To Hell And Back: 20 Years (and Facts) of Hell In A Cell

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Photo: WWE

This Sunday night marks the 20th Anniversary of the very first Hell in a Cell, when WWE presents it’s Smackdown Live centric PPV, Hell In A Cell ’17. Here’s a look at 20 pieces of hellraising trivia about the WWE’s most dangerous place for the past two decades.

#1. The Debut

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The very first Hell in a Cell match occurred just over twenty years ago today, on October 5, 1997 at the In Your House: Badd Blood PPV. It featured Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker in a grudge match and marked the debut of the Dead Man’s brother, Kane.

#2. The Inception

The idea for the Hell in a Cell match was created by Jim Cornette while he worked for the WWF in the late 90s. He combined two cage match concepts – the larger cage from Memphis Wrestling, that allowed more room between the ring and the cage, and the roofed in cage from the NWA/WCW War Games – into one giant cage of terror, that has since set the standard for lethal cage match-ups.

#3. To Hell and Back

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Thirty nine (39) different WWE Superstars have entered the Hell in a Cell and participated in a match. This Sunday, five more men will make their HIAC debuts, all in the Tag Team title match. None of the New Day, nor the Usos, have taken part in a Hell in a Cell match yet in their careers.

#4. 36 Chambers

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Heading into Sunday’s event, there have been a total of 36 Hell in a Cell matches. Originally just a gimmick match, it made sporadic appearances for its first twelve years in existence, appearing on a variety of different Pay Per Views, from WrestleMania XV to multiple Bad Blood PPVs. The only year a Hell in a Cell match was never held since 1997, was in the year 2001. It wasn’t until 2009 that it became an annual PPV event of its own.

#5. Gluttons For Punishment

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The Undertaker leads all WWE Superstars with the most trips inside the catch. Of the 36 Hell in a Cell matches, Taker has appeared in 14 of them, a whopping 39% of the total held. Other brave souls include Triple H with 9, Randy Orton with 6, and CM Punk with 5.

#6. Better To Reign In Hell

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The Undertaker not only leads all WWE Superstar with most appearances, but also most Hell in a Cell victories. Taker has won 8 of his 14 contests inside the cage, or 57%. Shawn Michaels has 3 wins in his 4 appearances (75%) and Triple H has won 6 of 9 matches (67%), the only two with 3 or more appearances with a better win percentage.

#7. Undefeated

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Only seven out of the 39 Superstars who have entered the Cell have remained undefeated. Kurt Angle, Kevin Owens, Charlotte Flair, and Mark Henry all won their only HIAC matches to date (although KO is going for number two this weekend). More impressive is that Batista, Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns are both 2/2 in their HIAC encounters.

#8. The Zero Hero

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The man most associated with the Hell in a Cell – Mick Foley‘s twisted Mankind – is actually its least successful entrant. Mick Foley has appeared in four (4) Hell in a Cell match-ups and lost every one of them. His first two were dismantlings at the hand of the Undertaker, his third was a no-contest with Kane, and his last was a pummeling from Triple H (as Cactus Jack).

#9. Civilians

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Two non-wrestlers have competed inside the cage. One was Vince McMahon at Unforgiven ’06 (when he teamed with The Big Show and Shane McMahon against DX in a 3-on-2 match) and the other was Paul Heyman, also in a handicap match, when he teamed with Ryback against CM Punk at Hell In A Cell ’13.

#10. Hellacious Rivalries

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Only four rivalries have brewed so hot that it took two Hell In A Cell matches to settle the score and three of those had the Undertaker involved. Undertaker and Mankind faced each twice in under two weeks in June of 1998 – first on Monday Night Raw on June 15 in a tornado match that also included Kane and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and then 13 days later at the infamous King of the Ring. Taker also had beef with his baby brother Kane twice, first in the tornado match mentioned previously and the second time twelve years later, when Kane defended his World Heavyweight Championship against Taker at Hell In A Cell ’10. Thirteen years separated HIAC matches between Taker and Brock Lesnar. At No Mercy ’02, a young Brock defended his WWF title against Taker, and at Hell in a Cell ’15, Lesnar beat Taker once again as their feud was revisited. The fourth rivalry is perhaps an unlikely one – Hell in a Cell ’12 and ’13 featured back-to-back HIAC matches between CM Punk and Ryback.

Photo: WWE

#11. Too Hot…

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Cage matches usually take quite a bit of time, but there have been some short ones. The Raw ones are always short due to the time constraints of television, but the shortest PPV match was when The Undertaker defeated Big Boss Man in the infamous “Kennel from Hell” match at WrestleMania XV in under ten minutes…9 minutes and 48 seconds to be exact. Although it may have been cut short due to the crowds complete horror at what was happening.

#12. The Long Road To Hell

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The longest HIAC match happened at Badd Blood ’04, when former best friends Triple H and Shawn Michaels battled it out for 47 minutes and 26 seconds inside the cage in Columbus, Ohio. The next longest was 15 minutes shortest, the Six-Man Hell in a Cell at Armageddon 2000, when Kurt Angle defended his title against The Undertaker, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Triple H, The Rock, and Rikishi, which clocked in at 32 minutes and 12 seconds.

#13. In Darkness

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One of the 36 Hell in a Cell matches was never officially seen by most members of the WWE Universe. On September 26, 2011, the post-Raw dark match saw John Cena defend the WWE Championship against CM Punk, Alberto Del Rio, Jack Swagger, and Dolph Ziggler in the first and only HIAC dark match.

#14. Two Words For Ya…

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The D-X tag team of Triple H and Shawn Michaels are the only tag team to appear as a team in more than one Hell in a Cell and only one of two tag teams to ever compete in one (obviously this will be doubled this Sunday). DX faced Vince and Shane McMahon with The Big Show at Unforgiven ’06, and then at Hell in a Cell ’09 they faced the Legacy duo of Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase Jr.

#15. Defending The Crown

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Out of 39 HIAC matches, seventeen (17) have involved a World title. The first World title defence in the Cell was at the 6th HIAC event, when Triple H defended his championship against Cactus Jack at No Way Out 2000. History has been on the side of the champions in most of them – of the 17 World title matches inside the Cell, only four of them have resulted in a title change: Taker beat CM Punk for the WHC title at HIAC ’09, Randy Orton beat John Cena for the WWE title at the same event, Alberto Del Rio defeated John Cena and CM Punk at HIAC ’11 and Charlotte beat Sasha Banks last year at Hell in a Cell ’16.

#16. The Hell Hounds of Justice Legacy

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The Shield and Legacy are the only factions that has had all of it’s members compete in a Hell in a Cell match in their careers. The Shield never did it while the faction was together, however, but in 2014, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins faced each other at HIAC ’14. Roman Reigns had his first HIAC match the following year against Bray Wyatt. Legacy, though, not only did it while the faction was together, they did it in two separate matches on the same night, at Hell In A Cell ’09. First, the tag team of Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase Jr. faced DX in the first HIAC of the card, then leader Randy Orton defeated John Cena for the WWE World title in the main event.

Photos: WWE

#17. The Grandest Stage of Them All

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WrestleMania has had three separate HIAC moments at it’s annual spectacle, with the first one being the Kennel From Hell match at WrestleMania 15. It took thirteen years for the next one, between The Undertaker and Triple H at WrestleMania 28. The Undertaker was in the third as well, this time against Shane McMahon, at WrestleMania 32. All three were victory notches in Taker’s historic streak.

#18. Helltown

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Of all the HIAC matches at Raw or PPVs, Miami has seen the most of them live. First at Survivor Series ’07 (Batista vs Undertaker), then at WrestleMania 28 (Undertaker vs Triple H), and lastly at Hell in Cell ’13. Despite that, Texas is the state with the most live Hell in a Cell matches, with five: San Antonio saw the 2nd one in 1998 for Raw, followed by Triple H vs. Kevin Nash at Badd Blood ’03 in Houston, HIAC ’10 and ’14 in Dallas, and WrestleMania 32 in Arlington.

#19. From The Top

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Six men have take a fall from the top of the cage out of the 36 HIAC matches, but none with more notoriety than Mick Foley, who fell off the top four times. Joining Foley on the list are Shawn Michaels (who was also the first to take the fall), Rikishi (into the back of a truck), Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose (they fell together), and Shane McMahon. Although while the others fell at the hands of their foes, Shane O-Mac is the only one to voluntarily take the plunge. Unfortunately, his intended prey – The Undertaker – moved out of the way and McMahon went through the announce table himself.

#20. The Honor Roll

Here is an alphabetical roll call of all 39 competitors who have wrestled in a HIAC match in the past 20 years:

  • Alberto Del Rio (2 HIAC, 1 win)
  • Batista (2 HIAC, 2 wins)
  • Big Bossman (1 HIAC)
  • The Big Show (1 HIAC)
  • Brock Lesnar (2 HIAC, 2 wins)
  • Charlotte Flair (1 HIAC, 1 win)
  • Chris Jericho (1 HIAC)
  • CM Punk (5 HIAC, 2 wins)
  • Cody Rhodes (1 HIAC)
  • Daniel Bryan (1 HIAC)
  • Dolph Ziggler (1 HIAC)
  • Edge (1 HIAC)
  • Jack Swagger (1 HIAC)
  • John Cena (4 HIAC, 2 wins)
  • Kane (3 HIAC, 1 win)
  • Kevin Nash (1 HIAC)
  • Kevin Owens (1 HIAC, 1 win)
  • Kurt Angle (1 HIAC, 1 win)
  • Mark Henry (1 HIAC, 1 win)
  • Mick Foley (4 HIAC – 3 as Mankind, 1 as Cactus Jack)
  • Randy Orton (6 HIAC, 3 wins)
  • Rikishi (1 HIAC)
  • The Rock (1 HIAC)
  • Roman Reigns (2 HIAC, 2 wins)
  • Rusev (1 HIAC)
  • Ryback (2 HIAC)
  • Sasha Banks (1 HIAC)
  • Seth Rollins (2 HIAC, 1 win)
  • Shane McMahon (2 HIAC)
  • Shawn Michaels (4 HIAC, 3 wins)
  • Sheamus (1 HIAC)
  • “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (2 HIAC, 1 win)
  • Ted DiBiase Jr. (1 HIAC)
  • Triple H (9 HIAC, 6 wins)
  • The Undertaker (14 HIAC, 8 wins)
  • Vince McMahon (1 HIAC)

What are some of your favourite Hell in a Cell moments? Let us know in the comments below!

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