It's the third WWE pay-per-view in the last six weeks as Hell in a Cell emanates Sunday night in Miami, Florida. I could talk about the card and my expectations for it, but frankly I'll do that when we get to talking about the matches. Instead, here's a WWE produced about Daniel Bryan that they really should have put on Raw this past week because I'm sure most fans watching the show would have loved it.
It's awesome. It makes me more excited for Hell in a Cell. When Brock Lesnar came back they did similar videos with him. I'm glad they don't do them too often because it makes them stand out more this way. It's just a guy talking into the camera while highlights are shown. Simple? Sure, but it works.
I think WWE has to have a good show this time around because Night of Champions and Battleground were both below average PPVs. The lineup is stronger here. The return of John Cena certainly helps. Shawn Michaels as referee in the main event adds to the star power too. There's still plenty of unpredictability on the card and some matches could be excellent, so if all goes well I think Hell in a Cell can be a success.
(Note: All graphics are from WWE.com. The banner is courtesy of my friend Steve Melo.)
Intercontinental Championship: Curtis Axel vs. Big E Langston (Kickoff Show)
I think they're going to move the title onto Langston here. I could see a situation where Axel retains and they move it over to Langston at Survivor Series or possibly in a TV match, but why not here? Axel isn't going to get more over than he is now. The guy is losing steam quickly. He's not having a very successful IC Title run. Langston has a bright future.
My guess is WWE has realized they're not going to get much more out of Axel as IC Champ, so might as well put it on Langston. The only thing that puzzles me about this is that this should be on the main show rather than the pre-show. It's still something they can do to pop the crowd for the first match, so in that sense it's not a bad idea. Langston wins the gold. Winner and New Intercontinental Champion: Big E Langston
Real Americans (Antonio Cesaro & Jack Swagger) vs. Los Matadores
There are four very good wrestlers in this match that are taking part in a comedy match. It would be much better if we had a competitive tag match with Swagger & Cesaro taking on Primo & Epico, but instead we have this. We will likely see the little person El Torito attack Zeb Colter at ringside because watching that is exactly the kind of humor that Vince McMahon loves. We'll also likely see a Cesaro Swing on the little person because that's all Cesaro does to stay relevant today, which is sad because he's such an awesome worker. I think Los Matadores will win because it's their first PPV match as these characters so WWE is going to want to give them some momentum. Winners: Los Matadores
Divas Championship: AJ Lee vs. Brie Bella
I want AJ to retain and I will pick her retain. Three weeks ago I thought Brie would win. I've maintained the opinion that the best thing would be for AJ to hold this title until early next year. I still feel that way. I don't know how the "look strong on TV, lose on PPV" theory works here because Brie pinned AJ clean on Smackdown two weeks ago and also this past Monday on Raw. Then on Smackdown, AJ beat Nikki and Tamina took out Brie for AJ, so technically AJ had the advantage there.
It makes sense that they would put the title on Brie because then they can show it on Total Divas in a month or two and the girls can celebrate it like it's a big deal. I'm going with AJ, though. I think she's going to have that long title reign until somebody else comes along and is built up better than Brie as the woman that takes the title off her. I want to see more of this AJ/Tamina friendship as they dominate the title for months ahead. That's what would be the best for the divas division. Winner: AJ Lee
WWE Tag Team Championship: Cody Rhodes & Goldust vs. Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins vs. The Usos
This has been one of the best feuds in WWE since SummerSlam. The way that Cody Rhodes has been built up is an example of how you tell a story the right way in pro wrestling. Everything they've done has been pretty basic in a lot of ways, but that's part of the reason why it works so damn well. The fans felt sorry for Cody for being fired, for Goldust losing to Orton and for their dad Dusty getting knocked out. When they won the tag titles a few weeks ago on Raw, the ovation they received was genuine.
I have no problem with the Usos being added to the match. It makes sense. They won a number one contender's match, so they earned the right to be here. It's not often that we get to see triple threat tag team matches. I've been known to gripe about overdoing triple threat matches, but I don't have a problem with it. The chemistry is great between these guys. I have high expectations for it.
I like the champs to retain here. I think The Shield will eventually get the tag titles back at some point. I'm hoping that these three teams continue the feud all the way to TLC so we can get a three team ladder match out of it. It would be a great thing for the tag division, which is becoming stronger every week. I'm happy about it. I love tag wrestling. Winners: Cody Rhodes & Goldust
World Heavyweight Championship: Alberto Del Rio vs. John Cena
This is a tough match to predict. I really don't know where they are going with it. I realize that most are going to see Cena in a match and pick him to win, but does that seem likely to you? To me, it doesn't feel like the title that Cena will set his sights on. They put him in this match because Del Rio had nobody else to feud with and it puts Cena in a match near the top of the card without overshadowing the other top babyfaces (Bryan and Punk) that are in long-term storylines.
I think Cena wins...by disqualification. The story of the match will likely be about Del Rio working on the surgically repaired left arm of Cena. JBL will be there saying Cena's not ready to be back while Lawler and Cole will talk about how Cena is showing incredible heart by not giving up. "I've never seen John Cena take this much punishment before" blah blah blah you know how it goes. The finish will likely be something where Del Rio's nearly about to lose, so he uses a chair or the title to hit Cena in front of the ref to get himself disqualified. Maybe it's a double countout. I'm not sure. I just don't think we'll get a clean finish with either guy winning the match. Winner: John Cena via DQ
That's not all, though. I expect Cena to get his revenge after the match. He'll be mad that Del Rio got disqualified, so Cena will go after him an Attitude Adjustment. Then he'll put him in the STF. Once Cena's done getting his revenge, Damien Sandow will march down to the ring with the Money in the Bank briefcase. He cashes in on Del Rio. He wins the World Title. I'm not sure if Sandow will become a babyface, but that's an option after he wins the World Title. Nobody has really talked about Sandow cashing in. He's barely been on Raw or Smackdown this month. That's how WWE likes to do it by making it happen out of nowhere. Winner and New World Heavyweight Champion: Damien Sandow
Handicap Hell in a Cell Match: CM Punk vs. Ryback & Paul Heyman
I get the feeling that this is the end of this Punk vs. Heyman feud. It's the fourth PPV match based on the rivalry with Lesnar beating Punk at Summerslam, Heyman & Axel winning over Punk due to Ryback's interference and then Punk beating Ryback with a low blow three weeks ago at Battleground. Now they're inside Hell in a Cell, which means they're in no better place for this story to come to a close.
It's been weird to see all of this stuff going on with Triple H and Stephanie being so evil all over the place while Punk is in some alternate universe because he has no involvement with the main storyline at all. I feel like Punk's the guy that could take that main storyline to the next level, to make it seem like a bigger deal yet here he is feuding with Heyman. I don't have a problem with this feud. It's definitely had its high points. I just don't care about seeing Punk vs. Ryback because we saw it last year, it was average at best and their last match was average. Imagine how good this feud would be if Cesaro was the Heyman guy instead? I know I've written it before, but that's the feud I would have wanted to see here.
Picking a winner is tough. I think there's a chance that Ryback will win because Daniel Bryan's going to need a heel opponent in the near future. Punk doesn't have to win. All Punk needs to do on Sunday is get his hands on Heyman, give him a GTS and maybe slap on the Anaconda Vice. He didn't promise a win on Monday night. He just said he would bring the pain to Heyman. And he will. I'm picking Punk to win, but I am reluctant about it. If Punk loses will there be another match or will it be enough if he puts Heyman out for a few weeks? That's why I think Punk should win here because it gives this story the closure it deserves. Then Punk can move back in to the WWE Title picture as we head towards the end of the year. Winner: CM Punk
For the Vacant WWE Championship - Hell in a Cell Match: Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan (Shawn Michaels as special referee)
I'm looking forward to this match just as long as it's the last one on one Bryan vs. Orton match for a while because three in six weeks is more than enough. The Hell in a Cell addition should give it more of a fresh feeling compared to the other two matches, which didn't really have stipulations.
I think it makes perfect sense for a special referee to be in this match and for that person to be a babyface. The reason they need Shawn there is because at Night of Champions a referee with a fast count (Scott Armstrong) ruined the finish of the main event. At Battleground, the referee was pulled out of the ring, then they sent Armstrong to the ring again and there was no finish. Michaels is there as a babyface legend that the fans know and trust. It's the right time for a special referee because they need to win back the trust of the fans with a babyface ending to a show after two endings that frustrated the hell out of everybody watching. With all of that said, I don't think Michaels goes heel. He's there to raise the hand of the guy he trained to wrestle: Daniel Bryan.
I think Bryan has to win this because if he doesn't then he comes off like such an idiot for the past few months. I believe WWE made a mistake in vacating the WWE Title. It should have been on Orton since SummerSlam and he should have dropped it here. Simple. It works. Instead, they vacated it (maybe they just wanted to say "abeyance" dozens of times?) and it has hurt the storyline. Whoever leaves without the title is hurt by this story. Feuds are supposed to be good for at least one person, but in the best case they are beneficial for both guys. If Bryan loses he looks like too much of a loser and a guy that's been WWE Champion twice without ever really holding the title for very long. If Orton loses then he doesn't look like the dominant heel that he should be.
The hard part is trying to predict the actual finish of the match. I know that with the Hell in a Cell stipulation that we shouldn't see any kind of interference. However, I think we'll see Triple H come down to ringside and try to get in Michaels' face about screwing Bryan out of the ring. Michaels refuses, he gets face to face with Hunter and then Big Show comes out (through the crowd) to KO Hunter. That sets up Show vs. Hunter at Survivor Series. I don't see Michaels going heel. He's retired. I don't think he'll wrestle again or get heavily involved in storylines. It's not necessary. Plus, they just had Triple H go heel as the ref at SummerSlam. It would not be fresh to see it again so soon.
What worries me about my Daniel Bryan prediction is that he had the advantage on both Raw and Smackdown this week. When you factor in the "win or gain advantage on TV/lose on PPV" theory that would suggest that Bryan is losing. I'm not saying the theory is always right. I'm just saying I do have some doubts about this prediction. It's not a lock. I just think the story makes sense for Bryan to win the match and the title with his mentor raising his hand. That's the right kind of babyface finish in the same building that went crazy with the "yes" chants last year the night after WrestleMania. Winner and New WWE Champion: Daniel Bryan
I think this is an interesting show in terms of the booking. I'm not that sure what's going to happen in the three biggest matches on the card (two HIAC matches and Cena's return), so to me that makes it a worthwhile event. Unpredictability is good. The rest of the midcard has some intrigue too. There really aren't any matches that look awful to me. I think it will be an above average PPV in terms of in-ring action too. If the booking is good and the matches live up to expectations then it could turn out to be an excellent event. Do I blame any fans that don't have interest because of the stinker we got three weeks ago at Battleground? No. But I do think WWE is back on the right track. I'm optimistic. That's just how I am.
I won't be watching Hell in a Cell live, so my review of the show will get posted on Monday afternoon most likely.
John Canton - email@example.com