Hell In A Cell: Review/Recap

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Alberto Del Rio Defeats John Cena to win the United States Championship:

So, if you’ve been reading the dirt sheets for the past couple weeks you’ll know that John Cena is set to take some time off, supposedly until close to the end of the year, so it seemed like a foregone conclusion that whoever was Cena’s mystery opponent they would take the belt from him, and that he did. And, also, if you’ve been reading the dirt sheets over the past couple months you’ll know that Del Rio was heavily rumoured to be coming back to the WWE, seemingly sooner rather than later, and that he did. Realistically, he was probably the best person they could’ve got to do this, outside of Daniel Bryan, but nobody truly knows his condition anymore it seems and I’m sure WWE would want to promote the hell out of D-Bry returning and not just have him randomly appear. I really don’t like the idea of having Del Rio returning with Zeb Colter as his manager, it doesn’t seem needed at all, besides the fact that I can’t stand Colter, and Del Rio can more than work by himself. I just hope they don’t give him the short stick, even with his probably stipulation heavy contract, Del Rio can still fill a top role in the company, especially with Cena out. As for the match itself, it was anti-climatic the whole way through, it was some, like, barely over seven minutes and Del Rio just did a couple random kicks to Cena’s head and pinned him, because of course Cena isn’t tapping to Del Rio with his regular finish. It was like Cena wanted to start his vacation extra early and, hence the quick match and that it was the first match on the card. Anyways, it was pretty dumb that Cena is built up as never losing and when he does cleanly like this it’s so pointless and doesn’t make much sense continuity wise, but eh, that’s just par for the course really.

Roman Reigns Defeats Bray Wyatt in a Hell In A Cell match:

This was probably low-key the match I was most looking forward to of the night, and unlike the other Cell match actually had some current build-up to it. Plus, Bray and Roman are great young talents who have some nice chemistry together. The match was a good brawl fest, with some nice use of kendo sticks and tables and positioned both men quite strongly, even if it was constantly clear that Roman would come out on top. I just really hope this is the end to the Reigns/Wyatt family feud that seems to have stretched for a year basically when you throw Ambrose’s feuding with Bray from late last year. I like Bray Wyatt and think he has sooo much potential, but it’d be nice to see him come out of a feud on top for once, I know he never was going to against Reigns, but it seems like Vince and co. like him and the Wyatts, yet they’re always stepping stones for others. We shall see.

The New Day Defeats The Dudley Boyz to retain the Tag Team Championship:

Man, I’m so sick of this feud already, and with the thought that they’d culminate it at TLC in December with a tables match, I don’t know if I can last that long. This thing is dead in the water, especially when they gotta keep up dumb finishes so that The Dudleyz don’t win and so that there’s a limp thread of a reason for them to keep feuding with The New Day continually retaining. They did some fun stuff with a framed DQ job from Kofi, but everything else largely falling flat, especially when The Dudleyz look so sloppy with their wrestling, missing out on simple moves, that take away from the supposed fidelity of the match. I prey they inject some new blood into this thing, or just cut bait early and have The Dudleyz work somebody else and The New Day do something else as they’re consistently part of the main event picture on RAW’s, so who knows.

Charlotte Defeats Nikki Bella to retain the Divas Championship:

This match was pretty uneventful and seemingly just Nikki’s rematch that she loses to get her out of the picture so probably Paige comes in and feuds for the belt next. Nikki looked really good in the match, and even though people were rightfully sick of her, she’s underratedly one of the best female wrestler on the roster, even with all the new NXT influence. I like Charlotte, too, and she might actually be my favourite overall, but I’m curious to see how long they keep the belt on her, even with the Flair pedigree and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her getting screwed out of it or something sooner than later.

Seth Rollins Defeats Kane to retain the WWE World Heavyweight Championship:

This was a pretty meh match and really exactly what was expected. It’s pretty telling when the World Championship match is a distant afterthought behind the two Cell matches. Hell, this thing probably could’ve been spiced up by putting it in the Cell, but here we are. I’ve never really like Rollins and Kane’s chemistry in the ring, they’re different styles obviously, but everything often seems so clunky and hemmed down with the two, and Seth’s been pulling out great matches with everybody, but this was a down moment for sure. At least this limited to a one PPV feud, we hope.

Kevin Owens Defeats Ryback to retain the Intercontinental Championship:

Damn, and I thought the Cena match was short just to get the belt off him, this one was the semi-reverse where Owens retained in, like, five minutes because I can only assume that’s how quickly they wanted this Owens/Ryback feud to be over so they can move Owens on to bigger and better things. I’m glad they didn’t stretch the feud out because Owens just murders Ryback in the ring and on the mic that Ryback never even seemed close to being a formidable opponent of Owens, even though they tried to make the story of how Owens cheated to win each time. There’s really not much of Ryback I can stand, he’s terrible on the mic and a poorer wrestler than he thinks he is and as much as he thinks otherwise, he just doesn’t have a good look. I’m looking forward to an actual feud with Owens and someone who can hang with him believably.

Brock Lesnar Defeats The Undertaker in a Hell In A Cell match:

Now I was pretty sure that this was going to be a good match, seeing as how their SummerSlam match was pretty fantastic (minus the finish) and that it’s supposedly the last time they’ll ever fight (this is the WWE, though, so you know to never fully believe anything they promise.), but damn if this thing exceeded expectations. Now, of course, this Cell match was going to be in the shadow of their classic blood-fueled duel inside the Cell at No Mercy in 2002, and this one being in the PG-era how could it compete, but oh, man, was their blood. Now, who knows if we’ll ever know if Lesnar and /or Taker purposely bladed (I’m going to guess no), but this match was as bloody as I’ve ever seen in a long time. I really think Brock’s just a bleeder and has some thin skin, because he’s constantly getting busted open, and pretty early in the match. It looked like they were working pretty stiff, too, so the unplanned blood seems pretty likely that way. But, otherwise this was a great match with a ton of brawling and and a kick-ass ending that most importantly saw Lesnar going over cleanly and getting the win as he should have. This is definitely a match I’m looking forward to going back and watching and if this is indeed the end to their decade-plus of feuding, it was a pretty worth conclusion. Generally, that would be it, but it’s no secret that Undertaker’s 25th Anniversary is coming at Survivor Series, the next PPV, so the Wyatt family (also in need of a new feud to start) come out and beat the hair extensions out of Taker and abduct him. Which was actually kind of badass for the Wyatt family to do, especially with their history. Obviously, this will lead into some kind of match, probably a Survior Series elimination match somehow at the PPV. Unfortunately it’s hard to see the Wyatt’s coming out on top again this time, but maybe Undertaker’s fully in his “putting others over” phase, but we’ll see. I’m cautiously optimistic.

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WWF Attitude Era: 2000

WWF Attitude Era: 2000

WWF Attitude Era: 2000

Hey, another year down, and this time I actually took brief notes while I watched, so hopefully it’ll better trigger my memory. Let’s go through this thing in sequential order/whenever I felt motivation enough to jot down a note.

The Triple H/Mick Foley stuff to start the year was some pretty great stuff, with Triple H fully entrenched now as the top heel with the belt and a hold on the company through his relationship with Stephanie McMahon. They’re both a juxtaposition of styles with Triple H being the more technical wrestler with Foley being of the more whatever-it-takes brawler type, but both meshed in the middle with their skill at hardcore matches. Thus we got an excellent street fight match at the Royal Rumble (including a really fun tables match between The Dudley Boyz and Hardyz that really kick started these TLC gimmick matches in the tag division) draped in blood featuring thumbtacks, barbed-wire bats, handcuffs, trash cans and all that and both men put on an excellent show. Their Hell In a Cell match at No Way Out to blow off their one-on-one feud was also very good and continued the lineage of Foley taking ridiculous Cell spots.

The lead up to WrestleMania was pretty disappointing and lacking to me. The Rock beat Big Show to win the Royal Rumble, but under some controversial means where his feet basically touched before Show’s and probably really shouldn’t have been the winner, I have no clue if this was intended or not, but thus they feuded over the spot for a bit. The different permutations of the main event leading into Mania was maddening, it literally changed every week and basically undermined the Royal Rumble and every new number one contender as they legit just had new number one contender matches each week. I didn’t think they’d actually let Big Show main event Mania, but I guess they got away with it when they finally settled on a four-way between Triple H, The Rock, Big Show and Mick Foley, which I was not looking forward to at all. There was a pretty clever twist when each McMahon was backing a man with Stephanie with Triple H, Vince with The Rock, Shane with Big Show and Linda with Foley. The match wasn’t very good and overlong and I thought for sure The Rock would take the belt from Triple H, but nope he retained to cap off a very lackluster Mania. I was really feeling the absence of Austin and Undertaker as they were the stars of the last couple years and didn’t really feel like the other guys did a good job of carrying the show without them.

The funniest thing was that leading up to Mania Big Show was booked as this big, strong, imposing mean bastard who was main event tier and then right after his big show(ing) at Mania 2000 he was booked as a big, dumb comedy act who dressed up in costumes and danced with Rikishi. It was amazing the 180 they pulled.

We also finally got the debut of Christ Benoit, which I was looking forward to, along with Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko and Perry Saturan as the defected from WCW. I enjoyed their little storline to begin where they were The New Radicalz and just beat people up as the new guys, but it was eventually clear that Benoit was the main one they would push as they pretty quickly got separated. And of course Eddie wouldn’t get the big push right away, but would do some nice work with Chyna that really sold his comedic chops and acting ability, not to mention how good of a wrestler he was of course.

I finally saw the whole Mae Young giving birth to a hand thing and it was just as messed up and dumb as I imagined. Basically just a reminder that, yep, I am still indeed watching the Attitude Era.

Chris Jericho really started to heat up even more with the fans and they loved everything he touched and said, especially due to them putting him over for the belt on Raw, for however briefly. Even still it’s obvious that with Austin gone on injury that The Rock is still the THE star of the business who gets incredible pops. It’s hard to tell who got a bigger pop at the height of their stardom, but it’s probably Austin by a hair.

I have a special place in my heart for Too Cool, going back to the days when Scotty 2 Hotty was my favourite wrestler when I first started watching all this garbage, for reasons that really boil down to how cool it was that his hair came out the top of his hat. But, anyways, I was surprised how over Too Cool was when they started out and they were actually working some main event matches on TV and ones with Triple H and The Rock, although it didn’t last too long and they wen back to being low card gimmicks. It was also pretty obvious that they wanted to push Rikishi up the card and he was the only one they really cared about because #Samoan.

Speaking of Too Cool, the tag team division was stacked at this time, with Too Cool, The Dudley Boyz, The Hardyz, Edge & Christian, Crash and Hardcore Holly, The Acolytes, Test & Albert, D-Generation X and later Right To Censor. They definitely had options although not all the teams were always at their peak, because they all couldn’t be, but each slided in and out nicely for some solid mid-card matches.

Edge & Christian are the best and their dumb frat boy humour always works on me because it’s so dumb and they both play perma-fried bros so well. They would later get a nice push with Kurt Angle, further doubling down on the dumb, oblivious guy theme. The best running joke with E&C was when they’d always try to fake injuries to get out of matches and would do whatever it takes to not defend their belts. Just the best.

I have another special place in my heart for Right To Censor, and I even vividly remember making their logo as some kind of pop-up art project in school as a kid, and no I have no idea why of all the colourful superstars of the time I picked a Right To Censor logo to ape. I really love their gimmick as an extension and pesudo-commentary on the Attitude Era’s awful treatment of women as just piece of meat to parade around in the smallest amount of clothes possible and book solely in matches where they strip each others clothes off. They would always get immediate heat with their entrance theme which was a bunch of annoying alarms that wouldn’t stop. And even better to fulfill the whole irony quotient The Godfather and Val Venis, the pimp and porn star gimmicks of years past would join and renounce their ways.

So, then at Backlash The Rock finally won the title over Triple H and they feuded into Judgment Day into a one hour Iron Man match which was a super cool concept to actually pull off (that they would never do nowadays) even if the match wasn’t all that great. Shawn Michaels was the special guest referee and The Undertaker made his glorious return in his infamous biker gimmick (lol!) screwy finish, screwy finish and Triple H had the belt back.

King Of The Ring happened with Kurt Angle (more on him soon) amazingly winning the titular title of the PPV and The Rock won the title back because the world championship in the Attitude Era is basically a hot potato that goes from person to person, even in weird tag matches where you can win the singles title, like The Rock did.

And then Chris Benoit’s push coincided with The Rock’s title reign and oh, damn, they let Benoit man event a pay-per-view this yearly and I was surprised, but it was a lot of (brief) fun. He’s not really the best on the mic, but his in ring work was in matched and he literally put on a fantastic match with everyone, so it was always worth paying attention. This also included the Triple H/Chris Jericho feud in a Last Man Standing match which included great work as always by both of them. And then with his sublte into not-so-subtle macking on Stephanie McMahon Kurt Angle’s push into the main event slowly began to crescendo. Thus Kurt and Triple H feuded for a couple pay-per-views, basically over Stephanie, it went on a little bit too long for my taste, but Kurt made it all work. Angle is the best because he’s so good at doing dumb comedy bits and selling them amazingly with his naivety and commitment, but at the same time he’s totally believable as a main eventer who can kick ass and get it done with his technical prowess. He really was the perfect guy in WWE to measure their incessant want for dumb comedy, be entertaining and actually wrestle a good match.

And then everything culminated with Kurt taking the title from The Rock, which I really wasn’t expecting, I thought it was way too soon to put the belt on Kurt, but I always forget how much they love flip-flopping the title. And of course he was great with the belt as a little twerp who tried to get out of everything.

Kurt then took the backseat to the returning Stone Cold Steve Austin, who was awesome to finally have back, but oh my god, like a repeat of the build-up to Mania, the storyline of WHO RAN OVER AUSTIN, took forever and had a bunch of fake-outs and then it was finally revealed to be Rikishi (lol!) who thus turned heel into bad man Rikishi (lol!) with some dumb reasoning about the #Samoan connection between him and The Rock as to why it was done.

To finish off the year we had the big Armageddon Hell In A Cell match between *takes a breath* Kurt Angle, The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Triple H, The Undertaker and Rikishi. Which one of those names doesn’t belong? Either way, I was really looking forward to the match, and it was indeed good, but nothing great, which was fine by me, because I kind of half-expected everything to cancel out and it’d be terrible.

And so I guess the final thing to end the year was Mick Foley getting ousted as commissioner, oh yeah, Mick Foley was commissioner for the majority of the year after he came back from retirement. I really didn’t talk about it because it didn’t really do much for me, mainly Foley’s comedy schtick where he would always be in random places backstage taking up office and all his pandering to the crowd. He was a pretty hollow replacement for a figure in power, although I do obviously know he was like that to differentiate from the Vince’s and Shane’s in the past.

I honestly didn’t really dig this year as a whole, it was very inconsistent and could never maintain steam, or when it did it would grasp onto something for wayyy too long and drive it into the dirt. The lack of Austin and Undertaker hurt things, as they were huge reasons why I loved the last couple years and of course Taker’s new gimmick takes some getting used to. It also felt less of an “Attitude” type year as the previous ones, I think mainly because they were fully entrenched in this new identity and were set on a pretty straightforward cruise control. The Rock was great, as always, even if he did get semi-overshadowed later in the year, but that was mainly due to Angle with the belt which was a pretty good change of pace. I was gonna take a break after this year (it’s been four years!) since I’m semi losing steam on a lot of things, but the promise of WrestleMania 17 (which I’ve been told is the best) and my intrigue of the whole invasion angle has me piqued to see how much further I can last.