WWE Hell in a Cell 2012: CM Punk vs. John Cena, by the Numbers
They say that history is the best predictor of the future.
On Monday Night Raw, Mick Foley laid into CM Punk for putting too much emphasis on statistics rather than legendary moments.
Although it flies in the face of everything Mick Foley so passionately preached about, anyone who is a fan of "legitimate sports" almost certainly likes to look at the numbers. And that's what I'd like to do today.
Cena made the guarantee that he will make it to Hell in a Cell to face CM Punk. But at the end of the show, we got thrown for a curve with the unexpected appearance of Ryback.
Make what you want of this scenario, I think it's much more likely that we'll see Punk defend against Cena at the next pay-per-view than relative newcomer Ryback.
Assuming October's PPV is headlined by the "Straight Edge Superstar" and the leader of the Cenation, let's take a look at some relevant Hell in a Cell statistics for these two competitors and the WWE Championship.
CM Punk's Record: 0-2*
I'm surprised that this hasn't been mentioned on television yet, but CM Punk has never won a Hell in a Cell match; but it's not from complete lack of opportunity.
At the 2009 Hell in a Cell PPV, Punk defended the World Heavyweight Championship in a match against The Undertaker. Punk's loss marked the first occasion in which a title changed hands in the Cell.
Two years later, at the 2011 Hell in a Cell PPV, Punk was one of two challengers for Cena's WWE Championship. Ablerto Del Rio came out victorious on that evening.
*Technically, Punk has a third appearance in the Cell. In September 2011, Punk competed in a 5-man WWE Championship Match held inside the Hell in a Cell. It was a dark match for a live Raw taping. Punk failed to capture Cena's WWE Championship in this untelevised match, technically making his Cell record 0-3.
John Cena's Record: 0-2*
Perhaps the reason they haven't mentioned Punk's poor luck in the Cell is because Cena's record doesn't look much better.
The same night that Punk dropped the World Heavyweight Championship to the Undertaker, Cena dropped the WWE Championship to Randy Orton, marking the first time the WWE Championship changed hands in the Cell.
As was mentioned in the last slide, for 2011's Hell in a Cell event, Cena defended the WWE Championship in a Triple Threat Match against Alberto Del Rio and CM Punk. ADR left with Cena's title that evening.
*As far as televised events are concerned, Cena has never won a Cell match. However, if you count the September 2011 Monday Night Raw dark match, in which Cena successfully defended the WWE Championship against CM Punk, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger and Alberto Del Rio, his record would be 1-2.
Defending WWE Champion in Hell in a Cell Matches: 4-2
Since the Hell in a Cell concept was introduced in 1997, it has hosted a total of six televised WWF/WWE Championship matches.
Triple H, Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar successfully defended the titles the first three times it was contested under "Cellular" circumstances. Orton took the title from Cena in 2009, and then defended successfully against Sheamus a year later. At last year's event, ADR took the title from Cena.
If you count Cena's non-televised defense, the record increases to 5-2. Either way, the match clearly favors the champion.
If you add World Heavyweight Championship statistics to the mix, the odds look even better for the champion. Of the six times the WHC has been up for grabs in the Cell, it has only changed hands once—when Punk dropped the belt to the Dead Man.
Although Punk and Cena have both had bad luck in the Cell, Punk would clearly have the championship advantage.
Defending the Title for the 2nd Time & Challenging for the 1st Time
This will be Punk's second opportunity to defend a World Championship within the confines of the Hell in a Cell. He will be just the fourth superstar to defend a World Championship for the second time.
Triple H's second defense saw him retain the World Heavyweight Championship after defeating Kevin Nash. Batista successfully defended the World Heavyweight Championship on his second time around against The Undertaker.
Punk's probable opponent for the October PPV, John Cena, dropped the WWE Championship to ADR the second time he found himself defending in the Cell.
Using that line of thinking, odds are 2:1 in Punk's favor.
John Cena, on the other hand, would be entering the Cell as a challenger for the first time. The odds of a first-time challenger winning are significantly worse than a champion defending for the second time.
Mick Foley, challenging Triple H as Cactus Jack, lost in the first-ever WWF Championship inside the cage. When Kurt Angle defended the WWF Championship, he gave five men their first loss challenging for the title in the Cell, including such greats as Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H, The Undertaker and Rikishi.
Kevin Nash came up short when he made his first cellular challenge against Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship. Randy Orton was the first person to win a World Title the first time he challenged for one in the Cell, when he defeated Cena in 2009.
Sheamus lost his first opportunity in 2010 against Orton. In their simultaneous virgin Cell challenges, ADR took the title from Cena, while Punk shared in the loss.
So, of the eleven competitors that have ever challenged for a World Title in the Hell in a Cell, only two men were successful on their first attempt.
That makes the odds 9:2 in favor of Cena losing his first challenge in the Cell.
Punk and Cena's Experience at the Hell in a Cell Pay-Per-View
This will mark the fourth annual Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, and it's an event in which both men have competed on multiple occasions; neither man has ever won.
As we've already highlighted, Cena had unsuccessful title defenses in 2009 (Orton) and 2011 (Del Rio/Punk). In 2010, he appeared at the PPV in a singles match against Wade Barrett, losing a match that was supposed to mean Cena had to join Nexus.
Regardless, Cena is 0-3 at the PPV.
Punk's winning percentage at HIAC isn't any better. He's been in two World Title matches, losing the WHC to the Undertaker in 2009 and failing to capture the WWE Championship in 2011. He did not compete at the PPV in 2010.
If Punk defends against Cena at HIAC in a singles match, one of these two men will gain their first victory at this annual pay-per-view. That is, assuming they can avoid a draw or "no contest" finish.
Who Will Come Out On Top?
There are several weeks left before we get to witness the latest installment of the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, but people are already making predictions. We don't even have the World Title matches clearly defined yet!
But that's never stopped a true enthusiast from speculating.
If it does turn out to be CM Punk defending the WWE Championship against John Cena within the Hell in a Cell, one of these men is going to have to improve on their HIAC history.
Neither man has won a match at this annual pay-per-view, and neither man has won a televised Hell in a Cell match.
History tends to be on the side of the champion when it comes to Hell in a Cell. The odds are even more in the champion's favor if he has previously defended a World Title in the Cell before, as Punk has. And the odds continue to stack against Cena, as only two of eleven title challengers have ever been successful during the first time they've been the challenger in the Cell.
Of course, this is WWE. The results are predetermined. With rare exceptions like Taker's WrestleMania streak, statistics rarely have a huge impact on the outcome of WWE's matches.
But as they love to say, anything can happen.