WWE returned to pay-per-view (PPV) -- WWE Network for most of us -- last night (Sun., Oct. 26, 2014) with its Hell in a Cell event at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas featuring a show that was fun for the wrestling in the ring but saw a main event finish that has fans up in arms.
Catch up on full results and the live blog by clicking here. Let's get right to reacting to all the night's events.
"WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE TONIGHT"
In the PG era, Hell in a Cell matches are mostly a waste of time. Blood is strictly prohibited from all WWE broadcasts and we're long past the days of guys getting thrown off the top of cages (or going through them to the unforgiving ring below) to entertain paying fans.
In many ways, that's a good thing.
In many other ways, it's not.
John Cena vs. Randy Orton was the perfect example of the latter. It was a slow plodding affair that we were supposed to think was TOTALLY EPIC because they spammed finishers and kicked out a lot.
It was just another match, one that just so happened to be taking place with a gigantic cage surrounding it.
Ambrose and Rollins, meanwhile, genuinely created multiple big moments, playing on the emotions of the feud they've built to deliver big spots that had both physical and emotional meaning.
It was a gritty brawl, a perfect reflection of all the anguish this rivalry was built on. When Ambrose and Rollins met on top of the cage and just started wildly beating the hell out of each other like they were Don Frye and Yoshihiro Takayama taking each other's heads off back in PRIDE, it felt right.
It felt just.
That's the finish we were headed for too, as Ambrose, after a hard fought war, had Rollins set up to deliver the coup de grace.
And then, as if from nowhere, along came a spider.
It feels a lot like the idea here was to have Bray Wyatt rob us all of the payoff we had been aching for and our response to it would be to hate him for it. In theory, that sounds perfect, and no one can blame WWE for running with it.
After all, isn't Bray Wyatt vs. Dean Ambrose a dream feud, especially for the folks who may have take issue with such a finish?
The problem, ultimately, is there wasn't any transfer of heat. We're pissed, as they hoped we would be, but that anger didn't transfer to Wyatt, instead focusing on the decision makers at WWE. This happens a lot in pro wrestling in this day and age and while that's unfortunate, it's something the powers that be have to recognize and adjust to in order to keep up with the times.
I didn't mind the idea or the execution of it. But I would be lying if I said it doesn't feel bad to think that we may never get to see Ambrose defeat Rollins once and for all and bask in his moment of triumph.
We can feel relatively good about the future, but it's okay to lament what could have been and, now, may never be.
Grade: A- (It would have been an A+ with a clean finish, for the record.)
All the best to all the rest
John Cena vs. Randy Orton: As stated previously, this was a straight singles match that we've seen a million times between these two that just so happened to be taking place inside a cage. As expected, they attempted to make it this grand epic encounter between two of the greatest ever but the promo hyping that fact before the match was significantly better than the match itself. Plus, Cena won to set up yet another Brock Lesnar match and I'm not sure any free born human in the entire world wants to see that.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Cesaro: An outstanding opener that lived up to the somewhat lofty expectations created by a simple hype video released after SmackDown last week. Had they been given more time, this could have been a match we would remember for ages, but they absolutely did the most with what they were given to work with. And, hey, for all you Ziggler fans waiting for him to be booked strong, here you go! Enjoy!
Nikki Bella vs. Brie Bella: It's not at all surprising that these two had a much better match than anyone expected them to. That doesn't mean it was good, necessarily, because they weren't given much time, they never had the crowd with them, and there were a few too many mistakes, including multiple wardrobe malfunctions. There's potential for something great here and I still think a TLC match should blow this feud off, but let's be real: None of us are looking forward to the next 30 days of Nikki pouring drinks on Brie.
Gold & Stardust vs. The Usos: A match that happened. The Usos have this thing where you go into their match thinking "man, I'm tired of these two" and then they deliver a good match and change your mind all the way up until the next time you see them and think, yet again, "man, I'm tired of these two".
Sheamus vs. The Miz: To the surprise of literally no one, Damien Mizdow stole the show here, execpt he did so to such a degree he rendered the match and its result almost completely irrelevent. Do you remember who won? Do you even care? Aren't you kind of feeling like it doens't matter as long as Mizdow gets to keep doing his thing? The good news is they started planting seeds of dissension. And, hey, let's acknowledge that there have been no less than 100 times WWE could have totally ruined everything about this angle and they've done nothing but make it better and better.
Big Show vs. Rusev: I was wildly disappointed in this and felt like it deserved so much more time than it was given. You could tell they were on to something when the finish got some much heat from a crowd that was largely dead for most of the show. The right booking decision was made, however, and there's still so much potential in Rusev and Lana and their continued climb up the ladder.
AJ Lee vs. Paige: They were given the so-called death spot, going on just before the main event, but they did what they could. Still, we've seen this match. There was no way they would be booked to do anything other than what they've already done, so this was doomed from the start. Sure enough, it was a TV quality match stuck on a PPV. At least it appears the two will be branching off into other programs soon enough.
All told, this was a solid show. It was bland at times, downright boring at others, but there was also great wrestling and the main event delivered, even with the confounding finish.
Overall grade: B-
That's it from me, Cagesiders. Now it's your turn to sound off in the comments section below with all your thoughts on last night's show. How did you like it, if you liked it at all?
All photos via WWE.com.