Mark For War: Hell is an OK Place to Be
My pet peeve (or one of them at least) is when a pay-per-view event is overbooked.
In my opinion, every PPV within the last year has been overbooked. The closest thing to a properly booked PPV this year was, actually, Wrestlemania (and they had to add an extra hour to the broadcast for it to be that way). This past Sunday’s Hell in a Cell PPV had eight full matches, and featured the return of Bray Wyatt, which was essentially another segment in itself. Now, the rational behind overbooking a PPV has always been two-pronged: buyers getting their money’s worth (at fifty bucks a pop) and superstars getting the big show presence. What WWE has to realize is that the era of giving their fans their star-power money’s worth in a PPV should end now that the WWE Network has made PPV buys obsolete. The show should have consisted of Cena vs. Orton, Rollins vs. Ambrose, Ziggler vs. Cesaro, Bella vs Bella, and Rusev vs. Big Show as the opener, ideally opening with a big promo to get the crowd hot.
If a match like Shemus v. The Miz got scrapped, it wouldn’t have been the end of the world for either character or the feud. It actually would have been smart to not have the match, build the feud up for another month on Raw, and then have a match culminate at the next PPV, Survivor Series.
This leads to another problem on display in the WWE right now: feuds becoming beyond-stale. Sunday’s HIAC double main event I’ve seen multiple times over. We’ve been blessed with a lot of great Cena/Orton matches, but we’ve seen it over and over again. The match also set up yet another match we’ve seen over and over and over again: John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar. I was praying that Orton would win. I think Lesnar needs to have a short feud with the only dude who can arguably be a bigger A-Hole heal than him. Orton would do the job, obviously. But I think it’s important to realize that the win/loss of the match is only a small portion of what a match is. Take a look at RVD’s Television Championship of the late 90s and early 2000s. He held the TV Championship for something like twenty-one months. He had compelling matches I still revere, 95% of which we were certain he would win. It’s not so much about a champion be properly challenged as it is about him being able to properly defend. I’d enjoy a sort Lesnar/ Orton feud way more than Cena getting another shot. If, God forbid, we need to see Lesnar vs. Cena as our main event at ‘Mania this year, the staleness will be overwhelming, and actually would telegraph an obvious Cena victory.
The match of the night was Rollins vs. Ambrose, featuring the return of Bray Wyatt. Here’s the thing: This match really reminded me of a two-spot encompassment of earlier Hell in a Cell matches. The first was Taker v. Mankind at the ’98 King of the Ring. Rollins and Ambrose also started their match on top of the cage. As original as that spot was then, its lost all its cache. Fifty percent of all Hell in a Cell matches seem to end up on top of the cell. Also, remember when the Kane debuted in the first Hell in a Cell match ever (Taker vs. Michaels, ’97)? He was a creepy, supernatural character that ripped the door off the cell in order to confront his brother. The whole concept behind Hell in a Cell is based around two men entering a demonic structure to settle their differences alone and unfettered. You can’t interfere with the match unless your supernatural powers are enough to trump that of the cell (e.g. Kane in ’97 and Bray Wyatt this past Sunday).
My final grievance with the Rollins/Ambrose match is one I swore I wouldn’t mention, because I’m probably the only one who thinks this was a faux pas, but what the hell. Last night on Raw, Roman Reigns (who is SO going to be a World Champ within a year’s time with his new “Juggernaut” persona) was interviewed about the Rollins/Ambrose match. He said both guys “Tore the house down.” That’s a Mark phrase, dude. Using it breaks the fourth wall. It’s the equivalent of calling a bad guy a “Heel” during a promo.
All in all, Hell in Cell was an overbooked, semi-entertaining show that reminded me to take my recycling to the curb.
Let me know your thoughts on the show.
Match of the Week: Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker, In Your House, Badd Blood, Oct 5, 1997
As far as Hell in Cell matches go, Undertaker vs. Mankind at King of the Ring ’98 is , well, king. Rightfully so. It was a perfect storm that can never be duplicated, or reached in any Hell in a Cell match from here on out.
It’s no surprise, based on Foley/Taker being such a badass moment in time, that Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker, the WWE’s first Hell in a Cell match, is consistently overshadowed.
A few quick things about this match: first off, Shawn Michaels leading up to this match was ON FIRE! His character was evolving into the heel DX Michaels (basically himself in real life). Often times, a character will pay tribute, usually inadvertently, to a superstar who influenced them at some point in their career. This build up and match was Michaels channeling his inner Ric Flair. “There’s nobody crazier enough to do this gig than the Heartbreak Kid,” was uttered by Michaels on Raw during the buildup, as Triple H and China stood behind him. He looked at the cage before entering like a scared kid entering a haunted house. He got destroyed by Taker the whole match, bleeding all over his blonde hair like the Nature Boy did in every main event he’s ever been in.
Then there was Kane.
A long build-up by an unbelievably creepy Paul Bearer hinting at the long lost brother of the Undertaker being alive and set to exact revenge. Very dark promos from Bearer leading up to this match. We saw lights go black. Vince McMahon acting confused, and the creepiest funeral pipe song ever blaring from the PA. Reminded me of Danny Elfman’s Tales from the Crypt theme, but way darker. Kane ripped a (rigged) locked caged door off its hinges and entered “Hell.” Taker sold it perfectly. It was the first, last, and only time we saw the Undertaker scared. Chilling. A great late 90’s storytelling match, perfect for Halloween week.