The Evolution Of WWE’s Hell In A Cell Match (Or How WWE Ruined Hell In A Cell) | WrestleTalk

Since its inception in 1997 there has been
no match that has had more highs and lows
than the famous *Hell in a Cell* (Vince McMahon
voice) match.
From a supped-up cage match to the big red
monstrosity it is today, the cell has undergone
a hell *wink* of an evolution.
Hello and welcome ladies and gents, I’m
Brian Joyce from and before
we get underway make sure to give this video
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let us know in the comments below what you
think is the best Hell in a Cell match ever.
The stipulation was conceived of in 1997.
The concept was a combination of the steel
cage used in the old Memphis territory which
encompassed the ringside area and the War
Games cage which had a top on it.
Whereas steel cage matches had often been
contested with escape the cage rules, the
Cell was designed specifically to keep the
participants inside.
The cage was listed at 16 feet tall with a
locked door.
The first match took place on October 5th,
1997 between Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker.
The first Hell in a Cell match is still regarded
as probably the best in history.
The match told a fantastic story of the Michaels
trying to escape the clutches of the monstrous
We will dive deeper into why the match worked
so well in a little bit, but needless to say
its 5 star rating from Dave Meltzer shows
that it made an immediate impact.
The story of the first cell cannot be told
without mentioning one of the great debuts
of all time.
Fort Knox Mayor Kane made his debut in the
main event, walking to the ring and ripping
the cage door off its hinges.
An idea originally done by booker Jerry Jarrett
in Knoxville, Tennessee with Doug Furnas in
Kane tombstoned his brother, allowing the
beaten and bloodied Michaels to get the pin.
An often-forgotten fact is that this match
was also a number one contenders match, effectively
setting up the main event of Survivor Series
’97 and the Montreal Screwjob.
While the first Cell match may be the best,
the match at King of the Ring ’98 is by
far the most memorable.
Mick Foley’s mentor Terry Funk suggested
that he start the match on top of the cell,
what could go wrong?
Everyone knows what happened next, as Foley
and Undertaker brawled on top of the cage,
Undertaker threw Foley from the top through
the announce table below.
Foley then climbed to the top and was chokeslammed
through the cell to the mat below.
For better or worse nothing this brutal has
been attempted in WWE since.
2000 was significant because of the debut
of one of the men who would define Hell in
a Cell for the next decade, Triple H. Huntor
began his reign of terror in 2000 by “retiring”
Mick Foley at No Way Out.
Mick Foley had defined the Cell match in the
90s just as much as the Undertaker had.
While his retirement only lasted six weeks,
he passed the Hell in a Cell torch to The
Just as 2000 started with a Cell match, it
ended with one too.
At Armageddon the only Six-way Hell in a Cell
match took place.
This marked the only time Kurt Angle, The
Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Rikishi
participated in the match.
From 2002 to 2005 the Hell in a Cell match
was dominated by Triple H and the Undertaker.
This is where the Hell in a Cell was truly
cemented as the ultimate feud ender.
The cell match was used as the climax of Triple
H’s rivalries with Chris Jericho, Kevin
Nash, Shawn Michaels and Batista and The Undertaker’s
rivalries with Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton.
The matches ranged from decent to amazing
with the Triple H vs. Batista match being
the best among them.
Each match was bloody and intense, solidifying
the stipulation’s place in the WWE lexicon.
In 2006 the Hell in a Cell received its first
aesthetic change.
With D-Generation X set to take on The McMahon’s
and The Big Show in a handicap match, the
Cell was enlarged to 20 feet tall.
The match was still bloody but is best remembered
for Mr. McMahon’s head being rammed up Big
Show’s big bum.
As DX claimed afterwards in a poem, “Vince
we know youre angry, your concern is valid.
After all last night, you tossed Big Show’s
Oh the Ruthless Agression era.
The biggest change to the Hell in a Cell match
took place in 2009 with the introduction of
the Hell in a Cell pay per view event.
The first event featured three Hell in a Cell
Undertaker vs. CM Punk, Randy Orton vs. John
Cena, and DX vs. future AEW Executive Vice
President Cody Rhodes and future
executive Ted Dibiase, it’s a real thing
look it up.
This event was the beginning of the end of
the Hell in a Cell match.
The Undertaker vs. CM Punk was well below
the level of intensity expected at the time
from a Cell match.
The Cena vs. Orton match was just another
chapter in their ongoing 2009 storyline.
This tore down the legacy of the Hell in a
Cell as a rivalry ender.
After 2009, the Hell in a Cell became just
a match that happened in October as opposed
to a climactic stipulation match.
The next few years were equally unkind to
the perception of the Hell in a Cell.
In 2010, the event only had a two week build
and featured a very weak combo of Randy Orton
vs. Sheamus and Undertaker vs. Kane matches.
2011 was not much better as Randy Orton continued
his stretch of boring Hell in a Cell matches
by facing Mark Henry.
These three events did more to damage the
image of the Hell in a Cell than anything
This is why when WrestleMania 28 came about
and Triple H challenged the Undertaker to
a Hell in a Cell match it meant so much.
These two men had been the faces of the match
since its creation but this was the first
time they competed in the match one on one.
With Shawn Michaels stepping in as the guest
referee, this match featured all the things
that the prior Cell matches lacked.
It was intense, it was story-driven, and it
was the climax of a year-long rivalry.
The match was fantastic and the highlight
of a turbulent WrestleMania.
After that match it was back to more of the
From 2012-15 a myriad of matches ranging from
good to forgettable took place.
Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose had a great
match that was tainted by a horrible finish
involving Bray Wyatt in 2014, Roman Reigns
had a forgettable match with Bray Wyatt in
2015, and Undertaker had a violent fight with
Brock Lesnar involving a post-match run-in
by Bray Wyatt.
I’m sensing a pattern here.
It is worth nothing that the match with Lesnar
was the final great singles match of the Undertaker’s
career to date.
2016 brought the Cell back to WrestleMania
as the returning plague against the WWE roster
Shane McMahon took on the Undertaker in the
culmination of a truly nonsensical storyline.
The match was long and it was bad.
That bump, though.
Shane delivered this generation’s version
of Mick Foley’s infamous Cell bump as Shane
leapt off the cage driving himself through
the announce table 20 feet below as Michael
Cole Bay Bay read “For the love of Mankind”
off a paper.
Cmon Mikey.
It may hurt Shane’s feelings to know that
even with his insane bump, his Cell match
was not the most important of the year.
The Hell in a Cell pay per view featured the
first time a women’s match took place inside
the Cell and the first time they main evented
a pay per view.
Raw Women’s Champion Sasha Banks and challenger
Charlotte battled inside the Cell and while
WWE would like to paint the match as a classic,
unfortunately it was a bit of a mess.
Spots went awry and they were unable to regain
control before a truly flat finish.
Regardless it was a big moment for the women
who truly had come a long way in their on-screen
2017 was where the Hell in a Cell match began
to jump the shark.
The 2017 event featured the all-time stupidest
stipulation, where the Hell in a Cell match
would be contested under Falls Count Anywhere
What is the point of a Hell in a Cell match
if the participants are encouraged to escape
the cage?
*cut* *deep breathe* its okay, its alright,
im calm.
Im calm.
*deep breath* The match between Kevin Owens
and Shane McMahon was quite good despite its
idiotic stipulation, which was designed solely
for Shane to jump off the cage again.
Then we have the 2018 pay per view, which
included the two most infuriating moments
in Hell in a Cell history and no, one of them
was not the choice to make the cage red.
Although the change does make the cage look
like a toy.
The first match was Randy Orton vs. Jeff Hardy
and it was very good until the finish.
Hardy dropped from the ceiling of the cell
through a table in the ring as Orton moved
out of the way.
It looked pretty devastating but nothing too
outlandish per Hell in a Cell standards.
This made it all the more frustrating when
the referee refused to count the pin on Hardy,
instead choosing to yell “Randy!
He’s hurt”.
this isn’t even the worst part.
*deep breath*
The main event was Roman Reigns vs. Braun
The match was pretty standard but it had the
worst finish of any Cell match.
With Reigns and Strowman weakened, a returning
Brock Lesnar emerged to assault both men.
It seemed like a good way to set up the next
challenger for the winner but the fans quickly
turned from excited to befuddled when the
referee waved off the match due to the outside
A Hell in a Cell match, made a no contest
because of outside interference.
Mick Foley nearly died and that match had
a finish.
But because both men got F-5ed, this was simply
too much to handle.
Beyond the lunacy of the finish, this match
serves as a perfect example of how the Hell
in a Cell match has changed since 1997.
You know how I said we would get into why
that first match was great in a little bit?
Well here we go.
The HBK vs. Undertaker match was so great
because it told a simple but perfect story.
The Hell in a Cell was specifically designed
so that the weaselly Michaels would not be
able to escape this fight.
Regardless of the stipulation, Michaels goal
was to avoid the punishment.
Michaels tried to escape an inescapable cage
with a monster locked inside with him like
Only when a cameraman was injured was the
cage door opened, allowing Michaels an opportunity
to escape.
Everything had a place in the story, Michaels
climbed the Cell with the idea that “that
bear cannot climb this tree”.
When it became clear that the bear could in
fact climb the tree, Michaels tried to climb
Compare this to the 2018 match.
Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose were the seconds
for Roman Reigns while Drew McIntyre and Dolph
Ziggler backed up Strowman.
During the match, the seconds just began climbing
the cage for absolutely no reason other than
this now being what you do in a Hell in a
Cell match.
This is as much a gripe with modern WWE as
it is with the stipulation but it just goes
to show that when things are done logically
and for a reason, it produces a better story.
Thank you for taking this journey with me.
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I’m Brian Joyce and I hope you enjoyed.

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