This is a piece I never thought I'd be writing, but I can't help but take a side in the ongoing debate over the finish to Hell in a Cell. At the risk of angering my fellow wrestling fans, I will say it straight out: WWE made the right choice with the ending as presented. There a lot of small reasons why I support the decision, but for the sake of clarity, I'll give the main three. First and foremost, WWE needs to book for the long run, not for the immediate payoff. Second, a clean finish would have booked WWE into a nasty corner. Finally, as an author, sometimes you need to deny the audience the ending they want. I'll describe my reasons more in depth in a moment, but before I get into that, I'll give you a short summation of my background.
I work as a writer. I have been published in a some small publications and I have personally sifted through angry emails after I do something a fan doesn't like. In addition to my writing credentials, I did train for a bit as a pro wrestler, before recognizing a lack of skill and switching over to working as a manager, ring announcer, and helping out with bookings. I am a lifetime fan of pro wrestling (although I admit I am nowhere near a historian of the business as most people here). That being said, let's move on to the reasons.
1. Long term booking
WWE runs a lot of shows. They have RAW (3 hours), Smackdown (2 hours), Main Event (1 hour) and Superstars (1 hour) in addition to the house shows. Because of this, they have to keep an eye on the future (which is often uncertain). It doesn't help that the IWC often wants it both ways. We insist that wins and loses don't matter and thus, WWE can run whoever they want in any role, but let's be honest: If tomorrow Kofi Kingston or Zach Ryder were to beat Brock Lesner clean to win the title, we would be furious. We would riot because as of right now, those two aren't performing at the level of a champion. To casual fans, it can be even worse. Let's face it, WWE is geared towards the casual fans. Like it or not, they dictate the product, not us. Put simply, it matter a lot who wins the match and how.
Bringing this back to HIAC, WWE has set up the long term angle. Maybe I'm giving creative way too much credit, but it seems that by leaving the Rollins/Ambrose feud unfinished, WWE has left the door cracked to revisit in the future, while spinning us off to get ROllins/Orton and Wyatt/Ambrose. Indulge me for a moment, but we get three months of Wyatt/Ambrose, culminating in a match at Royal Rumble. In the meantime, Rollins dispatches Orton, and cashes in his contract to take the belt, leading to a great Amrose/Rollins grudge match for the title (Obviously this assumes creative doesn't stick us with yet another LolCenawins moment, which would not surprise me in the slightest).
WWE needs to book for the long haul and the outcomes of matches matter to most fans, so leaving this feud open is the right decision.
2. Booking into a corner
Working as a booker (even if it barely counts), taught me the danger of booking into a corner. A good booker should always have a couple of things in mind: Motivation, Goals and an Exit strategy. Every character should have a clear motivation (why they are doing things), goals (what they seek to gain through their actions) and an Exit Strategy (a way to get out of an angle should something unexpected come out). WWE is generally awful at all of the above, but with Rollins and Ambrose, they did a great job. Rollins' motivation is to succeed and prove himself the best of The Shield, accomplished through wheeling and dealing with The Authority and waiting to cash in. Ambrose's motivation to get revenge on Rollins and he accomplishes this by beating the hell out of him at every opportunity.
Had they given us a clean finish, what next? If Rollins wins the match clean, he has proven himself the better of he and Ambrose. He can go on to deal with Roman Reigns and prove he is the greatest of The Shield. If Seth Rollins wins in the cell, the feud is over. He's already beaten Ambrose in the Lumberjack Match, and he would have just topped him in the structure best designed to give Ambrose the advantage. Similarly, if Ambrose wins, the feud is just as over. He beat Rollins. He has his revenge. Where does he go? Maybe Ambrose cements his revenge with a curb-stomp into the cinder blocks (as he was attempting to do), but what then? He finished Rollins, so where does he go from here? He has no real motivation other than getting Seth Rollins. By interrupting the feud, Bray Wyatt has given Ambrose a new goal to complete before resetting his sights on his true enemy.
3. Crafting a Story
Sometimes a good author needs to deny the audience the ending they want. This is especially true in the middle of a series. Yes, WWE could have ended the event with a clean Ambrose victory and had Wyatt interrupt him as he sought to curb-stomp him into the cinder-blocks, but why would he (Wyatt) do that? Buy interfering at that point, he hasn't cost Ambrose anything except the satisfaction of destroying Seth Rollins. He had already won the match, so he really doesn't miss out on anything. Stopping Ambrose from killing Seth Rollins annoys him, but costing him the match will infuriate him.
Browsing through Twitter and comments here, a lot of people are insisting that WWE could have done the same thing on Raw tonight without losing anything from the story. Aside from the issue of a clean ending (as stated above), by ending as they did, it builds interest for tonight's show With a clean ending (and no Wyatt appearance), the big set up for tonight's show would be the John Cena victory speech (Hey, I bet he's coming to get Brock Lesner and he is all angry about it) and maybe tune in to see what Rollins or Ambrose has to say. Now, even people who didn't watch HIAC want to tune in to see the beginning of the new feud and get the explanation of why Wyatt put himself in the match. Like it or not, WWE has given us a reason to continue watching.
There are other reasons why I think this was a good decision of course, but these are the main points. On top of this, the mark inside me is very excited for Ambrose and Wyatt (and terrified that creative will somehow screw it up). At the end of the day, this is all entertainment and my life isn't affected one way or the other. Other people are welcome to disagree with me of course, and this being the internet, they will, but I still think WWE made the smart decision, the best decision and, most importantly, the right decision.