Why Hell In A Cell Matches Are Meaningless in 2022

At Badd Blood 1997, the Hell in a Cell match was introduced with The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels being the very first participants of the dangerous bout. The first gimmick match was brutal, violent, and bloody, and set the standard of what Hell in a Cell should be. However, that standard was completely broken the following year thanks to Mankind vs. The Undertaker. The most infamous Hell in a Cell match to take place was a wild spectacle that saw the former WWE Champion take insane bump after insane bump. Mankind was tossed from off the top of the cell onto the announcer’s table. Then he suffered a chokeslam through the cell back into the ring. Mankind sustained multiple injuries: a dislocated shoulder, internal bleeding, a concussion, bruised ribs, a dislocated jaw, and numerous puncture wounds. Still, it effectively captured the mood and environment that was set in these brutal gimmick matches. To date, there’s been 50 Hell in a Cell matches.

The violent gimmick saw a noticeable shift when the company decided to be more family friendly. Understandably, the blood, brutality, and insane stunts were vastly toned down, and now the company actually has a yearly pay-per-view for the popular gimmick match. As I previously stated, I understand why the company has toned down their HIAC matches so the issue of the gimmick doesn’t trace back to when WWE made the PG switch. In fact, Edge vs. The Undertaker at Summerslam 2009 was a fantastic Hell in a Cell match. It wasn’t bloody, but it was brutal and violent. The Undertaker vs. Triple H at WrestleMania 28 was another incredible HIAC match under the PG era of the company. However, the downfall of the matches started when WWE began doing gimmick pay-per-views in 2009.

Hell in a Cell matches were feud enders. Bouts were so brutal that only a match like Mankind vs. Taker could take place inside of the steel structure. However, these gimmick pay-per-views diminished the value of these bouts and made them meaningless. These annual shows forced matches like The Undertaker vs. CM Punk or Seth Rollins vs. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt to take place inside of the structure when the build never called for it in the first place. The latter match was brutal, but their reasoning for wanting to nearly kill each other wasn’t sound. Plus, the ending of the WWE Championship match left a black mark on a gimmick that’s been fading for years. No HIAC match has topped the brutality in the Mankind/Undertaker bout. Even then, these matches confirmed that anything goes, and no holds are barred. Wyatt/Rollins should’ve had a regular match first that then prompted the necessity of a Hell in a Cell contest. These gimmicks lost their specialty because it lost sight of the appeal of these bouts in the first place. Now, I did state earlier that WWE going PG is a reason that they’ve become meaningless, but that doesn’t mean that they haven’t held back the gimmicks bouts.

Because most of the stories told under these gimmick matches didn’t require the extreme violence or brutality of said feud, most of the bouts were simple wrestling matches featuring the steel structure. The question often became, what was the point? If some of these HIAC matches could’ve been contested under regular match rules. Hell in a Cell isn’t exactly a lost art because there’s been plenty of greats one that’s come and gone throughout the recent years, but since these matches are such a regular occurrence, the danger element is no longer present. In turn, this can be attributed to the way the company books them far too often; wrestlers no sell the damage or violence they go through in the dangerous gimmick. It’s 2022, so WWE likely doesn’t feet propelled to protect the integrity of wrestlers since everyone nearly knows that’s it’s heavily script and choreographed (or fake to some of you), but taking away the notion that these bouts are dangerous by having wrestlers no longer sell the damage is a lost art. It effectively puts over the match, the feud, the intensity of it, and can actually help create new layers to a character as well. Hell in a Cell has no meaning because it feels as if everyone and their grandma can step into the steel structure and walk out just fine the next day. This article isn’t saying that Hell in a Cell is no longer great. Let’s be honest, the modern HIAC will never hold up to the classics back in the 90s or early 2000s, but the sense of specialness is long gone.

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