Hell in a Cell has grown from an Attitude Era specialty to an icon worthy of its own pay-per-view. A WWE standby, it has become the natural extension of the traditional cage match, designed to end a feud in the messiest way possible. Even in the "PG Era" (groan), its reputation is enough to give it an aura of danger. You may not see as much blood tonight as you would in 1998, but the suspense of watching that monster cage descend still has much of its old potency.
It's an odd time for wrestling, and WWE in particular. A year ago, the company could still count CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Roman Reigns and Ryback amongst its top stars. The company had dug its way out of a decade-long creative slump. Now, with all of the above names off television, the company has found itself in another transitional period. We've seen this before, and not just during the mid-nineties, "New Generation" period of Lex Luger, Bret Hart and Doink. Names like "Superstar" Billy Graham, Bob Backlund, Randy Savage, Ultimate Warrior, and Triple H are well-known to fans, but at the time, their reigns on top both followed and preceded those of more popular champions. To the casual fan, unless you're Hogan, Austin, Rock or Cena, you're a transitional figure.
Longtime fans know better. If you still mark out to HBK, Y2J or Kurt Angle; if you love wrestling for wrestling's sake; if you still think Mr. Perfect should have been WWF Champion, then you look forward to nights like tonight, because these are the shows that make megastars out of superstars.
Pre-Show: Mizdow TV. We'll see some shenanigans from the hilarious Damien Sandow, and undoubtedly some interference by Sheamus. I'd like to see the beginning of a Sandow/Miz feud, but it's probably too soon. Besides, that would entail turning Sandow babyface, and I'm not having that, ever.
Dolph Ziggler (C.) vs. Cesaro for the Intercontinental Championship. Two Out of Three Falls. Expect the match of the night. Normally, two out of three falls matches last too long, but these guys are good enough to carry twenty or even thirty minutes. See it as a preview of their inevitable Iron Man match for the WWE title. You read here first. Probably. I like both wrestlers, but I see Cesaro getting the final win.
Goldust & Stardust (C.) vs. The Usos for the Tag Team Championship. I've been a Rhodes family fan since Dusty and Dustin teamed up when was a kid. I'm huge Goldust fan, and have been to see Cody Rhodes go every bit as nuts. The Cosmic Key business makes me laugh every time, mainly because I have Masters of the Universe on DVD. (I'm still holding out for some Garbage Pail Kids or Monster Squad references. An eighties kid can dream.) They're also great wrestlers. Goldust, in particular, has never looked better. That said, the Usos will probably win, and rightfully so. Cody will inevitably restart his solo career one day, so it only makes sense to put the belts back on the Usos, further cementing their legacy.
AJ Lee (C.) vs. Paige for the Divas Championship. I like AJ, but the Divas division remains a shadow of the old Women's title. Paige has a future in the business, but she's still too green for Raw. No one comes close to AJ's charisma, both in the ring and on the mic. We're not quite getting GLOW-lite here, but a star of AJ's caliber deserves more to work with. If WWE really wants to make the Divas spot more than excuse for a smoke break, they'll put some of their NXT ladies on Raw. Charlotte and Bayley, for instance. I guess AJ wins this one.
Big Show vs. Rusev. Most folks see this as yet another heel turn for Mark Henry. How about a heel turn for Big Show instead? Put him in cahoots with Rusev. Hell, Photoshop a picture of him with Putin, drunk on vodka and watching Knucklehead. Anything but making Mark Henry a sore loser. Rusev wins, if only so he can job to Cena in a few months.
Sheamus (C.) vs. The Miz for the United States Championship. Sandow will be hilarious. Miz will be better than you expect. Sheamus wins.
Brie Bella vs. Nikki Bella. Indentured Servitude vs. Career Match. Now this is GLOW-lite. If the twins really wrestle, it will be a change, but I don't see it. Someone wins, no one cares.
John Cena vs. Randy Orton. No Holds Barred Contract on a Pole Match. Some fans aren't into this match, but I'm looking forward to it. I've warmed to both of these guys over the years. Plus, it's not like we didn't see Flair vs. Steamboat a million times back in the day. I'm in. Cena wins.
Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins. Hell in a Cell. There is some "legit" concern that these two will go too far tonight. Believe the hype. Tonight is these gentlemen's moment. Expect a huge match with a few surprises, possibly a big return. Maybe not Roman Reigns, but possibly Ryback. I have no idea why. I want Ambrose to win, but Rollins is the guy right now. For the love of Mike Awesome, WWE, please don't make the finish some no-contest bullshit. I can watch Nitro for that.