The method of escalation of animosity between professional wrestlers during a program goes back decades. Whether it starts off slow or fast, the intensity builds and each time they meet in the ring the ante is upped. Long ago a promoter by the name of Paul Boesch had an idea to settle a score between two bitter rivals, Jack Bloomfield and Count Petro Rossi. This idea was one of the most innovative in wrestling history. In 1937 Bloomfield and Rossi went at in with chicken wire wrapped around the ring, becoming the first ever cage match.
Ask anyone be they a wrestling fan or not to name a type of match and the answer will likely be the cage match. It is the most famous match stipulation in the wrestling history and as Jose Marrero pointed out it is the be-all end-all to settle the score. Over the course of the years the match has evolved significantly. You most likely won?t be seeing chicken wire used unless at an Indy show. Some cages have tops, some don?t. WWE used to have a big solid blue cage that didn?t budge even when King Kong Bundy hit it. WCW used a similar cage for its Thunder Dome. They also used a two-ring setup surrounded by one large cage to host War Games. WWE has taken the cage a step further by introducing the Hell in a Cell and the Elimination Chamber. TNA has produced an entire pay per view complied of six sides of steel matches known as Lockdown. This Sunday WWE hosts a pay per view consisting of three Hell in a Cell matches. In preparation for this Sunday’s event, I began going through a few cage matches in last couple decades. What I never realized was how the cage itself acts not as a prop, or a backdrop, but a participant in the match itself.
A few years ago Raw had its first ever cage match between two divas when Eric Bischoff and Molly Holly spun the Raw Roulette Wheel that put Lita in the cage with the maniacal Victoria. Lita pulled out everything she had in an attempt to escape the cage, but the crazed Victoria contained her and punished her. After failing to escape the cage yet again, Lita kicked Victoria away from the cage wall and hit a breathtaking moonsault on her insane opponent. The move was enough for Lita to reach the door, only to have Matt Hardy slam the door on her head, allowing Victoria to pick up the victory. The first Raw divas match in the cage could not have happened between two greater competitors as Lita and Victoria showed why they were two of the best during the golden age of WWE’s Women’s? Division.
Going back a few years you have the 1996 War Games match featuring WCW vs. NWO. For those of you unfamiliar with the match, it typically featured two teams of four with two men from each side starting, then having one man enter the ring every couple of minutes or so until all eight men were in the ring. The match in 1996 centered around whose side Sting would be on when it came time for him to enter the cage. Arn Anderson and Scott Hall started out with a good exchange. Once Hall, Kevin Nash, and Hulk Hogan had entered the ring, it came time for Ric Flair to make his entrance. With all the wrestlers in the far ring, Flair hopped in the empty ring and dared the NWO to come get him. The crowd went nuts for this. Flair did a great job, but the NWO’s reaction of anger at being showed up made it priceless. When the NWO’s version of Sting entered the ring, fans began chanting WE WANT STING, all the while the announcers had to play dumb and pretend the guy in the ring was the real Sting to keep up the charade, only to be shocked when the real Sting came out to the ring. In terms of wrestling quality, the match was a match of the year candidate and was very dramatic. War Games holds a special place in the hearts of many fans. WWE may not want to bring it back since it was a WCW idea, but it would be a great addition to WWE programming. If they could modify the match itself to fit the WWE’s style it would make a great addition to pay per views like Extreme Rules or Survivor Series.
The first ever Starrcade in 1983 was a huge event headlined by a huge cage match main event between RIc Flair and Harley Race. Flair and Race went at it in a blood bath that ended with Flair getting the win over the veteran Race. The match was everything you hope for in a cage match and reminds me of everything that Wrestlemania main events could be today.
When the cage evolved into Hell in a Cell form, we saw brutal matches such as Undertaker-HBK, which still stands as the best of the Cell matches, and Taker-Foley. In 1999 the Cell took a more theatrical turn with Big Bossman being hung in a noose from the Cell at Wrestlemania XV and then the Kennel from Hell match later in the year with Bossman and Al Snow fighting in a cage within the Cell with angry dogs between the steel. Armageddon 2000 brought the Cell back with a brutal and memorable six-way match for the WWE Championship. The match has since then been used as the ultimate end in some of the biggest feuds in WWE within the last decade. Taker ended his nearly ten month feud with Randy Orton in 2005 by stepping into the Cell and destroying Orton and his father. The Cell has come a long way in its twelve year life, but the cage itself has an even greater history as the third man in every match it participates. With every level the cage taken, it shows another side to its personality, further fascinating and captivating the wrestling audience. I am by no means a scholar on the steel cage, nor giving a history lesson, but merely reminiscing what it is the cage is and demonstrating an intrigue in what it could become in the future.
This Sunday WWE takes the cage to the next level by showcasing three matches within the ominous steel structure. Each match has one side that has never seen the inside of the Cell while the other knows it all too well. Randy Orton’s reaction to the cage being lowered last Monday bothered some because of the way he was manhandled. However, look at Orton’s only other Cell match back in 2005 with Taker and you understand his fear. He was in disbelief and down-right frightened by what had happened to him in the Cell. Cena’s arrogant attitude going into this match makes it all the more intriguing because he doesn?t know what he is in for. CM Punk will go up against the man most synonymous with Hell in a Cell-Undertaker. Not only will this match be intriguing for the quality, but also how they will end this. Taker will not be leaving with the title. Somehow they have to get Punk out of the Cell with his life and title intact. When Legacy goes up against HBK and Triple H they will go up against two of the men who have shaped Hell in a Cell to what it is today. While WWE Creative may be frustrated with how to pull off this show, they made the right choices when choosing the competitors to go into the Cell. Also, they did not go into overkill mode by booking all matches in the Cell like TNA does every year. Many of you may not be excited about the show, but one thing we cannot deny is that our eyes will be on Hell in a Cell this Sunday.
That will do it for this week. As always, thank you for reading. If you have any questions or comments you can shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.