Last Rides: The 8 Best Matches From The ‘American Badass’ Undertaker Era

There was a random rumor over the weekend that The Undertaker would be returning to his American Badass gimmick at SummerSlam. Even though he’s pretty much an amalgamation of the Dead Man and the ABA character as is, the talk of going full Biker got people talking. And it got me thinking about his time as a Kid Rock/Limp Bizkit mascot.

While my last list of Undertaker’s best SummerSlam matches shattered hopes and dreams of nostalgic fans across the globe, this list is a lot more promising. Despite the fact that Badass Undertaker was hampered by injuries and age for most of his run, he was part of some great matches. The top three were hard to put in order and I might change it a few times in post-publish because my mind keeps changing. But, for now, here are the American Badass Undertaker’s best matches.

vs. RVD – Hardcore Title Match – Undertaker’s best gift is the way he can make smaller guys look great. His chemistry with guys like HBK, Christian and Randy Orton created great matches. And he really made RVD look like a major main-event guy when they were in the ring. They had a crazy RAW match for the title as well but this Hardcore match is a hidden gem.

vs. Kurt Angle – Smackdown! – I don’t think The Undertaker has ever actually tapped out in a match and this is the closest we got to it. He and Kurt Angle had a classic in 2006, but this one isn’t bad either. I think this is the match they had that made them realize they can really work together, and it’s probably one of the matches that made Undertaker want to be a good wrestler again. For that, this gets a much-needed place on the list.

vs. Kurt Angle vs. Steve Austin vs. Rikishi vs. The Rock vs. HHH – Hell In A Cell – Armageddon 2000 – This was a train wreck. The build-up to the six-way match for the title in a cell was that Undertaker was going to murder someone. That was it. Someone would get murdered by Undertaker in the same way he killed Mankind in 1998. So we spent the entire match waiting for the big spot and it came when Undertaker threw Rikishi off the cell onto a truck bed full of not nearly enough hay. Overall, this match was massive and it’s pretty impressive that all of these men were in the same match. This is basically an entire wing of the Hall of Fame (and Rikishi) in one Cell match, so “pretty damn great” is about as bad as it can get.

Easter Egg: Undertaker headbutting Rikishi and selling it himself because “Samoans have the hardest heads” is a legacy that Undertaker wants to preserve.

vs. Kurt Angle vs. The Rock – Vengeance 2002 – This may be my favorite opening to a match ever. I’ve also never used hyperbole. But Angle freaking out that he’s getting ignored makes me laugh every time. This was a really great house show match that main-evented pay-per-view. That sounds like a bad thing but it isn’t as it seems like the switching of finisher moves is something you’d only see on a Wednesday night in Spokane. Yet they pulled it off here and it really made the match more dramatic. I feel like this is a match people either love or hate. I love it.

vs. Jeff Hardy – Ladder Match – Monday Night RAW – American Badass Undertaker’s era coincided with the “Ladder Match Every Two Weeks” era of wrestling. These ladder matches were mostly for the mid-card and for athletic guys to tear it up. So the idea of Undertaker vs. Jeff Hardy in a ladder match didn’t lend itself to much anticipation. However, they told an incredible story of Undertaker using weapons to destroy people and Hardy never quitting. We also had the story of Hardy being in a match that he’s used to and how would Undertaker adapt. This is brilliant and way better than it should be.

vs. Ric Flair – WrestleMania XVIII – Let’s move away from Undertaker for a minute. WrestleMania XVIII is the story of Ric Flair’s career in one night. Flair put on a great wrestling match that was emotional and intense. But nobody talks about this match because Hulk Hogan had a Dumpster fire of a match that’s legendary because of the characters involved.

This was the best match of the night in a walk and I dare you to watch and not yell when Arn Anderson hits the spine buster. Brandon and I wrote about this match a year apart and both called the Enforcer’s run-in the closest thing you’ll get to a real-life Marvel vs. Capcom scene come to life.

vs. HHH – WrestleMania XVII – I may be in the minority but I hated the HHH vs. Undertaker matches later in their careers. Both guys just sort of stood around and stared at each other for the entire match. I only really loved the super kick sequence. The real great match in their history came a decade earlier (that WWE refused to mention). The WM X-7 match was one of the first ones that treated the Streak like a big deal. But it wasn’t big enough that you didn’t think it was possible for HHH to end it.

The only real problem with this match came when Undertaker chokeslammed HHH onto a Posturepedic and the damn cameramen caught the angle. I think this match gets lost in the shuffle of the greatest WrestleMania card of all time, but if it’s on any other event it’s going to steal the show.

vs. Brock Lesnar – WWE No Mercy 2002 – I don’t think The Undertaker has ever pinned Brock Lesnar. Before the Streak ended. Before the SummerSlam match. There was a feud in which Undertaker tried his hardest to make Brock Lesnar a star. Even bleeding like a stuck pig and losing clean in a Cell. This match is brutal. There’s so much blood. Heyman bleeds. Lesnar bleeds. Undertaker puts his face in a meat grinder. The brutality made Lesnar’s strength more impressive. This isn’t a wrestling match. It’s a goddamn scene from Die Hard.

There are just so many freakish feats of strength and agility from Brock tossing ‘Taker from post to cell, hanging from the cage and swing-kicking Undertaker in the face and, of course, the final sequence. Humans aren’t supposed to do what happened in this match.

How many times has Undertaker bladed…I can’t think of another match besides this one where it happens. PLUS, WE GET THE MEAN MARK FINISHER IN THE MIDDLE OF THE MATCH!

If I were to rate these matches from memory, this would have been behind the Flair and HHH matches but watching it again for this list made me appreciate it more. It definitely ages well and deserves the top spot.