WWE Hell in a Cell is less than 24 hours away, and the company had six weeks to build this show—nearly as much as WrestleMania 28. Did they make the most of their time? Spoiler alert: they did not.
There were some successes and failures of the Hell in a Cell 2012 build. Each match listed below will receive a letter grade for the build it received headed into Sunday’s pay-per-view. Feel free to share your own grades in the comments below!
WWE Championship: CM Punk (champion) vs. Ryback in a Hell in a Cell Match
The main event of the show has received the most attention. However, this was originally being built as CM Punk vs. John Cena until Cena’s recent elbow surgery. His injury became part of the build, but ultimately it was John Cena who gave Ryback his personal stamp of approval.
The biggest of the build to the WWE Championship Match has been the elevation of Ryback. As his stature increased, so did the crowd reactions. It started when he came to the aid of Mick Foley, followed by his doing the same for Jim Ross.
When Ryback was selected as the challenger, the fans were rabid in their approval. Ryback is new, he’s exciting and he has captured the imagination of the casual WWE fans. At Hell in a Cell, we find out if it was worth it.
One wild card is the fact that John Cena is now healed, according to a report from WrestleZone. Cena could be inserted into the match, which does play right into the build we’ve seen over the past few weeks.
World Heavyweight Championship: Sheamus (champion) vs. The Big Show
The Big Show emerged as Sheamus’s next challenger after a victory over Randy Orton, and will challenge the champion in a traditional wrestling match as part of the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view card. The feud is brand new, and not Hell in a Cell worthy (not that Punk and Ryback have a long-standing rivalry).
This was the first match announced for the card, and I was immediately upset about the decision to move away from Alberto Del Rio as the challenger. While his feud with Sheamus had run its course, Hell in a Cell should be used to end a feud—and their feud was the perfect candidate.
This feud seems lost in the shuffle now. The WWE has produced a tag team tournament, the elevation of Ryback and a great build to Kofi Kingston vs. The Miz. So obviously being the first match announced hasn’t really helped the perception of this match’s build.
Another mark against this build is the fact that people are more excited about the potential for Dolph Ziggler to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase than the match itself. Does that count as part of the match’s build?
You can argue either way, but I’d argue that it does not.
WWE Tag Team Championship: Team Hell No (champions) vs. Team Rhodes Scholars
Using a battle royal or a tournament or a Fatal-Four-Way match to determine the challenger in a title match is a method of storytelling that goes back years. It’s tried and true, and it’s effective.
Team Rhodes Scholars outlasted seven other teams to win the No. 1 Contenders Tag Team Tournament, defeating Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara in the finals. Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow are now poised to take the ring opposite the champions, Daniel Bryan and Kane.
Team Rhodes Scholars appeared to be the favorites going in, as they attacked Bryan and Kane at the onset of the tournament, and no other team seemed as focused as these two.
Adding to the build of this match is the surprising chemistry of Kane and Daniel Bryan, jump-started by the “Anger Management” skits and peaking at the “hug heard around the world.”
The casual fan loves Kane and Daniel Bryan—Team Hell No. The hardcore fan loves Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow—Team Rhodes Scholars. This match really does have something for everyone.
The build might have been too simple, but it was effective. That’s not something you always hear when taking about the tag team championship component of a WWE pay-per-view. In fact, the WWE didn’t just build a match, they built a feud. In the tag team division, no less.
Intercontinental Championship: Kofi Kingston (champion) vs. The Miz
Another example of keeping it simple. Kofi Kingston won a match on WWE Main Event, and then found himself challenging The Miz to a title match during the post-match interview. Fast forward to the Trouble in Paradise kick that knocked The Miz out on the following Raw, and his title win on that week’s Main Event.
A great week for Kofi Kingston and a nice, tight build that now leads into Hell in a Cell. Upon losing, The Miz immediately called for his rematch. He gets it at Hell in a Cell.
This is a good, solid build that might seem rushed to some. But that’s largely due to the sheer amount of programming the WWE must produce each week. Yes, the build largely took place over a two-week period, and I would have liked to see it get an earlier start.
But headed into Hell in a Cell, I am excited about both wrestlers and see them as the future of the company.
Randy Orton vs. Alberto Del Rio
Four of the six weeks leading up to Hell in a Cell saw elements of the build for Randy Orton vs. Alberto Del Rio.
The Sept. 28 edition of Smackdown saw Orton hit is trademark RKO on Del Rio, leading to a Del Rio attack prior to Orton’s No. 1 Contender’s Match against The Big Show. Del Rio attacked Orton after that match as well, leading to some time off for “The Viper.”
Orton immediately targeted Del Rio upon his return in mid-October. While he didn’t get another RKO in on Del Rio, he did unleash one on his personal ring announcer Ricardo Rodriguez. This wasn’t your average RKO, either—it was on the announce table.
Now these two former world champions will do battle in a match that has the potential to steal the show.
Divas Championship: Eve (champion) vs. Kaitlyn vs. Layla
It’s very easy to be a cynic, looking at this match and saying “what build?” You’d be right in doing so.
Eve’s attack of Kaitlyn at Night of Champions might sound like a reason for this match, but it hasn’t been a consistent focus. Layla showed up in a backstage confrontation, so she’s added to the match? Never mind the fact that Eve essentially squashed Layla at Night of Champions.
Add in the fact that the most recent development in this feud (Eve vs. Kaitlyn) involved Eve leaving her iPad laying around for Kaitlyn to see—and this one cannot possibly get a good grade.
It does not.
The main knock against the build to WWE Hell in a Cell 2012 is that the company had six weeks to build the event, and the bulk of the build took place in the final three weeks.
In a counter argument to that point, you have a Sheamus vs. Big Show match that was set-up from the start, and it’s merely an afterthought now.
With six hours of television time each week, the WWE will need to find the right balance between building for next week’s programming and building to the next pay-per-view. The company appeared to waste a lot of time during the Hell in a Cell build.
Despite that, we still have several matches to be excited about: CM Punk vs. Ryback, Team Hell No vs. Team Rhodes Scholars, Kofi Kingston vs. The Miz and even Randy Orton vs. Alberto Del Rio.
Where this build lacks in efficiency, it gains in effectiveness.
Overall Grade: B
Want an alternative look at WWE Hell in a Cell 2012? Check out these bold predictions from earlier in the week.
Want an audio preview of Hell in a Cell? Click here to listen to this week’s Greg DeMarco Show, with a full preview of Sunday’s card.
And finally, don’t forget to tune in to Bleacher Report for the best real time coverage of the event!