Hell in a Cell may not be one of the WWE's upper-echelon pay-per-views, but there is no question that Sunday's event will have a huge effect on what happens moving forward. The card may seem a little light in terms of top-flight matches, but the WWE Championship match between CM Punk and Ryback has everyone talking.
On top of that, Sheamus will defend his World Heavyweight Championship against Big Show. The undercard is a bit light, but bouts such as The Miz vs. Kofi Kingston for the Intercontinental Championship and Team Rhodes Scholars against Team Hell No for the Tag Team Championships should keep the fans engaged and entertained.
The card also has a pretty good mix of fairly predictable matches and contests that could honestly go either way. If booked correctly, I have no doubt that Hell in a Cell can end up being a quality show. If the writers try to get too cute and stray away from what works, however, it could just as easily be a train wreck.
Here is my match-by-match breakdown for Hell in a Cell, complete with predictions and analysis for every announced match as well as matches that are projected to be included.
The WWE has had a habit of putting all its eggs in one basket when it comes to pay-per-views, and there is no question that Hell in a Cell will rely almost exclusively on the success of CM Punk vs. Ryback for the WWE Championship. This match has received better build than any other with the possible exception of the World Heavyweight Championship tilt, and it must be good in order to salvage the night.
It seemed like the plan from the start was to have Punk defend against John Cena once again, especially after the draw at Night of Champions, but a wrench was thrown into that plan when Cena's recovery from elbow surgery went slower than expected. The WWE immediately installed Ryback as a backup, and he'll be on the big stage this Sunday.
I wouldn't put it past the WWE to capitalize on Ryback's incredible momentum and have him win the title, but that would be a rash decision. The WWE would be much better off having Punk hold the title until the Royal Rumble at the very least as he would meet The Rock. That would give Punk a reign of well over a year and he would most definitely be a credible opponent.
Since having Ryback lose cleanly is out of the question, though, the most likely scenario involves Brock Lesnar breaking into the cell, delivering an F-5 to Ryback and helping Punk retain the title. That would start a dominant heel stable with Paul Heyman being the common link between Punk and Lesnar, and it would possibly start a monster feud between Lesnar and Ryback.
The WWE has done its best to hype the World Heavyweight Championship match between Sheamus and Big Show at Hell in a Cell, and while it hasn't gotten me overly excited, I have to give the creative team credit for putting some actual time and effort into it. It hasn't yet been announced that Sheamus vs. Big Show will take place within the confines of a cell, but since both world title matches normally do, I have to believe that will be the case.
If nothing else, the presence of the cell would spice up a match that would otherwise be fairly ordinary. Sheamus is fantastic in the ring for a guy his size and he can impress against pretty much anyone. You know what you're going to get from Big Show, though. He isn't as immobile as some make him out to be, but you just aren't going to see a four- or five-star match with him involved.
The main thing to focus on is that Big Show is being presented as Sheamus' biggest threat. Big Show has gotten the better of The Great White on several occasions during the buildup and it has helped make him look like a legitimate threat, but all signs point to Sheamus retaining in a physical, hard-hitting affair.
Expect Big Show to beat down Sheamus afterwards with Dolph Ziggler running down in an attempt to cash in his Money in the Bank contract. Ziggler has been stopped from doing so on several occasions, and I don't believe that Sunday will be any different as Big Show will level Ziggler with his KO Punch out of frustration.
Out of the five matches that have officially been announced for the Hell in a Cell card, the result of Kofi Kingston vs. The Miz would seem to be the most obvious.
Kofi beat The Miz on Raw last week in a non-title match, and then followed that up with a victory on Main Event to capture the Intercontinental Championship for the fourth time in his career. The Miz has chosen to exercise his rematch clause, but I believe it is merely a formality.
As much as I liked the idea of The Miz as Intercontinental Champion, he was never put in a position to succeed. He constantly lost non-title matches to John Cena, Kane and Rey Mysterio among others, and while he had a few successful defenses, he wasn't built to look credible. I hoped a run with the IC title would help catapult him back to the main-event scene, but it was holding him back more than anything.
With that said, Kofi is a good choice to hold the title. He isn't a main-event guy, but he is extremely established as a midcarder and is a safe option. The Miz lost to Ryback on Monday and has no real momentum heading into Hell in a Cell, so Kingston retaining is almost inevitable.
The match does have the potential to be one of the best pure wrestling encounters on the card as Miz and Kofi have good chemistry, so hopefully they are given enough time to shine. After plenty of back-and-forth action, Kingston will hit Trouble in Paradise for the victory. It's hard to say where The Miz will go from there, but my hope is a feud with Sheamus over the World Heavyweight Championship.
For the first time in a couple years the WWE's tag team division seems to matter, so there is good reason to be excited about the Tag Team Championship match between Team Hell No and Team Rhodes Scholars on Sunday. Kane and Daniel Bryan captured the titles at Night of Champions and have been a dysfunctional pairing ever since, but they continue to be two of the most entertaining characters in the entire WWE.
The emergence of Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow as a unit has been great to see as well with the egotistical duo defeating Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara in the finals of the No. 1 contenders' tournament. I initially figured it was a given that Team Hell No would successfully defend the titles at Hell in a Cell and continue their reign, but now I'm not so sure.
Kane and Bryan have been having some issues with interviewer Matt Striker as of late, and his background leads me to believe that he'll involve himself in the match. Striker was supportive of Team Rhodes Scholars on Monday and his former gimmick as a wrestler was that of a condescending teacher, so he would be the perfect manager for Rhodes and Sandow.
I believe that Striker will interfere on Sunday and Team Hell No's lack of team work will come back to haunt them. Rhodes Scholars will capture the Tag Team Championships and take on Striker as their manager, but the feud with Team Hell No will be far from over. Kane and Bryan will go back to singles competition at some point, however, that time hasn't come yet.
I can't imagine that too many fans are pumped to see Randy Orton and Alberto Del Rio do battle at Hell in a Cell, but that feud has been a big part of SmackDown and will play an integral role on Sunday's card. The rivalry started several weeks ago when Del Rio cost Orton a chance to become No. 1 contender for the World Heavyweight Championship by attacking him prior to his match with Big Show, and now The Viper is out for revenge.
Orton and Del Rio have traded blows over the past couple weeks and they will enter Hell in a Cell on fairly equal footing. The match could technically go either way since neither competitor would move up or down the totem pole very much with a win or loss, but Orton has to be considered the favorite heading into the pay-per-view.
Del Rio is just coming off a lengthy World Heavyweight Championship feud against Sheamus, so giving him the rub makes little sense. Also, Orton has been filming 12 Rounds: Reloaded and the WWE may want to increase his exposure because of that. Orton is still one of the WWE's most popular stars, and he tends to get the win more often than not at these types of events.
A fairly even match with some pretty good in-ring action is to be expected, but Orton will come out on top as he so often does by hitting Del Rio with an RKO.
Although the match hasn't been announced yet, I would be shocked if Antonio Cesaro didn't defend his United States Championship against Justin Gabriel at Hell in a Cell. Cesaro has knocked off the likes of Gabriel, Brodus Clay, Tyson Kidd and Ted DiBiase in recent weeks. Prior to Raw, he was on quite a roll and had looked extremely impressive in the ring, but Gabriel surprisingly beat him and halted his streak.
If there weren't plans to have Gabriel face Cesaro on Sunday, then there is no way that he would have gone over. As long as they have a United States Championship match at Hell in a Cell, I'll be fine with that creative decision. Other than that, it was a bad move to make Cesaro look weak after so many victories in a row.
There is definitely room for a couple more matches on Sunday's card, so this looks like a shoe-in. I really wish that Cesaro would be placed in a proper feud since he has all the tools to get over as a top heel, but he has been held back by a lack of competition. He and Gabriel have put on a couple great matches already and likely will again on Sunday, but there is nothing driving their rivalry.
A pay-per-view win simply can't hurt Cesaro, so look for him to avoid being hit by the 450 Splash before nailing Gabriel with the Gotch-style Neutralizer to retain.
This is yet another match that the WWE has yet to confirm in the Hell in a Cell section of its website, but Monday's events suggest that an Eve vs. Kaitlyn vs. Layla Triple Threat match is very likely to happen. There has been animosity between the Divas ever since Night of Champions when Kaitlyn was taken out by a mystery attacker, causing Eve to take her place and defeat Layla for the Divas Championship.
The Divas division has really thinned out over the past few months, and Eve, Kaitlyn and Layla are almost all that's left besides Natalya, particularly if Beth Phoenix leaves as has been rumored. This isn't a golden age for the Divas by any stretch of the imagination, but all three of the possible combatants can hold their own in the ring.
There was a breakthrough in the case of Kaitlyn's mystery attacker as Teddy Long passed along incriminating evidence from Eve's iPad to Kaitlyn. Eve was then confronted by Kaitlyn, and it was revealed that Eve sent an email to Aksana, telling her to wear a blond wig and assault Kaitlyn. That led to a fight between Eve, Kaitlyn and Layla, but the mystery has yet to be solved.
If this match does happen, then Eve is likely to retain since she is unquestionably the WWE's top Diva right now, especially after winning the reality show Stars Earn Stripes. I don't believe that Aksana was the one behind the attack, but I do get the feeling that it may have been Natalya, so perhaps she will help Eve pick up the victory.