Drew has the site’s WWE coverage this week, taking the pay per view and Raw live recaps.  With three pay per views this month, we had to break up the coverage a bit or I’d lose my mind – or at least what little of it is left.   I’ll be back for next week’s Raw and Afterthoughts either late tonight or tomorrow, but in the meantime, here’s some reflection on Hell in a Cell from last night.

Pre-Show:

I am not a fan of The Miz.  I do have to admit that his backstage interaction with Vickie Guerrero and subsequent call-out of Bray Wyatt on the main show showed a nice edge to his character.  I think people would take him more seriously if we saw this regularly.

Big E. Langston showed some nice poise on the pre-show panel.  I liked how they played up the “rookie” aspect to get to his match with Dean Ambrose.  Am I saying Langston is a main player now?  Absolutely not, but he does show promise for the future.

The Shield also cut a good promo as well and all three of those men are showing why they are such a part of Raw as they are…they have the talent to do so.  I would love to get some more back-story on these guys going forward, however.

Kofi Kingston and Damien Sandow was nothing special, but it was sound.  I like that Damien Sandow got the win here.  They were teasing the fact that he might cash in his Money in the Bank contract, and to have him lose would have really nullified that tease for me as a viewer.  Both of these guys need to get on winning streaks somehow and become more meaningful players in WWE’s roster.

Main Card:

Cody Rhodes and Goldust (c) vs. The Shield (Rollins and Reigns) vs. The Usos; WWE Tag Team Championship

If you watch one match from this night, be sure it’s this one.  This was excellent and the match of the night in my book.  The superplex spot by Rhodes and Rollins out to the floor got a big reaction.  There was a bit of a logic gap in it for me early when the Uso brothers were not breaking up pinfall attempts and JBL even went so far as to point it out on commentary.  That’s really picking nits in an otherwise well thought out match.  This was the highlight of the night.

Kane’s return was what it was.  I’m sure our own Matt Hester was thrilled, but to be honest Kane’s returns meant more in the early 2000’s.  They just didn’t tell the story well enough between SummerSlam and now for me to get too excited about it, however.

Fandango and Summer Rae vs. Great Khali and Natalya (w/Hornswoggle)

So you’ve got this match.  I’m supposed to care about this?  It was what it was, which was a couple minutes of filler material.  With the parties involved, I couldn’t be compelled to care beyond hoping for a wardrobe malfunction on Summer Rae.

Dean Ambrose (The Shield, c) vs. Big E. Langston; United States Championship

Good impromptu matchup, but as a result the live crowd didn’t seem to care too much.  Langston and Ambrose collided on a clothesline and it really opened up Langston under his eye.  I like the count-out win for the fact that it’s a jumping off point if they want to build a story between these two rather than Axel and Langston.

CM Punk vs. Ryback and Paul Heyman; Hell in a Cell

I was a little let down by this one.  With Punk having gotten his hands on Heyman before at Night of Champions, it felt anti-climactic for him to lay into Heyman on top of the cell. The match was fine, but we also saw this before with reversed roles just a year ago with Ryback challenging then-champion Punk inside the Cell.  The whole story feels like it has lost some of its steam and like it’s time to move on from here.  A new “Heyman guy” or a returning Brock Lesnar could breathe life into this though.  I guess we’ll find out about that tonight on Raw.

Daniel Bryan cut a backstage promo about the title match.  I am not as down on it as Drew was, but Bryan has done better in my estimation.  I was just happy to see him be a bit more serious about the title chase.

Los Matadores (w/El Torito) vs. The Real Americans (w/Jack Swagger)

Zeb Colter is cutting a fine line with some of his promos.  I don’t understand at times how they can let him be as edgy as he gets with some of the borderline racial remarks, but yet can’t offer some of that same serious and edgy tone with the WWE Championship story.  Anyhow, the match served its intended purpose to fill time.  I can’t see where I should be compelled to care about an ongoing feud between the teams now that the Los Matadores have beaten the Real Americans.

Alberto Del Rio (c) vs. John Cena; World Heavyweight Championship

Well, I can’t say I was surprised by the result of this one.  The match was fine but these two have done better.  I thought they told a logical story of Del Rio targeting the arm of Cena, eventually locking in his Cross Arm Breaker submission.  The announcers played right into what many fans think, positively or negatively, of Cena by referring to him as “superman” many times during the match.  Giving Cena the immediate win was a bad call as they could have gotten some good story out of the chase for at least a month.  I wonder if we’re heading for an eventual unification match for the two main titles at some point?

AJ (w/Tamina, c) vs. Brie Bella (w/Nikki Bella); Divas Championship

I am not a fan of AJ, but I will agree with Drew in saying that her victory was the right call.  Brie just isn’t over as a face right now, and putting the belt on her screams “please like me because I beat heel AJ!” rather than truly getting her over as a face with the fans.  I hope they “remake” Brie a bit, getting her away from that Bella entrance music and routine that screams heel to fans.  Maybe Brie hitting Nikki with a running kick will play into that turn, eventually.

Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton; Vacant WWE Championship w/Shawn Michaels as special referee

The finish of this match overshadowed the work leading up to it. Bryan and Orton put on a good, but not classic, match.  They worked hard, and hit some vicious looking spots – or at least as vicious as HIAC matches get these days.  The superplex onto the chairs looked a bit hokey in that only Bryan’s feet hit the chair pile.  I am not alone in thinking that the story of this match might have benefitted from some “color” but we know that’s not happening in this era.

The problem is that this match unfolded into more about Triple H than it did about the title in this viewer’s estimation.  They needed a decisive, clear finish here and went with yet another screwball ending, and it really took off of this match for me.  If you were supposed to wonder why Shawn Michaels superkicked his pupil, it didn’t happen and wasn’t as compelling as WWE might have intended.

I feel like WWE missed a chance to strike with the guy that is most over with fans right now in Bryan.  They gave him the brief wins because they never intended to give him a legitimate title run, and that’s a shame.  Not to mention that now Randy Orton, who can be a very good stand-alone heel, looks like a sidecar attraction to the main focus, which is Triple H and Stephanie.

None of that is compelling to me and it doesn’t leave me looking forward to what happens tonight.  I just want WWE to move on from the Orton/Bryan/Authority story because it has now gotten boring and damaging to both characters.

This PPV went downhill for me after the tag title match.  It had its moments, but overall it was pretty average to less than average.  WWE has some work to do heading into the last of the “Big 4” events to breathe life into the product for next month at Survivor Series.

Drew will be bringing you live Raw coverage later tonight, so be sure to join him.  I’ll have Raw Afterthoughts either late tonight or sometime Tuesday.