Wrestlemania XXVI is around the corner and I am sure that you, like me, cannot wait any longer for the rematch to take place. The first match at WM25 is considered a modern day classic and don't be fooled, it's not a modern day classic. It's a classic, period. Color commentator Jim Ross has a tendency to throw the word 'classic' too often but for once, he is absolutely spot on. In ten slides, let us revisit this epic encounter between HBK and The Undertaker.
Note: This slideshow is created for educational purposes.
After a series of punches, Undertaker tosses HBK around like a sack of potatoes and The Heartbreak Kid, defiant as always, manages to catch his balance and ask The Undertaker to "Suck It."
After a back and forth start and an early advantage from HBK who had attempted to make The Undertaker submit to the figure four leglock, The Undertaker countered HBK's second attempt at the figure four with his Gogoplata hold. What makes this sequence special to me, is HBK's desperation to get out of the hold. Look at how HBK has his legs jump towards the ropes.
If I had one advice to Shawn Michaels entering Wrestlemania 26, it'd be not to attempt a moonsault. Two out of two attempts at Wrestlemania 25 failed miserably. In this first attempt, Taker ducks out of the way and flings Michaels towards the ground.
This shot here is one of my favorite of the match. It shows both man exhausted from the match with both HBK and The Undertaker struggling to get to their feet. Four slides in with so much happening and it's not even half-time yet!
I have watched this match SIX times and I still get scared for The Undertaker each time I see this match. We all know what happened to Brock Lesnar after he botched his Shooting Star Press and one second delay in the dummy camera man's reaction and Taker could have landed on his neck!
Luck or precision, this stunt from The Undertaker is truly one of the many Holy Sh*t moments of this epic encounter. If you have heard the audio, the thud must have given you a few chills!
This sequence has to be one of the most dramatic count-out sequences ever and a lot of it has to do with the 'acting' from Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker. Anyone who said that wrestlers make bad actors, show them this match and make them eat their hearts out. Consider that both these men only have one shot throughout this whole match to deliver the right moves and facial notes, these men deserve two Emmy Awards!
After Taker's leap of faith, Shawn Michaels hauls the referee back to the match and asks him to count Taker out. Taker slips at EIGHT and barely makes it at NINE. Shawn Michaels on his knees begging for the referee to hasten his count made for some top notch drama.
After barely making it into the ring in time, The Undertaker got on his feet, anticipated Shawn Michaels' Sweet Chin Music and countered it with a Chokeslam. Michaels kicked out at two, got up and gave The Undertaker some Sweet Chin Music.
The Undertaker recovered and gave Shawn Michaels The Last Ride and a Tombstone Piledriver. Count the number of finishers and near finishers in that five minute sequence. You'd think the match would be over with 1.......2.......
...NO! Shawn Michaels kicked out. And the screenshot above was The Undertaker's reaction.
Priceless, isn't it?
Jim Ross said that he had witnessed some of the most amazing and innovative counters and reversals in this match in his commentary. He was right.
The Undertaker couldn't believe that Shawn Michaels had kicked out from the Tombstone (from the previous slide) and attempted to deliver another Tombstone. Shawn Michaels had other ideas and countered it with a DDT. The delivery wasn't pretty but even I couldn't nitpick after what I had just witnessed from these two battered bodies.
Shawn Michaels recovered from the DDT with his own flurry of attack. A diving elbow and another Sweet Chin Music and it looked like Michaels had the advantage when he climbed up the top rope for a moonsault. Only to leap right into a Tombstone.
That DDT reversal from an attempted Tombstone and this moonsault counter into a Tombstone. It cannot get better than this!
The Undertaker goes for the pin and......
If there ever was a Wrestlemania that was hyped around one match, it is WM26. As stacked as the card is, I do not care about the other matches. This match is what WM 26 is all about. The drama created by the Retirement stipulation makes it even more unpredictable - Taker's streak v Michael's career.
If this Sunday's match is as good as this classic encounter, we'd be in for a treat and a half!