WWE’s 10 rulers of 'Hell'
For those who enter Hell in a Cell's steel mesh walls, nothing is guaranteed other than a career-altering experience.
The wicked fortress is a venue where some Superstars may fear to tread, and with good reason: Bodies are scarred and maimed there, and the emotional and mental anguish of competing inside the Cell is often the only thing that outlasts the physical toll that is taken. Some Superstars, however, have proven to be especially adept at life inside the Cell. Call them denizens, masochists or daredevils, yet in the context of WWE, they are truly the rulers of "Hell."
In ordering this list of the top 10 Hell in a Cell combatants, their win-loss records, overall number of trips inside the Cell and the quality of competition are all considered, as is the “Phenom factor.” (Waging war inside the Cell against The Undertaker is an incomparable challenge and thus deserves greater weighting.) After browsing through our entries, let us know how we did: Add your voice to this conversation by naming your picks in the comments section below.
Win-loss record: 1-0
Conquered opposition: Randy Orton
Mark Henry does not have a wealth of experience competing inside Hell in a Cell, but if his one-and-only voyage inside the career-shortening structure was any indication, The World’s Strongest Man’s brand of punishment was custom-made for the Cell. Defending his World Heavyweight Championship against Randy Orton at WWE Hell in a Cell 2011, Henry used his unworldly strength to maul WWE’s Apex Predator, at times appearing as though his aim was to push Orton through the chain-link mesh like a human meat grinder.
The World’s Strongest Man alternated between ramming Orton into the ring post and the Cell’s unforgiving steel walls. Although The Viper was fortunate enough to dodge Henry’s most heinous strategy — launching the ring steps toward Orton’s head — he was unable to avoid a devastating over-the-shoulder powerslam on the floor and a litany of backbreakers. Henry’s impressive single outing is more than enough to warrant inclusion among Hell’s “rulers.”
Win-loss record: 1-0
Conquered opposition: The Rock, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Undertaker, Triple H and Rikishi
Were it not for the caliber of his opponents in the lone Six-Man Match in Hell in a Cell history, Kurt Angle could very well be ranked at No. 10 or, perhaps, fall off the list completely. Yet there is no denying Angle, by hook or by crook, prevailed in the Armageddon 2000 match, which featured an incredibly stacked grouping of The Rock, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Undertaker, Triple H and Rikishi.
The bout is fondly remembered for its sheer chaos: Mr. McMahon attempting to tear down the Cell mid-match, Triple H crashing “Stone Cold’s” skull through the window of a construction truck and, most memorably, The Undertaker pushing Rikishi off the top of the Cell. When the dust settled, however, it was Angle’s hand that was raised, and let’s face it: A win against The Rock, “Stone Cold,” The Undertaker, Triple H and Rikishi is a mighty feat, especially inside Hell in a Cell.
Win-loss record: 0-2-2
Conquered opposition: a career-threatening injury
Who but Mick Foley could land on a list of 10 Rulers of Hell without ever actually winning a Hell in a Cell Match? Despite his lackluster record inside the hallowed battleground, to not include The Hardcore Legend — a true Hell in a Cell innovator — on the list would be a grave omission. For those members of the WWE Universe who recall the early days of Hell in a Cell, Foley is all but synonymous with the sinister structure.
The Hardcore Legend competed in four of the first six Hell in a Cell Matches, including three in 1998. In addition to the two no-contests on Raw, Foley fought The Undertaker and Triple H in matches that set a new standard for brutality. Whether he was being bailed off the Cell or backdropped through it, Foley’s legacy is often summarized by brutal scenes in which he always seemed to be on the receiving end. Without Foley, the Cell would not have reached its soul-searing zenith as soon as it did.
Win-loss record: 1-0
Conquered opposition: The Undertaker
Brock Lesnar does not boast an extensive body of work inside the exacting caged venue, but his single appearance there — a win — came against none other than The Undertaker. Then the WWE Champion, Lesnar battled The Phenom at No Mercy 2002. The hellish affair lasted nearly 30 minutes and was devoid of rules, which, as it turned out, suited The Anomaly just fine.
Lesnar dauntlessly entered the structure with a methodical game plan to destroy The Undertaker’s already injured hand. Deviating from this strategy, Lesnar also slammed The Deadman spine-first into the corner of the Cell. In the end, it was an F-5 that put down The Undertaker for the three-count. The Beast Incarnate came as close as any Superstar in history to humanizing The Undertaker, and to celebrate, he climbed to the Cell’s roof and proudly hoisted the WWE Title for all to see. The broad-shouldered bruiser would later conquer a different cage in UFC’s Octagon, but his greatest conquest would come when he snapped The Deadman's WrestleMania Streak upon his WWE return. That victory set in motion a series of events that will culminate in the two warriors' final battle, once again inside Hell in a Cell.
Win-loss record: 1-0-2
Conquered opposition: The Undertaker
Though he has not competed frequently inside its wicked confines, Kane has enjoyed an especially close bond with Hell in a Cell since day one: Debuting at Badd Blood 1997, The Big Red Monster famously helped Shawn Michaels defeat The Undertaker in the first Hell in a Cell Match.
Thirteen years after making his first appearance there, The Devil’s Favorite Demon cemented his spot as one of the Cell’s most dangerous denizens by upending The Undertaker in 2010. Kane’s detractors will note that his victory was tainted by the interference of Paul Bearer, who switched allegiances and rejoined The Big Red Monster that night. Regardless of Bearer’s involvement, Kane escaped the victor, and with no-contests on Raw in 1998 rounding out the rest of his Hell in a Cell record, The Devil’s Favorite Demon remains undefeated.
Win-loss record: 3-3
Conquered opposition: Daniel Bryan, John Cena, Sheamus
In recent years, Randy Orton has grown plenty familiar with the instrument of evil that is Hell in a Cell. WWE’s Apex Predator lost his initial outing just three years into his bright WWE career, when he challenged The Undertaker in 2005. His only other losses came in 2011 — against the freakishly strong curator of the Hall of Pain, Mark Henry — and 2014, to John Cena with a No. 1 contender's slot for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at stake.
The coldblooded Viper’s victories, however, have come against the cream of the crop: Cena in 2009, Sheamus in 2010 and Daniel Bryan in 2013. What makes him especially lethal in that environment is his ability to adapt his style. WWE’s Apex Predator has a record of deftly tailoring his high-impact offense to life inside the Cell. Whether hitting his quick-pivot powerslam on The Undertaker into the Cell wall, nailing The Celtic Warrior with an RKO on the steel steps or superplexing Bryan onto a pile of steel charis, Orton always breaks out innovative means of punishment when stepping into the structure.
Win-loss record: 2-0
Conquered opposition: Triple H, The Undertaker
Twice Batista faced the unenviable task of defending his World Heavyweight Championship inside Hell in a Cell, and twice he emerged with the championship gold still his. What makes that statistic all the more noteworthy is that in defending his title, The Animal dealt rare Hell in a Cell losses to The Undertaker and Triple H.
Batista’s Hell in a Cell story might be one of survival. Against Triple H, he was whipped with a chain, blasted with a chair wrapped in barbed wire and struck with a sledgehammer. Versus The Undertaker, Batista withstood Hell’s Gate — the same excruciating hold that has submitted dozens of WWE Legends. Perhaps the lone slight against Batista’s Cell track record is the manner in which he defeated The Undertaker: via pinfall, but only after Edge, who had disguised himself as a WWE cameraman, pulled the referee out of position and attacked The Phenom.
Win-loss record: 3-1
Conquered opposition: The Undertaker; in tag competition, with Triple H, against The McMahons & Big Show, Legacy (Ted DiBiase & Cody Rhodes)
Shawn Michaels made his name by not only routinely stealing the show, but also by breaking new ground — be it in the ring, on the microphone or in dealing with WWE authority figures. There is perhaps no better example of HBK’s trendsetting brilliance, or his devil-may-care attitude, than his first foray into Hell in a Cell.
It takes a different breed of competitor to agree to fight inside a contraption that has never before seen the light of day, but that's exactly the scenario Michaels signed on for when he faced The Undertaker in October 1997. Without the absurdly high standards established that night, Hell in a Cell may have taken on an entirely different trajectory.
Beyond the sheer athleticism and guts he displayed in the Cell’s maiden voyage, HBK both warred against and teamed with his on-again/off-again best friend, Triple H, inside the cage. The Showstopper’s final Cell appearance (to date) came as a special guest referee for the Hell in a Cell Match between Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan in 2013.
Win-loss record: 6-3
Conquered opposition: Mick Foley, Chris Jericho, Kevin Nash, Shawn Michaels; in tag competition, with Shawn Michaels vs. The McMahons & Big Show, Legacy
With few exceptions, Triple H’s most heated rivalries have culminated inside Hell in a Cell. From his fiercest enemies (Mick Foley and Chris Jericho) to his closest allies (Kevin Nash and Shawn Michaels), The Game has often taken to the Cell to settle the score, and he has usually done so to great acclaim.
When a portion of the WWE Universe questioned Triple H’s “toughness” as WWE Champion in 2000, Triple H braved entry into the Cell against Foley’s Cactus Jack persona and out-punished The Hardcore Legend in a brawl that included fire, barbed wire and chairs. Against Nash in 2003, Triple H prevailed even though guest referee Foley prevented The Game from weaponizing a sledgehammer. In tag action, Triple H has been flawless.
Over the course of his nine Cell appearances, though, The Game did suffer the occasional defeat, none of which was more significant than his loss to the Superstar who landed at No. 1 on this list …
Win-loss record: 6-5-1
Conquered opposition: Mick Foley, Big Boss Man, Randy Orton, Edge, CM Punk, Triple H
With 12 matches under his belt, The Undertaker is the undisputed gatekeeper of Hell in a Cell. He is tied with Triple H for the most wins, and he was the first to win a championship there (the World Heavyweight Title against CM Punk in 2009).
The Deadman is not No. 1 based on those factors alone. There is, of course, the long list of evil deeds he has perpetrated in Cell matches, from tossing Mankind and Rikishi off the structure to Chokeslamming Edge through the ring to conjuring the flames of Hades. His WrestleMania XXVIII brawl against Triple H extended The Streak to 20-0. Even in losing his Hell in a Cell conflicts, The Undertaker always appeared strong; rarely, if ever, was any Superstar’s victory over The Undertaker inside Hell in a Cell considered “decisive.” In fact, he'll have a chance to avenge his sole loss in the Cell, to Brock Lesnar, when The Beast Incarnate re-enters The Deadman's domain for the final chapter of their storied rivalry.
Boasting unparalleled longevity and with a long line of decimated bodies lying in his wake, The Undertaker remains the true “ruler” of Hell.