WWE returns to pay-per-view (PPV) tomorrow night (Sun., Oct. 27, 2013) live from the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida, with its Hell in a Cell event starting at 7:30 p.m. ET with the free live streaming pre-show featuring Curtis Axel vs. Big E. Langston leading right on into the PPV main course at 8 p.m. ET.
The line-up leaves much to be desired.
Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan will duke it out for the WWE championship in the main event for the third show in a row, only this time it's in the Cell with Shawn Michaels as special guest referee to guarantee a winner. Then again, John Cena is returning to challenge for the world heavyweight championship in a match against Alberto Del Rio. So there's that.
Luckily for you Cagesiders, our staff of learned wrestling blowhards is here to help figure out just how the event is going to play out with predictions for each match on the card.
Let's get to it.
WWE HELL IN A CELL PREDICTIONS
Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan
The General: To me, there's no choice here. Bryan has to win the belt and he absolutely cannot have it stripped right after, or the next night on Raw, or the next night at the SmackDown taping, or the next week. He should have the belt until at least the Royal Rumble. The more you think about it, though, and the way the go home shows were booked, it certainly looks like Shawn Michaels is going to turn heel and help his buddy Triple H. The idea will be that Bryan keeps his heat that way but what would he move on to from that? Triple H is heading for a match with Big Show, which makes it seem like Bryan will be taking a back seat anyway. This program gets more depressing as it moves along. Hell with it, I'll hope for the best here. Pick: Bryan
Hulk Holland: Stick a fork in this program, it's done. I'm sure something silly will happen in the end, with Shawn Michaels being special guest referee and all that. Hopefully, it doesn't mean "HBK" is turning heel and joining the corporate empire because the faces need some redemption here. Enough with the screw-jobs already. And how does the returning Vince McMahon fit into all this? Or the Big Show? The fact that there are so many variables at play makes this a great headliner and to be frank, this one is a coin toss. Pick: Daniel Bryan
Sean Rueter: I can't believe it, but I think I'm ready to move on. I don't really want to move on to Orton vs. Big Show for the WWE championship, but I think that's where we're headed. I'm not jazzed about an HBK heel turn, but I don't see a way around that, either. How did we get here from the high of SummerSlam again? Pick: Randy Orton
Keith Harris: There's three likely ways this could go: a) Big Show uses his mammoth strength to break into the cage and KOs The Viper so that Bryan's title victory is overshadowed in order to further the giant's feud with Hunter, Shawn Michaels does what's best for Triple H's business by turning on his former trainee and screwing him out of the title or c) Bryan chokes in the big match proving Hunter right that he's only a B+ talent. Indeed, Hunter's promo on the go home Raw doesn't fill me with any confidence that Bryan will be treated any better by WWE than Chris Jericho, Edge or RVD were. The safer bet seems to be that Orton will win the title back here. Prediction: Randy Orton.
Eric B. Stephen: Alright, it HAS to be time for a decisive ending here. And unfortunately for the WWE Universe, despite what Triple H might tell you about this being "best for business," I think Orton comes out on top. Aside from everything else he has going against him here, Bryan also "stood tall" on the go-home episode of Raw, which statistics say means he has about a 92% chance of losing at the pay per view itself. Look for Randy Orton to walk out of here as the new WWE champion, fairly earned or not. (I'm going with "Not.")
Kanenite: WWE is going to disappoint its entire fanbase here by doing what is not best for business. The truth seems to be that WWE doesn't really have any more top heels, outside of HHH, for Bryan to face off with once this feud with Orton ends. Therefore Randy Orton is going to win here so that The Viper can go on to have a championship feud with another top baby face like Big Show, Punk, or Cena. There is still potential for Bryan to get moved into a big match at Survivor Series with HHH or maybe even Cena, so all hope is not lost yet until we see what they do next with Bryan. Pick: Randy Orton
John Cena vs. Alberto Del Rio
The General: I can't imagine a scenario where Del Rio leaves this show with the world heavyweight championship. His reign with the title has been terribly underwhelming, save for a good match here and there. But we can't know how this is going to look because we don't know where Cena's at right now. Perhaps a Money in the Bank cash in from Damien Sandow will spice this up. I think that happens only if Del Rio wins, which I can't imagine happening because I just don't see how they do it after pushing Cena so hard for the past few weeks. Pick: Cena
Hulk Holland: Hmmmm ... not sure if serious. John Cena has been injecting himself with Miracle-Gro or some other magic potion to get himself back into fighting shape after having his torn triceps repaired. Unless, of course, we're getting worked so that he can help put Damien Sandow over by way of intellectual briefcase. I just can't see Cena (pun intended) going after the organization's second-best belt, so I'm sticking with the fantasy booking that calls for him to get "injured" by Del Rio, win by disqualification and then get saved by Damien Sandow, who cashes in his briefcase as a face. Pick: John Cena
Sean Rueter: Given its gimmick-less status (meaning Del Rio could leave as champ following a DQ loss by, say, holding an arm-based submission for too long after his opponent has grabbed a rope), the champ's recent sort-of working with The Authority and WWE.com playing up HiaC as Cena's bad luck event (lost the WWE title there twice, forced to join Nexus, banned due to an affair with AJ)...I'd guess that they hold off on his winning the strap and keep him on the fringes of the HHH story by prolonging this feud out at least one more PPV. I'm not sure who "wins", but... Pick: Alberto Del Rio leaves with the Big Gold Belt
Keith Harris: Given that Del Rio's title reign has turned out to be a complete damp squib and he's been treated as such an afterthought in the run up to the pay-per-view with the build being fully focused on Cena's miraculous recovery from a torn triceps, it's hard to see him retaining the gold. The champ is back, even though he hasn't been gone for long enough for anyone to really miss him! Prediction: John Cena.
Eric B. Stephen: I know, I know, "Cena always wins," but here, I think they'll make an exception. It's entirely possible he'll "win" via DQ or some other means allowing Del Rio to retain his title, as I think even WWE realizes that it's too soon returning from an injury for Cena to jump straight to World Heavyweight Champion. I do think, however, that Cena will still be involved in this story one way or another following the event.
Kanenite: I don't see any way that Alberto Del Rio can win this match. John Cena is the returning hero ready to conquer all evildoers, while ADR is a stale champion who struggles to get over despite a steady push. A similar situation occurred in 2008 when Cena suffered an injury in close proximity to SummerSlam, only to return a few months later at Survivor Series to randomly end Chris Jericho's WHC reign. The same thing is essentially going to happen here in 2013 as well, except it is much easier to predict this time due to ADR's lack of star power compared to 2008's Chris Jericho. Pick: John Cena
CM Punk vs. Ryback & Paul Heyman
The General: Dear god, I don't care. I just don't. The biggest reason I don't is WWE has conditioned me -- and it's not just with this program -- to know that there just won't be a legitimate finish even in a match designed specifically to give us a legitimate finish. Hopefully one side wins and does so definitely. Pick: Punk
Hulk Holland: Who cares? This feud has extended well past its expiration date and I've seen the same thing for weeks now. Punk chases Heyman, finally gets his hands on him, gets blindsided by Ryback. Rinse and repeat. I'm sure the cage will add a new twist, but no matter how many extra gimmicks you add, it's still the same old crap they've been peddling sinceSummerSlam. Even Punk looks bored. The good news is, I think Creative recognizes that (finally) and puts us out of our misery once and for all. Pick: CM Punk
Sean Rueter: It's time for this to be over, and it has to end with Punk putting Heyman on the shelf for a while, I guess. This has been a strange program all the way around, and I really hope they have the next moves for all three men already figured out. Pick: CM Punk
Keith Harris: It's time to blowoff this feud, as Heyman has slipped out of Punk's hands enough times already and I can't see any interest in a third match between Punk and Ryback. I'd expect Punk to decisively win here and then re-enter the WWE title picture. Prediction: CM Punk.
Eric B. Stephen: Punk finally gets Heyman into the Cell with him, from which there is no escape. However, it's worth remembering that Punk needed a low blow to take out Ryback by himself in a standard match at the last pay per view, so I think this will be more of a challenge for Punk than he is expecting. Still, I see this match ending with a Punk victory and a beat down of legendary proportions on Heyman in the Cell afterward.
Kanenite: CM Punk has had the upper-hand at every turn of this feud since defeating Ryback at Battleground. Normally that would be a recipe for predicting Punk to take a loss here, but HIAC is too convenient of a gimmick for him to not get his revenge on Paul Heyman. Regardless of whether Punk wins or not, Paul Heyman's face is going to be broken at HIAC. Pick: CM Punk
AJ Lee vs. Brie Bella
The General: Because I'm hoping Daniel Bryan wins the WWE championship here, I just think it would be really cool to have Brie win the Diva's title on the same night so the two can share a moment in the middle of the ring with their belts to close the show. I'm just a sucker for emotional shit like that. Pick: Brie Bella
Hulk Holland: Brie mode! Bella da ball has been getting a nice little push lately and I have to say, compared to some of the department store mannequins who preceded her, this little tulip can actually string together a few decent-looking moves. AJ Lee is the superior worker, but it doesn't matter, we have two hot tamales groping each other to give our brains a rest in between more meaningful matches. That's deceiving, because I think this match has some serious implications in the bigger picture, as well. Yes, I'm looking at you, main event. Pick: Brie Bella
Sean Rueter: I'm glad she's improved and all, but I still don't really want to watch her wrestle. Doesn't matter, though, because Total Divas needs a plot twist. Watching AJ melt down without her precious should be entertaining. Pick: Brie Bella
Keith Harris: AJ Lee's character has been so awesome as Divas champion that she should by all rights keep it for much longer, but I have a sneaky suspicion that Brie will win it here due to her higher profile as Daniel Bryan's fiancee, leading to a feud over the belt with her sister Nikki. Prediction: Brie Bella.
Eric B. Stephen: It's a match, it exists....it'll be something to talk about on the next season of Total Divas. I'm not sure if I have anything truly positive to say about it though. Call it a hunch, but I see Brie coming away from this match as Divas Champion.
Kanenite: It doesn't really feel like anything new is going on here with these two since last month's match at Battleground. Tamina and Nikki will get involved, like usual. I think Twin Magic could come into play here, sending AJ home without her prized possession. Pick: Brie Bella
Rhodes brothers vs. The Shield vs. The Usos
The General: I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins come out of this with the belts back around their waists but it feels like there's still too much mileage to get out of the Cody and Goldust team. I'd like to see them taking on all comers for a while and having great matches until the inevitable break up, maybe starting at the Royal Rumble when they enter separately and have an issue grow from that. Pick: Rhodes brothers
Hulk Holland: This is the easiest pick of the night, as far as I'm concerned. The Rhodes Bros. recently got their hands on the straps and they aren't giving them back just yet. For what? The Shield had a good run, but it's time to let someone else take the wheel. I could understand if Cody and G-Dust failed to get over, but they're red hot right now and continue to deliver. The only reason we have the Usos involved, is so that WWE can get away with giving us this match again -- though I doubt anyone was complaining to begin with. Every guy in this program can work. The fans are the real winners! Pick: Cody Rhodes and Goldust
Sean Rueter: This is a tough one. The only thing I'm sure of is that The Usos aren't winning the belts here. But do they take the pin when The Shield regain their belts, or turn heel (and take the pin as The Rhodes retain)? Is it to soon to end Cody and Goldy's run, or did they never really need one in the first place? Which team is better positioned for single's runs if they exit the tag division. I JUST DON'T KNOW, but I think heels are winning the other big title matches, so I'll pick the faces. Pick: Goldust and Cody Rhodes
Keith Harris: The Usos are fine in ring performers, but it seems like they'll be forever at the level below championship calibre, due to missing that it factor. It seems inevitable that The Shield will regain the tag belts one day, as they were so awesome in the role, but WWE has gotten out of the habit of quickie title switches, so I can't see them winning them back here. Cody Rhodes & Goldust deserve their time in the sun for a bit. Let them have it. Prediction: Cody Rhodes & Goldust.
Eric B. Stephen: In what could be the straight up "most entertaining" match on the card, I really like Cody and Goldust to retain their tag team titles. The Shield should really bring it, and they've yet to have a truly bad match, while the Usos have stepped it up on every pay per view they've been on this year.
Kanenite: This one is a toss-up between the Rhodes Brothers and The Shield. Putting the tag titles back on The Shield would be almost like hitting the reset button on everything that has gone on with the Rhodes Brothers over the last couple of months. I expect their championship reign to continue, and during the aftermath some cracks in the unity of The Shield will finally begin to come through. Pick: Rhodes Brothers
Curtis Axel vs. Big E. Langston
The General: Axel has died that slow death, becoming increasingly less relevant as the days go by. Pairing him with Paul Heyman was a fine idea in the sense that if it worked it would have made everyone look like a genius but nothing about Axel screams "big money star". That's just the case. Langston, meanwhile, has worlds of potential and a push up the card sounds about right here. Pick: FIVE
Hulk Holland: So we have to decide which scenario is more detrimental to the Intercontinental title picture. Giving Big E. Langston the strap after only two weeks or so as a face, or leaving it on that black hole of charisma known as Curtis Axel. In all honesty, Curt has done zilch to elevate the title and the championship means nothing around his waste waist, so there really is no downside to taking it off him. I believe doing so further fuels the push of the new-look Langston and generates even more cheers. Pick: Big E. Langston
Sean Rueter: As much as it pains this McGillibuddy to admit it, the Axel experiment is over. Time to be Jack Swagger to Ryback's Antonio Cesaro. Pick: Big E Langston
Keith Harris: Despite Triple H seeing something in him, Curtis Axel really hasn't shown anything special since being repackaged and given a renewed push in May. He's been perfectly average, but never great. Langston, on the other hand, has shown flashes of brilliance and deserves the opportunity of a higher spot on the card. I think he'll get it on Sunday. Prediction: Big E Langston.
Eric B. Stephen: Call me crazy, but I see Langston winning here. With manager Paul Heyman and ally Ryback focused on their match with CM Punk, I think Langston will be able to overtake Axel to become the new Intercontinental Champion. It shapes up well for the recently face-turned Langston to enter the winter months with a title around his waist. Now if he'd only break out the 5 count...
Kanenite: Axel has been losing momentum for months now, while Big E is clearly on the rise with his fresh baby face turn. In addition to his alliance with CM Punk, Langston also found himself in a main event tag match on Smackdown against the top heels in the company. It seems clear that it is time for Big E to move up the ladder. The only question is, can he avoid the recent curse of mediocrity that comes with the Intercontinental Championship? Pick: Big E Langston
Those are our predictions, Cagesiders. What are yours?