Ok, so this is something new. We don’t typically do lists around here, but because today is the anniversary of the first ever WWE Hell in a Cell match, I am going to list my top 10 HIAC moments of all time.
10. “Through a table” (Hell in a Cell 2016)
I debated whether or not this match should make the list, but one has to account for history and in two ways Sasha Banks vs Charlotte Flair for the Raw Women’s Championship at WWE Hell in a Cell 2016 gets the nod. First, it was the first ever women’s HIAC match in WWE history. Second, there were a lot of callbacks to Undertaker vs Mankind.
9. Dissolution of The Shield (Hell in a Cell 2014)
Yes, I know this match had a dumb finish with Bray Wyatt holographically interfering in the match but if you take that out, the rest of this match is about as good as you can get from both a storyline perspective and from an in-ring action perspective. This was during the year that Seth feuded with Dean after the breakup of The Shield when most of their matches were fun and interesting. The double announce table from the side of the cell bumps, the double stretcher job, the intensity due to the storyline. If WWE hadn’t botched the finish this would have rated higher.
8. HHH vs Cactus Jack (No Way Out 2000)
You will note that most of the remaining matches on this list will be from a different time – this one included. This is partially because of the brutality that was still allowed back in the pre-PG era. Once you see the name Cactus Jack, you know no further explanation is required, but you add HHH who has undoubtedly had arguably the most brutal HIAC matches in history and the fact that this was the end of a longstanding feud and you get magic.
7. Bloody Sunday (Vengeance 2005)
This match makes the list simply for its brutality alone. It also ranks this high because it is one of the rare moments during HHH’s run of being as protected, if not more so, than John Cena, that he took a loss like this. The weapons, the spots, the blood – this match was absolutely brutal. I’m not even sure WWE can run highlights of this without it being almost 100% in black and white.
6. D-X Goes to War (Bad Blood 2004)
This match took place as part of one of the best longform feuds that WWE has ever done. Shawn Michaels returns after a four-year injury-induced hiatus. He and HHH seemingly reform D-X only to have HHH turn on Shawn the next night on Raw. Over the next two years, they fought over championships and over their general hatred of one another in a series of brutal matches. This match is the penultimate match in their feud and again was fairly brutal.
5. “Dammit Shane, stop! Don’t do it Shane!” (Wrestlemania 32, 2016)
Wrestlemania 32. Shane McMahon returns to WWE after a long hiatus. Somehow gets booked into a Wrestlemania match inside Hell in a Cell with The Undertaker. Of course, Shane being Shane, insanity ensued. The most entertaining part was JBL screaming, “Dammit Shane, stop!” Immediately followed by Michael Cole saying Don’t do it Shane!” I couldn’t not have this top five.
4. Brock-Taker Hell in a Cell I (No Mercy 2002)
Another brutal affair, this match also makes the list (and ranks this high) because of the fact that Brock beat Undertaker after only being in WWE for six months. He had already beaten The Rock for the title and then successfully defended it against The Undertaker in his specialty match. This was a star-making moment for Brock that proved his moniker of “The Next Big Thing” to be authentically true.
3. End of an Era (Wrestlemania 28, 2012)
As much as I hated WWE’s overbearing use of this phrase, this match did represent the end of an era. With three of the men involved having so many highlights and connections to the cell, it is only fitting that this match and what it represents has to hold a high place on this list.
2. “It’s Kane!” (Bad Blood 1997)
Most people go the route of making this number one, but I cannot in good conscience do that. We all know what number one should be. But this was an obvious second. You have the debut of Kane, who would go on to have one of the longest and most respected careers in history. Also, this always gets the bonus rub of Shawn winning the match thus earning the right to fight Bret Hart at Survivor Series and leading to a seminal moment in WWE and wrestling history – “The Montreal Screwjob”.
1. “As God is my witness he is broken in half!” (King of the Ring 1998)
Although the first Hell in a Cell match rightfully has an important place in history, nothing can realistically top this moment. No explanation required.