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A Hell in a Cell match is a match seen in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) in which the ring and ringside area is surrounded by a 20-foot-high roofed steel cage (or "cell") structure weighing over 5 tons. This is billed as the "amplified" version of the original, which was 16 feet high and weighed over 2 tons.

Described as a career ender, this type of match is known to end the most intense of rivalries due to its dangerous nature. Indeed, the early occurrences of this match have been known to cause severe legitimate injuries (the most infamous of which belonged to Mick Foley when he wrestled The Undertaker), and even cause the commentators to break character. Nineteen Hell in a Cell matches have taken place in WWE since its inception in October 1997.


The Hell in a Cell match was first introduced at WWF Bad Blood on October 5, 1997 at the Kiel Centermarker in St. Louis, Missourimarker. It featured The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels, who had cost The Undertaker the WWF Championship in a bout (where he was special guest referee) against Bret "The Hitman" Hart two months prior at SummerSlam. They fought one-on-one at In Your House: Ground Zero, but the match went to a no contest after they kept knocking out officials who were trying to restore order in the match.

Their next match was meant to be a normal steel cage match, but the WWE took it one step further: instead of a normal steel cage enclosing only the ring, a bigger steel structure with a roof was made, enclosing not only the ring but also the surrounding ringside area. The wider space between the ring apron and the cell walls allowed the wrestlers to fight outside the ring, as well as retrieve weapons from under the ring. Also, unlike a steel cage match (wherein escaping the cage is one way to win), the only way to win Hell in a Cell is via pinfall or submission (though no Hell in a Cell match has ended by submission thus far). As in a steel cage match, count-outs and disqualifications do not apply to a Hell in a Cell match.

Generally, the combatants battle inside the cell while the cell's door is locked and chained to keep out Superstars who would try to interfere in the match. However, there have been Cell matches wherein the wrestlers have fought outside (and even on top of) the cell, as well as non-participants interjecting themselves in the match:

  • In the first Cell match, the door was unlocked to allow the removal of an injured cameraman. This led to Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker fighting outside the cell, eventually climbing the structure and fighting on top of the cell. The fighting taking place outside of the Cell led to the first fall from the cell, when Shawn Michaels, hanging from the edge of the structure, had his hands stepped on by The Undertaker and fell from the structure, crashing into the table below.
  • Also in the first Cell match, the goal of no interference was not achieved when Kane made his debut, ripping the door off of the cage and giving a Tombstone piledriver to The Undertaker, allowing Michaels to crawl and pin Undertaker.
  • In the Mankind vs The Undertaker match, both the competitors climbed to the top of the cell and started their match there, resulting in Mankind falling 16 feet onto the announcers table, as well as him being Chokeslammed by The Undertaker through the top of the Cell (an unintended botch).
  • In the Triple H vs Cactus Jack match, the door was locked with multiple chains by Stephanie McMahon, but at a later point in the match, Cactus Jack threw steel steps at Triple H but missed and damaged the wall, then charged repeatedly towards the cell wall until it broke for the two to get through.
  • In the Six-Man match at Armageddon, Vince McMahon used a truck to pull off the door of the cell while attempting to destroy the cell and stop the match. This led to all six Superstars brawling outside and on top of the cell. Rikishi was thrown off the roof of the cell onto the truck by The Undertaker.
  • In the Triple H vs Chris Jericho match, the door was opened with bolt cutters to allow the removal of legitimately injured referee Tim White. This was the last Hell in a Cell match where the wrestlers climbed and fought on top of a cell, and the first and only Cell match where someone (Chris Jericho) got pinned on top of the cell.
  • In the Edge vs The Undertaker match, Edge launched himself from the steel ring steps and speared The Undertaker crashing through the cell wall and landing outside the cell.
  • On Monday Night Raw previous to Hell in a Cell, John Cena and Randy Orton climbed on the top of the cell. After a brief fist fight, John Cena hit Orton with an Attitude Adjustment on the top of the structure.

Hell in a Cell matches are rare in the WWE as it is designed to end the most intense feuds and to "shorten careers." The Superstars who fight inside the Cell usually beat each other so badly that their rivalry will be ended forever. There have only been 19 such matches in the WWE, 17 of which are seen only on pay-per-view events due to the logistical difficulty in setting them up, the match's dangerous nature, and its perception as a special attraction. There are two Cell matches that have been shown on TV, however, both in 1998 on Raw.

WWE announcers and performers often stress the dangers of the cell and the match itself. Jim Ross, who has called many Hell in a Cell matches, has described the cell as "two tons of unforgiving steel" and as a "perverse, vile, diabolical structure." Jerry "The King" Lawler, Michael Cole and Tazz have described the match as the most gruesome in the WWE.

The Undertaker holds the distinction of being involved in more Hell in a Cell matches than any other WWE Superstar to date- having competed in ten Hell in a Cell matches, winning five of them. Triple H follows closely, having competed in eight Hell in a Cell matches to date, winning six, the most in WWE to date. The first Hell in a Cell match not directly involving either of them has been Mankind vs Kane (in which The Undertaker interfered).

Titles are rarely defended in Hell in a Cell matches and, whenever they are defended, a title had never changed hands in a Hell in a Cell until 2009 when The Undertaker won the World Heavyweight Championship and Randy Orton won the WWE Championship from CM Punk and John Cena respectively. The John Cena Vs. Orton match was the first ever hell in the cell match that didn't feature The Undertaker or Triple H at all.

In 2009, WWE presented a Pay Per View called WWE Hell in a Cell, where all main events were Hell in a Cell matches. One of the main events to be featured at the event was The Undertaker vs CM Punk for the World Heavyweight Championship. This was the Undertaker's tenth Hell in a Cell match and CM Punk's first. Another was John Cena vs. Randy Orton for the WWE Championship. This was Cena's first Hell in a Cell Match and Orton's second. Also, DX (Triple H and Shawn Michaels) and Legacy (Ted Dibiase and Cody Rhodes) competed in a tag team Hell in A Cell match, the second to feature DX opposing another tag team; they previously defeated Shane and Vince McMahon and the Big Show at Unforgiven 2006 in the match's only 3-on-2 handicap stipulation as a tag team match event.

Match history

# Match Stipulations Event Date and Location Length
1 Shawn Michaels defeated The Undertaker Badd Blood October 5, 1997

Louis, MOmarker
2 The Undertaker and Steve Austin vs. Mankind and Kane went to a no contest Raw Is War June 15, 1998

San Antonio, TXmarker
3 The Undertaker defeated Mankind King of the Ring June 28, 1998

Pittsburgh, PAmarker
4 Mankind vs. Kane went to a no contest Raw Is War August 24, 1998

Philadelphia, PAmarker
5 The Undertaker defeated The Big Boss Man WrestleMania XV March 28, 1999

Philadelphia, PA
6 Triple H (c) defeated Mick Foley as Cactus Jack No Way Out February 27, 2000

Hartford, CTmarker
7 Kurt Angle (c) defeated The Undertaker, Triple H, Steve Austin, Rikishi, and The Rock Armageddon December 10, 2000

Birmingham, ALmarker
8 Triple H defeated Chris Jericho Judgment Day May 19, 2002

Nashville, TNmarker
9 Brock Lesnar (c) defeated The Undertaker No Mercy October 20, 2002

Little Rock, ARmarker
10 Triple H (c) defeated Kevin Nash Bad Blood June 15, 2003

Houston, TXmarker
11 Triple H defeated Shawn Michaels Bad Blood June 13, 2004

Columbus, OHmarker
12 Batista (c) defeated Triple H Vengeance June 26, 2005

Las Vegas, NVmarker
13 The Undertaker defeated Randy Orton Armageddon December 18, 2005

Providence, RImarker
14 D-Generation X (Triple H and Shawn Michaels) defeated Vince McMahon, Shane McMahon and The Big Show Unforgiven September 17, 2006

Toronto, ONmarker
15 Batista (c) defeated The Undertaker Survivor Series November 18, 2007

Miami, FLmarker
16 The Undertaker defeated Edge SummerSlam August 17, 2008

Indianapolis, INmarker
17 The Undertaker defeated CM Punk (c) Hell in a Cell October 4, 2009

Newark, NJmarker
18 Randy Orton defeated John Cena (c) 21:24
19 D-Generation X (Triple H and Shawn Michaels) defeated The Legacy (Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase) 18:17

Match reception

Before the end of the first-ever Hell in a Cell match between The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels, Kane made his debut. The match became the only Hell in a Cell match to earn a five star rating from Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.

The Undertaker vs. Mick Foley (then in his Mankind persona), the third ever Hell in a Cell match, occurred at King of the Ring 1998. According to Foley (in a story recounted on the Hell in a Cell DVD set), his decision to start the match on the top of the Cell was inspired by a conversation days before with his mentor and friend, Terry Funk. A couple of minutes into the match, The Undertaker threw Mankind off of the top of the Cell, which was a full 16 feet tall, onto the Spanish Announcers' table. The footage of that fall has since become one of the most used clips in professional wrestling history, and inspired play-by-play commentator Jim Ross to utter what is considered the most memorable comment in the history of professional wrestling: "Good God almighty, good God almighty! That killed him! As God as my witness, he is broken in half!" Even though paramedics and WWF officials tried to stretcher Foley out of the arena, he got off the stretcher and went back to the ring to finish the match. Later, back on the roof of the Cell, Undertaker chokeslammed Mankind through the roof onto the unbudging ring below (this was a botch, and was never supposed to happen), causing Jim Ross to scream "Good God! Good God!!" while his broadcast partner Jerry "The King" Lawler muttered softly "That's it; he's dead". Ross added, "Will somebody stop the damn match?! Enough is enough!" When the match ended, Foley insisted that he not be carried out on a stretcher as he was earlier, but to be allowed to walk out; ultimately, he was helped to the back by WWF officials.

The match was named PWI Match of the Year in 1998 and is the only Hell in a Cell match to ever win the award. The match is featured on the Mick Foley's Greatest Hits and Misses, Tombstone: The History of The Undertaker, and Hell In A Cell: The Greatest Hell in a Cell Matches of All Time DVD sets.

Hell in a Cell DVD

On October 10, 2008, WWE released a three-disc DVD set entitled Hell in a Cell, with 14 of the first 16 Hell in a Cell matches included in their entirety; the two matches that were excluded were The Undertaker vs. The Big Boss Man (WrestleMania XV) and Edge vs. The Undertaker (SummerSlam 2008; the match was too late to be included in the production of this DVD set, though it was included on a later-produced DVD set dedicated to Edge). It is hosted by Mick Foley, who - at the time of the DVD's release - had already left WWE for TNA. Before each match on the DVD, a short highlight video is shown detailing the events leading up to the match.


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