It’s impossible to utter the phrase “Hell in a Cell” and not think of The Undertaker and Mick Foley. It’s been 22 years since that crazy night at King of the Ring in Pittsburgh and their famous battle is still one of the most talked-about matches in WWE history.
While one of the most famous matches in the history of professional wrestling, the crazy part is that it wasn’t even supposed to take place. Mick Foley had been feuding with Stone Cold Steve Austin in the spring and early summer of 1998 and the original plan was for those two to once again battle for the WWE Championship at King of the Ring.
But Vince McMahon being Vince McMahon, he wanted to shake things up a bit so he booked Austin in a match with Kane. But that left Foley without a match so he decided to put him in the ring with The Undertaker. Foley and ‘Taker had feuded off and on since Foley’s debut in 1996, wrestling six pay-per-view matches, and Vince wanted to send the rivalry out with a bang, which is why the Hell in a Cell stipulation was added.
The Undertaker vs. Mankind was just the second Hell in a Cell match in WWE history
While Hell in a Cell is now a yearly pay-per-view on its own, The Undertaker vs. Mick Foley match on June 28, 1998, was just the second of its kind. The Deadman had taken on Shawn Michaels in the cell the year before at Badd Blood, which is still considered by many, including The Undertaker and Mick Foley themselves, to be the best Hell in a Cell match in history. But even if it was better overall, it’s still not the one most people talk about.
What happened that night in Pittsburgh was absolute madness. Looking to take things to the extreme early on, the match actually began on top of the Hell in a Cell structure. Mick Foley, wrestling that night as Mankind, brought a chair with him to the ring and things got crazy in a hurry. The two traded blows for a few minutes as the cell itself tried to carry the weight of the two 300-plus pounders. And then it happened. The Undertaker hurled Mick Foley off of the cage onto the announce table some 20 feet below. Combined with the incredible call from Jim Ross, it’s easily one of the most memorable and jaw-dropping moments in WWE history.
The match should have been stopped at that point as Foley was unconscious. Vince McMahon himself joined the paramedics on the outside of the ring but as he was being carted off on a stretcher, Foley came to and he and ‘Taker were incredibly back on top of the demonic structure. But it didn’t take long for yet another crazy moment to occur. The Undertaker chokeslammed Foley and the cell had just had too much. Mick Foley crashed through the cage into the ring and the chair he’d brought to the ring followed him down. The impact actually knocked one of his teeth up into his nose, creating yet another iconic image. And that still wasn’t enough to keep Foley down.
Once the match restarted yet again, Mick Foley actually got in some offense, which led to him getting out a bag of thumbtacks, a staple of his early days in the business. Naturally, he ended up being tossed onto them. Finally, 17 minutes after the madness had started, The Undertaker got the 1-2-3, putting an end to one of the craziest matches of all time.
Mick Foley lied to Vince McMahon the day of the match
Once Mick Foley found out that his match against The Undertaker would be a Hell in a Cell match, he wanted to pull out all the stops. He knew that he’d have to do something crazy to top what ‘Taker and HBK had done the year before and came up with the idea to get tossed off the cell, which he had to sell to both ‘Taker and Vince McMahon. What some may not know is that Mick Foley is afraid of heights. So on the day of King of the Ring, Foley didn’t want to get on top of the cell until the match started. But that’s not what he told Vince when asked if he’d gotten up there ahead of time, as he told Sports Illustrated on the 20th anniversary.
“I told Mr. McMahon two of the biggest lies of my life that day. I told him I had been on top of the cell earlier that afternoon, and I told him that I felt completely comfortable up there. Had I gone up there for a walk-through, there would be no twentieth anniversary because I would have realized that getting thrown off was a terrible idea.”Mick Foley
The Undertaker already thought it was a terrible idea and actually wanted no part of it.
The Undertaker didn’t want to throw Mick Foley off the Hell in a Cell structure
When Mick Foley came to The Undertaker with the wild idea of being thrown off the Hell in a Cell structure, The Deadman was completely against it. With the amazing matches the two had had in the past, he felt that they didn’t need the stunt. He pleaded with Foley not to go through with it but finally acquiesced. Ahead of his “Last Ride” documentary on the WWE network, ‘Taker discussed the situation with ComicBook.com.
“I wasn’t on board really for throwing Mick Foley off the cell. I mean, I knew where he was coming from… but I wasn’t really sold on it. And many times I told Mick, I was like, ‘Mick, we don’t need to do that.’ I said, ‘we can make this great.’ And he was dead-set. And then we got Vince on board with him and I was like, ‘Okay. I just want to go on record as saying that I’m not really comfortable with this,’ but obviously I wasn’t the one getting thrown off the cell.”The Undertaker
Following the match, Vince McMahon thanked Foley for putting his body on the line for the company but then told him to never do it again. Both Mick Foley and The Undertaker would go on to have more Hell in a Cell matches but never again with one another. It’s not as if they could top what they did that night anyway.