PWP’s Eron Ramadanov joins in on the Highway to Hell in a Cell, with his memories of his favorite HIAC match between Triple H and Shawn Michaels from Bad Blood 2004.
The purpose of the Hell In A Cell match is for a feud to come to a climax. When the hatred between two men is at such a high level, that a normal singles match can’t do the trick. That’s where Satan’s playground comes into play. When things can’t be settled, wrestling’s most demonic structure must be called upon.
Well, in one of my favorite feuds in professional wrestling history, Triple H and Shawn Michaels needed this steely dome to cap off one of the best feuds in WWE history. Through 2002 and into 2004, these two best friends had the privilege of working with each other in some of the craziest, bloodiest, career-shortening matches known to man. From three stages of hell to a non-sanctioned match, the Game and the Showstopper wouldn’t just stop there. It would take the Hell In A Cell to officially end this epic feud.
The year of 2004 was the back-end of what is known to some as the ‘reign of terror’, which refers to Triple H’s run on RAW as the World Heavyweight Champion. For me, Triple H’s “reign of terror” never bothered me, and actually was one of the leading factors to why I was so hooked to professional wrestling. In 2002, I fell in love with the art, and became a life-long fan of wrestling. Something about Triple H caught my eye. I now know that Triple H’s character from 2002-2005 was a lot like Ric Flair‘s World Title reigns in his prime.
The way Triple H would hold and look with the belt, made he feel like I was looking at the definition of a champion. I was hooked and a Triple H mark for life. When he was feuding with Goldberg, Scott Steiner, Kane, Booker T, Rob Van Dam and even Shawn Michaels, nothing could persuade me to root against The Game.
The way Triple H would always fine a way to sneak and slither away with the world title would amaze me. Of course, I still believed it was real at 8-10 years old. Unlike many kids, I loved heels and Triple H was the epitimy of what a “bad guy” was all about. He was egotistical, arrogant, self-centered, psychotic and narcissistic. His character would do the most dastardly things to retain his title and remain on top. On some level, I admired the character’s level of dedication of wanting to be the best.
Now that my love-fest for Triple H is over, I think it’s safe to say that Shawn Michaels was easily Triple H’s toughest and most entertaining opponent during the so-called, “reign of terror.” The extremely interesting and dramatic matches these two would put on where out of this world. But none else, in my opinion, told a better story than Bad Blood 2004, where it was the end to the epic feud.
People always ask me why I love this match so much. To many, it’s a middle-of-the-pack HIAC match. But for me, it was like poetry. This is the kind of wrestling I love. I like long, drawn-out stories being told. Triple H and Shawn Michaels worked this match like a beautiful fictional novel, where it was the sidekick, wanting, no… needing to defeat the man that everyone thinks is the best ever. That’s why the Triple H character is so great in my opinion and maybe the best of all time, because the insecurity his character faces is constant and consisten, especially when he’s faced against Shawn Michaels. Kayfabe or not, Triple H is always trying to prove that he’s better, whether he likes to admit it or not.
This match is back and forth, with some great spots and skin-chilling moments, but the best moment of this match that to this day sticks in my head is the final stand between Triple H and Shawn Michaels, where after 40 minutes, they can’t even stand, so they need to use each other to stand barely upright. Then after trying everything to no prevail, Triple H tries one last pedigree to put away his best friend and finally prove that he is just as good as him, he slowing goes for the cover, which the absolute last ounce of energy he had, to finally beat him, clean… 1, 2, 3.
Not only did Triple H finally prove, to me at least, that he can beat Shawn Michaels without help, but the scene of Triple H slowing draping one arm over Michaels, and after the pinfall remaining still, while Trips’ music sounds is the image I remember most. The scene of two guys giving everything they had to: 1) prove they’re the best and 2) compete for the World Heavyweight Title.
This match for me defines everything a Hell In A Cell match should be and more. Following the model of Triple H and Shawn Michaels is the way to continue to create goosebump moments that’ll last forever.
Thanks for reading, everyone!