|Event||WWE Hell In A Cell 2009|
|Series||Hell In A Cell|
|Date||Sunday October 4 2009|
|Location||Newark, New Jersey, USA|
WWE Hell In A Cell 2009
WWE Hell In A Cell 2009 is a turning point in hindsight for the company, but not in a good way. Hell In A Cell was once the company’s ultimate platform for settling grudges, often in a violent manner, and sometimes with era-defining high spots. With the launch of a HIAC PPV event, however, the novelty of the match would begin to wear off. That’s because of WWE staging multiple Cell matches in one night, thus devaluing the special nature of the concept. Add to that the limitations brought about by the PG rating, and it’s arguable that this show killed the HIAC stipulation. Still, that isn’t to say that WWE couldn’t provide entertainment along the way.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE PREVIOUS TV SHOWS? READ OUR PRE-PPV REVIEWS OF RAW, ECW & SMACKDOWN!
WWE World Heavyweight Championship Hell In A Cell Match
CM Punk (C) vs. The Undertaker
Punk and Undertaker’s feud is an underrated saga from 2009. Even before their show-stealing clash at WrestleMania 29, it’s almost like this rivalry is lost in the sands of time. And it shouldn’t be because it provided a unique clash of styles and ideologies. Punk had retained the WHC against Taker under controversial circumstances at Breaking Point. So, in Taker’s favourite playground, the champion could claim to enter this rematch at something of a disadvantage.
Though the action was fine, this bout demonstrated why HIAC would feel watered-down from this point onwards. For the most part, this contest could have achieved the same results had it not been in the super-sized cage, with the brutality at a level barely above a typical No Holds Barred clash. It also didn’t last particularly long, though some put that down to some nagging injuries that Taker was dealing with. In the end, Taker managed to seal the victory with a Tombstone Piledriver to Punk, becoming the new World Heavyweight Champion.
A couple of interesting facts now. Firstly, this PPV would be Jim Ross’ final show before his most recent Bell’s Palsy attack. I mention that because JR would return to WWE commentary, but only sporadically, making this something of a last hurrah for him as a full-time announcer. And therefore him calling this title change has extra significance. Secondly, though Taker was coming up to 19 years in WWE by October 2009, this WHC reign would be the longest stretch with any championship during his entire WWE run. As for Punk, he wouldn’t hold another heavyweight crown until his star went into supernova in the summer of 2011.
And then there’s the rumour of the backstage scuttlebutt. I’m not sure if I actually believe this, but it’s a fairly infamous story. Supposedly, Punk turned down Taker’s suggestion of him wearing a suit while being a World Champion, noting that the rule didn’t apply to John Cena, or indeed Taker himself. Putting aside the on-off dress code rules, supposedly that retort might have contributed to Punk losing his belt, and his on-screen status tumbling in the weeks and months that followed.
Though the conversation might have taken place, I very much doubt Punk would lose the WHC for that very reason. After all, how could Punk have believably beaten Taker inside HIAC after the event of Breaking Point? And even if he had, what other babyfaces on SmackDown were available for him to defend the gold against? Batista was about to turn heel (more on that later), with Rey Mysterio involved in that angle. Jeff Hardy was no longer in WWE. And Edge was on the shelf. So, it makes for a nice story to justify (one of the many instances of) Punk being “screwed”, but personally WWE not only made the right call, but the only logical call here.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE PREVIOUS PPV? READ OUR WWE BREAKING POINT 2009 REVIEW!
WWE Intercontinental Championship Match
John Morrison (C) vs. Dolph Ziggler
Morrison had captured the Intercontinental Title from Rey Mysterio in a classic match five weeks earlier. Dolph, meanwhile, had also battled Rey in an incredible clash shortly before that at SummerSlam. But their feud against one another didn’t result in fireworks. The angle involving these two and Pat Patterson at Breaking Point had been a stinkbomb. And while their match here is enjoyable enough to go back and watch, it’s hardly a hidden gem either. Morrison would claim the win via Starship Pain, though their rivalry would continue through to November.
I’ve previously heard how sometimes having two great wrestlers battling one another doesn’t always result in a great match. And this is a perfect example. Heck, even their eventual 2011 feud would also dip below expectations. For whatever reason, these two were never able to put on a truly awesome showdown. Mind you, this match is still miles better than their aforementioned Breaking Point angle. And for that, we should be thankful.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE PREVIOUS PPV? READ OUR WWE BREAKING POINT 2009 REVIEW!
WWE Divas Championship Match
Mickie James (C) vs. Alicia Fox
Before revisiting HIAC 2009, I had zero memories of this match taking place. Zero. The action isn’t too bad, but it’s totally unmemorable. For what it’s worth, this was Fox’s first big singles match, at a time when she had real potential (and I always loved the way that Justin Roberts would say “Fox” when introducing her). Still, it didn’t seem like Mickie’s title was in jeopardy here, and that proved to be the case when she won after a Mickie DDT. As it turned out, Mickie’s reign would end little more than a week later at the hands of Jillian Hall of all people. That would be the set-up for Melina to defeat Hall for the butterfly belt within minutes. James, meanwhile, would move to SmackDown immediately afterwards, where she would enter into the notorious “Piggie James” storyline with LayCool.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE FIRST PPV? READ OUR WWF WRESTLEMANIA 1 REVIEW!
WWE Unified Tag Team Championship Match
JeriShow (C) vs. Batista & Rey Mysterio
Every few years, WWE brings two major singles stars together to rule the tag team ranks. See Diesel and Shawn Michaels in 1994, Steve Austin and Triple H in 2001, and Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose in 2017. In 2009, Chris Jericho and Big Show were overdelivering as a highly effective and entertaining odd couple tandem. On this night, they were defending their two sets of belts against two other firmly-established main eventers.
The friendship between Batista and Rey Mysterio had seen them enjoy a brief Tag Team Title reign in 2005. Here, they were unable to replicate that success, though the four bona fide stars all gelled together to deliver a thrilling encounter. There were big spots aplenty, and fans were fully invested into the action. In the end, a huge KO Punch by Show took out Rey in mid=air to ensure that Chris and Big would retain their double belts.
JeriShow’s reign would continue all the way through to TLC in December. As for Batista and Rey, their bond would be broken just three weeks later when The Animal turned heel on Mysterio at Bragging Rights. That would mark the beginning of the end of Batista in WWE, but I’ll cover that when reviewing Bragging Rights.
WWE Championship Hell In A Cell Match
John Cena (C) vs. Randy Orton
On paper, this sounds like a classic. And of the three (yes, three!) HIAC matches on the show, this one has the biggest claim towards belonging inside the Cell. But there would be a separate problem here. Cena vs. Orton had already been done to death prior to the summer of 2009, albeit with no true resolution. Fans of the Raw brand were crying out for something different due to Orton’s previously recycled feud with Triple H. The last thing they needed was a similar story involving Orton and Cena. But clearly WWE believed otherwise. After all, this marked the third of four consecutive Cena vs. Orton supershow singles battles. And that doesn’t include a three-way also involving HHH at Night Of Champions. By trying so hard to create a vintage feud, the rivalry would actually have diminishing returns with every chapter.
And that was the case here. Because while both men grafted (as they almost always did, especially when facing one another), their efforts were so familiar that they almost felt phoned-in. If you watch it out of context, this is a fairly good bout. But at the time, fans could barely muster the enthusiasm to watch these two go at it again, even inside the Cell. Despite John’s best efforts from a kayfabe standpoint, Randy would strike Cena with his dreaded Punt to the skull to score a (clean) pinfall win.
Orton had just lost the WWE gold to Cena at Breaking Point, meaning he was now a seven-time heavyweight champion. This also marked the first time that the WWE Championship ever changed hands inside Hell In A Cell. But its historic value is tarnished a bit due to Cena reclaiming the belt three weeks later in an Iron Man match at Bragging Rights. All of which meant that their Cell match would arguably represent the weakest chapter in their feud. When did that ever happen in WWE prior to this card taking place?
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE LATEST EDITION? READ OUR WWE HELL IN A CELL 2020 REVIEW!
Drew McIntyre vs. R-Truth
At the time, this seemed like a pointless attraction, but it’s thoroughly fascinating in hindsight. After a false start in 2007, this was McIntyre’s first PPV appearance as part of his “Chosen One” persona. Truth had only been on the roster for a year following his own forgotten stint as K-Kwik in 2000. Yet it felt here like Truth was collateral damage for Drew, with the Scotsman winning after a Future Shock DDT. Truth was already approaching his 40s at this stage and seemed like he had a limited WWE shelf life. So, it’s amazing that he’s still around today, and has evolved into being one of WWE’s funniest characters ever.
The bigger intrigue, though, concerns McIntyre. His next six months or so would be very eventful, keeping in line with his major push. Yet, it all fell apart, and by mid-2014, he would depart the company. Fast-forward to 2020, where he won the Royal Rumble, main evented WrestleMania (as a babyface) and became WWE Champion. So, Drew eventually got where WWE expected him to, but only after taking a few sideways paths to his ultimate destination. All of that was still to come here, though, as McIntyre achieved his first significant victory.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE FOLLOWING PPV? READ OUR WWE BRAGGING RIGHTS 2009 REVIEW!
WWE United States Championship Triple Threat Match
Kofi Kingston (C) vs. The Miz vs. Jack Swagger
Here, we have three performers who were at various stages of their career, despite all being relative newcomers to an upper mid-card position on the Raw brand. This is an enjoyable three -way; it’s no five-star clinic by any means, but at a time when Raw was staler than gone-off bread, this was very refreshing. Trouble In Paradise to Swagger allowed Kingston to pin Miz, who had just taken a Gutwrench Powerbomb from Jack, to retain his US crown. However, Miz would capture the belt by beating Kofi the very next night on Raw.
In terms of career projections, all three would eventually win a World Title, but at vastly different points. Swagger would clinch Money In The Bank and win the World Heavyweight crown within 6 months. However, after his reign ended in June 2010, he never sniffed a major title again. Miz would also win the WWE Title via MITB in November 2010, holding the belt until May 2011. And though he hasn’t held a top title since, he possesses MITB again as I write this retro review, so it could happen again soon.
As for Kofi, his short-lived crack at the headline scene in late 2009/early 2010 would fizzle out. After that, it wasn’t until 2019 when he was suddenly thrust into the main event scene, and he became WWE Champion at WrestleMania 35 in unforgettable fashion. So, Kofi would wait almost a decade to become a World Champion. And yet, if you’d have asked fans in October 2009, their money would have been on Kingston to win the WWE Title first. Wrestling is crazy at times.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE FOLLOWING EDITION? READ OUR WWE HELL IN A CELL 2010 REVIEW!
Hell In A Cell Match
D-Generation X vs. Legacy
Of the three feuds which would enter HIAC on this night, only one would receive true finality. That would be this saga, which may explain why this contest would headline the first HIAC PPV. Or maybe the babyface participants were deemed stronger than either World Title. Who knows? We do know, however, that these two squads had delivered as entertaining a rivalry as one could expect, given the PG restrictions and the relative inexperience of the heels. After noteworthy battles at SummerSlam and Breaking Point, this would be the blow-off, albeit in an unusual manner. And not just because of the Cell.
As DX made their entrance down the ramp, they were blindsided by Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase. Though Shawn Michaels and Triple H attempted to hold their own, they were overpowered, which led to HHH being laid out with Cross Rhodes outside the Cell. This allowed Legacy to drag Michaels into the cage and subsequently lock The Game out of the structure. This left Shawn as easy pickings to take a sustained beating from the sons of Dusty Rhodes and The Million Dollar Man. HHH looked furious, as if someone had told him that AEW Dynamite had beaten NXT in the ratings once again. But what could he do?
After watching his best friend get his ass kicked for a good stretch, HHH’s continuous attempts to break open the door seemed to be continuously failing, much to the delight of Rhodes and DiBiase. So much so that HHH would walk backstage, seemingly abandoning his buddy. But wait! Trips would soon return with bolt cutters. Where did he find them? Who knows. It’s a wrestling arena; you can find all sorts of objects in just about any location. Anyway, once he re-emerged, Legacy began to panic, because they knew what would happen if HHH’s bolt cutters succeeded. Sure enough, HHH finally made it into the cage, and with the odds evened up, it was time for DX to take over.
It all culminated in as violent a manner as one could expect in the PG era. Michaels wrapped a steel chair around Ted’s throat and elbow-dropped the weapon into his gullet. DX then tossed DiBiase out of the Cell, giving Legacy a taste of his own medicine. From there, Cody took a simultaneous sledgehammer shot/Sweet Chin Music combo, bringing the fight to a close. This is a dramatic match to rewatch, but I don’t agree with it being in the main event slot. I’d have personally swapped the DX attraction with the Punk-Undertaker opener, still ending the evening on a positive note but with a more traditional match. But hey, I don’t work for WWE, so what do I know? This would bring an end to the DX-Legacy saga, with only passing references in the weeks that followed.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE FOLLOWING TV SHOWS? READ OUR POST-PPV REVIEWS OF RAW, ECW & SMACKDOWN!
Overall, WWE Hell In A Cell 2009 is an enjoyable supercard to relive, but there’s one glaring issue with the show that is hard to look past. And it’s the one that I’ve already covered. Namely, that over the course of this show, the HIAC concept went from being the ultimate battleground to becoming just another big-match stipulation. And though none of the three Cell bouts were particularly poor here, none of them could measure up to their predecessors either. So, you’ll likely get a kick out of this event, but this is remembered most for marking the beginning of the end for the Hell In A Cell match as a must-see attraction.