The 3 greatest moments in the WWE ‘Hell in a Cell’ series

Published: November 7, 2013
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WWE's 'Hell in a Cell' series. PHOTO: WWE official website

We all have certain happy childhood memories that we cherish throughout our lives. Some of these include playing with our siblings while others circle around spending time with our friends. And then there are those when we just enjoy the sheer thrill of watching someone else’s skull being crushed into the ground during a fight in an arena.

No, I am not talking about childhood fights. Quite a few of my happiest memories originated from the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) matches aired on television. The way two wrestlers are left in a cell to tear each other apart is simply beautiful. It’s not the violence, but the beauty in the violence which makes me love the sport so much.

However, I have realised that the tournaments being held nowadays are not as great as the ones from back in the day. These new professional wrestlers just cannot create the same magic in the sport as the previous ones did. After I watched the recent ‘Hell in a Cell’ series, I was utterly disappointed. I could tell that the fight was staged and the wrestlers were mere actors trying to put up a good show. That raw passion, symbolic of wrestling, was just not there.

How can a wrestling fan feel the excitement of a match when he knows that the match is just pretend play?

The Undertaker climbing the cage during a match. Photo: WWE official website

The wrestling matches of the past were sadistically brilliant. Especially the ‘Hell in a Cell’ series, also called the ‘Devil’s playground’ by many.

For those of you who do not know what the ‘Hell in a Cell’ tournament is about, here is a short description of this majestic series. As the name suggests, wrestlers are left in a cell to overcome their opponent; whoever walks out ‘alive’, wins. All this takes place whilst a frenzied crowd cheers for the fight to go on. There have been many other cage matches in the WWE but, for me, Hell in a Cell has created more historic moments than any other cage match.

There are numerous classic fights that have come out of this genre of wrestling but I will only go through three most popular matches of the series.

1)      The Undertaker (Mark William Calaway) vs Brock Lesnar

This match was huge during its time and wrestling fans everywhere were anxious to watch it. WWE had become dark; its image was that of a ruthless sport where only the strongest and most fit wrestlers could survive. Brock Lesnar was seen as WWE’s main champion.

Lesnars’ rise to champion took place after he defeated The Rock (Dwayne Douglas Johnson) multiple times, and also caused internal bleedings to Hulk Hogan.

Before the said match took place, there had already been a feud between the Undertaker and Lesnar. Both wrestlers had dominated each other in the prior weeks’ matches and Undertaker was favoured by many to win the match, even with his fractured wrist.

The two opponents were so vicious that had Undertaker been allowed to take his cast inside the cage, he would have used it to his advantage and broken Lesnar’s skull open. Understandably, due to interferences by Lesnar’s manager, Undertaker was not allowed to do so. The rest of the match saw both contestants (Undertaker in particular) getting bruised and bloodied, with an intensely involved audience going absolutely wild.

After showing off an array of fighting techniques, Lesnar made the final blow.

Lesnar getting at the top of the cell, his winning belt in hand. Photo: WWE official website

The match ended with the Undertaker lying in a pool of blood and Lesnar getting at the top of the cell, his winning belt in hand, enforcing his symbolic supremacy in the game. Many fans, including myself, were convinced that Lesnar was going to be the next big thing.

Triple H (Paul Michael Levesque) vs HBK Shawn Michaels

This match is one of my personnel favourites. Triple H and Shawn Michaels had been best of friends, in the arena as well as in real life. Though as part of Kayfabe, Triple H turned on his ‘friend’ and smashed his head in a car’s windscreen. What followed was one long rivalry between the two which consisted of ‘unsanctioned’, no-rule street fights between the two.

After Michaels’ triumph in an elimination chamber match and Triple H’s win in the ‘Last Man Standing Match’ series, the ‘Hell in a Cell’ match was the only tournament left which could decide the final winner between the two maestros of wrestling.

Triple H (Paul Michael Levesque) and HBK Shawn Michaels. Photo: WWE official website

The match was so intense that in the end, both contestants were finding it hard to stand firm and they actually had to hold each other to get up for the final ending. Eventually Triple H was successful, but both lay unconscious for several moments after the match had ended.

Undertaker vs Mankind (Mick Foley)

In terms of wrestling techniques, this match might not be the greatest of all time. However it has made some pretty great memories for wrestling fans. This match was one of those phenomenal things whose impact cannot be truly felt until one has seen it for themselves, experiencing it firsthand.

Stills from ‘Hell in a Cell’ match of 1998

At one point in the match, Mankind decided to attack the Undertaker by climbing the cage and then fighting him from the top. However, the Undertaker was quick to gauge his plan and went after Mankind. On reaching the top, there was a heated match between the two, until the Undertaker threw Mankind off the cage. He fell 16 feet down!

The fight was so intense that after the Undertaker made his move on Mankind, the commentators actually had to ask the referee if Mankind was still alive.

Mankind was on the ground, showing no signs of life.

Undertaker too thought that he might have killed his opponent and fellow wrestlers backstage also had similar suspicions.

Fortunately, Mankind was still alive and the match continued as soon as he got up again. The 16 feet fall, however, gave him a dislocated shoulder but he seemed resilient to finish it.

Mankind falling off the cage. Photo: WWE official website

The Undertaker, later in Mankind’s biography, said that he thought the unintentional fall had really killed him.

The match ended with Undertaker’s signature tombstone move.

Unfortunately, since WWE has enforced stricter rules for fighting, the excitement in these matches has decreased. It has been difficult to maintain that charisma in the new era where WWE is targeting younger audience with the likes of John Cena as their main champion – who is not very popular amongst old wrestling fans.

WWE has given me and many others from my generation, many treasures. These matches, with their close to reality stunts, have been a great source of entertainment for me. Too bad the same action is no longer seen today.

Zain Gardezi

Zain Gardezi

A software engineer by profession working in Lahore, Zain likes to write about religion and social satire in general. He blogs at rorolia.wordpress.com/ and tweets as @XainGardezi (twitter.com/XainGardezi)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.