by Kevin D’Hooge
Once upon a time Hell in a Cell matches mattered. WWE audiences were fortunate to see one such match a year.
Now they’re like clockwork. We can expect at least 2 of them every October at the match’s self-titled, regularly scheduled pay per view.
Don’t get me wrong. I love HIAC matches. However, an overabundance of anything gets old.
Likewise, is it just me or are Hell in a Cell matches above being a regularly scheduled occurrence? There should be no timetable for them. These matches should not be forced; they should be born organically from deserving feuds.
At this point Hell in a Cell is no different from the Royal Rumble, Money in the Bank, or King of the Ring.
While the three events I listed are historical and popular with fans, when broken down, they are simply PPV’s headlined and titled after a signature gimmick.
The more Hell in a Cell matches there are and the more it’s connected with its pay per view, the more it loses what made it so special in the first place.
Really, at its roots, the Hell in a Cell match is a glorified cage match. However, HIAC used to feel like more than that.
I know for me it is one of the last connections WWE has to the good ol’ days.
In the past, when a Hell in a Cell match was announced, it signified the conclusion to a sadistically passionate feud. Two superstars were locked in a cage, with no escape, and forced to duke it out.
Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker had the honors of wrestling in WWE’s first Hell in a Cell match at Badd Blood 1997.
Although it’s on the shortlist of Dave Meltzer’s 5 star classic matches , I wasn’t a huge fan of it.
Michaels and Taker were basically guinea pigs. The match had never been done before in WWE and they had to experiment with it to see what would work and what wouldn’t.
Thereafter, the best Cell matches featured heightened drama, violence, theatrics, and breathtaking bumps: I’m talking Undertaker/Mick Foley, Mick Foley/Triple H, Undertaker/Brock Lesnar, Triple H/ Shawn Michaels, Edge/Undertaker, The McMahons and Big Show vs. DX.
These competitors put their bodies on the line and walked out of the Cell different people.
Let’s put something in perspective: from 1997-2008 there were 16 Hell in a Cell matches. Roughly a little more than one per year.
Hell in a Cell was established as its own Pay Per View in 2009. After this Sunday there will have been 16 Hell in a Cell matches from 2009-2015 (the lone HIAC match during this time not held at the PPV was between Undertaker and Triple H at Wrestlemania XXVII).
Quite frankly, most HIAC matches held since the inception of its PPV have not been prestigious enough to be held in the structure, nor have they contained the edge of your seat thrills of the TV-14 era.
This Sunday will feature 2 Hell in a Cell matches. Each match pits stars at different stages of his career.
Bray Wyatt and Roman Reigns represent the future. These young stars will make their HIAC debuts. They have the potential to blow the roof off of the Staples Center.
In the night cap, Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker will battle in their 2nd HIAC match together. Their 2002 Cell match at No Mercy is an all time favorite of mine.
More so than in years past, I feel a real vibrancy toward these two matches in particular.
Will they perform to the expectations of the old days? Probably not because we’re in the PG-era.
To these competitors, I say prove me wrong. Remind us why Hell in a Cell is called the Devil’s Playground.