You’ve seen the clip 1,000 times. Every time you see it, though, you cringe a little. You know what’s about to happen, and it still makes you tense up.
Twenty years ago, The Undertaker threw Mankind off the top of the Hell in a Cell structure. Mankind’s body crashed through the Spanish announce table, and one of the most iconic wrestling moments of all-time was born.
Seeing Mankind fly twenty feet from the top of the cell to the floor was surreal. Surely nobody would be crazy enough to throw another man off the top of the cell, right? Who would sign up to take a bump like that? Well, Mankind did.
For me, the moment is the second-most iconic moment in WWE history, only behind Hulk Hogan body slamming Andre The Giant at WrestleMania 3. It’s easily one of the most replayed wrestling clips of all time, and it helped WWE win the Monday night wars with WCW. It set the tone for what the rest of the Attitude Era was going to become.
Undertaker and Mankind were both already established stars going into that night, but their stature across the world was elevated by that one moment that night. They went from popular amongst wrestling fans, to popular amongst the public.
The call by Jim Ross is also one of the greatest in wrestling history. “Good God almighty! Good God almighty! It killed him! As God as my witness, he is broken in half!” is a call that has become a meme in recent years, being played over hundreds of different clips. The energy and passion JR delivers that line with are what makes it iconic.
Then, five minutes later, Undertaker chokeslams Mankind through the cell and on to the canvas. Jerry Lawler saying, “That’s it, he’s dead,” followed by JR yelling “Will somebody stop the damn match!” made it all seem so real. Mankind was literally putting his body through Hell that night for the entertainment of the fans.
It’s not the prettiest Hell in a Cell match of all time, but it’s hard to argue that it’s not the best one ever. The duo still put on a decent match after these crazy high spots, including Mankind getting slammed on to thumbtacks. It’s a brutal match to watch, but one that had the crowd giving a standing ovation afterward.
It’s been 20 years since that fateful night in Pittsburgh, but the moment will live on for countless generations to come. Undertaker and Mankind became worldwide stars that night. All it took was a 20-foot fall.