Hell In A Cell Matches Ranked By Brutality

The Hell in a Cell match is one of WWE's signature matches, and it has taken on a few forms over the decades. This 20 foot high steel structure has housed many intense rivalries and settled the score between many superstars. Similar to a steel cage match, all four sides of the ring are surrounded by steel chain-link walls. However, the Hell in a Cell Match allows wrestlers the opportunity for a little more creativity by leaving space between the ropes and the steel walls. This gives wrestlers the freedom to grab weapons, drag their opponents around the outside area, and many more diabolical plans to inflict punishment. 


The purpose of the Hell in a Cell match is to keep competitors in the ring and others out of the ring, although often times it is ineffective in doing that. The Hell in a Cell match debuted in 1997, but gained so much popularity over the years as a "must see" match type, that WWE named a pay-per-view after it starting in 2009. Brutality is a staple concept of a Hell in a Cell match and this concept has come into play in many different ways over the years, from WWF/E allowing a bloodbath of matches in the earlier years, to it becoming a weapons fest later on. Regardless of the style, there are many Hell in a Cell matches that fans have not forgotten, because the superstars and feuds reach their brutal climax and steal the show.


14. Undertaker vs. Triple H - Wrestlemania 28

This Hell in a Cell match had all the makings of a classic. At WrestleMania 28, Undertaker's streak was once again on the line. However, this year, Undertaker had to face a challenger he had faced many times in his career in Triple H. But this was not the Triple H Undertaker was used to. Instead, it was a Triple H that was about to transition out of the ring and into a more managerial role. To add to the instant classic, Shawn Michaels found himself as the special guest referee between these two friends. 


This Hell in a Cell match was an all out war, with both competitors landing multiple chair shots and Triple H using his signature sledgehammer to gain an advantage. Shawn Michaels elevated the drama of the match by pleading to his best friend, Triple H, to stop the brutality, which Triple H fired back "end it Shawn, or I will!" Triple H continued to lay in the chair shots, only to find himself on the receiving end of them later on. The finish of the match was as classic as ever, with Undertaker hit his famous Tombstone Piledriver to get the pinfall. The last shot of the match saw a giant "20-0" written across the big screen to wrap up an absolute war between two icons.

13. Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels - Badd Blood 1997

Badd Blood 1997 was host to the first ever Hell in a Cell match in WWE and introduced fans to the brutality that the structure brings. There were no better performers in 1997 to debut this new match concept than Shawn Michaels and Undertaker. Michaels was known as the best in-ring performer at the time and Undertaker was continuing to build his iconic character. One of the big stories going into the match was that Undertaker had a brother named Kane who had yet to appear to the audience. These two superstars showed how the Hell in a Cell match allows for brutal creativity, as they threw each other all over the ringside area and into the cage walls. 


Michaels and Undertaker took the match to the top of the structure and Michaels plummeted off the side and through the announce table. When the competitors made it back to the ring, the lights went out and the arena was filled with ominous red lighting. Paul Bearer came out with a giant man dressed in red with a red mask, which set Vince McMahon up for his iconic call of "THAT'S GOTTA BE ... THAT'S GOTTA BE KANE!" Kane ended up costing his brother the match with a Tombstone Piledriver allowing Michaels to get the victory. This match helped not only springboard the Hell in a Cell match concept, but also the Hall of Fame career of The Big Red Machine.

12. DX vs. The McMahons and Big Show - Unforgiven 2006

In 2006, WWE resurrected the team of Triple H and Shawn Michaels, better known as D-Generation X. This was a different time in WWE than it was in the 1990s, so fans saw a slightly tamer DX this time around. Regardless of how watered down DX's antics and pranks were, the McMahons were the perfect foil. In the weeks leading into Unforgiven 2006, Vince and Shane McMahon tried everything to stop the escapades of D-Generation X. However, the McMahons almost always found themselves as the punchline of DX's jokes. This led to the McMahons and their hired gun, the Big Show, taking on DX in a handicapped Hell in a Cell match. 


During the match, the Big Show did most of the heavy lifting for the McMahons, and it didn't take long for the weapons to come out and the blood to start flowing. Shane McMahon hit his signature coast to coast on Triple H with a trash can wedged between the ropes. The most memorable spot of the match came when the Big Show pulled down his singlet and the McMahons' had a devious look on their bloody faces. The plan was for Vince to get the final laugh of this feud by shoving DX's faces into Big Show's massive rear. However, DX reversed the move and sent Vince into the rear end of the Big Show, pulling off one last practical joke and the victory.

11. Shane McMahon vs. Undertaker - WrestleMania 32

Shane McMahon vs. Undertaker at WrestleMania 32 was the second ever Hell in a Cell match to be seen on the Grandest Stage of Them All. This Undertaker appearance was different from others, because his WrestleMania streak had been broken two years previous by Brock Lesnar. However, Undertaker was back to claim another WrestleMania victory. This match had a lot of hype behind it because, as many wrestling fans know, Shane McMahon likes to jump off tall structures. It just so happened that Shane found himself in the tallest structure WWE had to offer. The match started with Undertaker and Shane McMahon exchanging blows and inflicting damage with the steel steps. The drama of the match began to build when the Undertaker drove Shane McMahon through the cell wall. In addition, Undertaker began clearing the announce table and fans knew something big was going to happen. 


Shane eventually got the upper-hand, beat Undertaker down, and laid him across the deconstructed announce table. Shane quickly scaled the cell and the camera shot panned out. The visual of Shane on top of the structure was spectacular looking for fans watching at home. After a short prayer, Shane McMahon jumped more than 20 feet down onto Undertaker who got himself out of the way, causing Shane to crash through the table. Partly because of this, Shane inflicted enough punishment to himself, allowing Undertaker to score the pinfall with the Tombstone Piledriver.

10. Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose - Hell in a Cell 2014

When The Shield (Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, and Seth Rollins) debuted in WWE, many fans dreamed of a match between Rollins and Ambrose. Fans got their wish at Hell in Cell 2014, after Seth Rollins turned on his Shield partners earlier in the year and Dean Ambrose was out for revenge. Like many Ambrose matches, it started with Dean throwing a bunch of plunder into the ring before putting a kendo stick on his back and scaling the cell. This match started on top of the cell where Rollins sent his personal security, J&J Security, to attack Ambrose. After brawling on the cell to get the match going, there was only one way these two superstars could get down. 


They began climbing down the other side, but they exchanged punches when they were halfway down the cell wall. Fatigue set in and both guys plummeted through the announce tables. This wasn't enough to keep these two down and they continued to hit each other with chairs, kendo sticks, steel steps, and even cinder blocks. Unfortunately the ending of the match did not live up to the hype of the rest of the match. Bray Wyatt appeared in the ring and attacked Ambrose, allowing Rollins to pick up the pinfall. Despite a controversial and lackluster ending, this Hell in a Cell match is one of the more brutal ones in the last decade.

9. The Usos vs. The New Day - Hell in a Cell 2017

In the PG era of WWE, finding a Hell in a Cell match that lives up to the brutality of the past is hard to come by. However, The Usos and New Day did just that at the 2017 Hell in a Cell pay-per-view. This was not the first time these two teams met in the ring and wouldn't be the last either. The story to the match was simple: The New Day were holding the "SmackDown" Tag Team Championships and The Usos were eager to change that. 


This match broke down quickly with steel chairs, unicorn colored kendo sticks, and even a cowbell. In addition to inflicting punishment with everything but the kitchen sink, these two teams used the Hell in a Cell structure to their advantage by bouncing their opponents off the cell walls on numerous occasions. When the brutality was coming to an end, The Usos draped a chair over Xavier Woods and hit their signature splash from opposite corners of the ring. This not only won The Usos the match, but also started their fifth title reign as "SmackDown" Tag Team Champions.

8. Brock Lesnar vs. Undertaker - No Mercy 2002

What do you get when you put a seasoned veteran and a red hot up-and-comer inside Hell in a Cell? An epic display of brutality and physicality. This is exactly what fans saw at No Mercy 2002, when Undertaker and Brock Lesnar collided inside Hell in a Cell. Lesnar was new on the scene, but his momentum was unmatched, having victories over Ric Flair, Randy Orton, and John Cena, eventually winning the WWE Championship from The Rock at that year's SummerSlam. Brock was hoping to show he was not a fluke champion by defeating The Undertaker inside Hell in a Cell. 


This match saw crazy feats of athleticism, with both Lesnar and Undertaker tossing each other around the ringside area. Undertaker went into the match with a broken hand and Lesnar knew that was a target. Lesnar trapped Undertaker's hand against the cell wall and smashed it with a chair, showing no remorse. At almost the 30 minute mark of the match, Lesnar picked up the victory and retained his title. This win was significant, because it was an indication to fans that Brock Lesnar was about to be The Next Big Thing.

7. Undertaker vs. Edge - SummerSlam 2008

Undertaker and Edge had a brutal feud throughout 2008. Their Hell in a Cell match is considered by some to be "the last great Hell in a Cell match" because it was a rivalry that was so heated that it needed to end inside the structure, and wasn't just promoted for the sake of selling the name of a pay-per-view. These two used everything from chairs, steel steps, ladders, and even cameras. Edge speared Undertaker through the cell wall where the two brawled and destroyed the Spanish announce table. 


The first of two major moments in the match came when the two competitors brawled their way back into the ring, where two tables had been set up on the floor from earlier. Undertaker brought Edge to the top rope and choke slammed him through the tables, creating a stunning visual and a debris filled ringside area. The finish to the match did not disappoint. With a ladder setup in the ring, Undertaker once again grabbed Edge by the throat and choke slammed him through the ring. Shortly after, the bell rang and flames come roaring up from the canvas, signifying that Undertaker had won the match by sending Edge straight to hell.

6. Six Man Hell in a Cell Match - Armageddon 2000

Not only was the six man Hell in a Cell match at Armageddon 2000 for the WWF Championship brutal,  it also lands in the category of being unique. To this day, it is the only Hell in a Cell match to feature six competitors at once: Kurt Angle, The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Rikishi, Undertaker, and Triple H. The brutality in this match was less about weapons and more about the physicality featured by all six men. There was nonstop action, with brawls happening inside and outside the ring, leaving many competitors with a crimson mask. 


The climax of the match came when Mr. McMahon drove a truck out to the ring with the intent to rip off the cell door. He was successful. This allowed the competitors more space to brawl and climb the structure walls. Undertaker and Rikishi found themselves at the top exchanging blows, until Undertaker gained the upper-hand by grabbing Rikishi by the throat. Undertaker proceeded to chokeslam Rikishi off the 20 foot Hell in a Cell and he landed in the woodchip filled bed of the truck at ringside. The woodchips exploded on impact and Rikishi was clearly down and out. At the 38 minute mark, Kurt Angle covered The Rock to retain his WWF Championship. Over 20 years later, we're still wondering, will we ever see a Hell in a Cell match like this again?


5. Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H - Bad Blood 2004

In 2004, Shawn Michaels and Triple H were having brutal, long, and physical brawls with one another. At Royal Rumble 2004, these two men had a bloody Last Man Standing match that ended in draw. These two men had no choice but to settle their differences inside of Hell in a Cell at Bad Blood 2004. This Hell in a Cell match is one of the longer cell matches, clocking in at just over 47 minutes. The match time is what makes this match so brutal. These two men had a slobberknocker of a contest, using every inch of the ring, ringside area, and walls of the structure. 


Although some parts of the match were slower than others, it is hard to deny the conditioning it took for Triple H and Shawn Michaels to maintain the level of brutality that they did. Shawn Michaels hit an elbow drop from the top of a ladder, driving Triple H through a table, but could not score the victory. Toward the end, both men were visibly exhausted and covered in the blood, sweat, and tears of their opponent. Triple H used the last of his energy to hit a Pedigree on Michaels and scored the pinfall. Both men didn't move after the match and fans were in awe. It was a spectacular visual to the final chapter of a brutal feud. 

4. Triple H vs. Kevin Nash - Bad Blood 2003

Two absolute heavyweights, Triple H and Kevin Nash, battled it out inside Hell in a Cell for the World Heavyweight Championship at Bad Blood 2003. Who better to officiate such a brutal hardcore match then the Hardcore Legend himself, Mick Foley? Although there weren't over the top stunts in this match, the two competitors went at each other with steel steps, a toolbox full of weapons, steel chairs, and barbed wire wrapped two-by-four. Triple H and Nash were bleeding profusely from all the damage inflicted by this symphony of weapons and even Mick Foley was bleeding when it was all said and done. 


In an interview with WWE.com, Triple H talked about the aftermath of the match by saying, "Yeah, I got a lot of blood. I've got a lot of cuts that you can't see. I have some on my forehead, but I've got a lot that you can't see from the barbed wire." Although this match was only around the 20 minute mark, it was as physical and brutal as it comes. Triple H was able to wipe the blood out of his eyes and hit Kevin Nash with a Pedigree, allowing Mick Foley to count to three and Triple H retained his World Heavyweight Championship.

3. Bayley vs. Sasha Banks - Hell in a Cell 2020

Sasha Banks vs. Bayley for the "SmackDown" Women's Championship at Hell in a Cell 2020 is unique for a couple of reasons. First, this Hell in a Cell match took place inside the Thunderdome, meaning no fans were actually present. Secondly, these two had put brutal women's matches on the map during their runs in NXT, and this match was no different. The main weapon of choice was kendo sticks. Not only did these two wail on each with the weapons, they used the structure in very creative ways to maximize the effectiveness of the kendo sticks. 


At one point, Bayley wedged a collection of kendo sticks between the apron and holes in the chain-link wall on the opposite side. This allowed Bayley to catapult Banks face first into a kendo sticks. The two continued to attack each other with a ladder, steel steps, chairs, and a can of spray paint. The finish of the match came when Sasha wrapped a steel chair around Bayley's neck and locked in the Banks Statement to get the submission victory and retain her "SmackDown" Women's Championship. It is shame this match did not take place in front of a sold out audience, but Sasha and Bayley raised the bar for brutality in women's Hell in a Cell matches from here on out.

2. Undertaker vs. Mankind - King of the Ring 1998

There is no match quite as infamous and iconic as Undertaker vs. Mankind at King of the Ring 1998. The brutality of this Hell in a Cell match speaks for itself. First, the iconic shot of Undertaker throwing Mankind off the cell and crashing into the announce table below is ingrained in many wrestling fans' heads. In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Mick Foley talks about the plan of being thrown off the cell, "I told Mr. McMahon two of the biggest lies of my life that day. I told him that I had been on top of the cell earlier that afternoon, and I told him that I felt completely comfortable up there." 


If getting thrown off the cell wasn't enough, Mankind was also choke slammed through the top of the structure and into the ring. This 15 foot drop had such an impact, it lodged Mankind's tooth into his nose! Undertaker ended up winning this match, but many fans don't even think about that. They think about how Mankind and Undertaker gave them one of the most memorable matches in wrestling history.

1. Triple H vs. Mick Foley - No Way Out 2000

Two years after Mankind was thrown off the Hell in a Cell, Mick Foley found himself back in the barbaric structure. This time his career was on the line against Triple H at No Way Out 2000. Fans were anxious to know if the brutality of Foley's last cell match could be topped. These two left very little unturned as they smashed each other with chairs and rammed their opponent's head into the cell wall. Eventually, Foley Irish Whipped Triple H through the chain-link of the cell. Foley began to climb the structure again, much like he did two years ago. He only made it halfway up before Triple H knocked him off and Foley went crashing through the announce table just like at King of Ring 1998. 


Mick Foley still didn't stay down, he climbed the cell wall again much to the shock and awe of those in attendance. This time, he made it to the top and flashbacks scrolled through fans' heads. Triple H met him up there with a flaming two-by-four wrapped in barbed wire. Eventually, Triple H backdropped Foley through the cell ceiling, causing him to plummet through the canvas of the ring. Triple H hit the Pedigree and pinned Foley ending his career as a full time, in-ring performer (at least for a while). Fans saw another huge cell moment from Foley and saw his career end all in one night — what is more brutal than that?