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With The Undertaker and Brock Lesnar set to wrap up their long-standing feud and John Cena set to take some time off from WWE, an air of change may be shifting over the atmosphere of WWE, at least until the Royal Rumble when all of the part-timers come back out of the woodwork for Wrestlemania season. It seems strange to believe that a match that is co-main evented by Kane and actually main-evented by a 50 year old icon is going to be the symposium for change in WWE, but let's take a look at each match and assign a "Change Rating" on a scale of 1 to 10 as to how different the potential outcomes of the matches strive from the norm.
The Undertaker vs Brock Lesnar
After a SummerSlam match that saw The Undertaker go full-blown heel, hitting Brock below the belt and stealing a victory, WWE has quickly turned the feud around and will have it all settled on Sunday. This all seems like a quick development for WWE, after The Undertaker waited 16 months to strike back against Brock Lesnar, after allowing so much time to go between matches one and two, WWE has hot-shotted the angle to be finished up on Sunday, which is strange considering it seemed like a feud destined to end back where it all began, at Wrestlemania.
An old wrestling adage is that when a match is promoted as being "the last match ever" between two rivals, it is almost guaranteed that they will meet again. However, considering The Undertaker's advanced age and the likelihood that he will be done for good after Wrestlemania in April, this might be the one time when the promotion actually means it.
I honestly believe this match could go as a toss-up. I think logically it makes the most sense to have 'Taker put Brock over once and for all and then have Brock set his sights back on Seth Rollins and the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. However, if WWE elected to have The Undertaker win, I don't think too many fans will have a problem with that. Losing to The Undertaker inside HIS match is far from a burial, and as long as Brock puts a big beating on The Deadman (which he surely will) he can take a loss and be as dominant as ever post-match.
So how much change can come from this match? If it really does end up being the last match between the two, a fair amount of change can take place. Obviously, both guys would need new opponents for Wrestlemania season and although Lesnar is likely to face either Rollins or Roman Reigns, it is a huge mystery on who The Undertaker is set to face for what very well may be his last match ever. Up until last month when WWE announced this match was taking in place at Hell in a Cell, it seemed like THIS match was supposed to be the one at Wrestlemania. Without Lesnar who knows where The Undertaker is headed?
Roman Reigns vs Bray Wyatt
The other Hell in a Cell match is one with a lot less hype surrounding it. Wyatt and Reigns have been feuding for several months now, and despite a lot of time dedicated to formulating it on television, it has received lukewarm reactions from the audience. The fans pop for their interactions more than most of the other programs in the company, but for a feud that is culminating in a Hell in a Cell match it feels like one of the weaker programs to ever step inside the Cell, even by the matches declining standards.
It seems like a strange time to end this feud, despite it having gone on for months. The Wyatt Family just added a new member, Braun Stroman, and brought back Erick Rowan on Monday. It seems like there are more chapters to be written, but WWE, Reigns and Wyatt have all said in the weeks leading up to the match that this really is the end of the feud. If it does end up being the end, it is a guaranteed victory for Reigns, as rumor has it that WWE is eyeing a WWE World Heavyweight Championship run for him soon and he isn't going to get more ready by losing to Bray Wyatt.
As for change, I think it could really effect Bray Wyatt. Since the feud with Reigns began, Wyatt has been slowly rebuilding his family to the point that his character has reverted back to its original state. Instead of setting all his members free, he has more of them than ever. After he is done with Reigns, his opponents seem pretty lackluster. Wyatt has already feuded with many of the top names, except for Randy Orton, who is out with a mysterious shoulder injury that is being credited to Wyatt. Orton and Dean Ambrose's struggles with The Wyatt's have been tied in directly to Reigns' battle, so it is unclear if they will continue the fight once Reigns moves on. As for Reigns, he is likely to work against Seth Rollins, which is a feud that isn't necessarily new but has yet to be done with any form of consistency.
Seth Rollins vs Kane
There is certainly going to be some changes after the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match on Sunday between Kane and Seth Rollins. The storyline going into the match is that if Kane is to lose this match he will no longer the Director of Operations. So if WWE is playing this at face-value, either Kane is fired from his job, or he becomes the new world champion. Of course, WWE could be playing all of us and have this match end in a no-contest or a disqualification as matches with these types of stipulations often tend to do. I wouldn't pass WWE to have Corporate Kane fired, only for Demon Kane to take over as the new Director of Operations.
Kane being chosen as Rollins' opponent has really frustrated me. Here is the perfect time to introduce someone new into the world title picture. I don't really care who it is, it could be Cesaro, Ziggler, Neville, Kevin Owens, Wade Barrett, Stardust, it doesn't really matter. The event is being sold by The Undertaker vs Brock Lesnar, this is not an event that anybody is tuning into to watch Seth Rollins. It is the perfect time to experiment with someone new, the company has nothing to lose. What percentage of the audience is going to purchase the WWE Network specifically to watch Kane vs Rollins, and how would that percentage compare to the percentage of the audience that would purchase the WWE Network specifically to watch Kane vs Cesaro? Even if there is a difference between the two percentages, wouldn't it be worth the risk to try and introduce someone new to the world title picture? Apparently it isn't, because once again WWE shows zero faith in any of their mid-card wrestlers to be anything more than just filler on the PPV.
John Cena US Open Challenge
This may be the most intriguing match on the show, considering Cena is supposed to be taking most of the rest of the year off after this match, and as US Champion, logic would dictate that he would drop the championship before he leaves. Of course, with the wacky booking that surrounds John Cena, would it really surprise anybody if Cena just wins his match on Sunday, than goes on vacation and remains the US Champion?
Because I worry about my reader's blood pressure levels, let's pretend that Cena is going to drop the title Sunday. Because it is a mystery opponent on a PPV, and because fans know that Cena is going away after the show, a lot of big names are going to be rumored to be the one answering the open challenge. The most popular name has been Daniel Bryan, who has shown to be every bit the babyface that Cena has been and can continue adding prestige to the title.
The issue with Bryan answering the challenge is that I wonder how WWE is going to write off Cena from TV. I can imagine that Bryan beats him, Cena shakes his hand and just announces he is going to be taking some time off and then leaves, but that seems like a wasted opportunity to advance a storyline. The most obvious thing to happen is to have someone come out and beat Cena so horribly that he has to take time off to recover from his injuries. That would create a new star that can rival Cena and have a hot storyline for when Cena makes his return. Not just anyone could pull that off mind you, and the only real choice I see for that role is Samoa Joe. Joe has been languishing in NXT without a ton of direction, this would give him a purpose on the main roster and I think Cena and him can work a pretty entertaining program together.
Charlotte vs Nikki Bella
WWE has actually done a better job booking the Diva's division over the last month or so. Instead of just pushing all the Diva's together into one big storyline, little individual stories are beginning to slip through the cracks, with Charlotte and Nikki feuding over the title, Paige and Natalya getting into it and a prospective riff developing between Naomi and Sasha Banks. On Sunday, Nikki will get her rematch against Charlotte after Charlotte won the Diva's Championship last month at Night of Champions. WWE seems to have gotten behind Charlotte and is pushing her hard, so I'm 90 percent sure that she is going to win this match. If Charlotte can knock off Nikki that opens up a spot for another fresh face to pop into the Diva's Championship, which would be a welcome change.
The New Day vs The Dudley Boys
It seems like WWE has been working in a circle with this feud. So far all of their matches have ended pretty much the same way, with Xavier Woods jumping into the ring and causing a DQ finish. On Monday's Raw, Woods got put through a table while the announcers said that nobody deserved it more than him, despite the fact that Woods has been put through a table by the Dudley's about a half-dozen times since the feud began. Despite this feud dying for a stipulation match, WWE is once again trotting out a standard tag match for the show, and we as fans can only expect the same result.
Ryback vs Kevin Owens
After finishing up his feud with John Cena, Owens has been stuck in booking purgatory, holding a meaningless title that assures you nothing but a five to ten minute match on a PPV. WWE has put zero effort into this feud. It can be summed up in ten words: Owens beat Ryabck for the title, Ryback wants it back. There is literally nothing else you can add to describe this feud, just a nothing match for a nothing title.
While the lower card matches are not really that inspiring, I do think there is some credence to the theory that Hell in a Cell could be the start of some changes for WWE. At the top of the card there are some interesting outcomes, from the ambiguity of the Lesnar vs 'Taker match, to the likelihood that Cena is actually going to lose on Sunday. It might not be a top-flight PPV, but there is a beacon of hope that come Monday's Raw, we could be seeing a slightly different WWE.
You can follow Jesse Collings on Twitter@JesseCollings