Hell in a Cell is dead. It’s over. Done. Oh, it isn’t going away. The brand name still has juice in it and casuals are aware. But the awe of it – the anticipation – is fully dead. I truly believe that. This is the PPV that gave us Mankind flying off the Hell in a Cell through a table. It’s the PPV that gave us Shawn Michaels putting one of the best matches of his life vs The Undertaker. Even Shane jumping off the cell at that shitty Dallas Wrestlemania.
It’s a defining match that I would say is probably second to the Royal Rumble as a WWE staple and namesake. And this year’s ending was so fucking shitty that it may have ruined it forever.
In 2018, they pulled some bullshit. Brock came in, wrecked everyone, and the night ended. “No Contest”. That’s complete trash. This is Hell in a fucking Cell. The very point of the match being to end a feud definitively. And the match is a no-contest? Seriously? “Everyone got knocked down folks, pack it in, have a good night!”
“Sorry, they took a finishing move that they kick out of routinely. Match must be stopped.”
But we all sort of forgot this happened.
And then came 2019.
Fiends Don’t Let Friends Book Drunk
The Fiend is one of the few things WWE has done absolutely right, and to top it off, it’s for a man that WWE has done absolutely wrong by since his start. Bray Wyatt, a massively talented pro wrestler who was booked as a glorious Jobber To The Stars, finally was re-packaged and followed through on.
Everything about the “new” Bray Wyatt has been effective. He is booked as nearly unbeatable. His look is spot on. The lantern is creepy. And they took an already-great theme song and against-all-odds improved on it. Color “Cowboy” Bob impressed.
I even defend the red light! Is it slightly annoying? Of course. But it’s an attempt at something new, and I will never begrudge them for that. Also, it does create the “horror movie” feel they are going for. My only worry is that for the live crowd, it’s awful.
The match itself between Seth and The Fiend was pretty much exactly what it should have been. The match concept was fine. Seth hitting an obscene amount of Curb Stomps (15!) and having the Fiend kick out makes him like a Michael Myers style slasher killer that just won’t die. The story of The Fiend that seems to be building is that somebody is going to have to find the “weakness” to exploit to beat him.
This was subtly (subtle?? In WWE???) referred to in Fiend’s debut match against Finn Balor. At one point Bray weirdly starts grabbing his head, like the voices in his head are preventing him from continuing. I’m positive they will revisit that.
Fast forward to the end of this match, and this is where it goes off the rails. Seth covers Bray with a whole stack of bullshit. Then he takes a sledgehammer and hits Bray in the head with it. And the ref – calls for the bell?!
This is Hell in a Cell. This is the most brutal, devastating, unforgiving match that WWE has to offer. This is the match that nearly killed Mick Foley. That has left superstars like Triple H, Undertaker and Batista dripping in blood after. This is the most violent match that can possibly be booked. The very mention of it strikes fear in every wrestler’s eyes!
Buttttt – if you go a little too far, we’ll disqualify you! That’s right. This match that is supposed to be no rules whatsoever, the match where we will fight to the fucking death until there’s a winner — can suddenly be stopped if you step over the line!
Yes, this match. This match where Mick Foley was thrown 20 feet off the fucking cell through a table, then got back up, chokeslammed through the hell and nearly through the ring and kept going. That match suddenly has limits.
The entire fucking point of this match is that this is the end. We are having this match because there must be a definitive winner. Now, in 2018, there can be a no contest. And in 2019, the match has been stopped because some pussy ref found it to be too violent.
Why would we ever respect this match again? If you found out it was Brock vs Fiend next year in a Hell in a Cell, would you even care? I know I would think “what fucking bullshit copout will they come up with this time?”
There is no disqualification in a Hell in a Cell. Point blank. You can’t just make up fucking rules. It would be like if you were playing the Patriots in Foxboro and they declared “Hey guys for the 4th quarter the Patriots are allowed to use weapons now.” I mean, they might do that, but it would still ruin the integrity of the game. Rules are rules.
We trust you to adhere to your own rules and deliver the product you’ve promised.
The brand of Hell in a Cell, and by extension almost any other gimmick match, is tarnished. What a shame.
The initial criticsm of this match was on point as far as how shitty the ending was, but the idea that Bray or Seth were “ruined” by the match was idiotic.
“THE BOOKING WAS GETTING THEIR TOP BABYFACE BOOED OUT OF THE BUILDING AND DESTROYED SETH!!!”
Only a total mongoloid would not understand that The Fiend is the babyface here. His actions and dark scaryness do not matter. Do you seriously – SERIOUSLY – believe that WWE didn’t know the crowd would boo the living shit out of Seth giving Fiend 15 curb stomps and making it look like he would beat Bray? That’s what the boos were. The boos were a bunch of fat smarks incorrectly PRE-MATURELY booing a result that never came. They were booing a “SuperRollins” squashing their beloved Bray.
Besides that, The Fiend is incredibly cool. Rollins is a dork who was literally crying in the ring a week earlier. Who the fuck do you think they would cheer?
“THE FIEND WAS WWE’S HOTTEST ACT AND THE SHOW ENDED WITH THE CROWD BOOING HIM!!!”
They were booing WWE, not Bray. They were booing the shitty booking.
And this is WWE’s fault. If you don’t want to book the ending, don’t book the match.
At Saudi Arabia, WWE showed that it does learn from disasters like this.
First off, the week leading up, WWE was smart enough to not even put Seth and Bray out there at all, knowing that the rabid crowd would shit all over the product.
They put the re-match on in Saudi Arabia, and had the most hilarious “stipulation” of all-time. MATCH CANNOT BE STOPPED FOR ANY REASON.
Too funny. Might as well have done “THE FIEND VS BRAY WYATT: LOOK GUYS WE KNOW THAT THIS IS ALSO A VIOLENT MATCH STIPULATION IN WHICH A DISQUALIFICATION IS NOT POSSIBLE BUT WE PROMISE FOR REALZIES THIS TIME THAT WE WILL NOT MAKE UP RULES AS WE GO ALONG”.
The match followed a similar structure. Seth beat the living shit out of Bray and spammed finishers, and just when he thought the Fiend was done, he popped right up and snatched Seth, just like a psycho killer. However, in one of the more shocking results I’ve seen in quite a long time – The Fiend won. Clean as a whistle.
WWE, for once, took its hottest act and pulled the trigger. I honestly feel like this wasn’t the plan. I won’t pull a Dave Meltzer and pretend I have sources. I am guessing a character like The Fiend would be purposely kept away from the WWE title for quite a while. However, his victory almost seemed like a full on apology.
“Here’s your guy, fans. Here he is, and here is essentially the ending we should have booked last month.”
For a “Tone-Deaf” Company, They Sure Listen To You Often
Triple H, or as he’s cloyingly referred to by Reddit as “Hunter”, which is about 5 levels of retarded, once said about WWE: “It’s a daily focus group”. An amazing analogy.
They literally have a crowd, daily, YES-ing or booing everything they do. Sometimes they adjust accordingly, sometimes they just plow on through and do whatever they want. But most times? They apologize.
They do want to entertain the fans.
When Roman Reigns won the most atrociously booked Royal Rumble of all-time in 2015, we got the best ending to a Wrestlemania in history (the Rollins cash-in) to prevent the Super-Roman over Brock anti-ending.
When Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt both got sick the day before a PPV, we got the smark wet dream “Bullet Club” match of AJ Styles vs Finn Balor. The main event had a returning Kurt Angle in his hilarious “Okay boys, time to go to work” role as the 3rd Shield member, looking like a father taking his children to field day.
You didn’t like the Jinder championship reign? (You were wrong, but whatever) Here’s your hero AJ Styles to take it back!
You hated Daniel Bryan pushed out of the world title picture? Fine, fine, here’s the storybook ending of all-time.
My ultimate point is: nobody is perfect. How anybody in their right mind could think that WWE would book that “let’s-have-our-cake-and-eat-it-too” ending to Hell in a Cell and think the crowd would like it, I do not know. But they apologized, and they got it right.
Contrary to popular belief, they usually do.