A Hell in a Cell match is a match seen in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) in which the ring and ringside area is surrounded by a roofed steel cage (called "cell"). Twenty-one Hell in a Cell matches have taken place in WWE since its inception in October 1997.
The original Cell was 16 feet high and weighed over two tons but since been replaced by an amplified version of 20 feet and five tons.
Described as a "career ender" by the WWE, this type of match is known to end the most intense of rivalries due to its dangerous nature. Indeed, the early occurrences of this match were known for the legitimate and severe injuries suffered during them (the most notorious of which belonged to Mick Foley when he wrestled The Undertaker), and even cause the commentators to break character.
The Hell in a Cell match was first introduced at WWF Bad Blood on October 5, 1997 at the Kiel Center in St. Louis, Missouri. It featured The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels, who had cost The Undertaker the WWF Championship in a bout (where he was special guest referee) against Bret "Hitman" Hart two months prior at SummerSlam. They fought one-on-one at In Your House: Ground Zero, but the match went to a no-contest after they kept knocking out officials who were trying to restore order in the match. Their next match was meant to be a normal steel cage match, but the WWF took it one step further: instead of a normal steel cage enclosing only the ring, a bigger steel structure with a roof was made, enclosing not only the ring but also the surrounding ringside area. The wider space between the ring apron and the cell walls allowed the wrestlers to fight outside the ring, as well as retrieve weapons from under the ring. Also, unlike a steel cage match (wherein escaping the cage is one way to win), the only way to win Hell in a Cell is via pinfall or submission (though no Hell in a Cell match has ended by submission thus far). As in a steel cage match, count-outs and disqualifications do not apply.
Generally, the combatants battle inside the cell while the door is locked and chained to keep out Superstars who would try to interfere in the match. However, there have been Cell matches wherein the wrestlers have fought outside (and even on top of) the cell, as well as non-participants interjecting themselves in the match:
- In the first Cell match, the door was unlocked to allow the removal of an injured cameraman. This led to Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker fighting outside the cell, eventually climbing the structure and fighting on top of the cell. The fighting taking place outside of the Cell led to the first fall from the cell, when Shawn Michaels, hanging from the edge of the structure, had his hands stepped on by The Undertaker and fell from the structure, crashing into the table below.
- Also in the first Cell match, the goal of no interference was not achieved when Kane made his debut, ripping the door off of the cage and giving a Tombstone piledriver to The Undertaker, allowing Michaels to crawl and pin Undertaker.
- There were two Hell in the Cell matches that took place on Raw. The first one was Kane and Mankind vs Steve Austin and the Undertaker, but it went no contest when everyone was brawling at the end of the show. The other match was Kane vs Mankind, that match also ended no contest.
- In the Mankind vs The Undertaker match, both the competitors climbed to the top of the cell and started their match there. Reportedly, Mankind was inspired to begin the match on the top of the cage by a conversation days before with Terry Funk. The footage of Mankind falling 16 feet onto an announcers' table has since become one of the most used clips in professional wrestling history. Even though paramedics and WWF officials tried to stretcher Foley out of the arena, he got off the stretcher and went back to the ring to finish the match. Later, back on the roof of the Cell, Undertaker chokeslammed Mankind through the roof onto the unbudging ring below (Contrary to popular belief, this move was scripted and was not a botch). When the match ended, Foley insisted that he not be carried out on a stretcher as he was earlier, but to be allowed to walk out; ultimately, he was helped to the back by WWF officials.
- At the end of the Undertaker vs Big Boss Man match, The Brood descended onto the cell roof via harnesses and attached a noose to the cell. This allowed Undertaker to symbolically hang the Big Boss Man as the cell was raised.
- In the Triple H vs. Cactus Jack match, the door was locked with multiple chains by Stephanie McMahon, but at a later point in the match, Cactus Jack threw steel steps at Triple H but missed and damaged the wall, then charged repeatedly towards the cell wall until it broke for the two to get through.
- In the Six-Man match at Armageddon, Vince McMahon used a truck to pull off the door of the cell while attempting to destroy the cell and stop the match. This led to all six Superstars brawling outside and on top of the cell. Rikishi was thrown off the roof of the cell onto the truck by The Undertaker.
- In the Triple H vs Chris Jericho match, the door was opened with bolt cutters to allow the removal of legitimately injured referee Tim White (this injury would end White's refereeing career, though he did return for one match at WrestleMania XX). This was the last Hell in a Cell match where the wrestlers climbed and fought on top of a cell, and the first and only Cell match where someone (Chris Jericho) got pinned on top of the cell.
- During the Brock Lesnar vs The Undertaker match, Lesnar used the ring steps to severely wound Undertaker. Undertaker was suffering a (kayfabe) broken hand due to a previous Lesnar attack. This was focused on by Lesnar, whose manager Paul Heyman, used his belt to strap Undertakers arm to the cell wall, allowing Lesnar to repeatedly hit it with a steel chair.
- In the Edge vs The Undertaker match, Edge launched himself from the steel ring steps and speared The Undertaker crashing through the cell wall and landing outside the cell
- On Monday Night RAW, prior to Hell in a Cell, John Cena and Randy Orton climbed on the top of the cell. After a brief fist fight, then WWE Champion (Cena) hit Orton with an Attitude Adjustment on the top of the structure.
Impact of Hell in a Cell
Hell in a Cell matches are rare in the WWE as it is designed to end the most intense feuds and to "shorten careers". The Superstars who fight inside the Cell usually beat each other so badly that their rivalry will be ended forever. There have only been 21 such matches in the WWE, 19 of which are seen only on pay-per-view events due to the logistical difficulty in setting them up, the match's dangerous nature, and its perception as a special attraction. There are three Cell matches that have been shown on TV, however, two in 1998 on Raw and the other on September 28, 2009 prior to Hell in the Cell.
WWE announcers and performers often stress the dangers of the cell and the match itself. Jim Ross, who has called many Hell in a Cell matches, has described the cell as "two tons of unforgiving steel" and as a "perverse, vile, diabolical structure." Jerry "The King" Lawler, Michael Cole and Tazz have described the match as the most gruesome in the WWE.
The Undertaker holds the distinction of being involved in more Hell in a Cell matches than any other WWE Superstar to date- having competed in eleven Hell in a Cell matches, winning five of them. Triple H follows closely, having competed in eight Hell in a Cell matches to date, winning six, the most in WWE to date. The first Hell in a Cell match not directly involving either of them was Mankind vs Kane (in which The Undertaker interfered). Two further Hell in a Cell matches have since taken place without Triple H or Undertaker participating - Randy Orton vs John Cena at Hell In A Cell 2009, and Randy Orton vs Sheamus at Hell In A Cell 2010. Orton has won both matches.
Titles are rarely defended in Hell in a Cell matches. The first time a title changed hands in a Hell in a Cell match was in 2009, when The Undertaker won the World Heavyweight Championship and Randy Orton won the WWE Championship from CM Punk and John Cena respectively.
In 2009, WWE presented a Pay Per View called WWE Hell in a Cell, where all main events were Hell in a Cell matches. One of the main events to be featured at the event was The Undertaker vs CM Punk for the World Heavyweight Championship. This was the Undertaker's tenth Hell in a Cell match and CM Punk's first. Another was John Cena vs. Randy Orton for the WWE Championship. This was Cena's first Hell in a Cell Match and Orton's second. Also, DX (Triple H and Shawn Michaels) and Legacy (Ted Dibiase and Cody Rhodes) competed in a tag team Hell in A Cell match, the second to feature DX opposing another tag team; they previously defeated Shane and Vince McMahon and the Big Show at Unforgiven 2006 in the match's only 3-on-2 handicap stipulation as a tag team match event.
List of Hell in a Cell matches
|No.||Match||Stipulations||Event||Date and Location||Length|
|1||Shawn Michaels defeated The Undertaker||Singles Hell in a Cell to determine the #1 contender for the WWF Championship at Survivor Series||Badd Blood||October 5, 1997|
St. Louis, MO
|2||The Undertaker and Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Mankind and Kane went to a no contest||Tag Team Hell in a Cell||Raw Is War||June 15, 1998|
San Antonio, TX
|3||The Undertaker defeated Mankind||Singles Hell in a Cell||King of the Ring||June 28, 1998|
|4||Mankind vs. Kane went to a no contest||Singles Hell in a Cell||Raw Is War||August 24, 1998|
|5||The Undertaker defeated The Big Boss Man||Singles Hell in a Cell||WrestleMania XV||March 28, 1999|
|6||Triple H (c) defeated Cactus Jack||Singles Hell in a Cell for the WWF Championship. If Cactus Jack lost, he would have to retire as an active wrestler in the WWF.||No Way Out||February 27, 2000|
|7||Kurt Angle (c) defeated The Undertaker, Triple H, Steve Austin, Rikishi, and The Rock||Six-man Hell in a Cell for the WWF Championship||Armageddon||December 10, 2000|
|8||Triple H defeated Chris Jericho||Singles Hell in a Cell||Judgment Day||May 19, 2002|
|9||Brock Lesnar (c) defeated The Undertaker||Singles Hell in a Cell for the WWE Championship||No Mercy||October 20, 2002|
North Little Rock, AR
|10||Triple H (c) defeated Kevin Nash||Singles Hell in a Cell for the World Heavyweight Championship with special guest referee Mick Foley||Bad Blood||June 15, 2003|
|11||Triple H defeated Shawn Michaels||Singles Hell in a Cell||Bad Blood||June 13, 2004|
|12||Batista (c) defeated Triple H||Singles Hell in a Cell for the World Heavyweight Championship||Vengeance||June 26, 2005|
Las Vegas, NV
|13||The Undertaker defeated Randy Orton||Singles Hell in a Cell||Armageddon||December 18, 2005|
|14||D-Generation X (Triple H and Shawn Michaels) defeated Vince McMahon, Shane McMahon and Big Show||2-on-3 Handicap Hell in a Cell. This also marked the debut of the "amplified" version of the cell.||Unforgiven||September 17, 2006|
Toronto, ON, Canada
|15||Batista (c) defeated The Undertaker||Singles Hell in a Cell for the World Heavyweight Championship||Survivor Series||November 18, 2007|
|16||The Undertaker defeated Edge||Singles Hell in a Cell||SummerSlam||August 17, 2008|
|17||The Undertaker defeated CM Punk (c)||Singles Hell in a Cell for the World Heavyweight Championship; first time a championship has changed hands in a Hell in a Cell match||Hell in a Cell||October 4, 2009|
|18||Randy Orton defeated John Cena (c)||Singles Hell in a Cell for the WWE Championship||21:24|
|19||D-Generation X (Triple H and Shawn Michaels) defeated Legacy (Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase)||Tag Team Hell in a Cell||18:02|
|20||Randy Orton (c) defeated Sheamus||Singles Hell in a Cell for the WWE Championship||Hell in a Cell||October 3, 2010|
|21||Kane (c) defeated The Undertaker||Singles Hell in a Cell for the World Heavyweight Championship||21:38|
|22||John Cena (c) defeated Alberto Del Rio, CM Punk, Jack Swagger, and Dolph Ziggler||Five-man Hell in a Cell for the WWE Championship||Raw dark match||September 26, 2011 |
Kansas City, MO
|23||Mark Henry (c) defeated Randy Orton||Singles Hell in a Cell for the World Heavyweight Championship||Hell in a Cell||October 2, 2011 |
New Orleans, LA
|24||Alberto Del Rio defeated John Cena (c) and CM Punk||Triple Threat Hell in a Cell for the WWE Championship||23:58|
|25||The Undertaker defeated Triple H||Singles Hell in a Cell with special guest referee Shawn Michaels||WrestleMania XXVIII||April 1, 2012 |
Miami Gardens, FL
|26||CM Punk (c) defeated Ryback||Singles Hell in a Cell for the WWE Championship||Hell in a Cell||October 28, 2012 |
|Alberto Del Rio||1||2|
|Big Boss Man||0||1|