Hell in a Cell at it’s iconic – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment
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Undertaker v Mankind (Hell in a Cell)
If you permit me a trite opening, one phrase which I would use to describe this match would be jaw dropping. There are so many surprises which you do not believe could actually be happening. You all know what I am talking about: Mankind’s ability to take punishment that I didn’t believe the human body could actually endure. In terms of stunt-work this is pretty much unparalleled. With the way movies are made and there being plenty of cutting and editing means something dangerous like this is done in more manageable stages. However this involves not one but two 16ft drops, fighting and thumb tacks with no room for a break. The admiration for this increases when you find out that the second drop through the cage was not planned and both wrestlers still continued.
I knew the stakes would be high for this considering the opening which made it obvious that this was personal for Mankind. The Undertaker had committed a despicable act in hurting Mankind’s mentor. Throughout Mankind seemed to be sustained by pure hatred. That was why after all that, he still got up and continued fighting. Looking into his eyes and his smile it seemed he was too far gone to care about the pain. To me it seems that ‘Uncle’ Paul had become a father figure that he latched onto and he was now going to fight and quite possibly die for him.
This contrasts well with the Undertaker whose movements are continually unemotional and Terminator-esque. There is almost a clockwork feel in the way he breaks out of Mankind’s pinning at the last second. I’m not sure if he is hard-wired to do that or if behind the cold stare there is more cruelty and malice, giving Mankind the hope of victory and then denying it at the last second. This is a man who while being extremely entertaining, also represents the cruellest elements of humanity. He does not just want to hurt people in the physical sense, he seems to want to hurt them emotionally as his attack on Paul shows.
It is an interesting indictment that this emotionless man wins the fight. In the end, it is the wild outburst of hatred that seems to be Mankind’s downfall, literally. He wants to get revenge on The Undertaker, which seems fair. However, the way he goes about it suggests these emotions have clouded his judgement. He employs methods that would cause extreme pain by being on top of the cage and by using thumb tacks. It is therefore slightly ironic that he becomes hoist to his own petard in both cases. From what I have watched and read, Paul seems to not be the innocent man the intro makes him out to be. He can switch loyalties and manipulate people. It could therefore be possible that he has twisted the once more comic character into something more angry and spiteful.
Despite Mankind’s apparent dabble with the dark side, there does seem an obvious division of who is the good guy and who is the bad guy. There is a shock when The Undertaker does win after Mankind seems to be gaining the upper hand. The darkness of The Undertaker seems to envelope any hope at the end. There is a feeling akin to Orwell’s 1984 in which there seems to be no hope, which creates a great atmosphere. This darkness with the bell tolling was also effective at getting the tension mounting at the beginning. The moment everything got brighter when the fight started I was a little bit disappointed. I wanted the match to be played out in that darkness.
However who is the real winner here? While The Undertaker does win in terms of the rules, but the person who won in spirit is Mankind. The Cool Runnings ending when the entire arena applauded showed that the audience believed that his efforts made him the victor. It is nice to see the underdog supported, even in defeat. Maybe there is hope.