michael dworkis reviews the cage based wwe ppv…
Right here, in Atlanta, the site of WWE Hell in the Cell kicks off with their YouTube/WWE.com exclusive pre-show, not with a match… But with John Cena addressing the “AJ Scandal” which unraveled on Raw. This is either the end of a gimmick which was once great, turned boring, AJ Lee as the GM of Raw, or the beginning of a new chapter for John Cena. Let us take just a moment, John Cena, injured, has no place on the Pay-Per-View, but now featured on the pre-show. Quite the step down the ladder one would think. One would think. We all know better, this weird set up may result in another bizarre event in WWE. I am curious where this one goes. John Cena addresses the “business dinner” he shared with AJ, Vickie Guerrero and Vince McMahon both expressing their disappointment.
Apparently through a war-of-words on Twitter, Vickie Guerrero will reveal the evidence tomorrow night on Raw. Before we get to that, the segment, led by Michael Cole begins with taking questions from Twitter and Tout, involving Ryback. The segment goes from bad to worse as a fan asks Cena if he could beat Ryback, and rather than answering, he turns it over to the fans. Man, I decided to cover the pre-show since there might have been something interesting, but this is already killing the show for me. Now Cena is just getting fan questions about “his favorite match” or “his toughest opponent.” Well, it got better when Dolph Ziggler shows up as one of the Tout questions, and… no, no the pre-show still sucks. Cena challenges Dolph to a match, but instead we get Vickie Guerrero. She blathers on as Dolph tries to hit Cena from behind, but he missed and Cena chases them off. Wow. Worst pre-show ever. Ever.
I apologize to everyone for covering this farce. I apologize to Verizon and my Dell Vostro 1520 for streaming this segment online, and I apologize to my children for exposing them to this idiocy.
Now, on that positive note, let us get to the real show! WWE Hell in the Cell!
Yes yes, I know we want to get right to Punk vs. Ryback, but sorry folks, this review goes in order tonight!
Randy Orton vs. Alberto del Rio
We begin with the only non-title singles match, Randy Orton against Alberto del Rio. The interesting thing about this match, is both men really have nothing to gain nor lose. Both back from injury, and frankly both have had little success in a main event push. To the match, both men starting well, trading punches and thankfully Alberto uses a few takedown holds, but Orton goes back to what he knows, the straight-up brawler that he is. Neither man really takes a strong advantage, and the match is starting to look more like an overly rehearsed elementary school performance. Orton wins the match in under 10 minutes with the RKO.
Winner by Pinfall: Randy Orton
It bugs me that once again Alberto del Rio is getting buried. At one point this man was main eventing for months, and now he is one of the biggest losers in WWE.
Team Rhodes Scholars (Cody Rhodes & Damien Sandow) vs. Team Hell No (Daniel Bryan & Kane)
Match began with Daniel and Kane arguing, which continued in bit parts throughout the match. Sandow and Rhodes are a solid team, not just in wrestling style, but their in-ring presence and they feed off each other in their promos extremely well. Kane dominates early on, throwing everyone around, causing Rhodes and Sandow to regroup and rethink their strategy. Bryan tagged in but becomes prey to the Intellectual Savior of WWE. Sandow turns the tide to his team, keeping Bryan away from Kane. The NO-man rallies back, taking out both Sandow and Rhodes with a suicide dive to the outside, but once again quick tags and takedown holds puts Rhodes Scholars back in control. After a quick rebound by Bryan, he tags out to Kane who once again controls the ring. Kane readies for the chokeslam, but Bryan selfishly tags himself in and connects with a diving headbutt off the top rope. He covers, ref makes the count, but Kane pulls off Bryan! They argue again which allows Rhodes Scholars to attack, forcing Kane to remain on the outside with Sandow, while Rhodes counters Bryan, hitting the Cross-Rhodes, and seems to have the championships won, but Kane again makes the save! Kane goes nuts and hammers both Rhodes and Sandow over and over, causing the ref to call the match, awarding it by DQ to the challengers. While Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow win the match, the belts remain with Team Hell No.
Winners: Cody Rhodes & Damien Sandow by Disqualification
While the match was good, I was a bit disappoint I did not see more from Rhodes, Sandow, and Bryan. I do not expect Kane to throw suplexes or technical wrestling, but the rest could have. There were way too many wear-down holds and a lack of real mat-wrestling I expected. In any event, I still have high hopes for Sandow to really become a main-eventer in the next year.
The Miz vs. Kofi Kingston – Intercontinental Championship
Miz cuts an interesting promo on Kofi, saying his reign as champion brings the belt down and kills its legacy. Wow. I mean, I get this is a gimmick where Miz is bitter about losing the Intercontinental Championship to Kingston, but wow, saying that Kofi holding a belt brings the belt down and loses its legacy? Wow.
Kofi comes to the ring first, and our commentary team of Michael Cole, Jim Ross, and JBL remind us that Kofi is undergoing a transition, in-part thanks to the relentless taunting by The Miz. Kofi got a wake-up call, which resulted in his defeat of The Miz for the IC title. Miz determined to regain the title goes on the offensive right away but Kofi is quick and evades. The champ strikes back but Miz dodges as well. Miz goes for a Skull Crushing Finale early on but Kofi counters into the Trouble in Paradise but Miz escapes! You can see Kofi is really trying to move beyond his routine high-flying tricks and incorporating more holds and in-ring wrestling. Kofi actually takes control of the match, sending Miz down with a clothesline, body press, and his signature Boom Drop. Miz bails from the ring to regroup, but Kingston pursues. Miz counters an Irish-whip, attempts to toss Kingston into the stairs but the champ flies over, but still eats a big boot courtesy of a fast recovering Miz. The challenger gets his turn to dominate, flooring the champ with a backbreaker, but again Kofi bounces back with a leg-lariat. This match continues back and forth as both men really are showing off why they deserve more air-time. Miz seems to injure the leg of Kingston, and locks in the half-Boston-crab, but Kingston manages to escape. Miz looms for the kill but Kofi again evades the Skull Crushing Finale, goes for his finisher, Miz ducks, locks Kofi again, Kofi rolls but Miz keeps him in the full-nelson and goes for the Finale, but Kofi sends Miz to the floor. Miz angrily storms back in and takes the Trouble in Paradise to the face! Cover and three count, Kofi retains the title!
Winner and still Intercontinental Champion: Kofi Kingston
I see big things for Kofi. The attitude change was tried before, but then he got dumped back down to the lower bowels of mid-cardom. Hopefully this time we see his truly rise to the occasion.
Justin Gabriel vs. Antonio Cesaro – United States Championship Match
Cesaro has not really defeated that many high-profile opponents, yet J.R. feels Cesaro may be one of the greatest United States Champions of all-time. Perhaps that new goatee has infected his brain a bit. The Rugby Wrestler dominates early on, but in typical underdog-style, Gabriel comes back with a number of leg-lariats and flying takedowns. A dive to the outside staggers the champ, and Gabriel spikes him with a reverse DDT drop. Gabriel his a gorgeous middle-of-the-third rope moonsault at which point JBL dubbed Gabriel as a “young lionheart.” Cesaro retreats to the floor and Gabriel nails him with a dive. He goes for a top rope plancha, but Cesaro blasts him with a rising European uppercut. Gabriel is out cold, and back in the ring, Cesaro crushes him with the Neutralizer and that is the end of that.
Winner and still United States Champion: Antonio Cesaro
Gabriel and Cesaro are both very talented people. However, the former Claudio Castignoli has a long way to go before really being called the greatest United States Champion of all-time. Gabriel, while I applaud his ability, I see going the way of Evan Bourne, which is sadly, forgotten.
Rey Mysterio & Sin Cara vs. The Prime Time Players (Darren Young & Titus O’Neil)
I do not know if this match could be any worse. The crowd was dead during the intro, mostly since this was unannounced and no one really wants to see any of these people waste time. Seriously, give us another Diva match. No, I lied. Give me T.L. Hopper vs. Freddie Joe Floyd. They try. They really do, but face it. Rey is done. His shtick is old and even the six-year-olds do not buy it anymore. Sin Cara continues to disappoint, as evidenced during the match where he DROPPED HIMSELF ON HIS OWN HEAD. Prime Time Players are nothing more than a bad gimmick. Seriously, tell Darren Young to get that afro-hair-pick out of his hair. Doing crap like that makes me think he and Titus are nothing more than an upscale version of Cryme Tyme. Big guy and little guy. Stupid gimmick. Stupid pre-match dance. The only one in the ring right now who can say has talent is Rey Mysterio, but his glory days are long over. Rey wins the match after Sin Cara throws himself out of the ring, and Rey hits the 619 and then the splash.
Winners: Rey & Sin Cara via Pinfall
Who is worse when it comes to being a broken record in the ring? Cena or Rey?
Big Show vs. Sheamus – World Heavyweight Championship
I expect this match to be slow but brutual. The match is billed as a bout of behemoths. Show comes to the ring first, very slowly. Sheamus comes down a bit faster. This is The Punch vs. The Kick. Match underway and both men display their toughness, nobody falls. Show finally sends Sheamus down, and well, I guess I will not waste time for anyone here, then next eight minutes or so is nothing but the Big Show beating the tar out of Sheamus. Yes, the match is pretty uneventful, until the last few minutes when Sheamus LIFTS the Big Show up and crushes him with the White Noise! Sheamus fires back with chops and a huge DDT! Sheamus goes for the Brough kick, misses, and Show punches him out! WMD Punch! Ref makes the count, one… two… NO! He kicked out! He kicked out! Show is in shock, and the near-dead crowd once again comes to life! Show sets up for yet another strike, but Sheamus blasts the challenger with the Brough Kick! Cover! One… two… NO! Show is up! Show is up! Sheamus goes for a second kick, he runs, he strik… NO! Show punched him mid-kick! Show punched Sheamus mid-Brough strike and the Celtic Warrior is out cold! Show covers again, one… two… three! Three! New Champion! We have a new World Heavyweight Champion! Big Show did it!
Winner and New World Heavyweight Champion: The Big Show
Well, Dolph Ziggler threatened to cash in his Money in the Bank against the winner, but that did not happen. In any event, finally, Show wins the big one!
Kaitlyn vs. Layla vs. Eve – Diva Title match
A suplex. Seriously. We get a rare suplex, in the Divas match? Shoot me. Eve wins after doing something off the top rope. JBL said what we all feel “I don’t know who they are.”
Winner and still Diva Champion – Eve
Seriously, suplexes are rare in WWE, and we get one during the Diva Title Match? Sigh.
Hell in the Cell Match – Ryback vs. CM Punk – WWE Championship Match
This is it folks. The one we have been waiting for. Punk in the cell first, and here comes the chant. Feed Me More. Feed Me More. You can hear a few “Goldberg” chants repeating, but I really do not think the majority of current WWE fans even knows who or what it represents. Ryback just clobbers Punk from the get-go. Clothesline. Tackle. Big Boot. Shoulder Toss. Punk retreats and tries a chair, but Ryback punts both the chair and the head of the Straight-Edge Superstar skyward. Thanks to the cell, neither landed in the crowd. After reattaching his head, Punk lures Ryback into spearing himself into the ring stairs. Paul Heyman serves as cheerleader, and Primus almighty this is why I love Heyman. His antics are priceless. Back to the match, Punk counters a charge and Ryback eats a boot to the face, then crashed into the ring-post. Punk starting to rally back, but again Big Hungry launches Punk into the cell wall. Punk whips out a kendo stick and starts cracking away at the one-man-wrecking-crew. Hit after hit, Ryback just stands there, taking each one, until he catches a final strike. Punk appears to soil himself as Ryback roars and mauls Punk like a bear on a picnic basket. Powerslam. Meat-Hook Clothesline. This is it… Ryback, sets up Punk for the Muscle B… er, Shell-Shock, and this is it! Punk is up! Ryback marches around and… the REF STOPS HIM?! What on Earth… LOW BLOW?! Are you kidding me! The referee just delivered a shot to the only weak spot on Ryback with a low blow, Punk rolls up Ryback, referee jumps on his legs to assist and makes a fast three count! What the crap?! The crowd is roaring with boos and b***s*** chants. Wow. Wow. WWE pulled a fast one on everybody.
Wait, it is not over yet! Ryback grabs the phony ref and beats the stripes off his shirt. I hope this kid has good health insurance. Thrown from one side of the ring to the other. Oh lord, I cannot watch. He lifts the ref… and HURLS HIM FROM THE RING AGAINST THE CELL WALL! The ref collapses in a heap on the arena floor! Where is Joey Styles to “Oh my GOD” right now? It is not over yet! Ryback goes after Heyman and Punk. Heyman runs away with the belt, leaving Punk at the mercy of the monster. Punk starts climbing the cell wall… and Ryback is after him! They are going to the top, the top of the cell! Ryback has Punk… SHELL SHOCK! Oh Primus of Cybertron I thought the cell ceiling was going to break open. Wow.
Not the finish I expected, but close enough.
Winner and still WWE Champion – CM Punk
Wow. That was a twist worthy of M. Night Shamalamarama-ding-dong. It makes sense though. The finish protects everyone. Ryback does not look weak, and Punk still is a strong WWE titleholder, nearing 340 days as champion. They are teasing making Punk the longest reigning WWE Superstar and this continues it. While this probably goes under the category of a “Dusty Finish” situation, think about how much sense it actually makes. If Ryback became champ, that’s it, nothing left for him to accomplish, and once he loses the belt, his “wrecking machine” status is gone. Ryback lost the match, but it was not a clean finish, and he mauled everyone afterwards, even tossing the planted ref like a javelin, bouncing him off the cell wall and crumbling to the floor. Punk tried to escape to the top of the cell, and Ryback ate him for a late-night snack.
On the flipside, had Punk lost, his whole “Best in the World” gimmick turns to dust. No longest title reign. Notice the match itself, Punk was not destroyed by Ryback. The match played out as Punk used the stipulations, or the lack thereof I should say, in the Hell in the Cell match to fight back with chairs, kendo sticks, and foreign objects galore. The match did what it needed to. It proved that Ryback is your future main event star, and that Punk did what he set out to do with Paul Heyman, and that was pulling a swerve to make him even more hated than he is now.
Other thoughts about 2012 Hell in the Cell? The United States Title match should have been part of the announced lineup. Pulling a stunt like that, even though it was “announced on Twitter” is still lame. If they really want to bring the U.S. Title back to glory from the comedic ashes of the recent reign by Santino Marella, then give it a proper slot and proper respect.
Dolph Ziggler said he would cash in, and he wound up staying backstage. My guess is that it was never planned for him to cash in, just to tease it. Or, they changed plans at the last moment and pulled the idea. Either way, smart move. I would like to see Ziggler cash in closer to the Royal Rumble. Main event spot at WrestleMania 29 in New Jersey? Yes please. I am also starting to think a swerve there is in the works. A new stipulation that Ziggler can now cash in on either WWE or World Title. Let us think about this. Royal Rumble, we may get The Rock vs. CM Punk. Rock wins, then Ziggler cashes in. Ziggler becomes uber-heel.
Option two: Cena faces Punk at Survivor Series. Cena wins. Punk cashes in on Cena. Ziggler vs. Rock and Royal Rumble. Wow. Would that actually happen? I probably have two-thirds of this theory possible, but the last part… not yet.
Overall, not the best Hell in the Cell due to a lacking undercard, but the World Title match surprised and lived up to its hype. The WWE Championship match was good, not great, but did the job of pushing Punk as a bigger heel, and Ryback as a force who cannot be stopped without interference. Yes, Ryback now has one in the loss column, but remember, it was not clean, and he was the one standing tall at the end of the night.
Commentator Quote of the Night – “Matt Striker is as bad as my commentary during the Divas match.” – JBL““