Little known fact: The Undertaker is undefeated at WrestleMania.
Okay, most known fact, but still, the guy has won 21 matches at WrestleMania and lost zero, so today’s very scientific pro wrestling analysis will rank the matches of The Streak from worst (#21) to best (#1). Each ranking comes with an explanation for its placement, but if you need a shorter answer, it’s “science.”
For additional examples of science, consult:
Share these findings with everyone you know, and let us know if your findings are a little different in our comments section below. Science isn’t perfect, after all. Even when we’re dealing with The Streak.
21. Vs. Giant Gonzalez, Wrestlemania 9 (1993) (3-0)
When you think of “bad Undertaker WrestleMania matches” (or any of the subcategories like “bad Undertaker matches,” “bad WrestleMania matches” or “spectacularly bad matches period”) you think of his stinker — literally — against The Giant Gonzalez at WrestleMania 9.
WWE fans may only remember Gonzalez as the EIGHT FOOT TALL NAKED MEXICAN who suddenly showed up and started pawing at people, but I got to see his formation in early-90s WCW as “El Gigante,” peaceful Argentinean friend to all. The sad thing is that he was actually way better as The Giant Gonzalez … I mostly remember him as a guy so tall he could barely stand up, a guy who hit with the force of dandelion seeds blowing away in the wind, a guy who sold every move no matter how devastating by bugging out his eyes and acting like somebody just tried to stick their thumb up his butt. He was just a horrible pro wrestler. But boy, was he tall. Vince McMahon saw him and thought, “I want THAT guy, only NAKED.” Fun fact: Undertaker once wrestled a guy with a hairy buttcrack airbrushed onto the ass of his wrestling gear at a WrestleMania.
The match itself is what you’d expect from that paragraph, plus one of the dumbest finishes ever: Gonzalez CHLOROFORMS Taker, incapacitating him and drawing a disqualification. A medical team puts Taker on a stretcher and wheels him to the back while Gonzalez remains in the ring, arms raised over his head, for seemingly no other purpose than “being there when Taker revives.” Taker does, off screen, and sends Gonzalez packing with a jumping clothesline. The high point of this match is Undertaker entering in a chariot alongside a vulture that’s been tied to it by his feet.
20. Vs. Big Bossman, Hell in a Cell Match, Wrestlemania 15 (1999) (8-0)
HERE IS A MATCH THAT ENDS WITH A DEATH BY HANGING.
After ten brutal, brutal minutes of nothing but punching, the Undertaker hits a Tombstone on the Big Bossman and pins him. When I say “brutal” I don’t mean the punches were stiff, I mean it is almost unbearable, with neither guy remembering the Hell in a Cell is a thing unless absolutely necessary … this was the first “bad” Cell match after the killer one-two opening punch of Taker/HBK and Taker/Mankind, with all the epic storytelling and blood loss and cage falling. Hilariously enough, this plays out like a modern Cell match, except with a post-match thing that probably makes nobody uncomfortable at all.
Taker summons The Brood from the ceiling and they fly down (because they’re vampires, at least for now) to land on the roof of the Cell and hook up a noose. The Undertaker then straight up MURDER HANGS the Bossman and he DIES while Michael Cole goes IS IT SYMBOLIC, IS IT SYMBOLIC, IS IT SYMBOLIC, IS IT SYMBOLIC, IS IT SYMBOLIC, IS IT SYMBOLIC. Then, when Bossman is dead and gone, they throw it to a video package about how much fun everyone had at the WrestleMania Rage Party.
19. Vs. Big Show and A-Train, Handicap Match, Wrestlemania 19 (2003) (11-0)
This is the asterisk on Taker’s “undefeated streak” at WrestleMania.
The idea was that it was supposed to be a tag team match. Big Show and A-Train were teaming up to face The Undertaker and “The Colossus of Boggo Road” Nathan Jones, a giant, muscular guy with a great look and the wrestling ability of a fence post. You may remember him from the time he got stabbed to death by Brad Pitt in Troy or the time he giant swung an elephant and got his ass kicked for it by Tony Jaa in The Protector. Anyway, Jones blew, and after a series of super awkward training videos with the Undertaker everyone picked up on it. The story THEN became that Show and A-Train jumped Jones backstage before the match, and Taker would have to go it alone in a 2-on-1 handicap. Big improvement all around. The match gets announced as a handicap match proper, and Show and Albert have to tag in and out.
The match goes on and Taker starts to lose. Show chokeslams him. What happens next? Why, NATHAN JONES comes running down the ramp, meets an oncoming Big Show and spin kicks him in the face. Show goes down, and in my brain I’m going “okay, it’s not a DQ because it happened way up the ramp on the outside.” But then nope, Jones gets INTO THE RING, KICKS A-TRAIN IN THE FACE and sets up Undertaker for a Tombstone victory. Michael Cole goes THE UNDERTAKER REMAINS UNDEFEATED AT WRESTLEMANIA, and the referee just kinda makes an “aww” face and shrugs his shoulders. Disqualification. That’s what should’ve happened. By all actual rules of pro wrestling and the announced situations of the match, whether they “deserved it” or not, the bad guys should’ve won by DQ and Taker should be 20-1. Because of Nathan Jones, a man who once got in trouble because he was lactating too much.
This is also the match where Taker gets intro’d by Limp Bizkit and hugs Fred Durst center-ring, if you want another reason to put it this low.
18. Vs. “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka, Wrestlemania 7 (1991) (1-0)
The first three matches on this list are Undertaker’s huge, noticeable “duds.” Now we enter his weird, early period where the matches aren’t really bad, necessarily, but he’s sorta handicapped by being “wrestling zombie” so nothing can be very exciting. If you’re a kid who grew up loving/fearing the Undertaker you probably LOVE these, and if you’re a kid who didn’t (like myself), you just shuffle them into one of these unimportant spots.
WrestleMania 7 was Undertaker’s WrestleMania debut, and he was up against a Jimmy Snuka probably 10 years past his prime and carrying 40 pounds too much muscle. That meant he could do absolutely nothing you’d want to see in a Jimmy Snuka match and was just a super shitty Haku, throwing bad chops and jumping hair-headbutts. I’m putting this one as the worst of the inoffensive Taker matches because they mess up the finish, which is supposed to be Snuka springboarding into Taker, Taker catching him and Tombstone Piledriving him. A incredible feat of strength! Instead, Snuka doesn’t get enough height and kinda springboards into Taker’s stomach, and poor Taker has to stand there trying to think of a way to power him up for several seconds before simply dropping him, punching him, readjusting and doing the Tombstone separately. All the while, Bobby Heenan’s going LOOK AT THE STRENGTH. And I’m like, “yeah, look at Jimmy Snuka’s cardboard musclelegs.”
17. Vs. King Kong Bundy, Wrestlemania 11 (1995) (4-0)
Nothing happens in this match. No, seriously. It is 100% unremarkable. It is the ultimate in pro wrestling happening and then drifting away.
The story is that Ted DiBiase has stolen the Undertaker’s urn, which is bullshit because the urn is a regular urn and not the weird, metallic gold flowerpot with a flashlight in it DiBiase has stolen. Taker briefly gets it back during the match, but KAMA (aka The Godfather, aka Papa Shango) shows up, steals it again and eventually smelts it or whatever to make himself a gold chain. I don’t know, none of that happens here. What happens here is Undertaker clotheslines King Kong Bundy a few times and then the match ends.
Seriously, it’s like staring at a blank piece of paper.
16. Vs. Sycho Sid, Wrestlemania 13 (1997) (6-0)
When you think of “WrestleMania 13,” what do you think of? If you’re like 100% of the wrestling-loving population, you think of Stone Cold Steve Austin bloody, screaming, refusing to give up in Bret Hart’s Sharpshooter and making himself a hero. You probably don’t think about Sid vs. The Undertaker, a No DQ match full of throat grabbing and punches to the stomach. I’m of the minority belief that The Undertaker didn’t have a truly good match until he became a biker.
I’m not totally sure why Sid main-evented TWO WrestleManias, but neither is a match you’d want to watch. At least the Taker match is better than the Hogan one, and its finish is only 3/4 as stupid: Bret Hart was unhappy that Sid had cost him the WWF Championship and the Austin match had turned Hart heel, so he interfered a bunch, got powerbombed and came back to basically stunner Sid on the top rope, allowing Undertaker to throw on a Tombstone and win. I had 100% forgotten about Hart’s involvement until I rewatched the match for the sake of this list, so.
I did not re-rewatch it, if you were wondering. Still though, at least stuff happened.
15. Vs. Diesel Wrestlemania 12 (1996) (5-0)
Now we enter the “nothing you do to the Undertaker can hurt him, even if it ruins the match” portion of the list. This one in particular always bothered me as a kid … the idea was that if Diesel could ignore all of the Undertaker’s mental tricks and just powerbomb him, he could win. He does that, controlling most of the match with a smirk on his face (taking surprisingly little damage on the rewatch) and powerbombs him. But he’s smart, you see, and knows that Undertaker has a habit of sitting up and no-selling big moves. So instead of trying to pin him or getting caught, he kinda stands over Taker telling him to get up until Taker finally sits up. Diesel simply grabs him by the head and powerbombs him again. As far as intelligently-wrestled matches against a character you’ve done your homework on go, this is one of the best. He does everything right.
He starts getting cockier near the end, mocking Paul Bearer and taking too long to make a pin, but he knows Taker’s not out. When he finally goes for the cover, Taker chokes him. Diesel punches him in the face to break it. Another choke, more punches to the face. When Taker finally gets to his feet and tries a chokeslam, Diesel shoves the arm away and backdrops him. A perfectly wrestled match. But nope, Taker just decides it’s time to win, does a Tombstone just kinda casually and pins Diesel in the middle of the ring.
It’s like the most frustrating match you’ve ever had against the computer in a video game happening in real life.
14. Vs. Jake “The Snake” Roberts Wrestlemania 8 (1992) (2-0)
The better version of that match happened back at WrestleMania 8, when Jake The Snake hit Undertaker with two DDTs and still got Tombstoned (on the floor!) for a loss. Why is it better, you ask? Part of it has to do with Jake’s ability to sell a story. The other part is that the legend of the Undertaker was still technically a work in progress, so it was a purposeful moment of character development needed to run him against the no-selling Big Dogs like Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior. It wasn’t just him going “nope, I’m a zombie, you lose d00d.”
Here’s a fun game: try to figure out how far off the floor Jake The Snake’s head was when that Tombstone connected. I’ve never seen a guy so protected during a Tombstone. Linda McMahon ate a Tombstone harder that time Kane piledrove her on the stage and her face as at his belly-button.
13. Vs. Triple H, No Holds Barred Match, Wrestlemania 27 (2011) (19-0)
The ultimate WrestleMania masturbation match. On the list of my personal favorites this one would rank dead last, behind the Giant Gonzalez and the lactating guy and a literal hanging. I tried to say nice things about it when it happened and am ranking it fairly high on the list because objectively, hey, different strokes for different folks, but it’s such a mess. If it hadn’t been on WrestleMania 27, a card with basically nothing else to offer, it would’ve been a complete afterthought.
Part of what I hate about it is how much I love Undertaker’s “Dead Man returns” run at WrestleManias 20-26. The Kane match at 20 is more of a character piece than a match (we’ll get to that in a sec), but 21-26 is nothing but great Undertaker match after great Undertaker match, pitting him against a wide variety of guys and getting the best match of their career out of MOST of them. Then Shawn Michaels had to go and have two critically-acclaimed “match of the year” matches in a row, which made Triple H — a guy who’d already lost to Taker in a much better WrestleMania match than this — say “me too.” So they forgot the history, forgot how to put together a wrestling match and just did EVERYTHING THEY COULD THINK OF EVER, all at once.
Undertaker kicks out of THREE pedigrees. Triple H kicks out of a Tombstone because Shawn did, I guess. They fight on the outside and destroy props like they’re hitting OMG moments in WWE 2K14. Eventually Taker locks on the Hell’s Gate and Triple H is forced to submit, but only after staying in it for like TWO MINUTES, getting to his feet several times, picking up a sledgehammer, dropping it, readjusting, the works. Jim Ross spends the whole match going “what did we see, what did we just see” but he sounds like Michael Cole. That’s how disingenuous this match is. It makes JR sound like Cole.
Some people love “big stars doing non-stop things that don’t matter” matches, though, so 13’s where it’s sitting. If I think about it any longer I’m putting it behind Bundy. At least Bundy didn’t do MELODRAMA FACE every time Undertaker kicked out.
12. Vs. Kane, Wrestlemania 14 (1998) (7-0)
The WrestleMania 14 showdown against Kane is one of The Undertaker’s most memorable matches, and it sorta represents the best and worst (cough) of what Undertaker had to offer during the Attitude Era.
In terms of the best Taker had to offer, he’s always been THE character in pro wrestling. He’s the #1 gimmick ever. He’s a guy who took something ostensibly stupid (“wrestling mortician zombie?”) and turned it into hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars. His entrance with the druids is iconic, his look (and entrance theme) were never better than during this era and the story with Kane is exactly the kind of thing that brings casual fans, especially the ones who listen to Metallica and draw Grim Reapers on their notebooks, into the fold. As for the worst, the match itself is a hell of a lot of punching and headlocks. It’s kinda boring. They just slowly hit each other because they’re working these weird immobile characters, Pete Rose has awkwardly intro’d them and they’re about to just spam specials until the match is over.
At the same time, though, it works. Especially when it happened. Kane kicks out of not one but TWO Tombstones, requiring a third to put him away. An unprecedented feat. It felt like Taker had truly met his physical match and that Kane was on his level, and frankly Kane’s kinda been dickriding this match for the last 16 years.
11. Vs. Kane, Wrestlemania 20 (2004) (12-0)
The WrestleMania XX rematch is the perfected Kane vs. Undertaker match. At only about nine minutes it stands as one of the shortest on the list, but what it accomplishes is staggering: it was not only the reintroduction of “The Dead Man” after years of Undertaker being a red-boogered, America lovin’ biker, but the jumping-off point for Taker’s reimagining as a wrestler who puts on can’t-miss, must-see matches at every WrestleMania.
As the story goes, Kane buried the Undertaker (alive!) and we’ve established that murder is coolio if you do it in the confines of a wrestling match, so whatevs. Kane starts getting haunted by MYSTERIOUS VIDEO PACKAGES that he thinks are DEFINITELY STING but they turn out to be his brother, risen from the grave yet again and set to retake the evil form he wore for that decade-or-so when we were getting to know him. The Mania match is mostly entrance, and what isn’t is Kane going “you’re NOT REAL” and getting punched, but it’s succinct, and God bless them for that.
10. Vs. Triple H, “End of an Era” Hell in a Cell Match, Wrestlemania 28 (2012) (20-0)
We like to believe WWE’s historical talking points, whether they’re legit or not. The Iron Man Match between Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart at WrestleMania 12 is one of “the greatest matches of all time” and “tells an amazing story” whether it is or does or not, because WWE decided it should be so. Say it enough times and people will start believing it. The modern version of that is this match, an “event” match that is historically important and epic because they say so, and we might as well go along with it.
Objectively, it’s a huge improvement over the previous year’s match. It’s still just 30 minutes of weapon shots and characters yelling at each other, but at least what they’re doing appears to have a point, and some of it works. You’re a fool if you think Triple H was ever going to break The Streak, but I’ll be damned if that Sweet-Chin-Music-into-the-Pedgree nearfall wasn’t as close to that as they were gonna get. The melodrama with Shawn Michaels being the special guest referee and WANTING to end The Streak but also NOT WANTING TO END IT, NOT LIKE THIS is scooped on in big, drippy handfuls. It’s either your bag or it isn’t. It’s not mine, but it’s better than half an hour of lying motionless and kicking out of finishes like 27.
The major problem with this one is that the build-up made no sense. Triple H acted like he defeated The Undertaker the previous year because Taker “couldn’t leave under his own power,” and instead of being all MOTHERF*CKER I AM 19-0, Taker apparently agreed with him. So they had an extraneous Hell in a Cell match (to differentiate it from “no holds barred” I guess), added in a referee with shifty-eyes and advertised it as the “END OF AN ERA.” The suggestion is that Triple H and The Undertaker would “say goodbye” to the era they ruled with an iron fist, even though they didn’t, really. The people who DID rule it are already gone (Austin, Rock, Hogan, Goldberg, etc.) and WWE’s still full of guys from the Attitude Era. Goldust, Kane and the New Age Outlaws are on this year’s WrestleMania card, for example. So are, uh, Triple H and the Undertaker. So what did we end, again?
9. Vs. Mark Henry, Casket Match, Wrestlemania 22 (2006) (14-0)
Easily the most underrated match in the Undertaker’s streak. If you haven’t watched it (or haven’t watched it in a while), revisit it. It’s the first time Mark Henry was ever really allowed to be taken seriously outside of random Meng-style pushes and he was still a ways away from being the HALL OF PAIN/beloved veteran he is today, so he ups his game and matches Taker move-for-move.
This is a casket match, the only one The Undertaker’s ever had at WrestleMania, and that should be enough to make it top 10 material for diehard Taker fans. It also features what I’d consider the best flurry of offense in the Dead Man’s career … he powerbombs Mark Henry out of the corner, dives to the outside onto him OVER the casket, then TOMBSTONES him. Tombstones 400-pound-ass Mark Henry. Taker’s never been a “feat of strength” guy and ended his matches with giants like Gonzalez and Bundy with clotheslines, but he just jacks Henry up and puts him away. It’s incredible, and I wish Taker would have more moments like that to remind us that he is nearly 7-damn-feet tall and could throw you into the sun.
8. Vs. CM Punk, WrestleMania 29 (2013) (20-0)
I really didn’t enjoy this as much as most (all) people when I saw it live, but I’ve warmed to it on multiple rewatches.
The story of Punk vs. Undertaker is the little things. Punk’s mannerisms, his choice to wear grey and purple trunks, the way he moves around against a much bigger opponent. It’s less about Punk vs. Undertaker than Punk vs. THE IDEA of Undertaker, an idea that’s gotten out of hand thanks to five-ish years of kickout barn-burners. The action is intense and full of intent, and even though Punk gets a little sloppy from time to time, it all stays together and tells (wait for it) a great story. If this is to be Punk’s last WrestleMania match, he went out on a good one. How do you get much better at WrestleMania than being the guy who loses to the Undertaker here at the end?
I’m still not in love with the finish. We get the amazing moment of Taker “sitting up” in the Anaconda Vise, which leads to him basically no-selling both of Punk’s finishers to hit a sorta-running Tombstone, and that should’ve been the ending. It really should’ve. Everyone would’ve been as okay with it as they were gonna be. Instead, Punk kicks out, we get the most unbelievable boo-yay strike exchange ever — I am not buying Undertaker’s spastic head shakes when he gets punched by a guy 1/4 his size, but good on him for doing them — en route to … well, a ref bump, a weapon shot and another Tombstone. It stops telling its own story for the sake of a “good match” vibe.
Imagine how great this would’ve been if Punk had held onto the WWE Championship and was cruising into WrestleMania at almost 500 days as champ, defending against the unbeatable, undefeated Undertaker? Thanks a lot, The Rock.
7. Vs. Ric Flair, No Disqualification Match, Wrestlemania 18 (2002) (10-0)
If I’m ever making a list of my favorite specific WrestleMania moments, Arn Anderson being summoned like a Marvel Vs. Capcom character to spinebuster the Undertaker during Ric Flair’s match is at the very top of it.
The Undertaker wanted a match with “co-owner” Ric Flair and went about earning it by bloodying his best friend, attacking his children and braining people with a “lead pipe” he kept hidden in his motorcycle. Flair was eventually forced to face Taker to defend HONOR and FAMILY and lost his power back to the McMahons, sacrificing everything he’d earned for honor and the people he loved. It was a great set-up, and the match itself would’ve been Flair’s last major Big Match Hurrah if Shawn Michaels hadn’t worked a storytelling miracle at WrestleMania 24. Bloody, violent and relentless, Biker Taker mauls Flair beyond all reasonable limits and the Nature Boy keeps finding his way back to his feet, most notably in that one beautiful moment when Double A rises from his grave and shows the world how a REAL MF’er throws a spinebuster.
Also notable from this match: Jerry Lawler finally noticing the phrase “booger red,” asking Jim Ross to explain it and Ross deflecting the question at least five different times.
6. Vs. Randy Orton, Wrestlemania 21 (2005) (13-0)
I’m ranking this one a little higher than I probably should for a few reasons:
1. This was the first match where The Streak was “The Streak.” Before this, it was a historical footnote. A “HEY KING DID YOU KNOW THE UNDERTAKER HAS NEVER BEEN DEFEATED AT WRESTLEMANIA?” Like Sin Cara’s Mexican comic book.
2. The REASON this match was the first time The Streak was The Streak is because the match was built AROUND it … Randy Orton had gone from “baby-looking blue chipper rookie” to “baby-looking LEGEND KILLER” and had started spitting in the faces of and RKO’ing WWE legends wherever he could find them. He went through a slew of them before challenging the ultimate living WWE legend, The Undertaker, at his most unstoppable: WrestleMania. It was a ballsy move from Orton, and his determination to be the only legend in existence brought other legends (like The Streak) into clearer focus.
3. This is the only time when The Streak really could’ve (or should’ve) been broken. The best part of an Undertaker Streak match is that nearfall that makes you stop thinking as a rational human being and go “OH WOW ARE THEY GONNA DO IT?” They aren’t. They aren’t ever, but sometimes they get close enough that you’re good on believing it. It would’ve worked here because the idea of “The Streak” was still new and hadn’t grown to ridiculously mythic proportions like it has now, Orton was guaranteed to be in WWE (wellness violations or not) forever and Taker will be fine no matter what. After this, there was really no going back.
4. He looks like he misses his cue (leading to an awkward Last Ride counter), but everything after Cowboy Bob Orton’s summoned cast shot is HOT. That nearfall, followed by the greatest nearfall anybody’s ever gotten on Taker at WrestleMania — Orton countering a chokeslam into an RKO — is insane. Follow that up with Orton trying to Tombstone Taker because he’s SUCH A PIECE OF CRAP and you’ve got the perfect ending to the match. Man, I bought that RKO. Almost 10 years later I’m still buying that RKO.
5. Aw, look at Randy Orton. He’s such a baby.
5. Vs Triple H, Wrestlemania 17 (2001) (9-0)
The first time Triple H tried to take out the Undertaker at WrestleMania remains the best of the trilogy, and is sorta The Matrix to 28 and 29’s The Matrix Reloaded and Whatever The Third One Was Called.
The story is mostly the same, but the context is better. The Undertaker is a monolithic pro wrestling God. Triple H is a guy with no self-confidence trying to undermine everyone and write his own wrestling legacy. They collide, Triple H never takes Taker quite as seriously as he should thanks to his own inflated (and false) sense of worth, so Taker powers up and murders him. That’s all three matches. Fortunately THIS one happens in the middle of WrestleMania X-7, the greatest WWE pay-per-view of all time, in front of Undertaker’s home crowd at the absolute peak of Attitude Era Boom. It was all downhill from here.
The highlight of the match is when the two fight out into the crowd onto a scaffolding structure. Triple H tries to turn Taker into a quadriplegic with a bunch of chair shots, and Taker responds by chokeslamming him OFF the structure to the floor. A replay ruins it (never show the crash pad, guys, come on), but that initial WAIT SHIT WHAT DID HE DO TO HIM is a feeling I haven’t ever forgotten. Great stuff. WrestleMania 27 should’ve just been this match playing on the big screen.
4. Vs. Edge, Wrestlemania 24 (2008) (16-0)
The next two matches were included as top 10 choices in the best WrestleMania main events list, so I’ll once again defer to that:
Note: people were literally on fire during this.
People like to talk up the Undertaker’s WrestleMania matches against CM Punk, Triple H and Shawn Michaels (I will too, a little later), but they often sleep on his WrestleMania 24 showdown with Edge, which is as good as any of them. There’s so much going on, from interference from the Edgeheads to antiquated prop video camera shots to the face and spears into jiu-jitsu submissions causing Ken Shamrock-style internal bleeding, but it all works. It’s one of the best matches of Edge’s career and one of the very best actual wrestling matches to headline a WrestleMania EVER, but its total lack of historical significance sorta hurts it. It’s just a brick in the middle of Taker’s WrestleMania legacy … too recent to be nostalgic, but too old to be hyped up on social media.
Best: This was the main event of the first WrestleMania I ever attended live. Spoiler alert: I left after the entrances to escape labyrinthian WrestleMania parking, then immediately felt like crap when I went back and saw how good this was. That feeling of regret kept me in the building for both Rock vs. Cena matches in their entirety.
Worst: Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat was never involved in a WrestleMania main event, but Zack Ryder was.
This is one of those matches that gets better the more you watch it. Edge kinda ruled sometimes, huh?
3. Vs. Shawn Michaels, Streak Vs. Career Match, Wrestlemania 26 (2010) (18-0)
I think the cool thing these days is to say that The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels wasn’t as good as everyone thinks, but forget that. Their match at WrestleMania XXV and the career-threatening rematch at XXVI are as good as epic, one-on-one main-event style matches in WWE get.
To the credit of the detractors, the rematch isn’t as good as the original, but it’s great, and builds and builds that weird mutual respect angle more and more until Michaels pulls himself up by Taker’s pants, slaps a 7ish-foot dead man in the face and gets GURL BYE’d with a jumping Tombstone. A JUMPING Tombstone. That shit is an exclamation point. Shawn wrestled in four decades and never learned how to throw a believable chop, but the man was an ace at selling the emotion of a story in the ring, especially when they end with him getting scooped up and tossed through the air and dropped on his head with authority.
On top of all that, the rematch had one (and my vote for) the greatest promo videos ever:
Best: You should’ve watched that video at least twice before moving on.
Worst: Triple H spending two years trying to have a match as good as either Taker/HBK match.
Gratuitously sharing that Placebo video again, I don’t even care.
2. Vs. Batista, Wrestlemania 23 (2007) (15-0)
I know, it’s Batista. I KNOW. But yo, go back and watch this. Not only is it the best Batista match of all time in a walk, it’s one of the Undertaker’s best, too, and one of the best WrestleMania matches ever.
It’s everything you could ever want from a Hoss Fight. Two of the biggest, strongest, least reasonable guys in the world just going all out and trying to kill each other from the opening bell. It’s light on filler, light on that horrible “lying around doing nothing” type of selling, heavy on the power moves, heavy on appropriate drama. It addresses the complaints I have for almost every match before and after it and perfects them, distilling them down to what absolutely matters … the story that The Undertaker cannot and will not be stopped here, not by you, no matter how smart and powerful and relentless you are. Batista capital letters KILLS him throughout this match and Taker always seems to be ready to kill him back, like Jason Voorhees following you through the forest. Here, it makes sense. It’s like the gritty reboot of the Taker/Diesel match for modern audiences.
If you don’t get anything else from this list, get that Batista and Taker stole the damn show at WrestleMania 23. This is better than the Cena/Shawn Michaels main event by a mile. My only complaint is that Batista was never this good again.
1. Vs. Shawn Michaels, Wrestlemania 25 (2009) (17-0)
Like you were expecting something else. Or some other screencap.
Like I said, I went back and rewatched every match The Undertaker had at WrestleMania. I rewatched him getting smothered by a towel while a vulture cried, I rewatched him getting set on fire or struck by lightning or teleporting or being buried alive, I rewatched him hug Fred Durst. I gained a deeper appreciation for some matches, and lost appreciation for a few of them. Knowing that, I can tell you without hyperbole that Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 25 put the exact same smile on my face it did five years ago, and is without a shadow of a doubt the finest and very best match ever performed in a modern, WWE main-event style.
In a world where some people consider Savage/Steamboat “overrated” you aren’t going to avoid naysayers, but god damn if this doesn’t hold up and exceed expectations. I remembered the major beats — Taker’s amazing DUR HUR face, the dive to the outside that left a forehead-shaped splatter on the ground and got Sim Snuka fired, that INCREDIBLE nearfall with the skin-the-cat into the Tombstone that every human being on Earth bought as the finish — but I’d forgotten some of it, the finer points. I’d forgotten how much feeling Shawn put into EVERYTHING. The way he walked, the way he climbed the ropes, the way he appeared to be actively thinking and trying to wrestle the “perfect match.” He does, too, aside from that fateful moonsault that puts him away and drives him into a year of spiraling depression.
I can’t overstate the quality of this, so I’ll confidently pop it in at number one as the greatest of the Undertaker Streak matches. I’m not sure there’s even an argument against it. It was the perfect climax to Taker’s return at 20 and dominance throughout 21-24, incorporating everything he’d learned — the timing of the big dive, the desperation Hell’s Gate, the Tombstone counters — into somehow defeating the best wrestler’s perfect match. Five stars, if you give things stars. 10 if you don’t. A masterpiece.