For 20 years the Undertaker has seen Superstars come and go from the WWE. All have tried to stake their claim, but none have been able to outlast the Phenom. The WWE ring is truly his yard.
Throughout his time in the WWE, the Undertaker has amassed heaps of fallen victims. The most recognizable of these heaps are his Wrestlemania opponents. Three WWE Hall of Famers have fallen victim to the Undertaker’s impressive Wrestlemania streak. Several future WWE Hall of Famers have also bowed in defeat to the Streak.
The list of fallen foes is 17 Superstars long. Of these 17 Superstars, who had the greatest upper-hand on the Undertaker during their match? Who was only a second away from pinning the Deadman’s shoulders for the three-count?
Who could have ended the Streak?
Hindsight is always 20-20
Before I continue, I’d like to point out that my opinions are based on my after-the-fact knowledge and thoughts. For some matches, I have a greater knowledge of the entire feud, others not as much. This fact probably isn’t ideal for something like this, but this is my blog and my opinion.
Wrestlemania VII – 13
vs. Jimmy ‘Superfly’ Snuka
Wrestlemania VII, March 24, 1991:
During the time of this match, The Undertaker was still a rookie in the WW(F)E. Jimmy Snuka was already a Superstar, with two decades of experience under his belt. Both his unforgettable leap off the top of the steel cage, 15-feet high, at Madison Square Garden onto Don Muraco and the notorious ‘Piper’s Pit’-coconut segment were years behind him. Snuka had recently returned to the WWF(E) and had been put up against the company’s younger stars.
Given the fact that a few months after the Undertaker’s victory over Snuka at Wrestlemania VII, he went on to defeat the WWF(E) Champion Hulk Hogan at Survivor Series (only a year after debuting), it would have been pointless to let him lose to Snuka.
The Undertaker was built as an unstoppable giant with the agility of men half his size and an unimaginable resilience. He was other-worldly. Allowing him the victory, he was able to garner that momentum that carried him to Survivor Series 1991, where he was a strong favorite against the champion.
The Undertaker – 1-0.
vs. Jake ‘the Snake’ Roberts
Wrestlemania VIII, April 5, 1992:
The story between Jake ‘the Snake’ Roberts and Undertaker started in the Summer of ’91, when The Undertaker and The Ultimate Warrior were scheduled to feud against each other. Jake ‘the Snake’ promised to ‘help’ Warrior defeat the Undertaker, but later revealed that he, ‘Taker and Paul Bearer had been working together from the beginning. Nothing really panned out from this because Warrior was soon fired from the company.
Roberts then feuded with Randy Savage, which into ’92, when the feud culminated, it set up the feud between the Deadman and Jake “The Snake.” At Saturday Night’s Main Event, after Savage had defeated Roberts, Roberts had taken a spot backstage, armed with a steel chair, and was looking to take out whomever came through first – either Savage or Miss Elizabeth. He never got the chance to follow through however, as he was ready to swing the chair he was stopped by the Undertaker.
After this, Jake appeared on the Funeral Parlor and questioned The Undertaker’s motives, but when he didn’t get the answer he had been looking for, he attacked The Undertaker and Paul Bearer.
During this feud, there were two very important facts to consider 1. The Undertaker and Paul Bearer in the middle of a face turn. and 2. Jake Roberts was on his way out of the company.
Considering the latter information, the answer to whether The Undertaker should have won is quite obvious. Jake “the Snake” Roberts had threatened to no-show Wrestlemania after a falling out with Vince McMahon, in which he felt he was lied to about receiving a spot on the creative staff, unless he was granted his release.
However, had this incident not happened, it still would have been in the best interest to have The Undertaker defeat Jake Roberts. The Undertaker had been a heel from the beginning, but was growing more popular. It’s a safe assumption that getting over as a heel is a lot easier than getting over as a face, and they would have risked a lot had he lost that night. If he was to be successful as a face, they had to get it just right.
The Undertaker – 2-0.
vs. Giant Gonzalez
Wrestlemania IX, April 4, 19931:
Considered by many fans the asterisk on his Streak, The Undertaker battled against Giant Gonzalez at Ceasar’s Palace and won by disqualification when the Giant Gonzalez used a towel soaked in chloroform to take out the Undertaker. Up to that point, the match had been pretty even for the most part. Both big men, they tried to use their size to their advantage, but neither could really get the upper hand. The chloroform rag came into play when Harvey Wipplemen, who The Undertaker had been feuding with also, as seen through his matches with Kamala, stood on the ring apron to distract the Undertaker while he threw the rag into the ring. After minutes of The Undertaker being down from the effects, he was taken to the back on a stretcher and Giant Gonzalez refused to leave the ring as he celebrated his victory.
As the Macho Man puts it, “you can’t kill a deadman, the Undertaker is already dead,” much to the shock of the Giant, The Undertaker managed to stagger his way back through the curtains and made his way back to the ring, with Paul Bearer trying to restrain him. After three huge clotheslines, The Undertaker was finally able to knock Gonzalez off of his feet. He is able to escape, but to the delight of the crowd, The Undertaker had already won by disqualification.
Now, I may be grasping at straws here, but a win is a win is a win. Although the DQ win will mar the streak a bit, not much, but a bit, it’s still a win all the same. Going into the match and given the ‘superhuman will to prevail’ he showed after being attacked with the chloroform rag, it’s my opinion that The Undertaker rightly won the match. He may have only won by DQ, but he was able to take down the Giant Gonzalez. I think the thought was to go out and make the Undertaker look strong, and that’s what happened.
The Undertaker – 3-0.
vs. King Kong Bundy
Wrestlemania XI, April 5, 1995:
At the 1994 Royal Rumble, The Undertaker lost to Yokozuna, when Yokozuna and several other Superstars locked him inside of a casket. Just moments after smoke seeped out of the casket, though, The Undertaker appeared on the TitanTron and promised that he would not rest in peace, just before his spirit rose from the casket.
After this, Ted DiBiase then brought in his own Undertaker, which Paul Bearer soon exposed as an impostor. When the Undertaker finally returned, he was feuded against the Fake Undertaker and Ted DiBiase and after defeating him, continued to feud with Ted DiBiase’s Million Dollar Corporation. On orders from DiBiase, King Kong Bundy distracted the Undertaker at the Royal Rumble and allowed other members of the Corporation to ‘reposes’ his urn. During the match, ‘Taker was able to snatch the urn from DiBiase, but soon after, Kama, a member of the Million Dollar Corporation, made his way down to the ring and took out Paul Bearer to steal it back.
Now in his fourth Wrestlemania match, some had already taken note of his undefeated streak. Although I am a devoted Creature of the Night, this match is a bit of a throw away for me. It didn’t really do anything for the story because I think it could have happened on any night, it just happened to happen at Wrestlemania. The clincher for me in this match though, is that I think the fans wanted the Undertaker to win. The crowd’s reaction after the Undertaker gets the win is great. Had he lost, the fans would have been disappointed and in this case, the WWF(E) gave them what they wanted.
The Undertaker – 4-0.
Wrestlemania XII, March 31, 1996:
Leading up to their Wrestlemania match, both men had previously interfered in each other’s WW(F)E championship matches against Bret Hart. After The Undertaker was announced as the number 1 contender, Diesel vowed that he’d take out the Deadman and claim the spot for his own.
Diesel first interfered, by pulling the referee out of the ring in the middle of a pin count, in the Undertaker’s match against Bret Hart at the Royal Rumble. Bret Hart was disqualified for Diesel’s interference and so the Undertaker was unable to capture the gold. A month later at In Your House 6, during Diesel’s steel cage match against the champion, just as it looked he was going to beat Bret Hart, The Undertaker tore through the ring and dragged Diesel underneath.
The two giants went back and forth throughout the match, with the Undertaker taking two Jackknife Powerbombs, but true to form, the Undertaker’s resilience proved to be his strength. He was able to comeback from the assault and finally was able to defeat Diesel with a Chokeslam and a Tombstone.
Vince McMahon described this match as “the Undertaker’s gravest.” It certainly was at that point; The Undertaker’s match against Diesel is the first time, I believe, that the match could have gone either way. The match itself was very good and one I think some fans tend to forget was so.
It’s important to note that at this time, Kevin Nash had already agreed to return to WCW. Like in his match against Jake ‘the Snake’ Roberts, I think the greatest factor in who won was based on the fact that Kevin Nash was on his way out of the company. Considering that information, I think it was right The Undertaker won. Had this not been the case though, I think it would have been reasonable to think that Diesel could have defeated the Undertaker at Wrestlemania XII.
Diesel could have won and gone down the same road he did, going on to feud against Shawn Michaels, who was now the WWF(E) champion and he might have then become the champion in just a few months time.
In that scenario, The Undertaker would have still gone straight into one of his most memorable feuds against Mankind.
In the short run, very little would have really changed if Diesel had won.
At the end of the day though, the WWF(E) chose to go with the guy who was staying with the company – The Undertaker.
The Undertaker – 5-0.
vs. Sycho Sid
Wrestlemania 13, March 23, 1997:
After being illegally eliminated at the ’97 Royal Rumble by ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, The Undertaker, along with Austin, Vader and Bret Hart fought in a ‘final four’ match to see who would capture the vacant WWF(E) title. Bret Hart won the match and became the new champion, only to lose it the following night to Sid. Because he was the last man eliminated in the Final Four match, The Undertaker was named the number one contender for the WWF(E) championship. In another match between Sid and Hart, both the Undertaker and Steve Austin, who was going to face Bret Hart at Wrestlemania, interfered in order to make their own match was for the title. Sid was successful in retaining his title and thus his match against the Undertaker remained for the Championship.
Sid took an early lead in the match, but soon The Undertaker was giving just as much. It seemed at one point that the Undertaker was going to end the match by Tombstone, but Sid reversed it and even tried to pin the Deadman with his arms folded across his chest. The Undertaker kicked out though and the two continued to battle until, Bret Hart went down to the ring and interfered in the match, attacking Sid. He did this twice and the Undertaker took advantage.
Given the events that led to the entire ‘Final Four’ match that saw Bret Hart win the title and then lose it the following night, I think Sid’s reign as champion was a transitional one. He was the champion going into the Royal Rumble, where he was defeated by Shawn Michaels, but with all the controversy with Michaels dropping the title due to his inability to compete, I think it left the company in a bit of a scramble. I don’t believe Sid was ever supposed to get the title back after he lost it to Michaels, but because of everything that had gone down, and with Austin and Hart already embroiled in a heated feud, having The Undertaker win his second WWF(E) championship at Wrestlemania was the best bet going forward.
After winning the title at Wrestlemania, The Undertaker was given a big push and went on to face Bret Hart at SummerSlam ’97, with Shawn Michaels as the special guest referee. During the match, Michaels cost The Undertaker the title, which led the two of them to face each other at In Your House: Badd Blood, in the first Hell in a Cell match. This is the PPV that Kane made his debut, after being teased by Paul Bearer. Kane ended up costing The Undertaker the match.
The Undertaker – 6-0.