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Hell in a Cell – World Heavyweight Championship
Mark Henry vs. Randy Orton
The best part of this entire segment was the three minute video package leading into the match. That's not a knock on the well-above-average work from champ Mark Henry, that's actually a great compliment to whoever packaged one of my favorite promo videos for a match since WrestleMania. Somehow, with only two weeks of preparation going into this match, that video package managed to sell the importance of the confrontation and the necessity for such a match as the Hell in a Cell. It set up Mark Henry as a dominating force and Orton as a desperate challenger that proved a great threat to Henry's short reign on top. Kudos to the production team!
The match itself didn't utilize the Cell nearly as much as they could have, but outside of that it was exactly what I was hoping for. Henry's slow in-ring work was covered up by the nature of the match, and Orton allowed himself to stay down for long enough to make his opponent look golden. They kept it short enough to keep the crowd relatively interested, but held it out long enough to make both men look strong throughout. After all, longevity is definitely the big man's biggest weakness. I loved the focus on Orton hitting the RKO on Henry, and once he finally nailed it, Henry still kicked out! Teasing the punt was a brilliant move (I wish I had thought of that...) and the counter into the World's Strongest Slam was perfectly executed. They also succeeded in the post-match antics, teasing Randy Orton's induction into the “Hall of Pain”, but allowing Orton to find his way out of it. I'm not sure how I feel about the victorious World Champion running away like a little girl, especially after how he man-handled Orton, but he managed to get his licks in on the way out. Randy Orton might have been desperate enough to resort to the punt, but I also like that he never fully lost control. He maintained a collected presence, even in the post-match beat-down, and that means he can be pushed further until he finally snaps during their next encounter. Hopefully then he will actually hit the punt, and Mark Henry will still kick out...
Cody Rhodes vs. John Morrison
Seriously...how good is Cody Rhodes? For someone that used to be on the losing end of Legacy, he is now my favorite Superstar in the WWE. I had a legitimate “mark-out moment” watching him unveil the Classic Intercontinental title, and sat in awe of him cutting an almost face-esk promo, highlighting the history of the belt. It was a great touch mentioning the likes of Ricky Steamboat, Bret Hart, and Steve Austin, and really gave this already stellar segment another shot of importance. And what an appropriate way to commemorate the “rebirth” of a once-great title by having it defended in an impromptu match, which was in itself a swerve considering Cody was still in a suit. The match was short and simple, but focussed on Cody's classic heel character as he tried to find ways out of participating. Clinging to the ring post, attempting to force a count-out was such a great moment compared to something simple like walking to the back. I have to admit, as soon as Johnny Ace said that he'd be defending the title, I immediately feared he was going to lose it. And I can honestly say that was the first time I've jumped out of my seat in joy because Cody Rhodes won a match. After taking nine staples from the assault by Randy Orton, defending the title in a 10-man Battle Royal on Raw, defending the title again on Smackdown, and having to compete in street clothes with no advanced warning (and getting the clean pin), Cody Rhodes has proven he's a legitimate champion worthy of the belt.
Well done kid. The new title is beautiful, your character is polished, and you've made a huge fan out of a long time hater.
WWE Divas Championship
Kelly Kelly vs. Beth Phoenix
Beth Phoenix finally won the Divas title, but was it too little, too late? I'd say no, because as much as I thought the Divas of Doom had no real momentum left, Beth's win tonight was still somewhat exciting, if for no other reason than Kelly Kelly is no longer the champion... Kelly is trying new things, and I have to give her credit for that. Her execution needs a LOT of work, but she knows how to sell and take a beating. Unfortunately, those are qualities needed for good jobbers, not the face of the Divas division, and I'm glad we're finally entering into something new. My question is, where do they go from here? If Kelly draws crickets as the champion, will she be any better chasing the heel champion? Will they resort back to the moderately decent, but bland Eve? I really hope not... With Maryse cleared to return, I'm looking for her to play a role in all of this, hopefully with a face return to lead the “perky, blonde bimbos” into battle. I know I really haven't mentioned the actual match at all, but that's really because there wasn't a whole lot to mention. Beth winning is really the only highlight of the whole thing.
Hell in a Cell – WWE Championship
John Cena vs. Alberto del Rio vs. CM Punk
Good match. Surprising result. I liked the creativity in John Cena getting locked out of the cage at the end, and the pipe shots by del Rio to CM Punk looked legitimately painful in today's world of PG product. There were a few other good spots that made the Hell in a Cell stipulation worth it, but overall you could have called that a No Disqualification match with CM Punk being thrown into the wall every few minutes. Cena going back-first into the set-up steel chair was great, as was Punk's table spot and the aforementioned blows to the head and neck with a steel pipe. Even Ricardo took his bumps on the outside! I loved the back and forth action that the triple threat naturally produces, as there really were no unbearably slow points in the match. Again, Cena getting locked out seamed at first that it would inevitably lead to him ripping down a wall or some other ridiculous stunt, but it actually made for some good tension as the “we're going to have a new champion” vibe set in. I'm not sure I fathom putting the belt back on him two weeks after they took it in the first place, but if we just close our eyes and pretend Night of Champions didn't happen, it's like del Rio never lost the WWE title at all! Overall, it was just nice to have a good main event title match that didn't end with too much controversy or WCW-esk interference.
The Miz and R-Truth return...
You had to know the “Awesome Truth” (stupid name) were going to come back after they were unceremoniously kicked out by Johnny Ace earlier in the night, but once they took down “Air Boom” I legitimately thought it was over for them. I was pleasantly surprised when they hit the ring and locked themselves inside the Cell and beat the holy hell out of John Cena, Alberto del Rio, and CM Punk. I'm glad they did attack Punk, because it brought closure to the question of whether or not he was involved in this crazy take-over scheme. Unless he planned to get the crap kicked out of him, I think it's safe to say he'll end up on the good guys team come Survivor Series. It's still a bit out of character for him, but at least it makes a bit more sense now...
I could attack the small annoyances, like why nobody could get the cage raised when it just happened less than two minutes before. Or why the 20+ Superstars surrounding the ring didn't just lift it up instead of shaking it like a troupe of flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz... But if you ignore the small things that don't actually have anything to do with the story being told, the segment was phenomenal. There are a lot of people still confused about what in the world is going on, but I think all the pieces are starting to come together. Miz and Truth giving themselves up to the police shows that somebody is pulling the strings. They could have tried to make a run for it, but if they were following orders it makes sense to go quietly. With Triple H completely losing it and fighting off a bunch of armed cops and half the roster to attack Miz and R-Truth, it seems as if he's completely lost control of the situation. Couple that with the group threatening to take the WWE to court, and you've got a recipe for the return of Vince McMahon. After all, if anyone hates lawyers more than CM Punk, it's the real owner of the company...
Hell in a Cell final rating: 8/10
I wanted to rate Hell in a Cell higher, but given that the best parts of the PPV were non-match segments and non-advertised title matches, I think my final rating is actually pretty generous. Tell me what you think @MikeKillam on Twitter and in the comments section below.