Oh for the days when Hell In A Cell was wheeled out because an epic and intense feud had escalated to the point where the Cell HAD to be brought into the equation to settle the arguments between two wrestlers once and for all…not the days where we get Hell In A Cell simply because it’s October and that time of year.
Still, the lack of booking logic aside, was the fifth HiaC pay-per-view worth the effort? The main selling points were Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan clashing in the Cell for the vacant WWE Championship, John Cena returning to action to face World Champion Alberto Del Rio and CM Punk’s handicap Cell match against Ryback and Paul Heyman. All three seemed like important issues, but scratching under the surface shattered that myth.
Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton assembled yet another exciting and entertaining bout, the best of the night by a country mile, but by now the steam was running dry on their issue. If the payoff had been Bryan’s eventual overcoming of the odds against The Authority this match might have been fondly remembered. As it is, it’s a great match that was nevertheless another nail in Bryan’s main event coffin. The “heel turn” by special guest referee Shawn Michaels was a nice twist, which added to the drama on the night, but nothing has really happened with that since either. Hopefully the sheer force of fan appreciation will put Bryan back where he belongs in 2014.
The evening’s other Hell In A Cell match also suffered from the fact that fans had long since tired of the interminable Punk/Ryback feud and the sense that it had been dragged out this long just to get them in a Cell was too strong to dismiss. Perhaps in a previous “era” the two wrestlers involved could have ramped up the violence and left a favourable impression but here they didn’t have that particular shortcut. It was fun when Punk eventually got his hands on Paul Heyman but it wasn’t a match to live up to the classics we’ve seen within the Cell in years gone by. Other than the Heyman spots, you would hardly have noticed the cage was there in terms of the match.
John Cena’s heroic return to save the WWE from low TV ratings was welcomed by one and all…well ok. It wasn’t. It was also painfully obvious that his return would lead to him wining the World Title off the floundering Alberto Del Rio, who despite the bookers best intentions has never quite excelled as the champion in the way they hoped he might. Drama could have been added to the feud if Del Rio had gone over here (and would have added interest into a rematch) but Super Cena cannot be denied. Even Del Rio’s legitimately threatening submission holds had no effect on Cena’s injured arm. But as I’ve complained before, hardly anyone in the WWE bothers to sell anything these days so we’ll just have to get used to it.
The undercard was a mixed bag; the opening three way for the WWE Tag Team Championship pitting champions Cody Rhodes and Goldust against The Uso’s and Rollins and Reigns was a fantastic way to kick things off. Chock full of exciting exchanges and allowing all three teams their opportunity to shine this was a great match unfolding in front of a hot crowd. It was the second best thing on the card. Anyone expecting something similar from Fandango & Summer Rae against Great Khali and Natalya really needs to consider their alcohol intake but to be fair I’ve seen worse matches. Just about. More of a disappointment was the United States Championship match pitting Dean Ambrose against Big E Langston. I like both men and both seem to have the support of the bookers but this thrown together match didn’t really showcase the best of either of them.
Los Matadores against The Real Americans was much more like it; say what you like about the gimmicks involved but there were four good workers in there and they assembled an entertaining match with plenty of high spots. And whilst you could be forgiven for fearing the worst from AJ vs Brie Bella they didn’t embarrass themselves and all things considered had an ok match. It wasn’t great by any means, but it was far from awful and they might have done more with a few extra minutes. They might have been able to have those if a surprise segment for the return of Kane hadn’t taken place, also involving the Wyatt’s and The Miz. That seemed rushed and out of place on a ppv.
With great opening and closing matches added to some entertaining under-card bouts Hell In A Cell 2013 certainly had it’s moments. The problem is that watching again a few months later it’s even more clear than it was on the night just how little of it actually mattered. There’s also the fact that the things that did matter on the night didn’t really seem to lead anywhere after the show. It was certainly an improvement on the previous Night of Champions PPV and had better quality matches where it counted. The problem was that lots of it seemed all too familiar but if you can detach yourself from looking at the show in the context of the ongoing WWE storylines at the time, it’s a decent show with some very good moments.
DVD extra’s include the decent Kickoff match between Damien Sandow and Kofi Kingston and some interviews from CM Punk and John Cena. The Blu-Ray adds some Raw and SmackDown from the build up to the show which set the scene for what you see on the main feature.
– By Matthew Roberts
Thank you to our partners, WWEDVD.co.uk and Fetch.fm for providing our copy of WWE Hell in a Cell 2013. WWE Hell in a Cell 2013 is available on DVD and Blu-Ray from 27th January. You can pre-order your copy from WWEDVD.co.uk now by clicking here.