Latest posts by Jonathan Johannes (see all)
- R.I.P. Bobby “The Brain” Heenan (1944-2017) - 18th September 2017
- The Complete History of Hell in a Cell: No Mercy 2002 - 6th September 2017
- The Complete History of Hell In a Cell: Judgement Day 2002 - 23rd July 2017
First conceived by Jim Cornette in 1997 and inspired by cages used by the NWA and WCW, WWE’s Hell in a Cell match is an iconic staple of the brand. The demonic structure where feuds end and stars are made. 2017 marks the twentieth anniversary of the first Hell in a Cell match and to celebrate, let’s take a look at an iconic moment from the Cell’s illustrious history.
Before Summerslam 1997, then WWF World Heavyweight Champion The Undertaker was in a feud with top contender Bret Hart. Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart’s nemesis for much of the mid nineties, was announced as the special guest referee. It was also announced that if Hart lost his match, he wouldn’t wrestle on U.S. soil again. The match was set up to screw Bret Hart of the win, especially after Michaels prevented the Hart Foundation from interfering in the match. But Michaels inadvertently hit Undertaker with a chair shot and reluctantly counted to three to give Hart the pin fall victory and the WWF World Heavyweight Championship.
The very first Hell in a Cell match would pit Shawn Michaels against The Undertaker at In Your House: Badd Blood on October 5, 1997. Very early on, these two established the potential dangers of the Cell, as Taker throws HBK into the roof with a back body drop, and then into the Cell’s wall again and again, using both the Cell and the ring posts as weapons as instruments of torture. Michaels would eventually gain momentum with some high flying moves both from the ring and from the Cell’s walls, as well as a pile driver onto the ring steps, a move you’d never see in today’s WWE.
About midway through the match, the cage door gets opened to assist a camera man who was assaulted by Michaels. The action then spills to the outside. Michaels gets busted open after getting flung into the Cage face first. After a low blow slows Undertaker down, the two climb their way to the top of the Cell. The two fight for a while, doing some scary spots where it looked like Undertaker would throw Michaels off of the Cell, and HBK tries to flee down the side. Undertaker stops him, and launches him from about halfway down the Cell onto an announcers table and then onto the concrete floor, the first of many high risk table spots in Hell in a Cell history.
The two work their way back into the ring and the door is locked back up, Michaels barely even able to stand. Just as it seems Undertaker is ready to end the match, the lights go out and Kane is introduced to the WWE Universe for the first time. Kane rips the door off of its hinges and proceeds to hit his brother with a Tombstone Piledriver. A bloodied and battered HBK crawls over to the Undertaker and picks up the pin fall victory.
The first Hell in a Cell is certainly a match worthy of viewing. It set the tone for the hardcore brutality the Hell in a Cell match would entail for the next several years, and further cemented the legacy of both combatants as two of the all-time greats to ever grace the industry. However, it was only a teaser for what was to come, as a few months later the Undertaker would re-enter the demonic structure against another formidable foe – and it would prove to be one of the most iconic and death-defying matches in WWE history.