Mediocrity in a Cell

Hell in a Cell is one of the more epic and exciting gimmicks created within the WWE Universe.  Cage matches were once the be all end all when it came to ongoing feuds.  No matter what had happened, if two guys were at war with one another, they would ultimately end up inside a cage.  The cage was where their problems would finally be settled, where the frightened heel would be locked up with the vengeance seeking face or the smaller face would be trapped inside with a monster heel.
Hell in a Cell upped the anty.  Now the cage had a roof, the door wouldn’t open and the cage itself would encompass the ringside area as well as the ring.  This was a match not designed around escape or evasion but around punishment.  When a feud had gone on, when things had reached a boiling point, when the anger, hatred and violence had grown to an extreme there was only one place left to settle things.  Hell in a Cell.
Hell in a Cell was never pretty, it was never about seeing a technical match grounded in mat technique.  It was an all out, bloody battle to the end with no rules and no restraint.  Once the competitors stepped inside it was a literal free-for-all of violence and pain.  Of course, things evolve.  Eventually we saw matches moving outside of the cell, climbing to the top.  We saw, in possibly the peak of how danger Hell in a Cell could get, Mick Foley flying head first off the top of the cage to go crashing through the announce table.  Then, moments later, we got to watch him break through the top of the cage and land in the ring looking like he’d just been in a car accident.
Now, it seems, Hell in a Cell is a relic of a bygone era.  This is the PG WWE.  We aren’t allowed to see a bloody massacre inside the cell.  We don’t see barbed wire baseball bats or bags full of thumbtacks anymore.  Hell in a Cell is no longer the ultimate, epic gimmick.  It’s be relegated to an annual PPV where it has about as much significance as any of gimmick match.  They’ve destroyed what made it feel special by making it typical.  It has been stripped of everything it was supposed to represent and even the reason for its existence has been damaged.  This isn’t the blow off match anymore, this is just a match.
When was the last time we got to see a Hell in the Cell that actually meant something, where the cell was a last resort to put an end to the issue between two wrestlers?  We just get it thrown at us like we’re supposed to be excited for it.  There isn’t a whole lot exciting when you know its coming and when it isn’t really necessary.  It’s also hard to get excited when they’re throwing it at you two weeks after you just spent fifty dollars on the previous PPV.
One of the most important things about sustaining a gimmick match is being wise enough to know when to use it and when not to.  You’d think WWE would have learned over the years that there is a negative aspect to using a gimmick match too frequently.  Then again, Impact Wrestling hasn’t learned from their “Lockdown” PPV yet so maybe it’s asking too much to expect this.  There are certain matches which actually mean something.  The Iron Man Match comes to mind.  You don’t see it all of the time and when it happens it has a special feeling to it.  Though, as I type that, I grow dreadful of seeing an “Iron Man” PPV someday in the future.
The matches for the upcoming Hell in a Cell PPV don’t have me too excited either.  They’ve tried to make it seem important that we’re getting the first ever Triple Threat Hell in a Cell but in doing so they failed to recognize something:  why is this going to be a Hell in the Cell?  The Cena / Del Rio feud is hardly hot enough to necessitate the cell and Punk just got himself involved in it.  Sure, they ended Raw with the cell coming down and Del Rio beating both men down with a chair but that felt a little second guessed.  It certainly didn’t pump me up for the PPV because, as seems to be WWE’s history, with Del Rio looking dominant going into the match it’s more than likely he is going to lose.
Randy Orton and Mark Henry could have made sense.  It seems to me it would have made more sense for Mark Henry to have destroyed Randy Orton at Night of Champions and gotten himself disqualified.  Then he could have a match against Orton in the cell where Orton couldn’t escape and Henry could destroy him and win the title.  This would have kept Henry completely heelish and made Orton sympathetic.  Instead, they gave the belt to Henry already and they’re having a Hell in a Cell match though you haven’t really seen too many instances of these two interacting leading up to it.
I don’t know folks.  Five years ago if you’d told me that Hell in a Cell would be a bland, mundane, typical concept in the future, I’d have told you that you were an idiot.  Now, though, it seems to have come true.  Hell in a Cell doesn’t feel special, it doesn’t feel like a must see.  It feels like another gimmick that WWE finds necessary to beat to death.  If there is one thing they’ve proven in recent years it is their ability to take an amazing concept and make it seems less than worthwhile.  If you are ordering this PPV, I truly hope it stands up to your expectations but I can’t do it and I can’t in good conscience recommend that anyone do it.  I don’t care to see these matches, which speaks volumes about what Hell in a Cell means today.

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