WWE Hell in a Cell 2012: Satan's Structure Suffers in the PG Era

Ryan DilbertWWE Lead WriterOctober 1, 2012

photo from wwe.com
photo from wwe.com

Though WWE has decided to steer the company in a more family-friendly direction, to wipe away some of the grit of its product, there are remnants of its past that still exist and now stand out like anachronisms.

Hell in a Cell in the PG Era is diluted.

In recent years, the match has been more like Heck in a Cell. In many ways it's pointless to continue a gimmick match that doesn't jive with WWE's new philosophy.

With the creation of the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, feuds are forced to take unnatural turns. Satan's Structure should be reserved for the most intense of rivalries, when foes' hatred can’t be contained by a normal ring.

Instead, we now get it annually, on schedule and in an inferior version.

Fans may point to WrestleMania 28's Triple H vs. Undertaker match as an example of how good the match can still be regardless of era. It wasn't the Hell in a Cell stipulation that made that match great, though.

That memorable clash leaned on the star power of the men involved, the big-moment feel that the WrestleMania setting helped create and the enthralling performances of Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, Triple H and Jim Ross. 

Their Hell in a Cell match was essentially a no-disqualification match with the structure being used minimally.

Not every version of the match is going to have three Hall of Famers involved and be aided by the WrestleMania mystique. 

Will it be just a case of WWE going through the motions at Hell in a Cell 2012 and beyond? 

Can this gimmick thrive in an era that robs it of so much of what made it popular? What options remain for WWE bookers in the famous cage?


What We Won't See Again

Hell in a Cell's most famous moment won't happen again, and the PG rating isn't the only thing to blame.

Mankind’s fall off the cage and his crash through the cage roof endangered his own life while simultaneously making him a legend. The problem with those types of spots is that fans' expectations become unrealistic.

Spots normally considered exciting seem ho-hum lined up next to a man's tooth hanging out of his nose.

There is no way Mick Foley or any other wrestler can sustain that type of danger. PG Era Hell in a Cell matches won't ever come close to risking a wrestler like Foley did in 1998 and again against Triple H in 2000.

The enclosed structure has also been home to some of the bloodiest matches in company history.

Blood is not completely gone from WWE, but it's rare and usually takes an errant elbow to open up the wrestlers.

We won't see a man's face bathed in blood like Shawn Michaels' mug was during the first Hell in a Cell. There will not be another jaw-dropping hemorrhage fest that Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker gave us at No Mercy 2002.

Gone are the barbed-wire bats set on fire, as are direct chair shots to the head.

While Hell in a Cell once offered a litany of macabre options, the current available toolbox is a bit less stocked.


Remaining Options

Even in the PG Era, though, there are still some ways to bring a feud to its climax. There is still violence to be had.

It just has to be done more subtly.

The Triple H vs. Undertaker match displayed how useful a steel chair could be to create drama, even if every blow had to be directed to an opponents' back.

The crowd roared in appreciation when Edge speared Undertaker through the cell. This is the kind of spot that can exist in the PG Era, as it is not as violent and disturbing as Mick Foley's Evel Knievel impressions.

A move like this makes the cell an integral part of the match.   

During the WWE Championship match at Hell in a Cell 2011, Alberto Del Rio used the cage as a means to isolate and imprison CM Punk.

It worked to make him look like the brilliant, devious villain willing to do anything to become champ.

The lock on the cell later came into play as The Miz and R-Truth sneaked in and attacked everyone in stomping range. 

Like with any no-disqualification match, tables, lead pipes and steel steps are all in play.

Beyond that, innovation is going to have bring us new twists in the match. Bookers have far less to work with, so they have to work doubly hard.

Today's Hell in a Cell isn't the sadistic playpen it once was, but it is not completely neutered. WWE has to be creative to have the structure play a vital part; to make these matches stand out compared to every other tussle in the ring.