Hell in a Cell is a professional wrestling cage-based match held in WWE (formerly World Wrestling Federation). It features a large roofed steel cage structure or "cell" which encloses the ring and ringside area. While similar to the steel cage match in profile and structure, unlike the steel cage match wherein exiting over the cage results in a win, only executing a pinfall or submission will result in a win. As in a steel cage match, disqualifications do not apply. The original Cell was 16 ft (4.9 m) high and weighed over two tons but has since been replaced by an amplified version of 20 ft (6.1 m) and five tons. Thirty-six Hell in a Cell matches have taken place in WWE since its inception in October 1997.
The original concept for the Hell in a Cell structure was created by Jim Cornette. As detailed in the Kayfabe Commentaries release "Timeline of WWE: 1997", Cornette described this concept as a combination of a cage which surrounded the majority of the ringside area (this was a cage design which was popular in Memphis wrestling promotions), and the cage used in both the NWA (National Wrestling Aliance) and WCW (World Championship Wrestling) for their WarGames matches (which had a top on the cage). On an October 2015 video podcast, Vince Russo said Cornette probably did come up with the concept, but the name "Hell in a Cell" came from him.
The Hell in a Cell match was first introduced at WWF Badd Blood on October 5, 1997 at the Kiel Center, now known as Scottrade Center, in St. Louis, Missouri. The background to the inaugural match was built on Undertaker's loss to Bret Hart two months prior at the 1997 SummerSlam in a WWF World Heavyweight Championship match which Shawn Michaels was assigned to referee. Michaels had deliberately interjected himself in the match and cost The Undertaker a win which resulted in a match between the two at In Your House: Ground Zero. That match was ruled a no-contest due to the two bypassing and attacking the officials. As a climatic end to the feud, their following bout was originally scheduled to be held as a steel cage match. However, instead of a normal cage enclosing only the ring, a larger roofed structure was constructed, enclosing not only the ring but also the surrounding ringside area. The wider space between the ring apron and the cell walls allowed for entering and exiting the ring. At Badd Blood, Michaels defeated The Undertaker, (with interference from The Undertaker's debuting brother Kane) and won the number-one contendership to the WWF World Heavyweight Championship. The cage's size also makes the use of weapons possible as well. Wrestlers usually use weapons in Hell in a Cell by taking them from under the ring.
Hell in a Cell matches are rare in WWE as it is designed to be the climax to certain feuds. There have only been thirty six such matches in WWE, 33 of which have been broadcast on pay-per-view events due to the logistical difficulty in setting them up and its perception as a special attraction due to the nature of the match. In 2009, WWE presented its first pay-per-view event to specifically feature the Hell in a Cell for its marquee matches. Despite the match's profile, prior to the first self-titled Hell in a Cell pay-per-view event, championships were defended six times out of sixteen of the Hell in a Cell matches. The first time a title was defended in the match was at the 2000 No Way Out with Triple H retaining the WWF Championship in the sixth Hell in a Cell match. The longest Hell in a Cell match was held at Bad Blood 2004 between Triple H and Shawn Michaels at over 47 minutes. The first time a title changed hands in a Hell in a Cell match was in 2009, when The Undertaker won the World Heavyweight Championship from CM Punk. The Undertaker has been involved in the most Hell in a Cell matches having competed in fourteen and has the record for most victories at eight. Only two matches have been broadcast on television, both in 1998 on Raw is War. The Hell in a Cell match on the June 15th edition of Raw is War between Stone Cold and Undertaker vs. Kane and Mankind ended with Stone Cold and Undertaker beating Kane and Mankind after Raw is War went off the air. On the August 24th edition of Raw is War, Mankind fought his tag team partner at the time, Kane in a Hell in a Cell match. This match went to a no contest after Stone Cold Steve Austin interfered and assaulted Kane. Then when Undertaker tried to break inside the cell to help his brother, Mr. McMahon raised the cell and made Undertaker and Stone Cold wait to get their hands on each other until Summerslam. The match has appeared at WWE's flagship event, WrestleMania, three times (WrestleMania XV, XXVIII and 32).
Other appearances and variations
The structure itself has made four additional appearances, although WWE does not consider them to be Hell in a Cell matches. The first was when the Cell lowered over the ring while Kane fought Stone Cold Steve Austin in a first-ever First Blood match for the WWF Championship at King of the Ring '98. The second featured Big Boss Man challenging Al Snow for the WWF Hardcore Championship in a Kennel from Hell match at Unforgiven '99. The match consisted of a standard steel cage with the cell placed atop it, and the object was to escape from both the cage and cell while trying to avoid guard dogs that were placed between the ring and cell door. Snow, the first competitor to escape the steel cage and the cell, was declared the winner. The third time was on the September 28, 2009 episode of Raw, during a gauntlet match with John Cena against Chris Jericho, The Big Show, and Randy Orton. The cell was lowered after Cena defeated Jericho and Big Show by Disqualification, when Orton's turn came. Cena ordered the cell to be lowered, and then Cena brawled Orton on top of the structure. The match was declared a no contest. The fourth time was on the October 20, 2014 episode of Raw, when the Hell in a Cell structure was lowered, on orders from Kane, during a handicap street fight involving Kane, Randy Orton, and Seth Rollins and John Cena and Dean Ambrose, which Kane, Orton and Rollins won.
In WCW, The Hell in a Cell match is seen as the structural successor to the Thundercage (originally called the Caged Heat match) match type seen in WCW, which was virtually identical in basic construction; however, thundercage was rarely used by World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and thus fans had little to no knowledge of its existence. The Thundercage actually precedes Hell in a Cell by roughly two and a half years, as the Thundercage was used in the match between Ric Flair and Big Van Vader for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship in February 1994 at SuperBrawl IV. It was also used in matches between Sting and The Great Muta.
List of Hell in a Cell matches
Dallas holds the record for hosting the most Hell in a Cell matches with five. Four were held in Dallas proper and one in the western suburb of Arlington. In second place is Miami, which has hosted four Hell in a Cell matches with three in Miami proper and one in the suburb of Miami Gardens. In third place is Newark and Boston, both of which have hosted three Hell in a Cell matches.