This is part two 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.
If you missed part one, it can be read here.
After returning from his numerous injuries and disposing of the “World’s Strongest Man” Mark Henry, The Undertaker was ready to resume his rivalry with Batista. And even more than that, The Undertaker was hell bent on regaining the World Heavyweight Championship that Batista now held.
You see, Edge would eventually have to hand the title over to SmackDown General Manager Theodore Long due to an injury. To crown a new champion, Long held a Battle Royal on SmackDown, which The Great Khali would win.
Khali’s dominance over the blue brand would see him down Rey Mysterio and even Batista numerous times before Batista overcame the odds and became the World Heavyweight Champion once again.
Now, the rivalry of Batista and The Undertaker was ready to resume at Cyber Sunday. If he planned on staying champion long, Batista was going to have to do something he had never done before: defeat The Undertaker. Batista, however, did have one advantage that he previously didn’t have in any of the great trilogy of matches with The Undertaker that captivated the world earlier in the year, that being that he was in his hometown of Washington, D.C.
The fans would choose “Stone Cold” Steve Austin to be the special guest referee over Mick Foley and JBL, to the dismay of JBL. JBL believed as a “wrestling god” that his millions of fans would vote to put him back where he rightfully belonged: a main event pay-per view match.
JBL and Foley argued and brawled before they both ate the Stone Cold Stunner for their efforts.
With JBL out of commission, Hall of Famer Jerry “The King” Lawler joined Michael Cole on commentary. We were now ready for these two giants to again collide. The question remained: Who would leave Washington, D.C., the World Heavyweight Champion?
Like at WrestleMania, Batista attempted to hit a spear as the match kicked off. However, this time Undertaker moved out of the way, then hit The Animal with a boot to the face once he got to his feet.
They now locked up and began what would become a bit of a stalemate. Whatever one did, the other had an answer for. By this point, they had faced each other three times and had months to watch tape of their previous bout. Both being veterans and former and/or current world champions, they weren’t going to be making the same mistake twice.
The Undertaker knew he could beat Batista, because he did it before. What he couldn’t do, this time around, was come out champion as the result of a draw. And of course the wild card in this situation is Steve Austin, a man ‘Taker had a rich history with.
After another big boot early, Undertaker went for a cover; 1, 2, kickout by Batista.
Off the cover, Undertaker gave Batista one more boot before beginning to dissect his left shoulder and arm. Ironically, Undertaker’s arm had been injured in their past series of matches, and Batista had dissected it. Now it was kind of deja-vu.
Undertaker wrapped Batista's arm up in the rope and kept it entangled before Austin physically broke it up after a five count.
Batista now powered Undertaker into the opposite corner of the ring, driving his shoulder into the ribs of The Undertaker, following up with a monstrous uppercut. He dragged Undertaker along the ropes and smashed his head into two different turnbuckles.
Right hands to the face and kicks to the gut were Batista’s next offensive moves. You could hear the intensity Batista was approaching this match with. Grunts, moan, unleashing all he had, all in an attempt to beat a man he’d never defeated and retain a championship that Undertaker previously took from him prematurely.
Batista aggressively whipped and pursued Undertaker into the corner but was met with an elbow to the face. He fell to the mat, and Undertaker went for a pin: 1, 2, no.
Undertaker locked in a variation of his deadly Triangle Choke submission hold. Once locked in, there was no way out. Luckily, Batista simply grabbed the nearby rope to force Undertaker to relinquish his grip.
Batista was choked up, but Undertaker gave him no time to recover. He went to the outside and attacked Batista’s head, which overlaid the apron. Chops to the back of the neck and a boot to the skull of Batista before Undertaker crawled back in for the cover: 1, 2, no.
Undertaker continued his assault on Batista’s left arm until Batista ducked a boot in the corner. Instead, The Deadman’s knee would slam against the turnbuckle.
Batista took control, quickly kicking The Undertaker out of the ring. The Animal stalked his prey, not letting him escape to collect himself.
The protective barricade and the steel steps were now in play, as Batista battered Undertaker’s head off both objects. He drove him kidney first to the apron after repeated knees to the gut.
Back in the ring, Undertaker ducked an oncoming clothesline to hit one of his own.
“Will Undertaker win the championship?” Michael Cole asked as Undertaker went for a cover: 1, 2, no.
Undertaker twisted Batista’s arm around and scaled the top rope for Old School. However, Batista fought out. Undertaker now rested in a dangerous position on the top rope. Batista climbed up and hammered away at The Phenom before trying a superplex. Undertaker countered, though, and knocked Batista to the canvas.
Undertaker came off the top rope and went for the pin: 1, 2, Batista got his shoulder up. Undertaker had attempted near fall after near fall, yet the champion just wouldn’t go away.
He positioned Batista for a boot in the corner, but Batista again ducked, sending Undertaker up and over to the floor.
Batista headed outside and immediately sent Undertaker leg-first into the steel steps. Back in the ring, Batista used his weight to injure the back of his tall opponent.
Cover, 1, 2, kickout.
This match had gone at a very methodical pace, much more so than their other standard match at WrestleMania. The Undertaker simply preferred working that way, while Batista’s injured arm didn’t allow him to go full speed. In addition, neither man had really built up a head of steam thus far. Just when they got going, the other would take control.
The see-saw bout tipped back into the favor of The Undertaker now, as Taker hit a massive leg drop on the apron to knock the champion out cold.
Cover, 1, 2, kickout.
Batista’s eyes appeared to be glazed over and his confidence shaken. He couldn’t pull himself together as Undertaker hit two clotheslines in the corner and a snake eyes into the turnbuckle. Undertaker went for his big boot, but Batista met him with a massive clothesline! Cover, 1, 2, no.
This counter-fest continued with Undertaker driving Batista back, out of a Batista Bomb, into the corner. Batista would reverse an Irish-Whip to the opposite side of the ring, and try a spear of sorts. However, Undertaker moved out of the way, and Batista’s already injured left arm slammed against the cold, remorseless steel ring post.
With Batista weakened sufficiently, Undertaker believed he was ready for Old School. But Batista grabbed him out of midair and reversed the move into a thunderous spinebuster.
“Unbelievable!” Jerry Lawler muttered, as Steve Austin simply shook his head in disbelief.
Cover, 1, 2, Hell’s Gate! Undertaker countered into Hell’s Gate!
Batista’s arm wound around fast but slowed down before he completely faded away. Austin lifted his limp arm once, but Batista began moving again the second time. Batista wisely rolled Undertaker up, forcing him to break the hold.
Undertaker called for a chokeslam, but Batista elbowed out. He pounded away at Undertaker and sent him across the ring. He ducked one clothesline, but ran directly into the chokeslam! Cover, 1, 2, no! The crowd exploded for its hometown hero!
The Animal was now the prey as Undertaker looked to hit the Tombstone, but Batista squirmed and bounced off the ropes for a spear. Cover, 1, 2, no! The Washington, D.C., crowd groaned in utter shock.
Next was the Batista Bomb, but Undertaker countered once again into a back body drop. Undertaker pursued Batista, but Batista tripped him up, making his face slam against the bottom turnbuckle.
Batista mounted Undertaker in the corner, leaving himself in perfect position for an emphatic Last Ride!
Undertaker collapsed to the mat. He had next to nothing left, but somehow got arm over Batista. The crowd counted as Austin’s hand slapped the mat: 1, 2, no!
Undertaker motioned for the Tombstone Piledriver. He picked Batista up, but Batista got out and hit a spinebuster into a cover: 1, 2, no!
Undertaker rose up, and Batista looked absolutely horrified. What kind of monster recovers from a spinebuster from a 300-pound man that quickly?
Batista kicked Undertaker in the gut once they were both standing for the Batista Bomb! 1, 2, no! The Undertaker kicked out of the Batista Bomb!
Batista looked to Stone Cold stunned (pun fully intended) as if asking what more did he have to do? What more was it going to take to put The Undertaker away?
Batista’s intensity ratcheted up. He measured The Undertaker and promptly nailed him with a second Batista Bomb. Cover: 1, 2, 3!
Both of these men put their bodies on the line to be the world champion, to be the king of the Smackdown jungle. But, at Cyber Sunday 2007, Batista emerged still the World Heavyweight Champion.
The Undertaker looked up the ramp at Batista in fury. This rivalry had reached a boiling point. The only thing left for these two men to do was step inside the Devil’s playground, where neither would emerge the same man.
Hell in a Cell
Batista had won one match, The Undertaker had won one match, and they had wrestled to two draws. Now, they would step inside the satanic Hell in a Cell structure for the rubber match.
Many believed that the match being inside Hell in a Cell would favor The Undertaker, who had experience and comfort inside the structure. In fact, this was the eighth Hell in a Cell match of his illustrious career. He had ruined careers in this match such as that of Mick Foley, who he threw off the cell and through the cell. Foley would arguably never be quite the same again.
The Phenom, Michael, The Deadman, The Undertaker has dominated the WWE for 15 years. But to walk away the generation’s best star, he has got to defeat Batista tonight. He knows that, Batista knows that. Michael, we’re about to get it on. -JBL
For the past couple of weeks, Batista had been crazed and possessed over the thought of stepping inside the Hell in a Cell with the man who made the structure famous. No, he wasn’t afraid of The Undertaker, but he was aware that if he wasn’t at his best, he may not escape this match the way he entered.
The Undertaker slammed the cell door shut, just as he had months ago when he stepped inside the steel cage with The Animal.
Everybody in the American Airlines Arena was on their feet for the beginning of this World Heavyweight Championship match, because they knew that they were about to witness history.
The bell sounded, and the two combatants wasted no time before locking up. Batista wrenched in an early headlock, which Undertaker escaped by whipping him across the ring.
Batista knew that the longer the match went, the better Undertaker’s chances were. Therefore, he came out of the gate urgent and looked to end this match as soon as possible.
Off the ropes, Batista grounded Undertaker with a shoulder block, then hit him with a clothesline. Undertaker would attempt to get in some offense and eventually would with a clothesline after Batista elbowed out of an early chokeslam. Cover, 1, 2, no.
Undertaker now went to work on a grounded Batista. Then he pulled him up and smashed his head into the nearest turnbuckle. Batista ate strikes in the corner from the best striker in WWE history. Undertaker whipped him to the other side and hit snake eyes followed by a big boot. “Vintage Undertaker!” Michael Cole proclaimed.
Cover, 1, 2, no.
Undertaker pulled a steel chair out from under the ring, but before he could use it, Batista shocked him with a spear.
Batista picked up the chair and ran into the corner at The Undertaker, but Undertaker denied him with a boot to the chair which bounced his skull.
Undertaker with a clothesline, cover, 1, 2, no. Next was an attempted Triangle Choke, but Batista would have none of it. He fought out and rolled to the outside, where Undertaker followed.
Undertaker bounced Batista’s head off the steel steps before landing strikes and kicks to the skull. He’d use the cell as a cheese grater against the flesh on Batista's head.
As good as The Undertaker had been throughout his career, he had noticeably stepped up his game as of late for one simple reason: to defeat Batista.
Undertaker now scaled to the apron, measured and struck with a leg drop to the throat of the champion. “This is Batista’s worst nightmare!” JBL claimed, speaking of the fact that The Undertaker had begun to get on a roll.
Undertaker innovatively placed a steel chair under the throat of Batista and slammed it against the steps. Fifteen years in the company, and The Undertaker was still finding new ways to injure his opponents.
Batista choked up blood and was gasping for air on the ground. Undertaker would place his foot on his throat and watch him suffer further. One could only assume that The Undertaker was weakening Batista’s neck for his signature Hell’s Gate submission hold, which was virtually inescapable. In addition, with his mouth open to breathe, Batista was more vulnerable to boot or punch knocking him out.
Undertaker continued his dissection, again driving the steel into the throat of The Animal.
The Undertaker quite literally smelled blood. He knew his prey was severely weakened and now was the time to strike. He placed his forearm on the throat as he went for a cover: 1, 2, no. He did the same thing once more but failed to pick up the three count again.
Undertaker turned his attention to Batista’s shoulder for Old School, but Batista would counter the classic move into a spinebuster. Batista gasped for air before rolling into a cover: 1, 2, no.
Both men reached their feet at the same and went at it with strikes. Back and forth they'd go until Batista finally gained the upperhand with a clothesline. A near fall would follow.
Batista drove his shoulder into the gut of The Undertaker, picked him up, and slammed him down for a running powerslam. Hook of the leg, 1, 2, no. “Shoulder up!” the referee shouted at Batista.
Undertaker went to the outside, which was perhaps more dangerous than being in the ring when inside the cell. Batista used the steel steps as well as the cell as weapon before flattening him with a clothesline.
Undertaker reversed Batista’s whip into the steel steps to send Batista into them himself. As JBL put it, both men were throwing bombs at each other. They were swinging for the fences in hopes of emerging the cell as the World Heavyweight Champion.
Undertaker continued his attack by driving Batista head-first into the cell in a snake eyes-like move, then hitting him in the head with a steel cage.
Batista was now busted open. Blood trickled down his face, into his eyes, not to mention the blood that had been spewing from his mouth for a while now. Not only was he having difficulties breathing, but his vision was now impaired. Cover, 1, 2, kickout.
Batista somehow thwarted Undertaker’s Old School attempt and met him on the top rope. Superplex! The ring rattled as both men fell in a heap to the canvas. How much did either have left?
Batista crawled to a cover but was stunned with Hell’s Gate. Hell’s Gate was locked in on the weakened throat of The Animal. How was Batista going to escape this move before it lulled him into unconsciousness?
He would roll into the ropes, and the referee broke the count in a controversial call. Generally, rope break isn’t allowed inside Hell in a Cell, but it saved Batista and likely his world title here.
Batista went to the outside for a breather, but Undertaker wasn’t interested in giving him one. He threw himself onto Batista on the floor.
Undertaker placed Batista in the corner of the cell and was ready to strike him with the steel steps. Fortunately for Batista, he instinctively blocked the shot with his legs.
Batista battered Undertaker’s head against the steps before bashing his skull with those same steps. One, two, three, four shots to the head of The Undertaker with the steps. Blood now gushed from Undertaker’s forehead.
“We may have us an even ballgame, Michael!” JBL said.
Batista hit Undertaker with a series of strikes in the corner of the ring and then bit his face, in an attempt to open up his wound even more. I guess they called Batista an animal for a reason.
Undertaker responded by lifting Batista up and slamming down for a Last Ride! Cover, 1, 2, no.
“Look at the carnage, Michael! This is what a world championship is all about. This is what living up to history and legacy is all about.” -JBL
Next was the chokeslam! Cover, 1, 2, no!
Undertaker called for the Tombstone, but Batista would reverse it into a spinebuster. Cover, 1, 2, kickout!
Batista planted Undertaker again with the spinebuster before fetching himself a table. He’d hit Undertaker with a Batista Bomb through the table! Will he retain his championship? 1, 2, shoulder up at two-and-a-half!
Batista placed the base of the steel steps inside the ring and scooted them behind the nearly lifeless Phenom. He positioned him for a Batista Bomb, but Undertaker countered into a back body drop onto the steps. Undertaker pulled him onto the mat for the pin: 1, 2, rope break.
He pulled him up and hit a Tombstone Piledriver! He crossed Batista’s arms. “The Undertaker is going to win the championship for the fifth time!” Michael Cole claimed confidently.
1, 2, kickout!
A look of disbelief could be seen on The Undertaker's face. How many men have kicked out of the Tombstone? What more did he have to do?
He climbed to the top of the steps, hoisting Batista over his shoulders and dropping him into a Tombstone onto the steps. Undertaker dropped him onto the canvas and went for the cover: 1, 2, no! The referee was pulled out of the ring by a man dressed in all black. That man? Edge.
Edge took a camera, entered the ring as Undertaker looked at him dazed and confused, and bounced it off Undertaker’s skull. He then placed Undertaker’s head on the steel steps and hit his patented con-chair-to.
The rabid, rage infested Edge dragged Batista over Undertaker for the cover. The referee, powerless to stop it, had to count: 1, 2, 3!
This night wasn’t about Batista or The Undertaker etching his name in the record books as one would have expected; but it was all about “The Rated R Superstar” Edge.
After vacating his World Heavyweight Championship months ago, Edge returned and screwed The Undertaker yet again.
This would be the final singles match between The Undertaker and Batista for two whole years, and the dynamic between the two would be completely different by that point.
However, they would face off in a triple threat match the next month along with Edge for the World Heavyweight Championship. Edge would emerge that match victorious thanks to the debut of Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins, and then enter a hellacious rivalry with Undertaker in the months that followed.
A New Side of The Animal
“I’m going to rip your head off, Rey,” an exhausted Batista claimed to his friend Rey Mysterio, after a fatal-four way match where Mysterio had broken up his pin that would’ve made him the new World Heavyweight Champion.
“You think I’m kidding?” he asked.
“I’m tired of my best friend stabbing me in the back,” he continued, before nailing him with a vicious clothesline, which began a brutal attack on his now-former best friend.
This was a new Batista. A new animal had been unleashed.
On the following RAW, Batista claimed that Rey tried to embarrass him, so he decided to powerbomb Rey until the EMTs had to scrape him off a steel chair.
“Nobody disrespects me! Which is why I’m here to put everyone on notice that the World Heavyweight Championship is mine! The Undertaker is mine!” he demanded.
Batista would interfere in Undertaker’s SmackDown match with Chris Jericho by chop-blocking him in the knee during his attempted Tombstone, then assaulting him with a steel chair. Soon enough, Batista’s world title match with The Undertaker would become a chair’s match for that very reason.
Batista said everything about him screamed World Heavyweight Champion: the way he walked, the way he talked, the way he dominated inside the ring. And he was going to show the world that The Undertaker wasn’t all he was made out to be. In fact, when he looked into The Undertaker’s eyes, all he saw was fear.
Despite his talk, Batista was the one acting afraid. Even when Undertaker was going to call him out for a face-to-face confrontation, Batista opted to attack him from behind with a chair yet again. But, with the use of steel chairs legal in their match at the Tables, Ladder and Chairs pay-per-view, how was The Phenom going to stop this altered beast?
The bell sounded as Undertaker had his eyes glued on Batista, and we were off.
Batista immediately headed to the outside to grab a steel chair, but Undertaker placed his foot on it when Batista was ready to slide back inside the ring. He went to grab another, but Undertaker met him with a right hand to the face.
Batista scurried a bit, but Undertaker tracked him down to hit his spine with the cold, remorseless weapon. Batista, though, would grab The Undertaker and direct him back inside the ring. This caused Undertaker to enter before Batista, which allowed Undertaker to nail him with an unexpected clothesline.
Undertaker slammed his head into the turnbuckle and then resorted to his elite striking game to the abdomen of Batista. Next, he chopped down the big man’s knee and attacked him vertically while he was on the canvas.
With Batista back to his feet, Undertaker whipped him to the opposite side of the ring. Undertaker rushed the corner, possibly for a clothesline or splash, but Batista elbowed him away.
Batista rushed out of the corner to hit Undertaker with a clothesline. Undertaker powered out of the following pinfall at one.
On the mat, Undertaker yanked down the second rope to send Batista flying to the floor. There, he used both the chairs and steel steps to his advantage, but to no avail as Batista took control.
Matt Striker presumed on commentary that since Batista’s protein intake was more than The Undertaker, that his bones would be denser, causing the steel chair shots to hurt less. Would that theory be proven true on this night?
Undertaker tossed a chair inside the ring as Batista escorted him to the other side of the squared circle. He’d drive Undertaker spine-first into the ring apron—the hardest part of the ring.
Batista tried whipping Undertaker into the steel steps, but Undertaker reversed and sent him flying over the barricade into the timekeeper’s area.
Undertaker tossed two more chairs into the ring before going for a big boot over the barricade to Batista’s skull. However, Batista ducked, and Undertaker landed awkwardly atop the barricade.
Batista now attacked Undertaker with a chair. He chopped him down to size then used the chair to choke him with. Undertaker was nothing but a sitting duck, as Michael Cole put it.
He brutalized The Deadman on the outside, but Undertaker moved out of the way of a chair swing to his arm. The chair instead hit the ring post at full speed, stinging his hands.
Undertaker returned to striking the head of The Animal. He rolled him back inside and placed his head eerily on the apron. He booted him in the skull before scaling the apron and dropping his 300-pound frame on his throat.
Undertaker crawled underneath the bottom rope to go for a cover: 1, 2, no.
Undertaker readied Batista for Old School, but Batista thwarted it as he climbed the turnbuckles before nailing him with a superplex. Pinfall, 1, 2, no.
Batista placed a steel chair in the center of the ring, then positioned Undertaker for Batista Bomb. Undertaker however blocked the move, and instead hit a back body drop onto the chair.
The two giants exchanged heymakers, until Batista eventually won the exchange with a spinebuster. Cover, 1, 2, no.
Batista wedged a chair between the second and third turnbuckle on the left side of the ring. He wore down Undertaker with elbows and knees and whipped him across the ring. Unfortunately for Batista, Undertaker ducked his strikes and hit him with a clothesline.
Undertaker now went for Old School again, this time successfully. Out of the corner came Snake Eyes, then Batista shocked Undertaker with the spear. Cover, 1, 2: Undertaker got a shoulder up.
Batista methodically continued his offense, by hitting a spinebuster on Undertaker onto a steel chair. Undertaker’s head bounced off the steel as Batista called for his signature Batista Bomb. He went to scrape Undertaker off the mat, but Undertaker suddenly locked in Hell’s Gate!
Batista quickly faded away, but he luckily rolled into the ropes for a rope break.
Batista recombobulated himself on the outside with a chair in hand, so as Undertaker ducked underneath the ropes to pull the altered beast back in, he was blasted upside the skull with a chair shot.
The champion Undertaker was dire straights. He lifted himself up and barely dodged out of the way of Batista’s spear. Batista head would collide with the chair he’d wedged between the turnbuckles earlier in the match.
Batista walked into a clothesline. Cover, 1, 2, kickout.
Undertaker’s expression changed. He went from a man in trouble to a man looking to end a fight. He called for and promptly hit a chokeslam on Batista. Would Undertaker retain his title? 1, 2, no!
Undertaker’s lower lip curled in anger. He slashed his throat, signaling that the end was nearing. A Tombstone was ready to be delivered.
Batista, though, squirmed out and pushed Undertaker into the referee in the corner. With the referee oblivious, he low-blowed The Undertaker. And to finish him off, he dealt a steel chair chair shot to his skull. Cover; 1, 2, 3.
“Batista is the new World Heavyweight Champion!” Michael Cole shouted, with an underlying tone of anger in his voice.
Not so fast, however. SmackDown General Manager Theodore Long came out and explained while the use of steel chairs was legal, "blatant fouls" were strictly prohibited. Therefore, this match was to be restarted.
Undertaker rose as Batista rushed back into the ring for the restarted match. Batista approached him with a steel chair, but was met with a boot to the face.
Undertaker picked up the chair and crushed the spine of Batista. A second life, a resurrection, was all The Undertaker needed. Tombstone Piledriver! Cover, 1, 2, 3!
The wrong was now righted. The Undertaker was still the World Heavyweight Champion.
A rivalry that lasted nearly three years was ended decisively on this December night, as this was the final match these two would have against one another before Batista’s departure from the WWE early the following year.
The final score was Undertaker two, Batista one, in addition to three occasions where neither man emerged the victor. Since this time, The Undertaker’s legend has only grown and he has managed to extend his WrestleMania undefeated streak to 21-0.
With the final chapter written and the book likely closed forever, fans will look back on The Undertaker/Batista rivalry not for its promos, but for its matches. For the many physical, brutal and above all, epic encounters they delivered no matter the circumstance. The Undertaker versus Batista will forever be remembered as one of wrestling’s greatest rivalries.