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Coulda been betta: Same old, same old doesn't sell Hell in the Cell for WWE

You've heard me preach novelty before and some have disagreed, but last night, I have no clue what WWE accomplished in its final few minutes other than lessening interest in Sunday's special event.

Novelty is tremendously important to me as someone who observes professional wrestling. The first match between two hot acts, the initial clash that pushes a solid angle into the stratosphere, or just the first punch not being thrown on a random television show.

With that said, the business model has changed as a result of the WWE Network. Pay-per-view (PPV) buy rates mean almost nothing and when renewals aren't at the forefront, really neither does much else, because outside of pre-Mania or pre-SummerSlam, it's rare we'll ever see major pickup leading into a B-show, even if the main event angle is red hot.

We're back to the time where house show money, merchandise sales, and hopeful TV numbers are what counts. Those things have always been heavily integral and, in truth, back even around 2008, WWE had begun to see PPV as a dying business. They were largely right, simply because wrestling fans seemed to grasp that what they saw on television for free might just be enough, provided they found out what happened on the $54.95 show they passed on in order to take their children to a few movies or just for living expenses in a bad economy.

Because of the shift, novelty saved for PPV doesn't mean anywhere near as much as it once did. However, it seems unbelievably counterproductive to largely destroy any reason for all but the true hardcore fans to pass on Sunday Night Football, premium and network Sunday evening offerings, or even a good book in order to watch a show that's been so unbelievably devalued.

Let's forget about the fact that Cena vs. Orton for the 10th time in a singles match on PPV, the second time inside Hell in a Cell, and insert whatever other derogatory description you want to fulfill the argument, is being pushed as the match that really matters due to the Number One Contender stipulation. Let's forget just how horrendous Dean Ambrose's segment was last night, which is hard to write, but truthfully whoever wrote that has no business being associated with professional wrestling. I imagine Vince Russo was in heaven. It was abysmal and though Foley was convincing in his role and he did indeed sell the importance of the Cell and the risks and danger it often foreshadows, it didn't save that segment for me.

What could have been better last night were the latter stages of the main event. I was tired of the various tag matches with these same guys over the past month but "street fight" at least meant it would go all over the building, right up until we saw guys tagging in and out. It still got out of control but really it should have been tornado style and just a fun, crazy fifteen minutes of action. Geno opined last night it seemed that the traditional tag format was done simply so John Cena could get a hot tag. If that's true, at least the reasoning was sound. Cough.

The cell comes down, which isn't the first time. I recall it happening in 1998 in advance of Austin/Kane, and there's nothing really wrong with that strategy. However, there is definitely something wrong in the philosophy that once the Cell comes down, let's use it for longer than two minutes and let's actually use it for spots that would have had some "ooooh" and "ahhhh" quality in six days. Rollins hitting the Cell from the apron for example, that just shouldn't happen. The Cell was down too long on television. If you want to do some fun stuff after the cameras cut for that live audience, I'm all for it. But we got too much on RAW.

If you want to use that Cell to build interest, the first step is to replace the word "interest" with the word "sympathy." Keep one babyface trapped and put him in peril and have others attempt to get inside. This is the old Wargames concept where after the usual good guy win, the heels got their heat back with an all out attack as a key component in the afterbirth. Beat Ambrose down and let Cena try to get in there and bring out some other guys where again, WWE creates the illusion that their workers care about each other and aren't in individual program bubbles where no one exists except the guy they're feuding with at that time.

The key here is if you do it this way, you use the Cell as a prison and not just a location for a brawl. Create danger for someone you want the people to care about and in the process, sell that guy's match. The curb stomp on Orton made things cloudier because WWE wants us to begin pining for the Seth-Randy feud, but let's wait and do that next Monday and actually finish the thought with Dean before we move on. WWE isn't shutting down and there's plenty of time. Orton won't be inside a Cell with Rollins on Sunday, so ignite whatever you want once the PPV ends.

To make it better, turn it into an environment where Ambrose is weakened, giving the match a perfect surge of added drama and a readymade story for the match on Sunday. Have Cena try to help if he isn't beaten down, that way Superman is still a focal point, because it's WWE. Finish a thought before moving to another one, and don't give so much away when you don't have to do it. It wasn't a great show and the ending just came across as confusing and lacking in any direction. But, that goes for about 85% of current WWE booking and execution.


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