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It's Twenty Years Since That Undertaker V Mankind Hell In A Cell Match

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It's Twenty Years Since That Undertaker V Mankind Hell In A Cell Match

Wrestling was unequivocally better in the 90s.

Not just because we were younger and more susceptible, but because everything seemed bigger, brasher and more dramatic: frankly, they could get away with plenty of stuff that wouldn't come even remotely close to making a final edit in the WWE of today.

The culmination of 90s wrestling, the piece de resistance of the genre, the high point of the whole WWF Attitude era, was 20 years ago to the day and we thought we'd run you a little retrospective about why it matters.

We're speaking, of course, about the Hell in a Cell match between The Undertaker and Mankind.

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Credit: WWE
Credit: WWE

Now, it goes without saying that The Undertaker and Mick Foley - whether Mankind, Dude Love, Cactus Jack or just plain Mick - are legends of the game, but their movement towards this moment showed just how far wrestling had come.

1998 was the beginning of the so-called Attitude Era, in which WWF moved from kid-focussed, family-friendly entertainment to a product for adults, moving from clean-cut heroes like Hulk Hogan to anti-heroes like Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock and, yes, our two combatants that night in Pittsburgh.

The content got ever wilder: Stone Cold would swill beers and stunner his boss, The Undertaker was legitimately scary rather than a caricature and Mankind - well, Mankind was Mankind.

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The Attitude Era was all about shocking viewers, and it would be taken to a new level in 1998.

Initially, Mankind climbed the steel cage that surrounded the ring rather than face The Undertaker in it. The Deadman followed him up and threw Mankind from the cell, a drop of more than five metres that spawned a thousand memes.

Credit: WWE
Credit: WWE

With Mankind hurt at the bottom - Mick Foley legitimately had dislocated his shoulder - the medics intervened, only for Mankind to get up off his stretcher and again scale the cage.

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The Undertaker choke-slammed him through the roof of the cage and onto the mat below, an unplanned yet memorable bump that saw Foley slam metres down again.

With Mankind stricken, The Undertaker unleashed his trademark Tombstone Piledriver and won the match. Such was the danger involved and the damage taken by both participants, WWF chief Vince McMahon was later said to have told Mick Foley: "You have no idea how much I appreciate what you have just done for this company, but I never want to see anything like that again."

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

Alongside the dislocated shoulder, Foley was also concussed and had thumbtacks scattered throughout his arms.

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Foley had volunteered to take such punishment and established himself as one of the toughest men in wrestling - while many had derided the WWF as fake fighting, there could be no doubting the real injuries that Mankind sustained.

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Amazingly, this classic contest wasn't even the main event - that honour fell to Stone Cold Steve Austin and Kane's First Blood match - but it was the breakout match that proved that wrestling could be proper, grown-up entertainment.

Two decades on, it hasn't been bettered.

Featured Image Credit: WWE

Topics: The Undertaker, TV and Film, WWE, US Entertainment

Mike Wood
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