Earlier today, one of my closest friends and blogger (hey check out WilliamBruceWest.com for more geeky fun!) asked me why everyone was upset about last night’s WWE Hell in a Cell show. The answer was too long for a text, but perfect for a blog post.
The main event featured Seth Rollins, WWE Universal champion. The Raw champion. Taking on the Fiend. In the Fiend’s second match. All of this inside the giant menacing inescapable Hell in a Cell. The match ended due to “referee stoppage”.
There was a lot that happened here. The Fiend is the new character portrayed by Bray Wyatt. Wyatt for the last few years has come out as a mythical supernatural evil character. A cult leader with some Cape Fear mixed in. He should have an aura around him like a new generation Undertaker. And at times he does. But through too many losses, and stories that didn’t go anywhere, he floundered. Which is a ridiculous thing to say of someone who held the tag titles, led a faction, and won the World title over a few years. So Bray went home for awhile to renew his character.
Bray Wyatt’s return is announced and to the shock of all wrestling fans he appears as a dark Mister Rogers. Puppets, smiles, bright colors. Fans were just about to crap all over this idea when the twist was revealed. All of this was a split personality. Bray is trying to keep the evil side, the Fiend, in check. All of his promos are pre recorded on screen as this “sunny” character. Then in the arena the lights go out, and the Fiend creates this panic of danger and the unknown. This led to the first match for the Fiend at August’s SummerSlam event. Fans chanted “that was awesome” after the match. Applauding the theater and performance of the Fiend character. From his entrance, music, lights, and then the actual wrestling. A star was born.
Wyatt gets the title shot a mere two months and zero televised matches later. He has been attacking Seth Rollins for weeks – both mentally on screen and physically in person. Seth has been cowering in fear and screaming in fright with every Fiend attack. Such a larger than life character can’t be pinned. Especially in his second match. So when it was announced that these two would face off inside Hell in a Cell, everyone expected a new champion.
Raw under siege by a supernatural champion. The Cell which means no disqualification, a winner must be decided. Even if Seth could no longer continue – that would result in a title change. The Fiend has to look strong as this new character with so much potential and promise. All logical and historic wrestling booking says given these circumstances and situations, the Fiend must win and be the new champion.
But that’s not what happened.
Seth attacked the Fiend with all sorts of weaponry. He hit numerous Curb Stomps, one of his devastating finishers and a move he used to defeat Brock Lesnar. The Fiend kept getting up. Like the best of horror movie icons, no matter what was thrown at him it wasn’t enough. When someone gets back up after your best shot, what more do you have? Seth hit the Fiend with a sledgehammer – and the referee stopped the match.
A match designed to be no DQ, to guarantee a winner, was stopped. And further more, it was stopped with neither man declared an official winner. Stopped by DQ for the second year in a row. This finish has many ripples.
One, if the plan is to have the Fiend look strong and not lose but also to keep the title on Seth Rollins, then the match should never have been made. A regular match in which the Fiend is disqualified for violence and the title stays on Seth would work. But as soon as the match was put in a Cell that is no longer an option.
Two, it makes an iconic gimmick look weak. The Cell is supposed to mean finality. Now for two years in a row, it doesn’t. What is the point of watching Hell in a Cell for a big blowoff to a feud when two years in a row that doesn’t happen? This same problem is happening with the Money in the Bank. When the briefcase is cashed in within a month of winning, win or lose, it diminishes the unpredictability of it.
Three, there is no where to go with the feud. This match is designed to be the end. When it’s not then a rematch without a cage, without a gimmick, is a step down.
Four, the main event of the night should be THE match. Even with one other Hell in a Cell match earlier in the evening, Seth and the Fiend should have blown it out. Instead, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks open the night in the Cell and have the match of the night.
Not that the women’s division is perfect. In another match last night the Women’s tag team champions – Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross were defeated by the Kabuki Warriors – Asuka and Kairi Sane. The women’s tag titles were created for the Bellas. Who for various reasons had to retire from in ring competition before the belts were active. The initial plan for the titles were gone and no new direction came to fruition. Asuka and Sane were also thrown together haphazardly under the concept of they’re both Japanese and have nothing else to do on the card. Throw in the terrible name Kabuki Warriors, then suddenly have Asuka spit the evil foreigner “classic” wrestling move – the green mist.
The night had too many moments out of touch with most fandom in 2019. When last night’s show culminates the biggest week in modern wrestling history, it ended with a thud and not a triumph.