Hellacious history: Triple H and Undertaker

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February 23, 2012

From the moment it entered the WWE Universe’s lexicon, “Hell in a Cell” has been synonymous with resolution. The hellacious structure, which will serve as the WrestleMania battleground for The Undertaker vs. Triple H, was designed for one reason: to be the end.
(HELL IN A CELL PHOTOS)

On April 1, the Cell will once again be called into action.

When WWE COO Triple H reluctantly accepted The Undertaker’s WrestleMania on Raw SuperShow, he did so under one condition: that the final battle happen inside the Cell. (WATCH)

On first glance, The Game’s Hell in a Cell demand may seem more like a plan for self-destruction than a well-engineered strategy. Often dubbed The Undertaker’s domain, the Cell is widely considered to be home turf for The Phenom. However, a close examination of the Hell in a Cell record book reveals perhaps another story.

Since its debut nearly 15 years ago, Hell in a Cell has cloaked WWE rings 23 times. The Undertaker and Triple H have participated in all but five of those contests, making them the most experienced Cell veterans, by far. Although The Phenom has logged more miles inside the cage – having competed in an unequalled 11 Hell in a Cell Matches – Triple H has been more victorious in his eight outings, chalking up six wins to The Undertaker’s five.

Does that one fact suggest that the Cell’s presence April 1 will negate The Undertaker’s much ballyhooed quest for WrestleMania perfection?

The Phenom’s relationship with Hell in a Cell dates back to the structure’s unveiling at WWE’s Badd Blood: In Your House pay-per-view in October 1997, when he fought now-WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels. The historic match, which saw HBK fall off the side of the structure and through an announce table, set the tone for Hell in a Cell Matches to come. However, the battle also got The Phenom’s record in the Cell off to a rocky start: HBK won.

The Deadman would claim his first Hell in a Cell soul at WWE’s King of the Ring 1998. Facing Mick Foley, who then competed as Mankind, The Undertaker ostensibly set out on a mission that night to solidify his reputation as the Cell’s gatekeeper. Still remembered today for its sheer brutality, the contest set a perverse new standard in punishment. (WATCH)

Triple H’s maiden voyage inside the Cell arrived in 2000, when he defended the WWE Championship against Foley, who by then had reverted back to his Cactus Jack persona. Almost as if he had sought to outdo The Deadman’s decimation of Foley at King of the Ring, The Cerebral Assassin embarked on a vicious assault that night.

The Undertaker and Triple H have other Hell in a Cell opponents in common, including one particularly noteworthy Superstar: Shawn Michaels.

Triple H bested HBK when the two entered the Cell in June 2004. Holding the record for the longest Hell in a Cell Match in history, The Game and The Showstopper fought tooth-and-nail for close to 50 minutes before Triple H put away Michaels, closing the door on their once-bitter rivalry.

This is an intriguing detail, considering it took invoking Michaels’ name for The Undertaker to entice Triple H into their rematch at this year’s WrestleMania. By implying that HBK – another victim of The Phenom’s WrestleMania Streak – is superior to Triple H, The Undertaker clearly struck a nerve.

Though The Undertaker defeated HBK both times they fought at WrestleMania, he was unable to secure victory when he and Michaels were locked inside Hell in a Cell. Triple H, however, was successful when he and HBK collided in 2004.

The Game’s and The Undertaker’s more recent track records also speak volumes about their chances of victory at WrestleMania XXVIII. The Undertaker has won two of his last three showings inside the structure, including wins over Edge and CM Punk.

Triple H, meanwhile, hasn’t stepped inside the Cell as a singles competitor in nearly seven years. His last two excursions came as HBK’s D-Generation X tag team partner. DX prevailed in both bouts, but what does The Game’s lengthy absence from one-on-one matches inside the Cell bode for his encounter with The Undertaker?

It is out of this crucible known as Hell in a Cell that the winners and losers of wars are decided. With 19 Cell appearances between them, The Undertaker and Triple H are unlikely to show any signs of timidity April 1. Regardless of who comes out on top, one thing is clear: The victor will not be in doubt.

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