Hell in a Cell: The Case to Cut Down on Gimmick Pay-Per-Views


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Here are seven of the twelve pay-per-views that WWE puts on every year:

  • Royal Rumble (January)
  • Elimination Chamber (February)
  • Extreme Rules (May)
  • Money in the Bank (June)
  • Night of Champions (September)
  • Hell in a Cell (October)
  • TLC (December)

What do these PPVs all have in common?

They are all gimmick-centered PPVs.

Royal Rumble is a WWE tradition and has been around since the 1980’s. It has plenty of significance every year as it determines who gets a spot in the main event of Wrestlemania, so there is no need to remove it.

The other gimmick PPVs are another story.

Years ago, matches like Elimination Chamber, Hell in a Cell, Money in the Bank, and TLC (Tables, Ladders, and Chairs) had more significance behind them. From the classic battles including the Armageddon HIAC six-man match in 2000, the first TLC match at SummerSlam 2000, to the Wrestlemania MITB matches, they were all-time classics that we still talk about today.

What those matches and others in the past have had in common is that that we did not see these match stipulations coming – we were surprised and thrilled when they were announced. Now when we get to the HIAC PPV, we fully expect to see the gigantic steel structure on the show not once but twice, like we did last year. We’ve also been treated to two forgettable matches of CM Punk vs. Ryback in the cell in the past few years. Last year’s match was the final conclusion to a very watered down feud between Punk and Paul Heyman that plenty wanted to see end earlier.

Next month’s HIAC PPV will likely feature two matches in the cell again for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and for Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose. The latter feud is definitely worthy of the cell, but in what will likely be the first month of a fresh championship feud, it’s not going to mean much and once again make this type of match feel watered down.

Take a look at this list made by WWE last year of the top ten HIAC matches of all time. Since this became a gimmick PPV in 2009, not a single match from those events sniffed this list. The most recent one that did was from Wrestlemania 28 between Triple H and The Undertaker. That was an instance where WWE got it right and surprised fans with that match stipulation.

So how does this problem of Hell in a Cell matches being watered down conclude? By dropping the gimmick PPV and using the cell matches wisely. They could be put in place of the Steel Cage matches (while still using them sometimes), which are fun, but shouldn’t be this generation’s version of the HIAC to end a feud.

Another gimmick-centered PPV that needs to be changed just as much as Hell in a Cell is the Elimination Chamber PPV.

The reasons are pretty much similar to the previous gimmick PPV that was discussed – drop the name of the PPV and make this match something that the fans don’t see coming.

We know that every February, the PPV before Wrestlemania, we’re going to see an Elimination Chamber match.

When Eric Bischoff created this kind of match back in 2002, it was fresh, exciting, and something that we have never seen before. In 2014, it’s something that we’ve seen so often on a scheduled basis that it has lost its meaning.

Check out this list from WWE on the top ten EC matches of all-time. The top five matches on those rankings were contests that took place before 2010.

Why is that significant? 2010 was the year when the Elimination Chamber became a gimmick PPV. When two of these are put on the same PPV each year instead of sporadically using them, the value is taken out of the match.

I remember watching the first EC match at Survivor Series 2002. It was awesome and you could just feel the meaning behind it as a ground breaking match. Today, it just feels like a set, once a year match, like HIAC is.

Extreme Rules, Money in the Bank, Night of Champions, and TLC need to be changed for very similar reasons, but they won’t be evaluated for the sake of not being repetitive.

The Hell in a Cell and Elimination Chamber pay-per-views show why these gimmick events need to be eliminated. The match stipulations have become watered down over the years and its time for a change. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like WWE will do something about this any time soon with over half of their PPVs being gimmicks.