Hell in a Cell is one of the most popular match types to be introduced to WWE. Using a modified, bigger cage with a ceiling, the Cell typically represents the end of a rivalry too hot to settle in a regular match.
Originally standing at 16 feet high in its original design, and then at 20 feet during its later redesign, it’s consistently been one of the biggest structures to ever surround a ring. This makes it even more shocking that the Cell became famous for people flung off the top of it, or pushed through the ceiling onto the ring below.
The Undertaker and Triple H are the wrestlers most famous for Hell in a Cell matches, having both won six apiece and appearing in even more. It lends credence to the structure itself that the two that consider it their match specialty are also considered to be two of the toughest characters in the business over the last few years.
Since 2009 the structure has been given its own PPV, meaning all big summer feuds now have a final destination before the run-up for WrestleMania starts, and also gives fans a tantalizing look at the 20 feet high cage of steel every year. Over the years there’s been some great match-ups in the Cell, but there’s also been some pretty bad ones. With the next PPV occurring later this month on October 25th, it felt like an apt time to reflect on the past Cell matches, ranking every single one of them. So, starting with the match I felt was utter garbage and ending with the match I name my favorite, here is my list, ranking all 30 Hell in a Cell matches. Will the matches at this year's event crack the top five?
This match is unspectacular in most regards, and the only thing memorable was what happened after the match and not in a good way.
The Undertakers trademark sit-up being interrupted with a kick is quite fun, as was Big Boss Man handcuffing The Undertaker to the cell war.
However, it’s the infamous post-match sequence that people will remember. After The Undertaker gets a victory, The Brood descent to the top of the cell from the rafters and fixes a noose to the cell roof. They drop it down, where Undertaker hangs Big Boss Man and raises the cage.
When he first arrived on the scene, Randy Orton was calling himself the “Legend Killer”, as he had a good record of defeating older superstars. A long rivalry with The Undertaker was taken to a boiling point in the Cell, as Orton felt he was close to defeating another legend of the business.
At around eight minutes, this is one of the shortest Cell matches in history. Not only that, it seems to be trying to emulate the success the Mankind/Undertaker Cell match had a few months previously, going through some of the same motions.
I always feel uneasy about Undertaker and Kane facing off. The original idea behind Kane was that he was The Undertaker’s younger demon brother, and it’s always made Kane feel like the “lesser” of the two because of it. That is a shame, because I’ve often found Kane to be the better performer at times.
For my money, Kevin Nash is one of the best in the history of the business for seeming “strong”. This match opens with a completely dominating display of strength, as Nash and Triple H both work to make every standard move seem destructive when done by the bigger guy. From a storytelling perspective, it makes sense when Triple H resorts to weapons – it’s the only way to defeat the giant in front of him.
10 John Cena vs. Randy Orton - Hell in a Cell, 2009
9 The Undertaker vs. CM Punk - Hell in a Cell, 2009
8 John Cena vs. CM Punk vs. Alberto Del Rio - Hell in a Cell, 2011
Their current rivalry that started when Lesnar ended the streak is heading for a Hell in a Cell match soon, though it would be the second time the wrestlers have met in one. In 2002, for the WWE Championship, The Undertaker suffered one of the worst head wounds I’ve ever seen someone take in a Cell match. This encounter gets very bloody, and I’m surprised The Undertaker even had the strength to finish it.
An extremely cocky Edge takes on The Undertaker and puts on an excellent display. As far as Cell matches go, I think this one looks to be the hardest for The Undertaker, as he really struggles to get on top of the R-Rated Superstar. When Edge introduces tables, ladders and chairs into the mix, he’s completely within his element, and consistently looks the stronger competitor.
7 Cactus Jack vs. Triple H - No Way Out, 2000
While the match is exciting and dangerous looking throughout, it’s the ending that really sticks out as a classic moment.
6 Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H - Bad Blood, 2004
At nearly 50 minutes long, this is the longest Hell in a Cell match on record. It justifies its length by bringing one of the best rivalries in the history of WWE to a boiling point, with two great competitors putting on some of the best spots of their careers.
5 John Cena vs. Randy Orton - Hell in a Cell, 2014
If their first Hell in a Cell match-up was a disappointment, this one more than makes up for it. Billed as the final chapter of their incredibly long rivalry, we got a lot of call-backs and showings of how they know each other throughout. There’s nothing more satisfying than when two competitors who have fought so many times before start countering each others signature moves with ease, and Randy Orton has quickly become a master of it thanks to Cena and Sheamus.
4 Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins - Hell in a Cell, 2014
Leave it to Dean “Unstable” Ambrose to bring a classic Cell feeling to a match type that was frequently becoming stale. In what felt like a homage to Mick Foley, Ambrose starts the match by climbing the Cell, demanding Seth to fight him up there. From there, we get both men being put through the announce table before finally going into the ring, where all manner of weapons are used on each other, while they both flourished showing their individual strengths as performers.
3 Kurt Angle vs. The Rock vs. The Undertaker vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Triple H vs. Rikishi - Armageddon, 2000
With so many wrestlers involved, this could have so easily become a confusing calamity, not dissimilar to the dark match on the Raw Supershow in 2011. However, thanks to some excellent pacing and storytelling, this match elevates to being exciting and never settles for anything less than amazing.
2 The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels - Badd Blood: In Your House, 1997
It may be a bit controversial to put a match involving the McMahon’s ahead of some of the classic encounters inside the Cell. But I honestly feel like this is one of the best Cell matches in history. There’s a great theme throughout that DX could defeat the McMahons easily, and anytime it’s them alone in the ring they wipe the floor with the chairman and his son. But when it comes to The Big Show, they need to team up, leaving them open to attacks from the McMahons.
When you think of the Cell, you probably think of this match. It was here that Mick Foley put his own body on the line to elevate himself to main event status. Seeing the things this man puts himself through to entertain the crowd is scary, and you can’t help but appreciate the dedication.
1 The Undertaker vs. Triple H - WrestleMania XXVIII
It just makes sense that this is the best one. Undertaker and Triple H are considered to be masters of the Cell, and they both put their experience to use here. But more than that, the inclusion of Shawn Michaels as the referee led to some amazing moments. His confliction between his respect for The Undertaker and friendship with Triple H make it a hard match for him to call, and you can see it destroying him to watch these two decimate each other.
When the match finally ends, you can tell both men gave it their all, and that this truly was an end of an era.
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