What a weird show this is: Like a movie based on an SNL sketch, the Hell in a Cell PPV forces its gimmick to push the boundaries of its original purposes. Some years, people get their heads shoved up Big Show’s ass. Other years, you get Bray Wyatt using holograms and speaking in tongues to get over on Dean Ambrose. Diff’rent strokes, I suppose.
While the name of these reviews is “Bang for Your Buck”, because of the Network, it’s now less of “getting your money’s worth”, and more “how much does having access to something like this make me want to renew my subscription” or, more succinctly, “how ‘special’ was this event/match, really?”. Which means that instead of just taking into account things like: major character shifts, definitive conclusions (which are different from clean finishes) and moves that don’t make their way to Raw, it’ll focus more on “how many times would I rewatch this”, “would I show this to non-fans as a reason why wrestling is worth watching” and “how different was this historically?”
Each match is rated on a sliding scale between -1 and -1: Matches worth multiple rewatches are +1, a match you may watch or skip 0, and things that make you reevaluate being a fan earning up to a -1 score. The scale is arbitrary, of course, but it’s based around the idea that a match will be fundamentally watchable, repeatedly so.
As for the scale, it’s not particularly complicated but here are the basic levels (on a per-match basis):
As per usual, I’ll be using what I said from the What’s the Worst That Could Happen preview to see how close I was to predicting what would happen and whether or not it lived up to my pre-established expectations. You know, like an adult.
Speaking of which: for the first time ever, we are going to invite you into a night at Casa de JMS with audio cuts from our new show In No Condition to Perform for each match, where Andy, Rich (AKA JT Kasin) and Headlock’d’s own Noah Waterman imbibe adult beverages and use adult language, with me serving as your teetotaling host as we unlock the thoughts, wants, desires and honest reactions of the entire JMS staff as the show unfolds. Most of the clips are between 10-15 minutes, with the longer matches growing in concert. We hope you like it!
TWO OUT OF THREE FALLS, INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
Cesaro vs Dolph Ziggler (C)
Worst Case Scenario: Ziggler wins on a poorly planned second fall.
I’m wrong a great deal, and this is just the most recent (and one of the more glaring) examples. While I’m not a huge Ziggler guy — as I make clear at the very end of our discussion of the match — that wasn’t my concern going in, as much as how pointless it would be to give Ziggler a clean sweep for the sake of a clean sweep. There is also the caveat of “poorly planned”, which this one was anything but.
But mostly, I failed to realize, and definitely didn’t anticipate, how strong Ziggler could look by going over someone like Cesaro twice in a row. While this isn’t exactly great for Cesaro, building Dolph Ziggler back up to where he was following WrestleMania 29 seems to be their agenda for right now, as they are perhaps aware that Cesaro can be strapped to a rocket any time he wants while Ziggler’s areas of expertise — the things that will get him over with everyone and not just people who like good workers who can sell like great ones — are more of an acquired taste.
And, while essentially the same age (they were both born in 1980), Ziggler has been in the company much longer: His first matches in the company nearly a decade ago and his first singles title run happened in 2009, while Cesaro was still a darling of the indy set as a member of the Kings of Wrestling with Chris Hero. That means in “WWE years”, he’s significantly “older” than Cesaro, and his kayfabe clock is ticking much louder. Cesaro will have his day in the sun, but Sunday wasn’t it.
HOWEVER, considering the hype going into the match, although “this match wasn’t a match of the year candidate” seems like a harsh bar to have to reach, given the performers it’s hard to give this match much better than a half thumbs up considering what both of these performers are capable of. And more importantly, have shown on television in matches of all different sizes, shapes and stripes. This wasn’t either man’s best effort, which doesn’t mean it’s bad, but hard to give as high a score as you would imagine something between these two deserve.