WWE Hell in a Cell 2012: 10 Storylines That Need to Be Addressed
While the build toward Hell in a Cell hasn't been as thorough as many had hoped, Sunday's pay-per-view still has the opportunity to be a quality show. In order for that to happen, however, the writers must be committed to furthering or concluding a number of storylines that have been developing in recent weeks.
Plenty of time has been put into the CM Punk vs. Ryback and Sheamus vs. Big Show feuds, but some of the other angles have been neglected as of late. It's tough to blame the WWE for investing so much in the main-event storylines, but it's important to have several compelling angles playing out at once.
Even if everything doesn't come to a head at Hell in a Cell, the event can play an important role in setting angles and feuds up for Survivor Series and beyond. Pay-per-views are generally used to end storylines, but I have a feeling that Hell in a Cell will merely act as a launching pad.
Here are the 10 biggest storylines that must be addressed on Sunday.
CM Punk's Lengthy Title Reign
When Hell in a Cell takes place on Sunday, CM Punk will have been the WWE champion for over 340 days and a win over Ryback would likely mean that his reign would eclipse the one-year mark. That feat hasn't been accomplished since John Cena held the title from Sept. 17, 2006 until Oct. 2, 2007, but Punk has a chance to join some elite company.
Whether or not Punk's run reaches that point has everything to do with the plans for him at Royal Rumble and beyond. The WWE champion is scheduled to face The Rock at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view and most believe that it will be CM Punk, but that is far from a guarantee. Ryback has gained a lot of momentum and it's certainly possible that he'll be given a trial run as champion that could be ended at Survivor Series or TLC if need be.
If Punk enters Royal Rumble having been the WWE champion for well over 400 days, that will give him a great deal of credibility. Nobody has held the title for that long since Hulk Hogan's 1,474-day run from 1984 to 1988, so Punk would obviously be in rarefied air. It probably won't happen cleanly, but I believe that Punk will retain at Hell in a Cell.
Ryback's Undefeated Streak
Since making his debut back in April, Ryback has yet to lose a match and he will put that undefeated streak on the line against CM Punk at Hell in a Cell. Ryback was saddled with some losses under his old Skip Sheffield gimmick, but the slate was wiped completely clean for Ryback and his flawless record is a big part of his mystique.
Aside from a couple wins over former WWE champion The Miz, Ryback hasn't really beaten anyone of note. That hasn't really mattered, though, as the fans have embraced the monstrous man and taken to his "feed me more" catchphrase. The WWE has a reputation for striking while the iron is hot, so that means Ryback has a chance to walk out of Hell in a Cell with championship gold, but it is too soon and I believe the creative team realizes that.
Ryback is often compared to Goldberg, and while his streak is nowhere near Goldberg's in terms of length, it does matter. The WWE hasn't made a point of tallying his wins, but the fact that he is undefeated adds to his aura. Goldberg's streak came to an end through unfair tactics, but it was the start of his downfall. The same may be true of Ryback regardless of how the loss happens.
Brock Lesnar's WWE Return
Brock Lesnar hasn't been seen in a WWE ring since the night after SummerSlam, where he defeated Triple H by making him tap out to the dreaded Kimura Lock. On the ensuing Raw, Lesnar announced via Tout that he was leaving the WWE once again since he had accomplished everything imaginable. It was obviously just a ploy to get Lesnar off television and save the limited amount of dates in his contract, but many have eagerly awaited his return.
There are no guarantees in the WWE, but I feel about as confident as I possibly can that Lesnar will return to the fold at Hell in a Cell. All the stars are aligned and all the pieces are in place for The Next Big Thing to return from his two-month hiatus. The most likely scenario is that Lesnar will interfere in the WWE Championship match and help CM Punk retain against Ryback.
The link between Punk and Lesnar is Paul Heyman, so Lesnar's motives would be obvious. It would allow the WWE to essentially put an asterisk next to Ryback's loss and it could possibly set up a feud and potential WrestleMania match between Lesnar and Ryback. Lesnar interfering seems so obvious that the WWE may avoid it out of spite, but I believe that it's clearly the right move.
What Is Next for John Cena?
John Cena has been out of action since the Raw after Night of Champions due to elbow surgery, but his in-ring return would seem to be on the horizon. Cena maintained that he stepped aside in favor of Ryback since he wasn't medically cleared to compete, but this week he said that the doctors give him the go ahead. Despite that, I think Cena may still be a week away as he avoided physical contact on Monday.
Whatever the case, Cena is suddenly involved in an affair angle with ousted Raw general manager A.J. Lee. A.J. was removed from power by the board due to allegations of her fraternizing with another WWE superstar. A.J. revealed to Cena that he was the superstar in question, leading Cena to plead his case to Vince McMahon and chastise Vickie Guerrero for making up the rumor.
Cena will address his relationship with A.J. on the Hell in a Cell pre-show, and I'm guessing that he'll simply deny any improper involvement. It's very difficult to say where all of this is heading, but I can see a possible mini-feud between Cena and Dolph Ziggler. At the moment, Ziggler isn't involved with anyone, so perhaps Cena will foil Ziggler's cash-in attempt at Hell in a Cell as payback against Vickie, which would then set up a fresh rivalry.
Sheamus' Stale World Heavyweight Championship Run
As someone who believes in Sheamus' talent and ability to be a top draw, I have tried extremely hard to enjoy his run with the World Heavyweight Championship. The fact of the matter is, however, that Sheamus' reign has been far from exciting and SmackDown has suffered greatly because of it. With that said, something big needs to happen at Hell in a Cell in order to shake things up.
One possibility is having Big Show defeat Sheamus for the strap, but I certainly wouldn't support that. Sheamus himself has been fine as world champion, but a lack of proper competition has hurt him. No matter who Big Show goes up against, the feud is going to feel stale. Also, the possibility of Dolph Ziggler cashing in Money in the Bank is ever present, but he has made his intentions so clear that I don't believe he'll be able to do it.
Since beating Daniel Bryan for the title in 18 seconds at WrestleMania, Sheamus has feuded with Bryan, Alberto Del Rio and now Big Show. The Bryan feud was good, but it didn't last long, while the other two have bombed. It's time for a new heel to get involved in the World Heavyweight Championship picture, and I would love to see either Wade Barrett or The Miz make a statement on Sunday.
Dolph Ziggler's Money in the Bank Status
Dolph Ziggler has been Mr. Money in the Bank for just over three months, but a vocal majority of the fans are more than ready for him to cash in. As a huge Ziggler fan, I'll obviously be happy whenever he becomes World Heavyweight champion, but patience is a virtue in these types of situations and I would rather him continue to wait than cash in at Hell in a Cell.
When you give a kid a dollar, they want to spend it as soon as they get it, and I can't help but feel like fans, and even the creative team to some degree, are similar in that way. Most Money in the Bank winners cash it in within a couple months of winning it and some take even less time than that. While it has worked on some occasions, others like Jack Swagger and Alberto Del Rio have floundered due to the fact that it was rushed.
Ziggler has lost at the past two pay-per-views to Chris Jericho and Randy Orton, respectively, and he was made to look like an absolute coward against Ryback on Main Event, so the writers need to take some time and make Ziggler look credible before he cashes in. Ziggler cashing in on Sunday would freshen up the title scene, but it would be premature.
Matt Striker's Involvement with Team Hell No
Since being dropped from the SmackDown announce team in early 2011, Matt Striker hasn't been overly visible on WWE programming. He did a lot of work for NXT prior to it becoming WWE's developmental territory, but he now works primarily as a backstage interviewer. Striker has become much more physically involved as of late, however, as he was attacked by Team Hell No during an interview and had to wrestle Kane last week.
Kane and Daniel Bryan are scheduled to defend the Tag Team Championships against Rhodes Scholars at Hell in a Cell, and I have a sneaky suspicion that Striker will stick his nose into the match. Striker was very arrogant toward Team Hell No on Monday and seems to be favoring Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow. That may very well lead to there being new Tag Team champions on Sunday.
When Striker wrestled for WWE, he had the gimmick of a heel teacher and I believe that would work well if he were to manage Rhodes Scholars. Striker is supposed to be an intellectual, so there would be no better fit than him as their manager. I'd like to see Kane and Bryan regain the titles at some point, but I'll be intrigued if the angle goes the way I think it will.
The Miz's Future Prospects
There are quite a few superstars who aren't being used properly in the WWE right now, but The Miz is probably at the top of the list. Not only is he a former WWE champion, but he headlined WrestleMania and defeated John Cena in the main event just a couple years ago. Rather than challenging for a world title now, though, he is constantly losing to the likes of Kofi Kingston and Ryback.
Miz won the Intercontinental Championship on the 1,000th episode of Raw and it seemed like a great fit, but the booking was so bad that he never looked like a credible champion. Miz then proceeded to drop the title to Kofi on Main Event last week. He will challenge Kingston for the Intercontinental Championship in a rematch on Sunday, but the odds of him winning are astronomical.
That is fine with me, though, because I believe Miz is better off without the IC title. It used to be a springboard to bigger and better things, but now it's simply a midcard title with no meaning. Miz is a main-eventer in every sense of the word and he needs to be featured much more prominently. He is great on the mic and continues to improve in the ring, and I would love to see what he can do in a World Heavyweight Championship feud against Sheamus.
Attack on Kaitlyn at Night of Champions
Prior to her scheduled Divas Championship match against then-titleholder Layla at Night of Champions, Kaitlyn was attacked by a mystery assailant and was ruled unfit to compete. SmackDown general manager Booker T put Eve in the match as a replacement and she proceeded to defeat Layla. Eve has feigned innocence ever since, but her lies are finally catching up with her.
Teddy Long has been suspicious of Eve since the start, so he snooped around on her iPad and shared some information with Kaitlyn. Then, on Monday, Kaitlyn confronted Eve about an email from Eve to Aksana that told Aksana to wear a blond wig and attack Kaitlyn. This led to a backstage brawl between Eve and Kaitlyn with Layla joining in.
That segment was an obvious setup for a Triple Threat match at Hell in a Cell, and it brings us one step closer to finding out who attacked Kaitlyn. I'm not really interested in the match itself, but the storyline hasn't been too bad, which is something that can't often be said when it comes to the Divas. Eve was obviously the mastermind, but hopefully we find out who actually carried out the attack on Sunday.
Randy Orton's Revenge
Randy Orton fell short in his bid to become No. 1 contender for Sheamus' World Heavyweight Championship when he lost to Big Show more than a month ago, but the real story came after the match when Alberto Del Rio launched a brutal assault against The Viper. Del Rio had already attacked Orton prior to the match, but he finished the job after SmackDown went off the air.
This was done to give Orton a little time to film 12 Rounds: Reloaded, but he has returned with a vengeance and targeted The Mexican Aristocrat. I understand that both Orton and Del Rio have their fans, but I find both of them to be very bland in their current gimmicks. I'm not looking forward to their Hell in a Cell match in the least, but the winner is likely to receive a bit of a push up the card.
Del Rio just finished a marathon feud with Sheamus, so my best guess is that Orton will be victorious on Sunday and will perhaps enter the World Heavyweight Championship scene. Orton hasn't been a serious challenger for the title in a year as he lost to Mark Henry in a rematch at Hell in a Cell last year. Orton is far from my favorite, but his ascent back to the top of the card is long overdue.