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Settling the score inside a steel cage
While the WWE Universe waits to hear Triple H’s response to Brock Lesnar’s steel cage challenge at Extreme Rules, WWE.com takes a look back at five rivalries that were so big they could only be contained within the confines of the unforgiving steel structure.
The Grandest cage of them all
In the match that introduced the WWE Universe to the now-classic blue steel cage (and subsequently made it famous), Hulk Hogan battled “King Kong” Bundy at WrestleMania 2 with the WWE Championship on the line. Pitting Hogan — who ascended to dizzying heights as WWE’s most popular grappler — against one of his most formidable opponents ever, this match helped make the second-annual Show of Shows an event of epic proportions.
The historic battle also laid the foundation for every WWE Steel Cage Match that would follow, making it the perfect bout to kick off our list.
David vs. Goliaths
Before “YES!” was a thing, and long before “ hugging it out” became therapeutic for the bearded submission specialist, Daniel Bryan was just your average 210-pound World Heavyweight Champion locked inside a steel cage against two of the most gargantuan forces the WWE Universe has ever seen — Big Show and Mark Henry.
Despite the enormous odds stacked squarely against him during the 2012 Royal Rumble World Title battle, Bryan overcame his gigantic opposition and found a safe route to the ringside canvas to successfully defend his illustrious championship gold.
Once more, with Attitude
If The Game does decide to accept Brock Lesnar’s Extreme Rules challenge, at least Triple H has plenty of steel cage experience to fall back on.
Case in point: SummerSlam 1997.
At the dawn of The Attitude Era, Mankind and Triple H — who was then known as Hunter Hearst Helmsley — engaged in a series of memorable matches that forced the snobbish Superstar to get down and dirty to match the sheer insanity of the enigmatic Mankind.
The Hardcore Legend once again lived up to his moniker, and dragged (the once and future) Cerebral Assassin down among the dregs in an all-out brawl within the cage.
Rattling the boss’ cage
One of the all-time classic rivalries in WWE history was at its tipping point in early 1999 as WWE Hall of Famer “Stone Cold” Steve Austin waged his bitter war against the boss of all bosses, Mr. McMahon. Fitting, then, that the two would meet at a pay-per-view titled St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, inside a steel cage that was painted a hellish and ominous black.
As they were wont to do, Austin and McMahon beat the hell out of each other in one of the most memorable and anticipated bouts ever. Notable not only because of Mr. McMahon’s unforgettable “meeting” with the announce table, this particular steel cage battle also introduced the WWE Universe to Big Show, who arrived on the scene with hopes of catapulting (get it?) The Chairman to victory.
That didn’t work out too well for The World’s Largest Athlete, but this steel cage confrontation is still one of the best we’ve ever seen.
Whipping his idol
“I took the horse out behind the barn, and I pulled the trigger.”
Those were the words uttered by Triple H in reference to turning his back on his in-ring idol and best friend Ric Flair in the days leading up to Taboo Tuesday 2005. A combination of biting verbal attacks and vicious physical assaults — including taking a sledgehammer to the cranium of “ The Nature Boy” — laid the groundwork for a rivalry decades in the making.
Claiming that Flair “reveled in his newfound mediocrity” after winning the Intercontinental Title at WWE Unforgiven months earlier, Triple H felt that his hero’s career had run its course, and only The Game could end it properly, so as not to “tarnish” his memories of Flair.
With the Intercontinental Championship on the line, the resulting steel cage confrontation between the two icons was truly one of the most brutal ever. Triple H delivered an incredible amount of punishment to “The Nature Boy,” sending Flair head-first into the unforgiving steel crossbars before wrapping a steel chain around his wrist and bashing Flair with it.
Flair ultimately prevailed, but this match took a toll on both competitors, and showed the WWE Universe what a Cage Match is all about.