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It’s Still Real to Me: WWE Hell in a Cell 2012

Let me tell you why I am sad about this bit of wrestling product while trying to not spoil the results, just in case… But firstly, so you don’t entirely lose your smile: remember that the snowman in The Snowman might melt in the penultimate stage of the book, but at right at the end everything’s okay because the stunning heel stable The Shield run in for the first time ever and piledrive him until the little carrot falls off his face. But The Shield is why you should buy the next show, Survivor Series, and not this DVD. This one is essentially a three hours of First Act, of Setup. Why this is the case will sadly come as no surprise to the dedicated WWE pay-per-view viewer.

Ponder this: with the annual Hell in a Cell pay-per-view looming, the mystical forces that drive the ebbs and flows of wrestling fortune sit around a table, wondering what to do with CM Punk. The indisputable ‘Best In The World’ – fresh from a year of incendiary promos, breathtaking technical bouts with Daniel Bryan and an exquisite heel turn, performed in tandem with Paul Heyman, founding father of The Cool Indie Wrestle – needs the next stage of his progression to be determined, and it needs to be BIG.

The first issue to be addressed is the matter of a new opponent. Every sports entertainer needs a special someone to provide the momentum to propel them in the right direction, much like the ropes in the ring itself. Someone to bounce off, to keep up with. A human-sized unstoppable action figure hungry for domination; so far unbeaten…
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Punk and the man monster Ryback will face off in the ultimate test of their physical abilities: The Cell. This can’t possibly go wrong, because the script says that it will go right.

The Forces set the pace with a match between the cold-eyed viper Randy Orton and Alberto del Rio, a former MMA fighter, and slowly we come to realise what happens when creativity is deemed unnecessary in favour of brawn. It’s reminiscent of watching the two hardest kids at school fighting each other; there’s no thrill or uncertainty. Essentially, twenty thousand people have gathered to cheer the tossing of a coin.

There then follow sporadic flashes of promo orangeness (both set design and skin tone) and grating, low-energy whimsy. Some more matches take place, in between segments of stilted awfulness. At one stage Zack Ryder is dressed as a witch and Santino puts chicken wire on his head to be Lady Gaga, then WWE veteran Farooq stares at them like a man who’s come home early and found his teenage son wanking into a Cath Kidston oven mitt. “DAMN!“, he exclaims, in what is not only a much-loved catchphrase but a cheering display of measured and accurate judgement.

Other than the excellent Rhodes Scholars‘ bout with Team Hell Yes, who are so good that they have time to fight each other as well as their opponents, every other match leading up to the main event is dreary. Big Show goes up against Sheamus for the Heavyweight title, but the Brogue Kick ban placed on the latter just makes the match grind with frustration. That and they just spit. And drool. And gob. Both men move like they’re coming round from anesthetic, so maybe it’s a wisdom tooth thing. There are some surprisingly okay submission moves from a Divas match, but by now I’m clutching at straws.

And finally – to the main event. Two and a half hours in, and the cage is lowered. The best wrestler in the world runs away from a man who can barely move his own legs, eventually resorting to the use of a fire extinguisher to dust his opponent like a Krispy Kreme. Punk tries to dazzle us, but how can he when every burst of energy he employs is absorbed by this giant walking condom, filled to bursting with walnuts?

Once he’s been thrown about a bit, an unexpected turn of events ensures that a giant question mark hovers over the whole sorry affair. It slowly dawns upon the world that they’ve paid to watch a show that has left four or five weak stories unresolved, and they turn to the next day’s (non-PPV) broadcast of Raw for answers, rueing the day they thought a picture of Punk photoshopped as a demon might point towards a certain quality of product.

Please do think of this event as an amuse bouche made of pencil shavings and frustrated dreams. The only upside of it all is just how much the later arrival of The Shield will come as a massive relief. Believe in them, and that they will be worth paying to see.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.