Wrestling is an interesting world as there is no off season, no major break for the creative staff and even less of a break for the wrestlers. With so much work and so much time spent in everything they are doing, there is destined to be a moment, or maybe even a few moments, where the wheels come off for a bit and something strange happens, right before our eyes. Then there are those once in a generation moments that defy any sense of logic, common sense or any reasonable excuse for thinking known to humankind. We might have gone beyond that Sunday night.

You know what they did and you’ve heard all of the complaints. That doesn’t begin to explain the whole thing away though, as the ending to Hell in a Cell was one of the all time perfect storms of horrific. About fifteen hours have passed since the end of the show and my mind has still not wrapped around the whole thing. Maybe talking it out can help a bit, like the grief counseling you see for people who have been witness to some other nightmarish experience.

Remember when this was a little better:

60 Seconds in Hell - The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels - In Your House: Badd Blood

60 Seconds in Hell - The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels - In Your House: Badd Blood

That’s what we’re doing this week: taking a look back at what set up the Cell match, how bad it went and how much damage it really caused. I’ll be leaving out the multitude of better ideas they could have had for a finish as it’s far too long of a list to even consider (for the sake of completion though, I would have gone with Fiend vanishes, they break out of the Cell and fight to the back or Fiend just wins the title). We’ll focus on the bad instead, as there is more than enough to go around a few times.

Let’s start at the beginning, when Bray Wyatt made a very long awaited return, but not as his normal self. No instead we were getting the Firefly Fun House Wyatt, who seemed much happier than the old version. It turned out that he now seemed to have a split personality, with the evil side being captured inside an entity known as the Fiend. That would be the monster clown looking persona, who only appeared in quick flashes and was only talked about for a long time.

The Fiend finally made an in-ring appearance at Summerslam, squashing former World Champion Finn Balor. With that out of the way, it was quickly announced that he would be receiving a shot at Seth Rollins and the Universal Title in October inside the Cell, which made a good bit of sense. It’s the frightening, evil match that was designed to cause pain, which fits in well for the Fiend.

The memorable one:

video
On the other side you have Rollins, who won the title back from Brock Lesnar at Summerslam and hasn’t really done much with it. Rollins is good in the ring but his character is basically summed up as “he has good matches and wins titles”. There isn’t much else to him and that doesn’t make for the most thrilling champion. Rollins comes off more as the guy who fights a monster like the Fiend and ultimately falls before the new evil until we get a better person to slay the dragon.

So that’s how we got here, and the Cell makes it worse. The match is all about brutality and one person being able to survive until the end. They always talk about how no one is the same after they leave and how it changes the people inside. This match is designed to be all about violence and evil and carnage so it fit that Rollins seemed to fear the Fiend throughout the build.

Then the match ends in a DQ (spare me the referee stoppage answer, as it had no signs of such and would have been called a DQ in any other match) when Rollins annihilated the Fiend in the end, using every weapon he could find. This came after eleven Stomps and a Pedigree, none of which could really keep the Fiend down. Well not down for three, but down for about six or seven minutes straight as Rollins kept putting stuff on top of him.

As you can probably tell, no one comes out of this looking good, so let’s look at all three elements and how badly damaged they were.

Seth Rollins

I’d say the chorus of booing that he heard during the match should tell you everything you need to know. The fans made it clear that they did not like what Rollins was doing, nor him keeping the title. It makes Rollins into a lame duck champion as the fans don’t want to see him and it isn’t like he had the strongest character in the world coming into this match. I don’t know how much good you can get from literally cowering from the evil clown but Rollins didn’t seem to benefit from it all that much.

And now….it’s this:

video
On top of that, how popular can you be for near attempted murder after your finisher (nearly a dozen of them) couldn’t put the guy away? The Stomp is now a worthless finisher, Rollins looks ineffective and he is the last person that the fans want to see holding the title right now. The title situation is already pretty weak after all of the Lesnar stuff and now they’ve taken a mallet to their long term champion.

Bray Wyatt

Normally this would be the biggest problem but somehow that isn’t the case here. Wyatt had been built up for months coming into this and fans were thinking there was no way that he couldn’t win the title here. He was a lot more interesting than Rollins and had something fascinating with the Fiend character. Then we got ready for the big title match and it seemed that there was no way for them to possibly screw up something so simple.

So now that they have screwed it up at such a level, where is Wyatt supposed to go? He won his debut and then got the title match….where he was knocked down and mostly out cold for the better part of seven minutes or so and then was beaten so badly that the referee stopped the match (right). Forget all of the cool build, the awesome split personality deal and how great Wyatt was able to play both characters at once. No, now what people is going to remember is Wyatt taking a beating like this and having the match stopped in a stupid ending. That’s his reward for all those months of hard work. Nice job WWE.

The Cell

And then….my goodness this really happened. The Cell made its debut when I was nine years old and I remember being in awe of the thing. Then the next year, Mankind went flying off of the thing and the Cell became the stuff of legends in WWE. That clip may be the most played in WWE history (it’s in the top handful at worst) and it only works because of the Cell (and Mick Foley being completely insane of course). Over the years, nothing could top that, but you knew that something could happen because of the precedent that was set. How many times was the Cell Dive brought up in the build to every Cell match that followed?

Well forget all that. The new precedent is that there is a limit. The rules have changed with the idea of limitless violence that can only be stopped with a pin or a submission being replaced by “now you can get violent, but not THAT violent.” It defeats the entire point of the Cell and takes away everything that made it both special and ominous. There was this feeling that anything could happen and that made the match feel special every single year. Now though, how are you supposed to hype this? There isn’t much of a market for “They could get this violent! *Violence will be closely monitored and stopped if it gets too bad! We promise!”

The more I think about this, the more annoyed I get about it. How in the world can they manage to do so much damage in one match? Are they so shortsighted that they didn’t realize they would have to come up with a way out of this? They wrote the story in the first place but it seems like they didn’t know how to finish the thing up, which is as stupid as you can get. I know there was a lot going on in WWE last week, but sweet goodness could they have put in enough thought to prevent ruining two major stars and your big signature violent match? They managed to get three strikes in a match, and now should be out.

Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books. His latest book is KB’s Complete 2004 Monday Night Raw Reviews.

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