What started off as a mere coincidence is now one of the most iconic, legendary storylines in WWE history. That storyline of course being “The Streak.” Early in his career, every time The Undertaker was booked in a match at WrestleMania, he would come up with the W. But at that point, there was no intention of building such a streak, it just kind of happened. Finally, WWE management realized that he had never lost a WrestleMania match and figured that they could build incredible storylines off of it. Year after year, fans wonder if this was the year the streak would end. The enigma of this streak has taken off to levels that not even the WWE brass could have expected. It’s not only the writers that deserve credit for this golden idea. Sure, the results are pre-determined, but so is almost everything else on TV. It takes a special kind of performer to keep towing the line and keep the fans more and more interested every year.
The Undertaker is a special breed of talent. He’s one of the few guys, that can make any match entertaining regardless of who he is in the ring with. Shawn Michaels had the exact same ability. He delivers a fantastic, back and forth match every year that takes the fans out of their seats. He does however spend half the year recovering from injuries that he sustains during his Mania matches, but he’s 49 years old. The mere fact that he’s still in there, delivering 5 star matches is outstanding. It was a tough list to make, because there was so many solid matches to choose from. Here it is, The Top 10 Undertaker matches at WrestleMania!
10. The Undertaker vs. Diesel, WrestleMania 12
Kevin Nash (Diesel) would be the first to admit that he wasn’t the greatest technical wrestler. He had a great look and gimmick, but the actual quality of his matches were below par. This is not to say that Diesel was a total stiff though, he just wasn’t a guy that could have a decent match with just anyone, he needed to be paired up with an in-ring general. When he was matched against Shawn Michaels, they had some really solid matches. The same can be said for his match against The Undertaker at WrestleMania 12. This was one of the few times where The Undertaker took more punishment than he delivered. As Mick Foley maintains in his autobiography (and he knows a thing or two about punishment), should the guy receiving the brunt of the abuse act like it’s “no big deal,” then so will the fans. The fact that Taker was acting like he was at his last breathe during every blow Diesel would deliver, simply added to the mystique.
9. The Undertaker vs. Edge, WrestleMania 24
This was a pretty technical match. The two of them sold each other’s moves quite well and obviously had chemistry right from the start. It was also a very unique ending to this match. Most of The Undertaker‘s matches end up with a variation of counter manoeuvres, ultimately leading to the pin fall. In this particular case, Edge ended up in the “Hell’s Gates” and ended up submitting. There were a lot of near falls throughout the duration of the match, but one critique is that it never really felt like the streak was in jeopardy. At the end of the day, it was a very sound and tight match, but there was nothing out of the ordinary that transpired that would blow the fans away.
8. The Undertaker vs. Randy Orton, WrestleMania 21
There was some nice build up for this match. Randy Orton had a ton of momentum coming into this one as he was billed “The Legend Killer.” Who better to add to the ever growing list of legends than The Undertaker? WWE management also did a good job putting some heat on Orton. At the time, he was “dating” Stacy Keibler and she didn’t fully believe that he could end the streak…so he RKO’ed her, making him the obvious heel for the match. Undertaker and Orton had a really good match. There was some variations of their signature moves that had never been seen before and they pulled them off magnificently. For example, Orton went for an RKO and Undertaker reversed it and tossed him over the top rope. An even better instance was at the end of the match when Orton reversed a choke slam into an RKO.
7. The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels II, WrestleMania 26
This match was more about the storyline going in, rather than the contest itself. The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels had put on one of the greatest matches of all-time at the previous WrestleMania. HBK spent months goading The Undertaker into accepting his challenge for a rematch, practically going more and more insane every time Taker refused. Finally, the challenge was accepted but the stipulation was, should Michaels lose, it would be the end of his career. From a wrestling fan’s standpoint, it was monumental because we knew it would be the last time we’d see HBK wrestle. But it leads to anticlimactic circumstances from a match perspective because there was no sense of belief that the streak could actually end. They put together a wonderful match, but unfortunately there was no chance that they could have topped their effort from a year ago.
6. The Undertaker vs. Triple H III, WrestleMania 28
This match had potential to be much higher on the list and be considered an instant classic. It only ranks #6 because they had already met twice at WrestleMania and we had already seen many of their high spots. At the same time, they still brought some innovation to the table and provided an extremely entertaining match. The fact that they were in a Hell in a Cell and that Shawn Michaels was the special guest referee definitely added some new dynamics. The match was also extremely gruesome as it was more of a street fight. One cringe worthy moment was when Triple H sidewalk slammed The Undertaker on the steel stairs, where he landed directly on his back. There was also a beautiful image at the end of the match when The Undertaker, Triple H and Shawn Michaels all exited the ring together, providing wonderful closure to a great match and rivalry.
5. The Undertaker vs CM Punk, WrestleMania 29
This match started off really slow. In big WrestleMania matches, it’s vital to set an appropriate pace and “tell the story” of the match properly, as they say. But this was really boring in the early going. The two eventually did a complete 180 and found their niche in the second half of the match. There was some cool MMA to wrestling manoeuvring. In one sequence, CM Punk had The Undertaker in an arm triangle, which Taker escaped. Punk ended up picking up The Undertaker and going for his finisher, the “Go to Sleep”, which The Phenom transitioned out of and landed a tombstone and Punk kicked out! There was also an instance where Taker was going for “The Last Ride” and Paul Heyman tossed the urn to Punk and clocked Taker in the head with it. The ending of the match also had three seamless reversals before The Undertaker finally sealed it with a Tombstone.
4. The Undertaker vs. Batista, WrestleMania 23
It was sheer horse power in this one and it was spectacular to see how many times these 300 pound men went airborne. Batista showed great strength and balance when he picked up The Undertaker on one announce able, and delivered a running power slam through the announce table about one foot over, definitely worth a Holy S** chant. There was non-stop action throughout the duration of the match. Normally bigger guys in professional wrestling need to take pauses during the match to catch their breath, most of the time going for choke holds to stall for time. These guys were obviously well conditioned for the match, moving like they were 100 pounds lighter and displaying the gas tanks of men that were much lighter.
3. The Undertaker vs. Triple H I, WrestleMania 17
This was the first of three showdowns between The Undertaker and Triple H. In this particular match, The Undertaker was actually in jeopardy of losing because WWE had not come up with “the streak” moniker yet. At this time, Triple H also had a ton of momentum, as he had essentially defeated every top name in the business. The match itself was wonderful and it’s a shame Taker was stuck with the biker gimmick at the time.
Triple H is impeccable at telling a story in the ring, starting off slow and gradually turning it on as the match goes on, as opposed to many wrestlers who display a very anticlimactic style. The match had a bit of everything. There was a nice blend of classic wrestling moves, like neck breakers, drop kicks and hip tosses, blended in with some very entertaining brawling. There was some very cool and unique scrapping which took place on top of a camera tower.
2. The Undertaker vs. Triple H II, WrestleMania 27
Simply incredible, where to start? There was so many breathtaking, gravity defying spots in this match but there are a few that stand out. At one point, The Undertaker back body dropped Triple H off the announce table, right onto the floor. It doesn’t sound like that impressive of a feat, but consider that the announce table is four feet off the floor, and that The Undertaker is near seven feet tall. There was some innovation that took place as well. At another point in the match, Triple H is standing on the steel steps, which got moved near the announce table, as Taker charged him and got power slammed through the table for his troubles. It was also simply bone chilling when Triple H hit him nine times in the back with a steel chair and yelled: “Stay down!! It’s over!!” Triple H then used The Undertaker’s own finisher on him (“The Tombstone”), to which Taker kicked out of. Triple H’s reaction is what made this moment so good, as he acted like he had just seen a ghost.
1. The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels I, WrestleMania 25
It just may go down as the greatest match of all time, an absolute masterpiece. The two displayed instant chemistry and towed the line so many times. In a way, the imperfections of the match made it so wonderful because it added to the realism. It showed that they were truly going to leave it all out there. At one point, Michaels did a backflip off the top rope and landed squarely on his shoulder/collar bone region because the move was partially botched on his part. The Undertaker also dove over the top rope in an attempt to cross-body block Michaels, but mistimed it and partially landed on his head.
Another key element in the success of this match was the false finishes. It’s such a fine line when it comes to false finishes because anyone can kick out at two. But if the fans are fully aware that he will kick out at two, they’ll offer a meek reaction at the kick-out because they know it’s coming. It’s about having the fans guessing, on the edge of their seat and not knowing if there will be a pin or kick-out. In his autobiography, Mick Foley maintains that in his “Hell in a Cell” match with Triple H, they wasted their time with false finishes in the early going because the fans fully knew the match wouldn’t end without them escaping the cage at some point. In this contest, The Undertaker and Michaels did an exceptional job utilizing the false finishes. They also did an equally good job when it came to reversing manoeuvres. There’s instances in a match where you can see the reversal coming from a mile away…not in this case. In the latter portion of the match, everyone surely thought it would be over as The Undertaker hoisted up Michaels for a second Tombstone Piledriver, and Michaels reversed it with a DDT. What a performance by both of them.
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