‘Hell in a Cell’. Four words that instantly create a buzz when mentioned on WWE television. The ultimate evolution of the cage match and the pinnacle of WWE’s many trademark gimmick matches (trumping the Elimination Chamber in the process).
Running Time: 495mins
Chapters – Disc 1
- The Devil’s Playground
- The Debut
- Hell in a Cell: Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels – In Your House: Badd Blood (October 5, 1997)
- RAW in Hell
- Tag Team Hell in a Cell Match: Stone Cold Steve Austin & Undertaker vs. Mankind & Kane – RAW (June 15, 1998)
- The Defining Match
- Hell in a Cell: Undertaker vs. Mankind – King of the Ring (June 28, 1998)
- Partners turned Opponents
- Hell in a Cell: Mankind vs. Kane – RAW (August 24, 1998)
- Career on the Line
- Hell in a Cell Match for the WWF Championship (Cactus Jack’s Career is on the Line): Triple H vs. Cactus Jack – No Way Out (February 27, 2000)
- The Six Men
- Six-Man Hell in a Cell Match for the WWF Championship:Kurt Angle vs. Rikishi vs. The Rock vs. Undertaker vs. Triple H vs. Steve Austin – Armageddon (December 10, 2000)
Chapters – Disc 2
- End the Game
- Hell in a Cell: Triple H vs. Chris Jericho – Judgment Day (May 19, 2002)
- Earning Your Respect
- Hell in a Cell Match for the WWE Championship: Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar – No Mercy (October 20, 2002)
- Special Guest Referee
- Hell in a Cell Match for the World Heavyweight Championship: Triple H vs. Kevin Nash – Bad Blood (June 15, 2003)
- Good Friends Gone Bad
- Hell in a Cell: Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H – Bad Blood (June 13, 2004)
Chapters – Disc 3
- The Animal’s Evolution
- Hell in a Cell Match for the World Heavyweight Championship: Batista vs. Triple H – Vengeance (June 26, 2005)
- The Legend Killer
- Hell in a Cell: Undertaker vs. Randy Orton – Armageddon (December 18, 2005)
- The Amplified Version
- Hell in a Cell Handicap Match: Degeneration-X vs. Shane McMahon, Mr. McMahon & Big Show – Unforgiven (September 17, 2006)
- The End of the Line
- Hell in a Cell Match for the World Heavyweight Championship: Undertaker vs. Batista – Survivor Series (November 18, 2007)
- Defining A Career
Since the structure’s construction in 1997, there have been sixteen ‘Hell in a Cell’ matches, fourteen of which are on this disc ( Edge v Undertaker at Summerslam had yet to occur when the collection was put together and the Wrestlemania XV contest between Undertaker and Big Bossman is wisely ignored). It’s well documented that Undertaker and Triple H have been in all but one of these matches (nine and seven respectively), but Mick Foley also has a respectable four showings and Shawn Michaels has been in three, so it’s not all about just two men.
As there is little in the way of documentary on any of the three discs (Mick Foley, presenting the showcase, links each match with a brief recap and the hype promo for each contest is shown as well), I feel the best was to actually review the disc is simply to take it one match at a time and rate each one… so here goes.
1)_Undertaker v Shawn Michaels
Badd Blood – October, 1997
The first HiaC is widely considered the best of the bunch; an amazing feat when you consider it normally takes a few goes before the performers iron out any kinks and get comfortable with their surroundings (e.g. ‘Money in the Bank’ and TLC).
What strikes me initially when viewing this back is how low-key the whole affair is. A “B” level PPV and no “lowering of the cage” music somehow seems odd when compared to today’s events. The lack of the current WWE security wall is also another small, yet interestingly crucial, element to what a WWE show should look and feel.
The hype promo that precedes this match is alright, but doesn’t focus enough on the entire angle; HBK cost Undertaker, inadvertently, the WWF Championship in a match against Bret Hart at Summerslam. Michaels then turned heel after being blamed by both the former champ AND the fans, blasted Undertaker twice with a chair, drew blood (a very rare sight back then) and then had a blistering brawl (and, in my opinion, the greatest no-contest you will ever see) at IYH: Ground Zero the previous month.
Because of all the outside shenanigans, the enclosed cage idea was brought to life (allegedly from the mind of Jim Cornette, although there have been similar cages used in the past) and the ‘Hell in a Cell’ was born.
HBK, the WWF European Champion at the time, comes out first full of the cocky bravado he is famous for, but that soon disappears once the Cell is lowered and he realises he has no means of escape. Accompanying him to ringside (although they are not present during the match, are Triple H, Chyna and the late Rick Rude. The group would later become DX, but, for now, they were just a heel faction without a name.
There were a few different angles going on at the same time. There was the rivalry between Shawn and ‘Taker (hence the match), but there was also the rivalry both of them had with Bret Hart (the winner would face Bret at the 1997 Survivor Series for the WWF Title… and we all know how THAT turned out) and the ongoing feud between Undertaker and Paul Bearer, the latter of whom had been threatening to reveal a secret from Undertaker’s past and finally, after the threat of an ass-whooping, let slip that “Kane is alive”. Kane, as we would soon find out, was the Undertaker’s brother (later discovered to only be a half-brother).
Over 21,000 people crammed into the Kiel Centre in St. Louis for a “B” level PPV; the attraction of seeing HBK get his arse handed to him obviously a strong one. With both men on a roll as far as their in-ring performances were concerned, the feeling was that this had the potential to be one of the best matches of all time.
Michaels, playing his role to perfection, avoids Undertaker at all costs as “The Dead Man” remains content to simply stalk him around the ring, safe in the knowledge that his opponent is going nowhere. Thinking he has outsmarted his foe, Michaels enters the ring, runs off the ropes as ‘Taker comes in under the bottom rope… and takes a massive boot to the face.
The fight was now on, and for the next 27+mins, these guys wrestled their hearts out with blistering offence, well paced exchanges and the use of the cage intelligently.
HBK was at his bumping best, hurling his frame around the ring like a pinball and then, after hitting a superkick (which Undertaker, in a brilliant show of timing and psychology, no-sells straight away), escaping the Cell when the door was opened to help a downed cameraman (who was down because Shawn had beaten him up). Then the match got really interesting.
Countering a dropkick, ‘Taker catapults HBK into the wall of the Cell and opens up a massive cut on his forehead. A few battering-rams into the wire and Michaels is a bloody mess. A kick in the nads, however, allows Shawn to try and climb the cage to escape. Nowadays, we know this is not a good idea, but we’d never been in this place before, so we had no idea what was to come (especially as the WWE wasn’t in the business of massive bumps). On top of the Cell, Michaels was backdropped, military pressed and then dropped through the announce table (not as brutal as Mankind, more of which later, but still impressive.
Eventually, back in the ring, the camera crew manage to get a stunning shot of Michaels’ bloody face as the crimson pours off it into a pool on the canvas. Undertaker, getting payback, at last, for the chairshots to his cranium, goes outside, grabs a seat of his won and lands one of the most solid chairshots you’ll ever see. A thumb-across-the-throat to signal the Tombstone and this match will be over… or, at least, it would have been if the lights hadn’t went out and some strange organ music played instead.
“That’s gotta be, that’s gotta be Kane” screamed Vince McMahon (in his last PPV appearance on commentary), and, sure enough, the massive man in red was the brother Paul Bearer had been talking about the previous few weeks. The crowd were in stunned awe as Kane ripped the Cell door of its hinges, entered the ring, Tombstoned Undertaker and then left (to then go on a six-month rampage before ‘Taker would face him at Wrestlemania XIV), allowing Shawn to crawl out of a pool of his own blood for the victory.
The first ever HiaC match was over, but boy, it sure left a massive legacy for the matches that would follow.
2) Undertaker & Steve Austin v Mankind & Kane
Monday Night RAW – June, 1998
This is really more of an extended angle than an actual match. As a preview to the upcoming ‘King of the Ring’ PPV (where Undertaker would take on Mankind in a HiaC match and Kane would face Steve Austin for the WWF Title in a First Blood Match… with the added stipulation that, if Kane should lose, he would set himself on fire), this was the perfect set-up for the pay-per-view that would take place only thirteen days later.
The pre-match hype video shows why the two KotR matches would be taking place. Undertaker fought Kane to become the challenger for Steve Austin’s title. Mick Foley, who had been wrestling as Dude Love, was fired by Vince for his inability to win the title from Austin, so he came back as Mankind and cost Undertaker the aforementioned match with Kane (who was in cahoots with Mr. McMahon – Vince feeling that Undertaker was past it and the younger brother was the more dominant monster). All of this led to the first ever tag-team HiaC.
As I said, the match is really just a long angle, with the rumour being Undertaker was in league with Kane and that Steve Austin would be fed to the lions… and that’s exactly what appeared to happen; Kane and Mankind are in the ring, Austin makes his entrance, wisely staying outside the cage for his partner, only for Undertaker to no-show, twice, when his music is played.
Mankind comes out to get Steve (and has the cage door slammed into his head, followed by Kane. Paul Bearer locks himself in the Cell, making sure neither Austin or Undertaker can harm him and… we’ll, you can guess the rest.
Undertaker was not on the same page as his brother and the sustained beatdown on the rotund manager was brutal and bloody. The sight of Kane, who is a massive man, on the roof of the Cell and doing his best to get in and help his daddy is wonderful and the hype going forward to the PPV was tremendous.
Even though it was a no-contest, the “match” did its job beautifully.
3) Undertaker v Mankind
King of the Ring – June, 1998
Of all the matches on this three-disc compilation, this is the one that needs no introduction. Clips of Foley’s falls from, and through, the Cell have been replayed countless times… and with good reason.
During this time period, there had never been a bump like it. To my generation of fans, it was our “Hogan slamming Andre” moment, a special piece of history that can never be repeated and never be forgotten. Sure, there have been bigger bumps since then, but none of them have had the emotional impact that this match had. It wasn’t how high the bumps were that is important, it’s the feeling we had when we watched it live and the realisation we were witnessing something special.
Now, don’t be fooled into thinking this match is two bumps and nothing else. Undertaker and Mankind, with Jim Ross (never better) on commentary, put on a monumental effort (especially since ‘Taker had a badly sprained ankle and Mick was knocked goofy by the chokeslam through the Cell) that showcased psychology and the art of picking your spots to an amazing degree.
This match should be used as an example of how to use hardcore spots in your match and make them mean something. The two bumps are obviously huge spots, but there is a reason why these two are replayed over a decade later, yet other, more dangerous spots are forgotten a week after they occur; they meant something.
When Mankind brings out the tacks, they meant something, so the fans were emotionally invested. Abyss (TNA) should be made to watch this match and see how thumbtacks should be used. The fans reaction when Undertaker signals a chokeslam into the sharp-pointed metal objects and Foley counters it, only to end up dropped into them in a spot that shows patience and drama is phenomenal.
The match isn’t the best contest on the disc, but it is the most memorable because of the risks taken and the overall feeling of awe. I still get goosebumps every time I watch the match and the emotion Jim Ross brings to his commentary (probably the best piece of wrestling commentary you’ll ever hear) is astounding. Never has a guy sounded so genuine when calling a match (and it’s probably because he was being totally genuine with his calls of “They’ve killed him” and “Will somebody please stop the damn match”, among other gems). Jerry Lawler is also great on commentary and is unfairly overlooked in regards to his contribution to the bout.
Terry Funk coming out was a nice touch, but having Vince come out and basically break character by showing genuine concern (with a look on his face that showed a feeling of “maybe we’ve taken it too far) really added to the drama and helped make this the defining moment of a generation and cemented Mick Foley in WWE’s legacy.
4) Mankind v Kane
Monday Night RAW – August, 1998
From tag partners two matches ago, to bitter enemies in the making (even though they were still partners and in the midst of their second reign as WWF Tag Team Champions), Kane and Mankind contested the second (and, so far, last, non-PPV HiAC match).
Summerslam ’98 (a brilliant event) was coming up and Undertaker was set to face Steve Austin for the WWF Title. A few weeks prior, Undertaker and Kane had finally admitted to being together as a unit and the angle was whether Kane would help out at the PPV.
Mankind and Kane had won the tag belts from the New Age Outlaws, lost and then regained them in matches against Undertaker and Austin, and were heading into a Falls Count Anywhere defence at Summerslam. A few weeks before this match, Mankind had been in a match with ‘Taker when Kane “accidentally” hit him with a chair and then “inadvertently” allowed his brother to take the chair and hit Mankind again. The following week, Undertaker pretended to be Kane and hammered the masked madman once again. This led to the “are they/aren’t they” confusion between the brothers… until they eventually destroyed Mankind with a Spike Tombstone.
So, we end up with a situation whereby Mankind has had enough and wants some answers… and the only way he knows how is to beat them out of Kane inside the very same structure Undertaker nearly killed him in a few months prior. Kane takes him up on the offer and, with his brother at his side, comes out for an impromptu (or as impromptu as you can get with a sixteen-feet high cage hanging above your head) ‘Hell in a Cell’ encounter.
The match is kept short, but, like the previous RAW encounter, is simply an elaborate angle rather than an out-and-out contest. Undertaker had, earlier in the night, promised to set an example to Steve Austin in regards to what will happen to him at Summerslam, and the fans were wondering when “Stone Cold” would fulfil the promise he made for this night; he will, one way or another, get his hands on Undertaker or Kane.
Mankind, determined to follow the same strategy as his KotR war with Undertaker, says he is going to start the match on top of the Cell. As before, he tries to throw a steel chair up there as well… only to fail miserably. The first falls back down and hits Jerry Lawler (glancing blow), while the second attempt heads straight for Jim Ross and only avoids him because his broadcast partner, at the last second, manages to swat it away. Giving up on the chair, Mankind elects to simply climb the cage and does just that… until Undertaker grabs him halfway up, hauls him down and causes Mick to crash through the Spanish announce table for his second HiaC in a row.
Selling the effects of the Spike Tombstone and the fall through the table, Kane has his way in a glorified squash. Mankind does get in a violent chair to Kane’s (unprotected) face , an attempt at the Mandible Claw and a beautiful piledriver that sends Kane, arse-first, into the tacks.
Unfortunately for Mick, this simply pisses Kane off. Thus, the red monster no-sells the assault, lands three sick shots with the chair, a chokeslam, a Tombstone and then, at the Undertaker’s urging, a Tombstone onto a steel chair (all while having around forty or fifty tacks sticking in his posterior).
It is at this moment Steve Austin decides to “keep his promise”, come from under the ring and beat the living Hell out of Kane. Undertaker, similar to Kane in the previous RAW match, can do nothing but climb to the roof of the Cell and try to break in. The fans in attendance lap it up and make me nostalgic for the frenzy of the Attitude Era.
5) Bossman v Undertaker
Wrestlemania XV – March,, 1999
NOT INCLUDED, MENTIONED, OR EVEN HINTED AT ON THE DVD!!!
6) Triple H v Cactus Jack
No Way Out – February, 2000
Mick Foley goes into his fourth ‘Hell in a Cell’ match for this first time as someone other than Mankind. Cactus Jack and Triple H make the HiaC debut in the follow-up to their stunning Street Fight from the previous month’s Royal Rumble (in my opinion, one of the greatest hardcore bouts of all time alongside Cactus Jack v Randy Orton, Mick Foley v Terry Funk and Mick Foley v Edge).
During the build up, Cactus had demanded another shot at Triple H’s WWF Championship, citing the fact only one of them actually walked out of Madison Square Garden at the Royal Rumble. Trips, agreed to the request on one condition; that Mick Foley’s career would also be on the line. This then led to Cactus Jack complying, so long as the match would be contested inside the ‘Hell in a Cell’.
Cactus Jack also promised that he would, once again, come off the top of the Cell, but this time it would be his choice and his fall would be broken by the limp carcass of the WWF Champion… something that, understandably, didn’t sit well with Helmsley and his lovely wife, Stephanie McMahon.
I mentioned earlier that the Mankind/Undertake HiaC was a great example of psychology and the small subtleties that can make all the difference to a match and to a character. That same quality is evident in the opening minute of this encounter when Cactus leaves the ring and attempts to exit the Cell door… only to find that “someone” had put on at least a dozen chains and padlocks all around the frame in an cunning plan to keep the match inside the structure.
What follows is an emotionally brutal match between a guy willing to make his opponent on his way out and a wrestler in Triple H who was at his peak as an in-ring competitor. The only downside is that the fans had been conditioned to expect the wrestlers to escape the cage, so they don’t really bite for any of the near falls in the match until that happens. It also didn’t help that this was the first Cell match to have small sections cut out of the wire to allow the wrestlers to get a decent foothold as they ascend the sides.
The match does a great job of putting over both men (and Stephanie does a brilliant job outside the cage) and their respective strengths. Triple H gets to be a sadistic son-of-a-bitch and wallop Cactus with everything he can get his hands on (multiple times) and Cactus Jack, after absorbing said punishment, just gets back up and continues to fight.
A great, slow-paced brawl ends up with Cactus throwing the steps and Hunter and missing… only for them to strike one of the Cell’s panels and break it away from the supporting pole. Once the crowd realise that the Cell has been breached, they react with a loud shout for Foley to bring the action to the outside. A feat he accomplishes by, crazily, throwing himself at the Cell until it gives way under his body weight. This results in a nasty cut on his left arm and both men escaping to the floor.
What I am finding out, though, is that when watching these matches one after another, it gets harder and harder to take JR’s comment about “Cactus/Mankind being broken in half” when he falls from the Cell through a table. This is the third time it’s happened in as many matches and, seeing as how he got up from the previous two, I’m left in no doubt (even if I hadn’t seen them before) that he’ll get up from this one.
The finish is another of those memorable moments (but one that, ironically, is forgotten due to the KotR ’98 match), replete with a flaming 2×4, and is a fitting testament and epitaph to Mick Foley’s career as a performer.
I know he didn’t actually retire after this match (he fought at Wrestlemania), I still consider it the end of his full-time career. The majority of the time he did come back for a match was to help push someone into a main-event level spot (Orton, Edge, etc). With that in mind, this was a perfect way to go out; putting over a younger talent and with the fans chanting your name as you go through the curtain.
7) Kurt Angle v Undertaker v The Rock v Steve Austin v Rikishi v Triple H
Armageddon – December, 2000
The last PPV of the year 2000, Armageddon, played host to the most unique of all the HiaC matches. Six men vied for the WWF Championship (held by Kurt Angle) in a one-fall match up. The story going in was that all five challengers had made valid claims to Commissioner Foley as to why they should be the number one contender to face Kurt Angle. Foley, as the Commish, made a ruling that all five would get a shot in a six-man ‘Hell in a Cell’ contest, much to the chagrin of Mr. McMahon; Vince made it perfectly clear he objected to the match and would do everything in his power to stop it from taking place.
The match is an exciting clusterfunk (unavoidable, really) and is mostly remembered for Rikishi being chokeslammed (choke-pushed?), by BikerTaker, from the roof of the Cell, onto the bed of a pick-up that Vince had brought down to try and destroy the Cell (he only succeeded in ripping the door off). The Rock and Austin sell that moment beautifully.
Most of the wrestlers ended up on the roof at some point, and the last five or six minutes is frantic as you can get. It is, however, a disappointment when compared to the other matches in the set so far, mainly because there is too much going on. It’s still a good outing, just one that relies on its novelty value to carry it through.
One last comment on the match. To all those who complained about Booker T being hit with the Pedigree and then having to lay there for thirty seconds until Triple H made the cover, in this match, Austin lands the Stunner on Rock and “The People’s Champ” lays there for around the same time period before he is pinned. Just a little tit-bit to make a point (I’m not 100% sure what that point is, but I’m sure I’ve never heard anyone online complain about this decision).
8)Triple H v Chris Jericho
Judgement Day – May, 2002
Chris Jericho makes his only appearance inside the “demonic structure” as he tries to regain the WWE Undisputed Championship from the man who defeated him at Wrestlemania X*, Triple H.
It had been a full seventeen months since the last ‘Hell in a Cell’, so the anticipation was pretty high. The match didn’t live up to those expectations, but was enjoyable enough due to sterling work from Jericho.
The referee for the bout, Tim White, legitimately separated his shoulder when Y2J hurled him into the Cell and never refereed again. This match is also notable for being the only time the finish happened on the roof of the cage AND being the last bout where the wrestlers ventured up there.
In all honesty, this match should never have taken place. The feud wasn’t hot enough to warrant it when compared to the original, Mankind v Undertaker (who, to be fair, hadn’t really been feuding at that point, but had enough history to warrant the stipulation) and Triple H’s own battle with Cactus Jack.
Because of that, the match felt a little flat when compared to the earlier bouts on the disc.
9) Brock Lesnar v Undertaker
No Mercy – October, 2002
I miss Brock Lesnar. The guy, alongside Paul Heyman, was the perfect monster heel. He had size, he had strength, he was super-quick and he had a technical prowess most large wrestlers lacked. He could have become a legend in this business had he stuck around… but he didn’t, so we have to make do with retrospective looks back at his career.
This match, similar to the previous match, was part of a feud that hadn’t been running that long. The main difference here, though, was that the stipulation had a logical reason behind it. Lesnar failed to defeat Undertaker at the previous PPV, but in the intervening weeks, had broken Undertaker’s hand. Stephanie McMahon (a face who had butted heads with Paul Heyman) decreed that Undertaker would be allowed to compete with a cast on his hand, but, to even the field due to the injury, would get his rematch inside ‘Hell in a Cell’; his match.
The bout is one of the bloodiest matches you will ever lay your eyes on. Undertaker takes a shot to the head with the stairs and then spends the rest of the match with a full-on crimson mask. It is close to rewriting the Muta Scale and leaves the canvas coated in the red stuff. In fact, for those of a squeamish persuasion, it is advised to take care with some of the close-ups due to the graphic flow of leaking plasma on show.
Even without the blood, this would have been a belter of a contest. Paul Heyman is awesome at ringside and Brock, in his only time inside the Cell, works with the structure like an old pro. With brutal power moves from both men, this is a drag-out war, with a finish that is both well timed and visually stunning (as is the after match closing shot of the champion).
10) Triple H v Kevin Nash
Badd Blood – June, 2003
Kevin Nash gets a lot of, deserved, bad press in regards to his attitude to the business and his abuse of power backstage. I, however, was a Diesel mark back in the day (I still have my Diesel gloves from 1995) and enjoyed his bouts with Bret Hart, Razor Ramon and Undertaker, to name a few.
Nash had developed a reputation as a lazy worker who was the most injury-prone guy plying his trade at the time. But, in this match, he put in a good showing (even though the feud didn’t merit a ‘Hell in a Cell’ blow-off.
Triple H. in my opinion, was in the midst of his worst period, performance-wise, since he first won the WWF Championship. With that in mind, there wasn’t a lot of good vibes going in (even with Mick Foley as guest referee), but they pulled out a nice brawl with a lot of brutality (including a sick spot with a screwdriver) that made the effort worthwhile come the final bell.
As one of only two matches in this compilation that I’m seeing for the first time, it loses a little bit due to me not having the full benefit of the good build the bout had (the pre-match hype video does help, though), but it is a good match that deserves its place.
11) Triple H v Shawn Michaels
Badd Blood – June, 2004
A full year passed between the last ‘HiaC’ and this one, so the fans were itching for it by the time it came around. Unlike the previous match, this feud fully deserved the stipulation to blow off their rivalry.
HBK and HHH had been feuding, on-and-off, since Michaels returned at Summerslam 2002. At Wrestlemania and Backlash, Chris Benoit shocked the world by making Triple H and HBK tap in consecutive Triple Threats (winning and then retaining the World Championship respectively). From there, the former DX comrades trades surprise run-ins and beatdowns until Eric Bischoff, the RAW GM, decided he had had enough and that the only way to stop the shenanigans would be to end the feud, once and for all, inside ‘Hell in a Cell’.
With the hype set, the match was predicted to be a good ‘un, as they say up north. Michaels v Triple H has always been a better-than-average pairing inside the ring, and this was no exception… apart from the fact the match went faaaaaar tooooooooo lonnnnnnnnnnng (47mins26secs).
The action, as you would imagine, was methodically paced in the early going, but ended up featuring an array of weapons and objects that helped it along for the mammoth running time. In retrospect, as long as it felt at the time, the HBK/HHH rivalry deserved an epic match to bow out with… and that’s exactly what it got; an epic encounter with a seriously emotional finish.
The length does harm the match in the end, but it is a great example of how to use the surroundings to your advantage and make almost everything mean something. Michaels and Helmsley can be proud of this match and hold it up as one of their better encounters.
12) Batista v Triple H
Vengeance – June, 2005
For the third straight year, Triple H found himself inside the 20ft cage. His opponent, and the reigning World Heavyweight Champion, was Batista, former running buddy in Evolution and the man who pinned Triple H at Wrestlemania to win the title.
The storyline between Batista and Trips was one of the most perfectly pitched face-turns in history. A slow-burn led to the ‘Mania match (in which Batista didn’t taste a Pedigree). Hunter claimed that Dave got lucky and challenged him to a rematch at Backlash, which he also suffered defeat. With no-one having ever beaten “The Game” three PPVs in a row, Triple H challenged Batista to a ‘Hell in a Cell’ match for his last shot at the championship.
This set up the main story of this match. Batista had never been inside the ‘HiaC’ cage, Triple H had never lost inside the structure AND had never lost three straight to ANYONE. Could Batista do the impossible? That’s what we were about to find out. Like the HHH/Nash bout of two years ago, I hadn’t seen this match until just now, but, unlike the Nash fight, I did catch all the build at the time.
This ‘HiaC’ pulled out all the stops. There was brutal exchanges, chains, a chair wrapped in barbed-wire, Triple H’s sledgehammer (which is beautifully used in regards to adding tension to the finish) the ringsteps and, just for the sake of it, some blood to add a little colour.
Triple H gets a lot of negativity (some deserved, most not), but he cannot be faulted with how he helped put Batista on the main-event map with his selfless displays against the master of the spinebuster. This was another great ‘HiaC’ and another fine addition to the set you’re reading about.
13) Undertaker v Randy Orton
Armageddon – December, 2005
This was the rubber match in the feud between Undertaker and Randy Orton. At Wrestlemania, Randy set out to do what no-one else had been able to do; defeat Undertaker at the biggest show of the year. As Orton was in the midst of his “Legend Killer” gimmick, it actually was one of the few times where “The Streak” was in danger of being stopped. The build was intense, and not a little tasteless, and it set up the feud-ending battle we have here.
The match is a good progression from the two previous PPV outings and evolves in regards to counters and building on what has gone before. There was also the work of Bob Orton on the outside of the ring (which caused some controversy at the time due to Bob being diagnosed with Hepatitis, but no-one telling Undertaker (which annoyed ‘Taker due to both men bleeding in the course of the bout, as did Randy and Nick Patrick).
This was another fine contest, with a great finishing sequence, inside the ‘HiaC’ cage and is also the last time the “standard” Cell would be used.
14) DeGeneration X v Mr. McMahon, Shane McMahon & Big Show
Unforgiven – September, 2006
This match is not only special because it was the first (and, so far, only) Handicap Match to take place inside the Cell. Michaels had wrestled Vince in a fun Street Fight at Wrestlemania and had found himself stuck in a feud with him ever since. This feud also included the infamous tag match at Backlash were HBK tagged with God (in reality, a spotlight) against the father and son McMahons.
During this rivalry, Vince utilised The Spirit Squad to aid him in his efforts, as well as trying to get Triple H (who, like Michaels, had been using DX mannerisms as of late. All this came to a head when Triple H had his sledgehammer taken from him by Kenny, prompting HHH to aid Shawn and reform DX, who then proceeded to drive Vince mental.
The match was made and the cage was visibly a good deal larger than previous matches. This meant that a dive from the roof was pretty much an impossibility. This wasn’t that big of a deal since there hadn’t been any action on the roof for over four years anyway.
To be honest, this is one of the weaker matches on the DVDs, but it does have its moments. Shane bleeds a gusher, and the finish is memorable (disturbingly so in regards to Big Show’s arse), while Triple H bleeds from inside his ear, Michaels pulls his usual crimson-mask and Vince also bleeds nicely.
As understandable as it was to have this feud end in ‘HiaC’, it didn’t pull off the greatness that most of the other matches did. Of course, with Undertaker v Boss Man in the history of the stipulation, there is no way this could ever be classed as the worst ‘HiaC’ outing.
The sight of both McMahons being stretchered out of the building leaves you in no doubt who the victors of the feud really were.
15) Undertaker v Batista
Survivor Series – November, 2007
From one of the worst, to one of the best; Undertaker v Batista was the feud of the year in 2007. From the MOTY contender at Wrestlemania, via their numerous rematches at Backlash, One Night Stand, Cyber Sunday and on Smackdown, the two men tore the house down in stunning match after stunning match.
This, after Undertaker had come back from injury, was the perfect end to the perfect “big-man” feud. With a logical evolution from their previous encounters and near falls after near falls, this was real edge-of-the-seat stuff.
Both men came out of the match stronger than when they went in, and the finish was an unexpected moment that really had me leaping out of my seat. Batista bleeds a gusher in a bout that involves chairs, tables, the ringsteps, a cameraman (w/ camera) and a massive swerve that very few saw coming.
The fact both men had been booked so equally added to the intrigue of who would come out on top. The fact we had a finish that pleased almost everyone AND kept both men on an quasi-equal footing is a fantastic credit to the booking of WWE in this match.
A fitting close to the set and a fitting close to the Undertaker/Batista war.
A great set that omits only one match (Edge v Undertaker from Summerslam ’08 was after the set was put together), I recommend this to all of you who enjoy a spectacle and heated match-ups.
The commentary teams also add a lot to the matches, with JR & King doing one of the best announcing jobs in history with the Kotr ’98 match and JBL being a revelation for the last match of the set.
My only real gripe is that there are no interviews with any of the wrestlers who have been in the matches (either in character or not). This would have added an extra dimension to the mystique that surrounds ‘Hell in a Cell’ and given us a unique insight into what it’s like to enter “The Devil’s Playground”.
When it’s all said and done, this is another slickly produced DVD release from WWE and another example of why they are so far ahead of virtually everyone else, sports or otherwise, when it comes to these types of compilations.
Points: 8/10 (would have been higher if there had been some “talking-heads” sections.