Produced By: WWE
Date: October 26 2014
Location: American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas, USA
WWE’s latest supershow, Hell In A Cell, was more notable beforehand for the absence of one particular superstar: Brock Lesnar, the main titleholder in the company (to quote Paul Heyman, he’s the reigning, defending, undisputed WWE Heavyweight Champion of the World). Did Lesnar’s non-appearance, criticised by many beforehand, hinder the show as a whole? As it turned out, not really; but Lesnar aside, let’s look at HIAC as a whole.
The opening match saw Dolph Ziggler defend his Intercontinental Championship against Cesaro in a Two Out Of Three Falls Match. It was expected to be a strong start to the show in the ring, and so it proved with some pretty impressive moves, particularly Cesaro’s methods of executing suplexes from seemingly impossible situations. What was unexpected was Ziggler retaining his title in two straight falls; the first off an out-of-the-blue roll-up, and the other from a superkick followed by a Zig Zag. Some have speculated that Cesaro’s lack of falls was related to an interview in which he criticised the repetition of the John Cena vs. Randy Orton saga (more on that later); if so, it’s quite petty to punish him for a complaint shared by the vast majority of fans and pundits. Still, there was nothing wrong quality-wise with the opening contest.
Next up was the showdown between Brie Bella and Nikki Bella, wherein the loser would become the winner’s personal assistant for 30 days, or else quit WWE. This had been on the cards since SummerSlam, when Nikki betrayed Brie and cost her a match against Stephanie McMahon, although the feud became less of a priority due to the not-believable acting in their segments and the fan indifference to their saga. At HIAC itself, I expected Brie to win, given that she had been waiting for proper redemption of some kind since the spring. Instead Nikki triumphed in a match marred to an extent by (again) fan indifference, but which still ended up being better than expected. Nikki beating Brie cleanly in a match like this seemed odd; it only means that Brie will garner less sympathy for the range of demeaning tasks she will no doubt have to perform. Mind you, the threat of Brie having to quit WWE if she fails to do so is not exactly a threat considering that Brie had previously quit WWE at Payback, only to return with few restrictions.
Following this was the Tag Team Title rematch between the champs Goldust and Stardust and the previous holders The Usos. It was a good effort, although it didn’t really stand out from previous collisions between or involving either of the two teams (tag bouts involving the Usos are always worth watching, but a lot of their high spots have been seen so often now that they no longer have much impact). I had a feeling that the defending champions would be victorious, and they did after the most minor of heel interference by Stardust while the referee was distracted. This and the previous bout showed that villains are no longer having to cheat to win or, if they do, it’s with the least violent and most predictable tactics imaginable. Hopefully something for WWE to work on in the near future; if the heels don’t act like heels, then it’s doubtful that many fans would boo them.
Match four was the (yawn) latest chapter in the incredibly long-running feud between John Cena and Randy Orton. If you’ve watched WWE for more than a year, you’ll already know this, but just in case: prior to HIAC 2014, Cena and Orton have collided one-on-one on PPV a whopping 9 times. That does not include 3-way bouts (two), 4-way bouts (three), 5-way bouts (one), 6-way bouts (four), even an 8-way bout, Royal Rumbles where they have collided (two; three if you count 2004 but I won’t as Orton was eliminated before Cena entered) and bouts where they haven’t faced off but have both still been involved (two). That’s 24 times! Twenty-four occasions wherein Cena and Orton have clashed in some form on PPV, and bear in mind that one other collision had to be scrapped due to a Cena injury (No Mercy 2007), and they had been scheduled to meet at least two other times (Royal Rumble 2009 and WrestleMania 25; both times, plans changed before they were announced). This doesn’t include their multitude of TV bouts or angles (Orton has attacked Cena’s father twice under very similar circumstances). And I won’t even hazard a guess as to the number of their non-televised matches.
Therefore, the prospect of yet another Cena-Orton match on PPV was almost beyond belief. In fact, this was their second meeting in the Cell, a first for the stipulation. Their latest match was slightly jazzed-up with the stipulation that the winner would face Brock Lesnar at some point for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, although it made a mockery of the match wherein Dean Ambrose beat Cena to earn a shot at Seth Rollins. In other words, the loser of that match got the greater reward. It was obvious that WWE knew the match wouldn’t be greeted well, given how late it was announced; it’s as if the company wanted to hide the fact that two of its biggest stars were clashing one more time.
On the bright side, the match itself was worth watching (the sequences that led to the two RKOs were particularly well-executed; although the AA into an RKO was shown pre-match, which made the announcers look ridiculous for saying they’d never seen that happen before), the action was slightly less predictable than in previous matches between the two, and the fans didn’t turn on the combatants as they did at Royal Rumble. Overall, not an inviting prospect, but at least it was one of the better bouts between the two. Some complained that Cena won (after a top rope AA through a table) to earn another chance at Lesnar when an Orton-Lesnar match would be far fresher, but look on the bright side: if Orton turns babyface, as is rumoured, and wins the Royal Rumble match (assuming that Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns aren’t back from injury by then), Orton-Lesnar has the potential to be a classic WrestleMania main event. As things stand, Lesnar-Cena isn’t scheduled until Royal Rumble 2015; to discuss the reasons for this would take too long so we’ll move on.
Sheamus vs. The Miz for the United States crown was next. They had a decent bout, but the star of the show was undoubtedly Damien Mizdow, who at ringside hammed it up massively as The Miz’s stunt double. Literally every non-pinfall reaction of Miz was emulated by Mizdow, including wild bumps off nonexistent moves. Sheamus wrapped it up with a Brogue Kick, and afterwards delivered a second shot, after having an apparently unconscious Miz make unusual motions to see if Mizdow would do the same (he did). As one of the most entertaining acts in WWE right now, Mizdow has never been more popular than he is at the moment, and it’s for acting out the part of a wrestler who is not very popular at all. Interesting.
Paige’s latest match with AJ Lee for the Divas Title was their weakest to date, largely because of the seemingly rushed ending: Paige took a nasty spill at ringside, and within seconds she tapped out to the Black Widow (which was on for milliseconds). Paige still had time to attack her second Alicia Fox, but the hurried nature of the finish suggests that something went awry. I would suggest that they will make it up for it next time, but since this rivalry has long peaked, further matches will only lead them down the same path as Cena and Orton.
Rusev’s conflict with Big Show has been his most notable to date for various reasons. I felt their match here wasn’t quite as good or heated as their recent bout on Raw, but it was still enjoyable under the circumstances. Mark Henry’s appearance telegraphed that Show would not be successful, and he wasn’t: after bungled interference by Henry, Rusev slapped on the Accolade and Show seemingly passed out. Rusev’s rise to the top continues, although the climax of his climb up the ranks is obvious; I will cover that in a future article. As for Show, it’s likely that this result may, er, result in a feud between him and Henry, which we have already seen multiple times. Notice a theme here?
The main event was Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins inside Hell In A Cell, a refreshing opportunity to see two younger stars main event a PPV for the first time (the biggest positive to come from Lesnar’s non-appearance), and to settle their own long-running feud in the ultimate score-settling battleground (well, it used to be anyway). They paid homage to the infamous Undertaker-Mankind bout at King Of The Ring 1998 by starting on top of the Cell, and eventually crashing off the side through two announcer’s tables. Ambrose’s fall was slightly theatrical, but it was a huge double-bump nonetheless. Both were seemingly about to be stretchered out, until Ambrose halted Rollins’ escape and they ended up in the Cell, where the match finally started.
There were plenty of wild bumps, weapon-related stunts and big moves, which along with the interference of the Authority at various points made this a really engaging match that always kept one’s attention. In the end, Ambrose introduced breeze blocks into the ring and prepared something dastardly for Rollins, until the lights went out and, after a creepy voiceover and a brief hologram, Bray Wyatt marked his return by blasting Ambrose. It was a bit anticlimactic that Rollins pinned Ambrose before Dean was hit with Sister Abigail, as it made Ambrose look a bit weak. In the end, then, Rollins escaped with the win, and with increased momentum as he looks to establish himself as a permanent main-eventer, while Ambrose has a new foe in Bray Wyatt; whether Erick Rowan and Luke Harper will be involved or the Wyatt Family have indeed separated remains to be seen.
On the whole, Hell In A Cell 2014 was worth the time and effort. The poorer bouts were by no means disasters, the mid-card action was mostly enjoyable (Ziggler-Cesaro being the standout bout), Cena-Orton was better than expected, and the main event was a fitting climax to one of WWE’s best feuds of the year. It didn’t deliver a truly classic match and certain bouts were recycled to a level which has become infuriating to fans, but in the end HIAC will go down as one of WWE’s better supershows this year. Even with the absence of Brock Lesnar.
Overall Rating: 7/10 – Respectable