WWE Hell in a Cell: Ranking All 38 Matches

As we get ready for Sunday's PPV, we look at the 38 existing WWE Hell in a Cell matches and rank them from worst to best.

Hell in a Cell. Satan’s Structure. A cage with a roof on it. Created by Jim Cornette in 1997, the match was meant to be the ultimate grudge match. The perfect way to end a blood feud. Maybe not in practice, but that’s the feel the match gave. When other gimmick matches weren’t enough to bring us a winner, Hell in a Cell was the perfect escalation.

The match was used somewhat sparingly for the first twelve years and when it was used, it was almost always a big deal. The matches were innovative and continued to introduce new spots that went along with their interesting in-ring stories. Then in 2009, WWE decided to give the match its own theme PPV. Hell in a Cell 2009 almost worked because the three feuds had just enough build to fit that type of match. Unfortunately, after that, the match began to lose meaning. Matches would happen in Hell in a Cell for no reason other than it being the PPV gimmick.

This Sunday, in the next installment of the Hell in a Cell PPV series, we’re going to see Roman Reigns defend the Universal Championship against Braun Strowman as well as a grudge match between Randy Orton and Jeff Hardy. As it is right now, there have been 38 Hell in a Cell matches throughout WWE history. I’ve taken it upon myself to watch every one of them (thank you, WWE Network!) and rank them from worst to best. I’m counting matches that were announced and started as Hell in a Cell, so just because the cage lowers down in the middle of a Raw main event doesn’t mean I’m going to count it. Also, I’m not counting the infamous Kennel from Hell match between Al Snow and Big Boss Man. While it does feature the Hell in a Cell cage – as well as the regular steel cage – it’s a completely different beast with a completely different set of rules.

Word of warning: Undertaker vs. Mankind is not #1 on the list. It isn’t even in my top five. I…oh, you already clicked the X in the right hand corner. That’s cool.

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WrestleMania XV (1999)

While there have been a share of bad Hell in a Cell matches, this one hurts the most. This was back when the match really meant something and here it was being wasted on a heel vs. heel match cluttering up WrestleMania. I mean, I guess I get it. Undertaker vs. Boss Man didn’t really have any oomph to it. Not only was it heel vs. heel, but it was a main eventer heel vs. a mid-card drone. It would be like if they had Brock Lesnar vs. Bo Dallas on the grandest stage. The Hell in a Cell was added to spruce things up.

The story was that Undertaker was stalking Vince McMahon and threatening his daughter Stephanie back when she was considered innocent. This led to a feud between the Ministry and the Corporation, where Vince sent the Boss Man to take care of things.

The match was droll beyond compare. The one interesting thing it had going for it was an early moment where Boss Man handcuffed Undertaker to the cell so he could beat on him with the nightstick. This didn’t work out, since the cuffs were gimmicked to break easily and Undertaker snapped them off accidentally while falling over. Otherwise, the big spot was after Undertaker won, where he had the Brood show up and help him hang Boss Man from a noose.

The commentary was hilarious for this part, just because there was a man being murdered right in front of them and Michael Cole was wondering if this was supposed to be “symbolic.” Then he segued into how much fun all the fans had at the weekend events leading up to the show.


Raw Dark Match (2011)

WWE Championship Match

This match took place on the go-home Raw before the 2011 Hell in a Cell PPV. They were setting up a Cena/Punk/Del Rio match and Raw ended with Del Rio standing strong in the ring while his future opponents were beaten before him. Available to be viewed only on a fan’s camera (thank you, YouTube!), Teddy Long appeared after the show went off the air to announce a Hell in a Cell match for the WWE Championship. It would be the three men in the ring, plus Swagger and Ziggler.

The short match played like a handicap match, with the three heels beating down on the weakened faces. Any time someone tried to make a comeback, one of the extra heels would knock them back down. Punk and Cena regained their composures once again, lots of finishers were hit and Cena was the last man standing, retaining his belt.

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Despite not being available to watch in any official capacity, WWE treats it as an official Hell in a Cell outing. Not only has it been brought up as a piece of trivia, but they’ve released photos of the bout.

It’s a nothing match meant to send fans home, so it’s not like it was ever going to rank very high. The only reason I can put it above Undertaker vs. Boss Man is that it at least had energy and an amusing spot where Punk kept dodging Dolph Ziggler’s attempts to knock him off the apron.


Bad Blood (2004)

Oh my God, this match. I was warned about it for years, but finally watching it…man. The best term I’ve heard to describe this match is “self-indulgent.” After a feud that lasted forever, Triple H and Michaels had a match that lasted forever. 48 minutes, to be more specific. When a match is long for the sake of being long, then I usually have problems with it. If you can make it look organic, great, but sometimes during Iron Man matches and matches designed to meet the time limit, you have the wrestlers just hanging out to hit rest holds for the sake of killing time (see also: Jake Roberts vs. Rick Rude at WrestleMania IV. On second thought, don’t see also).

For this match, despite using weapons and busting each other open, there was nothing all that interesting in there. It had a wonderful spot where Michaels went for Sweet Chin Music, Triple H dashed forward, ducked it, grabbed the steel steps, turned around, and in one fluid motion smashed Michaels in the face with it. Other than that, it will put you to sleep.


Hell in a Cell 2012

WWE Championship Match

There’s a lot at fault in this one. This is during the point where WWE’s trying to push Ryback as a top face, yet they’re too afraid to pull the trigger. As someone who loved his initial face run, I can’t blame them. They put so much emphasis on Cena and they needed someone new to rise up. They panicked, shoved Ryback into the main event, but he was too green to be made champion, so they just spun his wheels by having him never actually become champion and instead get screwed over again and again.

Like many modern Hell in a Cell matches, this one had virtually no use of the Cell itself. It was just 20 minutes of CM Punk trying to get away from Ryback. At one point, Punk used a kendo stick, but that’s basically the weakest of all no-DQ staple weapons and it didn’t work out for him.

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The end came with the referee (Brad Maddox) randomly nutshotting Ryback and doing a fast count to give Punk the win. Ryback then destroyed Maddox and chased Punk up the cage, where he delivered the Shell Shock. So at least it had that going for it.

A shame that this Hell in a Cell PPV had only one Cell match and yet they wasted it on this.


Hell in a Cell 2010

WWE Championship Match

Orton and Sheamus are great talents who for some reason never mesh right against each other despite WWE’s decision to constantly have them clash. Their match here was incredibly dull and is probably the true “jump the shark” moment for Hell in a Cell. This is from the second year of the PPV and there was really no reason for this setting other than giving us a title rematch. The two have barely been feuding and it’s one of the most forgettable Hell in a Cell matches of all time.

The most laughable part of the match was when they brought the steel steps into the ring. Sheamus used it by doing his backbreaker while standing on it. The commentators tripped over themselves to explain the lack of give and how that would make it far more devastating, but come on, guys.

They were at least able to get some use out of it when Orton did his powerslam onto the steps and later the RKO. It still could have been a lot better.


Hell in a Cell 2010

World Heavyweight Championship Match

The good news is that this may in fact be the best Undertaker vs. Kane match I have ever seen. The bad news is that I have never seen a good Undertaker vs. Kane match ever. This wins by default. This came from the very end of Undertaker’s run as an active competitor during a cartoony and over-the-top feud with Kane that was too silly for me not to enjoy. Kane secretly beat Undertaker into a coma and publicly tried to solve the mystery of who did it. Then Undertaker came back to avenge himself, only he was all sickly and weak. Kane had been able to siphon off his magic somehow. Undertaker was down in the dumps until Paul Bearer showed up to be at his side once again.

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The idea of the match is perfect. The two first met each other when Undertaker was in a Hell in a Cell match. What better way to bring it full circle?

The two had a relatively passable match that had little to do with it being Hell in a Cell. Then the ending came off as a little too silly, when Paul Bearer turned on Undertaker by opening up the urn and blinding him with its light before taking his time in switching sides and showing he was pulling for Kane instead.


Hell in a Cell 2013

A year after Ryback was the unstoppable face and Punk was the cowardly heel, they gave us Punk as the plucky face and Ryback as the stoppable heel. Though Heyman was said to be competing, he instead chose to have a forklift bring him to the top of the cage, where he spent the match watching what was essentially a one-on-one encounter. While not the biggest improvement, at least Punk and Ryback were able to work better under this dynamic.

The match earned points for doing a table spot, but the setup was hilarious in how blatant it was. Punk nutshotted Ryback and Ryback’s reaction was to grab his balls, roll right onto the nearby table, and lay there waiting so Punk could put him through a moment later. Come on, son.

After the match, Punk finally got his long-awaited revenge on Paul Heyman by climbing up the cage and beating him mercilessly with a kendo stick, finishing him off with a Go to Sleep. Unlike the previous Ryback match, this one felt like a real grudge match worthy of Hell in a Cell.


Hell in a Cell 2011

World Heavyweight Championship Match

This was when Henry suddenly became the most awesome man ever and shockingly became champ because Vince McMahon realized that he was suddenly the most awesome man ever. Orton chose for their rematch to be Hell in a Cell, again, watering down the concept. The match had a few bright spots, but was mostly just a regular match with a cage around it. Plus there was a lengthy rest hold. Of course there was.

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One spot that comes up a lot in Orton Hell in a Cell matches is when his opponent picks up the steel steps and throws it right at him, only to miss because Orton dives away at the last second. Henry doing it looked the most convincing and dangerous of all of them, partially due to the excellent camera angle.

The ending was pretty cool in that Orton was pretty adamant that an RKO could end Henry, only he still kicked out. He went for his ultimate attack – the punt – but Henry just caught him in mid-dash and crushed him with the World’s Strongest Slam. After the match, Henry tried to put Orton on the shelf, but Orton fought back and mostly chased him off with a handful of chair shots.


Raw (1998)

This one’s weird and I originally didn’t plan to include it, but WWE has always considered it an official Hell in a Cell match. Why I find it weird is that it isn’t even a match to begin with. I don’t even recall the bell ringing. A match tends to have a beginning and an end and this one has neither!

It took place on the Raw leading up to the infamous Undertaker vs. Mankind match at King of the Ring. Mankind and Kane waited inside the Cell with Paul Bearer, while Austin stood on the outside, waiting for Undertaker to show up. Growing annoyed, he saw Mankind coming towards him and attacked first. Kane left the cage as well and it was a two-on-one brawl. As Bearer watched from within the ring, Undertaker came out from under the ring to lock the cage door and beat the everloving bejeezus out of his former mentor.

Mankind and Kane couldn’t break into the Cell, which was kind of odd when you remember that Kane made his debut tearing open the Cell door. Anyway, Austin beat down Mankind, climbed to the top of the cage and beat on Kane as the show went off the air.

It wasn’t much, but it was memorable and an awesome way to push the story forward.

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Hell in a Cell 2009

WWE Championship Match

While Cena vs. Orton is a tired match now, at least they’ve been able to let it breathe now and then. This is from the days when all they did was wrestle each other again and again and again and again. Once again, we have a decent match that didn’t do much with the Hell in a Cell concept other than shoving each other’s faces into the fencing and treating it like death.

I rank this higher than the others because I really liked the logic of the ending. After a ref bump spot cheated Cena out of the win, Orton dropped him with an RKO. As a heel, Orton’s go-to move is the headlock, so he used an “extreme” version of the move that made sense. He tied Cena into the ropes, stood on the apron and held him in a headlock until choking him out. Simple, but something he couldn’t legally do in a regular singles encounter. Then he released him from the ropes and did his punt, allowing him an arguably-clean pin on Cena.

It was still kind of lame considering the punt had been treated as a career-killer and Cena still walked it off after the match. The explanation was that Orton’s leg wasn’t 100%. Sure, why not.


Hell in a Cell 2009

World Heavyweight Championship Match

CM Punk was champ, doing his Straight-Edge Savior thing, which didn’t work right when feuding with a magical zombie man. I mean, what are your talking points in that confrontation? Either way, Punk had been able to cheat Undertaker once or twice and Teddy Long said that their next encounter would be in Hell in a Cell.

This match could have easily been much higher on the list, but instead, it appeared to end before it could really go anywhere. While there was potential of this becoming a strong match and what we got was good enough, this opening match ended in about ten minutes. Yes, the World Heavyweight Champion dropped the belt in about ten minutes in the opening match of the PPV. Meanwhile, the main event wasn’t even a title match at all. As you can guess, there were a lot of angry CM Punk fans out there.


Hell in a Cell 2013

WWE Championship Match

Special Guest Referee: Shawn Michaels

Hey, remember that endless string of Bryan/Orton title matches with nonsense finishes where they somehow kept Bryan protected while at the same time making him look like a complete loser? This was the final stage of that before they shifted Big Show into the title picture and tried to have him steal the “YES!” chants for himself.

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It was a Daniel Bryan match, so it was good, but it once again wasn’t very memorable outside of screwing him over for the umpteenth time. The only notable spot that took advantage of the setting was Orton doing a superplex onto a pile of chairs, even if only Bryan’s legs landed on them. Much of the story revolved around Shawn Michaels as the special referee, who got a lot of guff from everyone, including Triple H. Triple H got involved in the match when Michaels took a ref bump, causing Bryan to knee Triple H in the face, which in turn caused Michaels to superkick Bryan into unconsciousness. Orton got the pin.

In a vacuum, it would have been a fine ending, but it was more of the same and only added to the fan resentment that caused the Yes Movement to happen. The Michaels aspect of the match was WWE’s attempt to possibly coax him into coming back for a match with Bryan at WrestleMania, but Michaels sidestepped that and instead had Bryan attack him on the following Raw.

The sad part is that the fans had the option of voting Bob Backlund as the referee, but nooooooo!


Hell in a Cell 2016

United States Championship

Like many Roman Reigns matches, this one is a fine showing that could probably stand to have five to ten minutes shaved off. Although it’s a slog at times, this one had its moments of brilliance. Rusev set up the steel steps over the top turnbuckle in a way where it fit into its spot so well, you wonder why we haven’t seen it more often. This paid off spectacularly way later when Rusev suddenly cut off a Roman advantage by kicking him and then shoving him right into those steps before anyone could fully react. It made for one hell of a nearfall.

It’s a shame that Rusev was never shown as more of an equal to Roman because despite the lack of believability that Rusev had much of a chance, he complemented Roman better than most opponents. The way he sold the Superman Punch was a thing of beauty, but it has nothing on the spot where he tied Roman into the ropes, beat him with a kendo stick, bounced off of the ropes, and Roman was able to escape off-camera while hitting a desperate clothesline.

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Unfortunately, it all kind of fell apart in the end. The final moments reeked of “sounded good on paper.” Rusev brought more steel steps into the ring for the sake of making his Accolade look cooler (I guess), but at least doing the move with a chain in Roman’s mouth made it more visceral and uncomfortable. This ultimately blew up in Rusev’s face because Roman was able to spear him off the steps. Sure, Roman had nothing in terms of a running start, but Rusev fell several more inches before hitting the mat!


Armageddon 2000

WWF Championship Match

On paper, this should have been the coolest match ever. The five top guys in WWF (and Rikishi) battling it out in Hell in a Cell for the WWF Championship. It was especially great because of how everyone was a believable winner (and Rikishi). Unfortunately, this was an instance where there were too many cooks spoiling the broth. Most of the match was just aimless brawling between the six wrestlers that went on and on. The stuff that wasn’t just aimless brawling was outstanding because of the talent involved.

The strangest moment came minutes into the match where Vince McMahon drove out a big hay truck to pull the door off the Cell. He didn’t like that Commissioner Foley put this match together, as it would have destroyed his entire main event roster (and Rikishi). Foley chased him off and this set us up for a truly memorable spot where Undertaker chokeslammed (er, chokepushed) Rikishi off the roof of the Cell, where he landed onto the pile of hay. Even Austin and Rock stopped what they were doing in the ring to give it a reaction of, “Jesus Christ…” before continuing.

The end came with Angle retaining in a well-booked way that made him look like an opportunist who lucked his way into winning.


Hell in a Cell 2014

Winner Becomes #1 Contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

Despite being a tired match that was put together a few weeks in advance to try and spike a better buyrate, I think this Cena/Orton match feels more legit than the other one. It’s actually treated as a final chapter and not as yet another match to lead into their next match.

The Cell-related stuff was pretty dumb across the board. Cena lightly shoving Orton’s back into the fencing was laughable. If anything, this ranks as high as it does due to some really unique counters from Orton. He was able to reverse the Five Knuckle Shuffle into a powerslam. He Irish whipped Cena into a chair he had set up into the corner from way earlier in the match. Orton reversed a shoulder tackle into an RKO and got super pissed when it didn’t amount to a three-count. He even reversed an Attitude Adjustment into an RKO, which was rad. In the end, Cena won via an Attitude Adjustment off the top rope, through a table. If this is to be their last major battle, it would be a decent way to do it.

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Hell in a Cell 2009

At the first Hell in a Cell PPV, the first couple Cell matches didn’t really use the setting all that well. DX and Legacy, on the other hand, proceeded to make something interesting out of it. Cody Rhodes and Ted Dibiase attacked Triple H and Michaels on the way to the ring. After a lengthy brawl, they were able to knock Triple H on stage, allowing them to drag Michaels into the ring and lock the door to the Cell. It was a two-on-one beatdown and by the time Triple H regained consciousness, he realized he was unable to help his buddy.

Eventually, Triple H left and returned with bolt-cutters so he could enter the Cell and save Michaels. It was an excellent story of a match that was only hampered from how needlessly long it was. They easily could have shaved off at least five minutes and handed it to the earlier Undertaker/Punk match. Regardless, this match has the perfect tale of the heels getting what they deserved. Normally, Legacy’s tactics would have been acceptable because of the rules of the match. It was dishonorable, but clever. But rather than simply win the match, they couldn’t leave well enough alone and decided to outright torture Michaels, giving Triple H the time needed to turn the tide of battle. Well played.


Hell in a Cell 2017

This match was almost very good. Almost. For the first half of it, it had a good thing going with the idea being that Shane’s strength was his toughness. Owens would overwhelm him and beat him up, but all Shane had to do was endure it and wait for the opportune moment to make his move and give Owens everything he had. A missed splash or reversing the Pop-Up Powerbomb into a triangle hold. His comebacks were believable.

Even the latter part could have worked, but it just went on too long. There was a part where Owens climbed to the top of the cage (the gesture he made of looking at his LIVE/EVIL tattoo for reassurance was an inspired touch), couldn’t bring himself to jump off, and Shane ended up chasing him up there. The awkward cringe of a top-of-the-cage brawl was a plus, especially since the cage held together with each bump and nothing went horribly wrong, but holy hell did it keep going on and on. The whole match was nearly 40 minutes and having them gingerly fight it out up there for such a big chunk of it took the wind out of its sails.

We still got our crazy spot anyway, with Shane doing another freaky jump. This time, with Sami Zayn making a surprising heel turn and rescuing Owens. A really intriguing ending back before the whole storyline lost its way and became months of Shane and Daniel Bryan acting all passive aggressive.


Unforgiven 2006

This match deservingly gets a lot of eye-rolls from fans, but it’s actually really good outside of the ending. First off, I love the match-up itself. You have two main eventers vs. a main eventer and two guys who are about 50% on Michaels and Triple H’s level. Big Show was treated as a monster too, as Michaels and Triple H were rarely ever to take him down one-on-one and instead had to use teamwork. The odds were stacked against DX, but in a way that was believable if they were to win.

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Everyone played their role to perfection and it was an excellent endgame to the never-ending DX/McMahon feud. The only reason I can’t rank it any higher is because it ended in the most embarrassing way possible. Vince tried to force Michaels into kissing his ass. This was prevented and soon Big Show was taken out of the equation. Shane was practically dead on the outside. Vince, his face covered in blood, stood up and acted like he was ready to take them on no matter how badly he’d get beat. Instead of just fighting him, they pulled down Big Show’s tights, revealing his giant ass to the world. Then they grabbed Vince and shoved him headfirst between the cheeks.

It’s one of those moments where all your friends and loved ones who don’t watch wrestling enter the room and see what your hobby is all about.

On the upside, Triple H hit Vince in the back with a sledgehammer and used it correctly for once! You know, actually swinging it instead of doing that lame thrust attack.


Hell in a Cell 2016

WWE Raw Women’s Championship

Sasha vs. Charlotte was the first women’s Hell in a Cell match and that made things rather awkward. I imagine there was some pressure for Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker to put on a good showing for the very first Hell in a Cell, but if it took several tries for the match to finds its groove or if it was going to be an obscure failure, so be it. Yet with three dozen entries, having two women battle it out – in the main event, no less – was going to mean they needed to succeed.

It had some crazy moments throughout and the highlights go high. Lots of innovation, including the image above. Even the overall story of the match was expertly told: Charlotte jumped Sasha before the match began and put her in questionable shape to compete. Sasha fought on, making her look heroic, but she and Charlotte were so evenly matched that the beatdown ended up deciding the match. Sasha attempted to finish Charlotte off, her body failed on her, and Charlotte took advantage by repeatedly tossing Sasha into a table.

But man oh man did this match go on forever. They milked the opening for everything it was worth and despite some truly physical moments throughout the match, it just seemed to take its time way too much. Maybe they drew it out too much because of the importance, but it took away from its potential and felt like Michaels vs. Triple H at times. Having Sasha lose in her hometown, thereby deflating the crowd and taking part in the exhausting bouncing of the title between the two hurt the final score as well.

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Armageddon 2005

Ah, the early days of Orton as a heel. Back when he was filled with charisma and goofy facial expressions. This was during his time as the Legend Killer with his father Bob Orton following him around. At this point, Orton had stolen Undertaker’s urn for the sake of messing with him.

The match was pretty solid, albeit not totally memorable until the last few moments. With the ref hurt, another ref opened the door and entered, allowing Bob to follow. Undertaker destroyed him and tried to Tombstone Orton. Orton reversed into his own Tombstone, but it took the ref too long to make the count. Undertaker kept sitting up, but Orton kept punching him back down until he took a breather and let Undertaker strangle him. Undertaker was able to finish off both Ortons, smashing both with his urn and then Tombstoning each of them.

The match is mainly remembered for how outright pissed Undertaker was after the fact when he found out that Bob Orton had hepatitis and didn’t tell anyone. You know, despite the fact that all three dudes were bleeding during the match. Christ, dude.


Bad Blood 2003

World Heavyweight Championship Match

Special Guest Referee: Mick Foley

During the glory days of Hell in a Cell, this one gets looked over because it’s a rather unnecessary match. Nash had been chasing the World Heavyweight Championship for a couple months, but little seemed to vindicate the Cell setting. Even with Kevin Nash being Kevin Nash, it’s still a rather solid match and totally worth checking out.

Make no mistake, it was Triple H doing a total carry job, but he did it well. Nash threw him around for a while until Triple H was able to make a comeback thanks to pulling out a box of tools, hurting Nash with a hammer, screwdriver, and the box itself.

Foley was the special referee for this, which led to one of the more eye-rolling moments. Triple H brought out Foley’s trademark two-by-four with barbwire wrapped around it. Foley was totally cool with that and it led to a couple nice spots. Then Triple H pulled out the sledgehammer and Foley lost his mind because NO WAY could he allow something as wretched and damaging as the sledgehammer! God forbid!

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Sweet ending too, where Nash took the sledgehammer to the face and didn’t go down completely. Triple H didn’t risk it and just went straight for the Pedigree, which finished the job.


Hell in a Cell 2015

When you’re the 31st Hell in a Cell, it’s impressive to simply be inventive and that’s exactly what Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt was. There were some damn cool spots here, such as placing an opened chair through the fencing and whipping the opponent into the horizontal weapon. Or the bit at the end where a kendo stick was protruding from the corner and Reigns threw Bray into it, causing it to jam into his eye. Or that visual of Reigns advancing on Bray with two kendo sticks, pretending like he was playing the drums.

Add in a couple ripe table spots and you’re in for a good time. The problem was the pacing. As good as the match-specific spots were, they weren’t stitched together well enough and after a while it felt like the match has been going on for way too long.


Raw (1998)

This match on Raw took place two months after the legendary Mankind vs. Undertaker match and it was quite the sequel. Undertaker accompanied Kane to the ring and when Mankind tried to climb to the top of the cage yet again, Undertaker just grabbed him from behind and threw him down into the announce table. Even if Mankind had a real chance to win going in, no way was he in any condition to take on Kane and come out on top. Not that he gave up.

As I watched this match for the first time since it aired, I was enthralled. It was incredibly good. It took all the highlights of the Undertaker match, but used it better. The story of the match was superior and while there were some nasty chairshots to Foley’s head, I didn’t feel as grossed out as with the Undertaker/Mankind match. I was strongly considering ranking this above Undertaker vs. Mankind as I was finding it overall superior.

Then after Kane Tombstoned Mankind onto a chair, Austin ran out from under the ring and started beating on Kane. The ref called for the bell. In a Hell in a Cell match! Goddamn it, Russo! There was no reason why Mankind couldn’t have just eaten the pin so they could have moved on to the post-match beating. It just ruined an otherwise fantastic bout.

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Hell in a Cell 2014

Hey, speaking of matches ruined by silly endings! Ambrose vs. Rollins was a breath of fresh air, as they brought the Hell in a Cell concept back to the old school style of ridiculous stunts meant to bring closure to a long-lasting blood feud. Ambrose insisted on starting on the roof and Rollins made sure to have his stooges Joey Mercury and Jamie Noble act as distractions. Even the shot of Rollins disarming Ambrose of his kendo stick and dropping it off the side of the Cell was beautifully unnerving. The two ended up falling through tables and it continued into a vicious battle of weapons after a break from the action.

Then, right as Ambrose was about to get his long-awaited revenge, Bray Wyatt showed up and distracted him with a ghost. Ooookay. The most telling of this was how you could hear a massive groan fill the arena once the lights went out to set it up. They were right to do so as it led to a rather underwhelming Ambrose/Wyatt feud in the months that followed.


WrestleMania 32 (2016)

Shane McMahon’s Ownership of Raw vs. Undertaker’s WrestleMania Career

So. This happened.

Shane McMahon facing Undertaker in Hell in a Cell at WrestleMania is still a surreal concept. Of all the possible opponents for Undertaker, we got an over-the-hill quasi-wrestler in a face vs. face match where neither should have lost. At the very least, the story it told was a good one. Shane was in over his head, but he kept fighting against one of the most powerful wrestlers in a match Undertaker exceeded in at the event where he was nigh unbeatable. Shane showed guts and lets loose with enough offense, but still couldn’t pull it off in the end.

All well and good except for a couple things. Had this match happened 10-15 years earlier, it would have been a classic. Instead, things were slowed down too much so they could set up every little spot and it made it look a bit lame that Undertaker had to sell so much for Shane. This is a man who has survived three F5s and kept fighting. A man who kicked out after taking Sweet Chin Music immediately followed by a Pedigree. Now he was so winded from escaping a Sharpshooter that Shane was able to set up and pull off Coast to Coast without Undertaker putting up a fight.

It’s a long-ass match at a long-ass WrestleMania, but the ending was still hot fire. Shane’s stunt was insane and Undertaker respecting Shane’s never-say-die attitude by patting him on the cheek prior to the Tombstone was wonderful, if only for the crowd letting loose a big, “Awww…”


Judgment Day 2002

Triple H vs. Jericho is like the opposite of Undertaker vs. Kane. Quality matches, but terrible feud. In case you forgot, this was when Jericho was in the title picture and got buried when Triple H was his challenger. First, their WrestleMania feud was more about Triple H vs. Stephanie with Jericho hanging out in the background. Then they came back to it a month later and made it Triple H vs. Vince with Jericho hanging out in the background. A shame, since the matches – such as this – were completely solid.

This match was done incredibly well. It started off as a regular singles match with a cage around it, looking more like something out of the modern Hell in a Cell match. Then they started getting into the basic Cell-related attacks like shoving each other into the fencing and steps. Soon it built up into ladders and chairs, getting more and more intense until referee Tim White got knocked into the cage. Jericho had it won, but there was nobody to count, so he took the attack to White out of frustration. The other refs opened the door and the fight spilled to the outside, giving us some table spots and Triple H wielding the two-by-four covered in barbwire. He chased Jericho up the cage, where they finished the match on the roof. Triple H nailed the Pedigree and pinned him 20 feet over the ring.

A very badass match with a couple funny things to come out of it. For one, commentators would occasionally bring up in future matches how you had to pin your opponent inside the ring, seemingly forgetting about this ending. Secondly, this would be Tim White’s final match as referee and it was a hell of a way to write him off. Far better than the other attempt to write him off. To build up the Undertaker/Orton match at Armageddon 2005, Josh Matthews interviewed White about Hell in a Cell. White drunkenly moped about how it ruined his life, pulled out a shotgun, and supposedly shot himself off-camera. …yeah.


Hell in a Cell 2011

WWE Championship Match

If you hate John Cena matches because of the way he goes full-on God Mode, you might enjoy him when he fights in a triple threat. The dynamic of the match means he doesn’t have to power out of every little thing and instead you get a less distracting performance. This triple threat is no different. All three guys had amazing chemistry and made the most of their surroundings.

My personal favorite bit was when Cena and Punk were on the outside and Cena tried whipping him into the steps. Punk stopped himself, spun around, and ended up crouching on the steps, waving Cena over to fight him. Del Rio then showed up out of nowhere and shoved Punk hard into the fencing, cutting open his back.

The match was essentially about dethroning Cena without making him look bad, so Del Rio tricked him into leaving the cage, hit him with a pipe, locked the door, and took on Punk one-on-one. Wonderful drama in there, what with Cena having to watch a match where no matter the winner, he would lose the belt. The best he could do was cheer on Punk, hoping to prolong the inevitable. Punk played the role of underdog and almost came out on top until Del Rio brought back the pipe and smashed him with it a couple times.

Del Rio won, but once they pulled up the cage, Cena went for revenge. Unfortunately for him, Miz and R-Truth came out and attacked everyone (including the camera men) while the Cell lowered once more. Nobody could do anything until the authorities were able to cut open the chains. A truly hot main event that is kind of laughable to look at nowadays. Despite that match being recent enough, outside of Miz being a huge wheel on SmackDown, we now have Cena with a foot out the door, R-Truth forgotten about, and CM Punk and Del Rio as angry former employees who left when the getting was good.


WrestleMania XXVIII (2012)

Special Guest Referee: Shawn Michaels

The WrestleMania Hell in a Cell match was really good, just not as good as Triple H believes it to be. The story was fine. Triple H goaded Undertaker into a WrestleMania rematch because even though Undertaker won the first time around (second, actually, but we’re not supposed to remember that!), Triple H was the one who got to walk out on his own strength. Shawn Michaels was brought in as referee, meaning the odds would be stacked against Undertaker. Plus it would be in Hell in a Cell, a match that all three guys were big parts of.

The match was mostly drama and weapon shots. For the most part, it was well done, but they did go way over the line on the drama at points. Triple H would destroy him with chairs, steps, sledgehammers, etc. and would constantly tell Michaels to end it or he would. Then Undertaker would angrily demand that he not end the match. Great plot, but they overdid it. Michaels went full-on ham that it got kind of laughable near the end.

Despite that, it ended incredibly well with Undertaker receiving Sweet Chin Music immediately followed by the Pedigree and STILL kicking out. He then brutalized Triple H so badly that the Game couldn’t even make the simple movement of dashing forward and clocking Undertaker with the sledgehammer. Instead, Undertaker took him out with a Tombstone and they played up how it was the end of an era.

Of course, the first time I saw it, I was bitter as hell over the whole Daniel Bryan 18 seconds debacle. I’ve calmed down since then.


Hell in a Cell 2016

WWE Universal Championship

Rollins and Owens knew what they were doing and made this one work by simply having an awesome match at its core and letting it spread out into the Hell in a Cell gimmick. Despite Owens falling into the trap of so many WWE heel champs being weasely cowards, the early stuff in this match really kicked into gear with Owens coming off as more of a bullying force of nature. There was a ton of energy in there that treated it like a grudge match where the two guys hated each other equally.

The turning point came when Owens sprayed a ref with a fire extinguisher out of desperation. That caused the Cell to be opened up, allowing Chris Jericho in. On one hand, that practically spelled out the ending. Of course Owens and Jericho were going to overwhelm Rollins. Even then, they were able to make it count by having Rollins incapacitate Owens with such an insane double table-breaking spot that momentarily evened the odds. Everything was elementary after Jericho pulled the ref out of the ring, but the stunt of Owens powerbombing Rollins through two setup tables certainly made the bout worth it.


No Mercy 2002

WWE Championship Match

This is one of those star-making matches that organically transformed a monster heel to a monster face. Undertaker went in with a broken hand. Because Brock was the one responsible, it was decided that Undertaker could fight with his cast on. Great for his offense, but terrible for his defense. Lesnar took a pounding, but was also able to horribly maim Undertaker’s hand, especially in a kickass spot where he kept smashing it with a chair against the cage.

Lesnar was able to fight Undertaker just as viciously as Undertaker’s known to fight, especially in this setting. He removed the cast, but little of the remaining match had anything to do with attacking Undertaker’s hand. Instead, Lesnar simply fought him head-on like a man. Both men, as well as Paul Heyman, were bloody by the end, where Lesnar was able to reverse a Tombstone into an F5. Then he celebrated by climbing up the cage with the belt and going all King Kong.


King of the Ring 1998

Yup. Ranked it at seven. Listen, the match is an amazing experience. I’m not going to argue that. The spots are breathtaking and legendary and will never be forgotten. But even Foley will agree that the match isn’t that good outside of his stunts. It was Mick Foley nearly killing himself several times over and then stumbling around with a brain made of jelly while Undertaker was also there.

It’s a great highlight reel that isn’t very much of a match. Plus, it’s incredibly uncomfortable to watch, knowing how damaging it was to Foley in the long-term and how close he came to dying in the ring with that second plunge, which was apparently unplanned. Maybe I’m a softy, I don’t know. I just think the remaining seven matches on this list are more solid outings.


Hell in a Cell 2015

The only faults with the final showdown between Undertaker and Brock Lesnar come from what came before it. Their more modern feud was a trilogy that started off with a crap match with an awesome ending followed by a good match with a stupid ending. Then you had this, an epic finale that brought home the Hell in a Cell concept as we saw what felt like a bar fight of the gods.

It was a bloody brawl between two guys depicted as being the top tier of WWE and it built on their history. From the way Undertaker kicked out after three F5s to the way Lesnar broke out of the Hell’s Gate by savagely thrashing Undertaker to Lesnar throwing in a well-deserved low-blow out of revenge. It was a solid main event that acted as a violent conclusion to a high-profile feud, which is exactly what the gimmick match should be. The fact that the ring mat got torn open just to help give us a true winner was the cherry on top.


Survivor Series 2007

World Heavyweight Championship Match

As a top face, Batista only starred in two angles that were any good. His feud with Undertaker was phenomenal. Stemming from WrestleMania, the two had a series of matches based on a face vs. face rivalry. It was rare to see a big, strong face who was able to fight Undertaker on his own terms. To have two faces fight it out was nothing new, but to have it escalate to the point that they needed to take a trip to the Hell in a Cell? Well, that’s a big deal.

Undertaker was always able to bring out the best in Batista and this match was no different. The two went at it like they outright hated each other. Probably my favorite little moment came from Undertaker slamming Batista’s throat into the top of a chair, causing Batista to immediately spew out a mouthful of blood and collapsing. The two fought an even match, culminating in a Tombstone onto the steel steps.

It was a definite win for Undertaker, but then one of the camera men turned out to be Edge, who obliterated Undertaker with the camera and a Conchairto, dragged Batista’s prone arm over him, and made the ref count it. After the match, Edge returned to beat on Undertaker some more with a chair. It was cheap, but Edge sold the behavior so well. Batista won the war and retained, but Undertaker practically showed he was the better man. Plus we got a great Undertaker vs. Edge feud out of it.


Hell in a Cell 2017

WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match

New Day and the Usos have wrestled a million times and will wrestle a million more, but their matches tend to be fantastic. They just have that crazy chemistry. They ended one of their feuds with a Hell in a Cell match and certainly made it count. It had one of the best openings of any of these, where all four competitors immediately rushed outside of the ring to grab any weapon they could get, only to return to the ring for the showdown.

Even with New Day’s silly gimmicks, they took their more colorful aspects – ie. Xavier Woods’ trombone – and turned it something worthy of a good hardcore battle. Each team’s spots fit well into the Hell in a Cell setting, such as the Uso’s dives and Big E’s scary-ass spear through the ropes. Then things got incredibly creative with such spots as caging one Uso into the corner by sliding multiple kendo sticks through the fence holes or the way they handcuffed Xavier, hung him over the corner post, and wailed on him with sticks.

This match was just so frenetic and had several spots where they could have ended it and it would have been fine, only to keep going and going and never losing steam. By the end, it made it seem inevitable as although Xavier saved Big E from being pinned (after Big E had a fine showing facing both Usos by himself for a stretch), he was still handcuffed and it meant he was going to be defenseless for the Usos to finish him off.


Vengeance 2005

World Heavyweight Championship Match

As I said, Batista only had two good angles as a face. His feud with Triple H was the other one. Batista broke away from Triple H’s influence and dethroned him for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania. Then Triple H wanted a couple rematches, whining that Batista would never be able to kick out of the Pedigree if he ever landed it. This came to a head at Vengeance in the Hell in a Cell match.

The two tore into each other and it was wonderful. What made it fun was the karma of it all. Triple H would whip Batista relentlessly with a chain? Batista would get back by whipping Triple H relentlessly with a chain. Triple H repeatedly slammed a chair covered in barbwire onto Batista’s back? Batista would take said barbwire chair, smash it into Triple H’s head and then scrape it across his giant brow. Triple H would use his sledgehammer? Batista would recover, take the sledgehammer, run right at him and…get a chain punch right in the face. BUT then when Triple H went for something off the top rope, the prone Batista grabbed the hammer from next to him, held it up, and caught him straight in the jaw. Triple H sold it to perfection by spraying blood from his mouth as if he was doing his entrance while drinking Kool-Aid instead of bottled water.

The only complaint I have is Batista’s constant kicking out of major moves. The sledgehammer shot? The chain punch? The Pedigree? He kicked out of all of them. Give the dude some limits, guys.

If anything, this had one of the best endings. A weak Triple H grabbed the sledgehammer while being picked up for the Batista Bomb. Triple H tried to get it together and go for the Hail Mary, but Batista just drove him down and pinned him.


SummerSlam 2008

I love that this feud started in a Hell in a Cell match and ended in a Hell in a Cell match. Edge used his smarts to stay one step ahead of Undertaker for months and it all fell apart when he angered his wife and General Manager Vickie Guerrero. Edge was forced into this Hell in a Cell match, but former ally Mick Foley told him to unleash is inner monster. Edge did so by brutalizing Foley, which was used to write him out of the company.

The match was so much fun. Despite being the smaller one and a heel, Edge wasn’t treated as a cowardly underdog. He went full hog at Undertaker, mixing his smarts and inner-viciousness. So many great spots here, like Edge spearing Undertaker so hard that the cage broke open. Then he speared him through one of the announce tables. He remained on the offensive and did it perfectly.

The ending was a blast as well. Undertaker threw Edge through two tables. That easily could have been the finish. Instead, Undertaker wanted payback. He speared Edge. Then he delivered a Conchairto. Then finally a Tombstone and a pin. After walking up the ramp, he decided he wasn’t done. He propped Edge up a ladder, climbed it, and creepy images started appearing on the screen. Undertaker threw Edge through the ring itself, which exploded in flames. Now THAT is how you do otherworldly weirdness right.


In Your House: Badd Blood (1997)

Winner Becomes #1 Contender for the WWF Championship

It took three years for Royal Rumble and WrestleMania to really hit their strides. Hell in a Cell did it in one. Goddamn, what a match. European Champion Shawn Michaels was constantly being aided by Triple H and Chyna. He turned heel after accidentally screwing Undertaker out of winning the title at SummerSlam. The two were put up against each other to figure out a number one contender with the Hell in a Cell introduced to keep Michaels’ buddies away from the battle.

It was a lot of Undertaker throwing Michaels around like a ragdoll. When Michaels got his shots in, he played it intelligently. He used his strengths as a high-flier, but it only got him so far. For the most part, Undertaker stalked him like a slasher villain and punished him in new, violent ways brought upon by this new playground. This led to the iconic spot where Michaels held onto the roof of the cage with one hand before being knocked to the announce tables below.

Then Kane showed up and we knew this because Vince McMahon wouldn’t stop shouting, “That’s gotta be Kane!” The debuting monster tore the door off the hinges, knocked out his brother in badass fashion (first introducing the trademark pyro), and Michaels crawled towards a three-count. Brilliantly done. The only problem I have with it is that it wasn’t the intended feud ender. Undertaker and Michaels had another match a couple months later to finally finish their rivalry.


No Way Out 2000

WWF Championship Match

Mick Foley’s Career on the Line

Foley’s final match as a man on the active roster was like a mix of Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels and Undertaker vs. Mankind. It ultimately took the memorable parts of the Undertaker vs. Mankind match (minus the thumbtacks) and streamlined it into something with a far better narrative, while keeping the Michaels’ match’s stalking monster dynamic. Cactus Jack challenged Triple H for the WWF Championship. If he lost, he would retire. The two were out for blood and you could see Foley really trying to go all-out for one last time.

Things took a turn for the awesome when Cactus Jack threw the steel steps at Triple H, missed, and tore an exit from the cage. Things got crazy with announcer table spots, more climbing up the cage, and Cactus pulling out his two-by-four covered in barbwire. Fighting it out on the top of the cage, Cactus lit the weapon on fire before using it on Triple H. Ultimately, Triple H knocked him through the roof and into the mat, where he caused a crater. Again, it was much like the harrowing spot from the Undertaker match, but it was done safer, still looked good, and continued into a perfect ending. Triple H appeared spooked by Cactus’ fall and was telling the ref to check up on him. Cactus began stirring and showed that he wasn’t done just yet. Great bravado, but Triple H dropped him with a Pedigree and that was that.

It may have been cheapened by Foley making a series of quick comebacks over the years (including a few weeks later so he could main event WrestleMania), but this was a hell of a way to end the main stretch of his career.

Gavin Jasper writes for Den of Geek and wishes Gangrel was a bigger deal so WWE could have promoted Gangrel in a Cell. Follow Gavin on Twitter @Gavin4L