Hell in a Cell matches have developed quite a history, from iconic wars (Undertaker vs. Mankind, Undertaker vs. Lesnar, Triple H vs. Cactus) to memorable moments (Kane's debut, Mankind's many falls, the End of and Era walkout). With the exception of Royal Rumble matches, no signature bout on WWE's menu has amassed the sort of heritage of Hell in a Cell.
There's a lot to learn about the history of the match itself, from its origins, to the matches that have been fought within its chain-link walls. We here at Cultaholic pride ourselves on doling out the facts and figures, and when it comes to Hell in a Cell matches, our zealousness is just as strong. So here now, a look at the numbers, notes, and names that comprise Hell in a Cell's rich past. Here are 10 facts about WWE's patented colossal cage match that you may not have known.
10. Spawned From Sadistic Roots
Cage matches have existed in various shapes, sizes, and forms over the years, with part of the cell's uniqueness being that it fences in the ringside area as well. But it wasn't the *first* wrestling cage of that kind of construct. In fact, Hell in a Cell borrowed liberally from a legendary match that had taken place 14 years earlier.
Both Shawn Michaels and Jim Cornette have noted that the inspiration for the cell was the cage used for the "Last Battle of Atlanta" match between "Wildfire" Tommy Rich and Buzz Sawyer in October 1983. The match in question was the culmination of a two-year rivalry, and ended with a blood-soaked Rich eking out the win over his longtime nemesis. WWE Network actually uploaded the match footage (which was thought to have been lost) in September 2016, in the Hidden Gems section.
9. By Any Other Name
Hell in a Cell is a pretty basic name for such an ominous match. It's four words, each one syllable, and the book-ending words have a rhyme, so it's also catchy. Forced phrases like "The Devil's Duplex" and "The Devil's Playground" haven't been as simply effective as Hell in a Cell is - it tells the story without trying too hard.
One of the early proponents for the match was Cornette, who remembered that "Last Battle of Atlanta" bloodfest all too well. At the time, Cornette was part of WWE creative, and had a name in mind for the match - Rage in the Cage. It fit the same rhyme scheme as Hell in a Cell, though Rage also shared a name with an old WWE Sega CD video game from 1993. Hell was the choice, though Rage, in fairness, didn't suck as a name.
8. 'Not Official Cell Matches'
As noted in the introduction, at the time of writing, following this year's Hell in a Cell pay-per-view there will have been 40 Cell matches in WWE history (assuming nothing is added beyond Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman, and Randy Orton vs. Jeff Hardy). Those prior 38 matches aren't the only ones to see the Hell in a Cell cage get used - four other matches have seen the Cell in play, but aren't considered official Cell matches.
Among them: Steve Austin and Kane's First Blood WWE Championship match at the 1998 King of the Ring, Al Snow and Big Boss Man's regrettable "Kennel From Hell" match at Unforgiven 1999, a portion of a 2009 gauntlet match on Raw between John Cena and Randy Orton, and a 2014 handicap match that pitted Orton, Seth Rollins, and Kane against Cena and Dean Ambrose, where the Cell was lowered for unofficial reasons.
7. A Cage Oddity
From the time that Michaels and Undertaker first battered themselves inside Hell in a Cell at Badd Blood in October 1997, the structure has had a continuous presence at WWE events. After all, you don't get to 40 cell matches in 21 years without pushing the gimmick match with some frequency. In fact, beginning with 1997, there has been at least one cell match per year - with one exception.
That year? 2001. After WWE Champion Kurt Angle narrowly survived a six-way cell match at Armageddon in December 2000, the chain link wouldn't be hauled out from the mothballs again until May 2002, when Triple H faced Chris Jericho in the match at Judgment Day. That's a shame, because blowing off the Invasion angle with a War Games style match inside the Cell (WCW's best gimmick match vs. WWE's) could've been a lot of fun.
6. The Rumble Gots No Time For The Cell
Before one autumn pay-per-view was set aside solely for Hell in a Cell matches to take place at, the match could pop up at any conceivable event, including shows on basic cable. Before 2009, the cell was seen at various pay-per-views, including WWE's more prestigious events. It has appeared at each of the classic Big Five events, with one exception.
That exception is the Royal Rumble. It makes sense, given that you wouldn't necessarily want to use the cell on a night where you're also featuring the annual Rumble match(es). But the rest of the Big Five have each boasted at least one Cell match, and Undertaker's taken part in all of them: three at WrestleMania, vs. Mankind at King of the Ring, Edge at SummerSlam, and Batista at Survivor Series.
5. The Stunt We Never Saw
Mick Foley set the bar high when it came to personal destruction inside Hell in a Cell. His performance at the 1998 King of the Ring against Undertaker (as well as his ostensible curtain call against Triple H in 2000) has set high expectations for danger in that type of match. Edge knew this all too well, and planned to endure a rather risky bump at the 2008 SummerSlam when he wrestled Undertaker in the cage.
That stunt would've seen him and Undertaker fight on top of the Cell, where Undertaker would've finished him off by Tombstoning him on the roof. Somebody with authority ended up nixing the spot, due to the fear that the chain-link partition might give way, sending Edge down in an uncontrolled vertical dive. The compromise was that Undertaker would Chokeslam him into the fiery pits of hell, which seemed to be a fair trade.
4. Blame Terry Funk!
Back we go once more to Undertaker and Mankind's all-timer from 1998. It's a bit ironic that match would prove more historic than the Undertaker/Michaels match from almost nine months earlier, given that Foley felt it was going to be difficult to top. Shortly before King of the Ring, Foley watched the match with close friend Terry Funk, and they agreed: Mick had his work cut out for him.
Then Funk spoke up, perhaps regrettably, joking that they could start the match on top of the cage, and that Undertaker could throw him off. They had a good laugh, and Foley added that he could climb back up and 'Taker could toss him off again. They laughed long and hard at *that* insane suggestion. Then, after a few beats of quiet contemplation, Foley said that he believed he could do it. So yeah, if you love that match, be sure to thank Mr. Funk for planting the seed.
3. The Real 'Fight Forever'
John Cena and Randy Orton have faced off in two different Hell in a Cell matches, both at the titular event: a WWE Championship bout in 2009, and a #1 contender's match in 2014. In fact, that latter match is rather notable, as it would mark the 10th time that Cena and Orton would face each other in a one-on-one match on pay-per-view.
Previously, the two faced off twice in 2007 (SummerSlam and Unforgiven), once in 2008 (No Way Out), a staggering four times in 2009 (SummerSlam, Breaking Point, Hell in a Cell, and Bragging Rights), once in 2013 (TLC), and twice in 2014 (Royal Rumble and Hell in a Cell). Overall, the two are 5-5 against each other, so a tiebreaker may not be out of the realm of possibility. Inside Hell in a Cell, perhaps?
2. The Scarcity Of Gold
Almost a quarter of the prior Hell in a Cell matches, nine out of 38, have been for the WWE Championship, as the domain seems to be an ideal place to settle a grudge that involves the richest prize in the industry. Somewhat curiously, only two of those nine matches would see a title change.
The first time that the WWE Championship changed hands inside Hell in a Cell wasn't until 2009, when Orton defeated Cena at the first ever Hell in a Cell pay-per-view. The second such change occurred two years later, when Alberto Del Rio captured the gold in a triple threat match over Cena and CM Punk at the 2011 show. In fact, the belt hasn't been contested over inside Hell in a Cell since Orton and Daniel Bryan's match to fill the vacancy in 2013.
1. King Of The Castle
If you're an NFL quarterback and you go 14 for 38, you'll find yourself benched before long. Going 14 for 38 means something different if you're The Undertaker, however. The man who competed in the first ever Hell in a Cell match in 1997 would go on to wrestle in 14 of the 38 that have taken place to date - almost three out of every eight Cell matches has featured The Phenom.
Undertaker would compete in 10 of the first 17 Cell matches, the 10th coming at the inaugural Hell in a Cell PPV in October 2009, where he would defeat CM Punk to win the World Heavyweight title. Overall, Undertaker's 14 Cell matches are more than anyone else (Triple H is second with nine), of which he's won eight (also more than anyone else).