Hell in a Cell might, in fact, be hell for the WWE.
After it was revealed earlier this week that Monday Night Raw had its lowest rating in 15 years, the company is likely already in crisis mode, so a bad pay-per-view on Sunday could turn an already horrible week into a downright dreadful one.
Unfortunately for the WWE, Hell in a Cell isn’t exactly shaping up to be a must-see pay-per-view.
Though the show looks poised to at least have some positives, I can’t help but think that the WWE’s recent struggles in the ratings department will carry over to PPV, with a show that doesn’t quite deliver the goods.
Sorry for the pessimism, everybody. But here are seven reasons why I think Hell in a Cell will be the worst PPV of the year.
WARNING: The following slideshow contains SPOILERS, so stop reading if you like to be surprised.
The WWE has had one of its longest gaps between PPVs of 2012, with six weeks between last month’s Night of Champions PPV and Sunday’s Hell in a Cell show.
You would think that this would result in feuds that have gotten some time to develop and have some actual layers and depth. But that just hasn’t been the case.
The WWE has had to flip-flop between a Punk/Ryback and Punk/Cena feud, which has resulted in only two weeks of actual build between Punk and Ryback.
Then, we have a Big Show/Sheamus feud that leaves a lot to be desired, and a rivalry between Randy Orton and Alberto Del Rio that has suffered from Orton’s TV absences (and the fact that we’ve already seen this match a few times).
We’ve also been getting a Layla/Eve/Kaitlyn “who done it?” mystery that has had absolutely horrendous writing, and one of the matches I’m most excited to see—Team Rhodes Scholars vs. Team Hell No—has only been built up for one episode of Raw.
A big reason why a PPV will or will not be successful is the buildup toward it, and while the buildup to Hell in a Cell hasn’t been atrocious overall, it’s definitely been far from great.
This has been a very good year for the WWE in terms of pay-per-view quality.
While there have been some stinkers and one of the WWE’s “Big Four” shows, SummerSlam, was one of the company’s more disappointing efforts, I’ve really enjoyed most of the WWE’s PPVs this year.
Elimination Chamber was solid, WrestleMania was really good and even pay-per-views like Over the Limit and Money in the Bank had some stellar matches that made the PPVs well worth the money.
Of course, Extreme Rules was an absolutely fantastic show that featured three awesome matches and the most well-rounded card of the year, and Night of Champions also really delivered the goods, with the Punk/Cena and Orton/Ziggler matches ranking as two of the best matches of the year.
Heading into Hell in a Cell, I think it’s pretty safe to say that it won’t even come close to WrestleMania, Extreme Rules or Night of Champions in terms of match quality. The only question is: Will it be better than the WWE’s other PPV shows?
It may ultimately prove to be better than a show like No Way Out, which was pretty bad, but when you really look at the HIAC card, it’s hard to picture it being anything but one of the worst, if not the worst PPV of the year in a 2012 that’s had some very memorable PPVs.
Remember the classic battle these two had on Raw a couple of weeks ago?
I’m kidding, of course, because the Divas title match I’m talking about lasted just a few minutes and was so bad that it was borderline painful to watch.
I respect that Layla and Eve go out there and work their tails off to try to entertain us, but Layla does absolutely nothing for me as a babyface and hasn’t performed very well in the ring since her return.
Eve is definitely the star of the Divas division right now, but I’m not sure she can carry Layla to a watchable match, especially when you consider that they’ll probably only get three or four minutes to wrestle at Hell in a Cell.
While the Divas deserve a chance to get on PPV, we’ve already seen this match twice, and after two lackluster performances combined with a pretty awful build toward this third encounter, I don’t think we need to see it again.
No, I’m not just being a Dolph Ziggler fan-boy here.
I just think it’s dumb of the WWE to keep one of its very best in-ring performers off of the Hell in a Cell card. After all, Ziggler has made a habit out of delivering great PPV matches in 2012.
He stole the show at Money in the Bank, had the best match at the Royal Rumble (against CM Punk for the WWE Championship), the best match at SummerSlam (against Chris Jericho), arguably the best match at No Way Out (against Sheamus for the World Heavyweight Championship) and an absolutely fantastic match against Randy Orton at Night of Champions that ranks as one of the best matches of the year.
While I get that Ziggler may be off of the HIAC card because he will cash in that night, the fact of the matter is that he instantly improves a PPV card because his matches are always really good, if not great.
He should have a match on every PPV, especially ones that don’t provide very many other great wrestling matches.
The WWE has painted itself into a corner with a WWE Championship match between CM Punk and Ryback that’s nearly impossible to book.
A Punk loss prematurely ends his title reign, likely throws a wrench into future creative plans and ends the momentum Punk has built up with his recent heel turn.
Meanwhile, a Ryback loss ends his undefeated streak, makes him appear to be more human and destroys the main appeal of his gimmick (that he’s an unstoppable and unbeatable monster).
This wouldn’t be a problem if this was a standard wrestling match, but since it’s taking place inside Hell in a Cell, there cannot be a DQ finish—well, at least that should be the case if the WWE doesn’t decide to start changing the rules.
As a result, the WWE is going to have to do one of two things it probably doesn’t want to do: either end Punk’s nearly year-long title reign or end Ryback’s undefeated streak.
What this likely means is that we’ll get some sort of “no contest” (with Brock Lesnar involved, perhaps?) or a DQ finish that ends the Hell in a Cell PPV on a sour note and/or cheapens the HIAC stipulation.
Unless the WWE pulls a miracle out of nowhere here, the ending of Punk vs. Ryback is probably going to upset a lot of people.
I just don’t care about this feud or match. At all.
While I’m a fan of Sheamus and don’t think that The Big Show is horrible, I just can’t buy into Show’s start-and-stop pushes, with the WWE trying to turn him into a dominant, main-event-level heel just a few months after he was basically a glorified jobber.
Not all that long ago, Big Show was bawling like a baby on Raw in one of the most awfully acted segments I can ever remember seeing. Now, he’s supposed to be an indestructible monster who will win the World Heavyweight Championship?
Sorry, WWE. But I’m just not buying it, and I’m not buying this feud, either.
As Big Show has continually said, Sheamus is being far too goofy for me, trying to crack too many jokes instead of being the brawler that he should be. As a result, we’ve gotten incredibly lackluster build for a feud between a giant I can’t take seriously and a World Heavyweight Champ who has the same problem.
To top it all off, we’re going to get a match between the two that likely won’t be very good because Big Show really struggles to do anything entertaining when he’s in the ring with another big man.
I’m not expecting much from Big Show vs. Sheamus. But maybe a Dolph Ziggler cash-in can make this match worth sitting through.
There’s a very good chance that three of the top matches at Hell in a Cell will end up being awful or, at the very least, pretty bad.
We’ve already seen Layla vs. Eve twice in the past couple of months, and it was probably even worse than we expected on both occasions. That likely won’t change at Hell in a Cell.
Unfortunately for the WWE, the two main events have the potential to be incredibly disappointing as well.
All we’ve seen out of Ryback so far is a bunch of short squashes, with none of his TV matches lasting longer than five minutes. But at Hell in a Cell, he’s going to be expected to deliver a PPV main-event-quality match that will likely last three to four times as long as any match he’s ever had.
I don’t think it’s very realistic for anyone to expect Ryback to steal the show, and with such an unproven track record, there’s a very good chance that his first main-event performance could be a major flop.
The same could be said of Big Show vs. Sheamus, which doesn’t exactly strike most wrestling fans as a dream matchup. In fact, Show’s history of struggling when in the ring with other big men leads us to believe that he will do the same with Sheamus.
If that’s the case, Sheamus vs. Show could join Ryback vs. Punk as two lackluster main events that are of rather poor wrestling quality.
After seeing big-time bouts like Punk vs. Daniel Bryan and Cena vs. Punk as the World title matches on previous PPVs, it’s hard to get excited about two World title bouts that don’t figure to be wrestling clinics.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!