Ranking the top 5 Hell in a Cell matches of the PG Era so far
WWE Hell in a Cell is swiftly approaching, which naturally means that we will all get into excitement mode and speculate what events we will see transpire inside the four walls, come September 16th.
The intrigue and danger of the Cell may have diminished since it got its own pay-per-view, but it remains one of the most anticipated match types in WWE today. While it may not offer the feud-closing finality we have been accustomed to in the Ruthless Aggression days, Hell in a Cell still has it's moments of sheer brutality and cringe-inducing pain.
Its reputation as the most destructive match in WWE stems from the first few years of the Cell's existence. The Undertaker wrestled two very different matches in execution, joined together similarly in a spectacle. The Deadman's classic with Shawn Michaels received 5 stars from Dave Meltzer, while the live destruction of Mick Foley at King Of The Ring 1998 remains one of the most iconic moments in the history of the company.
Hell in a Cell set an extremely high bar which would hardly be matched. The following years brought us some equally extreme matches inside Satan's structure, with the likes of ‘Taker vs Brock Lesnar and Batista vs Triple H dazzling in the Cell.
Ever since WWE went PG in 2008, the carnage of Hell in a Cell has been slightly watered down by WWE as there would be a big no-no to some of the most painful tropes of the match. The lack of blood, along with no more chair shots to the head induced a period of lukewarm Cell matches which felt forced in order to suit the WWE calendar.
However, there have been some gems in between. The level of quality and brutality of Hell in a Cell has somewhat returned in recent years. WWE has started to put a lot more thought into planning rivalries in the fall months because of this. Hell in a Cell has started to mean more now, than what it meant five years ago. It has not been all that bad in the last ten years.
With a variation of high spots and hard-hitting in-ring action, here are the top five Hell in a Cell matches of the PG Era. But first, here are a couple of honorable mentions.
- Bray Wyatt vs Roman Reigns (Hell In A Cell 2015)
- Kevin Owens vs Shane McMahon (Hell In A Cell 2017)
#5 Dean Ambrose vs Seth Rollins (Hell in a Cell 2014)
In a period where the value of Hell in a Cell was vastly diminished, every main event of said pay-per-view from 2010 to 2014 ended up being tainted one way or the other. Whether it was Paul Bearer turning heel on The Undertaker, John Cena getting locked outside the cell, Brad Maddox trying to make a statement or Shawn Michaels superkicking Daniel Bryan, we were left disappointed at the end of the pay-per-view which featured the match that ends rivalries.
However, probably the most disappointing one might be the last one from this unfortunate pattern. Bray Wyatt and his hologram interrupted a match that might have been higher on this list if it wasn't for the ending.
Dean Ambrose was finally getting a chance to do as he pleased with Seth Rollins, after the latter turned his back on the former and Roman Reigns, destroying The Shield in the process. There was action before the match even started, as the two former brothers duked it out on the top of the structure.
We would also get the first bump from the Cell since 2000 as both Rollins and Ambrose fell from the side, halfway down their way from the top. This was the moment that revived some of the hardcore magic of Hell in a Cell that had been lost since the inception of gimmick pay-per-views in 2009.
Despite not being the earliest match on this list, this still gave us hope that WWE can make this gimmick work in the PG Era. After the hellacious bump, the two would be locked inside where Rollins had nowhere to escape. There was the usual excellent chemistry between Rollins and Ambrose, with a hardcore touch.
The finish looked to be a fitting and definitive end to the greatest rivalry of 2014, as Ambrose was about to avenge Rollins’ actions from a prior attack by stomping his head onto cinder blocks. However, the lights went out and we got the hologram, Bray Wyatt mumbling something weird and the Eater Of Worlds attacking Ambrose, to cost him the match. It was an unfortunate end to a great match.