WWE and the Art of PPV Posters (Part Two): The Undertaker
As you could see in part one*, the art of PPV posters went through a clear evolution. From the very basic to primitive art, we could see the first forms of artistic attempts and successes.
With the coming of The Undertaker also came a new breath in the look of WWE posters. As you will discover, The Undertaker was not only a phenom in the ring; he was also a phenom on posters and his gimmick has inspired some masterpieces.
Before we continue, please note that I have omitted the posters on which The Deadman is featured among other wrestlers, such as the one for Wrestlemania XII.
Now, let's take a ride with The Undertaker and watch him featured on PPV posters from 1991 to 2010.
Survivor Series 1991
This first poster featuring The Undertaker has more historical value than anything else; The Deadman is side-by-side with a living legend of the time. The poster is not looking bad, but it's not great artwork.
Only one year after his first match in WWE, The Undertaker was involved in his first WWE Championship match against none other than Hulk Hogan. The Phenom even got his first World Title reign; it only lasted six days, but history books will always remember his win over The Immortal and still count as one reign nonetheless.
Double vision! The Summerslam 1994 poster displays what was the main event: The Undertaker vs. The Undertaker. For those who don't remember or those who are too young, there were two Undertakers after the real one "died" at the previous Royal Rumble. Some time after he vanished, Ted DiBiase brought a fake Undertaker, but Paul Bearer brought back the real Deadman.
That led to a not very memorable match, but the promos were amazing and the poster reflects the story-line without great art as you can see. There's nothing outstanding about that poster but it was not looking bad at all.
And by the way, the other main event was Bret vs. Owen.
Survivor Series 1994
In probably his best year in WWE, The Undertaker was featured on another PPV poster, which was not a small achievement considering the fact there was only five major WWE shows in 1994.
The concept of that poster, without being very artistic, was interesting with its western movie style. Once again in the main event, The Undertaker sealed his feud with Yokozuna in a casket match, with Chuck Norris as guest enforcer. The other big match featured Bret Hart, who lost the WWE Title to Bob Backlund.
In Your House 11 : Buried Alive
In May 1995, the WWE came with a new concept and started to present minor PPV's between the major ones. With the In Your House shows, they also started to practice new concepts of PPV posters. As you can see on the October 1996 poster, there was a lot of innovation and I would even call this real art; it had an interesting horror movie poster style.
As you can see, in 1996, they were close from real artwork.
However, the In Your House cards could be weird; for example, HBK defended the WWE Title against Goldust... in a dark match. And, as suggested by the poster, The Undertaker faced Mankind in the main event.
Badd Blood: In Your House
That other In Your House, held in October 1997, introduced the first ever Hell In A cell match; HBK defeated The Undertaker because of interference from Kane, who was making his debut in WWE.
The promotional poster for this PPV was weird; it had some good color work, but I wonder what was the idea behind The Undertaker holding his head in his hands?
However Badd Blood will also be associated and remembered to be the day Brian Pillman had been found dead, in the afternoon before the event.
Unforgiven: In Your House
There is a lot of history in that poster; it was the first time the modern WWF logo had been put on a promotional item. That new logo style, introduced in 1998, is still in use today (without the letter "F" since they became WWE). On that poster, we also see a new evil Undertaker (who officially turned heel on the following RAW episode by starting his Ministry of Darkness).
Except for the first ever inferno match won by the Phenom over Kane, that PPV delivered few memorable moments.
Not many great posters in WWE history can brag to feature two of the biggest icons in the business; more than that, the poster is a masterpiece and the theme Highway to Hell is so well designed. This is great art with the great balance between colors and the giant wrestlers fighting in the destroyed city.
The main event of the show The Undertaker fought Stone Cold for the WWE Championship, and the other big battle was a ladder match between Triple H and The Rock for the Intercontinental Title. Summerslam 1998 will also be remembered as the first PPV match for Edge in WWE.
Judgment Day : In Your House
That PPV, held in October 1998, was one of the last In Your House events. The poster is not great art, but The Undertaker's evil character was greatly displayed and that makes it a kind of classic. As you can see, only the presence of the Phenom, even on a simple picture, can be intimidating and create a very decent poster.
Once again, The Undertaker headlined the show and battled Kane for the vacant WWE Title, but it ended in a controversial no-contest, when Steve Austin (as the guest referee) counted a double pinfall. In addition to that championship match, all other titles were on the line.
Over The Edge 1999
This poster is one of the best looking in WWE history. It's simple, but the artistic value is obviously there; the dark theme, with the gothic style writing and with The Undertaker's fading face effect, made something great overall.
More than for The Deadman's third WWE Title won against Stone Cold, that PPV will be remembered for the tragic death of Owen Hart.
Not a bad poster, but there's a little something exaggerated. The very interesting concept would work if they didn't take it too seriously and if there were no lightnings.
The Undertaker was meant to take part of the main event in a Six-Pack Challenge match for the vacant WWE Title, but he couldn't due to a groin injury; Triple H became the new champion by defeating Kane, The Rock, Big Show, Mankind and The British Bulldog (who replaced the Phenom).
A classic Undertaker PPV poster. Not outstanding, but a nice work with a good concept and a better than average overall look.
But The Undertaker was not part of the event and I have not found why; so, if anyone knows why, please let me know in comments. The card had nothing special to offer; for example, The Big Show successfully defended the WWE Championship against The Big Bossman, who was only the shadow of what he was in the '80s.
Not a very good PPV poster if we compare it to other pieces of work featuring The Undertaker or to the new artistic standards of the previous three years in WWE.
In the main event, The Rock retained the WWE Title by defeating Kane, The Undertaker and Chris Benoit in a Fatal Four-Way match.
That poster is a masterpiece. Amazing concept and artwork.
The main event featured the first and only six-man Hell In A Cell match; Kurt Angle emerged as the winner to retain the WWE Championship against The Undertaker, Rikishi, Steve Austin, The Rock and Triple H.
Judgment Day 2002
Another classic poster featuring The Undertaker. Great logo and a good artwork overall, but not the most memorable.
At this event, The Undertaker defeated Hulk Hogan to win the WWE Undisputed Championship. In addition, Edge started to solidify his legacy in singles competition by defeating Kurt Angle.
The poster designers probably did not have a lot of time to create this one. I would not say it hurts the eyes when looking at it, but it's simply a bad promotion item; fortunately the PPVs don't solely count on posters to sell events because, otherwise, that one would be a huge financial failure.
That Smackdown-exclusive show's main event was a Triple Threat match for the WWE Title; Kurt Angle retained against Brock Lesnar and Big Show. The undercard featured The Undertaker winning against John Cena.
Judgment Day 2004
A good piece of artwork. Great concept overall with one of the best PPV logos. It was good to see The Undertaker back to his Deadman gimmick; it adds a little something to the posters.
JBL and Eddie Guerrero were part of the main event match for the WWE Title and The Undertaker defeated Booker T earlier in the evening.
Survivor Series 2005
Another great looking poster with The Undertaker's unique style. The fog and the shadow-form of the Phenom made a good poster, despite he was not scheduled for the show.
The Deadman however made his return when he emerged from a burning casket to say "hi" to Randy Orton, who had set him on fire in a sealed casket six weeks before.
No Way Out 2007
This classic Undertaker-style poster got a good look; it was not great art, but it delivered the PPV's theme pretty well.
That edition of No Way Out looked more like a filler before Wrestlemania 23; being the last brand-exclusive PPV was the most important fact.
One of The Undertaker's trademark PPVs came with its traditional style poster. Not bad and not good.
The Undertaker defeated Mark Henry in the SmackDown main event and Randy Orton defeated John Cena in the Raw main event.
A vintage PPV poster. That Undertaker picture is one of the most popular on the web, and no wonder why. It's simple, but the concept and the colors are awesome.
The Undertaker retained the World Heavyweight Title he won at Wrestlemania 24 against Edge in a rematch. In the other main event, Triple H won the WWE Championship against Orton, Cena and JBL in a Fatal Four-Way match.
Hell In A Cell 2009
That poster simply showed what was to be expected from that PPV, with no great artistic value. Nothing else worth a mention.
As the title suggests, the main event matches were all Hell In A cell matches. The Undertaker defeated CM Punk and Orton defeated Cena; the two major titles changed hands on that night. In the other main event, The legacy went on the losing losing end against DX.
Take a look at this 2005 Batman's movie then go take a look to the next and last Undertaker's PPV poster. It's weird.
The creators of this poster can't deny they have been influenced by the movie Batman Begins. Actually I'm not even sure if it was meant to be the official Backlash 2010 poster because the show had been replaced by Extreme Rules on the usual PPVs schedule (the one right after Wrestlemania). The WWE officials have not told why Backlash has been canceled and if the event would come back.
That being said, back to the topic: despite its huge resemblance with the movie poster, this one looks great nonetheless. If it was the last Backlash poster, I hope it was not the last one featuring The Undertaker.
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Well, that's all for now. Stay tuned for the Part Three of the slideshow series and don't forget to take a look to the Part One if you haven't done so yet :