WWE Hell in a Cell Hitlist: C.M. Punk vs. Ryback, Big Show beats Sheamus to win the World Hvt. Championship, Randy Orton vs. Alberto Del Rio, Kofi Kingston vs. The Miz for the Intercontinental Title
By Jason Powell
Dot Net Members are listening to the 73-minute audio review of the WWE Hell in a Cell pay-per-view that Chris Shore and I recorded last night. Join us on the new membership iPhone app and the ad-free version of the website by signing up for membership via Prowrestling.net/amember/signup.php.
WWE Raw Hits
Big Show vs. Sheamus: The best match of the night. That's not saying much on this particular show, but this match was entertaining enough that it would not have been out of place as the World Title match at WrestleMania. I enjoyed the slow build with Show dominating early due to the size advantage and the strong commentary JBL offered while talking about how it's impossible for a wrestler to prepare for his first match with Big Show. Sheamus showed great fire during his comeback and the late near falls were excellent. I really hope this is a transitional moment for Sheamus in that he drops the quirky comedy nice guy routine and becomes more of a straight forward babyface.
C.M. Punk vs. Ryback: The main event had my interest going in and maintained it through the finish. It wasn't a mat classic and Ryback seems very green for a guy who has been working as long as he has, but I enjoyed the old school monster babyface vs. cowering heel dynamic. I am concerned that they took a step toward making Punk the typical WWE chickenshit heel who has to cheat to win when he's in there with the big boys. The approach they took was logical for his match with Ryback, but I hope they will give him some meaningful wins between now and his expected match with The Rock at Royal Rumble. I want that match to feel like a showdown that could go either way, not a situation where it feels like Rock wins unless Punk cheats.
The finish of the match was passable for me under the circumstances. I didn't think they could go with a title change without ruining their long term plans, and Ryback couldn't lose clean. The finish screwed Ryback and put the focus on the referee rather than on Ryback no longer being undefeated. I firmly believe that Ryback getting the undefeated streak out of the way is the best thing they could have done for him. Sure, they could have done the carbon copy of Goldberg and it may have been successful, but eventually there would have been the big crash moment when the streak ended. Goldberg was never quite the same. Ryback is on a different path and that's a good thing. Here's hoping Brad Maddox received a huge payday for that crazy press slam into the cage bump he took.
Randy Orton vs. Alberto Del Rio: A strong opening match. There were a couple of awkward moments, such as Orton jumping off the top rope and nothing happening, but there was good drama with believable finish teases. If the feud is going to continue, then Del Rio needs a meaningful win over Orton. I hope they don't do a repeat of Del Rio's run with Sheamus by having him lose repeatedly and then wonder why people lose interest with each rematch. Del Rio has added to his in-ring intensity, and I like the way he is breaking out new spots for his bigger matches.
Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara vs. The Prime Time Players: A minor Hit. Granted, I felt like I knew the formula of Sin Cara selling to set up the Mysterio hot tag and even the outcome of the match before the opening bell, but they managed to wake up an Atlanta crowd that was dead for the two previous matches.
WWE Raw Misses
Overall show: The top three matches delivered, but I can't get over how lifeless the Atlanta crowd was during the middle portion of the show. It's easy to blame the crowd and I was surprised by their halfhearted reaction to the main event, but can you really blame them for not responding to the middle portion of the show? WWE's mid- and undercard talent isn't over because they're not being spotlighted properly or protected.
For instance, WWE never would have booked Greg Valentine to be squashed by a monster babyface main eventer on television during his Intercontinental Title feud with Tito Santana. Those wrestlers had their own thing going on and were kept away from Hulk Hogan and company. Today, too many mid- and undercard talent are fed to the top guys in televised matches, yet WWE officials still wonder why these wrestlers aren't getting over. Vince McMahon has spent too much time focussing on top programs. He needs to be more focussed and disciplined when it comes to the rest of the card, especially now that he has three hours of programming to fill on Monday nights.
Dolph Ziggler doesn't cash in his MITB contract: I assume plans changed somewhere along the way because so far I don't see any reason for creative to spend so much time focussing on Big Show's 45-second title reign. Either way, the company looks bad for having Ziggler guarantee that he would cash in his contract. It looks like a bait and switch tactic designed to sell more pay-per-views. It puts more heat on the company than it does Ziggler.
Kane and Daniel Bryan vs. Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow: The dynamic between Kane and Bryan become more chaotic than usual. I'm okay with a DQ finish to keep the feud going, but the way they got there lacked creativity. It just felt like a cheap out rather than a DQ finish that was designed to leave viewers wanting to see more. The Kane and Bryan act has been more miss than hit lately.
Kofi Kingston vs. The Miz: WWE is trying hard to convince us that this is a great rivalry. We're just not there yet. The scathing Raw promo that Miz cut on Kingston should have been a turning point for his character. He won the Intercontinental Title, yet then went right back to being happy go lucky Kingston. It doesn't feel like there's anything real about his character. He's just happy and smiling all the time. There's not enough for fans to connect with.
Antonio Cesaro vs. Justin Gabriel: I enjoy watching these two work against one another, but it's not doing their characters any good. Neither man is over right now. Cesaro has so much upside and should be getting credibility building wins over characters with upside. Gabriel also has upside, but it's going to take more than Michael Cole saying Gabriel is an adrenaline junky to make viewers connect with him.
John Cena Q&A: The usual sad humor attempts from Cena. This did nothing to raise my interest level in the pay-per-view as a pre-view show should. In fact, the only quality live pay-per-view hype came from Matt Striker at the top of the show when he spoke of how this would be the thing everyone would be talking about on Monday.
Eve vs. Layla vs. Kaitlyn: Good effort, no one cares. Same story, different pay-per-view.
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