Welcome to the WWE Hell in a Cell Preview. It's been six weeks since the last WWE PPV. If you'll recall, Night of Champions ended with a draw between CM Punk and John Cena. Then Cena needed surgery on his right arm, so instead of the big blowoff match between the two top guys we're getting CM Punk vs. Ryback in the main event instead.
There are six advertised matches on the card with one of them being added during Smackdown this week. It was the divas match, in case you are wondering.
There's no pre-show match. Instead, the pre-show is being hyped as John Cena delivering a promo about the storyline involving him with former Raw GM AJ Lee and their alleged "affair" that ended up costing her the GM job. I guess it's better to do that on the pre-show than during the actual PPV.
Joining me for this preview are TJRWrestling's Andrew Johnson and Christian Michael. Andrew covers Smackdown for the site and together they write the mid-week Raw Takes column as well.
Intercontinental Championship: Kofi Kingston vs. The Miz
Andrew: I'm still not 100% sure what the motivation behind making Kofi Kingston anything other than R-Truth's medical power of attorney was, but whatever. I'm not on creative, so my brain actually has a short-term memory and can recall things like how terribly mediocre Kofi Kingston is and has been forever. He's a black Rob Van Dam with about 1/2 the charisma, and I hope you don't read that as a compliment. Rob Van Dam had the personality of f**king Spicoli and the move-set of a Tony Hawk create-a-skater. He was terrible to anyone paying attention; Kofi Kingston is somehow all of that but worse.
Miz on the other hand has been on fire as of late, both wrestling like someone who gets paid to do it for a living, and speaking with more relevance and competence than he has in over a year. My only fear is that he finally shook the post-concussion retardation he suffered from last summer and was on an upswing until Kofi kicked his head like it was a soccer ball and put him back to square one.
Regardless, this is the situation we're in with the Intercontinental title: last year Cody Rhodes dumped the belt with Carlito stink all over it in a trash bag and pulled out the gem that has been carried around for the last 365 days, creating a new golden age of IC title glory (which is debatable, but work with me here). Today it's being contested over by former WWE Champion/ WrestleMania main-eventer/ future movie star the Miz, and former Tag Team Champion with a mentally unstable schizophrenic/ guy who jumps good Kofi Kingston. Who would you rather be your Intercontinental Champion?
Winner: The Miz
Christian: These two guys had a great match last week on Main Event when Kofi took the title from Miz. I don't expect this match to go as long as that one did but it should still be a quality bout if they get 10-12 minutes. Since Miz has called out Kofi he has done nothing but go back to his losing ways. It's a shame that they don't know what to do with him because he's a really talented guy. I don't see any point in taking the title off Kofi since WWE loves him as the guy that smiles.
Prediction- Kofi Kingston Retains
John: The IC Title is back to being a hot potato title. Cody Rhodes had a really good run with it that started last year. Then Big Show won. Then Cody got it back. Christian won it from Cody and then Miz won it from Christian. Now Kingston has the title again, which isn't a new or fresh thing, but it gets him out of the tag division where he's been for the last couple of years or so. I think Miz was given the IC Title to give him some momentum after being booked poorly earlier in the year and I think it worked because his performances have been strong. With that said, I don't think he will win back the IC Title. He's above it. Keep it on Kingston, who hopefully adds more to his character. I've written many times that Miz should turn face and Kingston should turn heel. I don't know if either is likely, but it would freshen up both of them.
As for the match, they'll probably get between 10-15 minutes and if they are the first match on the show like I would expect then it will be a good way to start the pay-per-view off with a fast paced match. Kingston wins clean with the Trouble in Paradise.
Winner: Kofi Kingston
Divas Championship: Eve vs. Kaitlyn vs. Layla
Andrew: I'm exhausted with this story. I'll give credit where credit is due and tip my hat ever so slightly toward the creative team for intersecting both of Eve's equally frustrating storylines into one merged turd that I can ignore, but I really think enough is enough with this nonsense. I hate being that guy that dogs on the Diva division, but I sat down to write about this match and wrote then deleted "Eve wins, holy shit, air wanks" a dozen times. I simply don't care how this plays out. I just want it to end. Preferably with a black hole opening up and sucking in everyone involved (with the exception of Kaitlyn and her thighs) and dumping them someplace where terrible stories and acting are acceptable. Daytime soaps maybe? I dunno.
Winner: Eve (holy shit, air wanks)
Christian: We've come a long way from Lita, Trish, Victoria and Molly Holly. The Divas division is at its lowest point probably ever as this match is going to illustrate. What's on the iPad? Who cares? Just make the match long enough so I can walk upstairs and make a snack.
Prediction- Eve Retains
John: My interest is very low with regards to this storyline. I don't really care about who attacked Kaitlyn. If you watch Raw or Smackdown you don't even know why you should cheer for Kaitlyn except for the fact that she smiles all the time and faces off against heels once in a while. I understand the idea behind "pushing a newer girl" and that's fine, but she is like Eve was a few years ago. It takes time to develop. It would be better if Natalya was in this spot. Of course it would be. But they'd rather not use women that can actually wrestler, I guess.
The best move is to just keep the title on Eve. Kaitlyn barely gets a reaction from the crowd. Layla just isn't as good as a babyface as she was as a heel. Keep the gold (or silver/pink concoction as it were) on Eve because then she can have a feud with AJ Lee, who will probably be wrestling more often in the near future.
Randy Orton vs. Alberto Del Rio
Andrew: I was initially really excited for this feud because it was (kinda) fresh and Alberto Del Rio's mimicry of Randy Orton was charmingly hilarious, but it's kind of cooled now that we've actually come to match time. I'm not sure why, but I'm less interested in seeing these two wrestle as much as I am interested in seeing what kind of RKO Ricardo is going to eat (Basic rush in? Flying through the air? Through dos tables?). That's... not good.
I think in-part I'm anxious to see which Orton is going to show up. Randy Orton is simultaneously one of the most "on" performers the WWE has and is also the laziest "phone-it-in" performers as well. Del Rio is so good that he could probably make the match watchable by himself, but that would be such a waste. These guys are both so crazy talented that when they both apply themselves, magic happens. Chances are this match is going to be good, but at the same time I'm just not sure.
Anyway, you don't care about my expectations or my Randy Orton match-anxieties. You're just skimming till you see my picks and then heading to the comments to tell me how stupid and wrong I am. Well here you go, jerks. I hope you choke on them!
Winner: Randy Orton
Christian: This is a nice old school feud between two guys that just don't like each other. Sometimes that is all you need to tell a story. Orton had been losing a lot lately so a win here would get him back on the right track. Should be a fun match.
Prediction- Randy Orton
John: Like my friends up above said, it's a pretty simple story featuring two guys in the upper midcard level that are fighting to get back to the main event slot that they've been a part of in the past. Now that Orton is done the filming of "12 Rounds Reloaded" (just finished this past week) he'll go back to being on both Raw and Smackdown instead of just Smackdown. I'm hopeful that he turns heel in the near future because he has said he wants to be in that role and frankly he tries harder as a heel. I think his in-ring work has improved in his two years as a face, though, so I'm mixed about it.
This match should get 10-15 minutes. I expect it to be a physical match too because they've built up the rivalry well, which means the crowd should be into it too. I'd expect Orton to win the feud. Does that mean a win here or do they extend it by having another match at Survivor Series? I think this feud is going more than one PPV, so I'll pick Del Rio to win here with some creative finish. Perhaps Orton is distracted by Ricardo Rodriguez and that leads to a cheap victory by Del Rio. I doubt it will be clean if Del Rio wins.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio
WWE Tag Team Championships: Team Hell No (Kane and Daniel Bryan) vs. Team Rhodes Scholars (Cody Rhodes & Damien Sandow)
Andrew: You should already know how in love I am with this match.
People ask me all the time why Cody Rhodes and Daniel Bryan are two of my favorite wrestlers. You can add Damien Sandow to that list too, but for the most part I sing the praises of those two louder than others. The reason isn't that they are good at what they do, it's that they make it look like they're doing it effortlessly. When I started learning the guitar I taught myself "Blackbird" by The Beatles, not because I love the song (I do, but that's beside point) but because it was difficult. It took forever, but eventually I got to the point that I can now play "Blackbird" in my sleep with zero errors. I'm that good at it. I might have learned the song to impress girls (it didn't --- here's a tip: if you want to impress girls learn to play "Iris", they all love "Iris") and it might be a skill that's only useful at campires with hipsters and church tweens, but it's a skill that makes me a God for about 2 minutes.
That's why I love Cody Rhodes and Daniel Bryan; they make something that takes a lot of work and effort to do look easy. And they make it easy because they worked their asses off to get to that point. So really I don't care who wins this match. I just want this feud to go on forever. But, since I have to pick, I'll go with 2 of my boys instead of just 1. Despite what the public schools system might teach you, 2 is in fact greater than 1.
Winners: Team Rhodes Scholars
Christian: Even though I enjoyed the tag tournament it was a huge waste of time. We all knew from the start Rhodes Scholars were going to win. It's the right call too. I enjoy both these teams a lot and it should be a really good match. I could see a title change because it works in two ways. WWE could split them up because they can't work together and they feud for a bit before going their separate ways. Or, Dr. Shelby returns and finally gets them to trust each other and they win back the titles in like a month or so.
Prediction - Team Rhodes Scholars become the Tag Team Champions
John: This should be a lot of fun. Daniel Bryan's my favorite performer in the company while Rhodes and Sandow are probably in the top ten too. While Kane isn't necessarily a favorite of mine, I like him in the tag team role more than as a singles performer. The rivalry has been built well the Rhodes Scholars working as a well oiled machine while Kane/Bryan spend a lot of the time arguing. The crowd will be loud for this because the Kane/Bryan act draws as much of a reaction as anything in WWE these days. They are definitely a bright spot. Rhodes/Sandow are an entertaining duo as well, so no matter what WWE does here I will support it. It's really a can't lose situation and that's a sign of good booking, which is nice to see in WWE's tag division.
As far as a prediction goes, I think the champs retain. I get what Andrew & Christian are thinking with regards to a title change, but I think it's too soon. Of course Kane & Bryan are the type of dysfunctional tag champs that can lose at any time and nobody would be surprised by it. I just think it's too soon to move the titles off them because they just won them at Night of Champions and having short title reigns doesn't really help anybody. So I'll take the champs to retain here. I can definitely see Rhodes/Sandow winning the titles before the end of the year. I just think it's too soon.
Winners: Kane & Daniel Bryan
World Heavyweight Championship: Sheamus vs. Big Show
Andrew: HOSS FIGHT, HOSS FIGHT, HOSS FIGHT.
Unlike the rest of the collective Internet, I'm actually pretty excited for this match. Big Show has been on a roll lately, both doing and saying things purposefully and ferocity. The Big Show that was smiling and waving and getting pinned by 5'10 vegans is long gone; this Big Show isn't here to f**k around. And while you can say "doesn't matter, he still sucks in the ring" you still run the risk of being both A) wrong and B) an asshole. Big Show doesn't suck in the ring. He's not going to have good matches with everybody (Kane, specifically) but he can put on an entertaining bout by doing what he's good at; throwing bombs and dominating with authority.
That's where Sheamus comes in, because while his character is probably the worst person in the world, he's fantastic at taking the offense of big dudes and is just as good at dishing out painful attacks as he is at taking them. Sheamus is a wonderful professional wrestler; his offense is tight and impactful, his sells better than anyone gives him credit for, and he's innovative enough to where his matches don't get stale. If only he would stop being a shit head that laughs at racist jokes he might be on my shortlist of favorites.
I can't promise this match is going to be a classic or anything, because that's not what you should be expecting here. What you should be looking forward to is a big ass throw down between to brawlers, and it's going to be a lot of fun to watch. Plus we have the looming threat that is a MITB cash-in by Dolph Ziggler, so you know, that's something.
HOSS FIGHT, HOSS FIGHT, HOSS FIGHT...
Christian: Sheamus has looked very vulnerable since he started feuding with Big Show. He's losing matches and getting knocked out while being unable to hit the Brogue Kick on the giant.
The match itself, which should be decent for two power guys, is almost an afterthought as Dolph Ziggler has promised to cash in Money in the Bank at the PPV. I said it from the start that Show wins the title only to have Ziggler cash in and become the new champion like Daniel Bryan did at TLC last year. They keep mentioning it so I think there's something to it.
Prediction- The Big Show becomes the World Heavyweight Champion and then Dolph Ziggler cashes in Money in the Bank
John: It's a fresh matchup. They have used the last six weeks to create this new rivalry and feature it a great deal on both Raw & Smackdown on the road to Hell in a Cell. I don't mind a match where the babyface champion actually shows weakness for a change and has possibly met his match in a dominating heel challenger like Big Show. It's actually a shame that this one isn't inside Hell in a Cell, but I would imagine that they add some kind of stipulation to it like a street fight because it will be better if they can brawl around a bit.
I think Sheamus will keep his title. Big Show's at the point of his career where he can sniff major championships and b put in main event level matches, but there's no reason to put either of the major titles on him. He's in his 40s now. He's not going to light the world on fire as a champion. Sheamus should beat him and I think he will.
They should get about 15 minutes of in-ring time. I think anything more than that is too much for a Big Show match. His match with Cena at No Way Out went about 20 minutes and I felt like falling asleep at some point. He's not a guy that should be in really long matches. Ten minutes is probably too short, so I'd expect it around 15 minutes in length. Will Big Show kick out of the Brogue Kick of Sheamus? Doubt it. They have spent months building that move up as deadly and I don't think Big Show is the guy to kick out of it. Sheamus win clean.
Is that it? No. I think after the match is over we'll see the return of Mark Henry. Sheamus will celebrate his win, Mark Henry will show up and attack the World Champion with the World's Strongest Slam. Cue Dolph Ziggler with the Money in the Bank briefcase. I think he'll cash it in, hit the Zig Zag on the dazed Sheamus and win the World Heavyweight Title. The Henry/Sheamus feud never really ended in the summer of 2011 (their Summerslam matchup ended with a countout). I think they had something there and with Henry due back for a return it would be the right time for him to make his presence known once again.
Winner and New World Heavyweight Champion: Dolph Ziggler
Did you see how good Ziggler vs. Bryan was on Raw? Let's see it for the World Heavyweight Title at WrestleMania 29 after a long title reign for heel champion Ziggler and with Bryan having a lot of momentum as a babyface. Come on, WWE. Don't let me down.
Hell in a Cell for the WWE Championship: CM Punk vs. Ryback
Andrew: From this week's Raw Takes:
If my partner was here this week this would be the part of the show that I ask him if he still thinks John Cena is going to take Ryback’s spot at Hell in a Cell. Of course he thinks so but I don’t. Ryback is challenging CM Punk for the WWE Championship in a few days whether WWE knows how to book the finish or not. Ryback hasn’t even had a feud yet and he’s main eventing a PPV inside Hell in a Cell for the WWE Championship. - Christian Michael
Don't worry; it's going to be Cena.
Winner: John Cena
Christian: I've beaten the way I feel about this match into the ground on Raw Takes. WWE has really booked themselves into a corner here. It's too early to end Ryback's undefeated streak and with the match being in Hell in a Cell there's no cheap way for Punk to lose and keep the title. I along with many others think that Brock Lesnar will play a role in the match as it really is the only way to keep everyone strong. If Ryback loses because Lesnar broke into the cage and attacked him it doesn't hurt him the way Punk pinning him clean would. The reason I'm not 100% for Ryback here and think that WWE had themselves booked into a corner is because of The Rock. We all know he has a title shot a Royal Rumble and we all know the money match is him vs. Punk. I know they could always switch the title again but they've adopted a new policy that they want the champs to hold onto their belts longer, which I like. Plus, Punk is so close to the year mark of his reign, why cut it short now?
Prediction- CM Punk Retains
John: It seems like the fantasy bookers are out in full force for this matchup. Between emails, Twitter & Facebook I've read all kinds of possibilities. They can have the cage break and Punk leaves the building with the title so that way they protect both guys. Brock Lesnar could show up to help Punk. John Cena could interfere somehow to accidentally cost Ryback the match. Again, that's based on the idea that they get out of the cage somehow (which has been done before), so there are a lot of scenarios to think about.
I've picked against CM Punk many times in the past few months. I just didn't think WWE would give him a 300+ day WWE Title reign because it's such a rare thing for them to do. I'm not against the long title reign by any means. It's been a lot of fun. His heel turn has definitely helped because his arrogance takes over and it has made people hate him even though a few months ago they were cheering him. Of course he gets some cheers and always will, but generally speaking the heel turn is working.
The match quality will be interesting because Punk is notorious for not only working long matches, but never tiring during them. He said it himself in this interview on SLAM Wrestling that he's "marathon runner" type of wrestler and he's absolutely right. While Ryback isn't a rookie (he's been in the WWE system for over seven years) by any means, he's not wrestling in long matches on a regular basis. I wonder if he'll tire if this match goes 20 minutes. I assume he'll be fine because they have worked together on house shows the last few weekends, so there has to be some familiarity there now.
I don't know how it's going to end and I'm absolutely fine with not knowing that. What I know is this. The CM Punk vs. The Rock match is one of the few "money" matches left. They need to do it. It would be huge for both guys and the company. Moving the title off Punk now and putting the title back on him before the end of the year was something I thought they might do even last month with Cena. I think it's too late now and would be too forced. Just keep it on Punk until the Royal Rumble.
How do you book the finish? Beats me. I know that's not the answer people want. I could sit here and guess, but just like you I have no idea what's going to happen. What Vince McMahon has on his mind on Friday at 8pm could change by Sunday at 8pm. It could even change at Sunday at 10pm right before the match is about to begin.
I think with Ryback obviously he's got the undefeated streak going. The thing is, WWE is not coming out and saying how many wins he has. They just say he's undefeated. They are not trying to drive the point home. When Goldberg did the streak in WCW in the late 90s they made a point to mention the numbers when he was out there. Of course the numbers were largely made up, but at least the effort was there. While I fully expect WWE to protect Ryback, keeping him undefeated is not something they are pushing hard. It's something for the fans to talk about maybe. But it's not a determining factor in the booking. I think with him it's more of a case of "do we want to beat him and if so how do we do that?" That kind of thing.
If I were booking it, I would have them break through the cage. You can either do it like the Michaels/Undertaker match in 1997 when a camera guy got hurt so they had to open the door and when that happened Michaels got out to escape. Or you can do Edge/Undertaker 2008 spot where Edge gave Undertaker a spear that broke the cage open. There are ways to do it. Once outside the cage, that's when the interference can happen. I think the Brock Lesnar scenario is very possible. He's a Paul Heyman guy just like CM Punk is. He "quit" the company, but we all know he's due back and it makes storyline sense. Plus it would lead to a huge Ryback vs. Lesnar match down the line, possibly at WrestleMania 29. There are a lot of scenarios that can happen. I think that one makes the most sense.
My prediction is that CM Punk leaves Hell in a Cell as the WWE Champion. I don't think it will be a clean victory. It will be very controversial. They will do everything they can to protect Ryback to make him look strong because he has a big role in the company going forward. I just think Punk has to keep this title reign going strong until the Royal Rumble at which point I would feel comfortable predicting a loss for him. Not before that. Keep the WWE Championship on Punk. It's the right thing to do.
Winner: CM Punk
John: I think from a booking perspective, the main event will be very interesting. The possibility of Dolph Ziggler using his Money in the Bank briefcase is also interesting. I have a feeling that we'll be talking about both of those things after the show is over. That's what you want out of a PPV. Creating buzz is important. With ratings on a downward trend, you know that WWE is well aware of that too.
I won't be watching Hell in a Cell live on Sunday. I'll be watching baseball and football at a friend's house on Sunday night. I'll catch the replay of the event late Sunday or early Monday. On Monday afternoon I'll post my PPV recap on this site. On TJRWrestling.com, Thomas Briggs will be covering the event live for those of you that want to follow along with him or read about it after the show is over.
Once again, my Hell in a Cell recap will be posted on Monday afternoon.
Thanks for reading. Enjoy WWE Hell in a Cell.
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Andrew - @TheAEJohnson
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John - @johnreport
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