Last month’s Night of Champions was pretty forgettable, despite having a ton of momentum coming off of an incredible Summer Slam. We are now just a few days away from HELL IN A CELL, which will be the first pay-per-view of the Brock Lesnar World Champion era without a World Championship match on the card (the first of many, I assume, thanks to Lesnar’s limited schedule). The card was thrown together pretty quickly on this one, but there are a ton of awesome matches lined up. My expectations started pretty low this month, but after this week’s Raw, I’m completely psyched for this weekend’s show. Hit the jump to see my thoughts!
Side note – I normally live Tweet my reactions each month to the PPV over @RyanSchrodt, but I do have some plans for Sunday that might keep me from watching the show live. I’ll do my best, but if you don’t see my blow-by-blow reactions this month, I’m sorry!
PAIGE vs AJ LEE ©
Paige and AJ have been trading wins with the belt jumping between them since AJ’s return, so I feel like this one is completely up-in-the-air. They have done a pretty good job of building this feud, with Paige’s new “best friend” Alicia Fox squarely in the middle rather inexplicably. I feel that the title switching hands so often cheapens its importance, so I’d like to see AJ retain, perhaps with Alicia costing Paige the match. That would build a “triple crazy” feud for next month’s Survivor Series show. While I’ve enjoyed the AJ and Paige matches in the past (though they have been too rushed), I’m not as excited about this weekend’s bout simply because of Fox’s participation. It seems like she has a lot of fans, but I think she is terribly sloppy in the ring and if she gets physical AJ or Paige, it will just bring this match down. Still, it’s good to see the Divas Championship getting a lot of airtime, so I guess you have to take the good and the bad. Still, AJ wins, but probably not clean.
Prediction: AJ LEE
THE USOS vs GOLDUST and STARDUST ©
Tag Team Championship
The Usos get their rematch this weekend against the bizarre Rhodes Brothers in what should be a perfectly serviceable match. The Usos really surprised me earlier this year with their great title defenses, but I feel that having them involved every week on TV doing the same spots that they do in the PPV match makes them a bit stale, especially since they lack the charisma of the Dust Brothers. This match will certainly be good, but that fact makes me think it will ultimately be rather forgettable unless one of the teams does something unexpected to elevate this match. The good news is that this should end their feud, so when the Dust Brothers come out on top, the Usos can take a break to “recharge” and the champions can move on to another team. There has been a lot of talk of NXT’s Ascension getting promoted, but with their feud against Hideo Itami (and soon Finn Balor) heating up, I don’t think we’ll see them jump the ranks for another few months. They would be the perfect next tag contenders, but until then, who are the next challengers? That to me is more interesting than this match, which I undoubtedly see the Golddust and Stardust winning.
Prediction: THE DUST BROTHERS
NIKKI BELLA vs BRIE BELLA
Loser is the Winner’s Assistant
I hate having to post my thoughts on this match because, honestly, it is going to come across like I have an issue with women’s wrestling. Hopefully most of you have been reading this long enough to know that I actually love women’s wrestling—when done well. I’ll watch the NXT Women or even some of the TNA Knockouts wrestle any day before I’d watch the majority of the main roster Divas battle. While Brie did surprise me at Summer Slam (thanks mostly to how awesome Stephanie McMahon was in the ring), the Bellas are not great wrestlers and this feud lost my attention pretty much the moment it started. It’s just disappointing to see this match take a much higher profile spot on WWE programming because of Total Divas, while the women who are putting on incredible matches are pushed aside or biding their time on NXT. Since the loser will become the winner’s assistant for 30 days, there is no way that Brie, as the face, will be the “evil” sister Nikki. Nikki will win, which means a ton of vignettes of her degrading Brie over the next month and the Divas division will take another step backward while the matches that should actually be great (like Paige vs AJ) will take a backseat.
Prediction: NIKKI BELLA
THE BIG SHOW vs RUSEV
Every time I have started to write my thoughts on this match, they have turned into a long rant about how boring the Big Show is. This feud has done nothing to help that. It has, however, continued to make Rusev look like a complete badass. Given that every feud he has been embroiled in has been essentially the same thing over-and-over again, I’m still completely hooked. It helps that Lana is so entertaining and, for a guy his size, Rusev is an exciting dude to watch. Unfortunately, the Big Show is so massive and so immobile in the ring that I’m not sure that Rusev can carry him in this match the same way that Lana has carried Big Show through the feud. Of course, it doesn’t help that the best thing that has happened with Rusev this month had nothing to do with Big Show and did nothing to build the feud, which was the Rock’s surprise appearance a few weeks ago. That being said, when they did do stuff to push the feud forward, it was awkward and offensive angles like this past Monday where a “fan” attacked Rusev and Big Show cried about how no one should hurt American soldiers. Hopefully this feud will end when Rusev walks away with the win in this messy affair as he marches his way towards his eventual feud with John Cena. RUSEV CRUSH!
THE MIZ vs SHEAMUS ©
United States Championship
The Miz rose to prominence at a time when I wasn’t watching wrestling, so I missed what was clearly the peak of his career. Unfortunately, by the time I jumped in, Miz was on a major downswing and has never caught on with me…until you add on one of my favorite wrestlers, Damien Sandow. Sandow in his new rule as Damian Mizdow is one of the best parts of WWE television in the last few months, so the moment the Miz comes on screen, I’m instantly glued to the screen. Sheamus, despite once being a main eventer, has brought nothing to the United States title and, with Lesnar not bringing the World title to television very often, it is all the more important to have the lower-tier belts in high profile feuds. WWE needs to ride how hot the Miz/Mizdow team is by having Sheamus drop the belt. That will instantly elevate the belt and it will give us more antics between Miz and his stunt double, hopefully culminating in the inevitable face turn for Sandow and a feud over the belt between the two.
Prediction: THE MIZ (though we all win with Mizdow)
CESARO vs DOLPH ZIGGLER ©
2-out-of-3 Falls Match
This is a spoiler for Smackdown tonight, as this match hasn’t been officially announced at the time I’m posting this. This match could be the most exciting part of the card, but I’m really worried that because this card is so packed, the two won’t have the time they need to really develop this match. This match could easily go 45-minutes and be a match of the year, but with eight matches on the card and none likely to be moved to the pre-show because of the Paul Heyman/MizTV segment, we’ll get 20 minutes at most. While I want more, it will be a great 20 minutes. I feel that WWE dropped the ball with Cesaro and the fact that crowds have really cooled to him lately is a sign of that, but I fully expect that to change after he and Ziggler put on an incredible match. Expect lots of “this is awesome” chants during this match. On any other card, this would be my pick for match of the night and it will be (right up until Ambrose and Rollins tear the house down). While Ziggler has been a great Intercontinental Champion, I feel like he doesn’t need to be the champion to be over with the fans, while Cesaro needs the belt to be elevated. I look for Cesaro to squeak out a win in an exciting match that we will be talking about for weeks to come.
JOHN CENA vs RANDY ORTON
#1 Contender’s Match
Hell in a Cell Match
While I understand that WWE wants to maximize the usage of the Hell in the Cell match in the pay-per-view named after it, haphazardly throwing matches inside the Cell really cheapens the concept because it simply doesn’t mean anything. This is that type of match. I’m not saying it won’t be a better match than some might expect (which is it will be), but it does take a lot of impact away from the Hell in the Cell match that has properly built towards it. That being said, Cena and Orton have both stepped up their game in the last few weeks, so this should be a pretty competently wrestled match. Since Cena rarely loses at PPVs, he is the safe bet, but I’d like to see this go to Orton. He has been treading water since Wrestlemania, plus he both needs and deserves a big win here. And after he hit that amazing throwing RKO on Ziggler a few weeks back, I’m 100% back on board with Orton. After his feud with Seth Rollins has started to build over the last few weeks, I think we are going to see an Orton face turn soon as he battles Brock Lesnar in the next title match and then most likely Seth Rollins, who I see costing Orton the title.
Prediction: RANDY ORTON
DEAN AMBROSE vs SETH ROLLINS
Hell in a Cell Match
For months now, I’ve been touting the fact that the smartest booking WWE has done is keeping Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins away from a ring, while still developing their feud. These two have been battling it out for months, but we’ve yet to get a definitive battle. By “containing” these two in the Cell, the match finally has to play out and it should be explosive. When you combine that incredible build-up with the fact that both men are complete daredevils in the ring, I suspect that this match will be one of the most innovative Hell in the Cell matches we have ever seen. I’ve flipped back and forth on the winner of this match quite a bit, but I think I’m now solidly behind Dean Ambrose. After the injuries to Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan, as well as the crowds continuing to turn on Cena, Ambrose has vaulted into the spot of the top face (good guy) in the company. A big win here will cement that position. As for Rollins, I suspect that he’ll have so many great moments that a loss here won’t hurt his credibility. Regardless of who comes out on top in this match, the WWE Universe will be the real winner here as this is definitely going to be a Match of the Year candidate.
Prediction: DEAN AMBROSE
What are your thoughts? Share them here or tweet them to me at @RyanSchrodt!