By John Napolitano
Emanating out of Dallas, Texas, on October 26, 2014, was the fifth annual Hell in a Cell Pay-Per-View event, which surprisingly did not disappoint. The Hell in a Cell Pay-Per-View has been historically disenchanting as we are smack dab in the middle of the PG Era, where raping, pillaging, and plundering in the cell structure does not jive with the squeamish parents tentatively allowing their children to watch the product. Take away the blood, the unprotected chair shots, and 30-foot free-falls, and the Hell in a Cell Match becomes a very tame concept. In fact, "tame" is the adjective I would use to describe just about every Hell in a Cell Match since Undertaker and Edge tore the house down at SummerSlam 2008. Albeit, it does not help that the greatest Hell in a Cell Match of all-time was only the second installment at King of the Ring 1998, featuring Undertaker and Mankind, who had an utterly irreproducible showing, but I digress. Seeing as though it is virtually impossible to recreate the magic that Undertaker and Mankind managed 16 years ago, I would say that Hell in a Cell 2014, as a whole put up a valiant effort.
The night opened with a thrilling 2-out-of-3 falls match between the Intercontinental Champion Dolph Ziggler and the “Swiss Superman” Cesaro. I thought this was a great way to open the card; these two technicians are masters of the ring, and it shows in their bouts. I do grow wearisome of the direction, or lack thereof, for these two stallions. They are both great stickmen and can more than carry a match in that 20-foot-by-20-foot squared circle. I was relieved to see Ziggler retain the strap, but his promos, in-ring work, and reign as champion is essentially meaningless if he is not given a creative direction. I know Cesaro is more than ready for that proverbial push to the top so one can only hope that his loss last night will allow him to show off his skills in a fresh, new program.
The Bellas' bout followed the Intercontinental Championship match in what was an effort to reinvigorate a stale program between the two sisters. The match was salvageable at best with a very predictable finish, but this match acted as the perfect buffer between two fast-paced matches. Overall, I am content with the Divas division right now and pleased that they are getting any television time at all.
Michael Cole dubbed the contest between The Usos and Goldust and Stardust, "The Clash of the Clans.” Although this rivalry has certainly seen better days, and this match was not their best, these two teams have earned a pass as they are constantly being called upon to carry the card with their high-flying brand of entertainment. I have yet to witness a match starring Jimmy and Jey Uso this year that I have not enjoyed, and this match was no different. I am so proud of how far they have come, and I know there will be many more tag-team championship reigns ahead of them. As far as Goldust and Stardust, as much as I am beginning to enjoy their new personas, I really hope that this run leads to a Cody Rhodes vs. Goldust match at WrestleMania XXXI. The concept has been teased for years, and I think now is as good of a time as any to deliver.
The most bulbous blemish on the Hell in a Cell card was John Cena vs. Randy Orton inside the cell structure. Not only was this a recycled match from the inaugural Hell in a Cell Pay-Per-View main event, but it is a match that we have seen countless times over the better half of 12 years and have no apparent reason to become emotionally invested because it is a match we will see over the better half of the next 12 years. These two incredibly gifted workers lack any and all in-ring chemistry and failed to so much as excite me once throughout this snoozefest. The matchup might as well have been in the ball pit of the local Chuck-E-Cheeze, as there were zero cell spots or any spot to reinforce the idea that Hell in a Cell is a dangerous environment. As usual, in John Cena bouts, signature maneuvers were being hit within the first five minutes, and finishing moves were being undersold left and right.
There was a spot where Orton hit Cena with an RKO in the middle of the Five Moves of Doom sequence. Keep in mind that the RKO is maneuver that has put tougher men than Cena down for the count. Usually, when a finishing move is hit in the middle of match, the striker has the obligation to protect the finish. Whether it be catching his breath before going for the pin, going for an unorthodox cover, or hitting the maneuver close to the ropes where his opponent can break the count. Orton hit said RKO, rushed to cover Cena, tightly hooked his leg in the middle of the ring, and Cena kicked out at two like Orton put him down with a press slam. I am sure you can see the utter lack of logic in this as I did.
On top of this despicable debauchery, Cena won the bout and we are in store for yet another Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. This was undoubtedly the nadir of the show.
We were then delighted to a harmless bout between Sheamus and The Miz for the United States Championship. The highlight of the match was seeing Damien Mizdow take every bump The Miz took in the ring, outside of the ring. Sheamus once again retained the gold, much to my chagrin. I do not see the value in Sheamus being United States Champion that management sees, but they are the professionals. I would like to see Sheamus turn heel in the very near future and, potentially, a program between The Miz and Damien Sandow.
Next, AJ Lee and Paige continued the subsequent chapter of their rivalry for the Divas Championship. There was nothing exhilarating about this contest, and the program as a whole has lost a lot of weight with this viewer. It was nice to finally see a retention of the strap between these two divas as they have been trading victories all year. My hope is for AJ Lee to move on and take on a new challenger for her Divas Championship while Paige and Alicia Fox mix it up for the foreseeable future.
Finally, we reached the crown jewel of the card, Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose inside the Hell in a Cell structure. This contest was the one everyone was spending their hard-earned money to see, and these two studs did not disappoint. They started on top of the cell, traded blows, fell off of the cell, feigned a no-finish, battled into the cell, and actually made the match seem like the demonic structure that it is, and not some play pen for John Cena and Randy Orton to no-sell their most effective maneuvers. This match told a story while maintaining a hardcore realism. The cherry on top of this sadistic sundae was when Bray Wyatt appeared in the ring to attack Dean Ambrose and give Seth Rollins the victory. Not only does this protect Dean Ambrose in defeat, but it also hits the reset button for the WWE Universe, and we finally get a fresh new rivalry in Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt.
Overall, I would rate Hell in a Cell 2014 a solid 6! It accomplished what it set out to do. No one was expecting a five-star night, but it certainly paved the way for The Road to WrestleMania.