Hell in a Cell matches have evolved over the last 15 years. From the cell itself, to what wrestlers do in this type of match, Hell in a Cell is nowhere near the same product it was when The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels first stepped into Satan’s Structure.
For better or worse, the Hell in a Cell of today's era has seen several changes over the years to end up where it is now.
Even the weapons used in cell matches are different.
As the landscape of the WWE changed over the last 15 years, so has the Hell in a Cell match.
The Cell and How It's Used
The most notable changes to come to the Hell in a Cell match is how the cell is used. From the first Hell in a Cell match between The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels where they would not only fight it out inside the ring, but also climb up to the top of the cell, to the latest Hell in a Cell match which Triple H and The Undertaker would remain in the cage the entire time, where the wrestlers actually fight in this type of match has changed.
The cell structure itself was changed in 2006 and made larger, arguably the main reason combatants seem to stay on the ground instead of climbing up to the top.
Even how wrestlers use the cell has changed. Sure, they might still try to grind an opponent on the steel cage, but a lot of the earlier cell matches were fought outside the ring, using the cell as a weapon.
Cell matches today might still use the cell as a weapon, but nowhere near how it was used 15 years ago. Wrestlers have focused on in-ring action instead of taking their brawls to the outside.
The weapons used in a Hell in a Cell match have also changed over the years. Thumbtacks seemed to be a staple of some of the earlier Mick Foley cell matches, while the steel chair has become the go-to weapon for wrestlers in the cell.
Overall though, weapons have begun to almost play no role in cell matches. When Triple H would go up against Cactus Jack in the Games first hell in a cell match, they would use a 2x4 wrapped in barbed wire.
Cactus Jack would eventually light the 2x4 on fire and use the flaming weapon on Triple H.
Another memorable weapon was used when Triple H would step into the cell with Batista. A steel chair would be used in this match, like in so many others.
Unlike other matches, though, this chair was wrapped in barbed wire.
Weapons became less of a focus after the 2008 Hell in a Cell match between Edge and the Undertaker. A camera would be used in that match, along with tables and chairs.
Most of the Hell in a Cell matches after that, though, used nothing original. Most would use a steel chair and the steel steps, but not to the extent that weapons were used in earlier Hell in a Cell matches.
Sure, when Orton went against Sheamus in the cell the steel steps played into the ending of the match, but it was nothing like Batista and Triple H hitting each other with a steel chair wrapped in barbed wire.
A Bloody Mess of Bumps
When Hell in a Cell first started gaining ground in the WWE, it was a match filled with blood and bumps.
From the first Hell in a Cell where Shawn Michaels falls off the side of the cell, to the famous Undertaker vs. Mankind match where Mick Foley not only gets tossed off the top of the cell, he goes through the roof too.
Mick Foley would also go crashing through the cell when he would go up against Triple H.
His fall would also cause him to crash through the mat.
As the matches began to change and focus to in the cell rather than the outside area, the bumps changed. Instead of dives off the side of the cage, it would be more about bumps from weapons. Like when Batista would repeatedly hit The Undertaker with the steel steps.
As the Hell in a Cell match changed though, the bumps became less dangerous. Rarely now do we see anything dangerous like Foley's dive.
Blood has also began to slowly disappear from Hell in a Cell matches. Triple H always managed to become a bloody mess in his Hell in a Cell matches. His last brawl in the cage against The Undertaker, though, wasn't nearly as bloody as his early matches.
Was the blood excessive at some points in Hell in a Cell matches? Yes, at points it was.
But to basically get rid of it all together takes away from the brutality effect associated with Hell in a Cell matches.
From Ending Feuds to Becoming its Own Pay-Per-View
Hell in a Cell matches started out as a way to end a feud. Wrestlers would clash in these matches to finally find out who the better man was. From Triple H and Shawn Michaels clashing at Bad Blood in 2004, to The Undertaker and Batista battling it out to see who would walk away with more wins in 2008, the Hell in a Cell match is the staple of ending a feud.
Hell in a Cell can still be used to settle a feud, as we saw at WrestleMania 28 when Undertaker battled Triple H. However, the match has become so popular that it's now a pay-per-view.
Has shifting to focus around a pay-per-view weakened the overall importance of Hell in a Cell? That would be a matter of opinion, but the Hell in a Cell match has evolved from a style of match that ends a feud, to its own pay-per-view.
Watch the Change
These aren't all of the hell in a cell matches, just a select few spanning its 15 year history. Watch them in order and see how the hell in a cell match has changed!