The "End of an Era" match at WrestleMania 28 between The Undertaker and Triple H will be a Hell in a Cell match with Shawn Michaels as the referee. If you paid attention to "online reports" for the past eleven months you would have known that it was the plan all along. What's been the most interesting aspect of the match is how it got set up storyline wise.
It started in February when Hunter was challenged to a match by Undertaker. Hunter said no. Then Michaels confronted his friend Hunter and tried to convince him to do the match. Hunter still said no. Then Undertaker decided to push a button.
He said the reason Hunter didn't want to wrestle him at WrestleMania again was because he knew that Shawn Michaels was better. When Undertaker said that, Hunter was as angry as Mark Henry at an empty buffet table. He took his jacket off, marched to the ring and not only accepted the challenge, but he added the Hell in a Cell stipulation to it.
The week after, Shawn wondered why it angered Hunter so much that Undertaker said that. Hunter answered by saying he was tired of people calling Shawn a loser. Then last week when Shawn confronted Undertaker, he mentioned that nobody backstage was calling him a loser.
I have liked every twist and turn in this feud.
I like that Undertaker wants another shot at Triple H to prove that he can beat him without being carried out after.
I like that Hunter was hesitant at first because he saw Undertaker as a brand, but now feels compelled to do take the match to prove he's the best.
I like that Michaels wants to be the referee so he can count the pinfall for the winner, whoever that may be. He's content with how he ended his career and he wants to be there to see his best friend try to top him.
That leads us to this question. Who was the better performer: Shawn Michaels or Triple H?
The answer is Shawn Michaels. There's no wrestler in the history of WWE that has had the number of high quality wrestling matches that HBK has had. He's had classic matches with a number of the great wrestlers in WWE history over the last twenty years and I don't think I really need to list the names. It didn't matter if the opponent was a technical wrestler like Kurt Angle, a brawler like Mick Foley or a big man like Undertaker because Michaels was the guy that could have a great match with any of them.
I think what made Michaels stand out was his ability to have great matches no matter the setting. He had technical classics (Bret Hart at WM12, Kurt Angle at WM21), he had memorable brawls (Diesel at the April '96 PPV, Hunter at Summerslam 2002), he set high standards for gimmick matches like Hell in a Cell (Undertaker at Badd Blood 1997) and of course the Ladder Match (twice with Razor Ramon and also No Mercy 2008 with Chris Jericho). I could go on and on.
Hunter is no slouch, though. He's had a lot of legendary matches in his career that he should be proud of and that will stand the test of time as well. The ones that stand out the most to me are the ones in 2000 with Mick Foley and The Rock and then with Batista in 2005, which really propelled "The Animal" to the main event level. There were some really bad feuds too such as the ones with Kane, Scott Steiner and Goldberg that didn't set the world on fire, but in a lot of cases the booking was at fault. There's more good than there is bad in Hunter's career. That's what matters more than anything.
I think most would agree that Michaels is the better performer than Triple H. Hunter said just as much at the Hall of Fame ceremony last year. It was accepted because it is believed to be true by most people be it wrestlers, fans or Vince McMahon himself.
That's the "smart" perspective. It's interesting if you look at it from a mark perspective where wins mean more than match quality. When you look at it that way, Triple H has a combined 13 World Titles since he held the WWE Title eight times and the World Heavyweight Title five times. That's more than any WWE performer ever and only second to Ric Flair in terms of all-time major championship wins.
Michaels, meanwhile, won the WWE Title three times and the World Heavyweight Title once for a total of four reigns. I think it would be smart for those facts to be incorporated into the promo this Monday night when Hunter, Shawn and Undertaker are in the ring at the same time.
I think they choose to downplay the fact that Hunter has won so many titles because they are more interested in building up John Cena to be the most successful performer ever assuming he wins the most WWE/World Titles ever as I predict.
For the sake of this match they should have Hunter brag about his accomplishments. To this point, Hunter has been passive in terms of what he's said. He's been the suit guy. The fans want him to morph into the confident performer they know as "The Game," who believes he is the best.
I'm not saying Hunter should turn heel. It's right for him to stay in a baby-face role. I just want to see more intensity from the guy that is one of the most intense wrestlers ever.
Yes, Shawn is better than Triple H, but those two along with Undertaker know that it's best for the "end of an era" match for Hunter to be seen as an equal. That's why they are doing a such a good job of hammering the main point home. It's why they are so great at building up a match on the strength of their promos (and the fine video packages put on by WWE's production team).
On Monday these three performers that have a history of coming up big in key moments will get to prove how good they are one more time. The "Shawn is better than Hunter" story is an important selling point for WrestleMania 28's Hell in a Cell match.
They have our attention. It's important for them to drive the point home.
I'd expect them to make it count.
John Canton is a regular contributor at the Bleacher Report that's excited about going to WrestleMania 28 in Miami. His favorite wrestler ever is Shawn Michaels. You can read more of his work at his website thejohnreport.net where he's currently reviewing every WrestleMania event prior to WrestleMania 28. Follow him on Twitter @johnreport too.