AmericanAirlines Arena – Miami, Florida – Sunday, October 27, 2013
Michael Cole, Hall of Famer Jerry “The King” Lawler, and JBL are on commentary.
KICKOFF MATCH: Kofi Kingston vs. Damien Sandow
Sandow is the aggressor early on, but Kofi fights back with a flurry of strikes. Kofi hits a flying back elbow for a two-count. Sandow takes a powder to catch his breath but Kofi follows him out with a baseball slide through the ropes. Kofi dives off the steps and wipes Sandow out with a somersault dive. Back in the ring Kofi tries a springboard cross body but Sandow avoids it. They take a commercial break for some reason and they come back to Kingston running into a bodyslam. Sandow hits the Cubito Aequet for a near-fall. He keeps Kingston off balance with an abdominal stretch, and then goes for a legdrop but misses. Sandow goes to the second rope and Kingston takes him down with a nice headscissors. Kingston fires up now with a nice flurry, culminating in the Boom Drop. He calls for Trouble in Paradise but Sandow ducks. Kingston hits the springboard cross body block for a near-fall. He continues flying about but Sandow won’t stay down. Sandow kicks Kingston in the knee and pulls his neck into the second rope. That’s enough to hit the You’re Welcome to get the pin at 5:54 (shown). That was brisk but they packed a lot into it, and once again made me wonder why WWE won’t give either of these guys more than the occasional Kickoff match.
MATCH #1: WWE Tag Team Title Triple Threat Match – Cody Rhodes & Goldust vs. Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns vs. The Usos
Cody and Goldust have been the Champions since 10.14.13, and this is their first defense. Rollins and Goldust start the match, but Rollins quickly bails and tags Jey Uso into the match. It took me a minute to figure out why the Usos are wearing pink. The two brother tandems go back and forth in the early going while the Shield watches on from the apron. After a few minutes the Shield involve themselves and are able to take control on Goldust. Rollins and Reigns wear the golden one down but the resilient Goldust is able to hit Reigns with a DDT. Rollins tags in and knocks Cody off the apron, thus Goldust cannot tag his partner. Goldust tries to tag one of the Usos but the Shield pull them off the apron too! Cody gets frustrated and gets in the ring but the referee forces him out, even though there are no disqualifications. Finally Goldust is able to make the hot tag and the crowd is juiced for the younger Rhodes brother. Cody goes nuts on Rollins, almost pinning him with a moonsault press. Rollins sends Cody to the floor and Jimmy makes a blind tag and almost pins Rollins with a high cross body block. The referee has lost control and the crowd is loving it. Jimmy knocks Goldust and Reigns to the floor and then takes them out with a dive. Jey hits Rollins with a huge Samoan Drop for a near-fall. Cody makes his way back in and goes after Rollins. They fight up on the top rope and Cody superplexes Rollins out onto everyone on the floor! The crowd is chanting “this is awesome.” Everyone makes their way back to the ring for the finisher parade. Cody is able to hit Rollins with Cross-Rhodes to score the pin at 14:35! What a great opener, with all six guys working hard to keep the crowd into it, and they succeeded in spades. They worked a bit of the tag team formula and then just exploded down the stretch. I love all of this.
MATCH #2: Mixed Tag Team Match – The Great Khali & Natalya vs. Fandango & Summer Rae
Khali and Natalya have Hornswoggle in their corner. This is Summer Rae’s in-ring debut. The men start it off and Khali dominates with his size and power. Fandango seems comfort in the arms of his woman, and tags are made. Natalya and Summer go back and forth with some chain wrestling, and then Summer scores with a dropkick and dances about it. Summer dances a little bit too much and Natalya makes her pay for it. Fandango comes in and gets in Natalya’s face and she takes him down and goes for a Sharpshooter! While Fandango is able to avoid the Sharpshooter he’s not able to avoid the clutches of Khali. It’s always wise against a big man to go for the knees, and that’s exactly what Fandango does. It doesn’t really get him anywhere, so he tags Summer back in. Summer tries to peddle her wears in front of Khali, but Natalya just comes in and starts beating her up. Natalya hits the discuss clothesline and goes for the Sharpshooter but Summer reaches the ropes. Summer pulls Natalya into the ropes and then traps her in a schoolgirl rollup to get the pin at 4:49. I could have sworn that match was twice that long. I would love to be in the room when they try to justify putting stuff like this on a show that they are expecting people to pay $55 for.
MATCH #3: WWE United States Title Match – Dean Ambrose vs. Big E Langston
Ambrose has been the Champion since 5.19.13, and this is his ninth defense. The Champ talks trash and slaps his challenger in the face. Big E doesn’t take too kindly to that and starts throwing Ambrose around the ring with ease. Ambrose tries to fight back but Big E dumps him to the floor, and the Champion appears to tweak his knee. That actually proves to be Ambrose’s saving grace, as he’s able to pull Big E into the edge of the ring frame and take control. Ambrose rams Big E into the ring post, sending the powerful challenger to the floor. He wears Big E down for several minutes, but Big E is able to fire back and squash Ambrose with a big splash (after missing his first try) for a two-count. Ambrose tries to bail but Big E drags him back to the ring. Once they get there Ambrose is able to connect on a DDT for a two-count. Ambrose charges into the corner but misses and hits nothing but ring post. Big E spears Ambrose through the ropes and both men crash to the floor! Cool spot. Ambrose decides not to get back in the ring and the referee counts him out at 8:41. I like both of these guys and they meshed well enough together and did what they could in the time they had. But as I’ve said before, imagine how much better matches like this would be if they were built up rather than tossed onto the card during the Kickoff show.
MATCH #4: Handicap Hell in a Cell Match – CM Punk vs. Ryback & Paul Heyman
This is Punk’s fifth Hell in a Cell match, and he’s coming in with a 1-3 record; his only win came last year against Ryback of all people, and that was Ryback’s only Hell in a Cell appearance before tonight. Heyman obviously is making his debut in the demonic structure. He comes out on a lift and cuts a promo to agitate Punk, and then has the lift take him all the way to the top of the Cell so he doesn’t have to be in the ring with the man he has tortured for months.
The crowd is not amused with this. Punk and Ryback battle in earnest, with Punk going right after the big guy’s legs. Punk knocks Ryback to the floor and wipes him out with a suicide dive. He tries to use a kendo stick but Ryback thwarts him and starts throwing Punk into the Cell walls. Ryback uses the kendo stick and keeps Punk off this feet. Back in the ring Ryback continues the abuse. Punk fights back and sends Ryback to the floor, and then takes him out with a clothesline from the top rope. He tries to bring out a table but Ryback shoves him into the ring steps. Momentum continues to swing back and forth, as both men are able to pull off some impressive counters and display admirable resilience. Punk gets a hold of the kendo stick and uses that to his advantage. He takes Ryback off his feet and hits Hail to the King for a two-count. Punk is dominating and he looks to add to it by bringing a table in the ring. Ryback recovers and drops Punk crotch first on the edge of the table. Punk responds with a low blow of his own that sends Ryback onto the table. Once again Punk goes up top and hits Hail to the King, busting the table. Punk whacks Ryback in the face with the kendo stick, and then connects with the Go to Sleep to get the pin at 13:50. They did some solid work incorporating the Cell, and these two generally do decent work together. The problem is that no one cared to see Punk versus Ryback, they wanted to see Punk versus Heyman so the heat during the match wasn’t really there. After the match Punk goes to the top of the Cell and destroys Heyman with the kendo stick and then hits Go to Sleep.
MATCH #5: Los Matadores vs. The Real Americans
Antonio Cesaro and Diego start the match. Diego uses his speed and agility to take the early advantage, but Cesaro weathers the storm and dumps Diego to the floor. Jack Swagger gets the tag and he goes after Diego with ferocity. The Americans are in firm control and the wear Diego down. Cesaro uses the Cesaro Swing and Fernando has to come break up the cover. Finally. Diego is able to make the lukewarm tag and Fernando is a house afire. The referee loses control a bit, and Swagger traps Fernando in the Patriot Lock. Fernando escapes by rolling through and sending Swagger crashing into Cesaro on the apron. Diego gets the tag and Los Matadores hit a double-team Flatliner to get the pin at 5:53. That was short, and not at all different from what you would see on TV.
MATCH #6: World Heavyweight Title Match – Alberto Del Rio vs. John Cena
Del Rio has been the Champion since 6.16.13, and this is his fifth defense. Cena is just returning from a superhuman comeback from a torn triceps. Del Rio’s finisher is the Cross Armbreaker, so that gives him a pretty pronounced target. Cena is aggressive early on, but also clearly favoring his left arm. Del Rio bides his time and takes control, viciously attacking the left arm and trying to keep Cena grounded. Every time Cena tries to fight back Del Rio is able to cut him off. “Mr. Money in the Bank” Damien Sandow is shown watching on backstage. Del Rio goes to the top rope and Cena cuts him out of the air with a dropkick. Cena fires up with shoulderblocks and the Protoplex. He hits the Five Knuckle Shuffle and tries the Attitude Adjustment but Del Rio counters with a Backstabber for two. Cena hits a tornado DDT for a two-count. He goes up top and Del Rio takes him down with the step-up enziguiri for a near-fall. Del Rio tries another enziguiri but he can’t connect. Instead Del Rio hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for another two-count. Cena avoids a charge in the corner and goes up top to hit a cross body block for a near-fall. Del Rio pops up and hits an armbreaker. He goes for the Cross Armbreaker but Cena is able to roll through and lock on the STF! Del Rio barely makes the bottom rope to break the hold. He’s able to kick Cena in the gut and then take his head off with a Superkick. Cena kicks out at two! Del Rio puts on the Cross Armbreaker and Cena powers out of it with a powerbomb! Back on their feet Cena is able to get Del Rio up for the Attitude Adjustment, and Cena is a three-time World Heavyweight Champion at 15:17! This was far better than I expected it to be, as Cena’s injury gave Del Rio a clear focus that helped give the match structure. The second half of the match was both men doing whatever they could to survive and get the win.
MATCH #7: WWE Divas Title Match – AJ Lee vs. Brie Bella
AJ has been the Champion since 6.16.13, and this is her fifth defense. She has Tamina Snuka in her corner, while Brie is accompanied by her twin sister Nikki. They lock up aggressively and get right in each other’s faces in the early going. Brie is feisty but AJ is able to survive the initial onslaught and start wearing her challenger down. AJ puts on a guillotine choke and Brie is fading. Brie is able to power up and ram AJ into the turnbuckles. Brie goes to the second rope and lands a dropkick. She hits a couple more to keep AJ reeling, and then lands a clothesline for two. AJ fights back and goes for the Black Widow but Brie fights it off and puts on a half crab. Tamina gets on the apron so Nikki pulls her down and they brawl. Brie goes for the running knee but AJ moves and Brie accidentally hits Nikki! That momentary distraction allows AJ to cinch on the Black Widow and Brie taps out at 5:32. That was certainly brief but they did a good job with the time they had. Brie is definitely the better wrestler of the Bella twins.
MATCH #8: Hell in a Cell Match for the vacant WWE Championship
Shawn Michaels is the special guest referee for this all-important main event, but he still refuses to tuck in his shirt. The title has been in abeyance since 9.16.13, and this match will finally crown a new Champion. Bryan is making his first appearance in Hell in a Cell, while this is the fifth time for Orton and he has a 2-2 record with victories over John Cena and Sheamus (and losses to the Undertaker and Mark Henry). Michaels has been in four Cell matches as a wrestler (winning three), and also refereed once before for Triple H versus Undertaker at WrestleMania XXVIII.
They start out slugging and Orton quickly hits the snap scoop powerslam. Bryan fights back with the missile dropkick, so both men aren’t afraid to bring out some of their signature moves in the opening moments. Orton starts working the midsection, and knocks Bryan off the apron and into the cell. He uses the steel steps as a weapon and Bryan is in rough shape already. Bryan reverses a whip and sends Orton into the steps, and then he rams Orton into the Cell wall. Back in the ring Bryan pours on the pressure, wearing Orton down with a variety of strikes. Bryan dropkicks Orton back to the floor and follows him out with a suicide dive. He hits another dive but when he goes for a third Orton moves out of the way and Bryan connects face-first with the Cell. Orton runs Bryan into the post, and that leaves him in perfect position for the Inverted headlock backbreaker. That’s a unique way to hit that move. Back in the ring Orton is in control and he goes for a superplex but Bryan counters to a sunset bomb. They rise and trade European Uppercuts, a battle that Bryan wins. Bryan hits a couple of IEDs and unloads with more kicks. He follows with a super rana and the diving headbutt for a near-fall. Bryan puts on the Yes! Lock but Orton is able to reach the ropes and slither to the floor. There’s no rest for Orton, as Bryan follows him out and continues to beat on him, even using a series of steel chairs. Bryan throws about a dozen chairs in the ring, despite Michaels’ objections. Back in the ring Orton puts a thumb in Bryan’s eyes out of desperation, and then uses the chairs to wear Bryan down. Orton hits a superplex onto the pile of chairs, which I don’t think I’ve seen in WWE before. Even so, that only gets a two-count. An angry Triple H makes his way out and the crowd is none too pleased. Michaels and HHH argue, causing Michaels to miss an Orton cover. Orton is angry, as the COO and the referee talk about “doing his job,” and Michaels says he’s doing it. In the meantime, Orton goes for an RKO but Bryan shoves him off and right into Michaels, knocking him down. It was a pretty weak bump, but Triple H is concerned enough to open the door and get in the ring. Bryan hits the Knee-Plus but there’s no one to count. Triple H shoves Bryan out of the way to check on Michaels, leaving himself in perfect position for Bryan to hit The Game with the Knee-Plus! The crowd loves it. But in the middle of deafening “Yes!” chants, Michaels hits Bryan with Sweet Chin Music! Orton covers and Michaels makes the three-count at 22:07! That match was going along rather well, as Orton v Bryan matches tend to do, but then we got our collective heart ripped out again. They did a good job using the cell and incorporating some big spots, like the superplex onto the chairs. The ending was fairly creative, though it would have been a little more effective had Michaels taken a bit bigger bump to lure Triple H into the Cell.