With this year’s Hell in a Cell just around the corner Matthew Roberts takes another trip in the TWM Time Machine, this time back to October 1997 and the first ever Hell in a Cell Match which headlined Badd Blood.
Maybe it’s like that first love that, whatever comes next, you can never quite put it out of your mind. There’s arguably been more spectacular Hell in a Cell matches in the 22 years since Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker met in the first ever one at In Your House: Badd Blood but to my mind at least there has never been a better one.
Of course there was the novelty of it all at the time and although the set up for it had been a little transparent in one sense (the two going to a chaotic no-contest at Ground Zero) because there wasn’t the feeling that “it’s October, so in September we need a non-finish in a big match to drag the feud out to the upcoming gimmick PPV” it all felt rather organic. These two couldn’t settle their differences in a “normal” match so let’s ramp it up. Of course in a roundabout way they didn’t settle their differences here either, but that’s a minor quibble.
Taker spends the opening part of the match on a mission to kill Shawn and if ever there was a great bumper AND seller it’s HBK. His efforts to keep his head above water appear to be failing and the only way he can match the power of his opponent is with foreign objects and a cool looking piledriver onto the steel steps. A cameraman bump is a brilliant move as it allows the cage door to be opened and Shawn to escape and make the move to the roof of the cage a bit more logical than it would become in the years to come. One of the coolest visuals of all time is brought to us when a bleeding Shawn on top of the cage spills blood onto the camera beneath them and Shawn takes as bump to the announce table. Back in the Cell, a locked door is no barrier to the debuting Kane, who Tombstones his brother enabling a barely conscious Michaels to get the pin. For once even the interference (which I should be mad at) was perfect. Some people will swear blind that Taker Vs Mankind is the greatest Cell match of all time…I’m here to tell you that they are simply wrong.
It’s a good job that Badd Blood ended with that bona fide five star classic because the rest of the show is very poor indeed.
WWF Champion Bret Hart teams with Davey Boy Smith to take on the odd-couple pairing of The Patriot and Vader in the best of the undercard. It’s not very good and as a concession to the size of the participants in the match the usual “Flag Match” rules are tweaked somewhat. Of course this was the day that the death of Brian Pillman was discovered so there is no way I’m going to be harsh on the participants, especially those close to Pillman, for somewhat phoning it in. But knowing and understanding the reasons why their hearts may not be in it doesn’t change the fact that this is a dull, over-long match.
Still you will be longing for more dull over-long action of that phoned in nature for most of the rest of the undercard. The Nation of Domination trio of Rocky Maivia, Kama Mustafa and D-Lo Brown take on the Legion Of Doom (who don’t bother to replace the injured Ken Shamrock) in a boring run through old school tag team formula action. That’s still better than watching twelve minutes of the Headbangers against the Godwins (and anyone who thinks tag team action in today’s WWE is bad should be forced to watch this and be allowed to come to their senses), which in turn is still a lot better than watching the Disciples of Apocalypse take on Los Boricuas which is arguably one of the dullest PPV encounters of all time.
The Mini’s tag team match is fine for what it is until what might be a botched finish which means the only other thing of any real note is the Intercontinental Championship Tournament final between Faarooq and Owen Hart. That may sound like hell, but with Stone Cold Steve Austin coming to ringside, ringing the bell, providing colour commentary and interfering so his enemy Owen (see Summerslam 1997) could win the belt (logical, as Austin wanted to beat him for it) at least means it had some entertainment value. Even if that entertainment completely overshadowed what was actually going on in the ring.
If ever there was a one match card, it’s probably this. That one match is one of the best matches in WWE history and from that point of view is a must see. Literally everything else on the show is not worth watching for a first time. Definitely one to use the new chapter feature on the Network to skip to the main event…
Photos courtesy of WWE.com
You can find me on Twitter @IWFICON. Thanks for reading!