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Remembering Badd Blood: 15 years later

A match for the ages

It may not have been on the grand stage of WrestleMania, or even during the blazing heat of SummerSlam, but 1997’s Badd Blood has become one of the most notable events in WWE history. It was a night of firsts in the ring — the very first Hell in a Cell Match and the very first sighting of Kane. While the event is mostly remembered for those occurrences, it was also the final pay-per-view to feature Mr. McMahon as a regular member of the broadcast team. Badd Blood’s lineup featured several bouts that were very representative of the early stages of the Attitude Era. The evening was a decoupage of tag team contests, title matches and highly unique battles. Badd Blood was a relic, an event of days gone by. ( WATCH VIDEO PLAYLIST |  VIEW PHOTO GALLERY)

Hell in a Cell has become somewhat par for the course to settle longstanding grudges in WWE, but in 1997, it was a sight to behold. Never before had WWE featured such an enormous structure, with a ceiling to boot! But the innovation was a necessary evil to contain the animosity between Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker. The match was to decide a No. 1 contender to Bret Hart’s WWE Championship, and was sure to be an intense, physical contest. ( WATCH)

“Nowadays, Hell in a Cell is synonymous with Mankind and The Undertaker,” Natalya explained. “But back then, this was it. This was something more than just a cage.”

“It brought a new aspect to wrestling,” Kofi Kingston said. “I don’t think that people quite understood how much of an impact the Hell in a Cell Match would have as far as being a brutal, toll-taking match. But we knew that we were witnessing something special.”

Dolph Ziggler agreed. “It was a revolutionary match,” The Showoff said. “WWE was constantly going outside the box, drawing a line and crossing it.” Ziggler explained the impact of the match, “It was also gruesome and fun as hell to watch. From that point on, when you give the piranhas in the water a little drop of blood, they want more and more and more. And you have to outdo yourself and go to further extremes. And sometimes that could be good, or could be bad.” Ziggler’s analysis is spot-on. From that point forward, WWE became ensconced in the vicious cycle of the hard-hitting and usually shocking Attitude Era.

HBK’s D-Generation X cohorts inserted themselves into the action, but the true significant interference came in the form of the long-awaited debut of Kane.

“I remember the whole background,” Kofi recalled. “[The Undertaker’s longtime manager] Paul Bearer was making The Undertaker feel guilty about something that he had done in the past and everybody wanted to know what The Deadman had done. You never see Undertaker feel remorse. And the fact that Paul Bearer could make him feel remorse, you could see it in his eyes and see the look on his face, it was something that you never see out of The Undertaker. So you knew the news that Paul Bearer was talking about was devastating.”

But the sight of The Big Red Monster was far more shocking than any look on The Deadman’s face. “When Kane came out, it was just this bizarre giant, this gargantuan man with this mask on, walking with kind of a limp — just someone real freaky big,” Kofi recalled. “You knew he was big and powerful and some stuff was gonna go down.”

Led by Bearer, Kane tore off the door of the Cell, and confronted his older half-brother. “That was a heck of statement,” Kofi said. “He came in and just messed The Undertaker up. At that point, we didn’t really know exactly what had happened, but we knew there was a major story behind these two giants.” ( WATCH)

Ziggler was equally enthralled by the first appearance of Kane. “To see him in that situation and realize he wasn’t just a giant monster, he can go above and beyond and manhandle The Undertaker. Who knows what would happen next?” ( READ: KANE'S MOST DEMONIC DEEDS)

Covering all the bases

But the Hell in a Cell Match wasn’t the only contest featured at Badd Blood. In The Hart Foundation’s ongoing belligerence against the United States, Bret “Hit Man” Hart & The British Bulldog faced off with the team of Vader & The Patriot in a Flag Match where pinfalls and submissions were legal.

“People were so used to seeing huge matches between Bret Hart and The British Bulldog, like their epic match at SummerSlam 1992,” Natalya explained. “But now you get them as a tag team, so that was super unique because that didn’t happen often.” ( WATCH)

Bret’s brother Owen was also in action against Faarooq (WWE Hall of Famer Ron Simmons) in the finals of a monthlong tournament to crown a new Intercontinental Champion. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin had been forced to vacate the title due to an injury at the hands of the younger Hart brother, the man he defeated for the championship at SummerSlam. But at Badd Blood, Owen regained the title to become Intercontinental Champion once again. ( WATCH)

Faarooq’s other Nation of Domination members — Rocky Maivia (the future Great One), Kama Mustafa and D’Lo Brown — faced off against The Legion of Doom in a Handicap Match. “The Nation of Domination was a force to be reckoned with and guys who really weren’t playing around,” Kofi explained. He was right. A Rock Bottom later and the legendary Road Warriors duo was on the losing end of the matchup. ( WATCH)

“That’s the main thing I really remember about this era,” Kofi recalled. “You had so many teams, so many factions. It was almost like a turf war. Like ‘The Warriors.’ ”

In more bouts of gang warfare at Badd Blood, the foursomes of The D.O.A. and Los Boricuas took to the ring in a chaotic 8-Man Tag Team Match. ( WATCH) Plus, The Godwinns defeated The Headbangers to win the WWE World Tag Team Championships. ( WATCH) Between the Flag Match, Handicap Match and other team bouts, the Hell in a Cell Match wasn’t just unique for being the first, but for being one of only two singles matchups at the event.

Even the night’s most unique attraction was a team event as Max Mini & Nova grappled with Tarantula & Mosaic in an athletic Minis experience. “I always liked seeing the Minis do their thing,” Kofi enthused. “It was always very impressive.” ( WATCH)

Badd Blood also included a notable non-match moment as Jim Ross and Sunny held a ceremony to honor legends of the St. Louis Wrestling Club. The event took place in the Gateway to the West, St. Louis, and Good Ol’ J.R. presented recognitions to Gene Kiniski, Lou Thesz, Sam Muchnick and WWE Hall of Famers Jack Brisco, Dory Funk Jr., Terry Funk and Harley Race. ( WATCH)

“This pay-per-view covered all bases,” Kofi concluded. “It was a good mix of quality entertainment and good wrestling.”

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