This Sunday, WWE presents its third annual Hell in a Cell pay-per-view event live from New Orleans. With only two weeks removed from the controversial Night of Champions pay-per-view, WWE has some major work to do if they hope to make this particular show memorable.
The previous two Hell in a Cell events left a lot to be desired, but while we are in the mix of some huge story-lines at the moment, one can only hope this year can go above and beyond in reinserting suspense back into WWE programming.
Despite WWE's tendency to switch gears at the last possible minute, I'll attempt to provide you with my quick hits for the highly-anticipated show this Sunday. Hopefully, we are left with many more questions rather than answers by the night's end.
Since July, the WWE Championship has changed hands more than ever in recent memory. The belt was held by the likes of John Cena, CM Punk, Alberto Del Rio and a forgettable reign with Rey Mysterio this past summer.
At Night of Champions, Cena accomplished what not many thought possible by defeating Del Rio to win his 12th WWE Championship. However, this surprise was predictably stale for most of the audience, as Cena subsequently buried the rising Alberto Del Rio in the process.
After receiving a poor Monday Night Raw rating a number of weeks ago, WWE management decided to pull the plug on Del Rio's anticipated push and put the title back on Cena in an effort to redeem their fan base. Although the rating was a bit better the following week, I'd much rather blame the returning NFL season for WWE's lack of success and not a potential credible champion.
This Sunday, the Champ seeks to defend his title against former champs Alberto Del Rio and CM Punk in the inaugural Triple Threat Hell in a Cell match. As much as I want one of the former to regain the title, regaining prestige in the WWE Championship is much more important.
Look for John Cena to walk out of New Orleans with the title intact as we progress towards his eventual showdown with The Rock at Survivor Series.
Since this past April, Mark Henry has been successful in becoming one of the most dominant heels in recent years, single-handily destroying a handful of behemoths including Sheamus, Kane and Big Show, among others. His long-awaited push came to a climax two weeks ago at Night of Champions, as Henry cleanly disposed of arch-rival Randy Orton to claim his first World Heavyweight Championship.
There have only been few occasions in recent months where Mark Henry has appeared vulnerable, yet I don't see his reign of terror ending anytime soon. What would Orton have to benefit from defeating a man who worked his ass off for 15 years to finally reach super stardom?
If Henry's monster push is slowly coming to an end, an up-and-coming babyface would be perfect for getting the best of the World's Strongest Man and getting immensely over in the process. I see no other superstar achieving this feat than "Mr. Money in the Bank" Daniel Bryan, but that's just one man's opinion.
Last February, then-ECW Champion Christian returned to Raw in an attempt to get a feel of the Monday Night environment once the Land of Extreme went under, challenging then-WWE Champion Sheamus to a match in the opening bout. Never would I thought I'd see the two clashing again with the roles reversed this time around.
Since turning heel four months ago, Christian has barely benefited from the turn by jobbing to Randy Orton on a constant basis and holding the World Heavyweight Championship for a very brief time. On the flip side, Sheamus has improved immensely since turning face and has dominated each and every superstar in his path in the past two months.
Prior to this past Monday, Captain Charisma was being over-smarted by Sheamus at every turn, before being screwed out of the Intercontinental Champion by Christian a few days go on Raw. The COO of WWE Triple H made the highly-anticipated bout official for Hell in a Cell moments earlier.
Although it's a given these two may in fact capture Match of the Night, there's no doubt that it's the Celtic Warrior coming out strong despite Christian's recent rants of one more match. From there, Sheamus can go on to challenge still World Heavyweight Champion Mark Henry in a revival of their rivalry match at the ironically-named Vengeance event.
In early August, fans' interest in the dying Divas division instantly reemerged upon witnessing Beth Phoenix brutally attacking WWE Divas Champion Kelly Kelly moments after capturing contender-ship. Later that week on SmackDown, Natalya subsequently turned heel as well, and so the Divas of Doom were born.
Although many speculated for Beth to win her first Divas Championship at SummerSlam, Kelly was successful in pulling out an upset victory over the Glamazon and retaining her championship. A month later at Night of Champions, history repeated itself when Kelly once again rolled up Phoenix for the victory to a chorus of boos, despite numerous reports stating Phoenix was a guarantee to capture the title in her hometown of Buffalo.
This Sunday, Beth Phoenix will contend for the Divas Championship one final time against Kelly Kelly. If the old saying "three times the charm" is correct, then I predict and honestly hope the Glamazon emerges victorious at Hell in a Cell to reinvest my interest in the division before all hope is lost.
For the past two months, United States champion Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger have been at each other's throats over the managing services of Vickie Guerrero. Although it's unclear as to whether who will be turning on who in the near future after their temporary partnership is over, I'm certainly enjoying this bleached-blonde duo as a tag team in the meantime.
Given that Awesome Truth was recently "fired," I could definitely see the team of Swagger and Ziggler rising to the occasion this Sunday to challenge Air Boom for the WWE Tag Team Championships in an impromptu contest. A United States Championship rematch pitting Ziggler against the hungry Zack Ryder is always possible after what transpired Monday, but this particular tag team bout is exactly what the revamped division needs to maintain its recent momentum.
Although this specific bout has yet to be made official for the growing Hell in a Cell card, I'm more than certain we'll see this confirmed this Friday on SmackDown.
The controversy regarding who is the "real" Sin Cara has been stirring for quite a while now but has resulted in confused crowds because they are both very similar in styles and appearance. We were given a taste of their action on this past edition of Raw, with fans highly anticipating an eventual showdown between the two lucha libre stars.
Hopefully, Hunico (the newer Sin Cara) will be given a unique outfit in order to fit the heel persona and for fans to be able to tell the two apart. Fingers crossed the ending result of this match doesn't repeat the anticlimactic bout between Sin Cara and Chavo Guerrero back in May.
After their repulsive actions at the Night of Champions event, the alliance of The Miz and R-Truth was subsequently "fired" by WWE COO Triple H in a shocking turn of events the following night on Raw. Since then, both men have kept in contact with the WWE Universe via social networking, vowing their firings were completely unnecessary.
Seeing that Kevin Nash interfered in the No Holds Barred main event at Night of Champions a number of weeks ago, it's highly likely Awesome Truth will follow suit by making their presence known during the Hell in a Cell WWE Championship match. It would be smart not to have them return until later next month, but knowing WWE booking, Creative won't have the duo off television long.
Since debuting in the WWE, Alberto Del Rio has always made it clear that capturing the WWE Championship has been his destiny from the very beginning. After a year-long quest, Del Rio finally accomplished what he set out to do in cashing in his opportunistic briefcase at SummerSlam and capturing the prestigious WWE Championship.
His reign looked to be as solid as his credibility as a top heel in the industry, but following coincidental occurrences with the extremely stale John Cena, Del Rio found himself being buried each and every week. Subsequently, this theory was further supported days later at Night of Champions, where he submitted to Cena's STF hold and was forced to relinquish the strap to the Chain Gang Commander.
Although the Mexican Aristocrat has shown his serious side in recent weeks, there's no point in rebuilding the character now after a handful of letdowns for the past month. This Sunday, I clearly do not see Del Rio walking out as a two-time WWE Champion, therefore his self-proclaimed "destiny" will deem itself officially over.
According to a report sent out by Wrestlezone.com a few days ago, the possibilities of Booker T returning to the ring on a consistent basis are getting greater and greater as time progress. The SmackDown commentator has since been considered for Cody Rhodes' next opponent for the Intercontinental Championship down the line.
Personally, I see Cody Rhodes as a potential main event player on SmackDown in the near future, so there is no better way to help get him over than triggering a rivalry with the legendary Booker T. The Intercontinental Champion continues to dish out bags to Booker on commentary, as that could the motivation behind his speculated feud.
Additionally, the Intercontinental Championship could benefit big time, with its prestige finally being restored if Rhodes is to defeat the former World Heavyweight Champion. Although the rumored bout is penciled in for the Vengeance event, expect the tension between Rhodes and Booker to come to fruition as part of a segment this Sunday.
During the revamping of the pay-per-view schedule in 2009, WWE officials believed adding more gimmick-themed events toward the end of the year by replacing classic shows such as No Mercy would increase pay-per-view buys. As of now, this has not been proven to be the case, as there was a 73,000 buy-rate difference between 2009 and 2010.
Back in the day, the vicious Hell in a Cell stipulation was used to generate pay-per-view buys to have the culmination of raging rivalries take place within them. In recent years, the structure has since been used to over-hype the event with well-done video packages, but in reality, the cage would instead be deemed absolutely pointless.
Given that the WWE product has been rated PG for awhile now, the Hell in a Cell can obviously no longer feature the intriguing aspect of blood, as opposed to Triple H vs. Batista or Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels. Last year's matches including Sheamus vs. Randy Orton and Kane vs. The Undertaker had the superstars involved hardly even utilize the steel cage, much less make the bout more interesting.
This year, I expect no different and predict for the event to be removed altogether if it once again fails to draw fans' interest.
Thanks for reading, Bleachers, and make sure to drop a comment with your predictions for the upcoming Hell in a Cell event this Sunday. As always, your "likes," fan adds and overall feedback are greatly appreciated.