Next Sunday, the WWE will bring us the Elimination Chamber PPV. Two Chamber matches in one show. The month after Wrestlemania, the WWE has Extreme Rules, where every match has a stipulation. In July? WWE TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs. How about October? WWE Hell In A Cell. That's four PPVs that have their own specialty or gimmick matches.
This is something that I know has bothered a lot of fans for a long time. Over the last couple of years, the WWE has essentially killed the gimmick match concept. Do you remember a time when these matches actually meant something? The one that is the biggest problem to me is the Hell In A Cell PPV. To me, that match should be the end all be all of a feud. It is the match that eliminates pretty much all outside interference. It allows two wrestlers to go at it, one-on-one, and just absolutely destroy each other, with the winner finally being able to claim that he came out on top. Remember the first Hell In A Cell match with Undertaker and Shawn Michaels? That was a blood bath. It actually looked like hell. HBK was bleeding like a stuffed pig. It was brutal. Then there was Triple H/Cactus Jack at No Way Out 2000. Mick Foley took some brutal bumps in that match, just like the on he took against the Undertaker at King of the Ring 1998. The Undertaker has been in a handful of Hell In A Cell matches. He ended his feuds with Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton and Edge in all of those matches.
Hell In A Cell used to be a spectacle. Now? Since it has its own PPV, it is just another match in the WWE. Before the WWE made it an official PPV in 2009, there were only 16 other Cell matches since 1997. Now we see three matches every year inside the Cell, and the majority of those matches did not even need the Cell gimmick. Randy Orton/John Cena might have in 2009, but it wasn't the end of the feud and they had another match at Bragging Rights. The only one I can justify would be D-X/Legacy in 2009. They had wrestled three times prior and the feud ended after. In 2010, the one match that could have warranted the Cell gimmick didn't even use it at the PPV, and that was John Cena vs Wade Barrett.
Throwing the Hell in a Cell gimmick out there just to pop a PPV buy completely waters down the match concept. It also shows the lack of faith that Vince McMahon apparently has in his creative staff to book a feud that warrants the Cell gimmick. A true intense rivalry is something that has been missing in the WWE for quite some time. Ideally, Triple H/Undertaker this year would be a perfect match for Hell In A Cell. The two have been in the most Cell matches combined. Unfortunately, because of Wrestlemania being outdoors the logistics of the Cell match make it impossible. But when the WWE can only book an intense feud like HHH/Taker during Wrestlemania time, you know they have a problem.
Then there is the Elimination Chamber match. In previous occasions, before it became a PPV, the Elimination Chamber was used as a match where six guys all were viable threats to the WWE or World Title and all had a claim to a Title match. But that again has gone to the wayside. Look at this year's RAW Elimination Chamber match. Does anyone actually think R-Truth, Dolph Ziggler, Miz or Kofi Kingston have a shot at winning the match? How about at No Way Out in 2008: Did anyone really think Big Daddy V, Finlay, Great Khali or MVP were going to main event Wrestlemania? The problem having the Elimination Chamber match in February is that most people already know the matches in place for Wrestlemania, and they know who has a real shot of winning and who doesn't. The Chamber match, while producing good PPV matches in recent years, has still become too predictable in terms of results. The only time I was actually surprised in the last four years was Edge winning the RAW World Heavyweight Title match after attacking Kofi Kingston before the match in 2009. The lack of surprises is the main reason the Elimination Chamber match has gone down hill.
I can't really call out TLC or Extreme Rules for anything specifically. My main problem with Extreme Rules is that it is too many gimmick matches crammed into one PPV. It makes the lower card matches seem unimportant when even the WWE and World Title matches have gimmicks. An undercard gimmick match on a PPV can make that match seem just as important as a WWE Title match. Imagine if at Hell In A Cell 2010 if Cena/Wade Barrett was a Cell match, or any type of gimmick match, and Orton/Sheamus and Punk/Taker were just standard Title matches. Extreme Rules, in my opinion, is just another example of lazy and bad booking by the WWE. It is almost like they say "Lets just continue everything from Wrestlemania, add no new layers to the feud, but make it a gimmick match!" Maybe if something else was added to the feud it would work, but that is not the case the majority of the time.
This, again, is one of the downfalls of the current WWE product. Sure most of the time those gimmick PPVs get a bigger buyrate then the non-gimmick PPVs, but imagine if those PPVs didn't exist. Maybe the WWE could actually build a really heated feud between two people that actually could warrant a Hell In A Cell match. Or better yet, maybe the WWE could actually build some new superstars and have an Elimination Chamber match where you actually think all six guys in the match have a shot at winning the WWE or World Title. Or maybe the WWE could actually add some layers to a feud where a Street Fight or a Last Man Standing Match is actually warranted.
Gimmick matches used to be a major draw in the WWE. When you saw the Hell In A Cell above the ring, or ladders surrounding the ring, or the elimination chamber, you knew you were seeing something special. You knew that you were seeing two wrestlers whose storyline had gotten to the point where the gimmick match they were having was the only way to end the feud. Now, you just see the Hell In A Cell as a useless prop that is just there to pop a PPV buyrate another 20,000 buys. Gimmick matches used to be entertaining and meaningful. Now, they are just a lazy route the WWE uses instead of booking something worthwhile.
Until Next Time,
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