Today begins part one of a two part article covering the rivalry of "The Animal" Dave Batista and "The Phenom" The Undertaker that was originally sparked in 2007. These two men needed very few words to embark on one of the most memorable series of a matches in the history of professional wrestling. This is a part of a series called Wrestling's Greatest Rivalries, that can be found over at WrestleEnigma.com.
On January 27, 2007, The Undertaker won the Royal Rumble by lastly eliminating “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels. This was the first time The Undertaker had won this match, which some could argue was truly his last remaining blemish. Now, The Undertaker had a decision of which champion to face: ECW Champion Bobby Lashley, World Heavyweight Champion Batista, or the WWE Champion John Cena.
Get ready, WrestleMania: The Deadman is coming! -JBL
The Undertaker would line all three men up in the ring, and picked Batista. He was walking into The Animal’s cage at WrestleMania and hoping to come out with his undefeated streak still intact.
A little over a month prior to the their showdown, Batista and The Undertaker teamed up to face fellow WrestleMania 23 opponents John Cena and Shawn Michaels. Michaels had become Cena’s opponent for the WWE Championship after winning a triple threat match against Edge and Randy Orton on Raw.
Cena and Michaels would actually walk into the match as the World Tag Team Champions, in addition to walking out as winners. You see, as Batista gave Michaels a spinebuster, Undertaker executed the chokeslam on John Cena. But, as Undertaker readied to give the Tombstone to Cena, Batista nailed him with a spinebuster before walking out of the ring. This enabled Michaels and Cena to hit their finishing moves on Undertaker and emerge victorious.
“Batista said payback is a bitch and I guess the hell it is!” -JBL
After The Undertaker had chokeslammed him in the middle of the ring weeks ago, Batista vowed that one day, payback would come. And on this night, it did. He refused to be intimidated, but would that be enough to save his World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 23? Or, would his title reign rest in peace on the Grandest Stage of Them All?
Batista had missed WrestleMania 22 due to injury, so at WrestleMania 23, he wanted to make up for it. He wanted to make history. And if he could somehow retain his World Heavyweight Championship and end The Undertaker’s undefeated streak at WrestleMania, he would indeed make history. If he could defeat The Undertaker, he wouldn’t just go down as a former world champion, but he’d go down as an immortal.
The Undertaker made his eerie, ominous WrestleMania entrance with the defending champion Batista already in the ring. Batista didn’t flinch, he didn’t move a muscle as The Demon from Death Valley made his way to the ring. Most who say they aren’t intimidated of The Undertaker are lying, but it might just have been the truth with Batista.
As they stood across the ring from each other, the bell sounded and Batista immediately hit the spear. Undertaker got to his feet and was backed into the corner for a series of strikes, but he turned it around on the champion and did the same.
Undertaker turned away to back the referee out of his way, but was met by Batista when he turned back around. He rammed his shoulder against the solar plexus of The Undertaker, attempting to wear down the big man in the early stages. Boos cascaded down at the champion who was usually a fan-favorite. A man who usually fed off the energy of the crowd wouldn’t be able to do so against this challenger.
Batista whipped Undertaker across the ring, and then back into the center for a vicious clothesline. Next, he sent him over the top rope with a second clothesline.
He stared down at Undertaker momentarily before being pulled out of the ring feet-first.
They brawled on the outside, and Batista eventually came away with the advantage by sending Undertaker crashing into the remorseless steel steps.
Batista tossed Undertaker in the ring first, opening up the opportunity for him to climb the top rope—a rarity for a man of his stature. He’d hit a shoulder tackle off the top, and gain a near fall on The Deadman.
Michael Cole claimed that he’d never seen Batista come off the top rope. However, JBL responded that this was a special occasion. Not only was it a world title match, but it was a chance to make history.
They slugged it out in the middle of the ring, only for Batista to run into the big boot of The Undertaker. The big boot, though, wasn’t enough to ground The Animal, who bounced off the ropes to hit a nasty clothesline. 1, 2, kickout by The Undertaker.
Batista again went toe-to-toe with the best pure striker in the history of professional wrestling, and again did so successfully by picking him up then body slamming him back down to the canvas.
Batista looked to be dominating this match just when Undertaker denied him of a boot from his knees. Strikes to the abdomen of Batista allowed Undertaker to get to his feet, before another encounter ensued.
This time, The Undertaker won and whipped Batista into the corner. He hit a splash, clothesline, Snake Eyes and finally a big boot to ground this powerhouse.
Undertaker hit a leg drop on Batista before going for a cover; 1, 2, no.
Over 80,000 fans rose to their feet as The Undertaker scaled the top rope to hit Old School on Batista. Undertaker readied for the chokeslam, but Batista animalistically powered out.
A knee to the gut then an Irish whip proved to not be Batista’s best idea, as he was the victim of a clothesline. Another near fall followed.
After both got to their feet, Undertaker slugged Batista out of the ring. He fell to his knees, but Undertaker knew better than to try to get a countout. He instead took the offense to Batista by breaking the count and slamming Batista head-first into the steel steps.
Undertaker then positioned Batista on the apron for his patented leg drop. 300 pounds came crashing down on the neck of the champion, who simply fell motionless to the mat below.
Undertaker got in the ring, and came flying out moments later with a suicide dive onto Batista.
“The Undertaker wants his fifth title reign and he’s willing to do anything to get it.” -JBL
Undertaker continued his offensive flurry, using the barricade as a weapon against Batista. He rolled into the ring temporarily to break the count, but as he went to continue his methodical dissection of the world champion, the world champion whipped him into the bell table and surrounding steel chairs.
Batista now rolled into the ring to break the count, suddenly firmly in control once more. He had survived an onslaught from one of the best frontrunners in the history of the business.
He laid a beatdown on The Undertaker, before again wisely breaking the count. He tossed the hood and monitors off the announce table to the left, preparing to send The Undertaker through it.
He placed The Deadman on middle table, then hit a series of punches to his face to ensure he was out. He picked him up, and then hit a running powerslam through the table he had previously cleared.
Batista, however, had promised that he would defeat The Undertaker by pinfall, and Batista was not a man to break his promise. He continued his offense on the seemingly punch-drunk Undertaker. Then, he led him through the ringside carnage back into the ring.
Cover; 1, 2, no!
Batista hit rights and lefts to the head of his challenger. Perhaps growing frustrated, he just wanted to beat The Undertaker, break the streak and retain his World Heavyweight Championship.
The champion positioned The Undertaker for his Batista Bomb, but Undertaker drove him back-first into the corner. He hit two high elbows before leading him out of the corner, but Batista countered to hit a belly-to-belly suplex. Hook of the leg; 1, 2, no!
“There’s never been a guy who’s had more fight in his heart and grit in his soul than The Undertaker. He wears scars like badges of honor. He smells like smoke because he’s been through fire. And dammit, this is where he’s home; and that’s in battle.” -JBL
The Undertaker could have all the grit in his soul he wants, but at this moment, it just wasn’t enough. Batista pounded away at him in the corner. And with each blow, he seemed to be nearing his destiny; his destiny of ending The Undertaker’s WrestleMania undefeated streak.
Suddenly, The Undertaker powered out and hit Batista with the Last Ride. A new champion! Cole claimed; 1, 2, kickout!
Next was a spinebuster from Batista! He seemed poised to hit the Batista Bomb, but Undertaker recovered quickly then ducked a strike to hit the Chokeslam. 1, 2, another kickout!
Undertaker tried to hit a Tombstone, but to no avail as Batista slipped out and hit a Spear. Batista Bomb! Is the streak over? 1, 2, no!
Batista went for a second Batista Bomb, but this time Undertaker countered into a back body drop. The Ford Field crowd had reached a fever pitch. Who was going to emerge the World Heavyweight Champion? Would Batista be the man to finally defeat The Undertaker at WrestleMania, or would he be just another victim to rest in peace?
Undertaker missed with a right hand. Batista appeared to be attempting a Tombstone, but Undertaker fought out and pushed him into the corner. He rebounded back into a Tombstone Piledriver! Cover: 1, 2, 3!
Through a hellacious battle with a man of animalistic strength, The Undertaker somehow emerged WrestleMania 23 with his streak intact and as the new World Heavyweight Champion. The Lord of Darkness was reigning again, but he hadn't seen the last of Batista.
After The Undertaker left WrestleMania 23 still undefeated and as the World Heavyweight Champion, Batista congratulated him before quickly asking for his rematch. That rematch would be granted by Smackdown General Manager Theodore Long, but not in just any match: in a Last Man Standing Match.
Although Batista lost at WrestleMania, he likely could have won by countout numerous times. Undertaker, though, couldn’t make the same claim. So, how was The Undertaker going to keep Batista down for the ten count?
On the flip side, after Finlay attacked him with a shillelagh, Batista went into the match with a heavily taped hamstring. Even after having the match of his career at WrestleMania, he still could not beat The Undertaker. So, how was he going to manage to do so with an injury?
Either way, at the end of the night, one of these proud men would be beaten down so badly they wouldn’t be able to answer to count of ten. The question remained: which one would it be?
In contrast to their WrestleMania match earlier in the month, The Undertaker gained the quick advantage with a big boot to Batista to start things off.
He followed up with two elbows to the head of the former champion, then some strikes in the corner. It’s worth noting that for his whole career, Undertaker had worn the elbow pad on his left elbow. But with an injured right elbow, he would wear it there on this night.
After some strikes in the corner, Undertaker whipped Batista to the opposite side of the ring. Batista, though, fought back with an elbow and Irish whip. Undertaker ducked the oncoming clothesline from Batista, and went for the chokeslam. However, Batista again battled out.
Batista looked to be on the offensive, but to no avail as The Undertaker hit a clothesline.
Headbutts weakened Batista just enough for Undertaker to balance himself on the top rope and hit Old School. Batista would soon counter Undertaker’s offensive flurry with a bodyslam.
Already evident in this match was the fact that after these two men battled at the Showcase of the Immortals, they knew each other better. Therefore, there hadn’t yet been a long stretch of dominance from either competitor as there had been in their first encounter.
Batista sent Undertaker to the outside and followed himself. He took the offense to The Deadman, utilizing the protective barricade and the ring apron to make The Undertaker light on his feet. He planned on using the steel steps next, but that planned backfired and Undertaker was instead the one bashing Batista’s head into the unforgiving steel.
Batista reached his feet at the count of four. Undertaker continued working him over, with headbutts and strikes to the abdomen of Batista. A kick to the knee would ground The Animal. Luckily for him, it wasn’t the leg with the taped hamstring.
Undertaker again used the steel steps to compromise the head and knee of Batista. There had been a lot of shots to the head of both men so far, as if they were groggy enough, they wouldn’t be able to answer the count.
As for the knee, Batista already had an injured leg. And if he couldn’t stand up, he obviously wouldn’t be able to answer the referee’s count. So, both strategies appeared to be sound.
In the following minutes, the tape on Batista’s hamstring was a bullseye for The Undertaker to center his offense around. Undertaker would take advantage of his work by hitting the leg drop across the throat of Batista on the apron. He collapsed to the floor as the count began; a count Batista would answer at five.
Batista would whip Undertaker into the steel steps legs-first, pitting his own strategy against him.
Undertaker would slide back into the ring, as Batista sneaked up to the top rope. Undertaker would thwart this however, with a couple of strikes to the chest.
Undertaker pulled down the straps on his singlet before heading to the top rope. He nailed a superplex on Batista, shaking the ring to it’s very core.
Undertaker reached his feet at seven, Batista at eight, at least momentarily. Batista’s injured leg looked to be playing a major factor now, as it was wobbly and hardly allowing Batista to stand. Not only would he have a difficult time answering the count, but it took away the power source for a man who relied heavily on his strength.
The two heavyweights went back-and-forth with haymakers in the center of the ring. Batista eventually won this exchange with a clothesline.
Undertaker reached his feet at eight, but was sent back down with another clothesline. He got up again, but this time ate a bodyslam from Batista. Batista dropped his leg on the neck of The Phenom before the referee began counting once more.
Undertaker rolled towards the ropes and pushed the second rope down to send Batista flying. He got to his feet on the outside, answering the count, and then cleared off an announce table.
Before he could use that table to his benefit, Batista drove him into the barricade. He may been have injured, but Batista was digging deep within himself to find power. After all, this wasn’t the time to throw a pity party or even worry about his injury; it was time to regain his World Heavyweight Championship.
Undertaker got to his feet and countered a bodyslam through the table with a backbreaker. When Batista reached his feet from that, he was met with steel steps collapsing his skull. As Batista pulled himself up, blood trickled down his forehead and nose.
Undertaker placed Batista on the empty announce table, then climbed the barricade for a leg drop on Batista through the table. How was Batista possibly going to recover from this?
Undertaker looked on, astonished, as Batista somehow got to his feet at the count of nine.
He wasted no time going back on the assault. After some offense on the outside, Undertaker whipped Batista across the ring and hit two clotheslines in the corner. He followed up with Snake Eyes, then ran across the ring. Normally, he’d hit a big boot, but he was instead hit with Batista’s spear.
Just as Undertaker reached his feet, he was nailed with a spinebuster, but the resilient Undertaker answered the count at five. However, he ate another spinebuster upon reaching his feet.
Batista pulled him up for third spinebuster. “What in the hell has gotten into Batista?” JBL asked. “The World Heavyweight Championship is what’s gotten into Batista!” Michael Cole responded.
Undertaker got to his feet at nine, with Batista ready to hit him with the Batista Bomb. Undertaker drove him to the corner instead though, before they met in the middle of the ring; chokeslam! Undertaker fell to the canvas after slamming Batista, but eventually would answer the count, as would Batista.
Undertaker positioned Batista in the corner for a series of strikes, but Batista countered into the Batista Bomb! Undertaker still would answer the count at nine. What was it going to take to put The Deadman away?
Batista introduced a steel chair into the match with a shot to The Undertaker’s head. He readied him for a Batista Bomb onto that chair, but Undertaker powered into a back body drop onto the chair.
Next, Undertaker hit the Tombstone Piledriver. “Ballgame!” JBL shouted.
Except for it wasn’t the ballgame. Batista answered the count at nine. He wanted the World Heavyweight Championship back, and he didn’t care what he did to his body to get it.
They now brawled up the ramp, onto the edge of the stage, with Undertaker largely maintaining the advantage throughout. Batista would fight back, with strikes, sending them to the opposite end of the stage.
Batista tried the Batista Bomb, but Undertaker successfully got out by attacking the bad leg. A couple more strikes later, Undertaker went for the Tombstone once more, but Batista scurried out.
Spear! Spear by Batista off the stage! The railing portion of the stage collapsed on top of them as equipment exploded. Neither man was moving. Neither man would answer the count of ten.
Both men would soon miraculously reach their feet with no assistance. The Undertaker was still the World Heavyweight Champion, but had destroyed himself and his challenger in the process.
On this night, there was no last man standing, but what would that mean in this war for the holy grail of Sports Entertainment? What was coming next?
The Ultimate Opportunity Presents Itself
After pushing themselves past the limit in the Last Man Standing match at Backlash, no issues were resolved between The Undertaker and Batista. Batista still had a rightful claim to challenge for the World Heavyweight Championship that belonged to him a little over a month ago.
So, Smackdown General Manager Theodore Long decided to lock them inside a steel cage to resolve their issues. To determine who the true, deserving king of the Smackdown jungle was.
The world has been captivated by this rivalry between Undertaker and Batista. Pittsburgh is abuzz with what is happening. Here tonight, Michael, we can see the culmination of one of the greatest rivalries in the history of this sport in a steel cage. -JBL
Saying there was a big fight atmosphere in Pittsburgh for this Smackdown main event would be a dramatic understatement. Tension filled the air, as the fans knew two behemoths of professional wrestling were going to go at it again, perhaps for the final time. On this night, one man would escape the cage triumphantly as a champion, and the other would leave battered, bruised and with nothing to show for it but a broken soul.
Undertaker slammed the door behind him and stared at Batista. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. The only thing standing in the way between them and the World Heavyweight Championship was each other.
The bell sounded and the two combatants stood toe-to-toe, trading blows, both attempting to get the early advantage. Undertaker eventually would win the battle with a big boot to the face of Batista. He’d go for the cover, but Batista obviously wasn’t going down that easy.
Undertaker looked to begin punishing Batista. He utilized the strikes, which is always an essential part of his game, before focusing in on the injured leg of The Animal. Much like at Backlash, Batista had a wrapped hamstring thanks to an attack from Finlay weeks earlier.
After a successful bodyslam, Undertaker went for an elbow drop, but Batista moved out of the way.
Batista then took control off a clothesline, cover: 1, 2, no. However, he then made the mistake of getting impatient and going for an early Batista Bomb. Undertaker would fight out of the devastating move by attacking the taped hamstring. He’d drop an elbow on the leg, and lock in a submission before Batista battled out.
This match would become a story of Undertaker’s dissection of Batista’s injured left leg versus Batista’s heart, desire, and sheer power game even with the compromised state of the leg. It also helped that Undertaker had an injury of his own: his right elbow. He wore the elbow pad and tape underneath once again to try to combat the injury.
Back-and-forth they went, with neither man sustaining a long stretch of offense. Although plagued by commercial breaks this time around, this match reached the high expectations thrust upon them by their previous two matches.
In the closing minutes, Undertaker looked to be in control with a couple clotheslines in the corner, Snake Eyes, and a big boot. To follow was a chokeslam.
“Ballgame!” JBL called. 1, 2, no!
The Tombstone was next, but Batista wouldn’t allow it. He squirmed out and slammed The Deadman head-first into the steel cage. This turned the tide and gave Batista mounting momentum throughout a commercial break. When Smackdown returned, Batista nailed a spinebuster. Cover: 1, 2, no!
Undertaker was gushing blood as Batista took him to the corner. Punch after punch, Batista opened up the wound even more. He looked to escape, but instead was the victim of the Last Ride. Undertaker collapsed before merely putting his arm over Batista; 1, 2, shoulder up!
Undertaker headed for the door, and crawled towards victory, but was pulled back inside the cage by The Animal.
Batista climbed the top rope and Undertaker followed. The Phenom would grasp Batista’s throat then look to the mat below, but Batista elbowed out of his hold. He’d soon knock his opponent to the mat and try to climb out of the cage. One leg was over as Undertaker sat up.
Undertaker gained ground, climbing on the cage wall beside him. Batista looked to have a slight advantage, but Undertaker had the wiser climbing strategy. Both dropped to the ground, but who did first? It was a photo finish!
After talking it over with a fellow referee, and watching the replay on the commentary table’s monitors, Jimmy Korderas concluded that both men’s feet reached the floor at the same time. Therefore, The Undertaker again retained his World Heavyweight Championship in a draw.
The steel cage was raised as Mark Henry returned to attack The Undertaker. He’d pick up the scraps and destroy what little was left of him, opening up the opportunity for Mr. Money In the Bank Edge to cash in his briefcase. And he did just that.
Edge stormed to the ring, with the briefcase in hand, and cashed in his championship match. Although The Undertaker would kick out of his initial cover, Edge would put him away with the spear.
“Not this way, dammit!” Michael Cole pleaded.
Your winner and new World Heavyweight Champion, Edge!
With the insertion of Edge into the World Heavyweight Championship picture, Batista and The Undertaker’s rivalry would be put to a sudden halt. While The Undertaker would be out of action for months to follow, Batista would spark a rivalry with Edge.
Not to worry, though. The Undertaker and Batista’s rivalry was far from over. Nothing had yet been settled.
All quotes in this article are pulled directly from the commentary of the match.
This is where part one of this Wrestling’s Greatest Rivalries ends, and part two will soon begin. But for now, thanks for reading.