Long before it became an annual pay-per-view staple and the violent climax of various feuds, the Hell in a Cell gimmick debuted at the Badd Blood: In Your House pay-per-view in October 1997. To this day the first cell match — The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels — ranks as one of the best in the stipulation's history thanks to great in-ring storytelling from both men and the shocking debut of Kane as Undertaker's demented younger brother.
During his latest appearance on Broken Skull Sessions with Steve Austin, Undertaker (real name Mark Calaway) explained that the entire idea surrounding Hell in a Cell was to A) keep D-Generation X from interfering on Michaels' behalf and B) give Kane an iconic debut by having him rip the cell's door off its hinges.
"THAT'S -- THAT'S GOTTA BE -- THAT'S GOTTA BE KANE! THAT'S GOTTA BE KANE!"October 5, 2020
"The main reason for Hell in a Cell was Kane. It was all about Kane," Undertaker said (h/t Wrestling Inc.). "The whole thing was designed for Kane's debut. You're gonna keep all outside interference out, and boom, here comes Kane. For Kane to come in and do what no one else could do, which is rip the door off and come face-to-face with his brother. I still think it's one of the most iconic stare downs ever. It's a story that lasted 23 years, and one of the greatest stories ever told."
WWE has since gone on to host 45 Hell in a Cell match, a number that skyrocketed once the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view arrived in 2009. Calaway still holds the record for most appearances (14) and most wins (eight), but other wrestlers like Triple H, Randy Orton, Michaels and Brock Lesnar have shined in HIAC matches over the years. And even though he was heavily involved in the first one, Kane wrestled in just three cell matches and one won once ( beating Undertaker at the 2010 Hell in a Cell event for the World Heavyweight Championship thanks to an assist from Paul Bearer).
Calaway issued his "finale farewell" as the Undertaker in the final segment of Survivor Series last week and has continued to reiterate in recent interviews he has no intention of wrestling again. Last week's pay-per-view marked the 30th anniversary of his debut at the 1990 Survivor Series.