October 25th will bring us the 12th iteration of the WWE Hell in a Cell pay-per-view event. This may or may not be a controversial opinion, but every year, I find myself hoping Hell in a Cell is replaced with a more generic event.
Why would I want to take out an exciting show and replace it with No Mercy, Breaking Point or something along those lines? Because Hell in a Cell shouldn’t be a regular part of the calendar year that pops up every October.
I’ve made the argument before with TLC and I’ll say it here for Hell in a Cell: an event shouldn’t revolve around a match unless it needs to revolve around that match for a particular reason.
Hell in a Cell is different from TLC in that it’s an actual gimmick. TLC is either won by pinfall/submission or climbing the ladder, meaning it’s just a regular No DQ match that happens to focus on those three weapons because that’s how it’s written, or it’s a regular ladder match where people assuredly will use at least one chair and at least one table during the fight. Hell in a Cell is its own distinct cage style, so my problem isn’t in the gimmick itself.
My problem is that it shouldn’t just be that whenever October comes around, WWE has to put the Hell in a Cell cage around at least one feud just because that’s the name of the show.
Hell in a Cell used to be a game-changer and a feud-ending spectacle. Two people fight in a series of matches and they decide they want to settle the score once and for all inside the most destructive way possible. It wasn’t clockwork like Survivor Series being in November or WrestleMania coming around in March/April.
All too often over these 12 years, there hasn’t been a reason for a feud to go into Hell in a Cell, but it’s happened simply because it’s October. Sometimes, the superstars have only just started their feud!
This year, thankfully, we have Bayley vs. Sasha Banks and Drew McIntyre vs. Randy Orton. Those two rivalries are more justifiable to put inside this cage than some other examples from the past, but here’s the catch: if this show were called No Mercy, what’s stopping WWE from having a Hell in a Cell match on it?
If a feud is good enough (or if WWE just wants to get a pop), Hell in a Cell can happen any time of the year. We’ve gotten HIAC matches at WrestleMania since the pay-per-view has been created. We don’t get that for anything else, do we? Do you see any Money in the Bank ladder matches at any show other than MITB? How about any other Elimination Chambers or Royal Rumbles, or Survivor Series matches?
Those events have a distinct purpose and don’t get in the way of anything else. There’s a pattern to it and a reason.
Royal Rumble is every January so you can set up WrestleMania. Elimination Chamber follows to either determine the other No. 1 contenders or to make sure the current champion runs a gauntlet to prove he/she is worthy of defending the belt at WrestleMania. It doesn’t matter what feuds are going on at the time, as the priority is WrestleMania for both of those, and the storylines will work around it.
Money in the Bank can theoretically happen in May, June or July. It’s mostly a means to give someone a post-Mania push and set the tone for the next year. There’s no problem with doing that match at a specific time of the year because, just like Royal Rumble and Elimination Chamber, you can put anyone in the match and there doesn’t need to be a feud involved to justify it. Just pick 6-10 people and you’re good to go.
But with Hell in a Cell, the entire purpose is that it’s a means to lock two bitter rivals inside a dangerous cage so they beat each other to a pulp until they move on to something else. If WWE doesn’t do a proper job setting up feuds prior to October, suddenly, HIAC comes along and we have lackluster HIAC matches with two opponents who might be better suited having a regular Street Fight.
The more HIAC matches we’ve had, the less special they’ve become. There are now 42 that have taken place. Can you tell me any details about 3/4 of them? I mean CM Punk fought Ryback in a Hell in a Cell match back to back years (2012 and 2013) and I bet you didn’t remember that, but you can tell me distinct things about HBK vs. Undertaker, or Mick Foley’s fall.
WWE should nix both Hell in a Cell and TLC from the pay-per-view lineup and stop doing the matches for a while. Only when a feud calls for it, should gimmicks like HIAC be pulled out. Then, it will be something special, which it really hasn’t been in a long time. And by just having the October event called Halloween Havoc or whatever they pick, if they ever want to have a different type of gimmick on the card, it isn’t hampered by already having the Hell in a Cell name preventing that from going down.
This idea probably has a snowball’s chance in hell of happening, but I think it would be the right call to help preserve what used to be one of WWE’s coolest features that has lost a lot of its heat.