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Searching for Answers 5/23/03: They Fell in the Cell
Posted by Matt Ditaliano on May 23, 2003, 22:29

::Weeps Quietly::

This past Monday, a terrible act was perpetrated. Something happened that cannot be explained. Words cannot even begin to describe what occurred this past Monday on Raw.

But since it's my job to describe in words, I'll have to find a way to make my way through this column.

Last Raw, the WWF ran an angle where Steve Austin came out and basically demanded that God(uh) fight Kevin Nash in a rematch to the Craptactular Judgment Day match, which was itself a continuation from the Suckeriffic Backlash match. Triple H refused for reasons that I don't remember. Okay, I wasn't listening. Austin than decided to let HHH pick any world champion on Raw and have a match with him that night. To duck Nash, The Hster picked his buddy Ric Flair. He expected Flair to throw the match.

An EXCELLENT angle than started, where HBK comes to Ric and helps The Nature Boy "find himself." Flair lets HHH know that he WOULD fight and he WOULD try to win. They had a damned good match on the HHH scale. It of course ended with the High and Mighty Overlord of Raw winning clean in the center of the ring.

The Lazy One that power walked (Well, he can't run. Apparently that isn't a requirement) to the ring and HHH ran away. Steve Austin came out and let Mr. Stephanie McMahon know that he would face Kevin Nash at Badd Blood. Then Austin uttered the words I was dreading....

"Hell in a Cell!"

Now, some people may not understand my problem with this. Why don't I want this to happen? Why wouldn't I want a pair of cripples to fight in this match? Why do I have such high opinion of this match?

Well, I'm glad you asked. Because if you hadn't, and I had to stop here, this article would be kind of pointless. But since you did ask, I can offer you...

Hell in a Cell: Its rise, its fall, and its gruesome death by hair conditioner.

Let's start in the beginning. I'm not one of those hip columnists that starts in the middle. And this beginning goes all the way back to 1997. August, specifically.

1997, while not financially great and still a year before the big wrestling boom, definitely had some high spots. Heel Bret Hart and his Hart Foundation, Shawn Michaels, and of course, Steve Austin were all prominent players while the Undertaker was enjoying a much deserved run as WWF world champion. Technically, Bret was a heel, and Shawn, Steve and Taker were faces, but everyone hated everyone else. This lead up to Summerslam, where Undertaker defended his belt against Bret with Special Referee Shawn. Steve fought Owen Hart and took the Owen Driver on the show. But this is the one column like ever where that isn't important.

Anyway, there were indeed stipulations to this match. If Shawn cheated for the Undertaker, he would never wrestle in America again. If Bret lost, something would happen. I don't remember what it was. I guess I just gave the ending away. Oops. The ending saw HBK accidentally smack Taker with a chair and grudgingly count to three. Yay!

As you might think, Taker was not pleased. He was to fight Shawn at Ground Zero in September. Thanks in part to Shawn's new friends the yet to be named DeGeneration X (HHH, Chyna, Rick Rude) the wild brawl ended inconclusively.

The two were to fight again at Badd Blood (No, the magic will not rub off on this one) in October. But this would not be just any match. It would be...

Hell in a Cell I: Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker
Bye Bye Shawn

As it turns out, the actual Hell in a Cell was a big ass (16 to 25 feet tall, depending on who's shilling the match) chain link fence cage that left plenty of room to fight on the outside and actually had a top. And imposing sight if there ever was one. And Undertaker and HBK would be trapped in there until there was a winner. In theory.

After some righteous ass kicking from the Undertaker, Shawn got desperate and attacked a photographer. In order to get the poor guy out, the cage had to be opened. Shawn saw his chance and ran for the hills...with Taker in close pursuit.

Eventually, they managed to fight all the way to the top of the cage. Here, like everywhere else, Taker was scary dominant. Shawn had to get back down. And he did. Just not the way he wanted to. With Shawn hanging from the top of the cage, Undertaker stomped his hands until Michaels went flying off the cage and through the announce table, in the "Holy Shit!!" moment of the year. And Taker still wasn't finished.

They made it back into the cage, which was then locked again. UT continued killing Shawn until he signaled for the Tombstone. And then the lights went out.

Yep, our favorite necrophilliac, Kane, debuted and stalked down to the ring with Paul Bearer and ripped the door of the cage off it's hinges. He walked over to the shocked Undertaker and Tombstoned him, costing him perhaps Taker's greatest match ever and certainly the most amazing match most WWF fans had ever seen.

That was the last HBK would ever see of the match, but Taker still had at least one amazing HiaC left in him. But for that to happen, Mick Foley, who was playing corporate stooge Dude Love would have to morph back into Mankind and renew his rivalry with The Undertaker. And a rivalry this historic could only end one way...

Hell in a Cell II: Mankind vs. The Undertaker
That Crazy Mick

What can I say about this match? We all know how it went. Terry Funk suggested that Mick start on TOP of the cage. And he did. Bad move. After a minute or two of brawling, Taker tossed Mick OFF THE TOP OF THE CAGE (Even higher than HBK was and with more momentum) and through a table. Mick looked dead, and the match appeared to be over just like that.

But of course, Mankind got back up and climbed to the top again. Yes, he is out of his mind. He admits to it. Taker tried a chokeslam on a chair on the cage, and the room gave way. Mankind plummeted to the ring. He looked deader than last time. And the match looked even more over. But, that's not the Foley way. Mankind got back up, and after some (understandably) forgettable stuff, Taker finished him with a Tombstone.

All right, the match sucked. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. But it was an amazing sight and it did wonders for the Hell in a Cell.

Over the next year and a half, that Hell in a Cell Legacy was tested. An often forgotten Mankind/Kane Raw match, a HORRENDOUS Taker/Bossman Mania match, and the Kennel from Hell all watered the match down. By 2000, the Cell was kind of hanging on by a thread. That would all change.

After Armageddon 1999, Stephanie and Triple H were running rampant over the WWF. (Maybe that's where they got the idea to do it in real life.) They fired Mankind, screwed Rocky, screwed Big Show and were generally evil.

In January of 2000, the locker room was fed up. They forced the Evil Couple to reinstate Mankind and to give him a match at the Royal Rumble for the title. That night, Trips beat the fuck out of Mankind and forced him to dig deeper and come back with Cactus Jack.

Hunter defeated Cactus in an awesome streetfight at the Rumble. But Jack wanted one more shot. And the only match that Jack and HHH could agree upon was...

Hell in a Cell IV: Cactus Jack vs. Triple H: Title vs. Career
Remember when HHH put on good matches?

THIS is the match that got people interested in HiaC again. Prior to the match, Jack promised to drop an elbow on HHH from the top of the cage. Understandably alarmed by this, HHH and Steph had the door locked something like six times. Jack would not realize his dream. Or would he?

After some beginning brawling, Jack threw the steel steps at HHH. Hunter dodged the shot, but the wall of the cage didn't. Jack saw his chance and broke out of the cage.

Hunter and Cactus fought on the outside with the usual, including the Cactus Driver on the table. Then Mick found his trusty barbed wire 2x4, and the Hartford crowd erupted. They fought on and near the top, and Mick took the Shawn bump. In true Foley-HiaC fashion, that was not enough. They made it back to the top, and Mick turned the barbed wire 2x4 into the barbed fire 2x4. He tried to end it with a piledriver on the flaming wood and metal, but HHH backdropped him up and over, fight through the top of the cage and through the ring. Mick got back up, but it was not to be, as HHH finished it off with a Pedigree soon thereafter. An awesome match known best for "making" HHH, reestablishing the cell, and ending the career of Mick Foley. Kind of.

For the first time, (excluding Kennel from Hell) two Hell in a Cell Pay Per View Matches were held in one year. And just like the last one, it would be for the WWF title. Unlike the last one, it would contain six men.

During the late fall of that year, there were three major feuds: Steve Austin vs. Triple H, Rock vs. Rikishi and World Champion Kurt Angle vs. The Undertaker. All three feuds had inconclusive finishes at Survivor Series, and the five men who did not hold the belt wanted it, so Commissioner Foley made the match he felt he had to make...

Hell in a Cell V: Steve Austin vs. Rock vs. Undertaker vs. Triple H vs. Rikishi vs. Kurt Angle: WWF Title Match
The Six Man at Armageddon

The match itself was a bit of a clusterfuck, but it worked for the most part. They fought in the cage until Vince McMahon came out with a pickup truck and tried to pull the cell down. He got the door off, but was thwarted by Foley before he could finish.

Of course, everyone escaped and battled around the set, which was filled with broken down cars. HHH, who was already bleeding thanks to cheese grater action from Stone Cold, busted Austin's face through the truck and Pedigreed Rocky on a car, opening them both up.

They then started to make it to the top, with Taker and Angle opening each other up. Now everyone but Rikishi was bleeding. But he would make up for that.

Rikishi got his fat ass on top of the cage and started fighting with Undertaker while the other four continued in the ring. They got dangerously near the edge of the cell, before the question of "Who will take the fall?" was answered when Taker shoved Rikishi off the top and on to the truck, taking them both out of the match. No, I don't understand what that did to Taker either.

In the ring, Austin and Rock had their big show down, culminating in the Stone Cold Stunner. Immediately after this, HHH took out Austin and Angle snuck a pin on the Rock, surviving the Hell and keeping his belt in tact.

This was the last time we saw the cell until May of 2002. And quite honestly, the last good Hell in a Cell match. Not the last match period, because we still had to go through two more Hell in a Cell matches. Neither one was really worthy of the name. The first was Jericho vs. HHH, where HHH went over AGAIN with a Pedigree on top of the cage for some reason. Nothing happened. No one took any kind of big bump except Tim White. That's sad beyond words. This match nearly killed HiaC.

The "Hi-Lite" of the match. Sad, really.

Brock fought Undertaker in a boring match that featured blood. And more blood. And that's about it. This match did a lot for Brock, but next to nothing for the damaged Hell in a Cell legacy.

Basically, 2002 was not nice to this match, and with two cripples who are more concerned with their hair than their matches getting ready to enter this, I think we can safely say that The Klique kills Hell in a Cell for good in its eighth installment. This quad tear waiting to happen is more aptly named "They Fell in the Cell." Fuck you HHH. Fuck You Nash.

Matt Ditaliano

PS: Make sure to read the latest column by my favorite injured Yankee, Nik Johnson. Dude knows what he's talking about.


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