Themed Pay-Per-Views are a long-standing tradition in wrestling and have become benchmarks for many promotions throughout the world.
They offer fans something new and different from the standard wrestling event and are often considered highly anticipated affairs to mark on the calendar.
WWE has arguably the most famous of themed PPVs with timeless events such as the Royal Rumble, Survivor Series and the now defunct King of the Ring within its catalogue. However, in recent times we have witnessed the emergence (and departure) of additional themed PPVs that have in one way or another missed the mark on capturing fan attention and critical praise.
Bragging Rights, TLC, and the worst titled PPV in history, Fatal 4-Way have all been largely forgettable events with the exception of one or two matches.
Even Money in the Bank, one of the most exciting and breathtaking matches in recent memory, has become a weaker version of itself since becoming a PPV.
Elimination Chamber may be the only one to escape such a fatality though its name lacks any form of imagination.
However, the most disappointing themed PPV to date is unquestionably Hell in a Cell.
From its inception in 1997, it has always been more or less guaranteed that fans would be treated to at least one HIAC match each year. It was a great concept that was saved only for the company’s biggest stars as a means to finish explosive rivalries and add that dramatic edge that would leave fans in awe.
So why the need to market an entire PPV around it?
Each HIAC PPV has been a dud and only gotten worse as the years have progressed due mainly to a lack of build and poor character direction. Also, the inclusion of two or more HIAC matches on one card, none without a high-spot, has diminished the power and grandeur that the cell brought to an event.
That’s not to say that all the HIAC matches have been awful but as a PPV, WWE have shot themselves in the foot by insinuating something spectacular to occur and not living up to previous standards.
HHH and Undertaker proved that there could be a such a thing as a decent HIAC match without blood but that was completely down to the fact that their story was so over with the fans.
Without a story to back it up, the HIAC looks out of place and thrown in just for the sake of gaining an audience, which hasn’t worked, as fans are much wiser as to how the business operates.
The current feud between CM Punk and John Cena is undoubtedly the first in a long time to warrant such a revered match but with the possibly of Cena not being cleared to compete in time, the entire event looks to be in jeopardy.
The WWE have hinted at replacing Cena for the event in the form of Ryback but after his shocking match with Tensai on RAW, it wouldn’t be surprising for a third party to enter the fray.
At the risk of sounding like a complete Cena mark, the success of this PPV largely rests on whether he can perform or not.
If he does, then we’re undoubtedly guaranteed another Cena/Punk classic that will breath new life into the flagging PPV.
Conversely if Cena isn’t cleared, it’s more than likely that we will just see another subpar match that sours what was once the greatest gimmick match in wrestling.