Every time I talk about this situation, I always preface it with this – I understand that the story-lines in professional wrestling are not real! They are not really punching each other – they are not really kicking each other, for the most part they don’t even dislike each other. Professional wrestling is better described as sports entertainment with an emphasis on entertainment.
This, however, is about the night where wrestling got real.
Most of you who are reading this know what happened on that fateful November evening north of the border. But I’m sure there are some that think something called the “Montreal Screwjob” would not be appropriate for this website. Here is a bit of an overview of the events that led up to the 1997 Survivor Series –
Bret Hart was the top name in Vince McMahon’s WWF in the mid-90s leading what was called “The New Generation” after the likes of Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Randy Savage left for Ted Turner’s WCW. In 1997, Hart also signed with Turner for what was at the time the largest contract ever for a wrestler. At the time he signed with WCW, Hart was the WWF Champion, so plans were laid out as to how Hart would lose the title before leaving the company.
The main event of the Survivor Series that November was a rematch of WrestleMania 12 with Hart taking on Shawn Michaels. The rivalry between Hart and Michaels didn’t stop when the cameras were turned off. The two had a very heated rivalry backstage – so much so that real fights broke out between the two. Losing the title cleanly to Michaels was something that Hart just did not want to do.
The Survivor Series in ‘97 took place in Canada (Montreal to be exact) where Hart was/is a bit of a national hero. What Hart had wanted to do, to save face in his country, was to end the title match with Shawn Michaels at the Survivor Series with a disqualification, or no contest – something that would see Bret leave that night with the belt. He would then walk on to Raw the following night, thank the WWF fans for everything, and hand the belt over.
McMahon, however, was very weary of that idea. WCW had been beating the WWF in the ratings war for over a year at that point. The war between the two companies was intense. On an episode of WCW’s Monday night show “Monday Nitro” Medusa, who at the time was the WWF Women’s Champion wrestling as Alundra Blayze, walked on to the Nitro set and dropped the WWF Women’s belt into the trash live on national television. Allowing Hart to leave the Survivor Series as champion, while NOT under contract, created a déjà vu situation that McMahon wanted to avoid…at ALL costs.
Hart wouldn’t budge though. In a final meeting to go over what would happen in the match, McMahon agreed to Bret that the match would end how he wanted and he would make his last appearance with the WWF the following night to hand the belt over.
At least that is what Vince told Bret.
After Bret left the meeting, Vince sat with Michaels and Triple H, who were also in the meeting, in a silence that said everybody was thinking the same thing. It was Triple H who made the initial statement, “F*** it! If he won’t do business, we’ll make him do business!” The match was supposed to end with Michaels putting Hart in his own finishing move, the SharpShooter, which Bret would reverse and lead to allies of both Michaels and Hart to come out and the match would end in a no-contest.
Unbeknownst to Hart though, McMahon had instructed the referee to call for the bell as soon as Michaels had Hart in the SharpShooter and awarded the match and the title to Shawn Michaels. Hart spat in McMahon’s face in the arena, went to the backstage area and punched him in the eye, and proceeded to head down south to WCW. With the exception of a Hall of Fame induction in 2006 and a quick interview spot in 2007, the WWF would not see Bret Hart again until hatchets were finally buried in 2010.
So that’s the story behind wrestling’s most controversial night. Everyone has questioned the events of that night and pointed the finger at each side. For the sake of discussion, I would like to throw out a couple simple “WHAT IF” scenarios.
WHAT IF Bret never signed with WCW and stayed with WWF?
Quite honestly, I think Bret leaving the WWF would be inevitable. The WWF was going through the transition from “The Next Generation,” a time where the show was almost completely made for children to the “Attitude Era,” a time where the show was something that some parents were trying to keep their children from watching.
Hart showed a little attitude during his run as a heel before he left the WWF in 1997, but I get the sense that Bret Hart the man would want nothing to do with the antics that were happening during the Attitude Era. In no way is that a shot at Bret though – guys like Bruno Sammartino disassociated themselves completely from the WWF during this time and they’re still considered to be amongst the greatest of all time. It’s just a clash of styles. Bret was great for the mid 90s, may not have been as great for the late 90s.
WHAT IF McMahon stuck to the original match plan and allowed Bret to leave Survivor Series with the title.
To me, this would have been a near fatal blow to the WWF, and it has nothing to do with what would happen the next night. Whether Bret would simply drop the belt the next night on Raw or if he would drop the belt…in a trash can…the next night on Nitro is irrelevant.
Without the events of that night and the one-on-one sit down interview that aired on Raw eight days later that gave us the infamous “Bret screwed Bret” line, we may not have been introduced to the biggest villain character of the attitude era – Mr. McMahon. With no Mr. McMahon, there would be no Austin/McMahon rivalry which ruled 1998 and basically saved the company.
Although he probably wasn’t thinking about it at the time, Vince needed the heat that was generated from the Montreal Screwjob to create the character that would give the WWF fans someone they were longing to see be stopped. In one of the DVD documentaries, Vince said that his reaction to the heat was “you hate me – ok, let’s go with that then.”
And go with it he did.
A few months after the Montreal Screwjob, a Monday Night Raw main event of Stone Cold Steve Austin vs Mr. McMahon gave the WWF their first win over WCW’s Monday Nitro in the ratings in over 85 weeks and they never looked back. I am sure that the Vince Russo, Ed Ferrara and the rest of the writing staff for the WWF would have come up with other ideas for 1998, but it’s hard to imagine they would have come up with something that had the success that the Austin/McMahon feud did.
If you think about it, the real culprit in this situation was WCW and the Monday Night War. If WCW Executive Producer Eric Bischoff hadn’t played several underhanded tricks against his competitor (such as giving away Raw results and the aforementioned championship belt trashing) McMahon would probably have no issue with allowing his company’s most prestigious prize, the championship belt, to be in the hands of a wrestler who was under contract to another organization.
Simply put, McMahon had his back against the wall and needed to make a difficult decision. The decision he made was the right one. In the infamous “Bret screwed Bret” interview, Vince also made reference to the “time honored tradition” that Bret didn’t follow. It’s simple – to put it in the terms of the old territory days, Vince was the promoter. It is the wrestlers job to perform based on what is laid out by the promoter.
It’s not the way that Hart, McMahon, and even Shawn Michaels should be remembered. Shawn said it best that night in 2010 when hell froze over and Bret Hart was back on Raw. When you think of Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, you shouldn’t think of Montreal, you should think of Anaheim and the two putting on an unprecedented WrestleMania performance in the 60-minute Iron Man Match at WrestleMania XII.
Montreal is not how they should be remembered, but it was a night that will forever be etched in the stone of wrestling history.
Professional Wrestling is scripted – but life isn’t.
Simply put, especially in the wrestling business, you can’t succeed in the future without appreciating the past.
With that in mind, every now and then I’d like to take look back and review a pay per view event from yesteryear to simply try and bring up some fond memories for those reading this piece. Or, in some instances, educate newer or younger watchers to let them know what they were missing out on. Since we’re in the heart of Survivor Series season, we’ll go back to the time that I, and I’m sure a lot of you reading, started watching professional wrestling. We’ll head to the Hartford Civic Center in Hartford, CT for the 1990 Survivor Series.
This show included Hulk Hogan appearing NOT as WWF Champion, a rarity in the late 80s-early 90s, the only year to have the “Grand Finale Match of Survival” where the survivors of all the matches came back for one last elimination tag match, and also gave us a, shall we say “phenom-enal” debut!
So let’s log on to the WWE Network (it’s only $9.99/month and free for the month of November for new subscribers…not sure if you’ve picked up on that from watching Raw) and take a look at this blast from the past!
1990 Survivor Series
The show kicks off with Vince’s old-school “You’re Fired!” voice introducing all of the participants and all of the teams. I’ll say this; I miss the days of the named teams! Team Authority vs Team Cena just doesn’t do it for me. In 1990, we didn’t have Team Hogan vs Team Earthquake! No! We had a lot more creativity! We had The Hulkamaniacs vs The Natural Disasters! You could even keep The Authority name, just not Team Authority. The Authority vs The Cenation or Doctors of Thuganomics. Is that so hard?
From there we are introduced to tonight’s commentary team of Gorilla Monsoon and Roddy Piper. I thought Piper was underrated as a commentator during his run from 1990-1991. Hard to sound bad when you have a great like Monsoon sitting next to you though! Not only are they introducing themselves, but they are also introducing that large egg that is sitting on the stage as well…oh boy!
The Perfect Team - Team Captain Mr. Perfect, Demolition (Ax, Smash and Crush)
The Warriors - Team Captain The Ultimate Warrior, Texas Tornado, Legion of Doom (Hawk and Animal)
There’s a whole lot of face paint in the ring right now! We quickly saw an elimination as The Warrior pinned Ax in what turned out to be Ax’s last appearance in the WWF. A few minutes later half of the match was eliminated as the LOD and the remaining members of Demolition were disqualified for their brawl outside of the ring. This added to what should have been the biggest tag team program of the time with LOD vs Demolition, but it never surfaced. I still think that the Road Warriors vs Demolition would have made a better tag title match at WrestleMania 7 than The Hart Foundation vs The Nasty Boys did.
Mr. Perfect ended up eliminating the Texas Tornado, who never really got the momentum back after this even that he had after beating Perfect for the Intercontinental Championship at SummerSlam just a few months prior. The Warrior followed that up with the final elimination of Perfect to become the sole survivor and move on to the Match of Survival.
The Dream Team - Team Captain Dusty Rhodes, Koko B. Ware, The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart)
The Million Dollar Team - Team Captain Ted DiBiase, Mystery Partner, Rhythm & Blues (Honky Tonk Man and Greg Valentine)
This turned out to be the moment that changed the WWF for the next couple decades. Ted DiBiase grabbed the mic and announced that his mystery partner would be led to the ring by his manager Brother Love (which still just confuses me). The man that Brother Love was leading? Why it was the ne superstar making his debut - The Phenom himself The Undertaker. Couple interesting somewhat unknown facts about the debut. First, did you know that he was actually introduced as “Cain – The Undertaker”? It seems like every bit of video calling him “Cain” had been scrubbed out. But, thanks to a little investigating, I found Taker’s TV debut a few weeks after Survivor Series…
Another interesting tidbit is that, according to rumors heard and told by Mick Foley, The Undertaker was not the initial character idea that was made for Mean Mark after he left WCW. I’ll get into greater detail on that a little later.
The match itself was mostly an introduction as to just how dominating The Undertaker can be as he quickly eliminated Koko B. Ware and Dusty Rhodes only to be counted out after going after Rhodes to finish the job. The match ended with a wrestling clinic put on by Bret Hart and DiBiase. Hart showed great heart (sorry, I had to) as he put on a tremendous performance just a day of his brother Dean passed away. DiBiase rolled through a high-crossed body for the roll up and the final pin to move on to the night’s final elimination match.
The Vipers - Team Captain Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, The Rockers (Shawn Michaels, Marty Jannetty)
The Visionaries - Team Captain Rick “The Model” Martel, The Warlord, Power & Glory (Hercules and Paul Roma)
This match was pretty much built around Martel “blinding” Roberts with his cologne “Arrogance.” Roberts came out with odd white contact lens and all to help sell the injury. This all led up to the big Blindfold Match at WrestleMania 7. The evolution of production costs and values have since given us blindfolds that you can’t actually tell where the eye holes are.
Not really much to this match itself other than, for the first time ever, all members of one team survived as all of The Visionaries moved on to the Match of Survival.
The Hulkamaniacs – Team Captain Hulk Hogan, Big Boss Man, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Tugboat
The Natural Disasters – Team Captain Earthquake, Dino Bravo, The Barbarian, Haku
I still say that the program of Hulk Hogan vs Earthquake was very underrated. Earthquake’s finishing move was probably done so many times by me and my brother I don’t know how we still had rib cages. They didn’t have the “Don’t Try This At Home” disclaimers back then so it was ok to do :). But to see ‘quake hit the move so much that it took the Immortal Hulk Hogan out of action was just unheard up. It led to an entertaining one-on-one match at SummerSlam at the elimination match here.
This was a back and forth match that never saw a team have more than just a one man advantage. At the time, it was hard to predict how the match was going to end. Nowadays, of course you knew that Hogan was going to be a survivor! The only question was would anybody on his team join him.
The answer would be “no” as Hogan was the sole survivor who moved to the final match.
Macho King Randy Savage Interview
We take a break from the matches to see what is going on with the Macho King. As he had been doing for weeks, Savage simply made his case to take on The Ultimate Warrior for the WWF title. Nothing really else came of it this time – other than Savage, after being asked what would be next after winning the WWF title, saying that he might just go ahead and retire. Now we all know, that was a very subtle way to start the rivalry that gave us the great Retirement Match between Savage and the Warrior at WrestleMania 7.
Just a quick side note – it seems like I have been mentioning a lot about the following year’s WrestleMania here. Keep that in mind as you watch this year’s Survivor Series. We have seen WrestleMania storylines start around this time of year. Just something to keep in the back of your head.
The Alliance - Team Captain Nikolai Volkoff, Tito Santana, The Bushwackers (Luke and Butch)
The Mercenaries – Team Captain Sgt. Slaughter, Boris Zhukov, The Orient Express (Sato and Tanaka)
Ugh! This was just a slow moving match. It really seemed like the only purpose of this match was to have Slaughter give a promo attacking the US troops that were watching on the Armed Forces Network (this being the first PPV show that was sent to the troops). Some people had issues with Slaughter becoming the Iraqi sympathizer (to the point that death threats were made). I really didn’t have a problem with it. Of course I didn’t agree with what he was saying or doing, but it led to the most patriotic WrestleMania there was with the LA Sports Arena drenched in red white and blue as Hulk Hogan finally beat Slaughter. Business wise, well the storyline led to the most pay-per-view buys that the WWF had to that point.
As for this match, Slaughter ended up attacking Santana with the Iraqi flag to get disqualified and made Tito the sole survivor who moved on. The finish also helped Slaughter look ruthless and saved the inevitable confrontation between Slaughter and Hogan.
The Hatching of the Egg
For weeks the WWF had been advertising this giant egg that would be ready to hatch at the Survivor Series. Speculation ran roughshod as to what was in there. As he introduced the egg, Mean Gene Okerlund suggested that some of the possibilities included a dinosaur, ballons, and the playmate of the month. Well, after a few cheesy egg cracking jokes, the egg finally exploded and we were introduced to ….
… The Gobbeldy Gooker …
… a giant turkey suit that was work by a member of one of the most famous wrestling families of all time, Hector Guerrero. Thank goodness Eddie (and to a much lesser extent Chavo) didn’t let THAT be the way the Guerrero family will be remembered in the WWF.
A few years ago, Mick Foley was on the Legends of Wrestling show with the topic being “Worst Characters.” Obviously the Gooker came up and Foley brought up a rumor he had heard that could have had GRAVE effect on the WWF (you’ll see what I did there in a little bit).
When Mark Calaway signed with the WWF, Foley heard that the initial idea for him would be to debut as “The Egg Man” and HE would be the one to come out of the egg. Foley went on to say that he could only think they took one look at the man and realized that “The Egg Man” would be a horrible horrible mistake and decided to go in a different path and the Gooker may have just been a late throw-in since the egg had already been so heavily advertised. If you haven’t figured it out yet, instead of The Egg Man, Mark Calaway became the conscience of the WWF, The Undertaker. Just take a moment to think about that one …
Grand Finale Match of Survival
The Ultimate Warrior, Hulk Hogan, Tito Santana
Ted DiBiase, Rick “The Model” Martel, The Warlord, Power & Glory (Hercules and Paul Roma)
Not exactly the most exciting of ways to end a pay-per-view. The match started off as a back and forth bout, but quickly turned into nothing more than The Warrior and Hogan can take on anything as, after The Warlord and Tito were eliminated within the first two minutes, the rest of the match was the two biggest stars of the year dominating the remaining four members of the opposing team.
While I’m sure it was nice for guys like The Warlord, Paul Roma and Hercules to walk around saying they were in a WWF pay-per-view main event, the match left a lot on the table. It was the expected finish of the early 90’s.
While the finish of the show may not have been that memorable, the show as a whole was. To get yourself in the Survivor Series spirit, I recommend giving it a look.
What do you think of the show? What other shows would you like to have reviewed? Follow me @Tadigity24 and let me know what you think!
John Cena vs Brock Lesnar … stop me if you’ve heard that one before. (Actually don’t because I know you’ve heard that one before and I would like you to keep reading!)
Yes the WWE has told us that once Brock Lesnar does come back to TV we will get him and Cena locking up for the third time since SummerSlam. Taking a deeper look at it though, it is hard to have too much of a problem with it.
When Lesnar beat The Undertaker at WrestleMania, the initial reaction was that it just didn’t make sense to have a part-time guy like Brock be the one to end the streak rather than a guy that could use it to further his career like a Daniel Bryan or Bray Wyatt. It turns out, though, that this was the start of building Brock as the seemingly unstoppable beast that they want him to be – which in turn has actually brought a little more relevance back to the WWE Championship. In the immortal words of Ric Flair, “To be the man you’ve gotta beat the man!” … … … … WOOOOOOO! (I tried not to!)
A third straight successful title defense against the standard flag-bearer for the WWE over the last decade is just a way to further the “unbeatable” character of Brock Lesnar. Not even John Cena can beat The Beast – making it that much more meaningful when someone actually does beat him.
So now it’s the same concept but a different character. Instead of using the end of The Streak to further enhance a rising star’s career, it’s beating the guy that ended The Streak. There are a lot of guys on the roster now that are ready to take that step by beating Brock or even just benefit from having a program against him.
The big rumor that has been floating out there for months now is that Roman Reigns, even with the recent injury, will be the guy to take on Brock at WrestleMania. If you’re reading this, you probably have heard that already, so you’ve thought about Reigns in the spot for months now, so I won’t bother going any further with him. But who are the others? Let’s take a look, shall we?
Remember him? He’s the guy that, about nine months ago, was ready to step up to the main event level. Cesaro won the inaugural Andre the Giant Battle Royal at WrestleMania by carrying the Big Show over the top robe making it look like he was picking up a stack of pillow. The next night he lets the world know that he is a Paul Heyman guy!
Well that didn’t last long! Shortly after that Cesaro was back on his own and has basically been a jobber to an extent this summer. The latest example being a two straight falls loss to Dolph Ziggler in a 2-out-of-3 falls match at Hell in a Cell.
Loss after loss after loss may be the angle to start the rise of Cesaro. He is so upset that he keeps losing that he just takes out anyone who gets in his way. The story with Brock writes itself. After some time, Cesaro crosses paths with Paul Heyman and, in so many words, tells Heyman that joining him was the start of his downfall and threatens to take him out. Enter Brock to save the day.
Some writers have said that Cesaro is good enough in the ring to have a world title match at WrestleMania. With a little mic work, he can very easily be one of the top stars. He has the following, he has the charisma, he has the look. A program with Brock could give WWE a main eventer for the next decade.
Dolph has the same type of problem that Cesaro has in terms of a push, but Dolph’s push has been due for years! It does look like they are going to be using him in a top level story now with his participation in the Authority vs Cena Survivor Series match. Hopefully this will just be the start for Ziggler.
A run through the members of The Authority could culminate with Triple H and Stephanie once again bringing in the hired gun in Brock Lesnar to stop Ziggler. Dolph wouldn’t have to beat Brock to get the career boost he needs, but a strong showing against Lesnar would be a strong building block for a main event character for years.
Bray is a main-eventer now, but he’s not in main-event’s yet. The time is now!
It seems inevitable that Wyatt will, at some point, turn face. It’s just like Stone Cold Steve Austin in 1997 – he wouldn’t have to change his character at all he would just be booked differently. To say that Wyatt is golden on the mic is an understatement and he backs it up in the ring.
I can see Heyman and Brock in the ring a Monday after a pay per view show saying something along the lines of “nobody can slay this beast!” This brings out the odd two-second Wyatt video and Bray on the big screen saying that he has been slaying beasts all his life. Bray needs a program with the champion to help the sustainability of his character. This business should still revolve around wanting to be the champion. Wyatt is due for his shot.
To be clear, in no way do I think Orton should be the one to beat Brock. That would be a HUGE mistake and a waste of the last 23 years of The Streak. But the pot on Orton turning face is heating up and is ready to boil over. We were teased a Brock/Orton program with an RKO on Heyman recently.
Just a quick one month program with the two would go a long way to getting Orton over as a top face – which is something the company could really use right now.
The Big Guy is back! It appears that they are giving him another run as a single face. I watched some of the shows during his run as a top face in 2012 and the crowd was electric! Ryback is a guy that could be successful with a run with the belt!
My prediction for months now was that Kurt Angle was going to be the guy to beat Rusev when he finally comes back to WWE this year. Well, that’s not happening unfortunately. Here is the order that I could see things going : Rusev beats Sheamus for the US Title at Survivor Series – Ryback beats Rusev for the US Title at TLC – Ryback wins the Royal Rumble and goes on to feud with Brock and win the title at WrestleMania. If the crowd gets behind Ryback in the next few months the way they did in 2012, the atmosphere at Levis Stadium would be incredible!
What do you think? Who do you agree with? Who do you disagree with? Who did I forget? Follow me on Twitter @Tadigity24 and let me know!
The wrestling business is always evolving. Back in the days, the steel cage was the end all be all of ending feuds. With the evolution of the steel cage, we have one of the biggest attractions the WWE has to offer now – Hell in a Cell.
The cage that sits a few feet outside the ring onto the floor, has walls that were initially 15 feet and now are over 20 feet high and a roof to keep people out has proven to be the best way to culminate a heated program. This year though, it does seem a little lackluster. Though I will say, the actions of the four men involved in the two matches – John Cena, Randy Orton, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose – went a long way to add intrigue to this year’s show.
Really, though, you can’t blame the WWE for that TOO much. Yes they need to do a bit of a better job creating top stars, but they have been hit by the injury bug worse than a last place fantasy football team! They build Daniel Bryan, and now he’s out for months. Let’s start building Roman Reigns for a possible WrestleMania main event, but now he is out of action. Even a guy like Bad New Barrett, who it seemed was ready for a bit of a push, is out with an injury. It even goes back to unexpected departure of CM Punk to start 2014. But Hell in a Cell is still Hell in a Cell and the history of cell matches adds enough interest to make sure we watch.
So to get us ready for this year’s installment, let’s take a look at what I think are the 10 best Hell in a Cell matches of all time. These matches mostly come from events that had pretty impressive cards, but anytime the hellish structure is hanging over the ring, the crowd is just waiting for the match that brings the cage down to the floor.
MATCH: Triple H vs Chris Jericho
EVENT: Judgment Day
VENUE: Bridgestone Arena – Nashville, TN
DATE: May 19, 2002
Our countdown starts at what was the first ever Pay-Per-View ever for the WWE, no longer the WWF. An event that saw two of the biggest names in history in the same ring as Stone Cold Steve Austin took on Ric Flair…and Big Show – Hulk Hogan’s 2002 championship run came to an end against The Undertaker - the world was first introduced to a bald Kurt Angle – and, of course, we had the cell.
In this match, Triple H and Chris Jericho ended the rivalry that gave us that year’s WrestleMania main event…well, at least the last match on the card. To culminate the program, Jericho and The Game pulled out all the stops. We had chairs, a ladder, the stairs, Triple H’s patented sledgehammer and, the cherry on top, the 2x4 wrapped in barbed wire.
We saw the end of Tim White’s refereeing career which gave us a reason to have the cell door opened during the match. Anytime the match goes to the top of the cell is a plus. I highly doubt we will see anyone taking a Mick Foley dive off of the new, taller cell - and for the sake of those in the matches thank God! – but just being on the top adds a different element to the match. On his podcast, Jericho has repeatedly said that is a different world looking down from the top of the cell, and how can you argue that? To sum up the fight in this match, we had a camera shot looking straight up from inside the ring with a drop of blood on the camera lens. You can’t script something like that.
After taking a few shots from the barbed wire 2x4, Triple H came back and hit Jericho with the Pedigree on the top of the cage for the win. The two have had great in-ring chemistry since 2000 – the only thing that could have made this match better would be adding a Jericho/Stephanie battle on the mic.
MATCH: Brock Lesnar (c) vs The Undertaker – WWE Championship
EVENT: No Mercy
VENUE: Alltel Arena – Little Rock, AR
DATE: October 20, 2002
Everyone knows that if you want respect in the WWE and you want to be known as a top name in the game, you have to go through The Undertaker – both inside the ring and out. After just six months on the main roster, Brock Lesnar upset The Rock at SummerSlam to become the youngest WWE Champion in history. Still though, something was missing. Some thought he was still just a flash in the pan. It was smart for the WWE to put Lesnar with Taker following the Rock match to solidify Lesnar as a legit star.
Going back to Paul Heyman’s promo from this past Monday, this proved to be another example of how the career of Brock Lesnar seemed to still be pretty similar in a dominant way as it was when he started in 2002 – Lesnar beat Taker in 2002, and I vaguely remember Heyman mentioning something about Lesnar being the 1 in 21-1 or something like that.
The Undertaker gave Lesnar the biggest fight the young champion has had since coming to the WWE in March of that year but the rookie stood toe-to-toe with the phenom. Brock ended up with a clean win over The Undertaker and The Deadman’s face was bloodier than we had every seen. The way that Lesnar won the match proved that he would be a star for years to come - or at least the next 18 months before he thought the Vikings needed a new D-Tackle.
MATCH: D-Generation X vs Vince McMahon, Shane McMahon & Big Show
VENUE: Air Canada Centre – Toronto, ON
DATE: September 17, 2006
Our #8 match involved both Vince McMahon and Shawn Michaels and also took place in Canada. Granted, we heard some expected “You Screwed Bret!” chants early in the match, but as the match went on, even the fans north of the border had to just sit back and appreciated what they were seeing.
This was a really bloody and intense battle that ended the DX vs The McMahons program from the summer of 2006. We saw screwdrivers, trash cans, Shane’s coast to coast Van Terminator rip-off and the Chairman of the Board’s head being shoved up Big Show. I think that gives you a fantastic image of just how nasty this match was.
MATCH: Edge vs The Undertaker
VENUE: Conseco Field House – Indianapolis, IN
DATE: August 17, 2008
The 2008 SummerSlam saw a Hell in a Cell match was the end of the program that gave us that year’s WrestleMania main event…well, at least the last match on the card. You know, I swear I have heard that before somewhere…eh, probably just my imagination.
Edge and The Undertaker provided a great back and forth match here – amplified by Jim Ross on the call. We got the full TLC treatment with tables ladders and chairs and an unorthodox way for the two to get out of the cell during the match. After setting the stairs up outside, Edge jumped off and speared The Undertaker against the cell causing an entire panel of the cage to fall over. Once outside, the crowd came to their feet with Edge spearing Taker from one announce table and through another. Also, once back in the cage, The Dead Man gave Edge a chokeslam off the top rope through two tables stacked on top of each other on the outside of the ring which led to the tombstone and the win for The Undertaker.
But the best was yet to come. After deciding that he wasn’t done with the Rated-R Superstar, Taker brings Edge to the top of a ladder in the ring and chokeslams Edge straight to hell – fireball and all! Because, really, where else are you going to chokeslam someone through in Hell in a Cell? It’s not North Dakota in a Cell! Just like going to the top of the cell, fire is always a special added element to any match that makes it that much more memorable.
MATCH: Triple H (c) vs Cactus Jack – WWF Championship
EVENT: No Way Out
VENUE: Hartford Civic Center – Hartford, CT
DATE: February 27, 2000
Speaking of fire, that smoothly transitions us to the #8 match. It’s a pretty memorable match when fire is used, on a barbed wire 2x4 nonetheless, and it’s not the most memorable part of the match…by far!
This match was billed as the WWF Championship vs Cactus Jack’s career. With that kind of a stipulation, you knew that Jack was going to do something crazy, and the fans were not disappointed. This was also the first time that Triple H found his way inside the cell. As you’ll probably be able to pick up from this countdown, it wouldn’t be his last time.
It obviously would take a lot to beat a crazy man like Cactus Jack to end his career, and it end up taking and a back drop from the top of the cell that sent Jack through the top of the cage and into the ring was what had to be done. Triple H got the win and that was the last that we saw of the man known as Cactus Jack!
In a completely unrelated note, some other fully bearded long-haired flannel wearing man named Mick Foley main evented WrestleMania the following month. Again, completely unrelated.
MATCH: Triple H vs The Undertaker
EVENT: WrestleMania XXVIII
VENUE: Sun Life Stadium – Miami, FL
DATE: April 1, 2012
“The End of an Era” Well, both guys ended up having a few more matches so I’m not too sure how the era ended, but still. Thanks to the use of the mics on the cameras, this match may have been the most psychologically dramatic Hell in a Cell match there has been.
This was the second time that the cell has seen the biggest show of the year. The first being at WrestleMania XV in a pretty forgettable match between The Undertaker and the Big Boss Man. If having two stars as significant as Triple H and The Undertaker wasn’t enough, this WrestleMania rematch added Shawn Michaels as the special referee.
The excitement of “The Streak” always added something to Taker’s WrestleMania match, so the crowd was already on the edge of their seats with every near three count. Hearing the “STAY DOWN” “DON’T STOP THIS MATCH” among other quotes from inside the ring just added to the drama for those watching at home. Throw in the physicality of the match, the surprise debut of a hairless Undertaker and the fact that the cell itself had an entrance song – Metallica no less – and this Hell in a Cell match ranks towards the top of WrestleMania history.
MATCH: John Cena (c) vs Alberto Del Rio vs CM Punk – WWE Championship
EVENT: Hell in a Cell
VENUE: New Orleans Arena – New Orleans, LA
DATE: October 2, 2011
No, this is not a misprint. We actually have a match in the top 10 that does NOT involve Triple H and/or The Undertaker! Obviously it would take a really good performance to keep the two biggest stars in Hell in a Cell history – Cena, Punk and Del Rio were able to do just that.
The three biggest names of 2011 provided a great back and forth…and forth (because there’s three of them) match that really made the crowd feel that any of the three could win at any time. It was Del Rio who actually locked Cena out of a cell and nailed Punk with a couple shots with a lead pipe to get the win and the WWE Championship.
The drama was just starting though as recently fired R-Truth and Miz hit the ring and destroyed everything in the cell, refs and cameraman included, with the entire locker room out and trying to get into the cell to stop them. Once again, a lot of credit goes to good ol JR for his frantic commentary to help set the mood for us to realize just how crazy this situation was.
This is the only match in the countdown since WWE started the Hell in a Cell Pay-Per-View in 2009 and I don’t think that is just a coincidence. I think that a part of what made Hell in a Cell matches so exciting before the Pay-Per-View was the spontaneity of it. The announcement that this program was going to have a Hell in a Cell match at the next Pay-Per-View added to the excitement. Now, you know that Hell in a Cell is coming up in October so a lot of the suspense is gone. I think that was another part of what made the Triple H/Undertaker match at WrestleMania XXVIII so special – it was so unexpected that we would get an additional Hell in a Cell match in a year.
MATCH: Kurt Angle (c) vs The Undertaker vs Stone Cold Steve Austin vs Triple H vs Rikishi vs The Rock - WWF Championship
VENUE: Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center – Birmingham, AL
DATE: December 10, 2000
The end of 2000 saw a lot of solid storylines coming to an end. The question remained, which of these programs deserved to be put in the cell? Eh, might as well just throw them all in there!
The story behind it was the Mick Foley was a frustrated commissioner who wanted to put Vince McMahon’s high priced talent in more than just harm’s way by putting them all in the cell. Vince did what he could stop the match, including bringing truck down to the ring to try and tear the cage down. That didn’t work, however it did set up another big Hell in a Cell moment. Rikishi, don’t lie, you know that you read who was in this match and immediately started singing “One of These Things Doesn’t Belong” climbed to the top of the cell and ended up being tossed off by The Undertaker into whatever it was that was in the back of that truck.
The star power alone makes this match so special! How many non-Royal Rumble matches can you think of that includes THIS level of talent. Not only that, but it also started the set up for the main event for what many consider to be the best WrestleMania ever when Stone Cold and The Rock threw punches in the middle of the ring.
MATCH: Shawn Michaels vs The Undertaker
EVENT: In Your House – Badd Blood
VENUE: Kiel Center - St. Louis, MO
DATE: October 5, 1997
It’s hard to top the original. When talking about ladder matches, people still reference Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon at WrestleMania X as one of the best. Almost four years later, Michaels stepped into this new structure known as Hell in a Cell with The Undertaker and made history that is still talked about so fondly to this day.
Michaels and Taker set the bar high and not many have been able to reach it to this day. Michaels taking chair shot after chair shot, being “javelined” into the side of the cell and falling from the upper part of the cell to the announce table just let every cell match know that you have a lot to live up to.
Not only was the match intense, but this is where, after months of speculation, we were introduced to The Undertaker’s long lost brother, Kane. Paul Bearer led “The Big Red Monster” down to the ring who tore the door off the hinges and took out The Undertaker giving Michaels the win and a championship match against Bret Hart at next month’s Survivor Series…I can’t really remember anything special happening at that match, can you?
MATCH: Mankind vs The Undertaker
EVENT: King of the Ring
VENUE: Pittsburgh Civic Center – Pittsburgh, PA
DATE: June 28, 1998
If you have any other Hell in a Cell match at the top of your list, you’re doing it wrong.
The match itself started on the top of the cage. Within minutes, JR made one of his infamous calls from this match, “they’re right above us folks, and I don’t like it a damn bit!” Seconds later, his fears were justified as The Undertaker threw Mankind from the top of the cage to the Spanish announce table in what is still considered one of the most famous scenes in WWE history! “Has God as my witness, he is broken in half!” Really, if you want to have a successful Hell in a Cell match, it’s always a safe bet to have JR call it! After about five minutes of trying to get Mankind on the stretcher and out of the arena, they made it almost halfway back up the aisle before Mankind jumped up from the stretcher and pretty much just said, “Nah, I’m good” and went back to the top of the cell! Aaaaaaaand about a minute later The Dead Man grabbed Mankind and chokeslammed him THROUGH the top of the cell and into the center of the ring with Mankind taking one of the most awkward looking bumps you have ever seen.
Later in the match, Mankind introduces a bed of thumbtacks in which he ended up being slammed on. Funny part of it, he didn’t fall right in the middle of the tacks, just the edge. So Mankind, being the logical thinker that he is, told the ref to tell Taker to do it again! Undertaker agreed, chokeslammed Mankind onto the tacks, and hit the tombstone for the win.
How memorable was this match? Stone Cold Steve Austin was, by far the biggest star in wrestling at that time, and possibly ever. That was the same night that he lost the WWF title for the first time to Kane. Nobody talks about that though. All they talk about is Mick Foley and how he solidified himself into the history books of the sport that he loved!
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