– We appreciate your comments, likes, shares, tweets and other things. Support the pay-per-view versions of the column if you want me to keep writing them. If you don’t, I’ll get somebody from Rajah to fill in for me and the entire report’ll just be, “John Cena re-injured at Hell in a Cell? CLICK HERE” and the link’ll just go to Scribol.
– Join us in four days for the next pay-per-view! Just kidding. Uh, I think.
Please click through to enjoy the Best and Worst of WWE Hell in a Cell 2013.
Best/Worst: Hell In A Cell 2013 Is The Orson Welles Of Pay-Per-Views
I honestly now see why Orson Welles ate his fat ass to death.
Hell in a Cell 2013 peaked too early. The first match on the show was the tag team championship triple threat between The Usos, The Shield and Dem Rhodes Boys, and it was spectacular. One of my favorite pay-per-view matches of the year. It was all downhill from there, and by the time it was over I felt like I was watching Bound For Glory. But that first match, man. That first match is something.
The return of Goldust has been my favorite story of the year. He hasn’t been involved in a SECOND of bad TV. He’s the best possible Christian right now, an aging star from the 90s who returns all grizzled, looking for ONE MORE MATCH and tearing it up with basically every good worker on the show. I would’ve never guessed that feuding Goldust against Tyler Black in 2013 would work outside of Fire Pro, but here we are. Frankly everyone involved in the match deserves love … Roman Reigns is starting to show some dangerous charisma in the ring (and his spear is seriously and consistently the best spear in the history of wrestling), Seth Rollins deserves a Pulitzer for asinine apron taunting (“POOR GOLDIE!”), Cody Rhodes broke out the Trent Barreta Memorial Superplex To The Outside and The Usos, while still not as cool as their entrance, showed something a little deeper than they’ve gotten to before. Watch them glaring at the Rhodeses after the match. That’s gonna be a thing.
Best: Cody Rhodes CrossRhodesing Seth Rollins Is The Greatest
I’ve praised it before, but I don’t think any specific person makes any specific move look as good and valid as Seth Rollins does the CrossRhodes. Historically, the “Roll the Dice” has been one of the worst finishers ever, the kind of easy-to-do move you give a guy like Reno or Carlito because they can’t do a lot well and you can only give the Overdrive and the Fame-asser to so many dudes. Cody’s always made it look as good as he can, but it turns into this death-bringing, exciting move when Rollins takes it. He just floats and spins and dies. It’s great.
A supplementary Best goes to Rollins for getting MAD AIR on the Uso throwing Samoan drop, and a supplementary Worst goes to Michael Cole for saying SHADES OF THE ROCK when it happened, as if The Rock has EVER thrown a guy into a Samoan drop like that. That’d be like yelling SHADES OF LOW KI when Orton does his slow-ass stomp.
Best: Kaitlyn’s Hair, Or
Worst: LOL Dolph Ziggler
‘sup girl, you still exist?
The “experts panel” continues to be a chilling look at how pathetic you’ll seem when Creative has nothing for you, but it accomplished three major Bests:
1. Kaitlyn fixed her hair, kind of! Now instead of fluorescent yellow on black, it’s a comely light brown on black. That’s a good decision. Now all she needs to do is throw on some fingerless gloves, be AJ’s actual enforcer (because “my former muscly best friend is protecting me because she realized I’m right” is a way better motivation for bodyguard services than “Tamina is kinda tall and can’t talk, so I guess she’s tough”) and get some actual matches against someone other than AJ.
2. If you ordered the pay-per-view because R-Truth was on the poster, here’s R-Truth! He even wore the same outfit so you’d notice.
3. Congratulations on hitting rock bottom, Dolph Ziggler. If you thought losing a bunch and going from Daniel Bryan to Zack Ryder in three months was bad, I bet you never IMAGINED how hilarious it’d be to have you on an experts panel raving about what an unstoppable and inspirational warrior John Cena is. Remember back in December when you were beating him in ladder matches and running him down for being a boring scumbag? I’m sure he appreciates your analysis. Fix your hair, you’ve got a rat tail behind one of your ears.
Speaking of bad hair in this segment, who cut Josh Mathews’ hair, Luther Reigns?
Best: That Weird, Lingering High-Five Dolph And Kaitlyn Shared
Here’s something we learned from our experts panel: Kaitlyn is horrible at improvisation. At one point she analyzes the match by saying you can “never underestimate AJ’s pigtails,” which means absolutely nothing unless the Divas Championship is being defended under Kabuki Quantum Fighter rules, and she and Dolph share this really telling high-five where there isn’t a clap, they just press their hands together and hold them there for a little too long. Uh, in R-Truth’s face.
The moment set off a bunch of alarms in my brain, and I’ve narrowed it down to two theories:
1. Dolph and Kaitlyn are f*cking, either in character or in real life. You don’t casually hand-hug a co-worker like that. This could be substantiated by that time they made out with each other in a Spirit Squad-style storage crate on NXT.
2. You know that Scott Pilgrim joke about how AJ has a bunch of evil exes, and people use Kaitlyn as Roxy Richter? That. Kaitlyn is admitting that she is sexually attracted to/overwhelmed by AJ’s pig tails, knows that Dolph has also had sex with her and is bonding/commiserating on one of the positive memories they share for her.
I’m okay with either of these. I’m also okay with a third option of, “they just wanted to see how long they could hold their hands in front of R-Truth’s face.”
Best: Kane Isn’t Wyattized, But At Least He Has His Priorities Straight
I hope you weren’t hoping for Kane to come back as a cool weird hillbilly or whatever, because he’s totally fine and willing to get payback for an almost life-ending injury via babyface save-punching. The Miz calls out the Wyatt Family and gets Sabu’d by Rowan and Harper. The crowd chants “we want Kane,” and I guess that has Beetlejuice powers because Kane was resurrected and arrived on the scene to send the yokels a’scurryin’. Then, because Kane, he also chokeslammed The Miz. The crowd cheered, because f*ck you, The Miz. The best part was Jerry Lawler being all WHAT!?! at Kane’s actions, as if he has not made a career out of lumber-running out and chokeslamming everybody he sees.
So yeah, Kane not being Wyattized is disappointing because it means a) the loss of a creative storyline, b) a refresh on Kane, who needs it if he’s gonna be anything other than a “we know who you are” crowd response catalyst and c) Daniel Bryan’s totally gonna Charlie Brown walk back down to the midcard and team with him. But hey, at least the Miz got chokeslammed and Destiny was happy.
Best/Worst: You Should Probably Watch NXT, WWE Announcers And NXT General Manager
Short version: Summer Rae was the best wrestler in this match and pinned Natalya, which made me happy because Natalya is terrible.
The longer version is that the WWE announcers really need to start watching NXT. It’s charming to me when JBL doesn’t know who Xavier Woods is, but NXT has made such a gigantic impression on the current WWE product that it’s bordering on stupid for the people in charge of getting wrestlers over to act like new people have never competed before, and have done nothing before this first time we’re noticing them on the big shows.
It goes beyond everyone acting like this is Summer Rae’s first match and treating her victory over Natalya like a flukey upset (even though she straight up bounced her into the ropes and rolled her up for a clean three). If we assume that NXT is a thing that exists and that the old game show and new Full Sail versions are linked (which they are, at least according to Hulu), 7 of 9 matches on this pay-per-view feature NXT talent. The Shield, the Wyatt Family, Summer Rae and Fandango, Big E Langston, Ryback, AJ Lee and Daniel Bryan all came from NXT. That’s not a “fluke,” you guys, that’s the developmental system working. That’s something you should be proud of. The idea is that they stay down there until they’re READY to face top WWE guys, not that they flounder in this failure laboratory until they get called up via random lottery and then either sink or swim.
Best: Big E Langston = Chessman
Part of me really enjoyed the impromptu Big E Langston vs. Dean Ambrose United States Championship match. Sometimes I want the wrestlers to stop jumping and just beat the shit out of each other, and that’s what this was. I wish the opening smash-clothesline had gotten a three count (and I wish Big E had gone for five at some point), but I can only be so disappointed in a match where two guys get their faces busted open by accident because SMASH MOUTH WRESTLING and Big E Langston does a goddamn spear through the ropes to the outside.
Vince, this is your guy. Big E can be that top-shelf African American superstar you tried to have with Bobby Lashley and couldn’t get with Ron Simmons or Booker T because they were already old when you brought them in. This is a young, super strong, charismatic guy who is literally made of muscles (that’s the correct use of the word, even his bones are made out of muscles) (musclebones). Let him be Mike Awesome in Ice Train’s body like we’ve seen him be in NXT. The crowd wants to love him. FIVE is the new YES. Make it happen.
Worst: For Want Of A Curtis Axel
All that said, the match was honestly kinda boring. Most of it was spent in an armbar. I don’t know how much of that had to do with Langston nearly getting Ambrose’s chin put through his eyeball (or whatever happened), but my theory is that Langston prepared for a match with Curtis Axel and had done his homework for someone much more boring than Ambrose.
Also, the United States Champion loses another match, and that’s not good. Purposeful count-outs are among my least favorite ways to end a match (alongside “distraction roll-up” and “pedigree”), especially when Langston could’ve just rolled back out of the ring to break the count and keep the match going. Why do people never do that? You were gonna follow him out and throw him back into the ring anyway. If you’d done it two seconds previous you’d be the US Champ now, well on your way to increased notoriety and prestige via 60 consecutive losses.
Worst: I Still Think This Was A Stupid Stipulation
Remember when CM Punk won the chance to pick the stipulation for this match against Ryback and he picked “handicap Hell in a Cell?” Remember how stupid I said that was, and how you went down into the comments section to explain that no, sir, CM Punk is a genius who knows he can get Heyman in a cage and he’ll have nowhere to run or whatever? Yeah, Paul Heyman started off the match by rising to the top of the cage on a scissor lift, which not only negates the positives of Punk’s match stipulations but suggests that Heyman is the stupidest motherf*cker ever. Everybody in this story’s a moron all of a sudden.
I know you want the visual of Punk beating up Heyman on top of the Cell, but Punk’s match stipulation ended up being “one on one match with Ryback in a Hell in a Cell.” Way to really stick it to The Walrus, buddy. Couldn’t he have at least made it “handicap elimination match” so Heyman had to get in there? Furthermore, if Heyman’s plan was “don’t get in the cage and be somewhere Punk can’t get to me,” why did he pick the top of the f*cking cage? If Punk won the match, what’d he plan to do, slowly scissor-lift himself down in peace? He could’ve, I don’t know, stood by the door and just bolted when Punk won. Instead, he put himself in a WAY MORE DANGEROUS POSITION than inside the cage. Heyman, have you SEEN a Hell in a Cell match lately? This isn’t Brock/Undertaker. These are normal, mildly-hardcore matches where the guys brush against the fence wall maybe once the entire match. It’s a giant visual prop. Getting tossed back first into a chain link fence doesn’t really hurt that much unless you hit a crossbar, especially if you’re wearing a jacket. It’s bouncy. See Randy Orton get thrown into it and bounce all the way back into position to get thrown again?
Best: OKAY COOL NOW LET’S BE DONE WITH THIS
In the end, CM Punk got to awkwardly cram a kendo stick up his ass and climb the DEMONIC CELL STRUCTURE to — guess what? — beat up Paul Heyman with a kendo stick. Like he’s done several times already. Oh, and he got to knee him in the face once. The only difference between this and the other Heyman beatdowns is that Heyman had to lay there while Punk posed. Is that all Punk wanted? The posing? He was promising death and dismemberment and dead families and shit. Is this the end?
I don’t know. I had really high hopes when this feud started out, and now I just kinda want Punk to get involved with Bryan so he’ll have something to do other than “lose to Triple H,” and for Heyman to start cutting lava promos on Los Matadores or whoever.
Worst: Technically It Was The WrestleMania Crowd That Made YES Chants Popular, Not The Next Night’s Raw Crowd, They Were Just Following Suit But I Mean It Doesn’t Matter I Guess, Frowny Face, Just Gonna Sit Over Here Remember How I Was On An Airplane That Following Monday, You Go Do Your Thing, It’s Fine
Best: I Want To See El Torito Wrestle All 3 Real Americans In A Handicap Match Where He Just Squashes Them All And Wins Easily
I don’t want to get all shouty and irrational with my pro wrestling opinions, so I’ll say that maaaaybe if we have Antonio Cesaro on our roster and he’s starting to get popular based on his ability to do cool moves we shouldn’t let a mini in a bull costume emasculate him. Maybe we should let Torito stick to running headfirst into Zeb Colter’s ass, because that’s reasonable in pro wrestling’s weird-ass context, and have Cesaro just lift him with one arm and throw him into the sun when he tries to be a tiny anthropomorphic Lita. Just throw him into the f*cking sun.
I thought the match was fun, although this followed by John Cena’s return followed by a Divas match and a Triple H-related non-finish to a Randy Orton match really sent Hell in a Cell into Raw mode. I hate when these things are exactly like Raw, and with three pay-per-views in less than two months it feels like I’ve watched about 80 episodes of Raw since August.
One thing I appreciate is that El Torito is probably better than Epico or Primo and is an actual athlete, meaning his effective offense makes a little more sense than piglet Hornswoggle doing “tadpole splashes” by awkwardly falling off the top rope. Comparing Hornswoggle to El Torito is like comparing the Dirt Bike Kid to the Great Sasuke. Also, I’d pay $50 to see them recreate that match.
Worst: Spoiler Alert, John Cena
“HE’S GOT IT LOCKED IN GOOD” is what Michael Cole is screaming while John Cena has this STF on. You could fit an entire second head n that window. John Cena, everybody.
I don’t even know what to type. In the card listing on the open discussion thread I listed the match as “World Heavyweight Championship Match: Alberto Del Rio (c) loses to John Cena.” Cena winning clean with an Attitude Adjustment was a foregone conclusion to anybody with brains and eyeballs, so much so that you can’t even get sad or mad or disappointed about it. Despite being great in the ring, Del Rio is about as heated as A Cold Thing in a Cold Location and John Cena is JOHN CENA (capital letters), so the second ADR got put into a match with an ODDS-OVERCOMING Cena he should’ve just handed Vickie the title belt and bailed.
Worst: Michael Cole Using John Cena’s Shifty Selling As A ‘Good Sign’ Regarding His Injury
This entire thing was awful. Cena threw more than one dropkick (when he shouldn’t throw ONE), left a Yeti-sized window open on his STF (again, look at that picture … you could’ve fit Ricardo Rodriguez in there) and COULD NOT BE ASKED TO SELL A SURGERY HE CAME BACK FROM LIKE FOUR MONTHS TOO EARLY. Sure, he grabs his arm from time to time, but he is facing a guy who exclusively attacks arms and has been doing so for FIFTEEN MINUTES. Just nonstop attacks to the one vulnerable part of your body. How do you respond? By doing a submission move with your arms, a fist drop where you brace yourself by landing on your bad arm and a fireman’s carry throw where you have to push the guy off and guide him down with your arms. The sell on that? Touching the elbow, then nodding that it’s okay to somebody offscreen.
I am more gentle with John Cena than most, I think. I was on his side during the Rock beef and I think he’s got a really underrated body of work. He got the best possible Great Khali match out of Khali, had one of my favorite WWE matches ever against Umaga and can “wrestle” no matter how many crowds chant that he can’t. At the same time, homeboy needs to stop responding every time WWE starts mashing the RATINGS PANIC button because Jesus Christ I cannot take many more years of this. The guy’s got at least five more years on top ahead of him. All I can see when he wins the World Heavyweight Championship is him showing up on Raw to be all, WE GOTTA SEE WHO THE REAL CHAMPION OF THE WORLD IS JACK to Randy Orton and the WWE Universe continuing to exist in the mind of a sentient piece of human turd.
Best: AJ Retaining Will Never Stop Being Surprising To Me
I don’t know why. I’ve been conditioned to expect the worst from the Divas division, because even when the matches get better the stories don’t. It’s valid when you get mad at people for writing off the Divas as performers and wrestlers, because yeah, a lot of them are better than we give them credit for. Unfortunately WWE Creative hasn’t put anything more creative than “you’re fat, you’re jealous, you’re a bitch, let’s hair-mare” in front of them since Alundra f*cking Blaze. Even then we had Bertha Faye, so what can you do?
So when AJ keeps getting into these matches with cast members of ‘Total Divas,’ my reaction is always, “she’s going to lose so somebody on the show can have the title.” Every time. And she keeps winning, so I guess I’m stupid for always going to that. Total Divas doesn’t need the belt and AJ desperately needs to keep it if that division’s gonna have legitimacy anytime in the next decade, preferably until that cool group of NXT ladies starts tearing it up on Raw and/or getting into stories where Summer is a jealous bitch and Emma is a jealous fat lady. Because that’s gonna happen.
See? Again with the worst. I’m gonna give this a Best for being a competent title defense for a Divas champion, and for Brie’s errant knee to Nikki didn’t jumpstart any Bella vs. Bella nonsense.
Best: Sweaty-Ass Bob Backlund
Bob Backlund ran into the Primetime Players playing WWE 2K14 and ended up doing their dance with them. There was so much to love here, including:
– Backlund being super sweaty for some reason, and Titus being unable to stop mentioning it
– Titus repeatedly calling Bob Backlund “sir,” which is adorable
– The Primetime Players playing as themselves in the game, which is the only thing I’d ever do if I was in a wrestling video game
– Alternately, the idea that maybe they were playing as the Real Americans and beating up their video game selves, which I might also do (this is never clarified, although they do talk a lot about becoming immortal)
– this new script I’m working on where Bob Backlund and the Primetime Players set out on a quest for immortality
– “You guys are quagmires in a sea of hypocrisy.” “Quagmires?”
– “I’M ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT KIDS! THEY NEED TO READ, WRITE AND DO ‘RITHMATIC.”
– The hilarious idea that WWE 2K14 is going to give children the skills to succeed in life
– Bob Backlund claiming he gets down and dances every day
– Backlund no-selling a twerking joke
Bob Backlund should wander around backstage at every wrestling show and accost acquaintances about the futures of children.
Worst: TNA! TNA! TNA!
You could fit John Cena doing an STF in the space between Shawn Michaels’ foot and Daniel Bryan’s face.
So that’s four pay-per-views in a row where Daniel Bryan gets “screwed.” SummerSlam ended with him beating John Cena to win the WWE Championship only to be pedigreed by Triple H and immediately pinned by Randy Orton. He tried to get revenge at Night of Champions and won, but a phony fast count caused him to be stripped of the championship the next night. He tried to get revenge for THAT at Battleground, which ended in a no contest when Big Show arrived and punched out everybody. He tried to get revenge for THAT at Hell in a Cell, where this happened.
If you missed it, here’s the rundown. The WWE Universe has the attention span of a fruit fly and voted in TRIPLE H’S BEST FRIEND as the special guest referee for the WWE Championship match, and WHOOPS, he turned on Daniel Bryan. It wasn’t that simple, though … y’see, Randy Orton superplexed Bryan onto a bed of steel chairs (well, his foot kinda touched them, but that’s neither here nor there) and Bryan kicked out at two. Triple H ran down to the ring to get in Shawn’s face about the two-count, and Orton accidentally got lightly shoved into Michaels, instantly KNOCKING OUT AND BLINDING the 4-time World Champion Hall of Famer. While Shawn was down, Bryan hit his running knee on Orton and went for the pin, but nobody was there to count. Triple H got in the ring, got hit with a running knee and sold it by spinning around and lying down instead of bumping. This causes Shawn Michaels to rise from his grave, superkick Bryan and allow Orton to get the three. The show goes off the air with Bryan being carted away by medics because he GOT KICKED ONCE and Triple H posing with Orton, because Orton finally has the WWE Championship.
The problems are … there are a lot of them. Firstly, you’re stupid for voting in Shawn Michaels. Bob Backlund would’ve called that shit down the middle for the CHILDREN. Secondly, NONE OF THIS MAKES SENSE OR MATTERS. If the end game is “Triple H wants Randy Orton to be WWE Champion,” why didn’t he just say “Randy Orton’s champion, go f*ck yourself Bryan?” There aren’t checks and balances. He’s not trying to keep his evilness hidden anymore. He came out and said he was the “villain.” He did not need to keep the title away from Orton only to cheat to give it to him later. It’s f*cking pointless. The Austin/Vince story had the real life drama of WWF being in a ratings war and Vince hating Austin’s guts but not being able to fire him because of how bad it’d hurt the company. Daniel Bryan is not Stone Cold Steve Austin no matter HOW much you or I like him, and if he left WWE they could just switch out Erick Rowan’s sheep mask for a goat and make the same merch. Big Show’s already co-opted the Yes chants. Thirdly, the Shawn Michaels/Triple H bromance is now more important than the WWE Championship, and the post-match focus was on Shawn’s crummy melodrama face instead of on Daniel Bryan, who might as well have been stuffed into a Hefty bag and tossed into a garbage can in front of us.
Now Randy Orton and John Cena are our World Champions. Daniel Bryan got beaten by a guy he can never wrestle. I think they touched the cage twice, and it didn’t keep anybody out. But hey, I’m sure Daniel Bryan will get revenge at Survivor Series, right? There is value in a “slow burn” that goes until WrestleMania with Bryan winning the Rumble and triumphing on the grandest stage, but you know what? A slow burn doesn’t involve him losing a half-dozen championship opportunities in a row before the payoff. The idea is to make us want to see something, not to show us the bad version of what we want to see over and over and over.
I hope you guys who said to “wait and see where it goes” the first time Bryan got made to look like a goober enjoy where this has gone, and I hope you liked Kevin Nash’s Shawn Michaels Halloween costume.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night
Dolph Ziggler, Chick Buster, WWE Black Guy
ALTERNATIVE UNIVERSE TEAM ROCKET
Miz: And my career is DEAD so the buzzards are HERE!!
If I wanted to watch a Khali match, I’d just go to JCPenny’s and start throwing all the mannequins into each other.
I’m just going to imagine that Camcho is driving Paul Heyman in the cherry picker.
“So what the hell is going on with these crazy backwater cultists? When did they show up?” – Punk tomorrow.
“Y’know, Michael, if Shakespeare were from this arena and not Stratford-upon-Avon, he’d be ‘Bard from the Arena’ just like Big Show.”
Cena tries to unveil a spinner WHC belt on Smackdown and Dusty Rhodes and Ric Flair come out and curb stomp him
WWE 2K14 will give your children unending life. Buy it today!
*To the tune of “Talkin’ Baseball (Softball)”*
Well Triple H had done it,
Randy Orton had won it.
With Daniel Bryan ‘yes-ing’ all the while.
John Cena’s tragic injury made us smile,
while Big Show drove eighteen wheelers o’er the arena tile.
We’re talkin’ wrestling!
From Houston to Toledo.
Bray Wyatt and Del Rio.
Ryback’s grotesquely swollen ball,
Goldust, and his face paint like Darth Maul,
We’re talkin’ Cody, CM Punk, and Paul.
Has anyone made the “all those empty chairs, WWE must have just bought TNA” joke yet? Put me down for one.
See you tomorrow for the Best and Worst of Raw, where John Cena tries to help Daniel Bryan overcome the odds, then just overcomes them all himself to save time.