Wrestling Declassified: Batista Vs. Triple H; Hell In A Cell, Vengeance 2005

"Wrestling Declassified" is a new, weekly series from WrestlingINC.com in which we draw together lesser-known details regarding some of the most noteworthy matches, angles, and stories in pro wrestling history. We'll also include commentary and new information from the men and women of pro wrestling who generously share their reflections for this series. This week, we're looking at one of WWE's most brutal affairs, the Hell in a Cell match between Batista and Triple H at Vengeance 2005.


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Out of the ashes of WWE's Evolution stable grew proverbial weeds of bitter discontent. Randy Orton's expulsion from the group in August 2004 heralded the beginning of a downturn for Evolution that eventually gave way to a barn-burning feud between the faction's remaining heavy hitters, Triple H and Batista. "The Animal" took the World Heavyweight Championship away from his boss at WrestleMania 21 and held on to the strap after their rematch at Backlash. By that point, an senses-hattering showdown seemed like the logical way to punctuate their rivalry and Hell in a Cell fit that bill perfectly.

Their Hell in a Cell bout at Vengeance 2005 was a savage and bloody exhibition, even compared to the precedents of WWF's "Attitude Era" and ECW's extreme fare during that promotion's heyday. It was clear that everyone knew it would be exceptionally nasty heading into the bout. Calling the match Batista's "maiden voyage to Hell," Jim Ross cautioned viewers before the opening bell.


"I have to say this, ladies and gentlemen, before this gets underway: This match is probably going to be pretty graphic," J.R. remarked during the original broadcast. "You see the environment these men are fighting in. This match may not be appropriate for all members of the family, especially some of the younger kids that are watching. I want to be up front; it's the grandfather in me. I just want you to know, it's going to get nasty. It's going to get ugly."

Indeed, the opponents wasted little time getting down to business and weapons played an important part in the show. In addition to a lengthy and thick towing chain and Triple H's signature sledgehammer, a folding chair wrapped in barbed wire was introduced into the fray and it was that particular object that really got the blood flowing in voluminous quantities.

Intense back-and-forth battles along with protected bouts of one-sided punishment sessions (including Batista bouncing Triple H's bloody cranium off of the base of the steel ring steps again and again) kept the live crowd in a virtual state of shock for much of the match. Occasional gasps broke through lengthy stretches of stunned silence as fans looked on from the very edges of their seats. Some covered their mouths, others sat with folded hands, cringing at some of the senses-shattering spots as the men beat each other from pillar to post.


Bell to bell, the match lasted 26 minutes and 58 seconds. When the dust settled, Batista was still the champ and Triple H lay sprwled out and covered in blood, still clutching his sledgehammer. Bonus footage on the DVD release of Vengeance 2005 shows Triple H struggling to his feet as the blood still flowed freely from his head wound. Two referees helped him up the ramp as he received a standing ovation from the Las Vegas crowd that night.

Two years later, Batista discussed the match in his 2007 autobiography Batista Unleashed (co-written by Jeremy Roberts). The match clearly held a special place for him with regard to how he viewed his career up to that point.

"That pay-per-view was the third time I'd faced Hunter," Batista remembered. "I think a lot of fans expected me to lose the title at Vengeance. And looking back, I think that was the match where people started to look at me really differently. I think they decided then that I'm not a flash in the pan, that I really am a champion? At that match, Hunter and I took them on a ride, right down to the very end," Batista asserted. "I think right down to the very last second of that match, fans really didn't know who was going to win. And that's not easy to do.


Combat Zone Wrestling owner DJ Hyde spoke exclusively to WrestlingINC.com about the role that blood (or "color," to use an industry term) play in stories like that ferocious fight between Batista and Triple H.

"Blood has a huge place in the business today, especially in something like a hell in a Cell match" explained Hyde. The way I train people, I emphasize that believability is important. When you hit the side of a cage or someone hits you in the head with a steel pipe, you're going to bleed. As wrestlers, we're trying to create something that is real Once the crowd buys in?once they believe?it is real for them."

DJ Hyde has a good deal of personal experience with Batista as well, having worked with him in the ring a number of times some years ago.

"I've wrestled Dave a lot over the years," DJ Hyde shared. He was taught his philosophy by the Wild Samoans. He learned the same as I did?That when the people don't believe in what you're doing, you're done."

In his September 2014 interview on Talk is Jericho, Batista articulated these sentiments, noting that he didn't make the transition to WWE's "PG Era" with ease. He acknowledged blading himself in his 2008 steel cage match against Chris Jericho, in defiance of orders from the very top of WWE that intentional bloodletting was not permitted in the company's productions.


"This was a point where we weren't shedding blood any more," Batista recalled. "We were PG and that didn't make any sense to me. I just didn't want to hear that, especially when there's a title match involved."

Although Batista's 2014 return to WWE fell flat compared to the approval he received from fans beginning with his first heavyweight title reign, his rivalry with Triple H, including (and perhaps especially) their Hell in a Cell match, earned him a good deal of respect from wrestling fans.

"Triple H and Batista took it to another level as far as the brutality in that match," said Hyde. "When I look at it as a wrestler, I think you have to play to your strengths. These guys aren't going to do flips for fly around. They're not Mick Foley, either. They're two big, bad guys. Everything they did had to be painful in order to tell their story. It had to mean something."

Although WWE has largely shunned the kind of hardcore imagery that dominates the landscape in this particular match, the company also retains it in their cannon of great contests. Not only is the match available via the WWE Network; WWE also included the bout in at least two major DVD retrospectives: the 2008 Hell in a Cell collection and the 2009 release Batista: I Walk Alone.