WWE’s Top 10 Hell in a Cell Matches
All of us in Nashville should be gearing up for WWE’s Hell in a Cell on Sunday. But, for some reason, the WWE decided to move the event to San Antonio instead. Bummer. Nonetheless, in the spirit of this weekend’s show, I’m here to count down my own personal top 10 Hell in a Cell matches in WWE history.
By and large, I think having themed pay-per-view events has watered down the drama of big matches such as the Hell in a Cell and the TLC match. Those were once reserved to settle deeply intense, personal, and longstanding rivalries. Now, it’s just another gimmick.
But, that doesn’t mean the quality from bell to bell has necessarily suffered. Let’s hit the highlights, old and new alike.
WWE’s Top 10 Hell in a Cell Matches
Honorable Mentions: Being at Judgment Day 2002, I have to mention that seeing the match between Triple H and Chris Jericho in person was pretty damn cool. For being such a tired, worn-out feud, the match between John Cena and Randy Orton in 2014 was solid. People had their qualms about Kevin Owens’ Universal Championship reign, but the match with Seth Rollins in 2016 was a lot of fun, as was last year’s main event between Owens and Shane McMahon.
I did a bit of research before publishing this list. There’s a comprehensive list of all of the Hell in a Cell matches through 2017 over on Den of Geek. I want to mention the first Undertaker and Brock Lesnar showdown in the cell from 2002, because it seems to be popping up on everyone’s top 10 but mine. For whatever reason, I remember that match being a little boring and disappointing. Maybe it was because 16-year old Big Natural was desensitized due to four years of brutal Mick Foley cell matches that it didn’t feel as big or grandiose. Same for Undertaker and Batista from Survivor Series 2007. I’ll have to go back and re-watch these two some time.
10. Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt (HIAC, 2015) – Say what you will about Wyatt’s goofy rivalries over the last couple of years. But, this match was solid. It was physical and impactful, and it reminded me of the old school cell matches that were used to settle scores instead of “just ’cause it’s the Hell in a Cell show.”
9. The Usos vs. New Day (HIAC, 2017) – Like the aforementioned Reigns-Wyatt showdown, this match was the culmination of one of the greatest rivalries of the year. These two teams pulled out all the stops in a heart-racing opening contest.
8. Triple H vs. Undertaker (WrestleMania XXVIII) – This is probably the biggest cell match in WWE history simply because of its stage and the players involved. But, it was as dramatic and emotional of a wrestling as you could ever ask for.
7. Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar (HIAC, 2015) – This was a primal showdown between two alpha males and long time rivals. These two have epic encounters sprinkled throughout WWE history dating all the way back to 2002. But, this one was the best.
6. Kurt Angle vs. Steve Austin vs. Triple H vs. The Rock vs. Undertaker vs. Rikishi (Armageddon 2000) – I remember this match as being one of the first times wrestling really surprised me. I was a big Angle fan, but surely he couldn’t walk out of this match with the WWE Championship, right? RIGHT!?!? Well, he did – and the action was fast paced for a solid 30+ minutes. Who could ever forget the visual of Rikishi flying off the cell into a truck bed?
5. Triple H vs. Cactus Jack (No Way Out, 2000) – Was there ever a greater disconnect between opponents? Triple H’s pompous and privileged attitude vs. Foley’s blue collar likability. This was destined to be a hot feud from the jump, and with Foley involved you knew some crazy stunts would go down.
4. Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels (Badd Blood, 1997) – The original Hell in a Cell match was one of the most breathtaking things I ever saw as an 11-year old child. The concept was revolutionary (obviously, as this is still one of WWE’s biggest matches today), and they put together the right two guys to make it iconic.
3. Undertaker vs Edge (Summerslam, 2008) – Did anyone else think Edge was gonna die during this match? ‘Cause I did. But, it was a ton of fun and capped off one Taker’s last great feuds before the HBK-HHH run.
2. Triple H vs. Batista (Vengeance, 2005) – Man, that Triple H-Batista feud was hot ass fire. It provided one of the great WrestleMania build-ups, and a subsequent string of deeply personal matches. It was a blood feud – let’s just call it what it was! The program culminated at Vengeance that summer inside the confines of the cell. That match was one of the most brutal wars of its era.
1. Undertaker vs. Mankind (King of the Ring, 1998) – In hindsight, yeah – it probably wasn’t the greatest wrestling match. But, the aura that surrounded Foley from that moment on was something historic. So many stories came out of this match, and I still say it’s one of those contests you could show to a non-wrestling fan and be like, “THIS – this is what it’s all about.”
Foley being thrown off the cell is something that people still talk about 20 years after it happened. How many other matches boast such a reputation? Hogan-Andre? Cena-Punk? I mean, that’s a short list to be on. Not to mention, that match had a huge impact on a lot of wrestling fans of the era. It’s one of the most memorable bouts of all time.
Stoney Keeley is the Editor in Chief of The SoBros Network. He is a strong supporter of Team GSD and #BeBetter. “Big Natural” covers the Tennessee Titans, Alabama Crimson Tide football, the WWE, and a whole wealth of nonsense. Follow on Twitter @StoneyKeeley