Retro Wednesday: A Well-Constructed Storyline Leads To A 'Hell'acious Debut

In 1995, Shawn Michaels became a babyface after having one of the most memorable heels turns in pro wrestling history in 1992, breaking away from his Rockers tag team partner Marty Jannetty. His run as a heel and subsequent babyface turn heightened his popularity in the company. This led to his second straight Royal Rumble win in 1996, and his first WWE Championship win vs. Bret Hart in an ironman match at WrestleMania XII. Michaels stayed popular, but was stricken with nagging injuries to lessen his time in the ring.

Fast-forward to 1997. Shawn Michaels is the special guest referee in the match pitting WWE Champion The Undertaker against Michaels' real-life arch nemesis Bret Hart. The outcome of the match saw Michaels accidentally hit Undertaker with a chair that was intended for Bret Hart, allowing Hart to win the world title for the fifth and final time.

As a result of the controversy involved in the match, Michaels—feeling scrutinized—vented his feelings on the next episode of Raw. This was signs of a heel turn, which was confirmed after an acrimonious Michaels targeted The Undertaker to release his frustrations on. The feud between the two led to a No. 1 contenders match at the Bad Blood pay-per-view in October of 1997. Not only was this a number one contenders match, but it marked the debut of the Hell in a Cell match.

On the other side of the coin, Undertaker had other worries outside of his feud with Shawn Michaels. Just a year prior, Undertaker's long-time manager Paul Bearer turned on him and aligned with Mankind. Eventually, Bearer's attempt to extinguish the Undertaker's legacy fell short, and he attempted to re-align with the Deadman. After refusing, Undertaker fell victim to months of threats by Bearer of his "brother," who he burned as a kid, returning to get retribution.

At Bad Blood, this all came to fruition. During a long and brutal match between Undertaker and Shawn Michaels, the lights dimmed to an eerie, red tone. Morbidly disturbing music plays, and a big red monster comes to the ring. It is revealed to be the debuting Kane, who costs Undertaker the match and a shot at the WWE Championship.

This debut, which happened 16 years ago, not only catapulted Kane after having a few unsuccessful gimmicks, but it established the legacy of the Hell in a Cell concept. Now, the history of this match has led to its own PPV, with hopes to create more memorable moments like the one we saw back in 1997.

Classic build. Classic moment. Sound off below.

Author's Link: Curtis Axel has no charisma, R-Truth finds a job after WWE, HIAC predictions.

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