WWE Marks a Dubious Anniversary: 15 Years Since Mankind’s Epic Fall From The Cage
June 28, 1998. It was the summer before my fifth grade year. School was the farthest thing from my mind on that sultry Sunday evening. I was anxiously awaiting the (then) WWF’s King of the Ring pay-per-view event, which was taking place that night. I plopped myself in front of the TV and got ready for a night of commercial-free rasslin’ (yes, I did have my parents’ permission to order the show).
The main event that night was supposed to be an “inferno match” between “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Kane for the WWF Championship*. The last match on the undercard, however, stole the show. It also set a very high bar for the amount of danger involved in wrestling matches.
The Undertaker and Mick “Mankind” Foley competed in a “Hell in a Cell” match to cap off their long-running feud. Instead of ending the war between the two and putting the Undertaker over, it kicked off Foley’s rise to superstardom. That rise began with two epic falls from the top of said cage.
The first fall came in the first three minutes of the match. The Undertaker tossed Foley off the top of the cage into the Spanish announce table some 16 feet below. That spot was supposed to happen, as it was planned out prior to the match. However, no one anticipated how violent the crash was going to be. Foley suffered a concussion and was knocked unconscious momentarily after the taking the bump. Understandably, he was carried off on a stretcher.
What wasn’t planned was Foley insisting on the match continuing. Foley left the stretcher, climbed back to the top of the cage, and was subsequently slammed through the roof and onto the mat. When it was all said and done, Foley suffered the aforementioned concussion, a bruised liver, dislocated jaw, and a host of other injuries.
The match gave Foley the career boost he’d been looking for. Within 6 months, he’d be a headliner in the WWF and would go on to win the WWF World Heavyweight Championship. The Undertaker’s still going strong and is showing now signs of stopping.
It also signaled the peak of the WWF’s Attitude Era. No match before or since has reached the level of sheer brutality that this match displayed. Eleven months later, Owen Hart would die after falling during a stunt in which he was being lowered from the ceiling of Kansas City’s Kemper Arena. That tragic moment forced the WWF to scale back its stunts and move more towards a family-friendly product.
*Kane won. He held the title for all of one day before losing it back to Austin on the next night’s edition of RAW IS WAR.