WWE: A look back at the scariest moment in wrestling as Undertaker fought Mankind at Hell In A Cell

THIS week marks 21 years since the most notoriously brutal match in the history of WWE – the Undertaker v Mankind Hell in a Cell at King of the Ring 1998.

The shocking scenes would become some of the defining images from WWE’s Attitude Era and the match itself a pivotal moment in Mankind AKA Mick Foley’s career.

It has been 19 years since the notorious match-up between Mankind and Undertaker
The shocking scenes would become some of the defining images from WWE’s Attitude Era

Sun Sport takes a look back at what happened that infamous night on June 28, 1998.

What was the background of the match?

Though it’s now his most infamous match, the build to King of the Ring 1998 had actually been a lull for Foley.

The “three faces of Foley” gimmick – which saw Foley perform as Mankind, Dude Love, and Cactus Jack – had already peaked.

And his brief main event run against wrestling’s hottest star Stone Cold Steve Austin had finished at the previous month’s pay-per-view.

Foley was back to playing Mankind to little fanfare, booked against Undertaker – who he’d already wrestled many times on PPV.

Hell in a Cell was also a gimmick match that couldn’t possibly be topped, following the incredible first HIAC the year before between Taker and Shawn Michaels.

This time around, the match felt thrown together – a stopgap while WWE came up with something better for both men to do.

How did Foley prepare for it?

Foley watched the first HIAC with Terry Funk – his longtime mentor and occasional tag team partner/opponent.

Funk told him: “Cactus, I think you ought to start the match on the top of the cell.”
He then joked: “What if you were thrown off the cell?”

But Foley, deadly serious, replied: “I think I can do that.”

At first Vince McMahon wouldn’t allow Foley to perform such a crazy stunt. When Foley first floated the idea, Vince told him: “Absolutely not.”

But Foley eventually persuaded both Vince and Undertaker to let him do it.

So it was decided to start the match in the most shocking way possible on top of the 15ft cage.

What happened on the night?

The main was booked as the semi main event spot of King of the Ring – which took place on June 28, 1998 – but would become the most remembered match on the card.

Speaking on Chris Jericho’s podcast, Foley recalled how hard it was even to just climb the cell – something he hadn’t accounted for when planning the match.

He lost feeling in some of his fingers for two weeks from just trying to clamber up the chicken wire mesh – ever since, the cell has been made with rungs for superstars to climb.

Foley reminisced how he lost the feeling in two of his fingers having to climb the cage

Once up there, the cell was also much higher than Foley had realised.

He said: “If I could have thought of a way to climb down with destroying my career I would have done it.”

Taker – who has a legendary tolerance for pain – climbed up the cell with a broken bone in his foot.

Once on top the cell there was a scary moment as the cage roof almost gave way under the weight of The Deadman and Foley.

Taker then threw Foley off the cell as planned, a scary-looking bump that has become one of the most rerun moments in wrestling – and is still shocking to watch now.

Foley’s shoulder was dislocated, and the cell began to lift – with Taker still on top as Foley was stretchered out.

But Foley jumped off the stretcher and climbed back up the cage.

Taker choke-slammed Foley through the roof of the cage onto the ring below.

Though less spectacular, it was the more dangerous of the two falls.

Foley landed high on his shoulders and a steel chair crashed through the cell with Foley and hit him in the face – dislocating his jaw, smashing out one and half teeth, and knocking him unconscious.

Jim Ross’ commentary was just as iconic as the action, with the much loved announcer screaming: “Will somebody stop the damn match!”

But the match didn’t stop. Paramedics, officials, and Terry Funk ran in to buy Foley some time – Taker choke-slammed The Funker literally out of his shoes for his troubles.

Foley describes in his first autobiography how Undertaker had to “bottle feed” him the rest of the match.

Foley, so out of it, couldn’t remember where he was or what he supposed to be doing.

At one point he collapsed, keeling over because he hasn’t got the strength to bump properly.

Then – in the most iconic image of Foley’s career – he grinned into the camera, his mouth bloodied and one of his knocked out teeth somehow lodged in his nostril.

The match would end after Foley retrieved a bag of 6,000 drawing pins from beneath the ring and tipped them over the canvas.

He was the slammed into the pins – with them sticking into his body all over – and then took a Tombstone from the Deadman.

What was the fallout?

Foley had been knocked senseless in the match. While being stretchered out he had to ask one of the referees if he’d already been on a stretcher that night – he couldn’t remember.

He insisted on getting off the stretcher and walking, with the aid of Terry Funk.

Backstage, Vince McMahon told him: “You have no idea how much I appreciate what you’ve just done for this company. But I never want to see anything like that again.”

Foley also recalls how Undertaker stayed with him while he was being treated by medics.

He said: “I don’t know Undertaker that well… but that day he stayed with me for a long time. He was like my big brother.

“If that had been someone else, I wouldn’t have got through that match.”

Foley says that he was hurting for six weeks after, but the match had a long-lasting effect on his career too.

Foley had earned his rep as a “Hardcore Legend” in his “King of the Deathmatch” series with Terry Funk in Japan, battling in rings with barbed wire ropes and littered with C4 explosives.

But WWE fans had only got a taste for how far Foley could push it until that night.

It led to the Mankind character becoming a hugely popular babyface and winning the WWE Championship the following January.

But the brutality of the match also raised the bar for hardcore action – to unrealistic and dangerous levels.

Foley was involved in another sickening match at the Royal Rumble with The Rock, in which he was clobbered with head-rattling chair shots while handcuffed.

He would officially retire in 2000 (though not for long) and another bump through the Cell in a match against Triple H.

The Attitude Era would continue to push for bigger, more death defying stunts – leading to the kind of jaw-dropping TLC matches that would shorten the careers of both Edge and Christian.

Shane McMahon dropped an elbow on Taker from the top of the cell last year – though it was a more controlled stunt.

These days, hardcore action has been scaled down to make WWE much safer for current superstars.

But it’s hard to imagine any Hell in a Cell or TLC match from the modern era having the impact of Foley and Taker’s brutal encounter.


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