WWE Hell in a Cell kicked off with the returning Alberto Del Rio beating John Cena for the United States Championship and ended with the Wyatt Family carrying the bruised and battered body of The Undertaker out of the ring. Yes, both of those things actually happened.
The WWE managed too pull off two shockers at Hell in a Cell, with Del Rio pinning “The Champ” clean and the Wyatts reigniting their feud with “The Deadman” after he was defeated by Brock Lesnar. But as entertaining as those surprises were, the WWE creative team better have a few more magic tricks up its sleeve.
John Cena is reportedly scheduled for extended time off following Hell in a Cell, and Randy Orton ‘s strange-but-true injury also has “The Viper” sidelined for the considerable future. Meanwhile, neither Brock Lesnar nor The Undertaker are advertised for this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw, and though it appears Undertaker will be sticking around for Survivor Series, Lesnar is likely to be off of television until the build to WrestleMania 32 early next year.
NEXT MONTH marks 25 YEARS of The #Undertaker at @WWE #SurvivorSeries LIVE on @WWENetwork November 22! https://t.co/ufVqvqyUYJ
— WWE (@WWE) October 26, 2015
Translation: The WWE has its work cut out if the company plans on bringing up its recent record-low Raw rating.
After some intriguing happenings at tonight’s Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, the WWE must continue to step up its game to help combat the monster that is Monday Night Football. But it’ll take a clever mix of carefully crafted storylines to encourage pro wrestling fans to stop watching football and change the channel back to the USA Network.
Let’s take a look at the biggest new storylines coming out of WWE Hell in a Cell and rank them according to how much they’ll move the needle and help turn the WWE’s ratings woes around.
4. Cesaro vs. The Cosmic Wasteland (Stardust and The Ascension)
If you missed the WWE pre-show, you missed a very good match featuring the talented babyface trio of Dolph Ziggler, Cesaro and Neville taking on King Barrett, Rusev and Sheamus. You also “missed out” on Stardust and The Ascension sitting ringside for the match.
In a continuation of what happened earlier this week on Raw, The Cosmic Wasteland seemed awfully interested in Cesaro during this six-man tag team match and appear to be first in line for Cesaro’s next feud. Oh, are you yawning, too?
Cesaro is, of course, one of the WWE’s top overall talents (especially inside the ring), and a potential feud with the poorly booked Cosmic Wasteland seems like a massive step down for a man who was involved in a major SummerSlam match against Kevin Owens just a couple of short months ago. Neither Stardust nor The Ascension has done much of note in recent times, and while it’s understandable that the WWE would want to create some midcard storylines, this one isn’t going to win over any new viewers.
Stardust is a great talent, and Cesaro is, too. But the way they’ve been booked over the last few months suggest that a pointless midcard feud will not be anything that makes WWE fans jump for joy.
3. Alberto Del Rio as The New United States Champion
John Cena’s US Open Challenge opponent was quite the surprise, but it wasn’t Kurt Angle or Daniel Bryan. It was the returning Alberto Del Rio, who pulled off the shocker of the year by defeating Cena clean with a superkick in a match that lasted less than 10 minutes.
The WWE has reportedly been looking to hire a top-tier Hispanic superstar to attract more viewers from that coveted demographic, and though Del Rio has been mentioned as a possible candidate to fill that role, it was still a bit of a shocker to see him back in the WWE at all, given how outspoken he has been about the WWE since leaving the company just over a year ago.
Regardless, Del Rio is back, and the fans in attendance at WWE Hell in a Cell reacted to him quite favorably. The unfortunate thing is that this welcoming reaction probably isn’t a real indication of how excited the fans are to see him back. Live crowds always pop for major returns, and this pop was likely bigger than usual simply because it took place against the hated Cena.
While Del Rio is a great, underrated talent, he was as stale as ever when he was released by the company in August 2014, and a year’s time probably isn’t going to change that and suddenly turn him into a fan favorite megastar. Although it’s certainly wise of the WWE to sign a quality talent who appeals to the Hispanic viewers, Del Rio simply never seemed to be someone that the entire WWE fanbase truly embraced.
He may improve the WWE roster and give it some more depth, but once the excitement of his return wears off, I’m not sure he’ll do much more than that.
2. New Challengers for Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins
Kevin Owens retained his Intercontinental Championship by defeating Ryback in quick and easy fashion. Ditto for Seth Rollins, who defeated Kane decisively to retain his WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
Now, it’s time for both champions to move on to new challengers. The question is: Who? Truth be told, there aren’t a ton of obvious challengers waiting in the wings for either guys, but anything has got to be better than what they’ve been doing.
Owens’ feud with Ryback has been rather boring basically since it started while Rollins’ feud with Kane, though it sounded good on paper, has suffered because Kane is no longer viewed as a main event talent by the average WWE fan. So wherever the WWE goes from here, it’s almost a certainly that Rollins vs. whichever babyface he feuds with (or does he turn face himself and then feud with Triple H?) will garner more interest from the passionate WWE fanbase than any world title feud involving Kane.
The same goes for Owens, who is one of the best WWE prospects in years and should evolve into a top-level heel if the creative team can book him as a credible and fighting Intercontinental Champion.
1. The Wyatts vs. The Undertaker: Part Two
The Undertaker famously defeated Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania 31 earlier this year in Taker’s first WrestleMania match since “The Streak” ended a year earlier.
Wyatt vs. Undertaker was a match built primarily upon the similarities between their characters and Wyatt’s desire to become “The New Face of Fear,” and there was actually no physical interaction between the two until they faced off at the biggest pay-per-view of the year. But in an unpredictable twist, the Wyatts targeted Undertaker after he lost to Brock Lesnar at Hell in a Cell, seemingly reigniting their feud.
While the attack came out of the blue, it has actually set up a storyline that could prove to help the WWE rebound from the loss of Cena and Orton.
Given that the Wyatt Family now has four members and Survivor Series takes place next month, the WWE now has the perfect opportunity to schedule a monster 4-on-4 match at that pay-per-view. How about this match?
Brothers of Destruction + Shield vs. Wyatt Family at Survivor Series? Yeah, I can dig that
— Cageside Seats (@cagesideseats) October 26, 2015
Sounds like a winner, right? Given the recent feud between Wyatt and Roman Reigns, the long lasting issues between the Wyatts and The Shield and what transpired at the end of Hell in a Cell, this could very well be the main event of Survivor Series next month.
And given all of the major names involved, this could be the storyline that keeps the WWE afloat while many of its top stars are out of commission.