WWE Hell in a Cell really took off only in the final hour or so of programming, but it certainly went out with a bang.
The WWE Championship match between CM Punk and Ryback ended in quite shocking circumstances.
With both men having so much on the line, this one was incredibly difficult to predict right from the off. But I’m fairly sure no one saw this particular finish coming.
We were treated to an intriguing piece of storytelling from the two competitors, the final chapter of which was as entertaining as it was unexpected.
To commemorate such an indelible main event, this article takes a look at five of the key talking points to emanate from the WWE Championship match at Hell in a Cell 2012.
Heading into the contest, there were questions as to whether or not Ryback could deliver an extended match in the main event.
After all, the majority of his appearances in the WWE thus far have lasted mere minutes.
And though the behemoth proved that he certainly had the stamina to last the match, it was somewhat noticeable how much work CM Punk put in.
The WWE Champion was doing all the running, and even managed to scale multiple turnbuckles as Ryback stumbled around in the centre of the ring, dazed from Punk’s high-octane offence.
Naturally, this was expected, considering Punk’s size and greater mobility, but nonetheless I feel the Champion deserves credit for his performance.
He by no means carried Ryback through the match, but put in a solid shift to contribute greatly to the match ultimately being a success.
I personally didn’t notice this one right away, but when Punk executed a swinging neckbreaker on the outside of the ring, it was clear to see that he had sustained a nasty cut on his shoulder.
Punk has hit the headlines recently for allegedly blading when not instructed to, and also appeared to be in possession of a blade this past Monday on RAW (pictured). But in this situation the presence of blood appeared to be well and truly accidental.
The more likely explanation is that Punk unintentionally picked up the wound from the unforgiving cell walls, a quite understandable occurrence that will hopefully not result in any negative ramifications.
Either way, the WWE appeared reluctant to draw attention to the injury, which suggests that this was indeed an inadvertent consequence of the match stipulation.
A minor point to consider, but a noticeable one nonetheless.
Modern day Hell in a Cell matches have been criticised in the past for a lack of exploitation of the match’s unique environment.
But Punk and Ryback looked to change that this year, using the cell walls, steel chairs, kendo sticks and even a fire extinguisher throughout the course of the match.
This added to the excitement and made it slightly more worthwhile having the steel structure surrounding the ring.
There was, of course, no monumental bump involving the cell, but with the present-day WWE schedule so rigorous and intense, that was none too surprising and quite understandable.
I was quite happy to settle for the use of an array of foreign objects, which at least went some way towards justifying the naming of the PPV “Hell in a Cell”.
Undoubtedly the biggest talking point of the match, and arguably the entire evening.
Many were predicting a questionable finish, perhaps an interference from Big Show or Brock Lesnar to secure victory for Punk.
Either would have been an effective conclusion, but the decision that the WWE ran with was surely the most dramatic and shocking of all possibilities.
Ryback looked to be cruising to victory, only for controversial referee Brad Maddox to hit the Big Hungry with a low blow and assist Punk in gaining the 1-2-3.
Having seemingly dropped the last storyline involving Maddox, it’s good to see the WWE instigating this development, which is most likely linked to the young referee’s “screwing” of Punk a few weeks ago.
Expect the shady Paul Heyman to be involved, expect severe repercussions and more importantly, expect some unpredictable action in the coming weeks as a result of a great finish to an exciting match.
And speaking of the finish, it wasn’t over there.
Ryback vented his frustrations by launching Maddox from the inside of the ring to the cell walls where the referee awkwardly crashed to the ground below, before setting his sights on Punk.
Having eventually escaped the cell, Ryback chased Punk down and attempted to whip him into the cell, only for the cat-like Punk to leap onto the structure and begin scaling the cage wall.
Granted, there were obvious foot holes placed all too conveniently up the cell wall, but it was still shocking to see the action spill out onto the top of the structure.
A Mankind-esque fall was completely out of the question, though, given that the more modern cell is even higher than its older model. But the resulting action was still vastly entertaining nonetheless.
In PG-era WWE, to see a cage-climb was a highly welcome addition to the match, and a great note on which to end the PPV.
Hell in a Cell may not have been the fastest-paced of PPVs, yet it slowly but surely developed into a very striking and eventful show, indeed.
The WWE Championship was a great way to cap it off, and will most definitely have lasting consequences as we head into the future, particularly with WWE Survivor Series just three weeks away.
And while the early exchanges of the show weren’t so memorable, let’s remember Hell in a Cell for having a thrilling conclusion, more than anything else.
Don’t forget to comment below with your thoughts on the event, as well as any opinions you may have regarding the issues discussed in the article.