When I originally sat down to write this, the morning after the Hell In a Cell pay-per-view, I was too angry. The more I thought about what I wanted to say, the more upset I became. The page before me remained blank, but after twenty minutes, blood was pouring from my ears.
I would just like to start off by saying that Hell In A Cell was probably the LEAST offensive PPV that WWE has produced in a while. There were several high points (none quite as high, for me, as Cesaro’s superplex in the first match) and none of the lows were terribly groan-inducing. Yes, LOLCenawins, but that was to be expected. I find that pessimism is a fine quality to possess as a wrestling fan: you can never be disappointed if what you assumed actually happens, only pleasantly surprised if it turns out you’re wrong. So, as a whole, the show was good. I was actually impressed that the Bella vs. Bella match managed to hold my attention. I really enjoyed the pure silliness of the way Sheamus interacted with Miz/Mizdow after his match. I think WWE needs to better train their cameramen because one of the highlights of the Cena/Orton match (the Attitude Adjustment into an inverted RKO) was lost on the TV audience because of the camera angle. Sad, really, because in replay it was actually well executed by the men in the ring. But none of that, not one second of the entire PPV, is as important moving forward as the last five minutes turned out to be.
Before I go any further, I’d like to take a moment and clear up an important piece of information about me. For those of you unfamiliar with The Lady J, I am a HUGE Dean Ambrose fan. I’m a sick and twisted individual who has that photo of him in CZW with the saw to his head saved on my hard drive. My most used hashtag on twitter is #EXPLICITAMBROSEVIOLENCE. I want him to win, but more than anything else, I want brutal matches where I have to cover my eyes. I want chairs, I want tables, I want steel cages, barbed wire, sledgehammers…whatever you got, I want it. (Side note: I miss the hardcore championship.) But that is who I am as a fan. So of course I wanted Dean Ambrose to win. However, if Seth Rollins had turned the tables, beaten the snot out of Ambrose, and gotten the pin by some conniving Seth-type of way, that would have been fine. I just wanted them to kill each other. So my issue has NOTHING to do with the fact that Ambrose lost. In fact, I was more than ready for that.
For most of the Ambrollins match, I was getting MORE than I had anticipated from a PG-era WWE Hell In A Cell match. They don’t let people do things to themselves that Mick Foley used to do (and with good reason.) But here we had a great match, a great story, a great feud. SO I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN. WWE can never just leave well enough alone, so I should have figured they were going to mess it up somehow. It has become the status quo in these big matches to have someone show up at the last moment and throw a wrench into everything. In fact, that is exactly how the last PPV, Night of Champions, ended: Seth Rollins ran into the ring at the end of the Cena/Lesnar rematch and “robbed” Cena of his win over Paul Heyman’s Beast. But the second I realized that the voice chanting in the darkness of the American Airlines Arena in Dallas, TX belonged to Bray Wyatt, my blood began to boil. This was not right. This was wrong on so many levels. Not only was this about to ruin the greatest main event since Wrestlemania 30, it was being done under the guise of “this is what the fanbase has been asking for.”
Back around SummerSlam, the WWE Universe gave up on Bray Wyatt, as well as Luke Harper and Erik Rowan. Nothing new was being done with their characters. The story lines they were involved in became repetitive. They weren’t important to the fans anymore, and I even found myself changing the channel when they appeared on RAW or Smackdown. When they all disappeared at the beginning of September, everyone hoped it was for a re-tooling. And we were right. Just after NOC, we started seeing video packages in which Bray “released” Harper and Rowan. We knew he was coming back, and would be doing so solo, but we weren’t sure how or where. I certainly was not expecting him to appear in the main event of HIAC, as he had no clear reason to be involved. But I, like much of the WWE Universe, longed for the dark, disturbed Bray of 2013.
Just not moments before Seth Rollins got his comeuppance from Dean Ambrose.
Now I know there are people out there who are looking forward to this plot between Bray and Ambrose. I’m sure everyone whose immediate reaction to Bray’s appearance inside the cell was “THINK OF THE PROMOS” will be reduced to a puddle of stickman-loving goo. And I, too, love a good promo. If we could get them up there with Paul Heyman I might pass out. Those promo-happy cheers were joined by the voice of fans who have longed to see change in the WWE and drew comfort from the image of three NXT graduates holding court at the end of a huge PPV event. That is, of course, great. I’m very excited about the younger generation of talent and am glad they’re getting a chance to shine.
Neither of these points outweigh, in my opinion, the fact that this booking seems to be a clear case of giving the audience what they want without putting any effort or work into it. We don’t really need a reason for Bray to set his sights on Dean, though I’m sure tonight’s episode of RAW will give us a peek at what he’s after. But the character of Dean Ambrose has little-to-no beef with Bray. The only time we’ve seen them interact was during Wyatt vs. Shield feuds, and even then Bray’s attention was directed more at Roman Reigns. Ambrose has had tunnel vision for Seth Rollins since the summer. All he wants is to get his hand on his ex-brother. He went through Randy Orton and Kane and even John Cena to get there. If Papa Shango himself had jumped out of that lantern, you’d THINK Ambrose would have dodged him and still curb-stomped Seth’s head into those cinder blocks. The idea that Ambrose was literally distracted by a shiny object is out of character and, frankly, a poor way to introduce a new individual into the equation.
Along with the absurdity of Ambrose letting anything distract him from tearing Seth’s face off, there is also the matter of an unresolved rivalry between these two former Shield members. How can there be no resolution whatsoever? Does WWE think they’d better leave things open-ended in case they need these two to feud again? Maybe they can just pick up where they left off. Why not let there be a clean finish and then move on? Or let these two MOMENTARILY have a common enemy by having Bray bust in and drop duel Sister Abigails on them. One day WWE is going to need The Shield to reunite and I don’t know how you do that if there was never any resolution between these two individuals.
Beyond these two immediate problems, I think a lot of fans are short-sighted in their evaluation of an Ambrose/Wyatt feud. The promo potential between these two is amazing. They will certainly be the most entertaining thing on TV for a while: the plotting, satanic preacher and the unpredictable hooligan. But has anyone seen them in the ring, one-on-one? I can’t picture the somewhat-sloppy and erratic style of Dean Ambrose pairing with the slow and plodding style of Bray Wyatt making for compelling matches.
I was robbed of a real finish last night as a fan. I was left feeling that the WWE creative team had created more problems than they’d solved. It’s going to take a lot of work and a lot of great performances to prove me wrong and make me feel like the end of HIAC wasn’t a monumental bad idea. But at least I can’t be disappointed any more than I already am.
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