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03-02-2012, 12:06 PM #1
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The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 23-27 Review
Before Undertaker and Triple H do battle at Wrestlemania 28, take a look back at Undertaker's last 5 Wrestlemania matches.
Only one match from that DVD is reviewed here! It was the most appropriate image I could find!
This match had incredibly low expectations. Batista looked horrible coming back from an injury the summer before, and he wasn’t having good matches with anybody. Undertaker won the Royal Rumble, and most people (myself included) didn’t really expect him to be able to carry anybody at this point in his career. After all, most of his great (and just good) matches happened when there was a smaller guy bumping around for him.
Undertaker vs. Batista© [World Heavyweight Title]
Batista immediately spears Taker and sets the tone for the whole match. Taker recovers and the two start trading shots in the corner. Unsurprisingly, the crowd clearly was behind Taker more. They end up on the outside and start slugging it out. Batista sends Taker into the ring stairs, and Taker takes a Wrestlemania bump for that spot. Batista rolls Taker back in the ring and hits a top rope shoulder tackle. Taker recovers and they do the “YAY-BOO” punching spot. Taker runs through his spots, and then goes for a chokeslam, but Batista fights out of the goozle. Batista falls to the outside, and Taker hits his NO-HANDS RUNNING PLANCHA! TAKER SUICIDA! In all seriousness, Taker’s dive is ****ing beautiful. Taker was in control as there was some more brawling around the ring. Batista cut him off by Irish whipping him through some chairs and the ring-table. Batista cleared out the Smackdown and ECW announce tables. Batista then powerslammed Taker through a table! Batista brought him back into the ring, but Taker kicked out. Batista sets up for a Big Dave Bomb, but Taker escaped only to run into a belly-to-belly suplex: 1…2…NO! Batista, like a fool, did the 10 punches in the corner spot…LAST RIDE! 1…2…NO! Batista recovers: SPINEBUSTER! Batista: SHAKE THEM ROPES! Taker recovers though and hits a CHOKESLAM: 1…2…NO! Taker calls for the tombstone, but Batista hits another spear! BIG DAVE BOMB: 1…2…NO! The crowd is going ****ing nuts for all of this by the way. Taker avoids another Big Dave Bomb, and hits a TOMBSTONE: 1…2…3!
This match has aged incredibly well given the nature of the in-ring action. On the surface, this match is just them trading power moves and finishers that pop the crowd. I contend that it’s a little bit more than that. Batista had something to prove in this match: both the person, Dave Bautista, and the wrestler, Batista. He went out there on a mission to prove he still belonged as one of the guys in the WWE. Frankly, he proved that in this match (and this feud) on both fronts. To me, Batista’s character in this match elevates it into being a great match. The crowd eating everything up, certainly did not hurt things
Match Rating: ****
Big Dave stepped up his game and went on to have many more good-great performances before he left WWE in 2010.
While Batista had to prove that he could still ‘go’ after 6 months of crappy matches, Undertaker needed a match like this because, up until this point, never had that classic Wrestlemania match where the crowd is going wild. While the Undertaker had never lost a match at Wrestlemania, a lot of those matches were complete DUDs. Starting with this match, Undertaker began a series of Wrestlemania matches that could ultimately define his career.
The build to this match was very underwhelming as I recall. The backstory was that at Survivor Series, Edge cost Undertaker the match against Batista for the World Title. They had a three-way feud that saw Edge win the title at the next PPV. Undertaker then won a shot at the title at No Way Out 2008 by pinning Batista in an Elimination Chamber match. The whole feud felt very pain by numbers, and seemed to lack inspiration. The fact this main evented the PPV surprised me greatly at the time as a result.
Undertaker vs. Edge© [World Heavyweight Title]
Edge took it to Taker early, but the Deadman quickly sent Edge to the outside. Back in the ring, Taker was going for Old School, but Edge reversed it, but Taker reversed the reversal into an armdrag. DEADMAN LUCHA! Taker went for a corner splash, but his momentum took him to the floor, and that allowed Edge to start getting the heat. Taker is TOO fast for his own good; Edge is not good enough to get the heat on his own. Yes, that slightly annoyed me. Edge gave Taker a shoulder block off the apron and to the guardrail, which allowed Edge to get the advantage fully. Edge went to the top rope, and Taker shoved him to the floor. NO-HANDS RUNNING PLANCHA! Things are evened up after that. Taker’s back was slowing him down, and Edge was able to cut him off with a big boot. Edge took him to the outside and hit a guardrail backbreaker. Back in the ring, Edge locked in a single leg crab/Liontamer combo submission. Taker momentarily escaped, but Edge locked in another leg lock variation. The idea is that Edge was hurting Taker’s injured back some more with this submission. They did the “YAY-BOO” spot, which is where the momentum shifted in Taker’s favor. Taker hit snake eyes, but Edge gave Taker a big boot instead of the other way around. Edge has countered most of Taker’s signature moves. Taker hits a chokeslam-REVERSED INTO A DDT: 1…2…NO! Some in the crowd actually bought that as the finish. Edge set up for the spear, but Taker gave him a big boot and a chokeslam: 1…2…NO! Taker went for Old School, but Edge again countered it. They were both on the top rope, and Edge hit a superplex. Edge, like a fool, goes for the 10 punches in the corner, and Taker sets up for a Last Ride…but Edge escaped and hit a neckbreaker: 1…2…NO! Taker recovers and hits a LAST RIDE: 1…2…NO! Taker went for a Tombstone, but Edge countered it again. Taker finally hits Old School. Taker goes for a big boot, but he takes out the referee by mistake. Edge hits a reverse DDT. Edge mocks Taker, but Taker just goozles him. LOW BLOW FROM EDGE! Edge steals a camera from one of the camera man and goes to hit Taker with it (just like Survivor Series), and EDGE CONNECTS! Edge tries to get the referee, but he accidentally pushes him out of the ring. Edge slashes his throat and goes for a Tombstone, BUT TAKER REVERSES IT INTO A TOMBSTONE OF HIS OWN! CHARLES ROBINSON RUNS A MILE TO THE RING: 1…2…NO! One of the great nearfalls in Wrestlemania history. Charles Robinson deserved a bonus for that spot. Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder run down, but Taker easily takes care of them. WOO WOO WOO! SPEAR FROM EDGE: 1…2…NO! Edge sets up for another spear, and he hits it! GOGOPLOTTA! Edge is fighting it…BUT HE TAPS OUT!
I think this match is unfairly overshadowed by Taker’s matches with Shawn Michaels, as no one seems to hold this match in that regard. And maybe the star rating I give it won’t be as high, but this match is clearly one of the top Wrestlemania main events of all time and deserves to be celebrated as such. Much like the match with Batista, Undertaker served as a symbol that his opponent uses to show something about himself. Edge went out of his way to counter all of Taker’s signature moves, while also showing, with the working the back over, that he was capable of forming his own strategy to slow down the Undertaker. In fact, Edge proved that he was possibly better than the Undertaker in the end, but he got lazy for a second, and was caught in a deadly submission hold. Fantastic stuff all around from both men.
Match Rating: ****1/4
It’s also worth noting that Taker’s gogoplotta was not over at all until he used it here. It was a big risk to use that move as the finishing spot of a Wrestlemania, but it paid off tremendously.
Shawn Michaels had just recently won his freedom from JBL (in one of the stupider storylines during HBK’s comeback), and he was feeling a little ****y, so he decided to challenge the Undertaker at Wrestlemania. That was basically the whole storyline. They cut some promos on each other. The build was good overall, but it seemed great because almost everything else on the road to Wrestlemania 2009 was shit.
Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels
There is a buzz in the arena for this match. They had battled a couple of times in the 2007 and 2008 Royal Rumbles, but other than that, they had not gone 1v1 since 1998. HBK is cautious early, and just trying to use his quickness to stay ahead of Taker. Taker tossed HBK over a turnbuckle early, but HBK came back in the ring. HBK faked a knee injury to lure Taker in, and HBK took him down. Taker quickly recovered and overpowered HBK. Taker worked over HBK for a little, including hitting Old School. Taker went for a corner boot, but HBK moved and Taker injured his leg. HBK went after Taker’s leg after that. HBK locked in his inverted figure four on the injured leg. Taker escaped and slammed HBK into the corner. Taker was in control after that. Taker went for a chokeslam, but HBK reversed into a crippler crossface! Taker stands up in the hold and hits a sidewalk slam. HBK came back with some chops and his running forearm. HBK went to the top rope; he dove off but he was met with a GOOZLE! HBK escaped and fake a superkick, which Taker went to the ground for. HBK tried for another figure floor, but Taker locked in HELLS GATE! HBK managed to get to the ropes. The crowd went wild for that segment. They go to the outside and Taker was in complete control. HBK avoided Taker’s ring apron legdrop and hit a baseball slide. HBK goes to the top rope, and goes for a moonsault to the floor…BUT TAKER JUST SWATS HIM AWAY! Shawn went splat on the floor. Sickening bump. The referee was checking on Michaels as Taker went for his NO-HANDS RUNNING PLANCHA, but HBK pulled the camera man (Sim Snuka) in the way…kind of. Basically, Snuka was in the wrong position or Taker undershot the dive. Either way, Taker looked like he went forehead first onto the floor, but it was clear that he was all right on screen (apparently live, the crowd thought he must have died). On a replay, it was clear that Taker managed to rotate just enough at the end to save his life.
HBK and the referee crawl back in the ring, and HBK gets the referee to start to count out Taker. HBK was begging for the count out win. Taker got in just before the 10 count. HBK’s heart seemed to truly break after Taker made it back in. HBK sets up for Sweet Chin Music, but Taker hits a chokeslam: 1…2…NO! Crowd bought that. Taker was going for a tombstone, but HBK escaped: SWEET CHIN MUSIC! HBK crawled slowly onto Taker: 1…2…NO! HBK kips up and looks pissed that it didn’t work. GOOZLE! LAST RIDE-Sunset Flip-GOOZLE- LAST RIDE: 1…2…NO! Taker sold that nearfall with such anger that I popped (yes, 3 years later). Unbelievable nearfall. Taker goes to the top rope and tries for a diving elbow, but HBK rolled out of the way. HBK runs at Taker, but Taker sends him over the top rope. HBK tries to skin the cat, but TAKER CATCHES HIM! TOMBSTONE: 1…2…NO!!!!!!!!! Jim Ross, “I just had an out of body experience.” Exactly. The straps come down for Taker. Throat Slashed. Taker sets up for another tombstone, but HBK countered it into a DDT…kind of. He kind of DDTed Taker on his own hip bone, which would certainly hurt. HBK crawls to the top rope and hits a diving elbow. HBK crawls up the ring ropes to get to his feet and sets up for a Sweet Chin Music. He tunes up the band and nails Taker: 1…2…NO! The crowd was so ****ing happy because they did not want the match to end. They both crawl to their feet and start striking each other; HBK is using chops and Taker is using punches. Taker gets tired of that and just takes him down with a kick to the face. Taker tries for another tombstone, but HBK escapes. HBK goes to the top rope and goes for a moonsault: TAKER CATCHES HIM! TOMBSTONE: 1…2…3!
Remember how I just wrote that the match with Edge was unfairly overshadowed by Taker’s matches with Shawn Michaels? **** what I wrote. This was clearly a couple of notches above Taker’s Wrestlemania matches in 2007 and 2008 (Yea, I’m not afraid to contradict myself one match later. This review is about reliving the journey of his matches after all). HBK was spot on here. The match was all about his ego. He was confidant and defiant enough to believe that he could defeat Undertaker, but the moment where he reveals that he will take a countout win showed how desperate he was to feed his own ego. He wanted the win. He wanted to be the one to defeat the Undertaker, no matter how he did it. That would be important for the rematch. Overall, I’m struggling to think of a better match in WWE history than this one. The drama in this match is almost impossible to top, which was all the more impressive considering that everyone “knew” Taker was winning. This is as close to wrestling perfection as it gets.
Match Rating: *****
The build to this rematch was damn near perfect. Shawn Michaels realized that there wasn’t a whole lot else to do in his career, but his one big failure was not ending the streak in 2009. He called out Taker, but Taker passed on the rematch. Taker was champion at the time, so HBK entered the Royal Rumble to get a shot at Taker’s belt. HBK failed. At Elimination Chamber, Taker was on his way to successfully defending the belt, but HBK came out from underneath the structure and nailed Taker with a superkick, costing the deadman the belt. Taker then accepted Shawn’s challenge but on one condition: if Shawn lost, he retired for good.
The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels [No DQ]
Shawn walks up to Taker and gives him the throat slash. Taker looks motivated and just charges HBK. Shawn was playing mind games and managed to throw Taker off his game. Taker quickly recovered and hit Snake Eyes and the big boot. Taker goes for Old School and lands awkwardly on his leg. SELLING! Taker goes for a chokeslam, but HBK escapes and goes after Taker’s leg. Taker goes for a tombstone, but HBK escapes and tries for a crossface, but Taker escapes. HBK teased Sweet Chin Music, but Taker saw it coming. HBK went after Taker’s leg some more. Taker sends HBK to the outside and starts for the outside dive, but HBK rolls in and chops down Taker’s leg. That was a perfect way to get Taker out of doing the dangerous dive. HBK locked in his inverted figure four, but Taker obviously refused to tap. Taker reversed the hold, and HBK let go to spare himself the pain. HBK started attacking with a series of chops and then took him down with a running forearm. HBK kicked up and walked into a chokeslam: 1…2…NO! I love how Taker took advantage of HBK doing a spot that he does in every match. Taker went for a tombstone, but HBK escaped and got an ankle lock. HBK grapevine the leg, but Taker escaped. HBK clotheslined Taker out of the ring and went for an Asai Moonsault, but Taker caught him (kind of) and delivered a TOMBSTONE ON THE FLOOR! A doctor checked on Michaels, but Taker tossed him away and brought HBK in the ring: 1…2…NO! Undertaker went for a Last Ride, but HBK gave him a X-Factor on the way down. HBK went for a diving elbow, but Taker got his knees up! HELLS GATE! HBK COUNTERS INTO A ROLLUP: 1…2…NO! SWEET CHIN MUSIC: 1…2…NO! HBK went for another one, but Taker caught up and gave him a huge Last Ride: 1…2…NO! They go to the outside and Taker tries to give HBK a Last Ride through a table. HBK escapes and nails a super kick that sends Taker onto the table. HBK crawls to the top rope…and hits a MOONSAULT ONTO TAKER THROUGH THE ANNOUNCE TABLE! Holy ****ing shit. Taker is knocked out on his feet, as HBK pushes him into the ring. SWEET CHIN MUSIC: 1…2…NO! HBK sets up for another one, but Taker catches him and hits a Chokeslam! Taker follows that up with a Tombstone: 1…2…NO! THE CROWD EXPLODES! The straps come down. Throat Sla-no. Taker sees the weakened Shawn Michaels and offers pity. He tells him to stay down…and HBK gives him a throat slash and then SLAPS HIM! JUMPING TOMBSTONE PILEDRIVER!
To use a movie analogy, this wasn’t a sequel to their 2009 match. It was part 2 of a 2 part story. One match is not complete without the other. Shawn Michaels came to a mental state where he determined his career was not worth continuing if he couldn’t defeat Undertaker at Wrestlemania. No longer willing to accept a hollow win, he knew he had to throw everything he had at Undertaker to defeat him. Undertaker, being dead and all, was able to survive Shawn’s best weapons and eventually overwhelm him at the end. Taker’s grudging respect for Shawn, as he knew his greatest opponent’s career was coming to an end, was the perfect cherry to put on top of the feud. Beautiful stuff all around. This match is probably a notch below their 2009 match, when watched right after the 2009, this match seems nearly as great. Thus…
Match Rating: *****
This build kind of reminded me of the 2009 build to Shawn and Taker. Nothing about the build truly inspired me, but it was another weak year for the build to Wrestlemania, so it practically seemed like a masterpiece.
Undertaker vs. Triple H [No Holds Barred]
Match predictably starts as a slugfest. Taker gets bored and tosses HHH out of the ring. Taker sends HHH into the steel steps and starts to undo the Spanish announce table less than 5 minutes in. HHH promptly spears Taker threw the COLE MINE! I hate Cole as a heel commentator, but I loved the Cole Mine. Back in the ring, and they start slugging it out again. Taker went for Old School, but HHH pulled him off the turnbuckle and then clotheslined him out of the ring. HHH went to pedigree Taker through the English announce table, but Taker backdropped him onto the floor. That bump looked like it sucked. Taker crawls into the ring. Uh Oh. NO-HANDS RUNNING PLANCHA! Hunter barely caught him on that. Taker tried to tombstone HHH on the steel steps, but Hunter escaped. Taker then ran into a spinebuster through the Spanish announce table! Back in the ring, Taker hits a chokeslam: 1…2…NO! Fans kind of bought that nearfall, but not really. Taker tried for the Last Ride, but HHH drove Taker into a turnbuckle. Taker went for another Last Ride, but HHH escaped and tried for a pedigree. Taker escaped that, but he then ran into a spinebuster for another nearfall. HHH pulled out a chair, but Taker kicked him in the face. Taker then smacked HHH’s back with the chair. HHH avoided another chair shot and hit a pedigree: 1…2…NO! HHH tries for a superplex, but Taker recovers and hits a Last Ride: 1…2…NO! Taker sold his anger at that failure greatly. Taker hits a Tombstone: 1…2…NO! Taker got angry again. The crowd was not ready for the match to end. Taker sets up for another tombstone, but HHH escaped and DDTed him on a chair. Both men were down. They get to their feet and HHH hit another pedigree: 1…2…NO! HHH hits a third pedigree: 1…2…NO! And now HHH is very angry. HHH picks up the chair and whacks Taker in the back with it. And again. And 8 more times. HHH stares at Taker and yells at him to stay down. Taker uses the ropes to get to his feet and HHH whacks him in the forehead with the chair (I believe they got fined for that). HHH seems just bewildered that Taker refuses to just give up. GOOZLE! But, HHH just shakes his head, almost out of pity as Taker stumbles to his feet. Taker asks for more, as HHH slashes his throat. HHH gets Taker up for a Tombstone: 1…2…NO! The crowd exploded. Jim Ross, “What did we just see? What did we just see?” HHH backs away as if he just saw a ghost. HHH pulled out a sledgehammer, but Taker locks in HELLS GATE! HHH drops the hammer and desperately tried to find the hammer. HHH started to fade, but he attempts a Rampage Powerbomb, but his legs gave out. HHH is fading again, but he finds the hammer, only to drop it again…HHH TAPS OUT!
This was definitely the only match of the 5 I re-watched that didn’t seem as good this time around. It started out great with all the big spots and what not, but the middle part of the match felt forced. In the previous four matches, there was a lot of storytelling in the first two thirds of the match that caused the nearfalls to seem that much more important. Here, they just started trading nearfalls 8 minutes in, and then the storytelling kicked in the final minutes. The story ended up not being as interesting as the last 4 matches at that.
In the last 4 matches, the story always revolved around what Taker’s opponent did in response to taking on the myth of the Undertaker. They all took different strategies and had different character arcs that made the whole match, especially the end, feel very substantive and thus more satisfying. Here, HHH just overwhelmed Taker and pretty much dominated him. The stories at the end were that Taker is just that dominant and was able to survive, and that HHH was bewildered that Taker survived. I think this opens up a lot of possibilities about where their second match can go, but as a standalone match, it left me wanting more (ie: unsatisfied).
All of that being said, this was still a tremendous effort that took the crowd on an absolutely wild ride at points. This was clearly the best match at the 2011 Wrestlemania, and it was still one of Taker’s better matches at Wrestlemania by leaps and bounds. It just doesn’t look as good after watching those last four matches right before it as opposed to watching a very underwhelming Wrestlemania card right before it.
Match Rating: ***3/4
I really enjoyed doing this. Make sure to send your comments below of which these matches you really enjoyed!
03-03-2012, 01:42 AM #2
03-03-2012, 02:42 PM #3
03-03-2012, 02:44 PM #4
03-03-2012, 05:26 PM #5
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- Mar 2012
Undertaker ist so amazing, hope he will get his 20-0 this year, but im sure, he will
03-03-2012, 08:10 PM #6
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- Oct 2011
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You enjoyed doing it, I bet everyone enjoyed reading it. Well done!Respect
03-04-2012, 11:11 PM #7
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