68. The Undertaker vs Triple H (with Special Guest Referee Shawn Michaels, Hell in a Cell Match, WWE WrestleMania XXVIII)

I’m still here thinking about Cody Rhodes and Seth Rollins performances at Hell in a Cell 2022. I’ve covered a few other Hell in a Cell matches here. But I want to talk about one of the most overrated Hell in a Cell matches (and ‘Mania matches) ever: the third WrestleMania match between The Undertaker and Triple H! Lauded by many as a masterpiece, an epic of storytellinf, I just found it boring. They gave us a slow, intermittently dramatic match that was apparently ‘The End of an Era…’

HBK as the special guest referee makes no sense. He’s buddies with HHH, for one. For two, ‘Taker retired HBK at ‘Mania XXVI. We’d seen in the past that HBK was never an impartial referee when officiating matches with HHH. Together with the Hell in a Cell, HBK felt like another unnecessary addition to make the third match at ‘Mania between the two competitors different. For the first half of the match, HBK officiates it impartially. However, as HHH beats ‘Taker down with a chair repeatedly, Michaels interferes. It’s supposed to add to the drama of the match, but in fact it diminishes it. Surely HBK would want to see the guy who retired him be beaten down? His interactions do rack up the tension in the closing moments of the match, however.

Be ready for lots of this uber-selling…
In an era where selling seems a forgotten art, ‘Taker and HHH do their best to sell everything like a gunshot. Their (superior) match at the previous ‘Mania relied on heavy selling, but this Hell in a Cell match feels like half an hour of HHH or ‘Taker (or both!) laying on the canvas, grimacing in pain. It becomes a slog for the viewer to watch. Intermittently, some parts are gripping, especially the closing moments. A battered and bruised HHH’s defiant ‘suck it’ taunt in the face of an Undertaker holding a sledgehammer is a classic WrestleMania moment. But the over-selling is a problem that clouds the match.

Not only that, but the story of the match as an ‘end of an era’ simply makes no sense. What era is supposed to come to an end? Both wrestlers fought for almost a decade after this match. The era where they were main eventers ended in the late noughties. I still don’t know what era they are talking about!

It would be harsh to call this match poor, but for two-thirds of its duration, I find myself twiddling my thumbs (and I’ve watched it many times, just to see if there is something I am missing). I prefer their first ‘Mania boat ‘Mania X-17 to this one. It’s full of action, brawling and unforced drama.

The ‘Hell in a Cell,’ as is often the case with the gimmick in the PG era, is merely a setting for the match, rather than becoming part of the match itself. There’s blood, liberal use of chairs, a sledgehammer, and plenty of over-selling, but it feels redundant. It’s a re-run of their ‘Mania 27 match, but with HBK and a Cell around them. Just watch that match (and/or their ‘Mania X-7 bout) instead.

Hammy’s Rating: ** (out of 5)

(Click here for more of ‘A Wrestling Match A Day‘)

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