Held at the New Orleans Arena in Louisiana on October 2, 2011, the WWE's third (and latest) Hell In A Cell pay-per-view event was one of the year's best. Like most WWE pay-per-view events, this one took a bunch of the storylines that were running through the RAW and Smackdown leagues and brought some of them to a boil. Made up of seven matches in total, only two of them take place in the titular cell, but that doesn't take away from the excitement factor of the other four bouts. Sure, the cell novelty is a good one and it certainly increases the feeling of danger and risk but good wrestling is good wrestling and thankfully pretty much every one of the people involved in the in-ring action bring that and more to the table. Last year's event was solid, and thankfully the WWE actually managed to top it with the 2011 event. Here's a look at how this one plays out...
Sheamus Vs. Christian: The night starts off with a bang as these two waste no time getting right into the swing of things, and the audience eats it up right from the start. Sheamus dominates very early in the match but Christian proves his worth by the time it hits the middle and as good matches often do, the power struggle goes back and forth until one man emerges victorious. This is really well done, you won't know who is going to come out on top until it happens and there's a lot of great energy here that the audience feeds off of.
Sin Cara (Blue) Vs. Sin Cara (Black): This one starts off with the original Sin Cara, decked out in his traditional blue, getting into the ring with the 'new' Sin Cara, causing some (obviously planned but still amusing) confusion among the announcers/commentators before the match gets under way. Once it does, we're treated to some great wrestling with some killer moves on display from both parties and a lot of really interesting and acrobatic techniques getting some time in the spotlight. The last half of the match finds both Sin Cara's working the ropes as best they can, which results in some great flips and jumps - for some reason, however, the crowd doesn't get into it the way they did with the first bout. Regardless, if you're a fan of Luchadore Style wrestling, you'll eat this one up, it's good stuff.
WWE Tag Team Championship Match: Air Boom Vs. Jack Swagger And Dolph Ziggler: The ridiculously named Air Boom starts off strong in this tag team match, keeping Swagger and Ziggler at bay, but that all starts to change a few minutes in when they pick up the pace and use the ring to their advantage. Once Kofi goes through the ropes, the balance of power definitely shifts. A few moments where certain parties resort to cheating adds an interesting element to the bout, which stays pretty strong from start to finish even if it isn't the most memorable one of the evening.
Hell In A Cell Match: World Champion Mark Henry Vs. Randy Orton: Orton hits the ring like a bat out of Hell when this one starts, and uses the cage to his advantage as this quickly turns from a wrestling match into a fairly nasty brawl. Orton gives it his all here, with Henry giving back with just as much power and intensity. Henry uses his size advantage to keep at Orton, but Orton has got a lot more tricks up his sleeve and is indisputably the better wrestler of the two. We wind up with a brains versus brawn type scenario and it plays out really well here - a fantastic match, both men can take a bow after this one.
Intercontinental Champion Match: Cody Rhodes Vs. John Morrison: Cody starts this one off in his street clothes and there's an interesting build up here before Morrison decides to lay into his opponent. Cody makes a comeback after taking a serious pummeling, however, and from there it turns out to be a strong match with Morrison delivering a lot of his signature moves with that style and flair that's made him famous. This match is, however, a bit on the short side given the amount of build up there was for it.
Divas Championship Match: Kelly Kelly Vs. Beth Phoenix: Once again we get Natalya and Eve hanging out in the corners for a Diva's match. Kelly takes the reins here and gives Beth some serious action almost as soon as the bell goes. Beth makes a comeback early though and uses her acrobatic skills to give it right back to her opponent, at one point spilling out of the ring and onto the floor with her. This one works itself to a pretty solid finish. A lot of times the Divas matches don't have the energy and spirit that the other matches do but this one definitely holds its own, right through to the tearjerker of a finale.
Hell In A Cell Match: John Cena Vs. Alberto Del Rio Vs. C.M. Punk: Last but not least, the final match gets all three superstars into the cage for an intense fight that deserves its headliner slot. Del Rio starts off with some obvious trepidations, doing his best to stay away from Cena and especially Punk, but eventually his two opponents decide that they're not letting him get away that easily. Steel charis fly, Punk gets cut, and Cena delivers a pretty devastating leg drop before it all ends - and then Ricardo Rodriguez shows up to cause trouble. We won't spoil the ending here, but it's a good one, and there's some interesting spill over from it to digest as well.
All in all, the latest Hell In A Cell holds its own against the excellent entries in the series that came before it, maybe even besting them. None of the matches here are bad and most of them are far above average. As such, this is one that WWE fans are definitely going to enjoy.
This pay-per-view event was broadcast in anamorphic 1.78.1 widescreen and that's how it's presented on this DVD, even if the picture is interlaced. The quality is pretty decent, not showing any annoying compression artifacts e during any of the matches and only showing some minor shimmering in some scenes. Color reproduction looks alright and skin tones are fine but the black levels can sometimes be a little less than perfectly defined.
WWE Hell In A Cell 2011 has a strong Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix. There are no alternate language dubs, subtitles or closed captioning options. The audio here is fine, there aren't any obvious problems to report. The dialogue is always easy enough to understand and there are no issues with hiss or distortion worth complaining about. The 5.1 track sounds nice and full, with some nice crowd noise coming from the rear channels but it remains front heavy for the most part. There's nothing reference quality here, but the sound is good. An alternate Spanish language dub is also included.
Aside from menus and match selection, there's a couple of quick extra features included here, including an interview that JR conducts with Mark Henry (From RAW, September 19, 2011) and an interview Matt Stryker conducted with Alberto Del Rio (home video exclusive, conducted at the event on October 2, 2011) that detail their exploits at this event. Aside from that though, there's not much to talk about here.
WWE Hell In A Cell 2011 comes recommended to wrestling fans. If you're not into the WWE, this won't change your mind but if you like a good wrestling match, well, this disc has got seven of them. The audio and video are on par with previous WWE releases and the extras don't amount to a whole lot, but the quality of the matches makes up for it.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.