It has been said in Hollywood that a great actor can make or break a truly flawed film. I think the same goes with professional wrestling particularly WWE. To say the creative going into last night’s WWE Hell in a Cell was rather lackluster would be an understatement. Talents were underutilized in the roles making matches less than intriguing to the everyday viewer. But the truth is the show Itself was really an unexpected surprise from top to bottom. Like a jury prize winner at a film festival it was raw, real and very intense.

The night began with the biggest surprises of the night as John Cena’s US Open Challenge was first on the card. However, that was Only the beginning. We would then see the face of Dutch Mantell a.k.a. Zeb Colter address Cena and says he wants the uniter for the country not a divider. That would lead one to believe that Jack Swagger would challenge for the Stars & Stripes. But no the returning Alberto Del Rio would enter the arena for the first time on WWE television in over a year. This was a nice little swerve and really got the crowd excited for what was to come. After a good back and forth ADR is your new US champion as John Cena rides off into the sunset for a little while. Overall, good segment. But there were a few noticeable touches that I didn’t like. The commentary kept pointing out how John Cena felt a little off from his normal performance. This downplays Alberto’s skill as a performer. I know you want to give the ultimate baby face and out but it’s not good for everyone involved if you make the hero weaker because it doesn’t make it as impressive. Take for example, when John Cena was beaten by Daniel Bryan at Summerslam. Commentary put over that John Cena was hurt and wasn’t performing at his top level. This makes the opponent look weak by proxy. The other thing I found a little odd was the reintroduction of the All-American American. Not saying I don’t like the pairing it just came out of nowhere. It will be interesting to watch them figure out the chemistry going forward.

This would be followed up by the first of the two Hell in a Cell matches with Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt. Given how long the storyline had been going on at this point, it was a very physical encounter. And considering what the main event would do inside the demonic structure they did well telling a story of two men fighting war. A lot of plunder as the American Dream would say. It looks like with John Cena’s absence Roman Reigns will be the top Babyface going forward and Bray Wyatt continues on his journey as the new face of fear. It should be said that no matter what you think of how the characters are booked both men really left it all out there. The trouble is with everything else on WWE’s creative direction will not be followed up as strongly as it should be.

This would go for the Tag Title Match and Divas title counters which were solid matches. Very physical. It will be interesting to see where the company decided to go from here. Nikki Bella and Charlotte learn from their mistakes a month before. One both women did a good job working on a body part and having it play into the finish of the match. Both women should be commended for the work here. And I appreciate barring other people from ringside and letting them be the showcase as I think the team dynamic has run its course.

Same philosophy with The New Day the Dudley Boyz. Very physical encounter that I feel was enhanced by removing the Xavier Woods element. It proved that Big E and Kofi Kingston can handle themselves without the brass section. I have to say I really like the unicorn thing. Their creative will keep the act fresh and vibrant for a long time to come. I would really like to see a third team brought into the mix. This way at TLC in December we would have a Tables Ladders and Chairs match paying homage to what made the Dudleys top stars in WWE. This is where I would put the tag titles on Bubba and D-Von as it would be a great lifetime achievement award.

Seth Rollins versus Kane was interesting. As again, WWE gave us a clean finish with no run-ins and no distractions. Every once in a while they will give Seth Rollins a clean victory and this was one of those special occasions. For a man in the latter part of his career Kane held up his end of the bargain much like Sting the month before. How telling is it that WWE put them in the middle of the show. Creative knew that the feud wasn’t enthralling the fans. And that’s really a disservice to the talent involved. Ironic that Kane might’ve gotten injured the same way as Sting. I’m not sure what’s next for Seth because we don’t really have any strong challengers going forward. I’m not sure if you go with Roman or not. The absence of John Cena, Randy Orton and other top stars will definitely lead to some creative thought processes for WWE for once in a long time.

Match placement did not do any favors for Ryback and Kevin Owens as crowd really wasn’t into what they were doing. Once again the two men tried to put together a physical, smash mouth style match but honestly it was the bathroom break for those getting ready for Undertaker And Brock Lesnar’s final encounter. Owens dispatched Ryback rather quickly. Pretty much signifying that this rivalry is all but over. I will say that Owens is starting to get a little more personality on WWE TV. But he hasn’t found his feud on the main roster that makes him as important as Sami Zayn did in NXT

Speaking of feuds, the final encounter between Brock Lesnar and Undertaker In Hell in a Cell was brutal but different than the original match in 2002 that put the next big thing on the map as a big-time player. This was a war of attrition as an old gunslinger took everything The Beast Incarnate had to offer. We even saw a rarity in Cell encounters these days. Blood. I’m not sure if this happened on purpose or by accident but it gave the match its own feel from the weapon filled encounter they saw earlier the night. Interesting that Lesnar got the victory here as WWE’s promoting Survivor Series at the 25th anniversary celebration of the Undertaker. Especially since the ending of The Hell in a Cell pay-per-view saw The Wyatt Family take The Phenom with them. You might remember they did a similar thing with Kane in their original parents at Summerslam with the Ring of Fire Match. Nothing really came of that. But maybe WWE will pass the torch of the supernatural character to Wyatt and we will really see a push going forward. It really does seem like Undertaker is winding down his career. It wouldn’t surprise me if at Wrestlemania 32 we don’t see a match but more a Hall of Fame celebration.

All in all a really solid show that was plagued with very bad creative going in. Talent really brought everything they had to make the site better than people expected. WWE’s got an interesting future ahead without John Cena. This is probably the most intriguing WWE programming has been in quite some time.

About The Author

Dan is host of Shooting from the Hip which you can hear every Sunday at 8pm EST, 7pm CST right here on PWpop.com.