The month of October for WWE was an interesting one, to say the least, but it unfortunately ended with a whimper. Sunday's Hell in a Cell pay-per-view failed to impress, and the subsequent edition of Raw didn't do much to help this viewer restore faith in the product.
However, Friday's SmackDown kicked off November with a bang and featured a substantial amount of entertaining matches and moments. With Survivor Series in three weeks, one would imagine WWE will start building toward the event this coming Monday on Raw.
Making his first televised appearance in well over two months, John Cena left Hell in a Cell with a title a tow, as he captured the World Heavyweight Championship from Alberto Del Rio. He wasn't the only new champion crowned at the event, though, as Randy Orton was successful in defeating Daniel Bryan to retain the WWE Championship.
After months and months of physical and verbal abuse from Paul Heyman, CM Punk finally put his former friend to sleep atop Satan's structure at the pay-per-view. The question now is if Punk can reset his sights on The Wyatt Family after the events that transpired this past week.
Here, I will break down the week in wrestling by analyzing the Monday Night Raw, Friday Night SmackDown and WWE Main Event broadcasts, including each show's highlights, low points and other noteworthy, monumental moments. Also, an award will be given to the show and Superstar that shined the brightest over the course of the week.
At Hell in a Cell, John Cena competed in his first match in over two months and was successful in capturing his third World Heavyweight Championship. As good as his match with Alberto Del Rio was, it paled in comparison to what was to come the following night on Raw.
No more than 24 hours removed from the pay-per-view, Cena was brutally ambushed by Damien Sandow, who opted to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase for a world title match. Being the fighting champion he is, Cena refused to give up and decided to go through with the match, regardless of the fact his surgically repaired arm was in immense pain.
In what was the greatest match of Sandow's career to date, the Savior of the Unwashed Masses took Cena to his absolute limit and came close to defeating him for the prestigious prize. However, Cena managed to battle back against the odds and retain his title.
Sandow may have lost Monday night, but he came out looking stronger than ever before.
Following a two-month absence from in-ring action, John Cena returned to WWE with a bang at Hell in a Cell last Sunday, defeating Alberto Del Rio to become the new World Heavyweight champion. At that point, Cena's historic week was only getting started, as he was cashed in on by Mr. Money in the Bank Damien Sandow the next night on Raw.
Despite a valiant effort from Sandow, Cena was successful in retaining his golden strap. He also made an appearance on SmackDown, teaming up with WWE Tag Team champions Cody Rhodes and Goldust to overcome Sandow and The Real Americans in six-man tag team action.
Regardless of whether you like him or not, there is no denying that Cena had one of the best weeks of his career these past seven days.
After having high hopes for the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, it is safe to say that the event ultimately disappointed. None of the main event matches overly impressed, and the show left a sour taste in the mouths of many.
The next night's edition of Monday Night Raw was a slight improvement, but the night's conclusion that saw the show focused on Triple H and Big Show was lackluster at best. Heck, even this week's edition of WWE Main Event was deplorable, featuring three filler matches that served little to no purpose.
Thankfully, though, the latest episode of SmackDown ended the week in wrestling on a high note. The show featured only four matches (all of which were tag team bouts, by the way), but each one of them was meaningful, memorable and contained entertaining action.
John Cena as World Heavyweight champion might actually help bring back some excitement to the blue brand. WWE's product is in bad shape right now, but the company appears to be heading in the right direction.
Cody Rhodes and Goldust vs. The Usos vs. The Shield: The Rhodes brothers keep finding ways to steal the show each and every week. On a rather forgettable show, Cody Rhodes and Goldust did just that at Hell in a Cell. Their successful title defense against two of the best teams in WWE today was extremely entertaining and made for an awesome opener.
Kane returns: Among the few highlights from Hell in a Cell was definitely the return of Kane. I was surprised to see him turn heel at the event, but I believe it is for the better. With See No Evil 2 coming out soon, Kane will need to be portrayed a monster again, which is arguably when he is at his best. His unmasking on Raw adds even more intrigue to his developing character.
Daniel Bryan and Shawn Michaels: I, for one, didn't care for Michaels turning heel at Hell in a Cell, but I loved the promo he cut on Raw. He hasn't been a heel in quite some time, so it was certainly a nice change of pace. It was also great to see Bryan serious for once, and applying the Yes! Lock on HBK was a pleasant surprise. I don't see HBK coming out of retirement to face Bryan, but it is solid segments like this that make for exciting television.
John Cena, Cody Rhodes and Goldust vs. Damien Sandow and The Real Americans: After their stellar match on Raw, Cena and Sandow had another excellent outing on SmackDown in six-man tag team action. The match received great time and everyone was able to shine. The final few minutes were very well done and sent the crowd home happy.
The Shield vs. The Usos: These two teams never cease to excite fans in the ring, and their latest clash on SmackDown was no exception. The Usos going over gave them the big win they needed while also teasing tension among The Shield members. I don't see Roman Reigns turning face any time soon, but his post-match antics seemingly planted the seeds for it to happen some time down the road.
Ryback vs. Kofi Kingston: The only thing worth watching on this week's episode of WWE Main Event. These two work well together, so it is mind-boggling that they have yet to engage in a real one-on-one feud. It was a nice win for Ryback after being destroyed by CM Punk at Hell in a Cell and on Raw.
Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton: After having two mediocre matches on pay-per-view previously, you would think that the final match in the Bryan vs. Orton saga for the time being would have been an absolute gem. Sadly, it wasn't meant to be, as their latest encounter inside Hell in a Cell was overshadowed by the drama between Shawn Michaels and Triple H. HHH getting involved in a match that was created to prevent interference in the first place is absolutely asinine in and of itself.
CM Punk vs. Ryback: They had a solid matchup at last year's Hell in a Cell event but were unable to recreate that same magic last Sunday. The match itself was disappointing, as was Punk's beating of Paul Heyman atop the cell. Throw in the fact that Ryback was soundly defeated by Punk within mere minutes on Raw, and it is abundantly clear that Ryback has officially hit rock bottom.
Dean Ambrose vs. Big E Langston: I applaud WWE for putting this match together on such short notice for Hell in a Cell, but the fans couldn't have cared less about it. The weak count-out finish didn't help matters, either. Their rematch on Raw, which ended by disqualification, was equally pointless. Langston has the potential to get over big as a babyface, but not by picking up cheap wins over midcard guys.
Big Show: It appears the only real Superstar WWE managed to elevate in John Cena's absence was Big Show. He closed out Raw yet again this week for no apparent reason. I have no desire to see him face off against Triple H in the near future (if ever), much less contend for the WWE Championship against Randy Orton at Survivor Series.
Fandango and Summer Rae vs. The Great Khali and Natalya: This was your basic filler match that was essentially used to kill time at Hell in a Cell. It is nice to see some spotlight on Summer Rae for once and not Fandango, but there are far better Divas down in NXT (I am looking at you, Paige) that could be called up to the Divas division right now. Plus, having Summer pin the eventual No. 1 contender to the Divas title in the mixed tag team match might not have been the smartest idea, either.
Los Matadores: Lather, rinse, repeat. It is the same old garbage with these guys every single week. Their latest match with 3MB on Raw is pure proof of that. Having them beat The Real Americans at Hell in a Cell is bad enough, but continuously shoving them down our throats is overkill. Less is more, WWE.
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Graham Mirmina, a.k.a. Graham "GSM" Matthews, is a journalism major at Endicott College. Visit his website at Next Era Wrestling and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.