Dedication to concept events introduced a year ago is leading WWE down a mediocre path, compounded by a short two week gap between now and the last PPV event. The demands of the Hell in a Cell matches look to only afford a short five-match card, with very little room for the majesty the variant cage match once held.
Hell in a Cell World Heavyweight Championship match
The Undertaker vs Kane (c)
This unsurprising rematch comes loaded with the Smackdown return of Paul Bearer, and the restoration of The Undertaker's legendary mystic powers. Some critics have scoffed the heavy fiction of the feud, but personally, I am refreshed by this return to characters and big gimmicks. That said, in revisiting tapes of their legendary encounters through '97 and '98, I'm reminded how much more compelling this was the first time around, when the entire promotion supported big, fictionalized characters engaged in larger storylines than today's equivalents.
A legitimate one-on-one encounter in the Hell in a Cell is the one match we never really saw Kane and Undertaker go at it in. In that respect, it has something fresh going for it. How they will make use of the structure, which was made famous early with dangerous bumps performed by Shawn Michaels and Mick "Mankind" Foley, is a bit of a mystery to me, though. Undertaker's resilience as a performer never ceases to amaze, but it's difficult to imagine either seven footer going for the high spots their dimensional, younger counterparts did. HIAC matches have proven there are plenty of methods to go about this business, such as the legendary 2002 No Mercy encounter between the Undertaker and Brock Lesnar. If WWE can lighten their stance on blood, that might be the brand of match that sells the significance and threatening nature of this special event. Bonus points if they can scar up Kane, who's lacked the awe of his earlier masked incarnations for a long time now.
Theories abound say this won't be the last stop for the reunion feud. Rumors of an upcoming Buried Alive match set the stage for significant escalation, while the prospect of a Kane streak leading to Wrestlemania puts a twist on always anticipated preparations for Undertaker's legendary undefeated run at the big show. If it means the return of the classic 'Taker gimmicks, I say the more the merrier!
Hell in a Cell WWE Championship match
Sheamus vs Randy Orton (c)
As of last year, Undertaker actually had one less victory and two more defeats in the Cell than Triple H. The numbers might not back it up, but I still think of the match as an Undertaker trademark, due in no small part to the depth of his feuds that led to these matches. The HIAC gimmick has appeared at least once a year since it's 1997 introduction, but until last year, it hadn't been a pre-announced fixture of any show. By staging multiple Cell matches in a single night, with the primary motivation being a calendar set agreement, I feel it strips the match of it's majesty and integrity. Case in point, the barren lead-up to Sheamus' rematch against Randy Orton. Orton picked up the belt last month in a six-pack elimination and I wouldn't expect them to go back on it that quickly. The only way the bout will redeem itself is if the younger, more able athletes are able to do something in the Cell we haven't seen in a while.
Prediction: Randy Orton
Nexus Membership or Disbanding match
John Cena vs Wade Barrett
If Cena wins, Nexus must disband. If Barrett wins, the posterboy of the PG-era must be their slave.
It's not a bad build-up for a mid-card bout, but with Barrett still wrestling a little underdone, and the adventures of Cena always a little bland, this isn't exciting me. Ironically, with the menace of the four other members of The Nexus, you would think this match at least had a bigger reason to be caged off by a Cell, but it's not to be. I can only hope that's to keep the deck stacked against Cena, who will no doubt spend the next month looking for an out if he is absorbed into the rookie group.
Prediction: Wade Barrett
Triple Threat Submission Falls Count Anywhere US Championship match
The Miz vs John Morrison vs Daniel Bryan (c)
Convoluted doesn't begin to explain this awkward match! While it's nice to see him get a guernsey, the most unnecessary aspect of the match might be Morrison, whose heat with former-partner The Miz is a distant memory. I'd rather see an honest one-on-one between the competent mat work of the US champ and his feuding buddy and former-champ, Miz. Adding the "anywhere" stipulation has the bonus of guaranteeing a finish with nowhere to run, but given that a submission match is usually no DQ, it makes me long for the days when they had a little garbage hardcore on the card. The rules and double-face of Morrison/Bryan seems to suggest a heel win, but it would be a mistake to take the belt from Bryan a month after his win.
Prediction: Daniel Bryan
WWE Unified Divas Championship match
Natalya Neidhart vs Michelle McCool (c)
I didn't catch how the belt transferred from Layla to McCool. It's neat to see Neidhart finally breaking away from valet/tag duty with the Hart Dynasty, who've been unfortunately sacrificed for the sake of an unimpressive makeshift pairing (McIntyre/Rhodes). I don't know how graceful the bout will be, but at least it's something new. Hopefully at least one other match surprises on the show.
Prediction: Michelle McCool
The Kayfabe Countdown: WWE Top Ten
Cumulative tally based on the win/loss records of televised matches.
#1 The Big Show [--]
#2 Kofi Kingston [--]
#3 Rey Mysterio [--]
#4 Randy Orton (WWE Champion) [+2]
#5 R-Truth [-1]
#6 The Miz [-1]
#7 Drew McIntyre (Tag Team Champion) [new]
#8 Cody Rhodes (Tag Team Champion) [new]
#9 Kane (World Heavyweight Champion) [--]
#10 Michelle McCool (Divas Champion) [-3]
#1 Tyson Kidd & DH Smith [--]
#2 Layla & Michelle McCool [--]
#3 Big Show & The Miz [--]
#4 Drew McIntyre & Cody Rhodes (Tag Team Champions) [new]
#5 Santino Marella & Vladimir Kozlov [-1]
Originally posted: http://www.1up.com/do/blogEntry?bId=9058662