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Wrestling / Hell in a Cell

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Hell in a Cell was a WWE pay-per-view, which replaced No Mercy in 2009 and was a staple of the calendar through 2022.

The name of the event comes from the eponymous gimmick match: two or more wrestlers or factions fight inside of a roofed, 20-foot-high (before Unforgiven 2006, 16-feet-high) steel cage surrounding the ring and ringside area. Although the original event featured all matches with this stipulation, in more recent times this wasn't the case and both standard matches and other Gimmick Matches also took place in the event.

The eponymous match type itself is a variant of the Steel Cage match. It involves a larger cage which Jim Cornette admits to stealing from (or researching from) a Memphis territory, that includes the majority of the ringside area in its confines, and also has a roof, ala Dusty Rhodes's war games. Escape rules don't apply; the match ends only via pinfall or submission, and usually only in the ring. In earlier matches, big falls from the side or top of the cage were fairly commonplace (most famously, by Mick Foley), but these have been toned down due to safety concerns.note 

After Triple H took over WWE creative in October 2022, he discontinued Hell in a Cell as an annual event. The eponymous match continues to be occasionally booked.

    HIAC matches outside of the PPV 

    HIAC matches of the PPV 
  • Hell In A Cell 2009:
    • The Undertaker d. CM Punk. note 
    • Randy Orton d. John Cena. note 
    • D-Generation X d. Legacy.
  • Hell In A Cell 2010:
    • Randy Orton d. Sheamus. note 
    • Kane d. The Undertaker. note 
  • Hell In A Cell 2011:
    • Mark Henry d. Randy Orton. note 
    • Alberto Del Rio d. John Cena and CM Punk. note 
  • Hell In A Cell 2012:
    • CM Punk d. Ryback. note 
  • Hell In A Cell 2013:
    • CM Punk d. Ryback and Paul Heyman. note 
    • Randy Orton d. Daniel Bryan. note 
  • Hell In A Cell 2014:
  • Hell In A Cell 2015:
    • Roman Reigns d. Bray Wyatt.
    • Brock Lesnar d. The Undertaker.
  • Hell In A Cell 2016:
  • Hell In A Cell 2017:
    • The Usos d. The New Day. note 
    • Kevin Owens d. Shane McMahon. note 
  • Hell In A Cell 2018:
    • Randy Orton d. Jeff Hardy.
    • Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman - No Contest. note 
  • Hell In A Cell 2019:
    • Becky Lynch d. Sasha Banks. note 
    • Seth Rollins vs. "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt - No Contest. note 
  • Hell In A Cell 2020:
    • Roman Reigns d. Jey Uso. note 
    • Sasha Banks d. Bayley. note 
    • Randy Orton d. Drew McIntyre. note 
  • Hell In A Cell 2021:
    • Bianca Belair d. Bayley. note 
    • Bobby Lashley d. Drew McIntyre. note 
  • Hell In A Cell 2022:

Hell in a Tropes:

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    In General 

  • The Dreaded: The titular match itself. With few exceptions, no one wants to go through a Hell in a Cell match, because they know full well that doing so means willingly subjecting yourself to a level of brutality unmatched by any other gimmick match in the entire WWE. When Edge found out his then-wife Vickie Guerrero had put him into a Hell in a Cell match with The Undertaker, the sheer fear was enough to put him into a catatonic state. The following week, he was so desperate to just survive the match that he begged his old foe Mick Foley for help, before going into a severe level of Sanity Slippage that doubled as a full-on Villainous Breakdown for the following two weeks.
  • It's Personal: Before it became a gimmick PPV, Hell in a Cell matches were designed to be the ultimate feud-enders. Just about every Hell in a Cell match prior to the establishment of the annual PPV have been for the most personal feuds in WWE history, such as the two-year blood feud between Triple H and Shawn Michaels. Even after the PPV was established, particularly personal feuds sometimes warrant a Cell match outside of the PPV, such as Edge vs. Seth Rollins.

    The pay-per-views (including non-HIAC matches) 

    HIAC matches outside of the PPV 
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: WCW had their own version of Hell in a Cell, called "Caged Heat", which was used from 1999-2000.
  • The Bad Guy Wins:
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Shawn Michaels announced he'd be the special guest referee for the Triple H/Undertaker HIAC confrontation at 'Mania, and gloated he held the end of an era in his hands. What this actually entailed was watching his best friend and the man he respected more than any other giving each other an utterly brutal beating for half an hour. His expressions of utter misery throughout tell the story.
  • Blood Is the New Black: The first HIAC match between Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker. Watch the spot with the Snake Eyes to the outside of the cage, and see if you can spot Shawn's amazing mid-air blade job. He's practically all-crimson by the time the match ends.
  • Broken Win/Loss Streak: Triple H was undefeated in one-on-one HIAC matches, winning 4 of them in his career until Vengeance 2005, when Batista defeated him.
  • Ceiling Smash: Inverted during the match between Mankind and The Undertaker at King of the Ring 1998, in which they brawled on the Cell's roof twice. The second time, 'Taker chokeslammed Foley through the roof, sending him crashing onto the ring below. And Foley still wanted to fight.
  • Death from Above: Taken to its absolute with Shane McMahon's performance at WrestleMania 32: Jumping from top of the Hell in A Cell cage - 20 feet! He missed his mark though, but goes to show how ballsy he can get. This is five feet higher than the one that almost killed Mick Foley, and Shane was 13 years older when he did it.
  • Defeating the Undefeatable: Batista became the first wrestler to defeat Triple H one-on-one inside Hell in a Cell at Vengeance 2005.
  • Dragged Off to Hell: Edge's HIAC match with The Undertaker ended with him being Chokeslammed through the ring and flames rising out of it, the implication being that The Undertaker sent him to Hell.
  • Dramatic Sit-Down: Shawn Michaels does this in the third encounter at WrestleMania between The Undertaker and Triple H in their HIAC match, where Shawn was the guest referee. During the match, Undertaker told Shawn not to stop the match no matter what. This was after 'Taker had taken a few chair shots to the back and Triple H had just gotten the same in return, both men bleeding and disoriented at this point. Shawn was sitting in the corner of the ring having a nervous breakdown while Undertaker and Triple H were trying to get to their feet after a two count had occurred.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The first Cell match was not the feud ender that it ended up becoming. That went to Taker's and HBK's casket match in the 1998 Royal Rumble.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Kane showed what he was made of when he showed up at Bad Blood 1997, when he ripped the door off the cell.
  • Final Battle: The Hell in a Cell match was made to put an end to long feuds, at least for the foreseeable future. However, they started moving away from this, as John Cena has refused to abandon his feuds with Randy Orton and Alberto Del Rio even after losing to them in Hell In A Cell, immediately coming back at them on the following installment of Monday Night Raw and laying the feud to rest in a different gimmick match.
    • The HIAC match at Bad Blood 2004 between Triple H and Shawn Michaels served as their final encounter to end a long drawn out feud that started since July 2002. HHH's 2003 match against Kevin Nash was also this to a lesser extent since their feud lasted for about a couple of months.
    • At Vengeance 2005, then-World Heavyweight Champion Batista and Triple H fought inside HIAC, which served as the culmination of their heated feud of that year.
    • The Undertaker and Randy Orton, who had been feuding during most of 2005, had their final confrontation inside the cell at Armageddon 2005.
    • At Unforgiven 2006, the HIAC match between D-Generation X and the McMahons and The Big Show was the final battle of the DX/McMahons feud.
    • At Survivor Series 2007, Batista and The Undertaker fought in HIAC which served at their final one-on-one clash in their feud that year.
    • At SummerSlam 2008, The Undertaker and Edge fought in HIAC which was the end of their long feud that started at Survivor Series 2007.
    • The HIAC match between The Undertaker and Triple H served as their "End of an Era" match at WrestleMania 28 and their third and final WrestleMania match against each other.note 
    • The HIAC match between Edge and Seth Rollins at Crown Jewel 2021 served as the third and final match of their feud that started during the summer.
  • Good Versus Good: HIAC matches usually involve a face vs a heel, but there were a few examples of two faces colliding with each other inside the cell — Batista vs The Undertaker at Survivor Series 2007 and The Undertaker vs Triple H at Wrestlemania 28 come to mind.
  • Heroic BSoD: During Undertaker vs. HHH III, at one point during the match, things had gotten to the point of Shawn being told by the Undertaker not to stop the match no matter what happened. This was after 'Taker had suffered a few chair shots to the back and Triple H had just gotten the same in return. Watching his best friend and one of his idols beating the tar out of each other was apparently too much; Shawn was sitting in the corner of the ring looking like he was having a nervous breakdown.
  • History Repeats: All the main events of Bad Blood have been HIAC matches. All three also involved either Shawn Michaels or Triple H.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The Undertaker subjected Triple H to this at their WrestleMania XXVIII match. First, there's the match type in itself, considering Triple H himself set the stipulation, and is known for having the most victories in HIAC. Second, there's the ending: after a long beatdown that had shades of their match last year, along with multiple sledgehammer strikes to the Undertaker's face (and a Sweet Chin Music from Shawn Michaels that Hunter chained into a Pedigree, but that's beside the point), 'Taker finally got a hold of the sledgehammer, clobbered Hunter with it, and did the Tombstone Piledriver for the win.
  • How Much More Can He Take?:
    • Mick Foley in the King of the Ring 1998 match. He was thrown off of a sixteen-foot-tall steel chain link cell and through the Spanish Announcers' Table. The fall was so devastating that he sustained a concussion, spinal damage, a dislocated shoulder and internal bleeding. The EMTs squeezed in to put him on a stretcher and wheel him away, which seemed to signal the premature end of the match. Instead, Foley got up off the stretcher and climbed back up the cell (faster than before his fall!) to resume the match. After some more fighting, Undertaker performed his signature choke-slam, which sent Foley through the chain link cell to the ring below, a steel chair following close behind to smash his teeth out of his mouth, one of which lodged in his nose. Foley was completely knocked out, nearly died, and has no memory of the next few hours...but he got back up and resumed the match, finally ending it after taking two hard falls onto a large pile of thumbtacks. And then, simply because he refused to be stretchered out twice, he got up and walked back up the ramp to a standing ovation.
    • The HIAC match between HHH and Shawn was like this as well, with Shawn taking 3 Pedigrees before finally going down.
    • Then came the HIAC match between Shane McMahon and The Undertaker at WrestleMania 32, where Shane-O-Mac tried to do his elbow drop through the announcers table onto Taker, willingly doing it from the top of the 20ft cell. But as Shane jumped, Taker managed to roll out of the way, causing Shane to crash onto the table, literally silencing the 100,000+ in attendance who were just cheering for him as he made the jump, enough to make them sincerely worry he might have gone too far and killed himself as the refs and medics went to check him out. Even Taker himself was in shock at this, until Shane finally showed signs of life and even gave him two "Bring it on" hand gestures, even knowing he was clearly out of it.
  • Loser Leaves Town:
    • No Way Out 2000's HIAC match between Triple H and Cactus Jack had the stipulation that if Cactus lost, he must retire.
    • The WrestleMania XXVIII between The Undertaker and Triple H with Shawn Michaels as guest referee was billed as an "End of an Era" match.
  • Made of Iron: Mick Foley was infamously thrown from the top of the cell during the 1998 event and finishes the match in spite of his injuries.
  • Mêlée à Trois: Armageddon 2000: The 6-man HIAC match which featured then-world champion Kurt Angle, Rikishi, The Undertaker, Triple H, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, and The Rock.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Undertaker was genuinely afraid for his opponent's life when he accidentally sent Mankind through the roof of the cell during their match. He reported afterwards as feeling nothing but concern for Foley after the occurence. He still managed to avoid breaking character, however. Except for the part where Mick gets up off the stretcher and runs to the Cell to climb it. Again. The match itself doesn't show it but some DVDs that discuss the match have a shot of Undertaker legitimately shocked.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The Undertaker had a real life one at the 1998 HIAC match. Not from the first fall, but upon seeing Foley climb off the stretcher, smiling, and running to the cage to climb back up. It's not shown during the match itself for more than a half a second on the King of the Ring 1998 VHS tape and DVD, but some video (such as "Eve of Destruction") shows Taker is legitimately shocked. The moment can be interpreted as either Kayfabe that Mankind wants more, astonishment that he was able to get up or a real life concern of what else can happen.
      • He definitely had another real one shortly afterwards, when he chokeslammed Mankind onto the top of the cage, only for the cage to give way and for Mick Foley to plummet to the mat on his back (with a steel chair following him down to land on his face). It's minor, but you can see Undertaker recoil in shock as the wire panel collapses under Mankind's body. Taker would later admit that at that moment he genuinely thought he'd killed Foley.
    • Edge had this reaction when Vickie informed him she had reinstated The Undertaker and booked Edge as his opponent at SummerSlam. The final icing on the cake was that it was a HIAC match.
  • Spanish Announcers' Table: The famously-known example comes from the 1998 event where The Undertaker throws Mankind off of the cell and crashing on it.
  • There Can Be Only One: In Bad Blood 1997, HBK and The Undertaker fought inside Hell in a Cell for the right to face Bret Hart for his WWE Championship.
  • Wham Line: Every HIAC match booking prior to the instatement of the PPV, outside of WrestleMania.
    • A final match with one last catch...
      Triple H: Hell in a Cell? Alright, Hell in a Cell, you got a deal. But one stipulation.
      Cactus Jack: You name it.
      Triple H: I will go through Hell in the Cell with you, but I want YOUR CAREER ON THE LINE!!!
    • To wit, Hell in a Cell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
      Vickie Guerrero: When I was really, really mad at you, I did something that you might not like.
      Edge: OK, I understand that. Wha... what did you do?
      Vickie Guerrero: I reinstated The Undertaker.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: After Undertaker defeated Edge at SummerSlam 2008, he pushed Edge off the top of a ladder through the mat - and the hole soon had flames coming up from it, symbolic of Undertaker sending Edge to be swallowed up by "the fires of Hell". Why had he done this? Because Edge had almost gotten him banned from WWE for life.
  • Worthy Opponent: After Shane McMahon's plunge from the top of the Cell onto The Undertaker (sadly just missing him), he continued to tell the stunned Undertaker to Bring It even when he was obviously completely done. Undertaker lightly patted Shane on the cheek before planting him with the Tombstone to end the match.