I have been a wrestling fan for nearly 22 years. I would consider myself to be a highly emotional individual, but rarely does any wrestling company or television show do something that makes me legitimately angry.
And let me be clear, there’s a huge difference between complaining about something stupid in a piece of entertainment that you disagree with, and letting that terrible decision actually pull at your emotions.
Sure I’ll go on Twitter and laugh about how boneheaded an angle on Raw is, or complain about how the three-hour show puts me in a coma every Monday night, but at the end of the day it’s just a television program. If I got legitimately worked up every time something moronic happened on TV, the third season of Heroes would have landed me in the hospital.
Sunday night’s WWE Hell in a Cell main event triggered something deep inside of me like no other wrestling match has before. To be clear, I wasn’t raging at my television set like some of these insane, mentally unstable dorks you see in YouTube videos – but it did effect me.
I could not stop laughing for a solid ten minutes after Hell in a Cell went off the air. I sat in my living room with a couple of friends, trying to catch my breath in between laughs, ranting hysterically about the never-ending trail of stupidity that I had just seen play out before me.
To use an analogy… The Hell in a Cell main event was the Spider-Man 3 of professional wrestling, and Brock Lesnar marching down that ramp back into our lives was the sports entertainment equivalent to Emo Peter Parker waltzing through the streets of New York.
The ironic thing is, heading into the actual pay-per-view WWE had finally done an adequate job of making me care about one of their main events again.
Admittedly, not in any kind of deep, emotional way. I wouldn’t even say I was invested, beyond wanting to see the match. But it was similar to having lived through a tornado and emerging to see your house and everything you own destroyed. You know life’s not going to be particularly wonderful going forward, but at least you can begin to move on.
Roman Reigns finally winning the WWE Universal Championship at SummerSlam was like coming up for air after the metaphorical tornado had subsided. I wasn’t super thrilled that this was the state of Monday Night Raw, but at least we had turned the page to a brand new chapter. I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt – at least to the extent that I was interested in this one match.
And then suddenly, without warning, it was April again.
This story was almost fool proof. They had done the leg work on Raw over the past few weeks, using the awesome brawls between The Shield and the so-called Dogs of War to hype people up for this pay-per-view. It wasn’t what I would call “WrestleMania Hype” by any means, but there seemed to be at least a general interest in this show and the outcomes of a few matches.
All they had to do was let Roman and Braun be themselves inside Hell in a Cell. I shouldn’t have to remind everyone that we’ve seen these two have some really fun – albeit ridiculous – matches in the past two years. They have done some previously unimaginable stuff in the name of this rivalry. Maybe I’m alone, but I was actually really hyped to see what giant stunt they had come up with for the grand finale!
It was so simple! Here, I’ll prove it:
Two guys enter the Cell and destroy each other with giant, powerful moves and every weapon they can get their hands on. Reigns continues to kick out of everything Strowman delivers, prompting a very angry Monster to literally lift the Cell structure on his own, allowing Ziggler and McIntyre to run in and beat down Reigns in a 3-on-1 assault.
Foley tries to intervene, but the three knock him over and put the boots to him as well. The Shield runs down and Ambrose, being a trademarked Lunatic, uses bolt-cutters to break in. A giant brawl erupts in, around and on top of the Cell, culminating in The Shield triple-powerbombing Strowman into the side of the cage, breaking one of the giant panels. Foley returns to count the 1-2-3. The end. Everyone goes home happy.
I came up with that off the top of my head in about three minutes. The funny thing is, they wouldn’t have even had to change their formula very much – sans Lesnar’s appearance. All they had to do was pull it off in a way that made any amount of sense, and didn’t intentionally infuriate every single fan in the building who paid hard-earned money to watch a Hell in a Cell match end in a NO CONTEST!
And when I say this match made no sense, I mean they couldn’t have found two pennies to rub together by the end of this travesty.
— WHY was there another referee down there for Ziggler and McIntyre to argue with?
— WHY did Ziggler just spontaneously begin to climb the Cell? Does no one fear this structure anymore? If not, why are they still doing it?
— WHY did they do THE EXACT SAME SPOT from the Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose Hell in a Cell match? Have they not figured out by now that it’s overdone, and they’ve killed the Cell so badly that literally falling off a cage, crashing through tables provokes zero emotional response?
— WHY were Reigns and Strowman not shown on camera for SIX MINUTES AND TWENTY-TWO SECONDS!?
— WHY did Paul Heyman pepper spray Mick Foley in a match with no disqualification!?
— WHY did one F5 and a simple table spot knock out two juggernauts, especially when I’ve seen one of them literally come back from the dead after being murdered by a trash compactor?
— WHY was there suddenly a new referee, and why should his decision to do literally anything matter!?
Despite all my frustrations, I do want to point out that Reigns and Strowman did virtually nothing wrong. Before things broke down and they effectively buried by WWE’s atrocious booking, their actual match was fine. I wasn’t leaping out of my seat by any means, but it did seem like they were building towards a fairly solid main event, and had all the pieces there to bring it home in an effective way.
Kudos to them.
Man, the Cell used to mean something…
I don’t want to sound like one of those old, jadded fans that thinks everything was better when they were growing up, but I remember a time when a feud got so red-hot, so brutal and violent that the only answer to the mayhem was to lock both opponents inside “the most demonic structure known to mankind”.
It used to be that whenever Mr. McMahon or Eric Bischoff spit out the words “HELL… IN A CELL!” on television, the very mention of its name would strike fear and devastation into the hearts of the competitors who would be trapped inside its structure. Certainly, nobody wanted to compete in a Hell in a Cell match.
Today, it’s a mandatory gimmick. An annual event where they pick and choose matches at random, reasoning be damned. It’s September again, better roll out the big, useless cage… We painted it red this year, guys! HELL! HELL! HELL!
I’ll give Jeff Hardy a pass, because after giving his entire life and body to the business, if he wanted to Swanton off the Empire State Building through a million light tubes, crashing through the earth and entering Dante’s first circle of hell, who am I to stand in his way. But outside of that, everything just feels so needless.
You can only pack so much crap in the metaphorical toilet bowl before it’s time to flush, and start over again.
I’m sure Roman will still get booed out of the building on Monday night, despite the now-incontrovertible evidence that everything the fans hate actually has nothing to do with him, and everything to do with the insane 73-year-old billionaire currently trying to resurrect the XFL, pretending he cares about social equality while padding his pockets with dirty money from the Saudi Arabian government.