WWE Hell in a Cell 2013: 10 Greatest Matches in the History of the Event
This Sunday, October 27, WWE will present their fourth annual Hell in a Cell pay-per-view live from the America Airlines Arena in Miami. The event's inaugural installment was held in 2009 and has since become an annual fixture in the month of October.
I, personally, have always found the pay-per-view to be rather unnecessary, if for no other reason that it further devalues the once-rare Hell in a Cell match. Despite that, a handful of breathtaking bouts have taken place at this event since its inception, so it hasn't been completely pointless.
With Hell in a Cell only days away, I thought it would only be fitting to rank the top 10 greatest matches in the history of the event. Of course, the list is purely based off my opinion, so be sure to keep an open mind while reading.
10. Sheamus vs. Christian (2011)
At 2011's Night of Champions event, Christian clamored for one more match for the World Heavyweight Championship, only to be (rudely) interrupted by Sheamus and end up on the receiving end of a Brogue Kick. Naturally, this triggered a feud between the two that led to a match at Hell in a Cell.
They kicked off that night with an excellent match that went close to 15 minutes. Sure, their lackluster feud left a lot to be desired, but this match more than made up for it.
As great as Christian's character was as a heel, he hardly won any matches, and his match with Sheamus on this show was no exception. To my knowledge, I don't think Christian was ever able to defeat The Celtic Warrior during their rivalry, but it didn't matter due to the fact their matches were always so great.
Their awesome chemistry always made for some fun bouts, with their Hell in a Cell encounter being one of them. A rematch would be held at Vengeance three weeks later, which would also be won by Sheamus.
9. CM Punk vs. Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell Match (2009)
Following the controversial conclusion to 2009's Breaking Point pay-per-view that saw The Undertaker "tap out" to CM Punk's Anaconda Vise submission hold, The Deadman demanded a rematch with Punk. Sure enough, the match was made by then-SmackDown general manager Teddy Long for the inaugural Hell in a Cell event with the World Heavyweight Championship on the line.
Since Undertaker's sights were set on gaining retribution over Punk, going for the gold was merely an added bonus. Nevertheless, he and Punk contested in the opening match of the show and had one heck of a battle.
While Punk and Taker didn't have the greatest in-ring chemistry during this time, they made it work to the best of their abilities and pulled together an entertaining contest. In the end, Taker scored the three count on Punk to pick up his third World Heavyweight Championship, becoming the first man in history to win a world title inside Satan's structure.
8. Mark Henry vs. Randy Orton in a Hell in a Cell Match (2011)
Upon turning heel in the spring of 2011, Mark Henry embarked on the most dominant run of his WWE career to date. He quickly became one of the most feared competitors in all of wrestling at the time and ascended to the top of SmackDown within three months.
At Night of Champions, Henry shocked the world by soundly defeating Randy Orton to capture his first World Heavyweight Championship. Of course, Orton had his rematch clause and planned on invoking it at the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view inside Satan's structure.
Prior to this bout, Henry had never before stepped inside the cell, so Orton had the obvious advantage going in. However, that didn't phase Henry in the slightest, as he went on to decimate Orton throughout the bout by repeatedly throwing him into the two tons of steel.
Henry managed to do the unthinkable when he cleanly pinned Orton for the second straight month to successfully retain the prestigious prize. Henry would have left the arena under his own power had it not been for Orton's post-match RKO on the World's Strongest Man.
7. Randy Orton vs. Alberto Del Rio (2012)
After coming up short time and time again against then-World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus in the summer of 2012, Alberto Del Rio decided to shift his focus to Randy Orton, instead. He viciously ambushed Orton on the September 28 edition of SmackDown and put him out of action for two weeks.
Orton, of course, didn't take too kindly to this, returning with a vengeance and challenging Del Rio to a one-on-one match at Hell in a Cell. Del Rio accepted Orton's proposition if only to prove that he was the sole Apex Predator of the WWE.
While their respective characters at the time were rather stagnant, that didn't take away from the fact that their matches were fun to watch. That proved to be the case on this show, as they opened the event with a bang and gave everyone else on the show a run for their money.
When the smoke cleared, it was Orton who was standing tall with his hand held high. Their feud was far from over, though, as they went on to have several great matches in the weeks that followed.
6. Daniel Bryan vs. the Miz vs. John Morrison in a Submission Match (2010)
Not many people thought Daniel Bryan would be returning to WWE following his release from the organization in June 2010, let alone feud with The Miz for the United States Championship. Well, he did just that when he made his shocking comeback to the company in August of that same year and defeated Miz to capture the star-spangled prize the following month.
The title rematch between Bryan and Miz was set for the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, but the anonymous Raw general manager decided to add an extra twist onto the matchup. Not only did he add John Morrison to make it a Triple Threat, but he declared the bout a Submissions Count Anywhere match, a bout that had been held only once before.
Bryan, always awaiting a challenge, was up for the tough task for defending his strap against not one, but two valiant competitors. The action spilled all over the arena with each of the three Superstars applying interesting submission holds in attempt to leave with the U.S. title.
As only the submission specialist can, Bryan forced "The Awesome One" to tap out to the LaBelle Lock and retained his the prestigious prize. Despite how awesome this match was, this specialty bout hasn't been seen since.
5. Wade Barrett vs. John Cena (2010)
On the Viewer's Choice edition of Raw in June 2010, The Nexus made their explosive WWE debut by laying waste to John Cena, CM Punk and Matt Striker, among others. They later cost Cena the WWE Championship at the Fatal 4-Way pay-per-view, which ignited a fire under the leader of the Cenation.
In the months that followed, Cena did everything in his power to put an end to The Nexus, but to no avail. Although he was able to overcome them in a seven-on-seven tag team match at SummerSlam, the black-and-yellow-clad group kept coming back for more.
Barrett and Cena agreed to face off in singles competition at Hell in a Cell, where if Cena was to win, then The Nexus would be forced to disband. If Barrett emerged victorious, however, Cena would be forced to join Nexus.
In what was the biggest match of his young career up to that point, Barrett pulled everything out of his arsenal to put Cena away. This included Barrett's signature maneuver Wasteland, which Cena just barely managed to kick out of at the count of two.
As Cena locked the STF on the evil Englishman and was on the verge of victory, two unknown individuals (later to be revealed as Michael McGillicutty and Husky Harris) distracted the referee and clocked Cena in the head with a cowboy boot, knocking him unconscious. Being the ultimate opportunist that he is, Barrett capitalized by pinning the multi-time WWE champion in the center of the ring, allowing The Nexus to grow in numbers in the process.
4. Randy Orton vs. Sheamus in a Hell in a Cell Match (2010)
Randy Orton met Sheamus at 2010's SummerSlam event for the WWE Championship, but he came up short of winning the gold after Sheamus intentionally got himself disqualified. However, he was much more fortunate the next month at Night of Champions, where he lastly eliminated The Celtic Warrior in a Six-Pack Challenge match to become a seven-time world champion.
The bad blood between the two didn't end there, though, as Sheamus decided to invoke his championship rematch clause at Hell in a Cell inside Satan's structure. Orton was well aware that Sheamus was not one to take lightly, though, as he had a mean streak within him that would stop at nothing until he got what he wanted.
Many fans overlooked this match going into the event, but it far exceeded anyone's expectations. While it wasn't your typical Hell in a Cell match, they utilized the extreme environment nicely and looked to literally put each other through hell.
In his first appearance inside Hell in the Cell, Sheamus held his own against Orton and had one of the better matches of his career. With an RKO on the steel steps, The Viper scored the victory and walked out of the event with his WWE title intact.
3. Randy Orton vs. John Cena in a Hell in a Cell Match (2009)
John Cena and Randy Orton have feuded on several occasions over the years, but none of their rivalries were more personal than the one in the final few months of 2009. They first met for the WWE Championship at the SummerSlam pay-per-view, where Orton emerged victorious by resorting to underhanded tactics.
In the rematch at Breaking Point one month later, Cena forced Orton to utter the demeaning words "I quit" to pick up his forth WWE title. The rubber match was set for the inaugural Hell in a Cell event, where the two longtime rivals would do battle inside Satan's structure for WWE's most prestigious prize.
It had been four long years since Orton had last stepped inside the cell with The Undertaker. Cena, on the other hand, had never competed in such a grueling match before in his career, so the experience factor was with The Viper.
It was one of the first Hell in a Cell matches of the PG era, so it was understandable that fans were a bit disappointed by the lack of blood. However, the awesome action that transpired instead was a nice consolation prize and made for one entertaining contest.
Orton executed a picture perfect RKO (where else, but out of nowhere?) on Cena, but only for Cena to kick out at the last possible second. It took a punt to the skull of Cena to put him away for the three count, which allowed Orton to regain the gold for a fifth time.
2. John Cena vs. Alberto Del Rio vs. CM Punk in a Hell in a Cell Match (2011)
For the latter half of 2011, the only people primarily involved in the WWE Championship were John Cena, CM Punk and Alberto Del Rio. Del Rio cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase on Punk at SummerSlam to win his first WWE Championship, and he entered a feud with Cena over the title shortly thereafter.
At Night of Champions, Cena defeated Del Rio to become a 10-time WWE champion. Since both Del Rio and Punk were due a rematch for the title, a Triple Threat match was made between the three competitors at Hell in a Cell.
As expected, no one was sporting a crimson mask at any point in the match, but they worked a fast-paced, entertaining contest that kept the attention of the audience. It won't be known as one of the greatest matches to ever take place inside the cell, but they made the most of it and worked a fun bout filled with non-stop action.
Unlike Cena and Punk, the Mexican aristocrat had yet to step inside the two-ton structure. However, Del Rio's deviousness made up for his lack of experience, as he handcuffed Cena to the cell and forced him to watch as he pinned Punk to win back the WWE Championship.
1. Sheamus vs. Big Show (2012)
For well over six months, Sheamus dominated SmackDown with an iron fist as World Heavyweight champion. From Daniel Bryan to Dolph Ziggler to Alberto Del Rio, no one came close to ending the lengthy reign of Sheamus.
That was, however, until Big Show made his return to WWE and targeted The Celtic Warrior and the gold around his waist.
I was initially excited to see these two go one-on-one for the first time ever at Hell in a Cell, but any anticipation I had for this bout beforehand was lost with its terrible build-up. When you have Sheamus and Show taking ridiculous jabs at one another in a "debate" of all things, you know you have hit rock bottom.
Thankfully, the match exceeded expectations and proved to be one of the most pleasantly surprising matches of the year. For over 20 minutes, these two in-ring warriors gave it everything they had, kicking out of each other's finishers in the closing moments of the contest.
Just as Sheamus was about to put Show away with a Brogue Kick, the World's Largest Athlete retaliated with a massive right hand to the face of Sheamus. With The Great White out cold, Show made the cover and captured his second World Heavyweight Championship in the process (a reign that would last longer than 45 seconds).
Could a contest on this Sunday's card be able to outlast any one of the aforementioned matchups?
Thanks for reading, Bleachers, and make sure to drop a comment below with your thoughts on the list and how you would change the rankings. As always, your criticism and overall feedback of my latest piece is greatly appreciated.
Graham Mirmina, a.k.a. Graham "GSM" Matthews, is a journalism major at Endicott College. Visit his website at Next Era Wrestling and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.