Last night’s WWE Hell in a Cell PPV featured an excellent Hell in a Cell match between Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks, even though the wrong woman won. But what happened in the main event negated everything that came before and now Hell in a Cell 2019 will live in infamy as one of WWE’s worst missteps of all time. Booking The Fiend, the most over wrestler with the hottest angle WWE has had in a long time, in a Universal Championship feud with Seth Rollins that they didn’t actually want The Fiend to win was an ill-fated idea from the start, but once they booked it, WWE should have committed to putting The Fiend over. They didn’t, opting for a cop-out with a nonsensical disqualification, and their PPV during the most important week of wrestling in twenty years went off the air with fans loudly booing and chanting the name of their competition.
Drastic times call for drastic measures. Here’s what they need to do if they want to have any hope of fixing it.
Turn Seth Rollins Heel
Remember when Roman Reigns defeated The Undertaker at WrestleMania and came out the next day to one of the loudest showering of boos ever along with changes like “@#$% you Roman?” That’s what Seth Rollins has in store for him when he hits the ring at the beginning of Raw tonight to cut a promo about how The Fiend took him to the limits but he had no choice but to burn… it… down… or some other such lamely scripted nonsense. Rollins’ run as babyface champion was already on the brink of disaster before this feud, and though he doesn’t deserve the blame for WWE’s booking last night, we will surely be the lightning rod for fan ire now and for the foreseeable future.
WWE blew this for years with Roman Reigns, another wrestler who is talented and charismatic but a victim of terrible booking, pushing him as an underdog babyface while fans booed him out of every building, and it took a cancer scare combined with keeping him far away from the main event to finally get fans back on his side. The last thing WWE needs with their new, high profile Fox deal and a competitor airing on Wednesday nights is to repeat the whole process with Rollins. After all, the fans have something else to chant now: AEW. And they will.
End the Hell in a Cell PPV
The Hell in a Cell PPV has been more of a curse than a blessing pretty much since its inception. Don’t get us wrong, the Hell in a Cell match is a great concept, but it’s the sort of stipulation that should be brought out for the culmination of a vicious feud. But by making it an annual October PPV, now it’s just a run-of-the-mill match that has to happen every October regardless of whether the feuds at that time warrant it. Rollins vs. The Fiend was the first match of their feud and didn’t warrant a Hell in a Cell match.
To make matters worse, WWE’s nonsensical booking took a match which is by design brutal and violent, where nearly every year a wrestler gets thrown thirty feet from the top of the cage and nearly dies crashing through the table only for the match to continue anyway, and ended it with a disqualification because Seth Rollins used a hammer on The Fiend. It’s over, folks. Shut it down. Relaunch October PPVs as Halloween Havoc where you’re not obligated to put on any particular stipulation, give the Cell some time to recover, and break it back out at the end of a big feud that actually deserves the match.
Give the Title to The Fiend
Last night’s ending was a big mistake. Yes, everyone could see it coming from a mile away and if belligerent booking wasn’t standard operating procedure for WWE for going on two decades now, they should have seen it coming too. But they didn’t, they blew it, and their fans were in open revolt, chanting “BULLSH*T,” “REFUND,” and worst of all, “AEW.” It will be hard to salvage anything having to do with this storyline after that, but there’s one way for WWE to hit the undo button and erase all the ill will from last night: have Seth Rollins come out and give his usual hokey promo about being taken to the limit and burning it down, and then have him agree with the fans that the match stoppage was bullsh*t. Let him demand a no holds barred, falls count anywhere rematch with The Fiend right here, right now. And then have Seth lose the title.
It’s understandable that WWE doesn’t want The Fiend as champion because that will make it difficult to use his character to its full potential. So let The Fiend put the title through a meat grinder or something on Firefly Funhouse. The Universal Championship was a dumb title to begin with. Launch a new Raw championship (or bring back the Big Gold Belt) and hold a tournament to crown a new champion. That way, the fans get what they want, The Fiend is free to be The Fiend without the burden of a title, and WWE has a way to shake up their main event scene.
Cancel the Saudi Arabia PPV
Yes, we know this one is not going to happen, but we might as well throw it out there. Fans were never too keen on the Saudi Arabia PPVs to begin with for multiple valid reasons. The Saudi Arabian regime has a lot of blood on their hands and it feels morally wrong for WWE to align itself with them. The lure of so much money has enticed multiple legends to tarnish their legacies by engaging in sub-par matches in the sweltering heat in front of a stadium full of people who don’t even seem to be enjoying themselves very much. The oppressive laws against women competing (or even showing them in their wrestling attire on a video screen) expose WWE’s Women’s Evolution narrative, a storyline where WWE lauds itself for breaking the stereotypes about women’s wrestling that WWE itself created by treating them like sex objects for several decades, as the bullsh*t it is.
And now, to add insult to injury, the big event is a battle between Team Flair and Team Hogan, confirming once and for all that all of WWE’s talk about only bringing Hulk Hogan back into the fold so that other’s could learn from his mistakes (his mistake being going on an epicly racist rant about Black people while being secretly filmed for a cuckold sex tape with the wife of Florida radio shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge) was a lie. The reason they wanted Hogan back was to sell Hulkster merchandise and trot him out for the Saudis, who famously asked for a match between deceased 80s wrestlers The Ultimate Warrior and Yokozuna when they first cut the deal with WWE.
Look, WWE doesn’t have a great history with racism to begin with.
Do they really need to spend the rest of the month promoting a blood money PPV in Saudi Arabia whose main event stars a self-avowed racist at a time when fans are less likely than ever to give them the benefit of the doubt?
Take Away Vince McMahon’s Creative Control Once and For All
Yes, we understand this one is even less likely than ending the Saudi Arabia deal, but we’ve come this far and we might as well address it. Vince McMahon is the man at the top who makes all of the final decisions in WWE’s booking. We constantly hear horror stories about McMahon coming in and tearing up the script for a show to rewrite it at the last minute. He bears the responsibility for the terrible booking of Roman Reigns during the dark years, and if we had to guess, he is also probably responsible for last night’s Hell in a Cell match. Vince McMahon is out of touch with what his fans want, and he should leave the booking to someone else from now. And we don’t mean by bringing in new people to write the shows but still having the ultimate final say in things and changing them at the last minute. Just take a big step back, pal, and let someone else have a real shot.
Vince McMahon has done a lot for the wrestling business (though not all of it good), but his time is done and WWE’s twenty-year ratings decline shows it’s not just a temporary slump. Vince should focus on the business side of things and on the XFL and let someone more in touch with the audience handle the creative. He won’t… but he should.