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Hell in a Cell: the UKFF Reviews


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Huge thanks to everyone who put finger to keyboard for this. Some really excellent write-ups.

I don't have them all in yet (no biggie) so I'm going to post them a few at a time, and I'll tack on more as they come in. Should get you in the mood for Hell in a Cell tonight, and continue the buzz through the week.

Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker – Badd Blood 1997 by @Supremo

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One of my favourite matches from one of my favourite time periods. As the cage lowers, Jerry Lawler makes references to Vince having, “forced,” Shawn into this situation, so they’re definitely being more open about Vince being more than just the commentator by this point in time. As a twelve year old though I  think all of this stuff still went over my head. Still, it’s cool to see them hinting at it.

Backstage interview with Shawn to start. He’s such a smug prick here. I think this is the best casting of Shawn’s career, probably because of what a prick he was in real life. He seems completely authentic. Even the way he chews his gum is insanely annoying. Poor Bret. Imagine having to work with this twat regularly. Hunter tries to add something after Shawn finishes his promo, goes, “you know…” and then the camera cuts him off. That was funny.

Pre-match video package time. They tell the story of Shawn being the charismatic showman who’s turned his back on the fans. There’s something really logical and clever about their programming here. Everything feels like there’s been a lot of thought put into it, the perfect example being that Summerslam 1997 finish. Arguably my favourite finish of all time, it manages to turn Shawn heel in a completely believable, logical way that makes sense and develops naturally. Bret ducked the chair, it was a genuine accident, and the stipulations left HBK no choice but to count the three, but if the fans are turning on Shawn then he’s turning on them too. Really good stuff. Sgt Slaughter is out first, looking under the ring with a torch. When he’s happy there’s no-one under the ring he orders for the match to begin. Again, there’s a level of thought here that really shines. Whilst 1998 may have been when everything went into overdrive, you can see why it happened here. This is great.

Shawn comes out with Hunter and Chyna. Someone immediately throws a drink over them. Awesome. Proper heels that everyone hates. Shawn gets his pyro and then the Cell lowers.

Taker’s entrance begins with flashing lights and the sound of thunder. Big pop for the first dong. Another big pop for the lights going out. Shawn starts selling his fear, freaking out as they lock the door. Triple H consoles Shawn, then gets taken to the back.

The bell sounds. Taker starts slowly walking Shawn down, following him around the ring. Shawn tries to run the ropes but Taker hits him with a big boot. And the beating begins. Taker is throwing Shawn around and Shawn is taking huge bumps, even off a slammed head into the turnbuckle. Shawn finally starts landing some hands, goes for the Irish Whip, but is reversed and flies into the corner upside down….then turns around into a clothesline.  I haven’t watched Shawn’s early career in forever. This boy can fucking bump. Even a clothesline looked like it killed him, with him bouncing off the canvas as he landed.

Taker hits Old School and inexplicably Shawn still manages to jump UPWARDS as he bumps off it.

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Powerslam on Shawn, followed by a Leg Drop. Shawn is whipped to the ropes and takes such a high Body Drop that his feet hit the roof. Shawn is bouncing up and down, with Taker continuously hitting him with punches…then Taker throws him over the top and Shawn falls to the mat as his feet hit the side of the cage. Ouch. Irish Whip into the cage…then another brutal clothesline as Shawn flies to the mat. Then the same again. Wow. This is like a masterclass in bumping so far. Shawn takes everything as hard and as fast as possible.

Taker continues smashing Shawn into the ring posts, the Cell, then back to the ring post, Shawn is like a rag doll, which JR perfectly calls. It speaks volumes for what a good heel Shawn was that he can take such a prolonged beating and you don’t feel any sympathy at all. As he bumps all around the outside, Shawn knocks a camera man over for a second, which is super clever foreshadowing. They get into the ring and Taker hangs Shawn on the top rope. Fucking look at the air Shawn gets selling it. Ridiculous! This man is a machine!

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As Taker climbs up to the apron, Shawn finally gets some offence in by pushing Taker into the cage, followed by a suicide dive. Shawn then climbs the inside of the Cell and drops an elbow. Cool. Running clothesline off the apron onto Taker. Shawn hits Taker with the steps a few times. Shawn hits Taker with a Piledriver on the steps, which makes an amazing noise but looks relatively safe.

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“God Almighty! I don’t believe that! Did you hear The Undertaker’s skull hit those steps!” – Jim Ross.

Shawn pushes the camera man around and drops an F-bomb for getting in his way. Again, great foreshadowing. Shawn hits Taker with a Double Axe-Handle to the outside. Taker rolls into the ring. Shawn brings in a chair. Shawn cracks Taker in the back….and then again. Shawn goes for the pin…1……2…..No!

They brawl back and forth and then Shawn takes a Body Drop outside, landing on the camera man. Shawn’s acting here is great. He looks legitimately pissed off which, given his behaviour at this time, makes it feel completely believable. Shawn beats the shit out of the camera man some more.

“There’s gonna be a lawsuit here!” – Jim Ross.

“This man has a family, we apologise to this young man’s family.” - Vince

“We might wanna get some help here for this camera man!” – Jim Ross

Again, this is such simple stuff but you can tell someone has sat down, took loads of time and really thought all of this out.

Shawn hits a flying forearm in the ring, then kips up.  Shawn to the top, hitting the most beautiful Top Rope Elbow you can imagine. Out comes Sgt Slaughter to open the Cell to help the camera man. Shawn is tuning up the band for Sweet Chin Music……*boom*…..*boom*….*boom*…...Shawn hits it! And then Taker sits right back up to a big pop! Yes! Brilliant!

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“Business just picked up!” – Jim Ross.

Shawn is like, “yeah, fuck this, I’m off,” and he runs to the open door to escape the Cell. Taker follows him and now they’re brawling outside of the cage to a big reaction. Shawn hits a fucking Dropkick where he lands squarely on his back on the concrete. Christ! No wonder he didn’t last much longer! He tries to Dropkick again but Taker catches his legs and catapults him into the cage. They perfectly direct it to get the best shot of Shawn’s face hitting the cage from the camera man still inside the Cell, like Shawn’s flying into your living room. Magic.

Shawn lands on the floor and is immediately bleeding. Good job for all involved, I didn’t see how or when he bladed at all. Taker picks Shawn up on his shoulder and throws him like a dart into the cage. Again, we get the perfect camera angle of Shawn’s bloody face flying towards us, practically in 3D.

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Shawn hits a desperation low blow and starts climbing the Cell to escape. The crowd get louder and louder. Taker tries to grab Shawn’s foot but Shawn kicks him in the face and gets onto of the roof. Taker follows him up and the crowd are now going apeshit.  Shawn goes for a Piledriver on the Cell but gets a Back Drop instead. We get a shot from inside the Cell of Taker grinding Shawn’s face into the roof and a drop of Shawn’s blood actually lands on the camera lens! Amazing! You then hear the camera man audibly shout, “Ah Shit!” as blood presumably lands on him.

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This is wild! Shawn rolls around the roof, still trying to escape and Jim Ross continues to prove why he was the best in the business at this point.

“Absolutely Un-be-lievable! – Jim Ross.

Taker hits a Gorilla Press on top of the Cell! Then a big right hand and Shawn is hanging off the cell, his legs dangling as Taker holds onto his hair. Shawn hangs on as Taker stamps on one hand…then the other….

“INCOMING!!” – Jerry Lawler.

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“MY GOD HE MAY BE BROKEN IN HALF!” I’VE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE THAT IN MY LIFE!” – Jim Ross.

Shawn lies dead. This is fucking brilliant. Proper cathartic stuff to see the ultimate dickhead get completely smashed to bits. Taker climbs down and absolutely LAUNCHES Shawn onto the remaining announce table. Then launches him from the table to the floor. Shawn’s blood is everywhere now. You can feel how much Taker hates this little shit. The guy’s practically dead and Taker doesn’t give a single fuck. Look at the state of him.

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They both climb back into the Cell and they re-lock the door. Undertaker puts Shawn on the top rope and then hits a top rope Chokeslam! Mega!

“THIS AINT NO CAGE MATCH!” – Jim Ross.

Taker poetically grabs his own chair, since that’s how all this started at Summerslam 97….he winds back...and SMASHES SHAWN'S FUCKING SKULL IN. My FUCKING GOD. I know I spend every one of these retrospective reviews talking about how weird it is to see so much blood and so many chair shots to the head, but this was arguably the hardest chair shot I’ve ever seen. This must’ve been what knocked Shawn’s eyes wonky. There’s literally no way he didn’t get a concussion here. The sound is absolutely horrible to hear, like he’s been shot with a gun.

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Look at the force of that. Wrestling is the maddest thing in the world. No wonder this consumed my life when I was a kid. My parents were idiots letting me watch this stuff.

The Undertaker signals for the Tombstone and…..the lights go out!

Out walks a big red bastard.

“THAT’S GOTTA BE KANE!” – Vince McMahon.

Kane rips the door off its hinges, smacks the ref and climbs into the ring. Taker looks stunned. The two square off, Kane sets his pyro off and the hits Taker with a Tombstone.

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As Kane leaves, you can see Paul Bearer pouring water on the referee to wake him up. The little touches here are absolutely amazing. The previously murdered Shawn, absolutely caked in blood, slowly climbs over and puts his arm over The Undertaker. Earl Hebner does the slowest count in the history world.

1………………2………………

“NO! NO!" - Jim Ross

……………………………3!

It’s over and we’re left with what looks like a crime scene!

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Triple H and Chyna come and carry the lifeless Shawn to the back and it’s an incredible visual seeing them raise Shawn’s hand as he looks like he’s barely breathing. Absolutely amazing. Triple H taunts the crowd and someone throws a drink at them. Brilliant.

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Taker slowly wakes up in the ring as Vince thanks us for watching, asking us to join them for Survivor Series next month. I forget what happened on that show.

So yeah, this was magnificent. I was worried it wouldn’t live up to my memory but Shawn Michaels was arguably the greatest wrestler of all time here and Jim Ross delivered a career-best performance too. Phenomenal stuff from everyone involved, but those two in particular couldn’t have been better. Great debut for Kane, as well. After months of build-up this delivered perfectly. Just great, great stuff from everyone involved. You come out of this show desperate to see where everything is going to go next. Easily the best Hell in a Cell match ever and arguably one of the top ten matches of all time.

Shawn Michaels was a very, very good professional wrestler.

Seven stars. No wonder Foley nearly killed himself trying to top it.

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The Undertaker and Stone Cold Steve Austin v Mankind and Kane, Hell in a Cell, Raw June 15 1998 by Onyx2

I'm glad they start Raw with a recap. Austin gets put in a casket by Kane, and Paul Bearer and Vince look chuffed about it.

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We are two weeks away from King of the Ring 1998, where we'll see Undertaker v Mankind in the Cell (wonder how that will turn out?) and Steve Austin v Kane for the title. It will be a first blood match though that stipulation hasn't been announced yet… 

One and one, in your eye! 

“Why is this ominous structure above the ring? ...It was 108° outside, but it's going to be hotter than that in the ring tonight!“ JR is at his best here. 

Ah it's the whole conspiracy thing. It's one of those times when Vince gets a saying in his head and you hear it over and over, in this case it's “in cahoots”. Paul Bearer delivers a great promo that sets up the match, saying he and the Undertaker lured Steve Austin into a trap, and it's really unclear where the loyalties lie. Undertaker doesn't refute it, but he looks annoyed. Bearer challenges Austin and Taker to face Kane and Mankind in a Hell in a Cell match. 

The lead-in to the main event is a tag team turmoil match where Kane and Mankind dispatch nine other teams. After a commercial break we are ready to Cell. 

Foley is a known Christmas nut, and was clearly thinking about that rhyme Americans like when he came up with this in-ring promo:

“Listen up one, listen up all, 
To mankind and Kane, and dear Uncle Paul
Because after tonight, the stories they'll tell
About how Stone Cold Steve Austin suddenly fell. 
Bad news deadman not because our team’s winning. 
It's not the end, it's the beginning!”
Because look around you at steel bars and mesh
How they'll gouge your eyes and rip at your flesh! 
At King Of The Ring it's my turn to play
I guarantee deadman, it won't be a nice day! “

…Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night! 

There's a tease where it looks like they won't answer the challenge. But then Steve bursts down to the ring, and starts pawing the walls immediately to get inside. He pauses at the door to wait for his partner. But Undertaker is nowhere to be seen. Chimel announces Undertaker again. Still no appearance. Are Undertaker and Paul Bearer… in cahoots?! 

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Mankind and Kane rush Stone Cold outside the cage, and Paul Bearer locks himself in the Cell. Steve takes the slowest backdrop ever on the entrance ramp. When you consider he’s less than a year removed from that piledriver, I don’t blame him.

With the Cell shut Undertaker suddenly appears from beneath the ring and pounds the tar out of Bearer. Kane is on the roof clawing at the mesh to try and get in. Undertaker piles Paul into the Cell walls and Bearer bleeds a gusher. He looks a bloody mess.

Austin and Mankind are still brawling on the outside, Mankind taking a whole bunch of chairshots to the face. Austin then decides to stalk Kane atop the Cell and the place becomes unglued. We're also at the end of the broadcast so Jr's voice gives up. 

We then go into EXTRA ATTITUDE (I've never heard of this before. This is post-broadcast footage cut in, with no commentary. It's done post-2009 as the logo bleeds into 16:9. Was this a WWE 24/7 thing?). Austin is basically being Austin, leathering everyone and everything. He pushes Mankind into the ring and covers him for the pin. Undertaker glares at Steve from the ramp, but his expression is hard to read. 

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This is very short, but serves so much purpose. It's explosive, exciting, unpredictable. You've protected your PPV matches as the KOTR opponents barely touched each other. There wasn't a lot of in-ring exertion but loads happened. The live crowd went home happy, the TV crowd want to know which side Undertaker is on. 

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Undertaker v Mankind, King of the Ring 1998 by @Harvey Dent

“Goddamn, Cac,” the Funker said, laughing, “maybe you should let him throw you off the top of the cage.”

“Yeah,” I shot back, “then I could climb back up-and he could throw me off again.” 

Writes Mick Foley in his autobiography, Have A Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks.

“After a while I got serious and said quietly to Terry, ‘I think I can do it’.”

 

It’s June 1998 in Pittsburgh, the sixth annual WWF King of the Ring.  The familiar throbbing pulse of the music plays out as the cell is lowered to the ground. The eerie, skulking music of Mankind fills the arena as he makes his way to the ring… and begins to climb. He’s on top of the cell with steel chair as the crowd looks on in anticipation. “Of all the things he’s lost I think he misses his mind the most” proclaims Jerry Lawler; in complete bemusement as to why he’s chosen to scale the demonic structure rather then find comfort in the relative safety of the ring.

The organs sounds and out comes The Undertaker, dressed in black, pyro exploding as he walks by. The Dead Man stares up at Mankind on top of the cell… and follows suit, making his way up. Mankind rushes the oncoming Phenom and begins a brawl atop the cage. A panel of the cell slightly gives way as their combined 600 pounds weighs down, this doesn’t look safe.

Undertaker staggers Mankind with a jab and grabs him by the collar. The Undertaker hurls Mankind through the arena air, crashing down 16 feet to the announce table below. The bell hasn’t even rung.

 

"Good God almighty, they’ve killed him! As God as my witness, he is broken in half!"

 

The reaction is like nothing else in wrestling. The gasp of the crowd and horror of the human car crash below. The swell of noise as Mick Foley lay broken, strewn amongst a shattered Spanish announce table. EMTs, Terry Funk, even Vince McMahon rush out to ringside to check on Foley, distraught with concern for his wellbeing as replays play over and over. The almost beautiful flight of Mick flying through the against the visceral impact with the table is compelling that you just can't look away.

The cage is raises with The Undertaker still on top as the audience chants for The Dead Man; no doubt thinking the match is over. And why wouldn’t it be? Surely no one could continue after that.

Mick Foley is wheeled down the aisle on a stretcher as The Undertaker climbs down the opposite side of the cell…. until Mick, inexplicably, gets off the stretcher and begins to scale the structure once more. Dislocated shoulder and all. The crowd roars as The Undertaker follows suit, ascending at an understandably much quicker pace to cut off Mick at the top with the chair in tow. A right hand and a headbutt and Undertaker grabs Foley by the throat. The Dead Man lifts up Mick and sends him crashing down onto the roof of the cell; the panel gives way sending Foley down to the ring with a sickening thud…. Followed swiftly by the falling chair straight to his face.

 

“That’s it, he’s dead” 

 

Referees and Terry Funk check on Mick as The Undertaker lowers himself down through the cage, wincing as he lands. The referees scarper and Funk gets a chokeslam for his trouble, straight out of his shoes.

Mick Foley makes it back to his feet, eats a right hand from Taker and just crumbles. No one’s home. The Dead Man wrenches the arm and goes up to walk the top rope but Mick is just about able to knock Taker off his perch to the outside. The referees lock the door as Mick is in the corner smiling… with a hole in his lip and a tooth in his nose.

Foley stalks the The Undertaker outside and goes for the steel stairs but his shoulder gives way. Foley writhes in pain as The Undertaker takes back over, smashing Mick with the cage, the steel stairs and anything he can his hands on. The Phenom heads back into the ring for a suicide dive which Mick manages to get out of the way of… somehow. Now the Undertaker is busted wide open as he re-enters the ring and walks straight into a pulling piledriver onto the chair from Mick.

1….2…. and the Undertaker kicks out. An actual pinfall attempt, the first in the match. Mick Foley tries to beat down The Undertaker, using every breath he somehow has left to try and win the match. He plants the Phenom with a double arm DDT and rolls out of the ring to retrieve a bag.

A bag of thumb tacks. Foley spreads the tacks and attacks the Undertaker, clamping on the Mandible Claw to wear down the Undertaker, bringing him to his knees. The Undertaker is fading, can Mick end this here? can it be? 

...No. The Undertaker is back up his feet with Mick Foley on his back. Slowly stepping back towards the thumb tacks. The Undertaker throws all of his weight backwards sending Foley into the piercing pile of tacks. The crowd rises as Taker chokeslams the Foley back into the tacks again. Mick Foley is a human pin cushion.

The Undertaker signals it’s over with a thumb across his throat as Foley slowly gets back to his feet. The Undertaker hoists him up and comes thundering down with a Tombstone Piledriver. Foley’s body utterly crumbles to the mat. 

1….2…..3. With some mercy, this is over. The Undertaker wins in 17 minutes, the cell raising as he makes his exit and the familiar death march plays on.

Mick Foley is receiving some much needed medical attention, However, he refuses to be stretchered out and is held to his feet by Terry Funk, Sergeant Slaughter, referees and whoever else can get out help him. The crowd are on their feet in a standing ovation in respect for unreal amount of punishment this man his just put his body through. For better or for worse, this is Mrs Foley’s baby boy’s defining moment.

Watching it back now, 20 years on, this is still insane. It’s uncomfortable and exhilarating and sits at the top of the pile of unique spectacle in professional wrestling. This will never be seen again on this scale and rightly so, but for one night, at one time, this match speaks more than words ever can. This is Hell in a Cell.

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Kane Vs Mankind, Raw - August 1998. by @WeeAl

This match is taking place in Philadelphia, before a red hot crowd on the go home show to SummerSlam. We see Kane and Undertaker looking gigantic, walking backstage before the break. On the return from commercial, the Cell is being lowered. JR and King are on commentary, explaining that Kane and Mankind are facing each other in the Cell tonight but if they are physically able then they will be defending the tag belts together, at SummerSlam, against the New Age Outlaws.

Kane's creepy organ music hits as the lights go dark before the arena goes all blood red and the Big Red Mayor walks down the ramp, flanked by his undead, brother, the Deadman. Kane looks like a proper monster here, in his famous original outfit but with both sleeves. Mankind's music hits and he's wasting no time limping down to the ring as fast as his two different sized legs can carry him. 

Foley tries to climb the cage buy the referees try to stop him and he nails the lot of them with right hands. Kane heads him off at the door and Mankind smacks Kane on the noggin with the door. A big running knee from Mick and now Foley is trying and failing to throw a chair onto the roof of the cell. The Anvil, he ain't. In fact he nearly kills The King when the chair comes back down on top of Jerry. Foley gives up and tries to climb the cell again when Undertaker heads up after him. Taker pulls Mankind down from half way and Foley flattens the Spanish announce table below. Poor Mick lost another 100 or so brain cells here. The crowd are chanting for Austin, but Kane is back in the fray and giving Mankind no time to recover. Rammed into the cell, assaulted with the steel steps, into the cell frame again, Foley is getting a bit of a beating here. If this is what Kane does to his tag team partners, I don't know what he would do to his enemies. He'd maybe electrocute their nutsack or something, who knows. 

Kane fucking just did a running cross body over the top rope onto Mankind who is up against the wall of the Cell. I didn't expect that. He hurls the steps over the ring afterwards and o to the floor but Foley isn't there anymore, he's quite rightly made a run for it under the bloody ring to get away from this maniac. Mankind with two wicked chair shots to Kane and then he whips out the thumbtacks, but as usual Foley gets the worst of the shiny steel pins as he gets clobbered and falls face first into them. However he surprises Kane with the Mandible Claw, followed by several right hands and then a pile driver, which Kane takes a flip bump over the top of Mick and lands ass first in the thumbtacks. 

Foley, inexplicably, tries to go up to the top rope whilst Kane is 15ft away. Yeah right Mick, good one. Kane sits up though, picks up the chair and absolutely pelts Mick in the side of the head. It's no wonder Foley is such a mess these days when he's doing shit like this on Raw every week never mind at the PPV. Kane's ass looks like a pin cushion. I hope he was wearing a nappy pad here. Kane chokeslam Mankind, gives him the tombstone, but he doesn't go for the pin. Instead he looks to his big, dead brother, The Undertaker, who gives him the throat slit gesture. So Kane, of course, goes for the chair. Two more massive shots with the chair, unprotected, to Foley's head, followed by a tombstone on the chair. Kane goes for the pin, and the ref, if needed, could have counted to 1000 after that. However he doesn't need to do a damn thing because here comes Cold Stone! Cold Stone! Cold Stone! The crowd, and JR are losing the plot as Austin came out from under the ring and beats the piss out of Kane as The Undertaker watches on from the outside, unable to get in. Undertaker, because he's an idiot, climbs the Cell. I haven't a clue what he's aiming for here. How's that going to help Taker? Austin hits Kane with a chair shot (which the camera misses because it's following this Wally, The Undertaker, who's fucking about on top of the cell) followed by a stunner, which the cameraman does manage to catch.

Undertaker is trying to break into the roof of the Cell! What!!? What a plonker. He's trying to break through a panel that result in him needing to fall fifteen feet to get into the ring instead of breaking a panel on the ground that would mean he could walk into the Cell. Now, the cage is being raised from the floor by Mr. McMahon! Austin continues to beat the daylights out of Ka e, followed by another Stunner, flipping the bird off to the Big Burned Brothers, while the crowd go BANANA! Austin is the Don here, looking like the coolest man on earth. He walks up the ramp and then we asked a detour and picks up a stretcher before they go to a break. After the break Undertaker and Kane are in the ring as the Cell is being raised back to the ceiling again and we're getting a promo from Undi' here. He promises Austin that he'll come face to face, tonight, with his destiny. This is personal says the Deadman. The hook is now for the end of the show to see if Undertaker and Kane can find Austin to try and get their revenge. 

Conclusion:

This was really more of an angle, than a match to be honest. It was exciting as all hell though, moving at an incredible pace, with tonnes of stuff happening. With the cell being so large compared to the ringside area, all the brawling on the outside made it feel like everyone was on top of the guys in the match. Foley took a crazy amount of punishment, as always, for an angle that really he was a complete afterthought in. It was unnecessary in hindsight, considering the point of the whole thing was to further Austin and Undertaker's feud, but hey, that was the attitude of the Attitude Era - everything to excess and consequences be damned. I guess at the time, that was probably part of why we loved it so much. 

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WrestleMania XV
(March 28, 1999)
Big Boss Man v The Undertaker by @Mr.Showtime

I need a beer.

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My actual beverage of choice for watching this is an ice cold Tiger Crystal (no lime to go with it, unfortunately. You really do need a lime). I don't have much better option in my current location. Anyways I fired up the WWE Network and skipped to the second-last match of the evening. It's WrestleMania, it's the Attitude Era, it's HELL...IN A CELL...it's gotta be mad, right?!

Well, it is, and it isn't.

Most of you folks will know how this one pans out. (sip.) I have definitely watched this a couple of times since it happened way back on my 17th birthday. Why? I've no idea. Probably for some stupid write-up thing. But all I ever remember is the post-match carnage. Which will be obvious after you sit through it. Yes, you should sit through it too. Go on. Please? (sip.)

Background: A handy WWE video package plays before the entrances. How did Boss Man v Undertaker come about, in Hell in a Cell of all things? A minor disagreement, mainly. Undertaker is being a massive cunt, threatening his boss Vince "Mr" McMahon with all sorts - a battering here, a kicking there, a sacrifice on a giant cross somewhere over there - and Vince isn't coping with this well at all. The video package doesn't really explain where the Undertaker got a teddy bear from, why he set it on fire in front of Vince, why Vince fell to his knees and cried about the whole thing - it's all rather cryptic. Or maybe the writers had no fucking idea what they were doing? Nah.

(sip.)

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McMahon kindly tells the Undertaker to stop getting his minions to kidnap his employees and hook them up to crosses. It's hard enough booking the shows already without this nonsense. Taker decides he wants to chokeslam Vince through the Spanish announce desk instead. But no! The bodyguard, the security, the GUARDIAN ANGEL that is the Big Boss Man attacks Taker's knee with his trusty nightstick, and a split second later on the video package a voice-over of Taker says "HELL IN A CELL!" For that? A wee nick on the back of the leg? This was only the 5th Cell match ever (only the 3rd on Pay-Per-View) and they're already being contested over next-to-nothing. And you all thought HIAC matches were all meaningful until the likes of Ted DiBiase Jr somehow MAIN-EVENTED Pay-Per-Views in them. Yes, that happened. (sip, gulp.) I only know that because it's my second write-up...

The Undertaker doesn't care about any of this. He's still going around annoying his boss, but not in a fun way like Stone Cold did. In a creepy way. "I'm going to tie you up and have my way with you," he basically says. "No," says Vince, who calls the cops. The police take Taker away. McMahon uses the breathing space to shout at his cronies for not helping him more. Boss Man, Shamrock, Kane, those guys. But wait, it's not Kane. In a stroke of genius the Undertaker has dressed up as Kane and he unmasks in the ring while Vince (probably) pisses his pants on live TV! Again! Wait - so where's Kane? Where'd Taker get Kane's clothes (his ONLY clothes) from? SO MANY QUESTIONS.

The video package quickly wraps up with Undertaker saying "She will be mine," (WHO?) and out of nowhere, "I will OWN the World Wrestling Federation." (WHAT?!)

(chug.)

Now I know what you're all thinking at this point - "why the hell is Boss Man fighting Undertaker at WrestleMania? The Rumble winner always faces the WWF Champion!" and you'd be right. But the Boss Man was a visionary and he saw the bigger prize - a future WrestleMania winning streak. Not the Undertaker's...but the Boss Man's. That's right - I never realised until compiling this write-up but this isn't just WrestleMania, this isn't just Hell in a Cell...this is STREAK versus STREAK!

NOW you're excited! (gulp, gulp, gulp.)

*cracks open new bottle*

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The Match: Boss Man makes his way out to the ring and the ominous Hell in a Cell structure, while I pretend Michael Cole is talking about the massive streak v streak ramifications of this bout. He isn't. But this is his very first WrestleMania so I'll give him a break. And this is Cole's main event because Jim Ross takes over for the Rock/Austin title match. The Undertaker here is 7-0 at Mania already, having bested Jimmy Snuka, Jake Roberts, Giant Gonzalez (by DQ), Bundy, Diesel, Sid and Kane. Boss Man is at his first Mania since VIII, where he and Duggan, Slaughter and Virgil overcame Repo Man, the Mountie and the Nasty Boys. At the previous shows Boss Man beat Mr. Perfect (via DQ), Akeem, and at Mania V he and the African Dream toppled Mr WrestleMania himself, Shawn Michaels, and the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all-time, Marty Jannetty. Superb stuff. This is gonna be great.

*downs drink, cracks open two more*

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The Undertaker is here! (Along with Paul Bearer.) Not one of his most iconic entrances. The look is fantastic though. The music is his bizarre Ministry of Darkness theme which sounds great when it kicks in but unfortunately starts off with some Taker double-dutch and him saying "Allow the purity of the evil to guide you..." Not exactly "LOOK AT THE TONGUE LOOK AT THE TONGUE LOOK AT THE TONGUUUUEEEEE!" is it.

Jerry Lawler bigs up the Boss Man: “This ain’t the cop from the Village People, this is the BIG BOSS MAN! And if he underestimates him, the Undertaker might need the services of an undertaker!”
 
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Cole ignores him: "There’s one way in, that’s through the door....there’s no way in folks, there’s no way out.” Tim White is our ref (I'll let someone else discuss his HIAC history in another write-up...) and this one is go. Michael Cole immediately mentions the last two PPV cell matches and what happened in them - you know, the ones which just so happen to be the BEST ONE EVER and the CRAZIEST ONE EVER. Fucking idiot.
 
We get a typical Taker start - into the corner, punched, counters, chucks opponent into the same corner, punches. About a minute in Boss Man smashes Taker with a swinging neck breaker! Taker sits up to no crowd reaction whatsoever. "Stay down!" Boss Man shouts. Taker sits up again. The crowd are dead. "Get up!" Boss Man yells. Taker sits up a third time. Nothing. The audience are clearly exhausted after a long night - we are, after all, a crazy 1 hour 55 minutes into the show (not the 5 hours it would be today).
 
Cole: "The cell is unforgiving. You can get your finger caught in there."
Lawler: “You saw Mankind get thrown off this thing and you’re worried about getting a finger caught in it?!”

We're only two minutes deep into the match and Taker has been handcuffed to the cell. Boss Man gets his stick. He hits Taker in the head. Taker falls to the ground and the handcuff rips clean apart. Oh well, that was no fun while it lasted. The Undertaker is BUSTED OPEN. And nobody cares. I never thought about this on previous viewings but they must be rushing the match so the main event has enough time. Handcuffs, blood, steel chairs almost immediately. For the best, probably. Taker's steel chair shot to the back of Boss Man wakes some of the fans up. Dart throw into the cage and now Boss Man is bleeding. Some fans are trying to chant something. Like "boring, boring...?" I genuinely can't tell.
 
(chug, chug, chug.)
 
Back in the ring and Undertaker hits a flying clothesline off the ropes. He tries Old School (which isn't called that yet) and Boss Man counters. He pushes Taker into the cell mesh. Magically Undertaker is back in the ring and it's time to go home, brother. Slug fest punches. Low blow by Taker! (Or it could have been just a punch to Boss Man’s breadbasket - the camera angle was horrendous.) Scoop by Taker, reversed, Irish whip by Boss Man, reversed, scoop by Taker, Tombstone, done. Almost a gasp of "is that fucking it?!" from the crowd.
 
The Aftermath: “This is not gonna make Mr McMahon very happy!” Lawler exclaims. You damn right. Wait though - here comes THE BROOD! On the roof of the cage! Gangrel, Christian and Edge float from the rafters onto the cell, and they spend what feels like forever cutting open a part that was probably already cut open. They drop a NOOSE down to the Undertaker. Massive gasp from the crowd when they see what it is. Undertaker attaches the noose on Boss Man's vest *cough cough his neck his neck honest* The Brood look fairly accomplished with their floating aerial apparatus. They attach themselves or whatever it is you have to do to fly upwards, and they fly upwards - except for Edge who kinda just hangs there until the camera zooms away. Fucking terrifying. Paul Bearer, probably having a nap during the bout, is seen pressing a button on a controller REALLY hard while saying “YEEEESSSSS!”
 
The cell rises! Boss Man slowly is forced to his feet, and his feet leave the ground. Undertaker looks slightly uncomfortable twirling Boss Man round to the hard camera as he rises up above him, pretending to be HANGING by his FUCKING NECK and DYING live on pay-per-view.
 
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(chugchugchugchugchug.) *burp*
 
“Could this be symbolic? Is it symbolic?!" Michael Cole asks a bunch of times. As Boss Man dies in front of us, I'll simply put down here exactly what was said.
Lawler: “Help him!”
Cole: "Oh my God!"
Lawler: "Mr McMahon!"
(The lights go out.)
Lawler: “Put him down!”
Cole: “Is it symbolic, King? Is it symbolic?”
(No answer.)
Cole: “...Well folks, it’s been a WrestleMania weekend in Philadelphia. Last night was the Rage Party at the Philadelphia convention center - what a show!”
 
We then see clips of our favourite superstars trash-talking each other from across a convention center (including Undertaker saying he's gonna kick Boss Man's ass) as well as musical performances from the likes of Isaac "Chef" Hayes, who is singing Chocolate Salty Balls. Classic.
 
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Back to the arena, and Michael Cole in the ring introduces Jim Ross, and the King welcomes him back. No Boss Man, no hanging aftermath, no local medical facility, no mention, nothing.
 
*finishes bottle, opens the Absinthe*
 
Are we supposed to give ratings for these? That wrestling-rating man said this match was a DUD. The only DUD in Taker's Mania career. Was it worse than Undertaker v Giant Gonzalez, or Taker v Bundy? Maybe. Umm let's see...the entrances were forgettable; the actual point of the match was nonexistent (the feud was Undertaker v Vince); there was no build-up in the match, going straight to the finishing straight pretty much; there was no need for the cell; it was never going to live up to the previous cell matches; the two of them never botched what they had though, which was something; the correct man won...see, you can come up with positives if you try hard enough. The post-match debacle? Just a bit unpleasant, really. Not the worst WWE has done, no way. It kinda helps that Cole doesn't take it seriously after a few seconds. I will not give this a star rating. But I will promise never to watch it again. And you shouldn't either. Don't waste your time. Go away. Now. Bye bye. *hic*
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KENNEL FROM HELL, Unforgiven 1999 by @HarmonicGenerator

And here is review 2:

Big Boss Man vs. Al Snow, Kennel From Hell, Unforgiven 1999

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We join the action as the blue cage is being set up before the Cell is lowered. A man comes out. Another man comes out.

The superstars in this match, JR assures us, are trained. But where are they? The men hit each other.

THEY’RE HERE! We never learn their names, so I will call them after the characters in Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs.

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Chief, Rex, Duke and King make their way to the ring at a rate of knots, and play to the crowd at ringside as they do a lap. Great showdogship.

The four of them head in between the cages and go to greet the man wearing black. Rex and Duke are barking. They’re having a great time.

The others join in, but there’s some heat between Duke and Chief and they face off against each other, the unstoppable paws against the immwoofable object as the men do something.

It’s getting as heated as Bret and Shawn fighting backstage here, with Rex taking Chief’s side. Duke is basically in a handicap scenario here, his partner King has abandoned him to the superior numbers. Can he overcome the odds?

A man gets hit with some metal and bleeds.

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Everyone goes over to the other side of the ring, Duke looking frantically for King. Where is that sneaky bastard? He turns himself into a one dog airplane spin looking for his former best friend.

One of the men has some powder. Both men are bleeding now.

More importantly, Rex and Chief are starting to get closer. It’s safety in numbers as Duke has another go. Courageous on his part. It’s essentially a pull apart brawl out here. They’ll kill each other if someone doesn’t get this under control!

The in-fighting soon stops as everyone gathers to watch a man try to climb but not succeed.

This match has terrible camerawork, they keep focusing on the humans for some fucking reason. Worse than World of Sport for missing stuff.

King, who has been guarding the door this entire time, missing the chance for a tag team showdown, watches on as a man leaves. Everybody barks in celebration, but NO! It’s kicking off! We’re on! King and Duke vs. Rex and Chief! And is that a fifth dog? WHOSE SIDE IS HE  ON? 

They fight to the back in what was sure to be a slobber knocker, but really, considering in what close proximity those dogs were to Jim Ross, everybody is just glad that nobody got murdered and thrown in a river.

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6 Man Scramble, Armageddon 2000 by @cobra_gordo

Armageddon 2000 fell right in the middle of my second wave of fandom, during another boom period and at a time as a 15 year old where WWF were blurring the lines between what was real and fake. I was in year 10 at school, wrestling was cool again and the playground buzz and rumour mill was back in full swing. “The Undertaker is a different guy to the one in the early 90’s”, “Ultimate Warrior is dead” and “Rikishi is good isn’t he?” were just a few of the outlandish things being said at break time. A six man Hell In A Cell was something that you’d have expected someone in our school yard to have made up but when it turned out that not only was it happening, but who was going to be involved, we all lost our collective shit. I mean, fuck, look at that lot.

 

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 Arguably 5 of the greatest stars wrestling has ever seen, and Rikishi.

 

The build up to this match is that Stone Cold has returned after being ran over. Rikishi is involved because it randomly turns out he was driving the car and wanted to take Austin out so The Rock could take the top spot. Triple H has formed an alliance with Rikishi and The Undertaker just likes chokeslamming Kurt Angle off stages. Comissioner Foley has had enough and wants everything to be settled in a six man Hell In A Cell match.

 

Throughout the show there are various segments showing Vince trying to talk the participants out of the match, that he’s too concerned that his 5 top guys (and Rikishi) will be injured beyond repair and he’s only trying to protect his investments. He tries to reason with Foley who’s having none of it and wants the match to go ahead. There are also interviews with Taker who goes in to graphic detail about destroying Shawn Michaels and Mick Foley in previous cell matches and he seems chillingly real. Watching this live, by the time the main event rolled around I’d bought in to it big time. The tension had been ramped up and I remember being genuinely concerned somebody was going to get seriously hurt.

 

As the competitors start to enter the cell, Angle looks at the structure like he’s going to his own funeral and stays outside the cage out of the way. Austin is the last man to come out, to a thunderous pop, and goes straight for Angle. Once inside the cage the match finally starts with plenty of brawling outside the ring whilst Taker picks Kurt apart between the ropes. Austin sticks with Triple H and The Rock and Rikishi go at it.

 

We’re 6 minutes in and Triple H is the first to start bleeding. Austin seems determined to bust him open hardway as he’s battering him with forearms and running Hunters face up and down the cage. The pace picks up a bit and we’re back in the ring. Everybody has had a fair showing up until now and it’d be hard to call who’s going to win at this stage. Apart from maybe Triple H, who’s now a bloody mess and just been thrown in to the cage wall again, this time by Undertaker.

 

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Austin has just delivered a Lou Thesz press to Rikishi as a flatbed truck starts reversing down the entrance way with Vince McMahon, Patterson and Briscoe stood on the back doing their serious faces.

 

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Vince shouts at some workmen and some referees as chains are wrapped round the cell door, the truck sets off and the door flies off. Vince is trying to tie chains round the rest of the cell, seemingly in a bid to pull it to the ground and crush the wrestlers he’s so desperate to protect, as Foley’s music hits and he comes stomping down the entrance way determined to send Vince and co packing. Displeased with their lack of cooperation, Foley twats the stooges for their troubles and then turns his attention to Vince who gets carted off by security shouting “It’s my show!”. Classic panto Vince.

 

Now the fun starts. Triple H has found himself outside of the cage with Stone Cold in persuit. They fight their way up the entrance way to a pile of old cars. That’s something I miss about the old WWF shows, the entrance sets always looked so cool and it was always fun when wrestlers interacted with them. Like Triple H has just done. Stone Cold has just interacted poor Hunters face in to the bonnet of an ugly brown car. He gets two more for his trouble and the crowd is absolutely lapping this up. Trips is just getting to his feet as Stone Cold smacks him with one of the TV cameras. The replay of that shot is brilliant- Triple H’s body approaching the lens at speed and then off he goes, bouncing on to another car.

 

The other lads have caught up so now and there’s loads more brawling by the cars, Stone Cold gets his head put through a car window and now he’s bleeding like mad. Angle’s just gone through a car window aswell now. There’s that much going on the cameras are struggling to keep up. The Rock’s decided it’s his turn to bash Trips in to a car. Poor Triple H, he’s taking a pasting here. The Rock takes him up on to a car roof and he’s setting up for a Rock Bottom but finally our Hunter gets the upper hand and young Dwayne eats a Pedigree on the car roof.

 

Undertaker has clearly decided he’s had enough of fighting around on cars so he takes Kurt back to ringside and tries to strangle him to death with a cable instead. They really loved a bit of attempted murder in the Attitude Era didn’t they? Triple H has finally decided to get away from Austin and climbing to the top of the cage seems like the logical way to do this. The crowd comes unglued at this point as they’re sensing something is about to go down, which it does eventually- literally. Austin and Trips have a good old scrap up there. The crowd are screaming and there’s camera flashes going off everywhere now. Triple H eats a stunner as Kurt Angle makes his way on to the roof, followed by Undertaker. More brawling on the roof until Rikishi makes his way to the top to smack Taker with a chair. Rikishi chases Angle off so he’s all alone on the roof with Taker now. Taker fights back and they make their way to the edge of the cage roof. The crowd are all on their feet by now. Lawler is screaming on commentary that Undertaker is going to be the one who gets thrown off the cage but it’s not meant to be. “You can see the edge of the world from here” shouts JR as Undertaker wraps his hand round Rikisi’s throat and chokeslams him on to the back of the truck below.

 

 

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That’s still a pretty amazing bump. Yes there’s mats in the back of the truck, yes it's more of a shove than a "proper" chokeslam but who cares? Rikishi is easily the biggest lad in this match by a long shot, he takes it like a champ and it's a stunning visual.

 

The action cuts back to Stone Cold and The Rock in the ring. Austin is staring at the truck with a genuine look of “Holy shit, is he dead?” on his face. The crowd is at fever pitch now as Austin and The Rock trade blows in the middle of the ring ending in a double down but Rock somehow finds the energy to set up The Peoples Elbow. He looks knackered at this point, blood streaming from his face but he’s attacked from behind by Triple H before he can hit it. Angle sneak attacks Rock who counters in to a Rock Bottom. All three men are down now, Stone Cold is the first to his feet and drills a groggy Rock with a stunner. He’s distracted by Triple H who also gets a stunner and Angle manages to creep across the mat to get one hand on The Rock’s chest to get the three count and retain the WWF Championship. Austin has to steal poor Kurt’s thunder and give him a stunner for his trouble after the match. Bloody Austin. 

 

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TLDR: This match is brilliant. It’s been in my top 5 for years now because it’s a perfect Attitude Era car crash and a snapshot of why I loved wrestling so much at the time. The Cell still had a scary aura, there’s blood, trucks, cars, run ins, attempted murder, fighting on the roof, a massive bump and more blood. Most importantly, the story is fantastic, everything matters and I still don’t think Angle is going to steal the win at the end.

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Triple H v Chris Jericho, Judgment Day 2002 by @Otto Dem Wanz

 

After Lucy the Dog shat everywhere and Jericho had to clean it up, 2002’s Wrestlemania main event between these two went down like a lead balloon. Not only was this because of such poor build but it also had to follow the Rock vs Hulk Hogan, on a night fans’ extreme nostalgia made them use up all their energy and emotional investment in this “once in a lifetime” match (good idea for a tagline to a wrestling bout actually, they should use that in the future).

 

Judgment Day 2002’s card had no equal in that regard, and so what could be deemed as the “feud ender” for this rivalry should have a better shot of going down well on this particular night.

 

After entrances and the first few exchanges they don’t take long to get outside and commence the usual Cell-barging, with Jericho bouncing off the structure several times in a row and HHH brining out the “Undertaker 1997” trick of Irish whipping Jericho into the cage and meeting him with a straight clothesline when he rebounds. Y2J is then whipped into the stairs already having a bloody shoulder (where this happened I have no clue) but when H tries to piledrive him on the steps he fights out of it and flips H over, whose body makes a very uncomfortable “thwack” sound on the floor and then Jericho catapults him face first into the Cell.

 

The camera follows Jericho who brings a ladder out from under the ring, during which time I assume HHH does a cheeky blade job as his forehead is now full of crimson. Jericho then rams the ladder into his face for good measure. The always painful to watch “face smearing/cheese grater” strategy is employed by Jericho who now has the upper hand in the match, another ladder to the face but when going for a third, Jericho is met by a steel chairing wielding game who twats the ladder forcing Jericho to drop it, but its only temporary respite as Jericho hit a bulldog on to the ladder for good measure! Jericho meets steel with his face himself as a drop toe hold onto the steel stops him in his tracks, neck breaker then facebuster, and H then CHUCKS the steel steps at Jericho which collide hard with his already damaged and bloody shoulder. That was reckless but looked ace.

 

They move to the outside with H still in control, Tim White the ref is shouting at them telling both men to get inside, which they do, but after H throws Jericho towards the ropes he crashes HARD into White who is on the apron, making him catapult at a worryingly fast pace straight into the Cell wall. This spot was done way too fast and White has no control of how he hits the Cell or lands, it’s no fucking wonder he injured himself. The crash landing where White’s body sickeningly hits the floor looks brutal as well, and again I’ll stress its clear they put way too much speed and power into the spot leaving White with a fucked up shoulder and a refereeing career all but over.

 

Jericho ignores the fallout of this and twats H over the head with a chair and covers, but the ref is out so he doesn’t get his desired 3 count. He’s frustrated and throws the ref into the Cell again and covers him with boots, White now has a crimson mask of his own - excellent heeling from Y2J!


Other refs rush from the back to help their colleague, using bolt cutters (a rarely seen wrestling prop but one that showed up in both matches I reviewed for this, how strange) to open the Cell door, and in the meantime H has recovered and has hit a spinebuster to leave both men down. While the refs fuss over Tim White, H procures a sledgehammer and gets a clean head shot to keep Y2J down for longer than 3 but no one there to count it. Jericho crawls outside the Cell and here we go!

 

Slamming the door in H’s face (they’re not half arsing with some of these moves, that too was done with plenty of force), they move round the side of the Cell and Jericho removes monitors from the ringside announce desks. H fights out of a Walls of Jericho on a table then hits a brain scrambling DDT taking both men straight through it - great move. The brutality escalates further when H brings out the “early 2000 PPV treat” in the form of a barbed wire laced 2x4 bat. Jericho tries to escape via climbing up the Cell but H follows him up with his newly procured weapon. The bat is first used against HHH though and interestingly, Jericho, when wielding the bat up high, has TREMENDOUS heel heat with the crowd (I’d always assumed this came during Jericho’s several lukewarm heel phases and I’ve never thought HHH has been much of a sympathetic babyface at any time you care to mention).

 

A Walls of Jericho follows on top of the cell which makes for an ace visual, Mike Chioda who I guess is the official in charge now is seen climbing to the top (which he does very fucking well for a non-athlete) to spot any submissions or pins. H saves himself from more barbed wire pain via a low blow, attempt to hits a pedigree but is only backdropped onto the cell - and despite commentator speculation the cage does NOTgive way a la King of the Ring 1998 or No Way Out 2000. H regains his composure and hits Jericho with barbie right on the top of the head (which makes me cringe for his surely tangled and ripped scalp and hair) but only scores 2.

 

A couple of interesting things we see before this one heads home - much of the action of top and all of the covers attempted on there are being covered by a pretty sweet camera angle filming them from underneath inside the ring, and there’s a hilarious sign being held up by a fan in a very prominent position during these last exchanges: “After marriage to Stephanie. Hell in a cell should be easy :D 

 

H then hits Pedigree on top of the Cell for 3 and this one is over. He celebrates on top of the Cell whilst the aforementioned camera angle captures a blood soaked Jericho almost weeping through the steel.

 

This was a decent effort, both men worked hard and certainly provided ample blood and violence, and the ref bumps were great (if costly) additions. That said I think this Cell match suffers from a few things: 
 

  • The feud between Jericho and HHH was nowhere near as hot as it was two summers before.

 

  • Chronologically this was sandwiched between two of the best ever Cell matches for my money (Armageddon 2000 and No Mercy 2002), and is nowhere near as good in comparison.

 

  • Its in the middle of a weird year in WWE, nothing really felt seminal and the company wasn't quite ready to emerge from its period of transition - the hot years had ended, Attitude was over but the Ruthless Aggression era hadn’t quite kicked in and business was down.

 

Due to the above this match - I think is justifiably - is lost in the shuffle when it comes to Cell bouts, and it probably won’t be near the top of anyone’s list unless there’s an extreme personal connection or nostalgia associated with it.

 

A decent watch, and although it was nothing really to write home about, the most memorable thing about this for me was the way a referee’s career ended in such a nasty way. To me this captures how well the Cell’s aura of being a sadistic playground for brutes was expressed in its fledgling years, and I don’t think its stretching to say the violence dealt out to Tim White’s shoulder here - forcing him to retire - really did help add to the lore, mystique and aura of the Hell in a Cell concept in general.

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Brock Lesnar v Undertaker, No Mercy 2002 by @tiger_rick

I remember at the time going into the Taker/Lesnar Cell match still seething at the setup the month before where the all conquering Lesnar had been stopped for the first time by going to a none finish with Taker who’d spent the previous two years shitting on everyone new to the WWF. What I’d completely forgotten was the angle that went along with this feud. The original Claire Lynch if you will. Taker, or “Mark” so we knew shit was rea, was accused of cheating on his pregnant wife by a terrible actress while Lesnar harassed said wife. As bad as it sounds.

 

Meanwhile on Raw, Kane was in the midst of the hideous Katie Vick “Kane is a murderer” storyline. Worse than it sounds. So they start the PPV with Taker and Kane sat backstage as Kane just says “So… How was your week?” Fucking gold.

 

Taker enters the sell sporting a cast on a broken hand. I think the commentators put over that it’s an advantage and along with discussion of Taker’s previous in Hell in a cell, Lesnar is painted as a bit of an underdog. Which is the right story.

 

The commentary is decent from Cole and Tazz. I’m not a big fan of either in retrospect. Tazz’s manner and his key phrases are annoying and Cole has also sounded false but they get the story over and aways keep focus on what needs selling to the audience.

 

The crowd in the arena is completely different to the modern day. There are no chants, no attempts to be part of it or put it over. There’s just a buzz that ebbs and flows with the match and it’s great. It’s not distracting, it doesn’t take you out of it and just adds to what is going on.

 

The match is as good as I remembered. It’s not a patch on Taker/Shawn, which is still the bench mark, but feels like a fight. Jericho & Trips earlier in the year had taken away the need to have the big spot in the Cell and this doesn’t ever threaten one. The most innovative use of the cage is Lesnar swinging from the inside to kick Taker in the face. As was the style of the time, every fucker bleeds – even Heyman.

 

Lesnar takes a couple of shot from the cast early on, either side of working it over. A cash-shot to the head cuts him open and Taker takes over with a great looking leg drop on the apron and then a crap looking knee drop from the top rope. Strange not hearing them scream about how the apron is the hardest part of the ring through modern ears. Taker gets hold of Heyman through the big circles cut into the cell and Paul E. blades as he’s pulled into the mesh.

 

Lesnar recovers and gets a belt from Heyman. He ties Taker to the cage and batters his hand with a chair as Heyman screams “YOU’RE GONNA DIE NOW!” over and over. Bit OTT, lads. After several teases, Lesnar rips the cast off and the crowd buy into it with gasps galore. Taker can’t life the steel steps due to the hand injury and pays for it as Lesnar smashes him in the face with them and Taker juices a gusher. Looks like he’s dipped his head in red paint. At one point, blood splashes onto the camera lens. It’s gross.

 

Another shot with the steps to Taker’s shoulder puts him down but he avoids an F5 and hits a chokeslam which Lesnar kicks out of. A naff looking DDT and a top rope elbow that would embarrass CM Punk don’t keep him down either. They’re telling a great story though. Lesnar is the fucking an. He grabs the rope after a last ride in a great “veteran move” and then reverses a tombstone into an F5 in a superb spot for a brilliant, definitive finish.

 

Lesnar’s got a gouge in his head, in his right shoulder and his left arm. Taker looks a murder victim. Lesnar climbs the cell and celebrates on the top. He looks like the star he should have a month earlier.

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Triple H v Kevin Nash, Bad Blood 2003 by @BrodyGraham

I knew I'd get something like this.

I have a confession. I like workrate. Always have, always will. I have misty eyed remembrances of old WCW Worldwide's when I loved watching Tom Zenk and Brian Pillman zip around the ring, confounding their larger opponents. I can remember seeing Scorpio and a young Canadian Bad Boy Chris Benoit. Later after falling out with wrestling and then being sucked back in during The Monday Night Wars, I'd discover WCW Cruiserweights and ECW. Not prime ECW though, 1999 ECW with RVD, Jerry Lynn and Lance Storm putting on ridiculous spot heavy matches at 100 mph. Of course, WCW and ECW would die, which led me to discovering ROH and the nascent American Indie scene in 2002. I was in love, not just because of the work rate, but because it was underground, I loved Emo, the early 2000's post hardcore scene, I was 21 or 22 and I was a pretentious little prick.

I've not really outgrown any of that, so it only seems fitting that I review Triple H Vs Kevin Nash from Bad Blood 2003.

We're in Brand Split 1 time. It's when Smackdown was ace and Raw was at it's most bloated and stereotypically 'Vince'. Big Men! Soap Opera! The ritual humiliation of Eric Bischoff and Triple H on top. The undercard includes Co-GM's Bischoff and Austin engaging in a Red Neck Triathlon and Goldberg Vs Chris Jericho. The main event seems like the least interesting thing on the card.

I've got a lot of time for Kevin Nash, he's a cracking interview, an engaging speaker, an underrated on screen actor and a keen mind with an interesting take on the business and his own work in it.

He doesn't have good matches.

Triple H is one of the most interesting top liners in my lifetime. He's worked good matches with a laundry list of greats. He's been good, great, the drizzling shits and back again more times than I can count.

In 2003, Triple H was bloated as fuck and living off the back of his wife and his magic shovel.

This isn't great.

This is the second World Title match between Hunter and Big Sexy after Trips squeaked out of Judgement Day with the Big Gold belt on a DQ loss and Nash consequently knocked fuck out of him and gave him his patented Jacknife through the announce table. The first match came as a result of Nash coming back from  a quad tear (!) and not being able to decide if he liked Evil Trips or Born Again Shawn best. This angers Triple H, who cheap shots Kev and goes after his knee, essentially making his mind up for him. They are now mortal enemies according to Jim Ross, except the crowd still seem to know that they're best mates really.

The feud is so intense that no ref will take the match, leading to baby-face Co-GM Steve Austin assigning Mick Foley as the referee for this Cell match. The enmity between Foley and Triple H, after their feud in 99/2000 is a massive focus of the commentary and pre-match hype package. It has to be said that the video package for this is excellent, really selling this as a dynamic rivalry when in reality this programme was anything but.

The principles have their entrances. Nash shambles to the ring like a very large man with very weak knees, this will be something of a theme in the match. Nash's music is awful, a slow, roadhouse style dirge that does plenty to remind us that Kev is big but nothing to conjure up any images of sexiness.

The Game hits the ring to the strains of Motorhead and is wearing blue trunks and boots. I'm not a fan of Trips in colours. It's got to be black with the biker metal designs or at a stretch, white but he looks a state in blue. This is early Evolution Hunter, with L'ORÉAL hair and, about 4 months out of his feud with Scott Steiner, he is sporting a ridiculous physique. He doesn't look dangerous, he looks puffy and awkward, like any second his body is going to collapse into blubber. 

Foley comes down. In the run up to this match Triple H reminded Foley that he's just an ordinary guy. Between his entrance and the body of the match Jerry Lawler reminds the audience of this what feels like a hundred times but is probably only a couple of dozen.

The match starts and they circle each other slowly, very slowly. Trips hits the ropes and bounds around Kev at a rate that defies his size before eating a big boot. Which leads into a bump and feed sequence that Hunter goes into with significant aplomb. There are a couple of these in the match and it's worth saying how good a salesman Triple H is. He really shows arse for Nash at times in this match which makes it all the more jarring the couple of times when he makes the most arbitrary comebacks possible. 

There are points in this match where he goes from half dead to viciously mugging Nash from literally nowhere.

The main meat of the match is slow motion brawling, largely outside of the ring. Fairly early on Nash delivers a back drop that looks like he's doing it through treacle but results in Helmsley taking the wettest, slappiest back bump ever. From there he somehow cuts off a Jacknife before finding a tool box and attacking Nash with a small hammer to the head and knee and stabbing him with a screwdriver. In the middle of this there's a minor scuffle between The Game and Foley to give Big Sexy a chance to blade. They exchange barbed wire two by four shots and go into another bump and feed sequence.

I don't think Kev takes a single bump in this match. In my notes for this I wrote, 'Kev's knees are fucked,' four times.

By this point both men are bleeding gushers. 

Triple H clobbers Nash with a packing crate after taking a Snake Eyes to the barb wire 2x4 in the corner. There's a spot where Kev delivers a drip toe hold onto the steel steps into a very laboured 2 count. 

The crowd, it has to be said are largely dead through all of this until Trips goes on a chair rampage leading to Foley, who has colour by now, attacking with Socko to a good pop. The crowd don't really heat up though until Foley takes a daft apron bump into the cell leading into the finishing sequence.

Nash hits a slingshot into the barb wire before drilling Hunter with the powerbomb. The crowd really buy into the 2 count. Hunter somehow manages to crawl away before assassinating Kev's cerebrum with a sledgehammer shot into the Pedigree. 

The Game doesn't quite give him the Booker T length crawling transition into a three count, because you know, mates, but it isn't far short.

Flair and Orton come down to support Triple H's limp carcass and we get the Titan card.

There's not really a lot I can say about this in summary. Both guys are running on less than full mobility at this point, Nash with his knees and H as a result of his weird obsession with being BIG. Triple H puts in a shift but there's so much of this match and just this run in general that just speaks of ego that it derails his own hard work.

He's fighting a giant! The giant used to be his best mate! The ref is his sworn enemy! How can this valiant baby-face overcome these odds? Oh, he's the heel? Well after absorbing a hellacious beating one Pedigree and a short nap should be enough for the pin.

Someone will probably love this. They certainly loaded it with reasons to care but sadly the principle characters were never in a position where they could deliver.

I don't know if this is for anyone, but it's definitely not for me!

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Triple H v Batista, Vengeance 2005 by @Fatty Facesitter

Author's note: I'm telling you all right now - watch this match before Sunday. If you've never seen it before, watch it. If you've watched it before...watch it again. Whatever your varying levels of excitement are ahead of this weekend's PPV - if this match doesn't whet your appetite for it then nothing will, and if you don't at least have a semi by the end of it, we can't be friends. 

 

Prologue

After months of teasing dissension in the ranks, Dave Batista finally turned babyface by attacking Triple H and Ric Flair on the February 21st 2005 episode of Raw, putting ol’ Trips through a table to a massive pop before signing a contract which meant he’d go one on one with the Game at Wrestlemania 21. 

And so began their ‘Mania program, and the main event bout which would ultimately lead to big Dave’s crowning as the new World Heavyweight champion. His foe seemingly conquered, Dave had won the big one and become the new MAN on the Raw brand. 

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But because Hunter was a stubborn old get, he wouldn’t accept defeat lightly, and the rematch was on for Backlash just a few weeks later. But try as he might HHH couldn’t get the upper hand, and Batista retained his corn once again as HHH put someone over clean on PPV for the second month in a row. 

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But Trips STILL wouldn’t take no for an answer, and the feud continued.

After all they’d already been through together, there was only one thing for it. Only one match that could truly end the rivalry and let everyone know once and for all who the top dog really was.

And of course, that leads us to Vengeance, and it also leads to...Hell in a Cell!

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It’s increasingly rare in the modern age, but this had a genuine big fight feel about it and a real sense of anticipation. Batista comes out in spiffy white trunks and his pyro is well on point. JR is absolutely phenomenal in one of his last truly great announcing performances here. As Dave is about to enter the ring he says “The World’s champion is about to set off on his maiden voyage…to hell!” 

Triple H is rocking the Lemmy handlebar moustache. The door is locked. They’re both mouthing off on each other, goading each other. Pretty sure you can lip read them ‘effing and jeffing.

Bell time. IT’S ON. 

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The Match

Big Dave is the first one to take the fight outside the ring (but still between the walls on the cell) and looks to have the upper hand early doors, but a clever reversal by your favourite Cerebral Assassin (and mine) sees the champ collide with the ring post. Trips isn’t daft - he knows he’s got to turn the screw in early doors if he’s going to get his gold back. 

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HHH knees Dave in the ribs on the apron with such force it sends him crashing into the cage wall, as Hunter introduces his former protege into the cage walls a couple more times.

JR: “The cell has a very sado-masochistic personality in my view. Always waiting for it’s next victim…much like Triple H.”

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It doesn’t take long for things to get kinky as HHH whips out a chain and starts laying out the big man with it. It looks brutal, it sounds brutal and I can only imagine that unless it’s a very cleverly designed prop, it probably felt fucking brutal as well. Then in one of many memorable visuals from the match, HHH chokes Dave out with the chain against the ropes. “The Game is trying to choke the life, AND the World title from Batista!” JR is ON IT tonight. 

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But oh shit, Dave recovers, breaks free and then HE starts whipping HHH with the chain. Trips sells it with his trademark back arch like he’s taking one from behind like Salma Hayek in Desperado, before Dave takes him to the outside. He scoops the Game up and simultaneously shoulder barges him first into the ring post, then the cell wall, then back to the post and then back to the wall again!

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The fight continues. Trips blades as Dave looks to continue the onslaught, but back in the ring a HHH Spinebuster stops him in his tracks. He scurries to the outside and…hello chicken…what’s this?…Oh SHIT.

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HHH, bleeding like a good’un, absolutely LEATHERS Dave with the chair and there’s clearly marks on his back from the barbed wire. It looked and sounded fucking disgusting. And this is the relatively early stages of the match too! 

The battle continues and Dave breaks it up with a clothesline. He looks over at the chair, picks it up and now HE leathers Trips with it right on the bean. “For the love of God! He hit him right in the face! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!!” 

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That is one sick puppy. Dave continues the assault on the outside, grinding Trips’ face against the cage wall. Back in, HHH manages to dodge a shoulder tackle and Dave eats the post. HHH goes for a Pedigree on the barbed-wire chair, but Dave backbody drops himself out of danger before powerslamming the Game onto the chair for 2!

“Say what you want about Triple H, he may be a no good bastard in some people’s eyes, but that was one hell of a kickout.” I don’t what JR’s on tonight, but someone inject into my veins.

Dave goes to deliver another blow with the chain, but HHH counters to a DDT on the chair in a desperation move. More blood!

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HHH continues the assault and use the cell wall to his advantage on the outside. He tosses the big man back in and goes under the ring.

Stop. HAMMER TIME. 

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Batista meets him back in and lines up the Batista Bomb, but HHH blackbody drops his way out of the predicament.

Sledgehammer. BOOM - right between the eyes! 

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The Game limply covers, but he can only get 2 at this visit.

Both men look absolutely fucked, covered in blood. This…THIS is what hell in a cell is all about. Fuck it, this is what pro-wrestling is al about. The culmination of an epic rivalry with delicious servings of brutality.

HHH goes to bring the hammer down on Dave once again, but gets low-blowed for his troubles. In a somewhat visual passing of the torch, Dave takes hold of the hammer. 

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Dave goes for the killer blow, but HHH meets him just in time with the steel chain for 2. HHH balls up the chain in his fist and makes a rare excursion to the second turnbuckle. With Batista prone on the canvas, he makes a leap of faith, only for Dave to meet his skull with a killer sledgehammer blow, HHH selling it with such sadistic, artistic mastery that he SPITS BLOOD INTO THE AIR, stumbles and Flair Flops onto the mat. Fuck me sideways.

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“The World title is still at stake! Who’s going to survive this ride to hell? Who’s got the round-trip ticket to come back home?” JR is the fucking greatest of all time. 

Dave pummels away and then brings the ring steps into play, clattering HHH on the outside before bringing them into the ring. JR: “Has the hell in a cell changed the heart and soul of Batista?”

Batista bounces Hunter’s face off the steps in the ring and they sound like fucking shotgun blasts. Dave calls for the Davebomb…LOW BLOW. KICK. WHAM. PEDIGREE!!

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And at this point 2005 me was going oh for FUCK sake, he’s just won it hasn’t he? BUT DAVE KICKS OUT. Everyone is stunned. The crowd is ROARING for Batista at this point. 

HHH lines up the base of the ring steps on the canvas. The end is nigh. HHH lines up the Pedigree on the steps to finish this one and for all. But…

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SPINEBUSTER ON THE BASTARD STEPS. I don’t think Trips needed to ‘sell’ the impact of that one very much somehow. Shine a fucking light. 

Now Dave wants to end it. He lines up the Batista Bomb once again. As he puts HHH’s bloody face between his enormous, bulging thighs, HHH grabs the hammer. Dave hoists Trips up to his shoulders, the hammer still in the latter’s grasp. HHH goes to strike, but before he can…DAVEBOMB MOTHERFUCKER. 

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Batista covers…1…2…3!! 

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“Batista went to hell...And he survived!”

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And that’s your match. Still up there with some of the best cell matches they’ve ever done IMO. Everything about it in terms of intensity, JR’s commentary, the pace, everything was as close to perfect as you can get form something like this. Both guys just went for it. I remember thinking it was fantastic at the time, but this was the first time I’d watched it back in probably something like ten years and it didn’t disappoint. Absolutely fucking brilliant. Wrestling is amazing theatre when it’s done properly. 

After feuding for months this was probably the best possible way to culminate the storyline, and as much as his Wrestemania title win is probably the most replayed moment of Dave’s career and arguably the moment he ‘arrived’ as a main eventer, this I would argue is the match that fully cemented his place at the top of the card and the moment you knew he totally belonged as his own entity and not just as hunter’s pet project. Triple H often got shat on in the 00’s for not putting enough people over, but you can’t knock how he made Dave a star in this run. 

Epilogue

As brilliant as the match is, there’s something that I think a lot of people will have missed unless they’ve seen the clip as a DVD extra. Post-match, Ric is consoling a battered HHH backstage, when Batista walks into their lockeroom. 

Batista: “It’s over”

HHH: “…*Spits out blood*…You’re damn right it’s over.”

They shake hands, then embrace. What a moment - after months of feuding and after everything they’d put each other through in the cell, HHH couldn’t hide his pride at the man his protege had become. The torch had been passed. 

“This is Evolution, baby.”

 

END.

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The Undertaker v Randy Orton, Armageddon 2005 by @Supremo

The Undertaker vs. Randy Orton – Armageddon 2005

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Right. First and foremost, the video package of the build-up for this match is absolutely bonkers. Highlights include the following:

The Undertaker being set on fire inside a casket.

The Undertaker being “killed,” by being rammed by newly-dead Eddie Guerrero’s car, which is then set on fire by pyro.

Undertaker appearing in mirrors to scare Randy Orton. For reasons not explained, the viewers are able to see the same hallucinations that Randy sees.  

Randy Orton in therapy talking about how scared he is of The Undertaker.

Lightning bolts setting caskets on fire that The Undertaker then comes out of to attack Randy.

Randy Orton opening up a casket to see him and his dad inside.

Randy hallucinating that his dad is covered in blood. Again, the viewers see the hallucination as well.

Undertaker, "haunting," Orton through TV screens.

Orton announcing his retirement to avoid the match, only to attack Taker via distraction when Bob Orton comes out with the urn.

Fucking hell, this is mental! So much going on! Here’s a little taste.

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This is all so, so shit, yet with today’s eyes there’s a definite charm to it. Genuinely, this is far more preferable to the NOTHING we get on WWE TV nowadays. We're lucky to get one angle like this every four to six months. Here, it seems like they did one every single week! Obviously the Eddie stuff is horrendously tasteless and impossible to defend but the rest of it, I have to admit, I actually enjoyed! If we could go back and find threads on here from December 2005 I guarantee I'd have been moaning and whinging about all this wrestlecrap, but little did I know that one day I’d get my “just let the wrestlers wrestle~!” fantasy and it would suck the biggest dick imaginable. The me from 2005 would’ve probably cried with delight at the idea of a Cruiserweight-exclusive show where all they do is have above-average matches. What a fool I was. Give me back this silly nonsense!

Onto the match. Orton comes out to his old, “Hey! Nothing you can say!” music, looking younger than I ever remember him. Bob Orton comes out with him, holding Undertaker’s urn. I don’t know if they shot an angle where Bob stole the urn. Probably something daft and stupid that I'd now kill for. Orton gets the big falling pyro and looks like a superstar. Undertaker comes out wearing so much eye liner that he looks like a Panda. Taker slams the door shut. This is so weird seeing Orton this young. It’s like someone has put a toddler in a cage to fight an old, angry, ginger goth.

The bell rings and Randy Orton is on the back foot immediately, avoiding Taker’s strikes. Ha ha! I’d forgotten about when Taker had so obviously started watching The Ultimate Fighter and kept incorporating MMA stuff into his act. Magic zombie wizard, now with MMA gloves. Hilarious. Finally he gets hold of Orton and they start trading high spots. Big back body drops and drop kicks from Orton have little effect on Taker, who hits him with a big boot, then throws him outside. Punches on the outside from Taker. Continued beatdown in the ring. Continued beatdown on the outside. Orton is now crawling away. Undertaker gets a chair from underneath the ring and fucking WALLOPS Orton right in the head. Jesus Christ. This is a very different time. Orton gets up bleeding. Another chair to the head but thankfully Randy got his hands up this time. Orton’s bloody face is rammed against the cage for a nice visual. Michael Cole says it’s like a cheese grater, as if people have no experience of chain linked fences in their real lives. It’s not like a cheese grater at all, Cole.

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Orton is bleeding everywhere but has grabbed a steel chain. Taker grabs the chain off him though and starts choking Orton with it, as his face pisses blood. This is a very, very different time. Taker throws Orton headfirst into the cage and Orton sells it brilliantly, doing this horrible, soft cry on the floor like he’s dying. You almost feel sympathy for him, his selling is that good.

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Orton finally fights back, grabbing the steel steps, but Taker kicks the steps into Orton and continues the beatdown. Is Orton definitely supposed to be the heel here? This is brutal and not particularly comfortable to watch. If anything, I want to see Randy mount a comeback and save himself. There’s now blood smeared on the ring posts. This is so wild to see in 2018. You forget how much they used blood as a shortcut back then and how the goal seemed to be to bleed as much as possible without actually having a die. It’s fucking everywhere!

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Orton hits an RKO. Well, sort of. He hangs Taker on the top rope as he’s trying to enter the ring, but the announcers are calling it an RKO. OK. Orton finally mounts some offence, stomping on Taker. Orton picks up the steps and hits Taker with them. Taker is now bleeding too. More, “cheese grating,” this time on Taker’s face. Orton is now choking Taker with the chain as they both bleed. This is a very, very, very different time. Justin Roberts must be turning in his grave.

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Orton with a hard chair shot to Taker’s head. Taker looks to have got his hand up ever so slightly, but still. All these guys are going to be fucked in their later years. More brawling outside. This isn’t particularly fun or exciting. It’s just two blokes plodding along, bleeding loads and hitting each other dead hard with chairs. Taker goes for a top rope elbow, but misses. Orton rolls out and gets a table from under the ring. Orton, “does a McMahon,” with a crazed, blood covered grin as he stands up. That’s the best thing about the match so far.

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Bob Orton tries to grab Taker through the cage, so Taker pulls Bob’s arm through the cage, smashing his head into the cage. Bob is now bleeding. This is ridiculous! Orton hits a weird powerslam into the cage and goes for the pin outside. The ref counts to two on the outside. Are Hell in a Cell matches falls count anywhere? Has this ever been confirmed?

More brawling on the inside. Taker hits a huge running clothesline for another two count. Taker hits Old School. Taker weirdly hits the downward spiral like he’s a newly debuted guy in 1999 who hasn’t got a proper finisher yet. Maybe he’ll hit the overdrive next? Snake eyes, boot to face, leg drop, all in quick succession. Two count again. Taker goes for a running big boot into the corner but gets caught crotched on the top rope. Orton punches him in the dick with the chain! Ha! Orton puts Taker on the table. Orton goes to the top rope and looks tentative, like Brock before he did the Shooting Star Press. Finally he jumps and… a big splash puts Taker through the table, but the way Orton lands is super awkward and it looks like he could have easily broken both wrists. Luckily, this is early in Orton’s career. If he’d landed like that later on he’d have thrown the biggest tantrum ever. Maybe even stopped the match and walked out.

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Taker goes to give Orton the Last Ride but Orton slips out the back and lands on his feet. Taker goes to punch Orton but accidentally chins the ref instead. Chokeslam reversed into an RKO! Orton goes for the pin! No referee! Nick Patrick is now bleeding on the outside. Ha ha! This is so stupid. Are Cole and Tazz gonna blade next? Another ref comes into the ring to count the three but Taker kicks out at two.

Cowboy Bob comes in now that the door is open, with the urn. Taker and Orton brawl some more in the ring. Taker goes for the Last Ride again and….hits it! This is finally starting to get fun! 1…2…. Bob Orton pulls the ref out and punches him! We never see that referee again but I imagine he’s bleeding. Taker gets out of the ring and beats up Bob Orton. Bob is now bleeding loads more, all over his white shirt. Nice touch with the shirt Bob, but seriously, pack it in.  Poor Bob looks too old to be pissing blood everywhere like this. He should be at home with a blanket.

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Taker goes for the Tombstone on Orton but Orton reverses and hits his own tombstone that looks absolutely HORRIFIC. With neither guy displaying any type of control, Taker lands right on his head. Bloody hell.

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Another ref runs in and counts 1….2….Taker kicks out and sits up with an angry face, likely furious at how badly his vertebrae feel. Orton keeps punching Taker until he can no longer sit up…but then Taker grabs his neck for a Chokeslam! Bob tries to interfere but Taker grabs the urn and hits both Bob and Randy in their blood-soaked faces. This ring must STINK of blood at this point. Tombstone for Bob Orton! Tombstone for Randy! This could be it! 1....2…..3! Taker wins! But he’s still got a grumpy face on him. I bet his neck is killing him. Taker leaves with the urn, throws it onto the top of the Cell, then climbs up and celebrates to close the show.

And that’s the end. I dunno. This was okay but it only got really fun at the end when they opened the Cell door and there was loads of silliness and finishers. Before then it was just loads of blood and not much else going on. If you're the PG SUX~! type then maybe this is for you, I guess. It was a spectacle to see so much stuff that we don't see nowadays but I don't think it made anything particularly better. Honestly, the best thing was the video package at the start. That was so daft, it was like a different universe to what we get now. Otherwise, this was an average affair where everyone needs to get checked for Hepatitis. 

Two and a half stars.

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Batista Vs The Undertaker, World Heavyweight Championship, Survivor Series 2007.  by @WeeAl

Batista comes out to his bloody fantastic music. JBL and Michael Cole tell us that this is the fifth meeting between the pair this year, with two draws and one win each. This right here, is the rubber match. Fuckin' A, that's when a Hell In A Cell should be used. Not just because it's the Autumn and Autumn colours are the same as the colours in a 🔥, so it makes for a colour co-ordinated poster. 

The crowd are chanting for Undertaker as Batista is left to pace back and forth. I paused the match to see what length of a PPV this was - 2 hours and 45 minutes for a big four show. Ahhh, the days when a single PPV didn't require you to book a full week off work in order to watch the show. 

Batista, in keeping with his nickname, looks like a wild animal in there, eyes and nostrils flaring like a madman. Both men are huge and look in great shape. Undi' steps into the Cell and HE slams the door behind him. Symbolic, for what awaits Big Dave here. 

We see a collar and elbow tie up, side headlock and then drop down, tackle, hip toss, blocked, clothesline. I wasn't expecting that. I thought we'd have a series of right han. . . Oh, there it is. Punches being exchanged and Undertaker is the clear favourite here over Dave. Taker is in control now, putting the beating to Batista. He hits Snake Eyes and a big boot for a two count and a call of 'VINTAGE' from Cole. JBL is rabbiting on, reminding me why I'm extremely glad he isn't a commentator any longer. Taker goes for a chair but Batista heads him off with a clunky looking spear. Batista tries to run into Undertaker with the chair but eats a big boot again, this time slamming the chair into Batista's chin and Taker takes over again. 

They are outside the ring now, with Taker beating Batista down then dragging his face along the mesh. More VINTAGE Undertaker as he goes for the leg drop while Batista is hung over the ring apron. Following this, we see Undertaker do something to Batista that should result in a trademark 'literally' call from Jamie Redknapp, for the death of big Dave. He puts the chair under Batista's throat and slams Batista and the chair into the ring steps. That should have killed him right there. He must be a fucking Bond Villain or a Guardian or something. Batista is bleeding from the mouth and what looks like the forehead now. Batista, quite rightly, looks knackered right now. 'Taker went to go old school but he got caught out and Batista hit him with a big spinebuster for a two count. Right hands back and forth here and Batista comes out on top of this one with a big clothesline. 

Batista hits the Running Powerslam for a two count. Taker gets a taste of his own medicine, going into the steps, the side of the cage and then eating another clothesline. However Undertaker gets back on top after reversing an Irish whip into the ring steps. JBL is banging on about Legacy repeatedly here. I probably should be doing a 'LEGACY' count rather than a 'VINTAGE' one. 

Snake Eyes by Undertaker as Batista goes like a dart into the cage. Take that Phil Taylor. Taker with a big chair shot to Batista and now The Animal is bleeding like fuck here. The crimson mask is out in full force as Taker gets thwarted again when he goes for Old School. Superplex from the second rope by Batista. But Taker counters the pin attempt with a triangle choke! Batista managed to make it to the ropes though. Taker let's go, but should he have had too? 

Taker goes for the most awkward looking dive through the ropes that I think I have ever seen, other than Vince's attempt to handicap himself at the Rumble in 2005. We get a close-up of Batista here and fuck me is he bleeding like crazy here. It's a wonder he's not keeled over, taking a nosedive in the corner of the ring with losing this amount of blood. Batista blocks Taker hitting him with the steps and then drives the Deadman into the ring post before smashing Taker in the face several times with the ring steps and now 'Undi is "Busted Wiiddde Open Maggle! HaHa!"

Batista channels his inner animal, biting the Undertaker in the head following giving him several punches in the corner. Taker doesn't like that though because he gives Batista The Last Ride but it's only good for a two count. Here's the Chokeslam! He hits it! Buy only two. That was a bigger near fall than the Last Ride but now Taker attempts the Tombstone but he's countered for a Spinebuster that gets big Dave a count of two, followed by a second Spinebuster. Batista though, doesn't go for the pin but instead is looking for Hornswoggle underneath the ring. He finally finds him and pulls him out by his shalleileigh, but oh, no, it's a table instead. Batista Bomb through the table!! It's only good for a two count! What a fucking powerbomb that was. He's going for the Batista Bomb on the steps but he gets backdropped by 'Undi onto the steel instead. Batista made it to the ropes before the count of three. Taker now has Batista up and he nails him with the Tombstone. That's gotta be it. . .NO! Batista kicks out! Unbelievable. Taker knows what to do though, Dave is going to be sorry. Taker has him up again for the Tombstone, and he gives him his finish on top of the ring steps and drops Dave like a sack of shit onto the canvas afterwards. One. . . Two. . .and the ref disappears because it's Edge! Edge is here and he was posing the whole time as a cameraman! He whacks Taker in the Dome with the camera, then he absolutely ends Taker's night with a conchairto and lays an unconscious Batista on top of The Undertaker for the pinfall and the successful defence of his title. Edge has screwed The Undertaker out of his shot at the title as the Cell is raised up around them. We think it's all over but Edge is back in again and clobbers the Deadman in the head with the chair as he tries to do his trademark sit-up. 

What a way to end a program and transition into the next one. A really great, vicious, bloody brawl. These pair had a tonne of chemistry together, that I think the majority of us weren't expecting them to have. Taker and Batista had a series of blinders and this was certainly one of them. Taker and Edge, for that matter, also would as well. Two thumbs up from me for this one. 

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