Sunday, October 9, 2011

WWE Hell in a Cell 2011

WWE Hell in a Cell 2011
October 2nd, 2011
New Orleans Arena, New Orleans, Louisiana
Attendance: Unknown at this time

"John Cena Goes to Hell"

So here we are at the next WWE PPV, only 3 weeks after the last one. That doesn't seem like very much time to build up a show based around the Hell in a Cell match, which has a reputation as a "feud ender" in the company, but the build actually wasn't half bad for the short time they had and the show doesn't look terrible on paper, so I'm feeling somewhat optimistic about tonight's festivities. Oh and how weird is that tagline? That's the WWE's official tagline for this show, not mine. Sounds like a parody of the ninth Friday the 13th film. Anyways, let's get down to it shall we?

Your hosts are Jim Ross, Michael Cole, and Booker T

Sheamus vs. Christian

The King is out tonight due to the kayfabe injury from Mark Henry, so JR sits in. The Miz and R-Truth, recently kayfabe fired, come down to ringside having bought tickets to the show apparently. Immediately Johnny Ace comes down with security to kick them out to some mild boos. Anyways, onto the match at hand. Christian is hesitant to lock up with Sheamus to start, and Sheamus over-powers him when they do. A big lariat from Sheamus, and Christian high-tails it out of the ring, baiting Sheamus back into the ring and smacking him in the face when he does. Sheamus grabs a hold of him anyways and just lays in the vicious hammer-fists into Christian's chest as he's trapped between the top two ropes (the fans even count along, as they're very into Sheamus tonight). Sheamus catches Christian off the top rope and tosses him aside with a big fallaway slam, but when he tries to follow up with a top rope maneuver, Christian sends him flying face-first onto the guard barrier at ringside. Christian nails him with a flying back elbow off the top rope back inside the ring and then tries for a sleeper, but Sheamus slams out of it. Christian lays in some vicious punches, knees, and kicks to Sheamus' face and draws some great heat from the crowd when he raises his hands in pseudo-triumph moments later. A missile dropkick doesn't even get him a two count on the big Irishman though, as Sheamus finds his second wind suddenly and cleans house on Christian with bit lariats. Sheamus fights off a Killswitch attempt from Christian, but gets his neck rung over the top rope moments later in a nasty moment. Christian leaps off the turnbuckle right into a great sidewalk slam backbreaker, but still kicks out. Christian lures Sheamus into the corner and hits him with a big kick and a tornado DDT. Christian still can't capitalize though, as Sheamus seems to have an answer for all of his usual tricks, until Christian hits him with a spear outside of the ring that nearly gets Sheamus counted out. Back in the ring he spears him again, but Sheamus kicks out! Christian misses a huge splash off the top rope and both men trade attempts at their respective finishing moves until Sheamus catches Christian off the ropes with the Brogue Kick, and that's enough to put the veteran away at 13:33. Great way to open the show with two of Smackdown's best, the fans are red hot for Sheamus these days and Christian is having the best year of his singles career, so this was an intense opener full of great counters and exchanges. Pretty much the definition of a "hot opener" that does just enough without going overboard and leaving room for later matches to shine. ***1/4

Backstage Matt Striker tries to get an interview with Mark Henry, but Henry cuts him off immediately and simply tells us that Randy Orton is going to join the Hall of Pain. Where exactly is this Hall of Pain?

Sin Cara vs. Dark Sin Cara

For the purposes of this review, I'll refer to the original Sin Cara portrayed by Mistico as "Sin Cara", and the heel Sin Cara portrayed by Huncio/Mystico as "Dark Cara". Dark Cara has his new own darker remix of the original Sin Cara song to go along with a new video and outfit. Dark Cara tries a Mexican surfboard to start out but Sin Cara quickly escapes it and they go into some routine opening lucha wristlock/armdrag exchanges. Each Cara shows off their acrobatic ability early with lots of flipping counters and reversals while running the ropes. Both men trade flying headscissors and the crowd is actually alive and into things now. Big springboard hurricanrana from Sin Cara and then both Cara's trade armdrags until Dark Cara gets sent to the floor. Sin Cara wipes him out with a beautiful somersault senton over the top rope and to the floor and then they try for a big Asai moonsault reversal spot, but Dark Cara isn't positioned correctly and it comes off looking awful and Sin Cara has to sell for thin air where Dark Cara's boots should have been. Dark Cara hits the Eddie tope con hilo back in the ring for a near fall. Sin Cara tries for a handspring back elbow but Dark Cara counters with a dropkick. Sin Cara gets knocked to the floor again and Dark Cara gets his turn to fly and he wipes out Sin Cara with a big tope. Back in the ring a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker gets Dark Cara a two count. Booker wants to call Dark Cara "Sin Cara negro". In the immortal words of Chef, I'm not touchin' that one with a twenty foot pole. Dark Cara bails out of the ring for a breather so Sin Cara takes him out with a huge cross-body off the top rope. Back in the ring both men trade counters again until Sin Cara reverses a powerbomb attempt by Dark Cara into a sunset flip powerbomb of his own to pick up the win at 9:45. There were a few hiccups and the crowd grew impatient, but this was far better than the botch-tastic disaster most people had predicted it to be. The important thing is that they worked a totally lucha match out there in front of an American WWE audience, and atleast for a good chunk of the match they were into the action. That's a promising sign for the future. Pretty good match, but I think they've got a much better one in them if they slow down and pick their spots better. **3/4

Backstage CM Punk is taping up his wrists in preparation for the triple threat title match later tonight when David Otunga, in his best bow tie and college sweater, walks up witha thermos of coffee and asks to talk to Punk. Otunga mocks Punk initially and then tries to reach out to him under the guise of representing him fairly as a lawyer along with the rest of the locker room, but Punk refuses, telling him he has his own voice. He tidies up David's bow-tie sneeringly and tells him to vanish. Right on Punk, fight the power!

WWE Tag Team Title Match
Air Boom (Kofi Kingston/Evan Bourne)
© vs. Dolph Ziggler/Jack Swagger

Bit of a late addition to the card, but these four work well together so it should be solid. Vickie comes out to introduce the heels to garner some heat and we're off. How cute, Kofi and Evan have matching blue trunks now. They become more and more like a classic 80s WWF babyface tag team every day. Swagger and Kofi start off with Swagger matching his power game against Kofi's speed and agility. Bourne is tagged in quickly and hits a neat double-stomp on Swagger's chest while Kofi holds him over the top rope for a near fall. Ziggles tags in but Evan kicks his legs out from under him and tags Kofi back in for some Hardy Boyz-lite double team fun. Lots of quick tags from the babyfaces here with unique high-flying double team moves to fire the crowd up. Both teams switch roles and the heels work the double-team isolation formula for a bit on Bourne, which fires the crowd up nicely for the hot-ish tag to Kofi. Swagger low-bridges him when he tries to run the ropes behind the ref's back though and momentum swings firmly back in favor of the heels. Cole goes into heel mode, harping on about Triple H's failures as COO on commentary while the heels continue the isolating beat-down on Kofi, building up heat for the finish. Finally Kofi gets the hot tag to Bourne, who cleans house on the heels with his usual high-flying antics. A pair of shotgun knees off the top rope onto Dolph nearly wins it for Bourne, but he kicks out. Bourne counters the fame-asser attempt into a standing moonsault, but he turns around right into the Ankle Lock from Swagger. Kofi breaks up the ankle lock, but eats an STO from Dolph. Total chaos here in the finish with all four guys bouncing around, trading high impact moves in an exciting fashion. Swagger tries a top-rope powerbomb on Bourne, but he counters with a frankensteiner and rolls Swagger up for the three count to retain the titles at 11:00. Fun formula tag stuff here from these four, the action was hot, the pace was frenetic, and the whole thing just flew by but I couldn't help but shake the feeling that I could have seen this match for free on an episode of RAW or Smackdown. Really solid, but just a hair away from being exceptional. **3/4

World Heavyweight Title Hell in a Cell Match
Mark Henry © vs. Randy Orton

I know the WWE is hell bent on having two HIAC matches on this PPV, but did this match right here really warrant a feud-ender like the Cell after a three week long feud? I expect this match won't even leave the Cell, as they'll likely save those spots for the main event. Orton is hot to start, escaping Henry's power early and sending him face-first into the cell on the outside floor. Henry blocks an early second-rope DDT attempt from Orton and both men jockey for position around the steel post outside until Henry catches Orton off the apron in a bear-hug and slams him into the cell wall. A Davey Boy-esque running powerslam nets Henry a two count back in the ring. Once again the action spills to the floor, where Henry gives Randy another running power-slam. Henry dismantles the ring steps and then launches the top steps like a lawn-dart halfway across the ring at Randy, but Orton moves at the last moment and the steps smash into the cell wall instead. It's been said to death, but good God all-mighty Mark Henry is a powerful sumbitch to have been able to just casually launch those steps like that. Back in the ring Orton tries to start up his comeback routine, but Henry cuts him off quickly and gives him a running splash for a close two count. Henry wears him down some more with a bear hug before slamming him into the corner and simply standing on his chest. Back on the floor Henry tries the World's Strongest Slam on the steel steps, but Orton counters out by scaling the Cell briefly before planting Henry face first into the steel steps with a DDT. Henry lumbers up after about two seconds though, practically no selling it so Orton tosses him face-first into the steel ring post a few times and then tosses him back into the ring where he hits him with an Austin-like Lou Thesz press. Orton starts firing up, preparing for his Viper routine and bringing the crowd alive as he always does as he manages to deliver the second-rope DDT to Henry. He sets Henry up and hits him with the RKO, but Henry kicks out at two! How often do you see that? Answer: not very. Orton sets Henry up for the punt, but Henry shoots back up to his feet when he tries it and delivers the World's Strongest Slam to pin Orton totally clean for a second time at 15:54. This was a lot better than it may have looked on paper and Henry comes out of it looking like the biggest monster heel champion in many years, but judging if we're this as a "Hell in a Cell" match (and we are), this fell a bit flat. Certainly a solidly worked contest with some good psychology and heat, but this is another case of a match that totally did not need or require the Cell in any shape, way, or form. Kudos to the WWE for not pulling the rug out from under Henry though, this match puts his title reign over huge now and solidifies him as the unquestionable top heel in the company right now, discounting Johnny Ace I guess. **3/4

After the match, the Cell raises up but Henry continues the beat down with another slam. He tries for a Vader Bomb onto Orton's leg with a steel chair wrapped around it, but Orton moves, waffles Henry over the back with the chair, and chases him up the aisle, slamming him with the steel chair several times in the process. JR throws in some vintage "Good God all mighty!" lines in his trademark yelp and I'm flashing back to 1998 all of a sudden. Man I don't care how old Jim Ross is, he'll always be the best commentator in the business until the day he dies. Henry scurries off like a coward, leaving Orton behind to regain a bit of his heat back (not that he actually needed to though).

Backstage Josh Matthews, with an inordinate amount of hair gel, is with Alberto Del Rio (gel-less). He asks him how he's prepared for his first Hell in a Cell match, and Del Rio responds with an anecdote about how when an animal is trapped it fights the hardest before making the usual promise to win the belt tonight.

In the ring Cody Rhodes is out next unannounced to mouth off to the fans a bit before unveiling a new Intercontinental title belt under the old vintage design of the original title in the mid 80s to early 90s, which garners a big pop from the crowd and looks great in Cody's arms. Unfortunately for him though John Laruinaitis makes his way out and interrupts him to inform him that he's going to have to defend that very title tonight, right now, against John Morrison. Bonus round!

WWE Intercontinental Title Match
Cody Rhodes
© vs. John Morrison

So I guess this is your unannounced "bonus" match of the evening, and a pretty good looking one on paper at least. Rhodes nearly gets rolled up at the bell as he's in street clothes still against Morrison in full gear. Michael Cole freaks out on commentary of course, which is kind of amusing because it gives JR the chance to say "Not the Gucci shoes!". Morrison nails Cody with a baseball slide dropkick outside of the ring as Cody's dress shirt is tossed into the crowd. Rhodes looks to walk out on the match and lose by count-out, but Morrison brings him back to ringside, where he latches onto the steel turnbuckle like a hippy protestor latching onto a dying tree, apparently in some form of protest over this match. As is the case with hippies latching onto trees though, all it takes is a good swift kick to the face by Morrison to get him detached. Cody gets a cheap shot back in the ring and wears JoMo down with a keylock of sorts. He switches to a Figure Four, but Morrison gets the rope break quickly. Morrison fires up with elbows on Rhodes in the corner, followed by a standing C4 suplex (Spanish Fly) that Rhodes manages to kick out of. Rhodes blocks the Starship Pain attempt by JoMo and avoids a springboard kick long enough to be able to roll Morrison up for the anti-climactic win at 7:23. Just a filler match to kill some time and honestly not a very engaging one at that. You'd expect a bit more excitement out of a quick match between these two, but this was just dull. *3/4

WWE Diva's Title Match
Kelly Kelly
© vs. Beth Phoenix

Beth is of course accompanied by her partner in crime Natalya while Kelly is accompanied by Eve Torres, who looks a bit different. New hair-style maybe? Kelly plays the spark-plug to start like she always does, firing off a few of her usual spots or atleast attempting them before Beth breaks it up and drives a series of elbow's into Kelly's chest. From here Beth just goes to town on Kelly, driving her down with a backbreaker and then a slingshot suplex. The beatdown continues until Kelly is able to snap off a neckbreaker and attempt to mount a come-back. The ladies trade roll-ups and Kelly tries for a backslide, but Beth overpowers her with huge elbows. Kelly lays in some half-assed turnbuckle shots followed by a handspring back elbow in the corner. She gives Beth a hair-pull bulldog from the top rope, but Beth kicks out. Eve and Natalya get into it at ringside while Beth counters out of a headscissors attempt into the sharpshooter variation that Nattie has been using in recent weeks. Natalya grabs a mic so we can all hear Kelly screaming, then she bashes Kelly over the head with it behind the ref's back. Beth gives her a Glam Slam, and we've got a new champion at 8:28. Well, they tried to work a decent match there but Kelly was sloppy through-out and this wound up deteriorating rather quickly into a bit of a mess. Crowd wasn't totally dead for once though. *3/4

WWE Title Triple Threat Hell in a Cell Match
John Cena
© vs. CM Punk vs. Alberto Del Rio

This better be one heck of a match, because this show has been completely mediocre since the opening match ended. Big reactions for Punk and Cena (the usual mix of positive and negative), but the crowd doesn't seem to care much about Del Rio either way unfortunately. Punk and Cena are both playing the babyface roles here though to start with each man ganging up on Del Rio in the corner, giving their respective fan sets the opportunity to cheer and boo accordingly until Punk tries a sneaky roll up on Cena for barely a one count. Punk and Cena both tease going for their finisher's on one another but neither man hits. Del Rio and Cena battle to the floor and Punk wipes them both out with a tope suicida against the cell wall. Punk gets tossed into the cell next by Del Rio like a lawn-dart before he and Cena hit the ring for a hot segment. Del Rio grabs a steel chair that Punk briefly toyed with earlier and sets it up in the corner. Cena hits the Five Knuckle shuffle on Del Rio and goes for the AA, but Del Rio escapes and tries for his flying armbar finisher. Punk breaks that up though and then gives both men a sick double neckbreaker/DDT combo simultaneously for a pair of rapid near falls. Punk's got a bit of blood on his back as he pulls out a table from underneath the ring and sets it up at ringside while Booker T has perhaps the line of the night, asking Cole casually if he's ever been to prison which sets Cole off into one of his usual hissy-fits. Punk hits a running knee on Cena on the apron and looks to bulldog him through the table at ringside, but Cena just tosses him off face-first into the cell wall instead. Del Rio grabs Cena though and gives him a back-suplex onto the set up steel chair back in the ring, which crumples underneath Cena's spine nastily. Cena recovers and looks for a top rope move, but Punk tosses him down to the floor and then delivers a quick Russian leg-sweep to Del Rio for a two count. Falcon Arrow gets Punk another two count (haven't seen that one in a WWE ring in awhile). Del Rio retorts with a pestering side-headlock, but Cena appears out of nowhere off the top rope and leg-drops both men! Both men kick out however, so Cena tries for the AA on Del Rio but he counters into a big lung-blower before eating a Yakuza kick from Punk, who is then promptly destroyed by a lariat from Cena moments later. Great little segment there. Punk and Cena trade blows and Punk goes for the GTS, but Del Rio breaks it up with a chair and waffles both men wih big chair shots over their backs. In an interesting spot Del Rio throws Punk on top of Cena with a steel chair sandwiched in between them on the mat and then delivers a huge Dick Togo-like back senton splash off the top rope onto both men. Well that was creative, even if technically the ref should have been counting Cena's shoulders down since Punk was clearly pinning him technically. After another set of near falls Del Rio gets tossed out of the ring by Punk, who then turns around right into the Attitude Adjustment from Cena that Del Rio still manages to break up. Del Rio tries for the cross armbar but Punk slingshots himself into the ring with a big tope con hilo onto both men, breaking the submission attempt up. Punk nails Cena with the GTS, but again Del Rio breaks the pin up and then tosses Punk into the stairs at ringside. Punk beats Del Rio down a bit and then nails him with a picture perfect Macho Man-esque top rope elbow drop, but Del Rio still kicks out. Cena hits the ring and goes for the Five Knuckle Shuffle on Punk, but Punk nails him in the skull with a kick and ascends to the top rope once again. This time Del Rio shoves him off though and Punk flies through the forgotten table set up at ringside! Cena quickly locks the STFU onto Del Rio, which sends Ricardo Rodriguez at ringside into a panic. He steals the keys from the ref outside the ring and opens the cage door to try and interfere, but eats an AA from Cena. Del Rio grabs a lead pipe from Ricardo and nails Cena in the chest with it, then he tosses Cena out of the Cell and locks it. He drags Punk's carcass from the shattered table and gives him a huge German suplex back in the ring, but Punk still manages to kick out. Stiff step-up enziguri from Del Rio, but Punk catches his second wind and starts laying out Del Rio with various kicks and knee-strikes, followed by a bulldog. Cena watches on helplessly from outside the cell as Del Rio gets a cheap shot in and then manages to crush Punk's chest with the lead pipe once again and pin him to pick up his second WWE title at 24:08. Once again, if I were to grade this as Hell in a Cell match, this wasn't very good as the cell was barely used and only came into play psychologically with the finish of having Cena locked out. Still though, these three worked their tails off to deliver a quality main event and this wound up being an excellent triple threat match in and of itself with a few nifty spots thrown in. I'll be generous because this was flat out fun while it lasted, and go with ***3/4

After the match two men in masks jump into the ring once the Cell has been raised, and they jump everyone in the ring including the officials. Both men rip of the masks to reveal themselves as The Miz and R-Truth, to no one's surprise. The Cell lowers again and the entire locker room empties out to try and open the cell as Miz and R-Truth continue to assault the officials, camera-men, and wrestlers inside of the cell. Finally some cops show up and break into the ring with bolt cutters as JR gets a chance to do some trademark shouting at the top of his lungs, making all of us nostalgia like it's 1999 again. Damn, I didn't know JR still had that much energy left in him! The cops "arrest" Miz and Truth, but Triple H winds up assaulting them on their way out. Johnny Ace gets tossed aside by Hunter and Triple H has to be held back by officials as we head off the air in utter chaos with the entire locker room out by this point. Well, that's an interesting way to cap a show off, kudos.

Bottom Line: Despite the good build to this show with only three weeks time, the actual product wound up not really delivering. We had a really good opener between Christian and Sheamus as well as a few solid midcard matches before a very good main event, but most of this card felt like filler and for a show titled "Hell in a Cell", the Cell matches were way too tame and perhaps even unnecessary in the case of the Henry/Orton match. I've seen worse PPVs from WWE this year (Over the Limit), but there still isn't enough here for me to really give it a solid recommendation despite two good matches bookending the show. Slight Thumbs Down here folks.

Score: 5.5/10

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