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The first Hell in a Cell match saw the Undertaker facing off against Shawn Michaels. The match was formed after Michaels had cost the Undertaker his title in a match he guest refereed (against Bret Hart, interestingly enough.) The match was a last resort to end an angry feud between two performers who were displaying intense hatred for one another. This match set the bar for what would become one of the most thrilling and legendary match types in WWE history. When a feud became nuclear hot, the Hell in a Cell would be the final battle between the two parties. Over the course of the years we saw incredible matches, death defying feats and overall fantastically entertaining pieces of WWE history. Who could forget Kane’s debut, Mankind falling from the Cell and then through it or Triple H and Foley battling it out with barbed wire bats?
Suffice it to say, Hell in a Cell quickly became a fan favorite and earned its way, through blood, sweat and tears, into legendary status as a match that fans were always eager to witness. This match took its place up there among other rarely used, always thrilling matches such as the Casket Match, Iron Man Match and Buried Alive match, to name a few. Speaking from the point of view of wrestling logic and psychology, this match was granted status as the all in, everything on the line, the fight to end the war. It meant something, it only came about when things had gone too far and there was an absolute need for two superstars to battle it out one last time.
Now, with an annual PPV named “Hell in a Cell” you don’t have that anymore. You don’t have that logical path to follow. These matches don’t take place in the cell because the feuds are on fire, they don’t take place in the cell because it is to be the be all, end all between two guys who have been raining chaos down on each other for weeks. Now two wrestlers face off in the cell because its October so you have to put them in the cell for the PPV. Take tonight’s PPV, for instance. Kane vs Undertaker, John Cena vs Wade Barret. Those two matches I can at least somewhat understand why the cell would be necessary. There is a lot of hate between Kane and the Undertaker, and their rivalry is always bankable, and violent. So yes, putting these two in the cell against one another can fit together, especially considering the facts of their storyline thus far. John Cena vs Wade Barret in the cell also makes sense. Nexus is constantly interfering in Cena’s matches, there is obviously a hate between Cena and Barret and there is something important on the line. Fine, put these two in the cell. Lets see them battle it out. Of course the argument could be made that it will be Barret throwing Cena around for a while since Cena has an arsenal of four to five moves. Either way, logically, psychologically, this makes sense.
However, turn your attention to the other matches on the card which are in the cell simply because the PPV is called Hell in a Cell. Randy Orton vs Sheamus in the cell. Has this match really warranted placement in the Cell? We haven’t seen these two face off, singles wise, in a while. All of their interaction has essentially been based around matches involving more than just the two of them and their weak ass build up over the past two weeks of Raw (yes, two weeks because for some reason WWE decided to set PPVs two weeks apart) has done little to interest me and I like Randy Orton but frankly, I could care less about this match. There is nothing here that makes me go “Oh wow, Hell in the Cell for Orton and Sheamus. This is going to be great.” Why? Their feud, despite WWE’s trying, doesn’t feel hot enough to me for this to be necessary and there is nothing that feels special about it. It feels like they’re in the Cell because of the title of the show their on, not anything to do with their feud.
What keeps these matches special is what it takes to make them. Why they are necessary is an important factor in this. Take for example, the Casket match. Imagine if there was a WWE PPV called “Rest in Peace” which sounds enough like a name they’d create. Now, every single match in this PPV is a Casket Match. Who the hell would care? By the third casket match of the night you’re over it already and by the end of the night maybe you’d seen some cool things happen but in the end you just flooded the market with casket matches and when you flood the market you drop the value. All of these gimmick matches are fairly ridiculous, all of these PPVs that revolve around one match type. If you ever wanted to design a concept to bore the hell out of someone or make them sick of a particular match type, this would be the way to go about it.
Take a look at some amazing matches from WWE history. Would Razor Ramon vs Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania X have meant as much as it did if the entire card were ladder matches? Maybe it’d have been interesting to see Yokozuna trying to climb a ladder, but beyond that I don’t see the appeal. If Mankind falling from the top of the cell had occurred after five other cell matches, sure it’d still be amazing but would you have become so desensitized to the cell by the two and a half hour mark that you didn’t even care that much? Hell, even Elimination Chamber only has two Elimination Chamber matches. Imagine if that entire card were EC matches for the World Title, WWE Title, IC Title and US Title? You’d slow strip away any meaning from that Chamber, and eventually, come February, people would just be going “Oh great, another three hours of EC matches.”
The Hell in a Cell is supposed to be unique, it is supposed to be a last resort. It is supposed to have power, to be the kind of thing that when you hear it you think “Wow, a Hell in the Cell match! I can’t wait.” Instead it is relegated to being just another gimmick that is being beaten like a dead horse. You know what PPV I’d love to see happen sometime? What PPV they should make: “WWE Clean Finish” where every match has a clean finish. Or how about “WWE No Bullshit” where for every match on the card we don’t have to deal with the ridiculous commentary of Michael Cole, or stupid runs ins that don’t make sense. I’d actually pay to see those PPVs. As for WWE Hell in a Cell, sorry Vince, but you’re not getting my fifty bucks this month. If you’re going to devalue something, maybe you should consider lowering the price to watch the damn thing. That’s a good idea for a PPV: “WWE Fair Price.”