Matt O’Brien maintains the poll.

It’s not too often that the main event of WWE Pay Per View is in trouble. Even though the company had not promised a CM Punk-John Cena match for last month’s Hell in a Cell, it was certainly the direction they were headed. It started at the thousandth episode of Raw, continued through Summerslam and Night of Champions, and seemed destined to end at Hell in a Cell. However, Cena’s elbow injury made it unlikely he would be ready to compete. Not wanting to promise something they couldn’t deliver, WWE placed Ryback in the match with Punk. Gaining momentum over several months, fans were happy to see the undefeated Ryback placed in a prominent role. He seemed to be one of the few who could believably replace John Cena in the main event. Ryback seemed unstoppable, and with Punk trying to keep his very lengthy title reign intact, something had to give. At Hell in a Cell, something did give. Referee Brad Maddox gave Ryback a low blow and then did a fast three count. The finish kept Punk as champion, but screwed Ryback. The reaction to the main event finish was mixed. With a few weeks to digest what happened, Wrestleview asked readers what they thought of the finish. The results are as follows:

What did you think of the Hell in a Cell main event finish?

It was the right call 16.34% (507 votes)
Bad move 72.06% (2,236 votes)
Can go either way 11.6% (360 votes)

Total votes cast: 3,103

Over three thousand votes were cast and the vast majority felt that WWE made a bad move with the Ryback-Punk finish. However, there were several voters who feel that WWE made the right call. They accomplished their goal and they managed to progress a feud instead of ending it, drawing fans to demand a rematch. A smaller number of voters can really go either way on the finish. They didn’t love it, but they didn’t hate it: It’s just kind of there.

As for the majority vote, there were a lot of different ways to get to the finish they wanted, which was to keep Punk the champion and protect Ryback. Looking at the reactions of fans from across the board, it seems what it really comes down to is not that the finish was bad because Ryback lost. It’s because the whole thing was anticlimactic.

You have Punk playing the coward and Ryback as an unstoppable force. These two guys are in a Hell in a Cell match and the best WWE could come up with was to have the referee do a fast count. Low blows are a good tool for heels to use, but having it put down Ryback made him seem like a dumb muscle head from a kid’s movie. The crooked referee was interesting, but it fit more with the Cena-Punk program than this one. There was a lot of speculation about who would interfere and if the match would end in a draw. Some even thought Brock Lesnar was going to be there and rip the door off the cage ala Kane, which would lead to a Wrestlemania showdown between the two big men. There could have been an army of heels hitting the cage to bring Ryback down, or maybe Cena could have inadvertently cost him the match. Heck, Ryback could have even won the belt, if even for a short time.

WWE is a very creative storytelling machine. They had something unique in their hands with this match and at the end of the day, what fans got was nothing what they had hoped. It felt flat. Yet regardless of the flat finish, there lies something deeper. Wrestling fans had built this match up so big in their minds, was there any finish that would have been satisfying?

Thanks to all those who voted. Be sure to check out the latest Wrestleview poll asking about your favorite breakout star of 2012!

Matt O’Brien