The 10 Hell in a Cell Matches you must see
WWE is heading back to Hell in a week, with two title matches set to unfold in the infamous Hell in a Cell structure. All indicators are that Seth Rollins, “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks will exude the fiery passion and intensity that the Cell tends to bring out in Superstars, and put on the kinds of matches the WWE Universe will be talking about for years to come. If they’re really lucky, though, they’ll be counted among the best of the best — specifically, these 10 must-see matches for any Cell enthusiast, or potential future participant.
Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H (WWE Bad Blood 2004)
They say good friends make better enemies. That was certainly the case when Shawn Michaels and Triple H clashed inside WWE’s most unforgiving structure. The two best friends held nothing back inside the Cell, throwing anything and everything at each other to put an end to their bitter rivalry. The Game clobbered HBK with the steel ring steps, while Michaels drove The King of Kings through a table with his trademark flying elbow drop.
Despite Michaels’ best efforts, Hell in a Cell proved to be The Cerebral Assassin’s playground on that night. It took two Pedigrees, but Triple H affirmed he was the more ruthless competitor in the structure that alters a Superstar’s career forever. – BOBBY MELOK
Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton (WWE Hell in a Cell 2013)
Daniel Bryan dreamed of becoming WWE Champion — despite Triple H’s plans — and was willing to do whatever it took to achieve that goal, even if it meant stepping inside Hell in a Cell with a devious competitor like Randy Orton. With WWE Hall of Famer (and Bryan’s trainer) Shawn Michaels as special guest referee, The “Yes!” Man charged at Orton from the get-go, attacking The Viper with a series of punishing strikes.
WWE’s Apex Predator opted to be a little more methodical in his attack, waiting for an opening to unleash precise and painful offense on his opponent. Orton even used Bryan’s fury against him, superplexing him onto a pile of steel chairs that Bryan had hurled into the ring himself.
The showdown would soon devolve into chaos after Bryan shoved Orton into HBK, then hit The Viper with the Running Knee Strike that became his calling card. But when Triple H entered the Cell to check on HBK, Bryan saw an opening and took out The Game with another knee. That proved to be Bryan’s undoing, as in a shocking moment, Michaels clocked Bryan with Sweet Chin Music, allowing Orton to pick up the win and keep the WWE Championship. This match might not have been as brutal as some of the other Hell in a Cell Matches on this list, but as one of the most important chapters in Bryan’s journey to the top of WWE, it is absolutely must-see. – BOBBY MELOK
The New Day vs. The Usos (Hell in a Cell 2016)
There was no more appropriate setting than Hell in a Cell for the finale of The New Day and The Usos’ bar-raising, show-stealing rivalry across all of 2017. The two teams traded the SmackDown Tag Team Titles almost each time they locked up, and this was no exception. Jimmy & Jey relieved ya boys of the titles inside the cage by — among other things — tying Xavier Woods to the ring post and raining Kendo stick blows on his torso. Around these parts, Hell in a Cell is typically considered the place where rivalries are settled forever. Here’s hoping this one bucks the trend. — ANTHONY BENIGNO
The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels (WWE Badd Blood: In Your House)
I often wonder if the WWE Universe of 1997 knew what they were watching the first time Hell in a Cell descended from the rafters. Did they know that The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels’ grudge match would spawn offshoots, imitators and legions of Superstars looking to top the hellacious bar set by the two Legends? Did they know what was coming just one year later? Or even 20 minutes later? Did they know this match would be a high point of not one, not two, but three WWE careers? I like to think they didn’t know, but they expected it nonetheless. From the first sighting of the structure to the debut of Kane at the end, if you’re looking for a benchmark to make history, it’s gotta be this match. — ANTHONY BENIGNO
Six-Man Hell in a Cell Match (WWE Armageddon 2000)
The main event of WWE Armageddon 2000 contained everything you could possibly want in a Hell in a Cell Match. It was unprecedented in scale, with six Superstars — all veritable icons of The Attitude Era — ranging from The Rock and “Stone Cold” to Kurt Angle and Triple H. There was not only unmitigated chaos inside the ring, but also outside as Mr. McMahon tried to sabotage the bout by enlisting a construction truck to tear down the Cell mid-match. (Then-WWE Commissioner Mick Foley put a stop to those plans.) Oh, and not to bury the lede, but this was the match where The Undertaker chokeslammed Rikishi off the top of the Cell onto the bed of said truck some 15-plus feet below. Superstar-studded and full of twists and turns, this match is an absolute must-watch for any Hell in a Cell enthusiast. — JOHN CLAPP
Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte Flair (WWE Hell in a Cell 2016)
Darius Rucker has a deep cut off his 2008 solo album “Learn to Live” titled “History in the Making’” – a track that perfectly encapsulates the magnitude of the moment Sasha Banks and Charlotte Flair created at WWE Hell in a Cell 2016.
The first-ever Women’s Hell in a Cell Match was also the first time a Women’s division match main-evented a WWE pay-per-view. The Boss and The Queen both brought it, making history with everything from table smashes, unyielding grit and just their sheer presence inside the iconic structure.
For many years prior, the mere idea of a match like this occurring in any connotation was seen as WWE taking a major chance. To quote Darius though, it was “a chance worth taking.” — RYAN PAPPOLLA
Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker (WWE No Mercy 2002)
Remember those “Parental Advisory” stickers that were prevalent on controversial music albums right around this time? This match should have come with one of those.
As much as you wanted to turn your head away from the harrowing and sometimes downright disturbing sights of these two bitter adversaries attempting to rip each other limb from limb, you just couldn’t do it. The Undertaker and Brock Lesnar had you hook, line and sinker. Their foray into Hell was a painful, grotesque demolition derby even by Hell in a Cell standards — The Deadman clubbing Lesnar with his hand cast; The Phenom chucking The Beast head-first into the steel steps before repeatedly smashing Paul Heyman into the side of the Cell; Lesnar driving the steps into Undertaker’s face at ringside. You had no choice but to keep watching in equal parts amazement and horror.
Although he had recently defeated The Rock to win his first WWE Championship at SummerSlam, Lesnar still had a few detractors; but they all went silent after this epic war. This is the night Lesnar shed the “Next Big Thing” label and graduated to “Conqueror.” The image of Brock, standing triumphant over The Undertaker’s broken body before scaling the Cell to hoist the WWE Title above his head, will be forever seared into the memory of the WWE Universe. Put the kids to bed before re-watching this one. — JON CHIK
Cactus Jack vs. Triple H (WWE No Way Out 2000)
If you can trace Mick Foley’s breakout moment to WWE King of the Ring 1998 (we’re getting there), this Cell match, which saw The Hardcore Legend wager his WWE career, is the one that made Triple H. The Cerebral Assassin reaches his final form here, tapping into previously unplumbed reservoirs of cruelty to place a beating on Mrs. Foley’s Baby Boy that even the WWE Hall of Famer ultimately succumbs to.
Now, of course, Mick Foley didn’t really retire after this match. But even if this bout isn’t as shockingly gnarly as the 1998 contest, it still encapsulates everything that made him loom so large in the hearts and minds of the WWE Universe. He does something to himself that’s almost unconscionably painful, he lights something on fire, and he fights to the very last breath, his body giving out long before his heart — which still beats loudly to this day. — ANTHONY BENIGNO
The Undertaker vs. Triple H (WrestleMania XXVIII)
Determined to do what his friend Shawn Michaels could not—end The Undertaker’s legendary WrestleMania Streak—Triple H came to Miami with even more fire in his eyes than usual, seeking to conquer The Deadman inside the ominous Hell in a Cell structure. Michaels, who twice tried and failed to fell The Phenom at The Show of Shows, served as referee to the carnage, which saw two of WWE’s most heralded standard-bearers end an era with steel and fury.
In one of the grisliest collisions in WrestleMania history, The Game used a steel chair and his signature sledgehammer to pummel The Undertaker into oblivion, all the while pleading with The Deadman to stay down. The Undertaker refused, ultimately using The Game’s own weaponry against him and preserving his Streak with a Tombstone. After the Cell was raised, Triple H, The Undertaker and Michaels stood together on the entrance ramp, their era ended, their legacies cemented, and immortality attained. –JAMES WORTMAN
The Undertaker vs. Mankind (WWE King of the Ring 1998)
There is WWE before this match, and there is WWE after this match. Guys were whacking each other with chairs and there were some Superstars who took brutality too far before this fateful bout — but WWE was still a recognizable, if slightly grittier, version of its original self when the bell rang on this match, and it remained so right up until the second Mick Foley’s feet left the top of that cage. When The Hardcore Legend landed, he landed in a different world —one of guts, thumbtacks and increasingly wild feats of athleticism, sometimes in the same match.
But tempting as it is to reduce the match to one fateful fall, the bout only intensifies as it ticks along — Foley rises from the gurney like a zombie to scale the cage once again, gets Chokeslammed through it and ends up being slammed on a pile of thumbtacks before he finally succumbs. You can sense the dynamic of sports-entertainment shift with each mutilation Mrs. Foley’s Baby Boy sustains. Mr. McMahon is said to have thanked Foley for his dedication while asking him, simultaneously, to never do something like that again — ironically, he would do it again, all in an effort to continuously raise the grisly bar he himself set. In an industry where change is law, Mick Foley understood better than anybody else change doesn’t come gingerly, it comes with a startling crash — or, at the very least, a leap of faith. — ANTHONY BENIGNO