Hell in a Cell. "The Devil's Playground." One of the most horrifying and life-threatening structures in all of sports entertainment. Standing at 20 feet tall and weighing over 5 tons, the steel contraption has been home to some of the most memorable and disturbing moments in WWE history. The awe it inspires is only matched by the sickening potential it holds to shorten a pro wrestler's career. For the longest time, Hell in a Cell stood for the ultimate test of greatness. You do not win a Hell in a Cell match.
You simply survive it.
Now it has become a yearly tradition. Every October the cage comes down from the rafters, trapping its occupants inside. There is nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. It is only you, your opponent, and pure determination. Tonight, (Sun., Oct. 28) CM Punk will face Ryback within the structure to defend his WWE Championship. It is a match that has left everyone in the dark as to how WWE will proceed.
That, my friends, is an amazing thing.
Tonight, the entire card is sure to hold plenty of surprises. Championships will be won and lost. Storylines will end while others begin. The obvious may prove to be fiction, while the impossible could become reality. WWE stands at the cusp of a new direction.
All in all, it's a pretty exciting time to be a pro wrestling fan.
The entire card, dear Cagesider, is as follows. And as always, lets go bottom up.
Eve! Layla! Kaitlyn! Triple Threat! Divas Championship!
In what has been a surprisingly consistent angle, Eve Torres will defend her Divas Championship against Layla and Kaitlyn. Eve may or may not have attacked and/or hired someone to take out Kaitlyn, who was scheduled to face Layla, at Night of Champions. Eve would take her place and defeat Layla for the Divas Championship. Kaitlyn is understandably upset about this, and wants another shot at the "Butterfly Belt." Layla is in this because...well, I'm not exactly sure why she's in this match.
I am certainly not going to complain.
WWE should be given credit when they create a storyline for the Divas that doesn't involve stripping, barking like a dog, fighting over a man, fighting over a woman, etc. Is the entire thing a little on the dumb side? Yes, of course. But this is pro wrestling.
It's supposed to be a little on the dumb side.
It will be interesting to see what directions WWE wants to take this. Eve as the conniving heel is going to get hers sooner or later; it's just a matter of when and by whom. Layla perhaps, may be the better choice tonight, as she has the experience to bring honor to the title. Don't be shocked to see Kaitlyn have a championship reign down the road. The division of the fairer sex is losing bodies left and right, and WWE needs to start reloading sooner than later.
Orton! Del Rio! Ricardo! Apex Predators!
In a matchup with no real purpose other than to get both Randy Orton and Alberto Del Rio on the card, there's not much going on here. It will be a good match, of course, as Orton and Del Rio usually have. There will be those who are entertained by the match, but just as many who find it boring. Orton will be vintage, Del Rio will be rich, and Ricardo Rodriguez will be awesome. The match will end with an RKO, and we will forget the whole thing ever happened.
Kingston! Miz! Intercontinental Championship!
Kofi Kingston won the Intercontinental title from The Miz on the Oct. 17 episode of Main Event, two days after knocking Miz's face in with a filthy Trouble in Paradise. This was probably the first interesting thing that Kofi has done during his tenure with WWE. Kofi has the same problem that plagues most of the faces in WWE; he's an athletic wrestler with a solid moveset, the children and ladies love him, yet he never does anything of interest.
That is until he bashed Miz's dome. I know I should not be excited for legitimate injuries, but that was pretty sick.
The Miz, on the other hand, has one of the stranger career paths in WWE. He main evented WrestleMania 27, yet the focus was always on John Cena and The Rock. He was the WWE Champion for 160 days, but it was a mostly forgettable reign. Now he is getting a rematch for a midcard title, one that has lost much of its prestige in recent times.
It's an odd intersection for these two men, no?
Kofi looks to be on the way up by virtue of being one of the few babyfaces with experience. The Miz is treading water until he is deemed ready to go back into the main event. Tonight, we'll find out who will be getting pushed by WWE, and who will stay down the card.
Hell No! Rhodes Scholars! Tag Team Championship!
Hell No (Daniel Bryan and Kane) will be defending their Tag Team Championship against Rhodes Scholars (Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow) in what has to be the most anticipated tag team match since...
Well let's just say it's been a long time since anyone cared about the tag team division.
Hell No's gimmick of one-upmanship has proven to be the most entertaining part of WWE week in and week out. I cannot recall a single segment that wasn't -- at the bare minimum -- wonderfully entertaining. As it has been said, though, there is a set shelf life on the deranged duo. They were joined together for the sole purpose to fall apart.
It looks like Rhodes Scholars will be right there to take advantage of the opportunity.
While Bryan and Kane are at polar ends of the spectrum, Cody and Sandow have proven to be an ideal match. They both have a pitch perfect understanding on how to get the crowd to hate them. The pure smugness alone that oozes off of the pair just fills the arena with disdain. While each individually would be meandering in the lower- to midcard, as a team they can achieve greatness.
That is of course, only if WWE knows how to handle them.
A win or a loss tonight is almost irrelevant to Rhodes Scholars future success. It is what happens tomorrow on Monday Night Raw, in the weeks ahead, and at the next Pay-Per-View (PPV) that will show if WWE is serious about revitalizing the tag team division. Rhode Scholars needs to look strong moving forward, and two or three more teams need to step up to challenge them. Things have looked good so far.
Tonight is the next step on the long road to recovery.
Sheamus! Show! Ziggler? World Heavyweight Championship!
There's not much to say about Sheamus facing The Big Show for the World Heavyweight Championship. I feel like I could copy and paste what I've written for the past month and no one would notice the difference. Sheamus is a giant with a devastating finisher. Show is a giant with a devastating finisher. Sheamus is the good guy who cracks jokes and likes to fight. Show is the bad guy who is super serious and likes to fight. Sheamus holds the championship, while Show wants to win it and hold onto it for longer than 45 seconds.
Simple storyline is simple.
Let it be said, though, that this isn't in anyway a bad thing. It was boring for the past couple of weeks, yes. When you spend the entire feud hyping up the final match, though, that is all that truly matters. Show has proven that he still has enough left in the tank to hold his own, and Sheamus -- when paired with the right opponent -- can put on an exciting match.
It all simply comes down to how well these two can work together in the ring.
It should be noted that Dolph Ziggler still has the Money in the Bank briefcase, and there are more than a few people predicting a cash in tonight. At the very least expect a tease towards that direction, if not "The Show Off" becoming the next World Heavyweight Champion.
Punk! Ryback! Heyman! Cena! WWE Championship!
A matchup no one would have predicted just a month ago; CM Punk will defend his WWE Championship against Ryback. Not only that, but this will be the sole Hell in a Cell match on the namesake PPV. This is the match that has all the marks, smarks, and undefined fans wondering how WWE will handle things.
Who would have thought John Cena's arm surgery would have turned out to be the most interesting to happen to the main event?
What is on the line is simple. On one side, we have Punk's 343-day reign as champion. Punk has been complaining about the lack of respect he's been shown. While he does have a point -- how many times does one have to beat John Cena to beat John Cena -- a loss tonight would force the "Straight Edge Savior" to shut the hell up.
On the other side, we have Ryback's 39-match winning streak (I counted). He has been built up as a monster, an unstoppable wrecking machine that can wipe out local jobbers with the greatest of ease. While wins and losses in pro wrestling are next to meaningless -- sorry Hollywood Wallace -- a zero at the end of a record does look a lot nicer than a one.
Something is going to happen tonight. What though, is anyone's guess. There may be a run in, Punk may pull some heelish shenanigans to retain, Ryback may pop a blood vessel in his head causing him to pass out in the middle of the ring.
Hell, we could see Cena throw an AA on Ryback just to keep someone else from winning the championship.
The point is that WWE is in a position that it is never in. When working with Punk, Cena, Rock, Lesnar, Trips, The Undertaker, etc. there are only so many options available. People have to be "protected," finishes have to be schmozed, everyone has to get their win back or there will be pandemonium in the back.
It is, quite frankly, the worst part of pro wrestling.
Here, though, we don't have that. The match can go any number of ways. Even a schmoz finish could be exciting and different, if handled in the right way. If Punk loses, the entire championship picture changes. If Ryback takes his first loss, he will be given additional motivation that can turn the monster into something far worse. It is all dependent on what WWE wants to do next.
There is a story to be told here. We don't know what it is. Maybe Vince McMahon himself doesn't know what it is. What we do know, is that this is an opportunity to create something new. A new star, a new angle, a fresh sense of direction. Cena not being in this match is the best thing that can happen to WWE right now. The main event has a chance to evolve. Punk vs. Ryback is headlining a PPV, and people are actually excited to see it.
This is a chance for something interesting to happen. I, for one, cannot tell you how excited I am to see what it is.
Hopefully this has prepared you for the night's festivities. Leave a comment about what you are looking forward to, and please join Nolan, myself, and the rest of the CSS Sunday night gang in the live blog right here.