ATLANTA — It’s just past midnight here in Atlanta as the Hell in a Cell PPV ended about an hour ago. As I write this, I’m still trying to make sense of all that happened, what should have happened and what will happen in the aftermath of the PPV.
Unlike Jon Waldman’s post earlier today (Countdown to Hell in a Cell), I thought I knew exactly what was going to happen in this PPV. To say I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement of what transpired here in Hotlanta (which had a high today of 57°F, not exactly fitting the town’s nickname).
First let’s state the obvious: Ryback shirts and signs were aplenty in Philips Arena. Throughout the entire evening, chants of “Feed. Me. More.” came and went, regardless of what match or segment was currently being shown.
I’ve never been a part of a wrestling show where the majority of the fans only cared about one match on the card. That’s a shame because the lack of enthusiasm for the other matches made it difficult to appreciate them.
Not sure if Hell in a Cell showed the pre-show Q&A session with John Cena. In case it wasn’t shown, here’s a quick recap:
- Cena had some simple advice for Ryback in tonight’s match which was brute strength alone will not be enough to win.
- If Ryback beats CM Punk, Cena would like to be the first person to challenge Ryback for the title.
- Wanting history to repeat itself, Cena threw out another challenge to The Rock. The reason for the challenge tonight was that it was also in Philips Arena where Cena and Rock agreed to the WrestleMania XXVIII main event match.
- Cena was asked for a one word response to Vicky Guerrero. After some thought, he simply said “Silence!” Hopefully this will catch on any time “Excuse me!” is heard at a WWE event.The Del Rio/Orton match had a few nice spots. I have no idea if Del Rio has a name for the move where he stomped on Orton’s chest after Randy was tangled in the ropes, but he may want to consider using that as an alternate finishing move. Everyone in my section cringed when Del Rio hit that move and continued to talk about it throughout the night. It was sad that the finish was kind of botched because for an opening match, it was generally entertaining.
The Tag Team Championship match of course had lots of “Yes!” and “No!” chants throughout along with the obligatory “Goatface” and “Goatboy” chants. One interesting chant that I wish caught on more was “Rafi!” I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks Damien Sandow is a dead ringer for Jason Mantzoukas’ Rafi from The League.
I was expecting the Miz/Kofi match to be one of the highlights, but it couldn’t hold my attention. Yes, Kofi diving over the ring steps and then walking into a Miz attack right after was a great spot, but I honestly couldn’t tell you any other moves other than Kofi won in the end. It may have been Kofi’s post-match interview that had everyone around me scratching our heads. I have no idea what the “Wildcat” reference means and if this means we’ll be seeing a much more aggressive Kofi in the future or if it simply means Miz made him compete at another level tonight.
The United States title match was pretty unpopular with the crowd too. Throughout the match, chants of “We want Ryback” scattered during the contest and honestly, it just seemed odd having a Swiss and a South African competing for the United States Championship.
The match between WWE’s resident luchadors against the Prime Time Players was odd because every time Rey came into the match, the crowd instantly got into the match. Yet when Sin Cara battled, the energy instantly got sucked out of the arena.
The World Heavyweight Championship match was not what I expected at all. While both Sheamus and Show traded dominance at the beginning, chants of “We want Lesnar!” and “We want Dolph!” came and went. It wasn’t until all the near falls that the crowd began to get into the match.
Like most people, I expected Big Show to win cleanly with Ziggler then cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase. Only the first part of the expectation happened. I think everyone kept waiting for Ziggler’s music to hit but it never did. Even when Big Show did his open challenge, I expected Dolph to be standing right next to Show when he turned around. No such luck.
The Divas match was about as exciting as you can expect. Nothing against these women, but Eve, Kaitlyn and Layla have nothing on the matches that Trish Stratus and Lita would put on as active wrestlers.
Finally the main event arrives. This is the first time the entire building seemed to care about what was going on in the ring. The Ryback chants started early and never really ended. As far as Hell in a Cell matches go, there was nothing special about this one. Like most people, I kept expecting Brock Lesnar to show up, rip the door off the cage and F-5 Ryback allowing Punk to pick up the tainted win. What happened instead was much more intriguing.
The referee, Brad Maddox, preventing Ryback from using his finisher on Punk caught everybody by surprise. Even more shocking was the low blow that followed along with the ref assisting in the pin and the fast count for Punk’s win. While this technically goes as a loss for Ryback, I’m sure the WWE will figure out some way to nullify this loss, keeping Ryback’s undefeated streak intact.
The crowd reaction after the match was great. Of course, everyone cheered when Ryback picked up Maddox and hurled him from the ring into the cage, but when Punk and Ryback started climbing up the cage on the outside, the roar was deafening. Seeing Ryback lift up Punk on the top of the cage to deliver the Shellshock, I had a flashback to the 1998 King of the Ring, wondering if Punk would fall through the cell from the impact.
As the crowd filed out of Philips Arena, everyone was wondering what would happen tomorrow on Raw. For that, I must give lots of credit to the WWE for making the most out of a tricky situation. Yes, the main event wasn’t that spectacular, but the fallout from this evening has great potential and I’m already thinking of how this will affect the Survivor Series PPV.
Matthew Asher is a freelance journalist currently living in Atlanta who wonders if referee Brad Maddox comes in Ryback’s favorite flavor.