For many years, Hell in a Cell was the ultimate conclusion to any feud.
Unquestionable reverence was given to those who had come through that hellish experience, and this lead to a mystique forming around the whole event.
Sadly those days are now gone, as the Hell in a Cell match has been reduced to a yearly bout featuring the WWE champion, at that time, and anyone else who WWE Creative feel like throwing together. Feuds can even start in the cell when its original purpose was to be the final chapter between two rivals whose war never looked like it would end.
Yet, wrestling history is full of feuds that deserve the truly epic conclusion that the Hell in a Cell once delivered.
Here is a list of 5 rivalries that would have been particularly interesting in a cell.
Had the Hell in a Cell existed in 1989—or had the WWE been more active in appropriating the NWA’s WarGames idea for themselves—then the feud between Hulk Hogan and “Macho Man” Randy Savage would have been an ideal candidate for the cell’s inaugural outing.
Their rivalry can be considered the definition of how to book a feud where friends turn into enemies over a woman. This was an epic tale featuring a great spiral of love and distrust that connected with the audience on an emotional level, which could not have been achieved before the invention of cable television.
The encounter at WrestleMania V was a particular highlight, but the feud really ended a month before WrestleMania VI when Hogan defeated Savage in a match refereed by the then boxing World Heavyweight Champion, Buster Douglas.
This final encounter was appropriately booked for the time—Hogan’s epic battle with the Ultimate Warrior was only a month away, so the focus of the event was pushing those two stars—but it was an unsatisfactory way to end such a remarkable feud.
A final meeting in a Hell in a Cell would have been a great way to see both men take each other to their physical and emotional limits, with the possibility of reconciliation at the end.
The enclosed nature of the cell would be used here to great effect, as a barrier to force the two men to finish what had started so long ago
Lynn chased Van Dam’s Television title for nearly 18 of Van Dam’s record 23-month-long reign, with countless title matches finishing with Lynn being so close to victory but never quite getting it done.
This was a time when Van Dam was the final match on a card despite holding the supposedly lesser title, so this was one of the feature feuds of ECW.
Their bouts in ECW were characterized by the amount of counters used, so the cell structure could well have been incorporated into such developments. These two high-flyers would have been able use the cage in unique ways that would have created a great spectacle.
Van Dam showed this inventiveness in the first Elimination Chamber.
At one point, Van Dam landed on the side of the chamber before hitting a diving cross-body onto his opponent, and then followed this up by delivering a 5-Star-Frog-Splash of the top of one of the internal pods.
Add to this the history of moves that came about due to the Van Dam versus Lynn feud, including the 'Van Daminator' and 'Van Terminator,' and it becomes a real shame that these two men never had the opportunity to have a great Hell in a Cell match.
Sometimes two wrestling names are seen side by side and the world declares that they want to see that match.
Their battle throughout 2005 was a masterclass.
Michaels’ classical high-flying and striking style meshed beautifully with the ground technique of Angle’s. This lead to an average encounter being better than most matches that year. Their microphone skills also complemented each other well, as the respect each man had for one-another underwrote the mockery that was delivered back and forth.
The quality of their feud was highlighted by their match at WrestleMania XXI, which has to be considered as one of the greatest of the 21st century.
Only, the WWE fans were never given a final epic battle to finish the feud.
Angle was needed to fill in as the champion of SmackDown after an injury, and then he moved to the newly formed ECW. Michaels moved on to new challenges as his career wound down, and Angle made his way out of the company to TNA.
One last battle between these two men should have taken place, and in a situation where everything would have been left on the mat.
Had this match happened in a cell, it would have meant more than just a great matchup.
Both these men already have a grand catalog of career-defining matches, but a final showdown inside Hell in a Cell could have maintained the mystique which that structure once held.
Considering the over-abundance of Hell in a Cell matches in recent history, it is remarkable that these two never had a match in a cell.
They feuded almost continuously throughout 2006 and then went on to be the most recognizable faces of their respective brands from 2007 through to the start of 2010, so their paths crossed frequently for almost four years.
The only reasonable explanation to why these two men did not get the chance to meet in hell is that Edge could not compete in such an environment because of his neck. Yet, he was able to face Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell match in 2008 and competed in TLC matches, including the one with John Cena, late into his career.
Whatever the reason, it is a real shame that these two didn’t meet inside the cell, as it robbed the audience of a great match.
Shane McMahon’s valiant conquest for retribution after the monster Kane tombstoned his mother may be the most bizarre rivalry on this list, but it would have been one of the most beneficial Hell in a Cell matches that could have ever happened.
With ten years passing since the feud, it is easy to forget how intense the battle between these two were.
At one point, Kane clamped jumper-cables to the young McMahon’s testicles and then electrocuted him through that delicate area of the body. The last man standing and ambulance matches that followed were two of the most grizzly outings after the re-branding of WWE from WWF.
The feud was concluded after the Ambulance match so Kane could take on Undertaker at WrestleMania XX, but this meant that the terrifying monster that had been rampaging about effectively stopped.
Undertaker did not come back until the event, so Kane was injected into other feuds for a short time without making any sort of definable impact.
This spoiled the match at WrestleMania, as no one believed that Kane would win since he hasn’t destroyed anyone important in months and kept running away from a sound.
Had Kane gone on to face and destroy McMahon in the cell, where the Undertaker was so impressive, then the match at WrestleMania would have been so much more intriguing. The cell shows the inner-demons of a person better than any place in the wrestling world, so Kane’s true levels of depravity could have been found there.
It could well have been enough to finally make Kane an equal to the Undertaker in fans’ eyes.
It’s worth remembering that this was a time before Undertaker’s streak was the highlighted event that it is now, so the two monsters going into their WrestleMania bout as equals would have been a really exciting match.
Not having a Hell in a Cell match between these two men was a real chance lost, as it could have made an even bigger legend out of Kane and so might have even changed the direction that the company went as a whole.