Where The Undertaker's Win vs. CM Punk Ranks in His WrestleMania Streak

Mike ChiariFeatured ColumnistApril 7, 2013

Where The Undertaker's Win vs. CM Punk Ranks in His WrestleMania Streak

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    The Undertaker has been a fixture in the WWE since 1990, and no man has been more dominant on the big stage. Taker continued his unbelievable run at WrestleMania XXIX by defeating CM Punk to stretch his undefeated streak to 21-0. In the wake of his victory, it is fitting to reminisce about The Phenom's past 'Mania conquests.

    It all started with a win over "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka at WrestleMania VII and the legend has continued to grow ever since. The Deadman has competed at all but two WrestleManias since his 'Mania debut and he has made a habit of stealing the show. All of Taker's WrestleMania matches weren't technical masterpieces, but they're all important in the grand scheme of things.

    On the heels of beating Punk it seems likely that The Undertaker will have at least one more WrestleMania match down the line and perhaps even more. There is no telling where it will ultimately land on a list of his all-time greatest WrestleMania matches, but Taker somehow manages to get better with age.

    Here are the definitive rankings for each and every one of The Undertaker's WrestleMania encounters, including his most recent clash with Punk.

21. Giant Gonzalez (WrestleMania IX)

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    For as many great WrestleMania matches The Undertaker has had, many of his early bouts were nothing to write home about. In fact, some were downright painful to sit through. That was rarely Taker's fault, though, as he was put up against some lackluster opponents. The best example of that is his match against Giant Gonzalez at WrestleMania IX.

    Gonzalez attacked The Undertaker at the 1993 Royal Rumble and was supposed to be a physical threat to The Deadman. Gonzalez was certainly taller than Taker, but his airbrushed bodysuit didn't fool anyone. The giant was a string bean and he didn't have the in-ring acumen to make up for his lack of strength. That led to an unbearable bout at WrestleMania IX.

    The match consisted mostly of Gonzalez utilizing rest holds and The Undertaker battling back. Gonzalez was eventually handed a rag soaked in chloroform by his manager, Harvey Wippleman. The giant used it on The Undertaker and was disqualified as a result. It still stands as The Undertaker's only win by something other than pinfall or submission at WrestleMania and it also stands as his worst 'Mania match by far.

20. King Kong Bundy (WrestleMania XI)

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    The Undertaker's first several WrestleMania matches were against fairly random opponents that didn't make much sense. The last real case of that was his bout against King Kong Bundy at WrestleMania XI. It was logical from a storyline perspective as Taker was feuding with the Million Dollar Corporation at the time, but Bundy was over the hill and simply wasn't at The Phenom's level.

    Bundy was the Million Dollar Corporation's most physically imposing force, so he was given the task of destroying The Undertaker. It ultimately didn't work as The Deadman prevailed in a mediocre match. Taker certainly pulled his weight throughout, but Bundy was very limited in what he could do, so the contest never really stood a chance of being entertaining.

    In hindsight, it probably would have been a better idea for The Undertaker to face Bam Bam Bigelow. Although Bam Bam wrestled Lawrence Taylor in the main event, somebody else could have been put in that spot. Bigelow is one of the most gifted athletes in WWE history, and there is little doubt that he and Taker would have put on a great show. Instead, fans were "treated" to a boring, plodding match against Bundy.

19. Big Show & A-Train (WrestleMania XIX)

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    The Undertaker was supposed to have his first 'Mania tag-team match at WrestleMania XIX as he was feuding with both Big Show and A-Train. Taker was scheduled to team with Nathan Jones, but the Aussie was so raw and unpolished as a wrestler that he was removed from the bout ahead of time. That left The Deadman to fend for himself in a handicap match against Big Show and A-Train.

    All of Taker's WrestleMania matches before and after this point were singles bouts, so his tussle with Big Show and A-Train is notable based on that alone. The match itself was boring, though, and the fact that Jones showed up to help Taker made it even worse. The Undertaker has never needed help at WrestleMania and he never will. The match should have been all about him, but Jones ultimately stole some of his thunder.

    There probably isn't much that could have saved Taker's WrestleMania XIX match, although a singles encounter with Big Show might have been better. Big Show was a big enough threat to challenge Taker on his own and the match wouldn't have felt so cluttered. It likely wouldn't have been anything resembling a classic matchup, but at least it would have been serviceable.

18. Jimmy Snuka (WrestleMania VII)

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    The Undertaker's streak came from humble beginnings as his first 'Mania match was against WWE Hall of Famer "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka at WrestleMania VII. Taker dispatched of the high-flyer in short order, but it's doubtful that anyone thought the match would mean so much down the line. Nobody is ever going to watch the bout because of the great in-ring work displayed in it, but it is notable since it was Taker's WrestleMania debut.

    While The Undertaker definitely looked to be a rising star at the time, nobody could have guessed that he would become one of the greatest wrestlers in the history of the business. Snuka was just a mid-card guy at the time as his career was nearing its end, however, his name carried some weight and that is why he was fed to The Phenom. It's interesting to think about what might have happened to The Undertaker had he lost that match to Snuka, but luckily we'll never have to know.

    Taker's destruction of Snuka lasted just over four minutes in all and was punctuated by a thunderous Tombstone. There isn't much to break down in this match from a wrestling perspective, but the mark that it left on the business is indelible.

17. Jake Roberts (WrestleMania VIII)

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    The Undertaker's second 'Mania match was certainly better than his first as he was afforded a bit more time to tangle with Jake "The Snake" Roberts, but it is abundantly clear that the WWE was still unsure of how big Taker would become. The Undertaker and Roberts had been aligned, but Taker and Paul Bearer turned on Roberts and became faces for the first time in their respective WWE careers. This would be the case for many years to come.

    Roberts had the size and wrestling ability that the WWE usually looks for in Taker's WrestleMania opponent, although the match was an afterthought for the most part. It was a couple minutes longer than The Phenom's bout against Jimmy Snuka the previous year, but it probably deserved even more than that. Taker was an up-and-comer at the time and Roberts was established as a top heel, so they could have had a memorable encounter.

    Perhaps the most interesting note when it comes to The Undertaker's WrestleMania VIII match is that it went on second after Shawn Michaels defeated "El Matador" Tito Santana in the opener. Taker and Michaels went on to become the two best WrestleMania performers of all time, so WrestleMania VIII is worth a watch just to see both of them in their infancy as singles wrestlers.

16. Big Boss Man (WrestleMania XV)

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    The first ever Hell in a Cell match to take place at WrestleMania was between The Undertaker and The Big Boss Man at WrestleMania XV, but it didn't exactly do the storied stipulation proud. Taker's Ministry of Darkness was feuding with Vince McMahon's Corporation at the time, so McMahon decided to have his enforcer take out The Deadman. Boss Man was unsuccessful, however, as The Undertaker battled back from a nightstick assault to win the bout.

    Boss Man actually controlled the early portion of the match and busted Taker open with his nightstick, but it wasn't enough to slow down The Phenom. The Undertaker went on to win the nondescript match and extend his streak, but it is what happened afterward that most fans remember. The Brood descended down onto the top of the cell and fed a noose through the cell to The Undertaker. Taker then took a battered Boss Man and put him in the noose. The cell rose toward the ceiling and brought The Big Boss Man with it.

    The Undertaker did a lot of controversial things during his time as the leader of the Ministry, including hanging The Big Boss Man and placing "Stone Cold" Steve Austin on a cross of sorts. He was definitely entertaining at times, but it wasn't exactly a high point in his career. Taker was probably at his worst as an in-ring competitor during this time period, and his match against Boss Man proved that to be true.

15. Sycho Sid (WrestleMania 13)

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    It wasn't until WrestleMania 13 that The Undertaker won the WWE Championship on the big stage, however, his match with Sycho Sid wasn't a particularly memorable one otherwise. WrestleMania 13 was fairly lackluster as a whole aside from the epic submission match between Bret Hart and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. There wasn't really any chance of Taker and Sid topping that bout, so it was tough for the fans to get involved and it isn't a very exciting match to watch even today.

    Sid had a solid character and was a talented big man, but any wrestling fan would be hard pressed to find a classic match with him involved. As was the case with many of Taker's WrestleMania matches during the first half of his career, he had to carry the load in this one. The true focus was on Hart, though, as he interfered on a couple of occasions and led to The Undertaker executing a Tombstone on Sid to pick up the win and secure the WWE Championship.

    As is the case with pretty much every wrestler, Taker is at his best when he's facing another good worker. It takes two to tango, so if one guy isn't sufficiently pulling his weight, the match probably isn't going to be great. Taker performed pretty well against Sid, but the match simply didn't feel as big as it should have, and it ultimately fell flat.

14. Mark Henry (WrestleMania 22)

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    There is little doubt that Mark Henry's current character is the best of his entire career, but he had a nice little push heading into WrestleMania 22 that resulted in a casket match against The Undertaker. For all the casket matches Taker has had over the years, this was the only one to occur at WrestleMania. Although The World's Strongest Man definitely posed a physical threat to The Deadman, nobody believed that Henry could win. Much to the surprise of nobody, Taker prevailed.

    Henry got some offense in at various points during the match, but Taker largely dominated throughout. He hit all of his signature moves including a Last Ride and a Tombstone before placing Henry in the casket. It was nowhere near Taker's best WrestleMania match, but at least it was unique based on the stipulation as well as the opponent. Henry was only a mid-card guy at the time, so getting to face The Undertaker was a pretty good push for him. It didn't really lead anywhere, but it was something different.

    The odds of The Undertaker ever facing Henry again at WrestleMania are slim, but this is a match that would be better now than it was at the time. Compared to many of the 'Mania bouts The Phenom had against big men, though, this one wasn't too bad.

13. Kane (WrestleMania XX)

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    The WrestleMania XX match between The Undertaker and Kane was brief and nowhere near as good as their previous 'Mania encounter, but the storyline surrounding it was intriguing and any Taker vs. Kane match deserves some recognition. Kane had buried Taker alive at Survivor Series 2003 and it seemed as though The Deadman was gone for good. Taker tormented Kane from afar leading up to WrestleMania XX, however, and ultimately returned to confront his brother.

    Taker ditched the biker look in favor of his original persona and even came to the ring with Paul Bearer. Kane couldn't believe that his brother was back until The Undertaker delivered a stiff blow. The match got going from there and The Big Red Monster actually managed to chokeslam The Phenom. The Undertaker sat up, though, and regained control. After executing a chokeslam followed by a Tombstone, Taker won the match and beat his brother at 'Mania for a second time.

    Fans probably would have liked to see this match carry on for at least 15 minutes, but The Undertaker had just returned and wasn't really in any condition to wrestle a long match. Even so, it created plenty of memorable moments and is worth watching for old time's sake.

12. Diesel (WrestleMania XII)

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    Most of the matches on the list prior to this one range from bad to decent, but The Undertaker's bout against Diesel at WrestleMania XII was highly entertaining from start to finish. Both men were technically faces at the time, but Diesel had adopted somewhat of a bad-boy character. In a lot of ways, he was "Stone Cold" Steve Austin on a smaller level before Austin actually rose to prominence. That made for a fun build and a really strong match to boot.

    Diesel is often maligned for his in-ring work, and some of that criticism is deserved, but he had some good matches in 1995 and 1996. The Undertaker was routinely forced to face big men who couldn't get out of their own way at WrestleMania, including Giant Gonzalez and King Kong Bundy. Diesel wasn't a technical marvel by any means, but he could handle himself between the ropes and he definitely raised his level against Taker at WrestleMania XII.

    After plenty of back-and-forth action, Taker was finally able to get Diesel up in the Tombstone to pick up the victory. The streak wasn't yet a topic of conversation, but this was really the first Undertaker match at WrestleMania that drew attention to his dominance on the big stage. Nobody will ever call it one of the all-time great 'Mania matches, but it was definitely a very good one.

11. Randy Orton (WrestleMania 21)

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    Randy Orton was easily one of the biggest threats to The Undertaker's streak as "The Legend Killer" challenged Taker at WrestleMania 21. Orton had taken out many legendary performers prior to that and was a thorn in The Deadman's side. Orton also had help from his father, "Cowboy" Bob Orton, so The Undertaker was at a disadvantage. Despite that, The Phenom was able to extend his undefeated streak at 'Mania.

    Orton was able to control the early portion of the match thanks to involvement from his father, who hit Taker with a cast. At one point Orton hit Taker with an RKO. That moment certainly caused millions of Undertaker fans to hold their collective breath as the streak was very much on the line. The Undertaker was able to kick out at two, however. Orton's confidence got the better of him later in the match as he went for Taker's signature Tombstone Piledriver.

    The Deadman was able to reverse it, though, and execute a Tombstone of his own. Taker then scored the three count to remain undefeated. This match was a great one due largely to the uncertainty surrounding it, but the fact that it went on early in the card did take away from it to some degree.

10. Kane (WrestleMania XIV)

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    Most would probably agree that The Undertaker's all-time greatest rival is Kane, so their match at WrestleMania XIV is certainly a memorable one. Kane was bent on destruction and had gotten the better of his brother on many occasions. Although the streak wasn't really talked about yet, The Big Red Monster stood a chance to end it before it gained momentum. Luckily for wrestling fans everywhere, that didn't happen as The Deadman prevailed.

    Taker wasn't interested in fighting his brother, but Kane and Paul Bearer locked him in a casket and set it ablaze at Royal Rumble 1998, so The Phenom had to step up to the plate. Their WrestleMania XIV match may be best known for Kane hitting special guest ring announcer Pete Rose with a Tombstone beforehand. The bout was great in its own right, though, as Kane took the action to The Undertaker and looked like his equal.

    The two men couldn't put each other down as they each kicked out of a Tombstone Piledriver. This led to a sequence where The Undertaker executed his finisher three times. Kane sat up the first two times, but he finally succumbed to his brother on the third attempt as Taker came away victorious. From a physical standpoint, it can be argued that Kane came away looking stronger than any of The Undertaker's 'Mania opponents.

9. Ric Flair (WrestleMania X8)

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    It's difficult to pinpoint the year when The Undertaker's undefeated streak reached new levels, but his win over Ric Flair at WrestleMania X8 is definitely in the conversation. Taker was 9-0 at 'Mania heading into the match and once he dispatched of Flair, he held up 10 fingers to signify his perfect 10-0 record. From that point forward, the streak meant something to the fans and became one of the most important parts of WrestleMania.

    Flair wasn't much of a threat to end the streak, but the match was great anyway. Flair cost Taker a win at No Way Out 2002, so The Phenom goaded Flair into accepting a WrestleMania match. It came with a No Disqualification stipulation, which actually played into The Nature Boy's hands as he has long been known as "The Dirtiest Player in the Game." Flair even received help from longtime ally Arn Anderson as the former Four Horsemen stalwart hit The Deadman with a devastating spinebuster.

    That wasn't enough to keep Taker down, though, as he recovered and ultimately finished Flair off with a Tombstone. The Undertaker's match with Flair often gets lost in the shuffle amid all the unbelievable WrestleMania bouts he has had, but it definitely deserves a spot in the top 10.

8. Batista (WrestleMania 23)

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    For all of The Undertaker's fantastic WrestleMania matches, very few of them have involved a title being on the line. That is partially why his bout against Batista at WrestleMania 23 was so special. Batista entered the match as the World Heavyweight Champion, while Taker possessed a 14-0 record at WrestleMania, so one way or another, something had to give.

    The match was great from start to finish, largely because Batista could match up with Taker physically. The Phenom has faced a lot of big men at WrestleMania over the years, but there is no doubt that The Animal performed better than all of them. Batista has long been viewed as a mediocre in-ring worker; however, WrestleMania 23 was his finest hour as a wrestler. He didn't come out on top, but Batista looked like The Undertaker's equal and didn't need to be carried through the match.

    After a number of signatures and finishers failed to bring about a conclusion, The Undertaker was finally able to hit Batista with a Tombstone for the win. With the victory, Taker extended his streak and became the new world champion. The Phenom also became the first superstar in WWE history to win both the WWE Championship and World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania.

7. Triple H (WrestleMania X-Seven)

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    When it comes to the trilogy of WrestleMania matches between The Undertaker and Triple H, their battle that WrestleMania X-Seven is the one that most often gets overlooked. The fact that it happened so long ago in comparison to their more recent matches probably has a lot to do with that, but the fact of the matter is that the WrestleMania X-Seven match isn't very far behind their more contemporary matches, and some might argue it was better.

    Taker and Triple H were both essentially in their prime, so they could do a lot more from an in-ring perspective at WrestleMania X-Seven. The match was also unique when compared to some of The Undertaker's other WrestleMania bouts. The referee was knocked unconscious a couple times during the match, which led to Taker and The Game battling throughout the arena and even into the crowd. Triple H introduced his signature sledgehammer into the affair as well, but not even that was enough to take out The Deadman.

    The match reached its end when Triple H got a bit too overzealous by pummeling The Undertaker in the corner. The Phenom recovered and delivered a thunderous Last Ride off the ropes to pick up the victory. The streak was still fairly young at the time, but was definitely a threat to end it before it really took off.

6. Triple H (WrestleMania XXVII)

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    Many fans out there call the WrestleMania XXVII match between The Undertaker and Triple H overrated, but that probably stems from the fact that their WrestleMania XXVIII encounter was among the best in 'Mania history. In terms of telling a great story and overall drama, their WrestleMania XXVII match was pretty much as good as it gets. Taker was able to prevail in the end, but there were numerous moments where it seemed like The Game had him beat.

    The storyline heading into the match was that Taker was beaten and battered, and he was no longer the same person who had built the impressive WrestleMania streak. Triple H controlled much of the contest and used the No Holds Barred stipulation to his advantage. The Cerebral Assassin assaulted Taker with chair shots before using Taker's own Tombstone Piledriver against him. The Undertaker kicked out and a look of shock came across Triple H's face. The Phenom also kicked out of a couple Pedigrees, so Triple H had to resort to the sledgehammer.

    Just as The Game was about to use the weapon on The Deadman, though, Taker grabbed Triple H and locked him in Hell's Gate. Triple H refused to tap and attempted to pick the sledgehammer back up, but he ultimately succumbed to The Undertaker and was forced to give up. Even though Taker won the match, he was the one who had to be carried off afterward due to the amount of energy he expended in defeating Triple H.

5. CM Punk (WrestleMania XXIX)

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    Entering WrestleMania XXIX, the match between The Undertaker and CM Punk was arguably the most highly anticipated bout on the entire card. Most fans figured that Punk's chances of ending the streak were quite slim, but their feud was highly entertaining. Taker and Punk both tend to rise to the occasion in big spots as well, and that is precisely what happened at 'Mania.

    The rivalry between Taker and Punk became quite personal following the unfortunate death of Paul Bearer. The Undertaker's former manager and friend was integrated into the storyline as Punk interrupted The Phenom's tribute to him. Punk even went so far as to steal the urn and pour its contents onto The Undertaker's body. With that in mind, The Deadman was determined to get revenge at WrestleMania.

    Punk tried every trick in the book and put on an unbelievable show, which featured phenomenal back-and-forth action. Each man countered the other's finishing maneuver several times and the ending sequence will be one fans never forget. Still, Taker could not be beaten at the show of shows. 

    With his record now standing at 21-0 and WrestleMania XXX looming next year, we probably haven't seen the last of The Undertaker. He put on a fantastic performance against arguably the best wrestler in the world tight now. If it does end up being is final match, though, he'll be going out on top.

4. Edge (WrestleMania XXIV)

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    The Undertaker is arguably the greatest performer in the history of WrestleMania, but despite that he has only been featured in the main event a handful of times. That was the case at WrestleMania XXIV as he faced World Heavyweight Champion Edge to close the show. The fact that it went on last definitely added to the enjoyment factor, but the match itself would have been great regardless of where it was placed on the card.

    Taker had beaten Batista for the world title at WrestleMania one year earlier, so he had an opportunity to turn the trick two years in a row. Edge wouldn't be easy to defeat, though, as he had a number of tricks up his sleeve. Edge hit The Undertaker with a camera while the referee was incapacitated, but he was unable to keep the Deadman down. This prompted the Rated-R Superstar to call for reinforcements as Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins interfered. The Phenom dispatched of them, but they distracted him enough to allow Edge to execute a spear.

    When Edge successfully hit the spear, many fans thought the streak might finally come to an end. Taker was able to kick out, though, and he eventually locked Edge in Hell's Gate to pick up the win and to become world champion. Edge fell short, but he had a lot of fans believing that the streak was over.

3. Triple H (WrestleMania XXVIII)

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    WrestleMania XXVIII proved that The Undertaker truly is a marvel who will never be replicated in professional wrestling. Between WrestleMania XXVII and WrestleMania XXVIII, Taker essentially took an entire year off and didn't wrestle a single match during that time. Even so, he managed to have one of the greatest matches of his career last year as he defeated Triple H in a Hell in a Cell match with Shawn Michaels as special guest referee.

    The match was an emotional roller coaster as Taker and Triple H told a great story as they always do. The addition of Michaels made things special as well. It is well documented that he is Triple H's best friend, but he also had two WrestleMania matches against The Undertaker, so there was a lot of history in that ring. Triple H brutalized Taker with chair shots to the point that Michaels considered stopping the match, but The Undertaker was able to recover.

    The Phenom angered HBK so much at one point that Michaels hit Taker with Sweet Chin Music. Triple H then followed that up with a Pedigree in succession, but The Undertaker somehow managed to kick out. The Deadman was eventually able to gain control and execute a Tombstone. Michaels had no choice but to count as Taker came out on top and extended his streak to 20-0.

2. Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania XXVI)

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    It is essentially unarguable that The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels are the two greatest WrestleMania performers of all time. Fans can debate about who was better, but they are No. 1 and No. 2 respectively regardless. Because of that, it should come as no surprise that their 'Mania encounters were among the best matches in professional wrestling history. It's tough to say which was more entertaining, but their WrestleMania XXVI contest comes in at No. 2 on this list.

    After Taker beat Michaels one year earlier, HBK was obsessed with ending the streak. He did everything in his power to get a rematch, but The Undertaker refused on multiple occasions. Michaels took matters into his own hands as he cost Taker the World Heavyweight Championship at Elimination Chamber. This caused The Phenom to accept Michaels' challenge under one condition. If Michaels went on to lose at WrestleMania XXVI, he would have to retire from professional wrestling.

    Michaels was getting up there in years at the time and his body had taken a lot of punishment, but he was still such a great performer that there was some doubt about whether or not he would retire. The back-and-forth action throughout the match was fantastic, but it got to the point where Michaels could no longer fight on. Taker implored him to stay down, but HBK slapped The Deadman across the face. This enraged him and prompted him to execute a decisive Tombstone that sent Michaels into retirement.

1. Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania XXV)

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    While the WrestleMania XXV match between The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels may not have had stakes as high as their bout one year later, many fans consider it to be the greatest match in the history of professional wrestling. There have been so many unbelievable matches that it's impossible to really narrow it down to just one, but there is no doubt that Taker vs. Michaels at WrestleMania XXV is on the shortlist and definitely in the conversation.

    Both men had already captivated fans on numerous occasions on the WrestleMania stage before they locked horns at WrestleMania XXV, but they took things to another level. It was a see-saw affair with both superstars gaining the upper hand at certain point, but neither of them could put the other away. Frustration began to mount, so Michaels went to the top rope and attempted a moonsault, but Taker caught him and hit him with a Tombstone to win the match.

    Everything about the match was perfect from the in-ring work, to the psychology to the finish. It would take something extremely special to top this match, and that isn't likely to happen for a very long time if it even happens at all. No two current superstars have the same synergy as Taker and Michaels in the ring. Because of that, their WrestleMania XXV match will always be remembered as one of the all-time greats.

     

     

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