WWE WrestleMania 27: The Undertaker's Top 20 PPV Events Ever
Hello, B/R members, Buzz is finally back.
We're already in the official week leading to the grand daddy of sports entertainment, WrestleMania 27. We've been treated to many rivalries in the past few months, and I guess it's up to you to judge the buildups of those feuds.
Moving on, Undertaker's streak will be a major part of this year's event as it has been for the last decade. This time he'll be facing the Game, Triple H, for the second time after their first encounter at the famous WrestleMania 17.
Even though I'm a huge fan of the Undertaker, I find myself unexcited for his match for the first time in years. I'm sure the match will end up being good, but the buildup was certainly missing many things. As someone who followed most of the Dead Man's rivalries and the buildups they had, I can easily say that this rivalry has definitely been lacking the "Undertaker" effect since the moment he returned on 2/21/11.
I'll be fair and say that the last promo on RAW might have made it interesting again, but the overall buildup could be questioned.
I had some plans for an article about the coming event, but B/R wrestling section is full of WrestleMania preview and prediction articles right now and I think that all writers are doing a good job.
Therefore, I decided to write something different instead. Since Undertaker's matches has become essential parts of WrestleMania, I decided to rank his top 20 PPV events in his career.
Before I go on, let me say that I'm not ranking the Phenom's best PPV matches ever. It's more about 'Taker's best PPV moments and achievements. I know that many people might not agree with the entire list but I tried my best to include several moments from his entire career and not only focus on one era. I apologize beforehand if I forgot any event.
All said and done, let the show begin.
Best PPV Returns and Moments
I remember that Undertaker had many returns in his career, and as I watched them, I noticed that some of them were great. I also remember some other moments where he used to scare other superstars. However, I couldn't include them in the list due to the fact that Undertaker wasn't part of most of those PPVs.
Therefore, I decided to make this honorable mention slide to remember them.
SummerSlam (2009): Undertaker returns and chokeslams CM Punk.
Royal Rumble (2006): Undertaker scares Kurt Angle.
Survivor Series (2005): Undertaker returns and goes after Randy Orton.
In Your House 6 (1996): Undertaker bursts from under the ring and grabs Diesel.
In Your House 14: Revenge of the Taker (1997): Undertaker burns Paul Bearer's face.
WrestleMania XV: Undertaker hangs Big Boss Man
Judgement Day (2000): The debut of the American Bad Ass (I wanted to add this to the list, but I thought it's unfair to include a short moment even though he debuted a new character at that time).
20. Survivor Series (1990): The Official Debut of "Cain" the Undertaker
Undertaker made his official on-screen debut on November 22, 1990 at Survivor Series as "Cain the Undertaker." He was revealed as the mystery partner of Ted Dibiase's Million Dollar Team that was facing the Dream Team.
He eliminated Koko B. Ware in less than two minutes using his famous Tombstone Piledriver. He also eliminated Dusty Rhodes. However, he was eliminated after being counted out. "Cain" was dropped from his name shortly after, and he was called the Undertaker.
I included this PPV in the list because it marked the beginning of Undertaker's long and successful career. But I don't think it should be ranked higher.
I believe that this is a fair ranking here. I'm sure that anybody watching at that time never expected Undertaker to become one of WWE's biggest stars. The fact that he adopted an unbelievable and cartoon-like character might have made people believe this won't work for long and that 'Taker will end up being a joke.
However, here we are in 2011. More than 20 years have passed since his debut and Undertaker is now considered as one of WWE's top superstars. I guess that Mark Calaway did a fantastic job with this gimmick as he made it look special. I'm sure that it wouldn't have continued for all those years had it not been successful.
Click here to watch his debut.
19. Survivor Series (1995): The Darksides vs. the Royals
Overall, that wasn't a special match. People who remember this match might not find it interesting. However, Undertaker did put a good performance. In fact, he eliminated three out of the four competitors all by himself. The match also included two superstars who would become huge forces later.
Before this match, Undertaker was recovering from an injury that kept him out for months. He returned on this PPV wearing a mask.
The match was between the Dark Side team (Undertaker, Savio Vega, Fatu and Henry Godwinn) vs. the Royals (King Mabel, Jerry Lawler, Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Isaac Yankem).
The match ended in less than 15 minutes after Team Undertaker eliminated all the other opponents without having anybody eliminated from their team. It was a flawless and somehow a squash match. Undertaker eliminated Lawler, Yankem and Helmsley consecutively before Mabel was counted out.
Apart from this match, take a look at the some of the superstars available here. Most of the these superstars were repackaged and introduced with new gimmicks.
Fatu is the superstar who was later known as Rikishi.
Mabel was the King of the Ring winner at that time, and he's the superstar who later became Viscera (Big Daddy V later).
Hunter Hearst Helmsley is now known as simply HHH. At that time he was skinnier and he was squashed by Undertaker. Who would have thought that those two would be meeting after 16 years in a hugely hyped match at WrestleMania?
As for Isaac Yankem, he's none other than the Big Red Machine, Kane. At that time he had the role of Jerry Lawler's special dentist.
Here are parts of the match (part 2 and part 3 has all the eliminations):
18. WrestleMania 13: Undertaker vs. Sycho Sid for the WWE Championship
This wasn't a great match by any means. But I added it because Undertaker was able to win his second ever WWE Championship after waiting for six years. That's why I added this event here. It's definitely a good moment for the Dead Man and it was his first ever title win at 'Mania.
The victory wasn't easy though, and it was the distraction of Bret Hart to Sid that helped 'Taker win in the end and improve his WrestleMania record to 6-0.
Click here to see the ending of the match.
17. SummerSlam (1994): Undertaker vs. Undertaker
That match wasn't good in wrestling terms. But the buildup leading towards it was great.
After Royal Rumble 1994, Undertaker was out for a while. Ted Dibiase, however, introduced a fake Undertaker at WrestleMania 10 claiming that this is the real 'Taker and that he has brought him back.
He went on doing this for weeks as he controlled him with money instead of the urn.
Paul Bearer, however, interrupted him and accused him of lying and claimed that he spotted the real Undertaker. The whole buildup was based on spotting where the Undertaker is.
SummerSlam arrived and the real Undertaker returned with a new attire. Actually, it was similar to his original one but with purple gloves and boots instead of gray.
In the end, the real Dead Man won after hitting three tombstones on the impostor 'Taker. After the match, Undertaker locked the impostor in a casket that was carried away by druids.
As I said, the match wasn't really that good but the buildup was great.
16. Unforgiven: In Your House (1998): Undertaker vs. Kane (Inferno Match)
That was the first ever inferno match in WWE's history. The match wasn't bad by any means and there was no clear dominant in this contest. Undertaker applied some of his old school moves especially the arm twist ropewalk chop as the flames shot higher. Paul Bearer tried to help Kane during the match by tossing a chair into the ring.
Both superstars tried to set each other on fire and they were close on numerous occasions. The action even spilled outside the ring too. At a certain moment, Kane seemed to be leaving the arena, but Vader entered and both superstars fought at ringside. Undertaker had other thoughts, though, and he performed his over the rope suicide dive on both men.
In the end, Undertaker was able to win after setting Kane's arm on fire.
Click here to watch highlights from this match (I apologize for the music).
15. In Your House 11: Buried Alive (1996): Undertaker vs. Mankind
This was the first ever buried alive match. During that time, Mankind (Mick Foley) was involved in one of WWE's most brutal feuds ever against the Undertaker.
Prior to this PPV, Mankind was undefeated against Undertaker in their previous matches. This time, however, Undertaker was able to win.
After the match, 'Taker continued burying Mankind before he was attacked by the "Executioner" who pulled Mankind out of the grave.
Both superstars went on to bury 'Taker with the help of Paul Bearer. Goldust, HHH, Crush and Justin "Hawk" Bradshaw joined the gentlemen and helped them for no particular reason (ask them why they did this, IWC, instead of asking Nexus why they helped Kane at Bragging Rights).
Of course, it's rare to watch an Undertaker match ending without a dramatic moment. As people watched in pain how Undertaker disappeared under the dirt, a lightning bolt hit the grave and 'Taker's hand came out of the grave sending a message that he's still alive and will be back soon.
14. Judgment Day (2002): Big Evil vs. Hulk Hogan for the WWE Championship
Undertaker won his first ever WWE Title at Survivor Series 1991 against Hulk Hogan. 11 years later, 'Taker found himself facing Hulk Hogan for the WWE Title again at Judgment Day 2002.
Ironically, Undertaker was heel in both matches. This time, however, he was portraying the Big Evil gimmick which was the second edition of the biker gimmick he debuted at Judgment Day 2000 (the first edition was the American Bad Ass).
Undertaker was able to win in the end after interference by Vince McMahon who distracted Hogan. Big Evil brutally punished Hogan after the match with painful chair shots.
It's interesting to notice that Undertaker's first ever WWE Title win was against Hogan, and his last WWE Title win to date was also against Hogan. And the more interesting thing is the fact that he received a good reaction from the crowd on both occasions after his win despite being heel.
Here are links to the match:
13. Royal Rumble (1994): Undertaker vs. Yokozuna (Casket Match)
Yokuzuna was one of WWE's top heels in the 1990s. However, in this match, Undertaker dominated the big man who couldn't put the Dead Man down. Just when it seemed that 'Taker was going win, Mr. Fuji revealed his plans.
Crush, The Great Kabuki, Genichiro Tenryu and Bam Bam Bigelow stormed the ring and prevented 'Taker from closing the casket. Undertaker was able to overcome the odds (in your face, Cena) and clear the ring.
But the things became harder for the Dead Man when Mr. Fuji stole the urn from Paul Bearer and opened it. Furthermore, Adam Bomb, Jeff Jarrett, Samu, Fatu and Diesel joined the match to help Yokozuna.
In the end, Undertaker suffered brutal beatings and finishers and all 10 superstars eventually locked him in the casket.
Moments later, lights went off and smoke came out of the casket. Undertaker appeared on the titantron and uttered the following:
"Be not proud. The Spirit of The Undertaker lives within the soul of all mankind. The eternal flame of life that cannot be extinguished. The origin of which cannot be explained. The answer lies in the everlasting spirit. Soon all mankind will witness the rebirth of The Undertaker. I will not Rest In Peace."
Next, Undertaker's body rose and disappeared in the ceiling.
Watching this as a kid back then, it was a freaking moment to say the least.
Click here to watch the highlights of this match.
12. WrestleMania XX: Undertaker vs. Kane (the Return of the Deadman)
This match wasn't as good as their first match at WrestleMania 14. However, it did have a very special moment.
Undertaker was out for several months prior to this PPV after Kane helped Vince McMahon bury him alive at Survivor Series 2003.
Since then, Undertaker was never seen. However, he started playing mind games on Kane few weeks before the Royal Rumble. Those games went on until the biggest event of the year finally arrived.
In a very memorable return, Paul Bearer's freaking voice was heard first as he appeared after years of hiatus from WWE. Next, druids came in and set the stage ready for the return of the Dead Man. As soon as the gong hit, the crowd went crazy, and when Undertaker appeared, he received a huge ovation from the fans.
That entrance wasn't new to be honest as we saw it before in 1998. But the special moment about it was simply the return of the Dead Man character.
After four years of portraying the biker character, 'Taker returned with his Dead Man gimmick. It was obvious from the crowd's reaction how glad they were to see it back. The biker was a refreshing character. It was needed for the sake of change. But in the end, it ran its course and it had to end.
As I said, the crowd's reaction was very loud. In the end, Undertaker defeated his brother after hitting a chokeslam followed by a tombstone.
Click here to watch the entrance.
11. WrestleMania XIV: Undertaker vs. Kane
If we talk about this match in terms of buildup, it was perfect. It's rare to see matches that have months of buildups leading to them. And it's also rare to have such a long buildup that never gets boring.
Kane made his debut in 1997 and cost his brother, the Undertaker a match against HBK. The Big Red Monster was introduced by Paul Bearer after revealing the secret behind him. The story said that Undertaker caused a fire that killed his family including his young brother a long time ago. However, Kane didn't die and he was raised by Paul Bearer himself.
Since his debut, Kane caused a lot of trouble for Undertaker who refused to fight him at first. However, Kane took things a bit too far. At Royal Rumble 1998, Undertaker was facing HBK in a casket match. Kane interfered and cost 'Taker the match again. This time, he locked his brother in the coffin and set it on fire.
This led to their match at WrestleMania 14. Undertaker returned on RAW few weeks before the event.
At WrestleMania, Undertaker made his way to the ring in arguably his best entrance ever. The match was brutal and Kane dominated 'Taker in numerous parts of the match. The Dead Man had to hit three tombstones in order to keep his twisted brother down.
As I said, this match had great buildup and a great storyline. It's rare to see such buildups these days. And watching Kane now makes me feel sorry for him and miss his old days.
Watch the promo leading to this event here.
Click here for the highlights.
10. One Night Stand (2008): Undertaker vs. Edge (TLC)
Well, this might not be a great moment for Undertaker himself as it's obvious he wasn't having fun here. However, several interesting factors accompanied this match.
First, this TLC match was a career threatening match for the Dead Man. At this time, Edge was the leader of the La Familia stable. Furthermore, he was Vickie Guerrero's boyfriend (kayfabe) who was then-SmackDown's general manager. Of course, we all remember how she abused her powers at that time.
The stipulations of this match were if Undertaker loses, he'll have to leave WWE. I guess nobody expected to see Undertaker lose and leave at that time.
The match was brutal. Both men took huge bumps. During the bout, all Familia members interfered and for a moment, it became a five-on-one handicap match. This was too much for the Undertaker, but he still managed to overcome the odds.
However, everything he did was not enough for him to win the match. In the closing moments of the contest, Undertaker was about to make it to the title before Edge stood up and pushed the ladder and sent 'Taker crashing through four tables. That was one of the sickest falls I've ever seen in WWE, and it reminded me of HBK's fall during his match against HHH at Armageddon (2002).
The fans were shocked to see the Dead Man lose and leave WWE. As the show was closing, Undertaker stood up and walked out of the arena. Surprisingly, he literally shed a tear as he left.
Click here for highlights of the match.
9. SummerSlam (2008): Undertaker vs. Edge (Hell in a Cell)
Undertaker didn't wait long for his revenge. After chaos occurred between Vickie Guerrero and Edge, she punished him by reinstating Undertaker and putting both men in a Hell in a Cell match at SummerSlam. This was one of the first major matches in the PG era.
It wasn't a bad match, though. In fact, it was one of Undertaker and Edge's best matches ever. I'm not someone who likes seeing blood, but I can't deny that it was missed in this match considering how brutal it was.
In the end, the Phenom was able to beat Edge following a tombstone piledriver. After the match, 'Taker grabbed an unconscious Edge up the ladder and chokeslammed him through the ring down to hell. Yep, you're reading this right. Anyway, let's move on.
Click here for the highlights of this match.
8. WrestleMania 23: Undertaker vs. Batista for the World Heavyweight Title
This was one of Undertaker's best WrestleMania matches and maybe Batista's best match ever. As soon as the match started, Batista speared the Undertaker and the action started crazily. Overall, the match exceeded all expectations and turned out to be a great contest. Undertaker was able to win after hitting his signature Tombstone.
I ranked the PPV a bit high because this was Undertaker's first ever World Heavyweight Championship win, and his fifth World Title overall. Moreover, this title win came after five years since his last Word Title reign.
Click here for the highlights.
7. WrestleMania XXIV: Undertaker vs. Edge for the World Heavyweight Championship
I know what you're saying. Another match against Edge? But to be honest, prior to Undertaker's matches against Shawn Michaels at WM 25 and 26, I considered this match as 'Taker's best WrestleMania match ever.
Even though the action started a bit slow, the match got its fair time and we were able to witness one of the best WrestleMania main events ever. At a certain point, Edge made us feel that he was going to end the streak as he countered every single move by the Phenom.
In the end, Undertaker was able to win after he making the Ultimate Opportunist tap out to the Hell's Gate. This was 'Taker's fifth World Title win, and the match remains as one of the most underrated WrestleMania matches ever.
Check the highlights of the match here.
6. Survivor Series (1991): Undertaker Wins His First Ever WWE Championship
Everything that happens for the first time will always be special. Undertaker debuted on Survivor Series 1990. One year later, he was able to defeat Hulk Hogan and win his first ever WWE Championship and thus he became the youngest champion ever at that time.
It doesn't matter how good or bad the match was as long as you end up winning your first title ever.
Anyway, the match wasn't bad as Undertaker showed Hogan that it's hard to put him down. But let's face it, that was still Hogan. In the end, he was able to make his powerful comeback and hit his signature punches. Just when it seemed that Hulk was heading towards victory, Paul Bearer distracted him and prevented him from hitting his leg-drop.
Undertaker was able to recover and perform his tombstone piledriver for the win. 'Taker dropped Hogan on a chair that was tossed in by Ric Flair. I guess that Hogan would have kicked out hadn't it not been for the chair.
As I said, a first time World Title win is always special. Unfortunately for the Dead Man, however, he only held the title for six days before he dropped it back to Hogan.
Watch the highlights here.
5. in Your House: Badd Blood (1997): Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels (HIAC)
For me, this was Undertaker's best match ever. Many people like the WrestleMania matches more and I can't argue with them. But this was the first ever Hell in a Cell match, and it did set high standards for all future cell matches.
During this match, Undertaker brutally punished the Heart Break Kid. Unlike their WrestleMania matches, hatred and despise were huge parts of their battle here.
This match also featured Kane's unforgettable debut. Just when 'Taker seemed to be heading towards the win, his twisted brother made his debut, ripped off the cell door and gave the Dead Man a tombstone. HBK, who was barely moving, covered Undertaker for the win.
This match was given a five-star rating by Dave Meltzer.
I could have ranked it higher than this, but after all, 'Taker lost the match. Maybe if this was a list of Undertaker's best matches, I would have ranked this at number one.
Click here to watch the highlights of this match.
Click here to watch Kane's debut.
4. Royal Rumble (2007): Undertaker Wins the Rumble Match
For 17 years, it seemed that Undertaker has done it all in this business. However, there was still one thing missing in his resume. That was a Royal Rumble win.
It was an interesting fact that most superstars from his generation (Bret Hart, HBK, HHH, Rock, Stone Cold) have won Rumble matches in the past while he didn't.
However, Undertaker was finally able to win the Rumble match in 2007. Not only this, but he also became the first ever superstar to win the match as the 30th and last entrant.
The best part of the match came when the final two were none other than HBK and 'Taker. This was their first encounter in nine years.
Undertaker won after avoiding a superkick by Michaels who went over the top rope and got eliminated.
Click here to watch the final moments of the match.
3. WrestleMania XXVI: Streak vs Career Match
That was Shawn Michael's final match, and it was their second WrestleMania match following their previous match one year earlier.
The majority believes that the first encounter was the better one and I can't disagree with them here. For me, I wasn't really excited about this match when it was first announced. I asked myself prior to the match, is there anything left to do that hasn't been done in their first battle?
Of course, I expected it to be another great match, and the addition of the streak vs. career made it more interesting. The emotion surrounding this match was unforgettable. I think it was painful for the fans to watch HBK's career end, but that's how things go in life.
The ending of the match was great as both superstars shook hands and embraced. The emotions in this match and the respect are what made it high on this list.
Watch the highlights of this match here.
2. King of the Ring (1998): Undertaker vs Mankind (Hell in a Cell)
This is probably one of the most popular matches in WWE's history. The match wasn't a five-star match, but it had moments that helped define the Attitude Era. Who can forget how Undertaker threw Mankind off the top of the cell down to the announcers table? It might be one of the most famous spots in WWE history.
Again, it might not be a great match, but it is definitely the most well-known Hell in a Cell match in WWE. It's rare to find a WWE fan who doesn't know about this match. Mankind was established as the Hardcore Legend after this match.
In my opinion, Mankind was Undertaker's toughest opponent ever.
I once took part in the creature vs. creature competition where we had to cover the best rivalry ever. I chose this feud and wrote about it. You can find it here. It won the second place.
1. WrestleMania XXV: Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels
What else can be said about this match that hasn't been said yet? How many times have you seen this match covered by members here and on other sites?
Believe it or not, I'm watching it right now while writing about it. I ranked this match as No. 1 because I consider it as Undertaker's best WrestleMania match ever. It had numerous close pins and at a certain point no one knew when the match will end with both superstars kicking out of numerous finishers.
The match received a lot of positive reviews and it's considered by many fans as one of WWE's best matches ever. This can be arguable for sure, but the fact remains that this was an epic battle.
I don't think I need to recap the match for you because you already heard about it a lot before.
Here are the highlights of this match:
Again, this wasn't about match quality or else I would have had replaced many matches in this list. It was more about special moments and achievements for Undertaker.
WrestleMania 17: Undertaker vs. HHH (I didn't add it because WWE claims it never happened. Joking aside, the match was great and can be ranked among Undertaker's top ten matches. But there was nothing special about it in terms of achievements and memorable moments).
The Great American Bash (2004): Undertaker vs. the Dudley Boyz. (Undertaker buried Paul Bearer after the match because he considered him as a liability).
Backlash (2007): Undertaker vs. Batista in a Last Man Standing Match.
Royal Rumble (1998): Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels in a casket match (Kane interfered and locked 'Taker in the casket and blew it).
Ground Zero: In Your House (1997): Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels.
No Way Out (2006): Undertaker vs. Kurt Angle (One of Undertaker's best matches ever. But 'Taker lost in the end. It was close to making the list).
Hell in a Cell (2009): Undertaker vs. CM Punk for the World Heavyweight Championship (this was his last World Title win until this date, but the match wasn't special).
SummerSlam (1996): Undertaker vs. Mankind in a boiler room brawl (Paul Bearer betrayed Undertaker after the match).
SummerSlam (1998): Undertaker vs. Stone Cold (that was a memorable match that ended with Austin winning cleanly).
Over the Edge (1999): Undertaker vs. Stone Cold for the WWE Title (Undertaker won his third WWE Title but the match ended in very lame way. This event is also famous for the horrible incident that led to Owen Hart's death).
No Mercy (2002): Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar in a Hell in a Cell match.
SummerSlam (1997): Undertaker vs. Bret Hart
Fully Loaded: In Your House (1998): Undertaker and Stone Cold vs. Kane and Mankind for the Tag-Team Titles (Undertaker was able to win his first ever tag-team title).
Wresltemania XXI: Undertaker vs Randy Orton (Undertaker's streak was in real jeopardy in my opinion).
There are many other PPV events to add, and it might take me forever to remember them all.
All thoughts and comments are welcome.
If you are fans of the Undertaker, check this article that I wrote as tribute to the 20th anniversary of his WWE debut.