Dave Fenichel, aka The Eternal Optimist, aka Samuel Plan’s personal favorite columnist, is a kitty punching, baby stealing, abominable excuse for a man. His excessively Optimistic views on the world of professional wrestling are nauseating at best and deplorable at worst. If you hate yourself and are a glutton for punishment, you can follow him on Twitter @The Eternal Optimist.
QUESTION OF THE DAY: Which of the titles do you see as being likely to change hands at Hell in a Cell?
We’re only a few days out from Hell in a Cell. Despite what has been some of the weakest TV episodes of Raw and Smackdown in recent memory, I can’t help but feel that Hell in a Cell is going to be an amazing show. On paper, this looks like the best card that the WWE has put on in a very long time.
Here’s what has me excited:
The Eternal Optimist Presents: Hell in a Cell Looks Like a Hell of a Show.
The Most Emotionally Invested Women’s Match Ever?
It’s hard for me to start anywhere other than Becky Lynch v Charlotte. Many have talked about the Women’s Revolution and how far the division has come. There is plenty of merit to that. However, I’d argue that the push behind that philosophy stems from the tremendous increase in the quality of the in-ring wrestling rather than an increase in the emotional commitment to match outcomes and story lines. While NXT has done a tremendous job of getting the audience to care about the resolution of their story lines surrounding the female wrestlers, the main roster has not.
That changes now. For the first time on the main roster, the fan base is emotionally invested in the outcome of a Women’s Title Match. Becky v Charlotte reminds me of CM Punk v John Cena at Money in the Bank 2013. Much as the fans were dying for their hero to triumph over the corporate champion then, the fans are clamoring to see Becky Lynch ascend to her rightful throne. There will be devastation if she is not victorious. That’s an element that has been absent from the main roster female product, and it has been sorely missed. I can’t wait.
Prediction: I don’t think the fans are getting what they want this time around. Evolution seems to be the more appropriate venue for the major title change. I expect Becky to snap and get herself disqualified, leading to the rematch.
The Tag Belts Have Been Rescued From Obscurity.
The rebirth of the tag divisions had stalled out tremendously over the past six months. Each brand had a different problem. For Raw – they were gutted of their top tag teams during the most recent draft. They were left with a comedic duos in Hardy/Wyatt and The B Team, and a vanilla old school tag team that garnered no interest in The Revival. For Smackdown – while they had great teams in The Bludgeon Brothers, The New Day, The Bar and The Usos, they suffered from all of those feuds already having been done to death.
It was an easy call to move the Raw tag titles from The B Team to Ziggler/McIntyre. The belts were instantly elevated to the main event feud. Their match with The Shield is the perfect opener for Hell in a Cell, and should be every bit as hot as The Shield’s tag match against The Bar was at Summerslam 2017. It marks the first tag title match that I’ve cared about on the Raw side for roughly half a year, and it couldn’t come soon enough.
Smackdown solved their problem by inserting Rusev Day into the title scene. I’m not expecting a barn burner by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s a fresh match that hasn’t been done to death. Additionally, I feel that the tension between Rusev and Aiden English over Lana adds an element of unpredictability that hasn’t been there in recent tag title feuds.
Prediction: I think both tag titles stay where they are. I believe that there is an agenda to push on the Raw side that requires Ziggler and McIntyre to keep the belts. I will discuss that more towards the end of the column. On the Smackdown side, The New Day are just getting started on this title reign, and I fully expect the match to be more of a vehicle towards the cancellation of Rusev Day than anything else.
Intrigue Surrounding A.J. Styles and Samoa Joe.
A.J. Styles is a fantastic in-ring performer and has been an admirable WWE champion. With that said, I’ve found his title run to be largely uninspiring. This is not his fault. He’s had a weak set of challengers. Kevin Owens was weighed down by the anchor known as Sami Zayn, Nakamura was a tremendous flop as a world title adversary and Rusev was at best window dressing to kill time.
Samoa Joe on the other hand, has been incredible since ascending into the title challenger role. However, as great as his match with A.J at Summerslam was, at no point in time did I feel that Joe was going to win the belt.
Their Hell in a Cell rematch has a different feel to it. I thin that we’re reaching the point where it’s now or never for Samoa Joe. Unfortunately, there seems to be a legitimate question as to whether the WWE believes in “now” or “never” when it comes to him.
All roads seem to lead to Daniel Bryan being the world title challenger at WrestleMania and in order for that to happen, a heel needs to be champion. We’ve assumed that it was going to be The Miz, but maybe that assumption is built on faulty logic. The nature of the mixed tag match leads me to believe that we may be closer to the end of the Daniel Bryan/Miz feud than the beginning. What if this is the beginning of a MONSTER push for Samoa Joe and the end game is Joe v Bryan at WrestleMania? Is that so far out of the question? I don’t think that it is, and I’m excited at the prospect.
Prediction: Joe wins. I just think it’s his time and the WWE is going to reward him for a tremendous career. Even if my thought on Joe v Bryan doesn’t play out, the WWE can always shoot the title back to Styles and over to The Miz between now and The Royal Rumble. LET’S GO BABY!
Jeff Hardy’s Swan Song.
As hyped as I am for some of the title matches on the show, I’d be lying if I told you that there was anything that I was looking forward to more than Jeff Hardy v Randy Orton inside Hell in a Cell.
Although the feud has been good, I found it to be a surprising choice to put this match inside the cell over the WWE title match. Styles v Joe has been a stronger story line and is positioned further up the card. However, slowly but surely, news began to trickle out that it has been Jeff Hardy’s dream to participate in Hell in a Cell.
That got me thinking. Matt Hardy is de-facto retired due to injury. it is clear that Jeff’s run as a main eventer is over. The most realistic reason for granting Jeff his wish to be in the cell this year is because this is his last opportunity to do so.
I think Jeff Hardy is ready to be put out to pasture and join his brother in retirement. I think he views Hell in a Cell as a vehicle for one last hurrah. With that in mind, I can’t wait. He’s an absolute maniac and I have little doubt that he’s going to pull off a crazy stunt that we’ll never forget.
It’s hard to imagine the WWE allowing him to Swanton Bomb Orton off the top of the cell. That feels exponentially more dangerous than anything the WWE has allowed in the match since the Mick Foley days. I think Hardy finds a way to make it happen. I’m expecting an incredibly memorable moment here.
Prediction: Orton wins after Hardy does something insane.
It’s Braun’s Time.
Many that I have spoken to aren’t happy about this match and Braun Strowman’s subsequent heel turn. They feel that his momentum has been squashed and he’s going to be a sacrificial lamb to Roman Reigns. Further fuel to this fire has been added in the form of rumors that Roman Reigns will face The Rock in the main event of WrestleMania 35.
I think the worries are unfounded. I DO believe the rumor regarding The Rock v Roman at WrestleMania. I reckon that the WWE has real concerns over the viability of Rousey v Charlotte as the show closer, and is looking for more of a sure thing.
The thing is – just because the end game for WrestleMania is Rock v Roman doesn’t mean that Braun can’t win NOW. In fact, Braun HAS to win now. The WWE hasn’t spent a year and a half building him up only for him to come up short and be brushed aside.
As I referenced earlier in my column, the WWE has an agenda in mind here. That agenda is to establish “The Dogs of War” as a dominant heel faction. This show ends with all three members carrying gold.
I fully expect Mick Foley’s insertion to lead to Roman’s downfall. Why else would Stephanie put him in the match? This is smart on the WWE’s part. They can transition to a story between Foley and Roman. While it won’t lead to a wrestling match, it will provide tremendous value to Reigns. There has NEVER been anyone better at ensuring his adversaries got the WWE’s desired reaction than Mick Foley. If the WWE wants Roman to be cheered, Mick is the right guy to get him there.
Prediction: There will be plenty of time to get the title off Strowman and back onto Reigns in time for WrestleMania. Hell in a Cell is all about Braun getting his moment.
That’s a wrap kids. Thank you for reading. Agree or disagree? Sound off below!