I haven't done a preview/predictions article for a WWE PPV since Money In The Bank simply because they haven't produced a noteworthy PPV since then. To be completely honest, I didn't expect to be writing one for Hell In A Cell either until WWE produced an episode of Raw this past Monday that featured more intriguing storyline progression than any in recent memory.
For that reason, I'm going to make a bold prediction before we even get into discussing the matches on the card. That prediction is this - Hell In A Cell will be the best PPV of this year.
It's not a hard feat to accomplish because there haven't been many outstanding PPV's in WWE this year. Elimination Chamber and WrestleMania are the only two PPV's that had as much hype going into the show as this Sunday's Hell In A Cell does. That alone puts this one in the running for PPV of the year unless the show completely flops which I don't see happening. The card is extremely well rounded and despite not having a WWE Title match on the show, there are more high profile matches than any other PPV in recent months. You've got the blow off to arguably the feud of the year in Ambrose/Rollins, a decade long rivalry coming to a head with World Title implications in Cena/Orton, a 2/3 Falls Match between the two hardest working in-ring talents on the roster, and a newly intensified battle between Show & Rusev. Those matches combined with the unpredictability of their outcomes makes for a highly anticipated show.
Beyond the aforementioned unpredictability, there are alot of possible angles that could take place at Hell In A Cell. Of course these are all pure speculation, but I've been more interested in WWE this past week than I have been in months so I've come up with a few theories.
The first is probably the most likely based on what happened at the end of Raw this past Monday. I think Randy Orton will emerge from this PPV as an anti-hero babyface. His character took a turn for the better on Raw as he delivered one of the best promos I've heard from him in years during his segment with John Cena. With Rollins turning on him to close Raw, I think we are going to see Orton slowly become a fan favorite again which looks like the perfect thing to do with him right now because it worked extremely well on Monday night. How will Orton solidify this face turn/character change at Hell In A Cell? Find out later in this column.
The second angle that I hope will happen invovles The Wyatt Family. We've been seeing vignettes in recent weeks that lead us to believe that Bray has "released" Harper & Rowan. So I think we will see them return at Hell In A Cell along with Bray himself. Not in the same storyline though because as mentioned before, it seems as if they are separating them, but I do believe all three members of The Wyatt Family will return this Sunday in some fashion. I will go into further details later in this article during my predictions.
Speaking of my predictions, let's get going by taking a look at each match on the Hell In A Cell card.
1) Goldust & Stardust vs. The Usos - WWE Tag Team Title Match
While this feud has gone stale story wise, the matches still always deliver. What's funny is both of these teams competed in a match for the Tag Titles at last year's Hell In A Cell yet here we are a year later and seeing them go at it still hasn't gotten old. I expect a high impact, fast paced match here in which Goldust & Stardust come out on top. I don't think they'll ride off into the sunset easily though because I'm going to predict a post-match attack by Luke Harper & Erick Rowan. Will Harper & Rowan execute a babyface attack after The Dust Bros score a cheap win over The Usos or Will Harper & Rowan execute a heel style attack by beating both teams down after the match? I can't answer that question. It depends on whether WWE wants Harper & Rowan to remain heels. I personally think they should stay heel and attack both teams after the match. A Harper & Rowan/Rhodes Bros feud over the titles will make for a great clash of styles and could very well produce a fantastic series of matches. Book it!
Who I think will win - Goldust & Stardust
Bonus prediction - Luke Harper & Erick Rowan attack both teams after the match to begin chasing the Tag Team Titles once again
2) AJ Lee vs. Paige - Divas Championship Match
Thus far, the feud between these two has been the definition of underwhelming. It's not the ladies' fault though. Poor/effortless booking and short match times are fully to blame for this rivalry being so dull. Despite that, I have high hopes going into this Sunday's match because WWE is seemingly trying to deliver better in every area so I hope that rolls over into the Divas Title picture. If you give these two women around 15 minutes, I truly think they could create one of the best women's matches in WWE in recent memory. As for who will come out on top, the last thing we need is another quick title change so I'm gonna go with AJ Lee retaining here.
Who I think will win - AJ Lee
3) Dolph Ziggler vs. Cesaro - 2/3 Falls Match for the Intercontinental Title
I'm calling it right now - this match will steal the show. When this bout was announced, words can't describe how happy I was. Cesaro and Ziggler have been two of the most underrated performers on the roster for quite some time. Despite putting in outstanding performances every time they step in the ring, WWE has chosen not to elevate them to the next level which completely baffles me, but I'm not complaining because this match is the perfect opportunity for both men to create something special and make the IC Title look much more prestigious in the process. I hope these two get a good 20-25 minutes to work with because this has the potential to be a MOTY candidate. Picking a winner for this one is difficult because both guys deserve to be champion. The 2/3 Falls stipulation however leads me to think that they are going to give the title to Cesaro without making Ziggler look weak. I would have preferred a longer drawn out build to this match, but I'm taking what I can get because this is a dream match. Cesaro wins some much deserved championship gold here!
Who I think will win - Cesaro
4) Sheamus vs. The Miz - United States Championship Match
I'm not sure if I mentioned this earlier, but another reason I think this PPV could be the best of the year is because it literally has everything (aside from a World Title match). You have the wrestling based match in Cesaro/Ziggler, the intense rivalry between Ambrose/Rollins, the highstakes match in Cena/Orton, the spotty match in Usos/Dust Bros, and here you have the comedy portion of the show which is why I think it should be placed in the cool down spot on the card after a much like Cesaro/Ziggler. Sandow scored a victory over Sheamus on Raw which leads me to believe we may see him involved in some sort here. Possibly costing Miz the match by accident? Who knows. Either way, I expect Sheamus to retain here because I have the feeling Sandow/Mizdow will end up becoming the US Champion soon.
Who I think will win - Sheamus
Bonus prediction - Sandow accidentally costs Miz the match
5) The Big Show vs. Rusev
If you read my review of this week's episode of Raw, you've probably already heard me say this, but I'm going to reiterate for the sake of this article. Much like most of the matches on this card, I wasn't interested in this bout at all until Raw on Monday night when WWE ran the most controversial angle in a while as Rusev kicked a war veteran who tried to stop him from tearing down the US Flag. I jumped on Twitter to find EVERYONE tweeting about what had just happened. Shock, disbelief, and hatred towards Rusev were among the most talked about topics. As soon as I saw all the attention it get, I realized how much of a success that segment was because now everyone has a reason to care about Show/Rusev. Hell, I'm even looking forward to seeing these two clash because it's not just the same story that's been used for every Rusev feud thus far. Well, in a way it is, but they actually did something intriguing with this rivalry on Monday where as they didn't with Rusev's other feud. None the less, I expect this match to be very good and for Rusev to come out on top after a battle with the World's Largest Athelete.
Who I think will win - Rusev
6) Nikki Bella vs. Brie Bella
I honestly didn't even know this bout was on the card until I began writing this article so I really don't know what to expect here. This story has kind of been on the backburner recently so it doesn't have the small amount of fire that it had originally, but atleast fans have some reason to care because of the stipulation and past problems between the two sisters. Both women have improved their in-ring work this year so I expect this to be a pretty fun match as long as they don't overbook things. I don't really know what the outcome will be since this story hasn't been at the forefront lately like it was from the start, but I'll go with Brie since Nikki has gotten the upperhand each time thus far in their feud.
Who I think will win - Brie Bella
7) Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins - Hell In A Cell Match
From the time this match was announced, I began looking forward to it. While the overall WWE product has been lacking in recent months, the feud between these two has made Raw worth watching. With how it was built up on Raw with Foley, I expect this to be the more brutal of the two Cell matches and I honestly wouldn't expect any less from a feud of this magnitude. I think there will be some controversy in the finish though. Earlier I mentioned that I think all three members of The Wyatt Family will make a return during the show and I already mentioned where I thought Harper & Rowan would return so now that leaves Bray. I think we could see him return during this match as a way of helping The Authority by attacking/distracting Dean Ambrose. This would be the perfect way to get more heat on both Wyatt AND Rollins because Ambrose is the most over guy in the company right now. Beyond that, it would make Ambrose even more popular because of the sympathy he would get, plus it puts Bray in a quality storyline with the only man in WWE that can match him on the mic. It's a recipe for success and I think it's the right way to go. Whether this will happen or not all depends on what WWE is building towards for WrestleMania for all the names involved, but either way it's a dream feud for most of the WWE Universe and would be a good direction to go in. I think there's a possibility that we might even see The Ascension return and do Bray's dirty work since it's been rumored that they are going to be paired with him. Then they could have Bray reveal them as his new guys on Raw the following night. There's alot of possibilites for how they could book this, but regardless, one thing is for sure, this match has the potential to steal the show. Whether Bray Wyatt & The Ascension interferes or not, I think Rollins will pick up the win here in a way that will also be the start of a new storyline.
Who I think will win - Seth Rollins
Bonus prediction - Bray Wyatt and/or The Ascension returns to cost Dean Ambrose to the match
8) John Cena vs. Randy Orton - #1 Contender's Hell In A Cell Match
I never thought I'd be excited for a Cena/Orton match EVER again, however I'm honestly looking forward to this bout simply because of the high stakes & unpredictability. I praised WWE's way of getting fans hyped for this during my review of Raw on Monday night and it's worth noting again because it's not something we see often with these two. Normally their star power is enough reason for WWE to put them in the main event, but thankfully they gave us an actual reason to care aside from their name value. Based on the way Raw ended, I think we will see a full fledge Orton face turn either during this match or after it which is something else to look forward to because Orton plays the anti-hero character so well. Seeing him go toe to toe with Brock Lesnar with the insane viper gimmick would be epic, especially with the crowd behind him. That may lead you to believe that I think Orton will come out on top here, but I don't really see that happening. For one - Orton beat Cena in their last high stakes match at TLC and I don't see WWE letting Cena go down to Orton in such a big match again. Especially after Cena took such a vicious beating from Lesnar two PPV's in a row. I don't think Orton will lose here either though because he's been on a losing streak himself so it's pretty tough to predict. So with both guys needing a victory, I think WWE will pull what some may call an overbooked finish, but I think it would be the perfect thing to do here. If I was WWE, I'd have Brock Lesnar come down to the ring and clean house on both Cena & Orton, absolutely destroying them in the process. Why would Lesnar do this? For one, to make a statement that neither man is worthy of facing him and secondly, because both guys put their hands on Heyman last week on Raw. So, Lesnar cleans house and leaves both men laying. The ref calls for the bell because neither guy can respond after the vicious beating that Lesnar gave them which means the match is a no contest. Triple H comes down to the ring with security to try and calm Lesnar down. Lesnar eventually leaves and Triple H gets in the Cell to check on Orton, but Orton pushes him off. Orton and Triple H get in a heated argument which leads to Orton executing his babyface turn by nailing HHH with an RKO.
I think this would be the perfect way to book the ending of Hell In A Cell because it accomplishes so many things at once. It keeps Lesnar relevant & looking like an absolute beast and it also sets up Orton's big face turn because he is pissed that Triple H allowed Lesnar to get in the cell when Lesnar is technically still on the side of The Authority. The crowd will go nuts if Orton hit an RKO on Triple H and give Orton's current run a breath of fresh air. With the majority of the fanbase having a mixed reaction towards Cena/Orton, I think this is the best way for WWE to keep most people happy. This would also set up a potential triple threat match between Brock Lesnar, John Cena & Randy Orton at Survivor Series for the WWE Title.
Who I think will win - No Contest
Bonus prediction - Brock Lesnar beats both men to the point that they can't respond. Randy Orton turns on Triple H after the match.