A new player entered the main event scene as WWE presented their latest pay-per-view, Hell in a Cell, shown live in the early hours of this past Monday morning on Sky Sports here in Britain.
The show began with a battle of former champions as Alberto Del Rio went up against Randy Orton.
This proved to be a highly intense and enjoyable encounter. Del Rio began his night’s work by working over Orton’s arm in preparation for his cross arm breaker. It was a great display from the Mexican as he took the Viper down time and time again.
Orton managed to get in a few moments of offence by Del Rio always seemed one step ahead of him.
Slowly but surely Orton began to come back into the match, but a brief distraction saw Del Rio’s ring announcer Ricardo Rodriguez pull him into the ring post shoulder first after he survived being barged into the corner by Del Rio.
Del Rio then went for his trademark submission hold, but Orton managed to survive, turning his predicament into a roll-up, forcing Del Rio to release the hold.
Then, from out of nowhere, Orton took the win. As he stood in the corner Del Rio came forward looking to take Orton out with his enziguri. Orton ducked and immediately took Del Rio down with the RKO for the winning pin.
The first title match of the evening followed as Cody Rhodes and Damian Sandow, the Rhodes Scholars, challenged Daniel Bryan and Kane, Team Hell No, for the Tag Team titles.
Now this was good, another good example of tag team wrestling, and another great chapter in the Hell No storyline.
Kane and Bryan looked great as a team early on, but it wasn’t long before Rhodes and Sandow started to use their opponents for target practice. It was Kane’s turn first as they began to work over his legs before Bryan managed to get the hot tag to get his share of the treatment.
In dishing out the punishment Rhodes and Sandow put in some great work as a unit. Their styles complimented each other extremely well, and this writer was certainly impressed.
Needless to say that the champions had their fare share of problems. Just as Kane was about to take Rhodes down with his choke slam Bryan tagged himself into the match. Kane watched as Bryan came off the top rope with his flying head butt, but as he went for the pin his partner pulled him out of the cover.
This led to more arguing, and it didn’t help matters later on when blows from Bryan intended for his opponents connected with Kane instead.
It looked like new were going to get new champions when Rhodes took Bryan down with the Cross Rhodes, but that was the moment when Kane went ape and took everyone out. The referee couldn’t control the Big Red Machine and called for the bell, giving Rhodes and Sandow the win by disqualifaction, but not the titles.
The champions continued their argument after the bell, even when Kane did his usual pyro routine.
The championship action continued with the Miz challenging Kofi Kingston for the Intercontinental title.
I’d heard how good this match was. Those reports weren’t wrong.
These two really have brought out the best of each other, and it showed in this match. Miz looked brutal as he sought to ground his high-flying nemesis by working over his leg, stripping off the padding and throwing everything he had at him.
Kingston played the part of the injured hero well. It was a great piece of selling when it looked like he was going to drop the belt, especially when Miz applied a half-Boston Crab.
Kingston managed to survive the onslaught, as well as Miz’s attempt to take him out with the Skull Crushing Finale until, from out of that mystery place known as nowhere, Kingston connected with the Trouble in Paradise kick to send his challenger crashing to the mat. A three count later and he’d retained his title.
Yet more title action followed as Justin Gabriel challenged Antonio Cesaro for the United States title.
This may not have been one of the marquee match-ups but it was certainly on a par with the rest of the card.
Once again Cesaro impressed the hell out of me. Mind you, he’s been doing that for about five years now. Everything about him just screams future superstar.
The match may not have lasted that long but it was filled with solid action. Cesaro did a good job in trying to ground Gabriel, while the man from South Africa put in a great showing, particularly when he took to the air.
The challenger couldn’t get the job done though. The turning point was when he came over the top rope and Cesaro took him out with an uppercut. The Swiss then showed his tremendous strength by dead lifting Gabriel back into the ring so he could take him out with his Neutralizer for the winning pin.
Then it was back to non-title action as Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara took on the Prime Time Players, Darren Young and Titus O’Neil.
This one surprised me, because I can’t remember the last time WWE put two tag team matches on a pay-per-view. Although I’m sure someone will tell me when the last time was in the comments section.
Action-wise it was pretty good, The PTPs are looking more and more like a well-oiled unit every time I see them, and for me it helps that they no longer have that annoying AW putting me off their matches at ringside.
Their double-team sequences as they used Cara as their personal punching bag looked great, and as for their opponents the two locators, like their opponents, are really beginning to gel as a unit, and out esteemed commentators noted that Mysterio is obviously having a positive effect on Cara because the masked man has never looked better.
The Davids of the match emerged victorious in this one, with Mysterio taking the pin after taking Young out with his 619/top rope splash combination.
The Smackdown main event saw the Big Show challenging Sheamus for the World title.
If you were hoping that this would be a technical classic then you probably went away very disappointed. This was a fight, and an entertaining one at that.
Right from the start these two basically tried to beat the proverbial you know what out of each other. It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective, and it made for compelling viewing.
The storyline was simple, you had a champion who had taken out past challengers with power now facing a giant more powerful than him. Show dominated the majority of the match, beating on Sheamus with a variety of different blows and throwing him around the ring as if he weighed nothing.
Sheamus’ moments of offence were few and far between as he tried to trade blows with the big man, and as the match went on he began to have more and more success.
No matter what these two did though they just couldn’t put the other away as they kicked out of each other’s big power moves, Sheamus kicking out after Show’s big right and Show kicking out after the Brogue Kick.
But then, just as Sheamus looked to take Show down with another Brogue Kick the big man countered with another big right hand. Sheamus went down, and three seconds later we had a new World Champion.
This month’s filler material saw Layla and Kaitlyn challenging Eve for the Divas title.
Credit where credit’s due, this wasn’t too bad. The Divas were given more time that they usually get and they put on a good match.
We had the usual routines with the two good girls teaming up at first before a disagreement over who should get the pin saw them going their separate ways. If anything the match actually got a lot better after that.
All three Divas acquitted themselves quite well, with Kaitlyn in particular pulling off some impressive power moves.
Kaitlyn looked like she was going to win the title towards the end when she took Layla down with a power slam, only for Eve to come off the top rope to break up the pin. She then pulled Kaitlyn out of the way and pinned Layla herself to retain the title.
The Raw main event saw Ryback challenging C.M. Punk, accompanied by Paul Heyman, for the WWE title in a Hell in a Cell match.
When you think about it, this match had a lot in common with it’s Smackdown counterpart, with the long-standing champion going up against what many considered to be an unbeatable opponent.
It had one big exception though, with the champion in this match absolutely petrified of his challenger.
Ryback may have had a lot of comparisons to a certain Mr. Goldberg but WCW’s former franchise was never able to tell a tale like this.
It was a great piece of storytelling. From the off Punk played the part of the cowardly heel perfectly, and his antagonist was just as good as him.
Ryback, as expected, dominated Punk early on with his power moves. The champion managed to get some offence in, but it wasn’t until Heyman distracted the big man that Punk really got into the match, spraying a fire extinguisher right into his face.
From there it took on a more back and forth routine. Each man had their moments, but as the match wore on and Pun brought out his signature moves it became apparent that these just wouldn’t be enough to defeat Ryback.
So it looked like we were going to get a new champion, but just as Ryback was about to put Punk out of his misery with the Shellshock the referee stopped him taking him out with a low blow. Punk then rolled Ryback up, and a fast three count later the champion had retained his title.
Punk and his co-conspirator then tried to head for the hills, but they couldn’t get out of the cage. Ryback then went on the rampage, completely destroying the referee by press slamming him from the ring into the cage.
Ryback then tried to catch up with Punk, only for the champion to climb to the top of the cell. Ryback followed him up, and in what will probably be the biggest WTF moment of the year he took Punk down with his Shellshock move right there. The sight of Ryback standing on the roof with his foot on Punk’s chest was the perfect way to end the show.
In conclusion - I think you can probably tell by now how this review is going to end.
Hell in a Cell delivered, and then some. From the opening encounter right up to the Cell match we were treated to a great show.
Each match was great in it’s own way, but or me the best thing about this show was the ring psychology on display in the main matches. They may not have been technical masterpieces but they were perfect pieces of storytelling, and that’s something we don’t seem to see on a regular basis these days.
As for my match of the night there was quite a few to choose from. I did consider going for the Tag title match, and also for the Punk/Ryback encounter, but in the end I decided to go for the Sheamus/Big Show match. It may not have been a pretty match but it made for compelling viewing.
So with that being said it’s time to wrap this review up by giving this year’s Hell in a Cell the big thumbs up.