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It’s 2016, and perhaps I should be more progressive-thinking when it comes to this, but there’s something unsettling about picturing two women, locked in a cage, fighting for our amusement.
There’s something even more unsettling knowing the pressure that Sasha Banks and Charlotte are going to put on themselves, and how that self-imposed pressure could manifest itself in such a way, that someone gets seriously hurt.
It was announced on Monday’s Raw that Sasha Banks will defend her WWE Women’s Championship at Hell in a Cell later this month against Charlotte. The match will be the first time a match in WWE’s Women’s Division will take inside the Hell in a Cell structure.
The UFC implemented a Woman’s Division long ago, and before someone tries to tell me it’s the same thing, no it’s not. UFC fights take place inside of a cage. Wrestling matches take place inside of the ring.
In WWE, there are certain connotations that come along with the Cell. WWE doesn’t do blood, but back in the early days of cage matches, a ring surrounded by metal meant blood and guts were going to be spewed all over the place. Even the first Hell in a Cell match between Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker in 1997 resulted Michaels bleeding like a “stuck pig,” to borrow a phrase from Jim Ross.
Everyone remembers the third Hell in a Cell match, in June of 1998, when Mick Foley was thrown off the top of the cage by the Undertaker and then, perhaps more dangerously, was chokeslammed through the cage to the ring (one of WWE’s old blue rings, which were stiff as a board).
That match set the bar.
It was a bar that earlier this year at WrestleMania, Shane McMahon felt he needed to at least match, diving onto the Undertaker from the top of the cell in Dallas.
Modern-day cell matches are more or less neutered compared to some of the originals. The cage is used as more of a prop, and with the exception of the Shane McMahon dive at WrestleMania this year, the structure hasn’t posed a danger to many of its more recent participants.
But there’s a unique element at play with Sasha and Charlotte. They’ve been blazing the trail for the Divas Revolution since last summer, and it clear that they put a large amount of pressure on themselves. They’ve talked about it in interviews, and there are times in the ring where they seem to be playing with fire. It’s resulted in some incredible matches, but also some scary moments.
So much of this revolution has been about being innovative and different. Two months ago at SummerSlam, Sasha took scary fall off the top rope when she and Charlotte tried to do an some sort of spot. Essentially, Sasha was dropped on her neck and folded up like a chair. She was hurt, and lucky she was able to even walk away from that.
The narrative after the match, rightfully so, was that the spot wasn’t needed. Together, Sasha and Charlotte can have a great match without one of them having to risk their careers for a two count.
Sasha and Charlotte embody their idols in many ways. Watching them wrestle feels like watching Eddie Guerrero take on Ric Flair. Together, they can have a great wrestling match. I’m worried the pressure of the Cell might persuade them to take risks that are unnecessary, and dangerous.
Putting a women’s match inside Hell in a Cell is innovative, and it is different, but that doesn’t make it the right decision. Mae Young giving birth to a hand was innovative and different, too.
Not only does this match have its flaws, but it speaks more largely to the problem with these branded pay-per-views. There’s no reason for Sasha Banks and Charlotte to have a Hell in a Cell match. Within the context of the actual story itself, a cell just isn’t required. There are other ways to keep Dana Brooke out of the ring. The only reason this match is happening is because of the name of the show.
There are also other ways for Sasha and Charlotte to push the limits and be innovative. What about 30-minute Iron Woman match? Submission match? The Bank Statement vs. The Figure Eight.
This isn’t a matter of risk vs. reward, it’s a matter of whether the risks are even necessary. To me, they aren’t.
I want to see a lot more of Charlotte and Sasha Banks. I don’t want to see someone’s career shortened — or God forbid ended – for the sake of a “This is awesome!” chant.
(Mike McMahon reviews TNA Impact Wrestling every week for PWTorch.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMcMahonPW)