crowd. Nobody thought Miz had a chance here, although he did get a good near fall off the Skull Crushing Finale. Sheamus would come back moments later with a Brogue Kick however to retain his title. After the match he had some fun at the expense of Miz and Mizdow by making him emulate the YMCA dance before dishing out a second Brogue to his fallen opponent.  My Grade: **1/4

In the parking lot, we saw Brie loading Nikki’s bags into a car before Nikki showed up and demanded a smoothie. Brie gave it to her, but Nikki poured it all over her sister and told her to make her a new one. Just a basic segment to put over the stipulation from earlier. We’ll see many more over the next month. From there we got a video package for the Big Show vs Rusev match.

Big Show vs Rusev w/Lana My pick heading in: Rusev Winner: Rusev via submission from the Accolade at 7:54. This was a feud I really had no interest in. I don’t think it has anything to do with not being American either, as I really enjoyed the Swagger feud a couple of months ago. I wasn’t all that invested in Rusev’s match with Mark Henry last month despite being a big fan of Henry, and my interest was even lower here. Its not like we were going to get a good match either. This was pretty basic stuff. Rusev really needs to do something other than going through the patriotic giants. I know its his whole character to be against the US, but he needs a different feud to sink his teeth into or he’s eventually going to go the way of Vladimir Kozlov. At least Rusev went over relatively clean which is pretty rare for a younger guy to do over Show. Sure, Henry came down to ringside, but Rusev took him out before he could get involved and then put Show away with the Accolade. Mark Henry would help Show up after the match, but as we would see the next night on Raw, the expected heel turn occurred there. In a way I’m happy because Henry is much better as a heel, but at the same time, him feuding with Show is exactly what we had three years ago at this time of year. If you really wanted to do it, couldn’t Show have gone heel to have the roles in reverse to make things somewhat fresh? He’s due for a heel turn anyway isn’t he? Its been more than his six months quota! Anyway, the Show/Rusev feud thankfully ended here, and as I alluded to earlier, I think Rusev will have the U.S title in his sights sooner than later, which is something he needs. My Grade: *1/2

After an ad for Survivor Series, we went backstage for a typically great Dean Ambrose promo. He promised that both he and Rollins would burn in hell tonight.

WWE Diva’s Championship: AJ Lee (c) vs Paige w/Alicia Fox My pick heading in: AJ Lee Winner: AJ Lee via submission with the Black Widow at 6:49. Our last title match of the evening my three favourite divas on the main roster involved as AJ defended her title against Paige, who had bestie Alicia Fox in her corner. AJ and Paige have faced off quite a few times now, but I never get sick of their matches. I said it last month, but Paige has really come into her own since going heel, while AJ is so different to the usual divas that you just want to cheer her despite not acting like a traditional face at times. This was right up there with their past few matches including last month’s triple threat with Nikki. Unlike a lot of the matches on this night I wasn’t entirely sure who to pick in this match since these two have traded wins quite a bit over the past few months, but I had a feeling AJ would retain since she just won the title last month. One thing I was glad to see early on here was the crowd starting to chant “AJ Lee” to drown out the idiots who think they are cool by chanting for Punk whenever AJ is on screen. Yeah, they are engaged – he’s not coming back, get over it. The action was fairly fast paced here, with AJ fighting off Alicia’s attempts at interference and taking the fight to her challenger. Paige took over a little before the action went to the outside, with Paige taking a hard bump off the barricade to the floor after being tripped up by AJ. Paige was about to be counted out, so Alicia helped her back into the ring, but AJ was waiting and locked on the Black Widow for the tap out to retain. After the match, Paige took out her frustrations on Foxy, which she did again the following night on Raw as well. Maybe this means a face turn for Alicia, but she’s a supporting player in this feud at the moment anyway. I imagine we could get some kind of elimination match with these three at Survivor Series, although I wouldn’t be shocked to see Nikki involved in that match either, with Brie finally costing her sister the match there. Thats around thirty days right? Anyway, good stuff from these ladies. I’m a fan of the Diva’s division at the moment. My Grade: **1/2

Up next it was main event time, so we got a video package of the long history between Ambrose and Rollins, going back to the start of the Shield.

Hell in a Cell Match: Dean Ambrose vs Seth Rollins w/Jamie Noble & Joey Mercury My pick heading in: Dean Ambrose Winner: Seth Rollins via pinfall after Bray Wyatt hit Ambrose with Sister Abigail at 13:54. After having our appetites whetted in brawls at Battleground and Night of Champions, in addition to the Lumberjack match at SummerSlam, our main event on this night was the long awaited one on one showdown between Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. We knew going in that this match was going to be insane, and it certainly lived up to that. The moment Ambrose went up on top of the cell to start, I started to wonder how they could possibly do something off the cell with it now being higher than the cell they used for the last big bump spot. When the new stooges of Mercury and Noble went up I figured Ambrose would fight them off while Rollins entered the cell forcing Ambrose to come down. Thats not what happened though – Rollins made his way up as well and before the match even began properly, Ambrose was fighting all three off. Rollins tried to climb back down to escape on the far side, but Ambrose stopped him in his tracks. With the two men hanging from the cell we got that big bump that we haven’t seen in years, as both Ambrose and Rollins came crashing down from about halfway up, taking out an announce table each. Holy shit! This led to medical staff coming out and loading both men onto stretchers, but Ambrose would fight off and go after Rollins, sending him back into the cell and locking the door to begin the match officially to a loud cheer from the crowd. The match we had all been waiting for was finally happening! And what a match it was. Both men used whatever they could get their hands on to destroy the other – the cell itself, tables, screwdrivers, and of course cinder blocks. The problem with the Hell in a Cell being its own PPV in recent years has often been a lack of a heated feud between the competitors, with the stipulation only taking place due to the match being on the October PPV. Not here, this was the perfect stipulation for this match. Now, I thought Ambrose would win here to finally get his revenge on Rollins ending the feud, but instead we got a surprise out of nowhere. As Ambrose kept coming back despite interference from the outside by Kane with a fire extinguisher, he appeared to have Rollins set up for the curb stomp to the cinder blocks just as he had been put out a few months prior. All of a sudden, the lights went out. An incantation began and the lantern we know all too well appeared in the ring with a hologram. A stunned Ambrose approached it only to be attacked by a returning Bray Wyatt (you know, that guy people were complaining about the company giving up on), who laid Ambrose out with Sister Abigail. Rollins rolled onto Ambrose to get the win and got out of there as the show ended with Wyatt kneeling over Ambrose to kick off a new feud. This was an awesome match with plenty of call backs to both the feud and previous Cell matches. I don’t think this will be the last time we see Ambrose vs Rollins, but more on that later. This match lived up to the expectations and was worthy of going on last on this show. My Grade: ****1/2

Three Stars of the Night:

1. Dean Ambrose – the guy is just on fire at the moment. With all the injuries at the moment, he’s taken that top two babyface spot on the roster and run with it. His character is so unique and he was able to go crazy in the cell tonight.

2. Seth Rollins – like Ambrose, he’s natural in his role and is really coming across as a legitimate main eventer. Its funny how the one guy that they have the biggest plans for of the Shield members is the least at the main event level at the moment. Ambrose and Rollins are there.

3. Randy Orton – nobody expected him to come out victorious on this night, but the guy is more interesting at the moment than he has been for the first few months of his heel turn last year.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Hell in a Cell 2014 was a very good show with some excellent matches throughout the card. The two cell matches both delivered in different ways, although Ambrose/Rollins was clearly the match of the night. The opener was also a very good match and its good to see Ziggler back in the good graces of the company by the look of it. There was a lot of solid stuff on this show as well, making it a fairly consistent card. The tag title match was fun, and both divas matches lived up to (or in the case of the Bella match) surpassed expectations. The U.S title match was just there, but it was Mizdow’s stuff outside that it will be remembered for. The only real weak spot on this show was Rusev vs Big Show, but that was less than ten minutes and I didn’t expect much from it going in. Not bad, particularly for a Fall PPV, but I do think a little bit of momentum has been regained on the TV after the fairly weak build to Night of Champions.

The big storyline going into the next month to Survivor Series is going to be built around a classic elimination tag match in which Team Cena will take on Team Authority, which will presumably be led by Seth Rollins. I’m interested in seeing who else will fill out those teams. It looks like we can expect to see Ziggler on Cena’s team, while Kane will obviously be on the Authority’s team. Perhaps the newly reset Ryback and a returning Roman Reigns could be part of Cena’s team. I do think the last member to be revealed will be Randy Orton to complete his face turn and set up a subsequent feud with Rollins leading to a match at TLC. I’m not sure where Cena will fit in after Survivor Series, as Brock won’t be back until January probably, so maybe the Rusev match takes place in December, although as I said, I think he’ll be in the U.S title scene at that point in time.  The other big names coming out of Hell in a Cell are Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt. I don’t see them being involved in the elimination tag at Survivor Series. You need other matches on the show and its clear a showdown between the two is on the cards. I should briefly comment on the people complaining about the lack of a clean finish to Ambrose/Rollins. I don’t buy into that at all. Bray returning in the way he did brought him right back into prominent storylines after being all but forgotten following his feud with Cena and lacklustre rivalry with Jericho before taking a month off. It looks as though he is officially on his own now which explains the weird Harper & Rowan vignettes over the past month, but he’s definitely not being tossed aside at their expense like many seemed to fear before this show. As for Ambrose/Rollins, its not over. Its just on the cooler for the moment. Ambrose needs to get his revenge eventually. I have a very strong feeling that occurs in a match at WrestleMania 31. If they just leave the feud at Hell in a Cell I can understand people complaining, but I doubt thats the plan at all.

I really enjoyed Hell in a Cell 2014. The year has been pretty decent as far as PPV quality has gone, but I think this was one of the stronger ones. Not up there with WrestleMania XXX or SummerSlam, but I think I’d put it slightly above Night of Champions, although its close. Well worth your $9.99! (or $0.00000099 considering everything else on there!) FINAL GRADE: 7.5 out of 10
2014 PPV Rankings Thus Far:

  • WrestleMania XXX (9.5)
  • SummerSlam (8)
  • Hell in a Cell (7.5)
  • Night of Champions (7.5)
  • Payback (7.5)
  • Money in the Bank (7)
  • Elimination Chamber (7)
  • Battleground (7)
  • Extreme Rules (7)
  • Royal Rumble (6)