The Undertaker at WrestleMania — The 10 Best Matches from ‘The Streak’
The Undertaker at WrestleMania is a hot topic. Yesterday, we painfully pointed out the worst Undertaker matches in WrestleMania history. With the bad, obviously comes the good.
There are few legacies in wrestling that hold a candle to Undertaker’s twenty straight wins at WrestleMania. The man has been building this story piece by piece since 1991, and while we went over the low points yesterday, today we highlight the true greatness that is The Undertaker.
He’s defeated ‘Legend Killers’, Hall of Famers, ‘Showtoppers’, and even his own brother during his time as the final boss of WrestleMania. Now the only question is, which match is his greatest WrestleMania moment? Here are the 10 best matches from ‘The Streak.’
The Undertaker vs. HBK II
This match suffers from having too much in common with their battle the previous year. It was funny seeing some of the same members of the crowd returning both years, though. Everything from the way HBK was filmed during Undertaker’s entrance, to the abundance of near-falls, came off as a rehash.
If they were ripping off a mediocre match, this would fall down about six spots, but they’re trying to recapture the magic of possibly the greatest match ever. They didn’t succeed in topping, or even equaling WrestleMania 25, but they put on a strong enough show to make it into the top ten.
I don’t know if the match suffered because the crowd was bad, or if the crowd suffered due to a predictable bout, but there was something missing from The Undertaker against Shawn Michaels sequel.
The Undertaker vs. Jake the Snake
This is the match that made Undertaker a believable monster. Back in 1992, to kick out of a Jake Roberts’ DDT meant you HAD to be something other than human. Undertaker kicked out of three. Taker was still a new character on the scene, but his ability to no-sell pain, and willingness to Tombstone Jake on outside of the ring, showed the world that Undertaker was in the WWE to change the game.
Much like Jimmy Snuka had previously been “The Phenom”, Jake “The Snake” was WWE’s residential master of psychology until the Undertaker showed up to claim that crown. Whoever put these two in the ring knew exactly what they were doing and I commend them for it.
The Undertaker vs. Diesel
The Undertaker versus Big Daddy Cool Diesel at WrestleMania XII is one of the great sleeper matches of Taker’s streak.
Both guys had unbelievably forgettable matches at WrestleMania XI, with King Kong Bundy and HBK respectively, and both came out with a vengeance for WrestleMania 12.
The match isn’t end-to-end action, as these big guys needed a few chances to catch their breath, but the lulls in the action only add to the impact of each powerful exchange. What really stands out is Undertaker free-falling through the air for multiple powerbombs. It’s one thing to Jackknife powerbomb one of those “vanilla midgets” Kevin Nash is always going on about, but flinging Undertaker’s huge frame around like a rag doll is the definition of impressive.
The Undertaker vs. Ric Flair
It’s nearly impossible to get a crowd to root against Undertaker at WrestleMania, but Ric Flair was the right amount of sympathetic to make it happen.
Flair was hardcore before that buzz term even existed. Bleeding all over the place, smacking Taker with lead pipes, and even kicking him in his undead testicles. He may have been a little too old to take a chokeslam in an impressive way, but that didn’t stop him from pushing The Deadman to the limit.
Taker sent Flair and his buddy Arn Anderson to the wrestling retirement home in an exceptional “retirement” match.
One of the few times it actually felt like Undertaker could lose at WrestleMania. Randy Orton was being pushed to the moon, and was beating everyone at this time. This match features one of the three best entrances for Taker at WrestleMania, too. This time the druids surrounded the ring chanting with flaming torches, and the Undertaker seemingly levitated down the aisle to the ring.
The back and forth between Randy Orton and The Undertaker was impressive, but Earl Hebner looking like he was shot by a sniper after his ref bump, and Cowboy Bob Orton’s interference really spiced up this confrontation.
Another fantastic climax, as Randy reversed the chokeslam into an RKO, and then went for a Tombstone that was reversed. WrestleMania matches were putty in The Undertaker’s capable hands by this point. He worked nothing but epics from here on out.
The Undertaker vs. Triple H II
I’ve seen this match receive a lot of flak for featuring a bit of stalling from the fatigued competitors, but it always came off as careful pacing in my eyes. I felt like they were selling the shock that the crowd was experiencing, and the story of the encounter is better for it.
Triple H vs. Undertaker’s second WrestleMania match will always hold a special place in my heart for the fact that both guys were willing to get fined to put on a better show. I’m not a huge fan of chair shots to the brain, and the damage that goes along with such chair shots, but I respect these two guys trying to be as brutal as possible for the benefit of the fans. Mick Foley based an entire Hall of Fame career off of such risks, so they’re in pretty good company.
Another thing you hear a lot on The Internets is that Triple H buries everyone, all the time, but here he succumbs to the Hell’s Gate via submission, which I think was a baller move. Undertaker didn’t need any extra help being insanely popular, so Triple H had everything to lose in tapping out, but he did it for the mythology of ‘The Streak.’
The Undertaker vs. Batista
This match was pure energy from the get-go, and it helps me understand why Batista was so over in WWE. I cant recall the last time I’ve seen a non-Goldberg squash match begin with a Spear, especially on Undertaker. Sicking Batista on Taker like that turned the heat up on the crowd instantly, and just seems genius in retrospect.
There’s so much going right during this match that even Michael Cole’s excitement compliments the proceedings. Batista’s Powerslam through the announce table was the definition of devastation. I appreciate how they worked the Last Ride Powerbomb off the turnbuckle, since Batista would have been impossible to lift for a normal Last Ride.
Near-fall after near-fall, highlight after highlight, this match is outstanding. To top it all off, it’s also a World Title win for ‘The Phenom!’
The Undertaker vs. Edge
Matches like this explain why Edge is no longer able to wrestle. Undertaker has never been shy about taking insane bumps at WrestleMania, and apparently Edge wanted to show him up.
This bout is unlike any other during ‘The Streak’ because it features Undertaker being methodically grounded. Edge worked the back with a vengeance, and Undertaker sold it the entire way.
This match featured Undertaker being reversed left and right, which helped create the illusion of Edge finally ending ‘The Streak.’ Referee Charles Robinson looked like he may have pulled something as he ran full speed down the longest entrance ramp in Mania history. That dude is all hustle.
The Hell’s Gate finish, with Edge a few inches from the ropes, was as suspenseful as any other moment during these twenty matches. The post-match fireworks were also pretty astounding this time around.
As much as I’ll put over the beauty of the next entry, Kane versus Undertaker was every bit as ugly, and I mean that in a good way.
Wrestling is supposed to be about two men going into the ring and having a “good ol’ fashioned slobberknocker”, which I think Jim Ross would consider this match. Undertaker never went out of his way to make his brother Kane look like an unstoppable monster. The Dead Man takes an Electric Chair Drop from Kane, which is unheard of from dudes this size. It looked like a train wreck, but when I’m watching two seven footers battle on the biggest stage in wrestling, I want to see train wrecks!
Kane loses, which could have ruined his whole character at the time, but his post-match dismantling of Undertaker earned all his heat back from the audience. That, and all the Tombstones he took before finally going down for the count.
The Undertaker’s most emotional feud is highlighted by this match.
The Undertaker vs. HBK I
This isn’t just Undertaker’s best match at a WrestleMania, but possibly the best wrestling match in the history of this fine sport.
HBK v Undertaker I is perfection. The way it was worked, the colors used in the production, it was all spot-on. These two guys whose careers were always highlighted by the SuperBowl of Wrestling, WrestleMania, were meeting for the first time on this stage. You couldn’t have asked for a better crowd, as they set a bar that was impossible for the Arizona crowd to reach in the rematch the following year.
No one wanted to see this bout come to an end, and I’m pretty sure I could watch it every day, and find something new to love each time. Every single WWE Superstar who has ever passed through the curtains to put on a match wanted to have this match.
I could list the spots, or talk about how both men nearly killed themselves at different points, but I don’t want to spoil the beauty for anyone reading this who has yet to set their eyes on Taker v HBK I.