In this day and age you can’t just “predict” a PPV anymore, you have to to account for the capricious whims of WWE’s septuagenarian, sleep-deprived egomaniac owner. You can’t just “preview” a PPV…you have to Preview how things should go, in a reasonable and sane world, and then add “so of course…” and explain what Vince McMahon will probably do instead.
So consider this your SO OF COURSE preview of WWE’s Heck in a Sec!
(Undertaker hair not included)
Last time on SO OF COURSE, WWE ran the Night of Champions PPV which saw Seth Rollins defeat Sting to retain the WWE Championship. Seth has now held the title for over 200 days. If he can hang on till the Royal Rumble he’ll have the longest WWE Title reign by a first time champion since Diesel.
So that should tell you how meaningless that stat is.
As said, right now Seth is just over 200 days as champ, and it seems like a good possibility that he’ll hold the title until WrestleMania. And a Shield triple threat doesn’t seem too far fetched, especially since the trio just had a quasi-reunion on RAW in the same city that will host WrestleMania 32.
In the meantime we get to watch him dominate in the ring, solidifying himself as the undisputed top dog and absolute alpha male on the roster, so that when he finally does lose it will be an epic victory worthy of WrestleMania lore.
Which brings us to Hell in a Cell, WWE’s annual October themed PPV that really should be “Halloween Havoc brought to you by Snickers” but isn’t because WWE buys things we love just so they can make them disappear. There are two Hell in a Cell matches to enjoy this year, a rerererererererereematch between two members of very popular stables and a rerererematch between a legend and a part-timer. Not appearing in the cell is a match that I’m sure has been done before in a 1-on-1 setting but not in any major way, so it’s actually the freshest of the three major matchuoh wait it involves Kane so no one cares.
Actually, every single match on the card (including the preshow) has been done within the last two months. There isn’t a fresh matchup to be seen. Who’s excited?!
Let’s get to predictin’…
PRESHOW BRUHAHA: ZIGGLER, CESARO, NEVILLE vs RUSEV, SHEAMUS, BARRETT
In a match that has been done, in some combination or another, at least seventy five times in the past thirty days, a trio of wasted talents take on…hold on to your toilet seat here…a trio of wasted talents. And even though the preshow has a whole hour to kill, the actual wrestling portion will last no more than 8-10 minutes. So you get a match featuring Raw undercard talent, on the under-undercard to a show that will run about 20 minutes shorter than Raw, that you’ve already seen on Raw at least once in all the times you bothered to watch it live (as in, not on the condensed Hulu version). Aren’t you excited?
What should happen? A collective revolt, featuring knives, pitchforks, an old fashioned torch, and lots of chanting in a cadence. What’s more shameful, that these six guys each have tremendous skills to offer but are instead bunched together because creative can’t be bothered to do anything forward-moving with them, or the fact that the match features five guys (and Sheamus) that all managed to get over on their own despite the fact that the head man himself has no desire to push them because he refuses to see that they can get over? Bonus shame: Cesaro should be main-eventing right now, not slumming it on the preshow. It’s too bad they don’t have a show like Smackdown where these under-appreciated guys could go and exclusively have their own show to work on…a show where Vince didn’t care what happened so he left it to talented and creative people to run it while he continued to fart the ratings on Monday night away. Oh well
What should really happen? Sheamus has the briefcase. In any sane world he’s the guy you want to protect because he’s almost guaranteed to be a future world champ. Him leading his team to victory sure makes a lot of sense. …
SO OF COURSE…
HELL IN A CELL MATCH: BRAY WYATT vs ROMAN REIGNS
WWE loves to bookend their PPVs with gimmick matches like this so expect the first of the two Cell contests to kick off the main show. On the one hand you’ve got Bray Wyatt who just started to find his groove again, thanks to the addition of Braun Strowman (which sounds like a man’s cologne my dad used to wear). On the other hand you’ve got Roman Reigns who had finally shaken off the fan resentment that was on him in the run up to Mania 31. So naturally they have had Reigns cut long, meandering promos recapping the storied history of the Shield vs Wyatts feud. A history we all know and don’t need repeated to us but Vince thinks we’re all babies with attention spans as short as a goldfish so he keeps sending fragile superstars out there to be shattered by annoyed fans who paid a lot of money to watch wrestling that matters not promos that don’t. Whew.
What should happen? Since it’s hard to top Hell in a Cell as a place to end feuds, this really should be the end of the Wyatt vs Reigns feud that has been active for several months now. In that case the babyface goes over, both guys reset the next night and we move on to something fresh. This being WWE in 2015 that means we reset about three months too late for fans to care, but we reset nonetheless. On the other hand you can always shake things up and have Dean Ambrose turn on Roman, join the Wyatts and have he and Reigns feud through to the Rumble. But this being WWE they’d just go ahead and feud all the way to Mania, well past the point of caring. Either way, the specific Reigns vs Wyatt feud needs to end.
SO OF COURSE…
HECK IN A SEC MATCH: KEVIN OWENS vs RYBACK
Kevin Owens is the new CM Punk. He’s the first guy to come along with the same bravado in his mic work, refreshing in ring work and a different enough look to make new viewers wonder what the big deal is. When you see him you are impressed. When you hear him you are very impressed. He’s made the transition from indies to NXT to the main roster probably better than anyone ever, and the fact that he’s one of Triple H’s golden boys (something Punk definitely was not) is just an added bonus.
So of course Vince “doesn’t get” him. He doesn’t fit Vince’s mold for what a top superstar should look like. Eh hem…
Nevertheless, despite lukewarm support, Owens is hanging around. He’s not gone the way of Fandango or even the way of Neville. He’s got a title, even if it is the accursed IC belt, and he’s (hopefully) soon to wrap up a feud with Ryback (who is just the kind of meathead Vince adores).
What should happen? Owens should wrestle in a bicycle helmet. I mean he’s gone this far in a feud with Ryback, how much more can a guy push his luck before he gets injured? It’s bound to happen eventually. Not to mention the fact that he’s the IC Champ in a feud with Ryback. That’s just taunting the wrestling gods to throw an injury your way. Get out of the match safely and get as far away from Ryback as you can starting Monday night.
What should really happen? Basically that, minus the helmet. Ryback has no business winning the title back. He just lost it and it’s not like he set the world on fire with it, nor did he gain any momentum in his quest to reclaim it. Owens needs to win and move on to someone he can work that can put on show stealing PPV matches. In between he needs to pull a Cena and have show stealing Raw matches every week, to give the fans who are ready to quit watching something to tune in for. That would require Vince to see the full potential in Owens though, so I’m not holding my breath. At the very least though, Owens can at least work to rehab the IC title.
SO OF COURSE…
HECK IN A SEC MATCH: NEW DAY vs DUDLEY BOYZ
AWWWW SO OF COURSE READERS! DON’T YOU DARE BE SOUR! SCROLL YOU MOUSE WHEEL, TO READ ABOUT THE ONE THING KEEPING YOU TUNED IN TO WWE TV EVERY WEEK, AND FEEEEEL THE POWER!
I mean what can you say about New Day? They are the most singularly, consistently entertaining act in WWE. When you can say about an act “they would have been big in the Attitude Era” you know they’ve got something going on. Never forget that this team started out as a gospel singing, shucking and jiving babyface group. They only turned heel because the crowd’s inability to care about them butted heads with Vince’s inability to stop putting them on TV so much. Eventually the fans got sick of them and started chanting against them, at which point lightbulbs went off in all the right heads and the team because the self-aware villainous, arrogant, booty-talking heel faction we love today.
Here, I’ve traced their history in a handy chart…
Now they are feuding with one of the greatest tag teams in WWE history. What should happen here? As much as WWE has made about their being one win away from a record TEN tag titles, you know it’s only a matter of time before they win it. The Madison Square Garden special show looked like a good place to do it, but instead the Dudley’s lost. They did put Xavier Woods through a table, which satisfied the crowd, but that’s not a card they can play again. The time seems right for the Dudley’s to win the belt. But that’s okay as the New Day aren’t going to lose their popularity anytime soon. They can always feud with someone else while the Dudleys have their brief fun in the sun. As long as New Day continue to anchor the most entertaining segment of Raw each week, I’m fine.
SO OF COURSE…
HECK IN A SEC MATCH: CHARLOTTE vs NIKKI BELLA
So how is the Hashtag Divas Revolution going for everyone else? Cause to me it sure seems like the same old Divas stuff, only they get TWO segments per show instead of one. There’s still the same nonsense illogic, the same lack of proper storylines, the same general apathy from the commentary booth. It’s the same nothingburger we’ve had for years now, only with two segments instead of one.
WWE Creative’s biggest problem lately is getting in a rut and not being able to get out of it. It’s why we had Kane and Big Show dominating the late Spring. It’s why Reigns and Wyatt have been feuding since the late Spring. It’s why the Bellas have been the focus of the entire divas division since…yup, late spring. Somehow, WWE Creative has it in their brains that the Bellas are the John Cena of the divas division; they are the undisputed top draw and everything has to flow through them. Is it Total Divas? Is that why they get pushed so much? Because they are average workers (I’d say Nikki is above average, and Brie is bottom-tier, so that balances out), with below average mic skills. But they are apparently so important that they will change allegiances whenever it suits their needs. If they need to heel it up to be the center of attention they will be the bad guys. When they need to be the babyfaces in peril, they’ll do it, despite the fact that the crowd typically either boo them because they are sick of them or just sit on their hands and wait for them to go away, or just chant “we want Sasha!” hoping against hope that Vince will actually give the paying customers what they want for a change. They aren’t talented, don’t make for good tv, offer nothing to the division now that AJ’s record has been bested. They are a waste of space and need to shuffle back down the card if not go away all together.
SO OF COUR–no wait, not done yet.
What should happen in this match? The crowd should alternate between chanting “We want Sasha!” and “Nikki sucks!” endlessly. I don’t care if the end game is Nikki breaking down and weeping and eventually quitting the business to go manage a Cinnabon in Omaha. Just get off my TV.
And stop bringing Sasha out to Naomi’s music. Sasha’s is far superior. That lady needs to be pulling up in a limo with her entourage, not skipping out alongside Noami and…the other one in the team. I honestly can’t even remember.
What should really happen? Charlotte should make quick work of Nikki. Five minutes. Win with a rollup for all I care. Just end this feud and give us something else. No more stupid teams. No more wishy-washy face/heel dynamics. Just book the ladies like the men. On second thought scratch that last one. The way WWE books the men sucks too. Just book everything like NXT. There. Do that.
SO OF COURSE…
HECK IN A SEC MATCH: JOHN CENA vs MYSTERY OPPONENT
Rumors have been swirling for some time now that John Cena is due to take a little time off. His WWE house show schedule is pretty much clear for the foreseeable future and he really hasn’t had a consistent feud since August. He’s been winding down on TV with a lot more tag matches and light stuff. So what’s the deal? Is he pulling a Hogan? Hogan used to bail on Nitro when their ratings took a dip and then he’d come back right as they started to tick up again. I don’t think that’s what’s going on; I think it’s more that Cena is at the point in his career where he needs a couple months here and there to recover. He’s not the young man he was a decade ago when he first broke out into the main event. He also was not given the time to properly heal his nose that Seth Rollins gloriously crushed. So it’s probably a bunch of little things working together to make the face that runs the place take some time off. I expect him to be back by Christmas, and if not then, certainly by the Rumble.
In the meantime we have the US title to worry about. Apart from one nonsensical month when Seth Rollins carried it, the US title has been Cena’s prized possession since WrestleMania. He has managed to turn it from a joke of a title (the European Championship of its era) to a belt with as much prestige as the World title. Part of that is due to how horrible the WWE Champ has been booked, but still. With Cena set to leave the time seems right for him to drop the belt and return in a few months with a fresh opponent.
Adding intrigue to the match is the fact that the opponent is unknown. They haven’t played up the “mystery” aspect of it, since all of his US Open Challenges have been surprises, even when the actual competitors are just Stardust and Dolph Ziggler. But still, this one feels different because it’s the first time the US Open Challenge comes to PPV. So who will it be? What should happen?
Here’s what needs to happen. Cesaro should win in the pre show (forget what I said earlier) and challenge Cena for the US title. After twenty minutes, Cena puts the Swiss Superman over, and Cesaro gets a chance to continue what Cena did for the US belt: Put on great 15-20 minute matches with a variety of guys every Monday night. If Vince doesn’t think he’s marketable enough because “he’s Swiss” then the least he can do is let the guy turn loose in the ring. If not Cesaro there are plenty of guys who can be workhorses on a weekly basis. They just need the opportunity. Heck, Tyler Breeze just got called up. Why not give him a proper PPV introduction and a surprise title win? Someone. Anyone. A healthy Daniel Bryan would be bananas. If not, there’s a whole roster of incredibly talented guys. Just pick one!
SO OF COURSE
HECK IN A SEC MATCH: SETH ROLLINS vs KANE
My gosh. We’re really doing this. No one is going to come to their senses? We didn’t learn anything from Daniel Bryan’s one and only PPV title defense? We’re just going to stick our fingers in our ears and send Kane on down there to compete for the World Title? Okay.
What should happen?
Uh, how about we steal a DeLorean and travel back to one month ago and not do this feud. What a poor excuse for a title reign Seth Rollins has had. He went from beating Randy Orton to sort of beating Dean Ambrose to not really beating John Cena to basically losing to Sting to…whatever this is with Kane. I have no doubt Rollins will win, but what’s the point of any of it? Is Vince just not aware of how much talent he is sitting on? Is he so out of touch that he really thinks fans are “into” the Demon Kane vs Korporate Kane saga? Is this like Aunt Bea’s pickles? Does everyone realize how much it sucks but him?
What’s sad is Vince and co. probably think Rollins is out of viable challengers, but even if that’s true it’s only because the mountain of talent the WWE has is stuck on the undercard and hasn’t been given the chance to spread their wings. WWE is stuck with two or three main eventers and twenty midcarders; that’s a bad situation to be in, especially without a top babyface to anchor the show’s main event week in and week out. There’s no Austin circa 1998 or Rock circa 2000. Cena isn’t the guy anymore; he hasn’t even been a main event staple in over a year. Seth needs some new blood to feud over, and more importantly he needs to get away from Kane.
So what should happen? Rollins wins, teams with the Authority at Survivor Series against a quartet of babyfaces, and then takes them on one and a time into the new year. By then he’ll be set for his WrestleMania match and maybe will have rehabbed his image enough to make his title defense something worth caring about. Because right now he’s in worse shape than The Miz was when he was champ.
By the way, this match has a stipulation that says if Demon Kane loses, Korporate Kane is fired. That’s good at least. It guarantees we won’t be seeing Kane for a while.
SO OF COURSE…
HELL IN A CELL MATCH: BROCK LESNAR vs UNDERTAKER
Can someone explain who is the babyface and who is the heel here? Way back in 2014 Brock Lesnar (via Paul Heyman) announced that he wanted a title match, instead the Undertaker returned to challenge him to a match. Mind you, Taker challenged Brock. He also stabbed Brock’s hand with a pen, and chokeslammed him through a table. Clearly the dead man was the aggressor. At WrestleMania 30, Brock Lesnar answered Taker’s challenge and beat him 1-2-3, ending the streak. Fans were devastated, but hey, Lesnar was challenged and Lesnar lived up to his promise to win. Fast forward to 2015, Lesnar is the vengeance-seeking babyface looking to defeat Rollins and regain his title, when suddenly Undertaker returns and kicks him in the gonads. Lesnar loses his chance to be WWE Champion again. At that, the rematch between Lesnar and Taker is set. Again, Taker is the aggressor here. At SummerSlam the ref is distracted by a bell-ringer screwup and Taker lowblows Lesnar and cheats to win the rematch. So Undertaker is the heel right?
Now here we are a couple months later and for no reason other than the need to secure Network subscriptions we are doing one of those matches where WWE says “this is the final chapter,” meaning we won’t see it happen for at least a year or two. Not that such a promise matters, since this is now the third time in less than two years we’ve seen this match, and neither of the previous ones have been great. In the buildup to this you have Undertaker saying that Lesnar took his streak from him and that he wants payback. Nevermind I guess that Taker was the one to challenge Brock and put his streak on the line. What did he expect, for Lesnar to lay down? Meanwhile Lesnar is suddenly acting like a cowardly heel, teasing a fight on Raw before backing down. The whole dynamic of the fight is messed up because you’ve got the legend we want to cheer for acting like a heel but talking like a babyface, and you’ve got the part-timer fans were really getting into cheering for suddenly acting like a heel and talking like a vengeance-seeking babyface. The fans meanwhile are torn, and aren’t being given a clear storyline reason for who to cheer and who to boo.
It’s a mess.
What should happen? Who the heck knows. It’s a match between two part-timers. There isn’t a title on the line. What are the stakes here? How does this match even matter? Am I supposed to root for Taker to get the decisive win over Lesnar? I might if this was at WrestleMania. That would at least be poetic. Why should I cheer for him to win now when he cheated to win last time? Should I cheer for Lesnar? Why? Because he’s putting down the old dog who foolishly rose up to challenge him? Where’s the fun in seeing Old Yeller go down?
Something’s going to happen because there’s no way we’re getting a clean finish for either guy this close to WrestleMania. I’m just going to cheer for the Rock who totally isn’t going to return to set up a Lesnar match.
SO OF COURSE
Oh well. There’s always NXT.
Here’s to Sunday.