Ranking the 7 Best Hell in Cell Matches in the Last Decade

Graham GSM Matthews@@WrestleRantFeatured ColumnistJune 15, 2021

Ranking the 7 Best Hell in Cell Matches in the Last Decade

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    The New Day and The Usos set the bar for future Hell in a Cell matches with their barbaric outing in 2017.
    The New Day and The Usos set the bar for future Hell in a Cell matches with their barbaric outing in 2017.Credit: WWE.com

    It's been many years since a Hell in a Cell match last had the same magic it once did, largely because of WWE's insistence on keeping it an annual event. The pay-per-view was previously held every October but was moved to the month of June this time around to replace Money in the Bank.

    This year's installment will see Drew McIntyre and Bobby Lashley settle their score inside the structure for the WWE Championship. Roman Reigns will also defend his Universal Championship in a Hell in a Cell match against Rey Mysterio.

    Both bouts should be solid, but where they'll rank among other HIAC matches from the last decade remains to be seen.

    Needless to say, the first few years of Hell in a Cell produced several instant classics. The Undertaker vs. Mankind will never be forgotten, Triple H vs. Cactus Jack was an absolute war, and Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels may never be topped as being the greatest ever.

    To WWE's credit, there has been a handful of top-notch Hell in a Cell matches since it was given its own event in October 2009. Granted, almost none of them have been as brutal or as bloody as their predecessors, but by today's standards, they have certainly stood the test of time.

    From personal grudges to hotly contested championship clashes, these are the best bouts held inside The Devil's Playground from the past 10 years.

Honorable Mentions

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    Randy Orton vs. Jeff Hardy (2018)

    These two have been no strangers to each other over the course of their careers, but their long-running rivalry reached new heights—literally and figuratively—with their Hell in a Cell clash in 2018. Hardy was out for revenge for everything The Viper forced him to endure up to that point and was looking to put him through the same level of punishment.

    They utilized the cage well, battered each other with weapons and inflicted pain on each other in unimaginable ways. Hardy swinging from the structure and falling to his demise ultimately cost him the victory.

            

    Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins (2016)

    Rollins had been in hot pursuit of the Universal Championship for the entire fall of 2016, and it seemed like the only way he could get his hands on Owens alone was if they did battle inside Hell in a Cell.

    That didn't stop Chris Jericho from interfering anyway, but Owens and Rollins really brought the best out of each other in this bout and had one of the faster-paced Hell in a Cell matches in recent years.

    Jericho getting involved at the end despite the stipulation drops it out of the top seven, but it was still a quality contest that deserves its just due.

            

    Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose (2014)

    If there was any match from the last decade that needed to happen inside The Devil's Playground, it was Ambrose vs. Rollins.

    They had a highly personal rivalry for the better part of 2014 that saw The Architect take constant short cuts and avoid his rival at every turn, so it only made sense for their feud to culminate with such a stipulation.

    They fought all around ringside, fell off the side of the structure and made it feel like a fight. Similar to Owens vs. Rollins, the finish was flat with Bray Wyatt going after Ambrose in the final few minutes, but everything that preceded it was terrific.

7. Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt (2015)

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    Bray Wyatt's best one-on-one match in WWE to this day is arguably still with Daniel Bryan from the 2014 Royal Rumble, but this bout from Hell in a Cell the following year should be considered a close second.

    The Eater of Worlds originally targeted Reigns at the start of the summer of 2015. That led to the two trading wins in singles and tag team action in the months that followed, but it had to come to a head in Hell in a Cell that October.

    This was a prime example of a rivalry being blown off perfectly. There was no one else there to take away from the action; the spotlight was solely on Reigns, Wyatt and the immense amount of bad blood between them.

    They took turns battering each other with kendo sticks and using everything in their arsenals in an attempt to secure the victory. In the end, The Big Dog pinned Wyatt but only after going through hell to do it.

    Reigns and Wyatt showed that night what made them main event-level talent and why they belonged at that elite level. There was no blood involved whatsoever, but the sheer physicality more than made up for that.

6. Roman Reigns vs. Jey Uso (2020)

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    The idea of a Roman Reigns vs. Jey Uso ranking on a list of this nature would have been inconceivable a few years ago, specifically when The Big Dog was a bland babyface and The Usos were firmly established as tag team guys.

    Of course, a lot has changed over the last year with both men. Reigns' heel turn led him to doing the best work of his career, while an injury to Jimmy Uso presented Jey with an opportunity to break out on his own.

    Before the two became allies, they were waging war over the Universal Championship in the fall of 2020. Jey had already fallen short of winning at Clash of Champions but was given one more chance at HIAC with the stipulation being that he had to answer to The Tribal Chief if he lost.

    The outcome was never in doubt, but it hardly mattered. Jey gave it an outstanding effort, Reigns was excellent as always with his heel mannerisms, and the drama and storytelling was on another level.

    Reigns mercifully put Uso down for the count and forced him to bow down to The Tribal Chief. That kicked off a remarkable run from them as a unit that has since seen Jimmy get involved as well.

5. The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar (2015)

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    The 2015 installment of the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view hosted not one but two breathtaking bouts inside the structure. After Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt kicked off the evening in electric fashion, The Undertaker and Brock Lesnar had the unenviable task of trying to top them.

    They also had to live up to the expectations they set with their first HIAC match 13 years earlier. That was a brutal and bloody affair that cemented Lesnar as a top-tier talent in WWE, whereas 'Taker had a ton more mileage on him going into this encounter.

    Despite that, The Deadman worked with a newfound sense of urgency and brought the fight to The Beast Incarnate throughout. He hit him with multiple Tombstones, only for his opponent to kick out every time.

    More than anything else, though, they had the crowd invested in the action, which isn't often the case for matches consisting of only legends nowadays. Fans tend to not care when there isn't any new blood involved, but their storied feud sold itself and had the audience unsure who would emerge victorious.

    Lesnar hadn't suffered a single pinfall loss since breaking Undertaker's WrestleMania streak over a year earlier and that didn't change here. This was everything that it needed to be and then some with both megastars deserving praise for their performances.

4. Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks (2019)

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    The Four Horsewomen have had countless classics against each other over the years across all of WWE's biggest brands, but this Hell in a Cell encounter between Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks from 2019 doesn't get acknowledged as often as it should.

    The Boss returned to Raw with a bang one night removed from SummerSlam that year, not only turning heel for the first time in three years but also making an enemy out of Lynch. They first faced off at Clash of Champions in September, but Banks' count-out win left their rivalry unresolved.

    That paved the way for them to meet at Hell in a Cell in the titular match with the Raw Women's Championship up for grabs. Both women were firing on all cylinders at this point, so it was no surprise that they produced such a stellar outing.

    Banks was more intense than usual while Lynch held nothing back in her vicious assault on her opponent. Despite the Hell in a Cell stipulation being over two decades old by 2019, they kept it fresh and incorporated quite a few innovative spots.

    Following the departure of Ronda Rousey from WWE, Lynch lacked a real rival during her historic title reign, and Banks wound up being the perfect foil. Their feud revitalized the Raw women's division for a time and was what the first-ever female Hell in a Cell match should have been in 2016.

3. The Usos vs. The New Day (2017)

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    If you're looking for modern WWE tag team wrestling at its finest, look no further than the stellar series of matches between The Usos and The New Day in 2017.

    Every match they had over the SmackDown Tag Team Championship that year was better than the last. They stole the show every time they competed, whether it was Money in the Bank, Battleground, SmackDown or the SummerSlam kickoff show.

    It all boiled to one more match at Hell in a Cell, marking the first time a set of tag titles had been defended inside the cage. With Big E and Xavier Woods representing The New Day, they adopted an aggressive edge for a change and were on par with The Usos every step of the way.

    Due to the nature of the rivalry they had in the months preceding the pay-per-view, it felt like there was bad blood between the two teams. That added to the necessity of the stipulation and how they weren't able to escape any of the punishment they put each other through.

    All the verbal jabs and jokes were left behind as they played their roles remarkably well and got creative with what they did, similar to Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch two years later. It's hard to innovate inside Hell in a Cell after so many years, but this installment proved that it can in fact be done.

    When the smoke cleared, The Usos emerged as the new champs, (temporarily) ending one of WWE's greatest tag team feuds of all time.

2. Bayley vs. Sasha Banks (2020)

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    It was always more a matter of when, not if, the friendship between Bayley and Sasha Banks would go south and one would turn on the other. Sure enough, after several years of teasing, it finally happened on the SmackDown after SummerSlam 2020 when The Role Model brutalized her then-best friend.

    Banks was kept off WWE TV for all of a month before being brought back in the buildup to Hell in a Cell. Fans felt it was too soon and it certainly was, but The Boss and Bayley had no issue making the most of it and getting everyone invested in their story.

    Banks wasn't a clear-cut babyface, but she was easily the more redeemable and likable of the two. That put her in the underdog role considering she had never beaten Bayley in a big-match situation before, not to mention that she had yet to win inside Hell in a Cell prior to that point.

    With all of that working against her, Banks battled the longest-reigning SmackDown women's champion of all time with everything she had. Bayley was fantastic as the ruthless heel and showed an even more sinister side to herself in an effort to retain her title.

    This was practically a perfect match, containing countless callbacks to their previous encounters as well as exciting action from start to finish. Banks using the chair to tap out Bayley was a fitting end given how the betrayal went down.

    When you consider this wasn't even the greatest match these two have had together (see: NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn), that's when you know their chemistry is scary good and they are two of the best to ever do it.

1. The Undertaker vs. Triple H (WrestleMania 28)

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    Despite not ultimately being the "end of an era," this Triple H vs. Undertaker match from WrestleMania 28 was virtually everything you could ask for from a modern-day Hell in a Cell encounter in WWE.

    This marked the third one-on-one clash these two had on The Grandest Stage of Them All. The first two ended in wins for The Phenom, but the deck was stacked in Triple H's favor this time around with him having a better record inside the structure than 'Taker and Shawn Michaels being appointed the special guest referee.

    This contest had a big fight feel to it before the bell even rang. The crowd in Miami was buzzing to see these legends and longtime rivals go at it, with the winner solidifying their superiority over the other as the best of their era.

    If Undertaker won, he'd be 20-0 at WrestleMania, but it wasn't going to be an easy feat. Triple H gave him everything he had with a Pedigree-Sweet Chin Music combination from D-Generation X nearly putting The Deadman down for the count.

    The emotion from all three men was surreal, with The Streak genuinely appearing to be in jeopardy. Undertaker wasn't the 'Taker of old and thus it took a lot more for him than usual to power out of every pinfall.

    An emphatic Tombstone earned him the victory against The Game and a still-flawless WrestleMania record. The closing sight of the three icons embracing one another in a group hug at the top of stage and staring off into the audience was the perfect ending to this masterpiece of a match.

              

    Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.

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