WWE Hell in a Cell, which took place last night, Oct. 2, 2011, from the New Orleans Arena in New Orleans, Louisiana, is officially in the books. And what a wild night it was.
Let's not waste any time with the pleasantries and get right to all the reactions from the show, shall we?
- The finish to the pay-per-view was awesome. Not just because it was The Miz (and R-Truth) but because it felt as fresh as ever. The scene of the entire WWE locker room shaking the cage while Awesome Truth wreaked havoc inside it was stupendous. Triple H livid on the outside with Laurinaitis playing like he had nothing to do with it was phenomenal. The entire scene was brilliantly executed and the carnage when the cage was lifted with Triple H attacking was really well choreographed.
- I could complain about Triple H being the end focus of the event but the storyline they're weaving dictates that that makes the most sense, all things considered. The reason I'm not completely dumping on it is that I'm curious to see how they carry out the rest of the angle. The potential is still there and I'm enjoying how they're executing it so far. Carry on.
- Alberto Del Rio winning the WWE championship was not a surprise but it does make me wonder why John Cena won the title at Night of Champions if he was just going to lose it back two weeks later. I guess I can answer my own question -- panic at the low rating from the previous week's Raw. The number hit 2.7, the powers that be didn't like it, made the title change knowing they could change it back at the next pay-per-view before the tour of Mexico in which they wanted Del Rio to be champion for and went ahead with it. Except that's cheap and devalues the title. There have actually been seven -- count 'em -- seven title changes since Money in the Bank back on July 17. Sure, you can make the argument that big talent hanging around at the top of a promotion should dictate frequent title changes -- think the UFC light heavyweight division and its belt -- but the rules aren't really the same in pro wrestling and in this case, it feels dirty to make a switch just to pop a rating. You can tell me until you're blue in the face that that isn't the reason they did it but what other reason could they have had? Did they just want to get Cena closer to breaking Flair's record? Yeah, right. Nothing else makes sense.
- The main event match felt flat for the most part but I'll stick that to the crowd in New Orleans. What was with them tonight? It was like they were confused for half the night and only cared enough to do the dueling Cena chants. After that, they couldn't be bothered to make noise for anything. Contemplative viewing is fine at home but when you're in the arena, for god's sake, act like you give a care.
- Guess who got pinned to finish the show for the third pay-per-view in a row? CM Punk. Pack, meet Punk. Punk, pack. I'll finish my series on his summer and how he's fallen after I see what they do with him on Raw. I'm guessing not much.
- The swerve at the end with Ricardo Rodriguez knocking out the referee to break into the cage so he could save Del Rio, even though it meant taking an Attitude Adjustment, leading to ADR locking Cena out of the cage and taunting him was amazing. That's the kind of heel character I want Del Rio to be. Laughing and feinting at Cena when he can't do a damn thing about it before winning the title by using a pipe to knock out Punk. Just the right amount of vicious monster mixed with cowardly backhander. That's a heel I can get behind.
Thoughts on the rest of the show after the jump.
- Randy Orton jobbed to Mark Henry for the second consecutive pay-per-view. And he lost clean in both matches. This both signifies that WWE is serious about pushing Henry to the sky and Orton was promised something big for later. He's one of the few members of the current roster that gets a measure of creative control of his character, so I can't imagine he'll be down for long. This feels like a classic Hogan style job. He only agreed to do it in exchange for a big run with the belt later. I'm still good with that because it means a longer run for Henry.
- I couldn't be any more happy that WWE made the decision to bring back the classic Intercontinental belt design. And they even did so with the white leather straps. I sincerely hope they stick to it and it would be absolute gold if they had Rhodes add a wrinkle to his gimmick. Make him completely obsessed with the beautiful classic belt, which he already sort of acted like when he put it over in his promo about why he wanted it to come back, and have him act like his life depends on keeping it in his possession. It would add a great deal of value to a belt that has long felt like a forgotten carry on.
- The mega-push for Sheamus continues and that's a good thing. He's charismatic and while his pasty white skin is somewhat of a draw back, whether anyone wants to admit it or not, the fans have gotten behind him as a strong babyface. He's got main event level talent. If he had a catchphrase, he would be gold. I'd love to see more diversity in the ring but his style is not unlike that of the rest of the guys clogging up the top of the card. So he'll work no matter what.
- Christian's run of losing and looking weak continues and that's not a good thing. Although the fact of the matter is that someone has to be the guy who makes everyone else look good while sacrificing his spot to do so. That's the role Christian has always, and likely will always, occupy. Sucks, but that's how it has to be.
- Rhodes having an impromptu match after unveiling the new Intercontinental title made sense. Air Boom (still the worst tag team name ever and it was nice to hear Michael Cole acknowledge that on commentary last night) defending their titles out of nowhere and unannounced made no sense at all. They were essentially nothing more than filler for a show that went too quickly. Which bleeds into the next point.
- Why are Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger suddenly a well oiled tag team? These guys were building a nice feud with each other and now suddenly they're tag partners challenging for the titles on pay-per-view? What the hell is that? The idea that Triple H taking over meant the tag division would get a much needed shot in the arm is laughable in hindsight.
- The commentary was solid for most of the night. Nothing ridiculous (that I can remember) and when the matches were reaching their inevitable conclusions, Michael Cole, Jim Ross and Booker T were all on their game. They put over everything that needed put over and advanced storylines as necessary without getting too far away from the action in the ring. With commentary, it's the little things and they nailed that tonight.
- The Sin Cara blowoff match was anticlimactic at best. It wasn't nearly as botchy as I thought it would be but they both had their fair share of hits and misses. I can't imagine they continue this feud very long considering how little fans really seem to care about it. Merchandise selling well seems to be the key to longevity in WWE, though, so we'll see.
- You guys know me (or at least I hope so) by now and you know I'm none too keen on women's wrestling. That's mostly because it gets treated so poorly and the women involved let themselves look like complete buffoons just because they work for some of the most sexist people in the history of time. All I'll say about last night's title change was that I was exactly right in saying Beth Phoenix would win the strap two weeks after she should have. What in the blue hell was the point of having her wait for another pay-per-view in New Orleans to win it when she could have done so in Buffalo -- her hometown -- at Night of Champions? The stupidity there astounds me.
I'll give WWE Hell in a Cell 2011 a B in my hypothetically grading book because I enjoyed the finish to the show and am so very, very happy that Orton did the job to Henry again. And clean.
Raw, as usual, should provide us with plenty of answers to all our questions from this event (kind of ass backwards, when you think about it). That's enough from me, though. Your turn to sound off with all your thoughts on the show.