Who could have ended The Undertaker’s Streak? Part 1 – http://wp.me/pHYo9-fZ
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 XIV – XIX
Wrestlemania XIV, March 29, 1998
Before IYH: Badd Blood, Paul Bearer had been teasing the debut of The Undertaker’s younger brother, whom The Phenom had long-thought dead. Paul Bearer also explained that that he had had an affair with The Undertaker’s mother and Kane was their love child, actually making him The Undertaker’s half-brother. After Kane debuted, the father and son duo tormented The Undertaker in an effort to rile him into a match.
The Undertaker refused all advances, and at the Royal Rumble, it seemed as if all had been resolved when Kane assisted the Undertaker in his casket match against Shawn Michaels. Kane took out members of DX and Los Boricas, but then showed his true colors as he attacked and Chokeslammed the Undertaker into the casket. With his father by his side, giving instructions, Kane padlocked the casket and poured gasoline all over it until he lit a match book and tossed it onto the casket, setting it ablaze. When officials were finally able to put out the fire and open the casket, The Undertaker was no where to be found.
After vowing to never fight his little brother, The Undertaker finally gave in and agreed to face Kane at Wrestlemania. The match was one of the Undertaker’s toughest; Kane could take everything he dished out and fought back with equal vigor. The physicality of the match was evident. Several times Kane looked to have The Undertaker’s number, but he simply could not lay his big brother to rest. After spending a considerable amount of time in a defensive position, The Undertaker, after flying through the Spanish announce table, being attacked with the steel steps, was finally able to muster the strength to fight back. In the end, he delivered not one, not two, but three Tombstone piledrivers to finally put away his little brother.
This match and this feud is quite significant in the careers of both Superstars. The Undertaker had had great feuds in the past, but this one proved to be an everlasting one between the two. Now, while Wrestlemania is usually where the big pay-off comes before ending a feud, Wrestlemania XIV served as a middle ground for the two Superstars. The beginning of their feud was unlike most, as they never actually fought or had a match to set-up their actual Wrestlemania match. I think, because of the way their feud started, it was necessary for the Undertaker to win. While Kane initially sought revenge for their past, all of the anguish put on the Phenom was a set up to have The Undertaker prove he was the dominant brother and he was going to be the one to settle their feud, as a good, older brother would. After months of Kane having the upper hand against the Undertaker, by costing him matches and titles, and the mental games played between the two, the Undertaker got the win when it counted and that win would set up for their return bout, which came a month later at Unforgiven, in an Inferno Match.
I suppose this match could have really gone either way and set up for a return match where the other guy would then get the win, but in my opinion, it just made more sense to have the Undertaker win at Wrestlemania and then let Kane win the follow up. That didn’t happen, but in terms of their Wrestlemania match, The Undertaker won because if he hadn’t, why would he have gone out and challenged Kane to another match. He only begrudgingly accepted their ‘Mania match because he felt he had no other choice. Perhaps I’m reading far deeper into it than what was meant, but to me, it just made more sense to have ‘Taker win.
The Undertaker – 7-0
vs. The Big Boss Man
Wrestlemania XV, March 28, 1999
After taking a hiatus when he was buried alive at IYH: Rock Bottom, The Undertaker returned to the WWF(E) as a heel. He’d been a face for some six years, but upon his return, his already-intimidating presence was now much darker and demonic. Once he recruited the Acolytes, and eventually Mideon, Viscera and the Brood,forming the Ministry of Darkness, the Undertaker made his point clear that he was gunning for Mr. McMahon and was aiming to take over the company.
Mr. McMahon, now the head of the Corporation, was threatened by The Undertaker’s actions and words. During the build up for the match, The Undertaker had set fire to a teddy bear, which had sent to Mr. McMahon to his knees in fear and weakness. Following the incident, Mr. McMahon announced The Undertaker would once again face his half-brother Kane in an Inferno Match. During the the match, Mr. McMahon revealed that The Undertaker would then be taking on the Corporation’s head of security – the Big Boss Man – in a Hell in a Cell at Wrestlemania.
The match itself was a bloody one for the Phenom. At one point, the Big Boss Man handcuffed The Undertaker to the cell and attacked him with his night stick, busting him open. The two men battled in the cell, hitting the other with a steel chair, slamming their opponent into the steel mesh. The Undertaker however, was able to defeat the Boss Man without too much effort. After the win, members of the Ministry of Darkness made their way to the ring and proceeded to hand the Big Boss Man from the top of the Cell as it was rising, hanging the veteran.
The Undertaker’s Hell in a Cell match against the Big Boss Man is probably the least remembered of all of the Hell in a Cell matches, but this one did serve the purpose of getting over the Undertaker’s new heel persona. This new character was one that had never really been seen before in the WWF(E). He wasn’t the quiet, loner Undertaker he had once been, now he had an alliance with other Superstars who obeyed his every command and he now spoke of a ‘higher power’ and taking the souls of his opponents, and he was no longer building caskets for his opponents, he was sacrificing them.
The Undertaker’s new persona needed to strike more fear into the hearts of the Superstars and fans, even more so then ever before. As I noted before, this match isn’t what fans will remember The Undertaker or the Big Boss Man for, but it served a purpose and in that light, it was necessary for the Undertaker to get the win.
The Undertaker – 8-0
vs. Triple H
Wrestlemania X-Seven, April 1, 2001
Abandoning his satanic Ministry of Darkness character, The Undertaker returned from an injury as the American Bad Ass, a more true-to-life, biker persona. Not to forget his roots completely, the Undertaker paid homage to his own legacy by keeping the bell ‘tong’ in his entrance theme and wearing a black, leather trench coat.
Upon his return at Judgement Day, he took out the members of the McMahon-Helmsley faction, which made him a face once again. After a short reunion with Kane, where they unsuccessfully challenged the tag-team champions Edge and Christian for the titles, and another short feud with Kane, The Undertaker had his sights set on WWF(E) champion, Triple H.
Triple H had been looking to WWF(E) Championship scene again, by claiming he had defeated everyone there was to defeat in the company, and that that deserved a shot at the title. The Undertaker took exception to that, pointing out that Triple H had never defeated him.
The Phenom and The Game battled in what was an intense and physical battle that saw the two warriors make their way out into the crowd and into the production area, as well as an appearance by a sledgehammer. During one point of the match, the referee was taken out, that resulted with the Undertaker not getting the victory sooner, when he was able to reverse Triple H’s attempt at a Tombstone piledriver. Triple H almost had the win when he busted The Undertaker open with the sledgehammer, just as he was going down with the Last Ride. The Undertaker was able to kick out and eventually get Triple H into the Last Ride and finish the match.
Following the match, the feud between the two men morphed into a tag-team feud between the Two-Man Power Trip (Triple H and Austin) vs. the Brothers of Destruction. After The Undertaker and Kane defeated Edge and Christian for the tag team titles, they defended them against the Two Man Power Trip and lost. While The Two Man Power Trip and the Brothers of Destruction were feuding, The Undertaker’s sights were mostly set on ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, who was also the WWF(E) Champion at the time; that left Triple H and Kane to set their sights on each other.
The formation of the Two Man Power Trip left the WWF(E) title scene open for the Undertaker. Of course, at any time either Austin or Triple H could have turned on his partner, setting up a feud, that never really took form. In one instance where Austin accidently hit Triple H with the sledgehammer, costing him the Intercontinental Championship, they didn’t try to turn one against the other. Instead, Triple H then helped Austin retain his title against the Undertaker.
The Undertaker was always supposed to be in that WWF(E) Championship title hunt. Not Triple H, who subsequently was injured and taken out of action for right months during a Tag Team Championship match, where he and Austin were scheduled to drop the titles.
The Undertaker defeated Triple H because he was next in line for the title, perhaps eventually, Triple H and Austin were to turn on each other and then set up a proper singles feud, but that’s only speculation, as Triple H had to take time off to attend to his quadriceps injury. It wouldn’t have made sense for Triple H to win when he was supposed to start his alliance with the Stone Cold. It simply wasn’t in the plans.
The Undertaker – 9-0.
vs. Ric Flair
Wresltemania X8, March 17, 2002
In late 2001, The Undertaker went from the American Bad Ass to Big Evil, in a heel turn, when he beat up Jim Ross and forced him to join Vince McMahon’s Kiss My Ass Club. Feeling like he didn’t have the respect he deserved, he set out to punish those who didn’t show him respect.
At No Way Out ’02, The Undertaker faced The Rock, who had helped Tough Enough season one winner Maven defeat the veteran Undertaker and win the Hardcore Championship. During this match though, The Undertaker took a lead pipe from his motorcycle and attempted to use it against The Rock, but instead Ric Flair, the storyline co-owner of the WWF(E), came down to the ring and used it against ‘Taker. With Wrestlemania just around the corner, The Undertaker challenged Ric Flair to a match, but much to his disliking, the dirtiest player in the game refused him.
Not willing to take no for an answer, The Undertaker proved how dirty he could be by continuously provoking Flair by first attacking his good friend Arn Anderson and then Flair’s oldest son, David. That proved to be the last straw for Ric Flair, as he then accepted the Undertaker’s challenge.
In another brutal and bloody match, Ric Flair and The Undertaker met under a No Disqualification stipulation. The lead pipe that started the feud at No Way Out made a return, this time with Flair taking off of ‘Taker’s motorcycle. In a bit of revenge, the Enforcer Arn Anderson slipped into the ring and delivered a Spinebuster to the Undertaker. Although both beaten and bloody, the Undertaker was able to escape the Figure Four Leglock and lay out Flair with the Tombstone Piledriver to get the win.
Ric Flair, the same man who had helped The Undertaker win his first WWF(E) Championship 12 years earlier, became The Undertaker’s 10th Wrestlemania victim.
The reason for The Undertaker getting the win and advancing his streak with this match is actually quite simple. Ric Flair had 30 years of experience under his belt at the time. He was already a 16-time World Champion. There really wasn’t any need for him to get the win. It would have accomplished nothing; The Undertaker had more to lose than Ric Flair had to gain.
Aside from this fact, The Undertaker was in line for his fourth title reign. At the ’02 Judgement Day pay-per-view, The Undertaker defeated Hulk Hogan for the Undisputed Championship title.
vs. Big Show and A-Train
Wrestlemania XIX, March 30, 2003
After a much-heated and emotional feud with Brock Lesnar, which left The Undertaker with a broken arm and maybe a bruised ego regarding his future in the now-WWE. On an episode of Smackdown!, The Undertaker was ready to announce… something. Whatever it was, he never got the chance to do so because before he could, The Big Show made an appearance to explain that he was the one who beat up The Undertaker, not Brock Lesnar, and he wasn’t getting the respect he deserved. He went as far as to call the Undertaker a ‘washed up, has-been,’ to which the Undertaker replied he’d ‘rather be a washed up, has-been then a giant, that never-was.’ The Big Show didn’t take kindly to his words, but left the stage, only to return to attack the already-injured Undertaker whose back was turned. Big Show elevated The Undertaker high above his head and tossed him off of the stage; the EMTs rushed to his aid. He wouldn’t be seen again until the Royal Rumble where he was unsuccessful in winning the number one contender spot. Out for revenge, he set his target on The Big Show.
In the weeks leading up to No Way Out, Big Show sent apologies to the Undertaker in the form of a singing-Spanky telegram, a reunion with Brother Love, a Kanyon rendition of a Boy George classic and finally a puppy. The Big Show attacked the Undertaker from behind once again, but at the Pay-Per-View, a new-comer, Nathan Jones, helped save the Undertaker from a beating by Big Show and A-Train.
While their match at Wrestlemania was orginally supposed to be a tag team match, as The Undertaker had taken Nathan Jones under his wing, but Jones was attacked by A-Train beforehand. Not one to back down from a challenge, with his 10-0 steak on the line, The Undertaker was now to compete against the two mammoth monsters in a Handicap Match.
The match began with Big Show and A-Train taking the early lead, but using his speed and agility to his advantage The Undertaker was able to fend them off until Nathan Jones made his way to the ring and took out the Big Show. The Undertaker took the opening to take out A-Train with a giant Tombstone, making him 11-0.
Like his match with Ric Flair, I think the Undertaker won because there was really no sense of gain had Big Show and A-Train won.
By pulling Nathan Jones from the match, I think it’d be a safe bet to assume the company felt as if they’d jumped the gun with him and that he wasn’t ready for the push that might have come with a storyline with The Undertaker and a win at Wrestlemania. He’d been with the company for less than a year and up to that point, hadn’t really done anything.
To add to the point, The Big Show was already a known Superstar, having held several championship title reigns in both WCW and the WWE. Although it certainly wouldn’t have hurt his career, he really didn’t need to win.
In the end, I believe the cons out-weighed the pros and The Undertaker remained undefeated.
The Undertaker – 11-0