Hello, B/R members, welcome to another creature vs. creature article covering the best rivalries to ever occur in pro-wrestling history.
Throughout the history of professional wrestling, we witnessed numerous rivalries that shaped the wrestling organizations for years.
Being a big fan of the Undertaker, I decided to be part of this competition by choosing one of his feuds.
I decided to choose a rivalry that always gives me the nostalgic feeling when remembering it.
How about a rivalry that involved brutal and bloody matches? Breathtaking and unforgettable "oh my" moments? How about a rivalry that involved betrayals, surprises, exciting outside brawls and exchanged mind games?
All these factors did gather in one rivalry that is easily remembered, but deliberately forgotten by fans. A rivalry that included things happening for the first time. A rivalry where superstars fought anywhere and anytime. A rivalry that lead to arguably the most popular and controversial match in the history of WWE. A rivalry that established a new hardcore superstar. A rivalry that can be best described as bizarre and crazy.
The Dead Man faced numerous opponents and was involved in many rivalries throughout his long career.
Kane is said to be his biggest nemesis and I can't disagree here due to the history of their rivalry and mystery surrounding it.
HBK is another tough opponent who faced Undertaker. We all witnessed some epic battles between the two.
Both superstars were considered as great competitors. However, they weren't Undertaker's toughest opponents.
Undertaker had one rivalry that made him look different for the first time ever. A rivalry where the Phenom had to face an equally insane creature like him for the first time in his career. A superstar who was the first to make Undertaker show pain and seem vulnerable (sorry Kane, sorry HBK). A superstar who was the first to match Undertaker physically and mentally. A superstar who wasn't affected by mind games and physical tortures. A superstar who is considered as the toughest opponent to ever face the Undertaker.
The rivalry I decided to cover for this competition is none other than one of the most popular feuds in WWE, Undertaker vs. Mankind (Mick Foley).
This was one of my favorite rivalries that I grew up watching.
I'll try to write a recap about this rivalry, and at the end, I'll explain why I chose it in particular.
The story of this rivalry
It all began on the night after Wrestlemania XII. Undertaker has just come out of a hard fought battle against Diesel (Kevin Nash) where he was able to improve his Wrestlemania streak to 5-0.
During this night, a strange individual who lives in boiler rooms, speaks with rats, physically abuses himself (bashes himself and pulls his hair) and enjoys the pain, made his debut. He was a masked creature with a weird looking body. That was none other than Mankind.
He easily defeated Bob Holly (now known as Hardcore Holly), unveiling a weird new finishing maneuver called the Mandible Claw.
Later that night, Undertaker was in the middle of a match against Justin "Hawk" Bradshaw (now known as JBL). During the match, Mankind interfered and brutally attacked the Dead Man.
For the next weeks, Mankind went on attacking Undertaker backstage and in locker rooms on numerous occasions thus becoming his biggest nightmare. Things between the two reached their climax during the Phenom's Casket match against Goldust for the Intercontinental Championship at In Your House 8: Be Ware of Dog (1996).
During the match, Undertaker opened the Casket just to find Mankind inside. Mankind came out and locked-in the Mandible Claw on Taker and put him in the casket and shut it costing him the match and title. Of course, the Dead Man didn't let this end without playing his usual mind games as he wasn't found in the casket when the referees and Paul Bearer opened it.
This led to the first official match between the two superstars at King of the Ring (1996). This was a brutal match that lasted more than 18 minutes. During the match, Taker had hard times with the insane individual who refused to go down and at certain moments enjoyed the beating.
Just when the Dead Man seemed to be heading to victory, Mankind reversed the Tombstone Pelidriver into a Mandible Claw. Paul Bearer tried to hit Mankind with the urn, but he accidentally hit Taker instead. Mankind applied another Mandible Claw and Undertaker was out. YES! The Dead Man passed out! Mankind won via knockout!
In the following week, Mankind continued interfering in Undertaker's matches leading to numerous brawls between the two in backstage areas, boiler rooms and even between the crowds.
This led the second match between the two at Summerslam (1996). It was a Boiler Room Brawl. The rules of the match were to escape the arena's boiler room and reach the ring to take the urn from Paul Bearer.
That was another creepy and brutal match. Both superstars used all kinds of weapons and suffered numerous drops on the concrete. At the end, Undertaker was able to reach Bearer and appeared to have won. Surprisingly, Bearer refused to give him the urn.
Next, Mankind attacked Taker, and Bearer shockingly hit the Dead Man with the urn before handing it to Mankind. Yes! Paul Bearer turned on the Dead Man, and he's now Mankind's new manager! After the match, druids came out and carried the Undertaker away.
However, the Dead Man never gave up and he went on to play mind games with the new duo for the following weeks. In the end, he was found in a casket during Mankind's match against HBK at In your House 10: Mind Games (1996) where he came out and attacked him.
Was Mankind the toughest opponent to ever face the Undertaker?
This led to the third match between the two at In Your House 11: Buried Alive (1996). It was the first ever Buried Alive match.
As usual, it was another brutal match. This time, Undertaker was able to win and bury his opponent. After the match, Undertaker continued to bury Mankind until the "Executioner" attacked him and pulled Mankind out of the grave.
Next, Paul Bearer, Mankind and the "Executioner" buried the Undertaker with the help of Goldust, HHH, Crush and Justin "Hawk" Bradshaw.
Just when Taker seemed to be gone for good, a lightning bolt hit the grave and Taker's hand came out of the grave. The Undertaker is still alive!
Once Mankind thought he's now finished with the Undertaker, the Dead Man returned and started playing his usual mind games to scare Mankind. This lead to their fourth match at Survivor Series (1996).
Paul Bearer was put in a steel cage and hanged above the ring to prevent him from interfering. After another hard fought battle, Undertaker was able to hit the tombstone and win.
The "Executioner" attacked the Undertaker after the match and the two had a brief feud where Mankind couldn't back himself from interfering during their match. Taker was able to beat the "Executioner" in the end.
After this, Undertaker was able to capture his second WWE (then WWF) Title at Wrestlemania XIII against Sycho Sid and improve the streak to 6-0.
One week later, Mankind attacked the Undertaker again, and this time he set his eyes on the World Title. I even remember Mankind burning Undertaker with a fireball.
The fifth match between the two occurred at In your House 14: Revenge of the Taker (1997), and it was for the WWE (WWF) Championship.
This match was another intense match where both superstars used chairs, glasses and steel steps. During the match, two referees were knocked off. In the end, Undertaker was able to grab the victory and finally put himself ahead in this rivalry. After the match, Undertaker attacked Bearer with a fireball.
The feud seemed to end after this match as each superstar went to have different stories which, unfortunately, I won't discuss here.
However, one year later, Mankind renewed the rivalry again. Just like the previous times, he interfered in the Dead Man's match and cost him the battle. After this, a Hell in a Cell match was set at King of the Ring (1998).
This match is considered as one of the most popular, controversial and brutal matches ever in the history of WWE.
What is the best word to describe this feud?
During the match, Undertaker threw Mankind off the top of the cell and sent him crashing through the Spanish announce table. That was a ridiculous moment to say the least. I can't forget how JR was shouting, "GOOD GOD ALMIGHTY! GOOD GOD ALMIGHTY! THEY'VE KILLED HIM! AS GOD AS MY WITNESS, HE'S BROKEN IN HALF!"
This wasn't over. Mankind was able to stand and climb back to the top and resume the match. And during the battle, Taker chokeslammed Mankind through the roof of the cell right into the ring. Again, Foley amazingly continued the match and even brought thumbtacks to the ring.
In the end, Taker was able to hit the chokeslam and tombstone for the win.
Reasons for choosing this rivalry
What can be said about this rivalry? Why do you think I chose it? Why do you think I consider it as the best rivalry ever?
Even though I made it clear in the introduction, but I'll try to briefly explain why I consider this as the best rivalry.
First, this feud involved many types of matches like singles, hardcore, boiler room brawl, buried alive and hell in a cell.
This was one of the few rivalries where anything happened anytime and anywhere.
Whenever you see one of those superstars you would expect a brawl to break-out any second. Both superstars interfered in each others matches. Fights between the two occurred anywhere whether in locker rooms, backstage areas or even between the crowds, and not only in matches.
All matches were brutal and savage to say the least. At certain moments, you could have a feeling that those two individuals had personal issues and that they were going to kill each others in the end. I really wish I could cover all matches in details but this will take me forever.
I used the word bizarre because this is the least I can say to describe the matches in this feud. Their Boiler Room Brawl, Buried Alive and Hell in a Cell were bizarre to say the least.
In fact, every match in this feud was bizarre as both superstars used different types of weapons, and fought inside and outside the ring.
You never knew who was going to win. Anything was expected to happen during their bouts.
Honestly speaking, both superstars had bizarre gimmicks.
In this rivalry, Undertaker showed pain for the first time ever. Undertaker was put out for the first time ever. Undertaker faced an opponent who didn't care for mind games and physical abuses and even enjoyed them for the first time ever. Undertaker looked beatable for the first time ever.
In summary, Undertaker faced an opponent who took him to the limit and who was equally weird and creepy for the first time ever. Undertaker looked different for the first time ever.
Yes, Mankind was the first opponent to challenge the Undertaker's mind games and physical endurance and even beat him at certain moments. The Dead Man couldn't go through this creepy creature's mind and couldn't put him down because he already enjoyed physical abuses.
To put it in one simple sentence, Mankind was the first to stand in Undertaker's face mentally and physically. This was obvious in their matches.
Both superstars played mind games and physically abused each other.
As I mentioned in the introduction, this rivalry had surprises too.
Paul Bearer turned on Undertaker for the first time ever after years of managing him.
Undertaker was buried alive for the first time ever in his career in the first ever Buried Alive match.
The Hell in a Cell match witnessed two jaw-dropping moments when Mankind fell off the roof of the cell. This established him as a hardcore legend.
This match is one of the most popular matches in WWE history. Any wrestling fan knows about this match even if he/she has little info about WWE history.
I can go all day long explaining how Mankind was the first to make Undertaker show his human side and how this feud had many brutal matches and spots, but I'll stop here because I think I made my point clear by now.
For me, this feud is one the most brutal and most controversial feuds ever. It was a special and one of a kind rivalry between two crazy superstars.
That's it for now, folks. I hope I was able to convince you with my points here.
All thoughts and comments are welcome. I'll be glad if you have a look at the polls and vote.
You can watch parts of the matches here: