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Under most normal circumstances, featuring more than one gimmick match on a show is overkill. Featuring three on a show, especially of the same type of match, is just asking for criticism.
Yes, these pay-per views like Hell in a Cell and TLC, where gimmick matches are shoe-horned into feuds regardless of whether or not a feud calls for that type of match, have been denounced for years. But it’s not going to change, and if WWE is going to run a show called Hell in a Cell (spoiler: they are), it makes sense that there’s more than one match of that particular stipulation. After all, why title a three-plus-hour show after a single match that may take up only one-sixth of that time? At least the Royal Rumble match itself is an hour.
It’s still risky to run three Cell matches over the course of three hours or more. If WWE spaces out the matches, one at the beginning, one in the middle, and one at the end, they may be able to avoid overkill and live fan exhaustion for those matches. It’s really going to depend as much on the buffer matches as it will the Cell matches themselves. It will take some cunning on the part of WWE to build the show this way, but they’ve been able to do it before, and they certainly have the ability to do it again.
What’s interesting about these Cell matches, too, is that they could end up stylistically different. That would help differentiate them from each other and not feel like you’re seeing the same match three times in one evening. Rusev vs. Roman Reigns is expected to be a hard-hitting grudge match, one in which the Cell may end up being used the most. In Seth Rollins vs. Kevin Owens, we’ll get a strategic title match wherein both men will try to do whatever they can within the Cell structure to walk out as WWE Universal Champion. And all eyes will be on Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte, the first-ever women’s match inside of Satan’s Playground. That badge of honor shouldn’t be a part of the storyline, but yes, it is an attraction for that very reason.
Could three Cell matches on the card end up being a disaster? Of course it could. But WWE has protected the gimmick well, only trotting it out during the season of its PPV namesake. They haven’t wasted the good will the match still has by using it as a desperation draw throughout the rest of the year. Thus, a PPV called Hell in a Cell having more than one Cell match is not a worry of mine heading into the show.
(Greg Parks has been covering WWE Smackdown for PWTorch.com since January of 2007. He hosts the “Moonlighting with Greg Parks” VIP Audio show every weekend and has hosted a live call-in show after the first three weeks of Smackdown Live on Tuesday nights. Follow him on Twitter @gregmparks. Comments, questions and feedback are welcome, and can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.)