wrestling / Columns

Building the Ultimate Hell in a Cell Card: A Puzzle Game

October 8, 2019 | Posted by Robert Leighty Jr.
Randy Orton Hell in a Cell WWE HIAC

-October has arrived and for the WWE that means their yearly Hell in a Cell show takes place. Some complain about it being a yearly event instead of just having a feud build to being in the Cell, but I see it as no different than WCW having a yearly War Games and then doing what they needed to fit a story into the match. The Hell in a Cell PPV has been around since 2009 so that gives us 10 shows to build a card.

-As always the rules are as follows: you must use 1 match from each previous year, a wrestler can only appear once, and a title that was defended in the show’s history must be used once on the card. I have read the suggestions about ditching the title rule and I keep going back and forth on the idea, but I am sticking with the rule as I like the challenge. I have found in preparing for past cards and future cards that there are times that rule keeps me from completing the game, and that’s where I will make a decision on what’s best. As always I appreciate any and all comments and I thank those who have built their own cards to play along.

2009: WWE Title: Hell in a Cell: John Cena (c) vs. Randy Orton (23:42)

-As far as star power goes this is a great way to start and is also probably the best use of the WWE Title I could find. The match is fine as these have had a ton of matches against each other and they are always solid, but never travel into classic territory as each always had better chemistry with others. Still, two of the biggest stars of the era (and in Cena’s case any era) and two of the most decorated stars of all time made this an easy choice. Punk vs Taker in the Cell for the World Title was the only other match I briefly considered, but there’s a later Taker match I really wanted to include.

2010: United States Title: Submissions Count Anywhere: Daniel Bryan (c) vs The Miz vs John Morrison (13:33)

-The US Title gets on the board here with this unique triangle match. The stipulation is kind of a weird one for WWE, but played into what Bryan liked to do and story wise gave him the edge in this match where the champion usually has a disadvantage. The match is pretty strong and the fun is that it was during the early stages of the Bryan/Miz rivalry that has lasted nearly a decade. Maybe all this can be touched on again if Morrison truly is coming back to the WWE. Kane/Taker had a rather bad Cell Match for the World Title that I thought I may have to use, but thankfully I had another option for the World Title spot.

2011: Diva’s Championship: Kelly Kelly (c) vs. Beth Phoenix (8:41)

-I had a few options for the Women and their various championships and the idea of using Charlotte/Banks in their Cell match was my initial thought, but I couldn’t use that match as there was a title match on that show I was forced to use. This was one of the final matches I put in the puzzle and while the women are afforded a bigger opportunity now, this was still a solid match. It kicked off the Beth Phoenix era which was needed for the division. Henry/Orton inside the Cell for the World Title is a decent match as they did a great job of turning Henry into a monster, but I didn’t want to give up Orton/Cena. So the World Title match had to wait another year.

2012: World Heavyweight Championship: Sheamus (c) vs. The Big Show (20:26)

-The World Title finally makes the card and this is a solid representation of what the title was doing during this era. Giving these two 21 minutes seems a tad excessive, but they are two pros and made the best of it. Other than a throw away tag match, everything else on this card was a title match so it made for a lot of choices, but would limit what I could do elsewhere. Punk and Ryback headlined this show for the WWE Title and while I didn’t use that match, the rematch a year later made for a way to get Punk on the show.

2013: Hell in a Cell Match: CM Punk vs Ryback and Paul Heyman (13:49)

-With no Title on the line, I was able to find a spot for Punk on the card. I had forgotten Punk and Ryback faced each other in back to back Cell matches with this one also including Heyman. This was nearing the end of Punk’s run and the matches with Ryback didn’t help his mental state according to his now infamous podcast with Cabana. Big E and Ambrose had a decent US Title match, but I wanted E for a better match later. Interesting Cena and Del Rio faced for the World Title and going through the history of this show, Cena and Del Rio faced each other a lot which shows the WWE was just cycling through the same guys over and over at this time.

2014: Intercontinental Title: Two of Three Falls: Dolph Ziggler vs Cesaro (12:18)

-IC Title time and one of the rare times a 2 of 3 Falls match ends with a 2-0 sweep. Cesaro is always a welcome addition to any of the cards and Ziggler was still in a period where people weren’t sick of him. As mentioned we were finally getting into a new era for the WWE as the Main Event was a Rollins/Ambrose match, but the undercard did feature Cena/Orton inside the Cell (again) which shows the WWE was still hanging on to that feud. The Usos against Gold and Stardust for the Tag Titles seemed like a good choice, but the Usos had a much better match coming up which did make this card.

2015: Hell in a Cell: Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker (18:10)

-This was a war and I loved every second of it. They delivered a very good match at SummerSlam and this was the blow-off that made sense to be in the Cell. They had a previous Cell match in Brock’s first WWE run that was a bloodbath and they matched that one here. This was 2 angry monsters beating on each other to see who could walk out the winner. It was brutal and a throwback to old Cell matches and was just great to watch. I wanted this match the moment I started this card and was happy there wasn’t a one time title match that forced me to go away from this match. The opening match was Cena/Del Rio for the US Title which means they faced each other in some form on 3 different Hell in a Cell Shows and each for a different title.

2016: Cruiserweight Title: TJ Perkins (c) vs The Brian Kendrick (10:35)

-This was a RAW only PPV and features the only defense of the CW Title so it made my choice easy. For a second I thought I had an issue as the Universal Title is defended for the first time and I thought that was the only time considering Brock held the title hostage for as long as he did. Thankfully, there was another Universal Title match. Kendrick was fun as the old veteran of the division and took the title here. As mentioned this show also features Banks/Charlotte in the Cell, but no other match had a chance.

2017: SmackDown Tag Titles: Hell in Cell: The New Day (c) (Woods and Big E) vs. The Usos (22:00)

-This match was fantastic and wasn’t anything like you would expect from these teams.  This was straight violence between two teams that have dominated this era of tag wrestling. The Usos heel turn and character change did wonders for their career and it was great to see these 4 get a chance inside the Cell to steal the show. I also appreciate that Woods was given this spot instead of Kofi. It also added to the story as Kofi had to watch outside the Cell as Woods was just tortured by The Usos. The fact that Kofi was at ringside and stayed out of the match was one of the rare cases where the Cell did it’s job. Small things like that only enhanced what was a great match. On the opposite had you had Shane/Owens in the Cell in a Falls Count Anywhere match, which kind of negates the Cell.

2018: Universal Title: Hell in a Cell: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Braun Strowman (24:10)

-The second Universal Title match and thanks to having to use the CW Match, that meant I had to use this match. Mick Foley was the special ref as a tie in to his history with the Cell. This match ended in a no contest thanks to Brock returning when everyone thought he was UFC bound. This was another in a long line of the WWE pushing Strowman and then getting cold feet which has turned him into a Lex Luger like choker. This also made him one of the few to not win when cashing in his Money in the Bank opportunity. Since I was forced to use this one, it took away the chance of getting Rousey on the card as she had her rematch with Bliss. No matter as getting Reigns on the card helped add to the star power.

-There is your 10 match card and this one went together easier than any of the previous one I had done. I think we have a rather strong card here with a good balance of star power and some good to great matches. All totaled the card was split with half the matches being inside Hell in a Cell, but that was bound to happen as that’s the name of the show and usually the top matches have been held inside the structure. The 10 matches run a total of 2:47:24 which is about the time of an old WWF/WCW PPV from the Monday Night War days. Speaking of WCW, we will stay in the spirit of the season as next time we will tackle Halloween Havoc.

-As always thanks for reading!

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Robert Leighty Jr.