San Jose Arena, San Jose, California; January 18, 1998
Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker
This is my third review on the Shawn Michaels/Undertaker feud and matches they brought. I'd say out of the five matches they had this is the fourth best, once again not because it's a bad match but because of the high calibre matches the two brought out of each other. The video package before the show focuses on the history between the two and the recent "bond" between Kane and Undertaker, although it couldn't of been just me who didn't buy into the so-called bond between the two.
The Heartbreak Kid started the match on the upper foot jabbing away in the corner at The Dead Man to start and taunts but The Undertaker no sells and goes for a right. Michaels dodges and goes back to the jabs but no dice. Few back and fourths between the two before Michaels makes a break for it and runs towards Taker, The Undertaker backdrops him over the top rope and on the way down Michaels' back lands on the edge of the casket and that's the spot that gave Michaels his career ending back injury, looking at it KNOWING its the bump that ended his career for four years you can't help but wince really!
The Undertaker follows to the floor and throws Michaels around like a lawn dart. He tosses him into the ring post and then press slams him onto the floor. He gives Michaels the big boot into the casket but he quickly exits. Back in the ring Shawn Michaels floats over and tries a roll up but runs straight into a right hand. Taker whiffs on an elbow drop and Michaels is noticeably favoring the back already. The Undertaker starts hitting with some shoulder surges and then he hits "Old School" off the top of the ropes.
Michaels is sent across to the corner and does his version of the Flair bump over the turnbuckle. The Undertaker tries to grab him but Michaels stunguns him. Michaels goes up top but jumps into a power slam. Shawn Michaels is the rolled into the casket but Taker is unable to close the lid. Michaels sorta botches the chalk spot into Taker's eyes but onward and upward, we all make mistakes I'm sure we can all let Shawn Michaels off with that one. Undertaker still sells partial blindness. Michaels goes back to the jabs. Actually on the replay, it looks like he got him the first time but in all honesty the chalk just didn't provide the necessary visual.
The Undertaker goes for the choke slam and I guess he's done selling the eye. Michaels says fuck that shit and gauges the eye and hits a moonsault off the top rope, proper Shawn Michaels style. Michaels hits a clothesline but The Undertaker pulls him to the floor anyway and goes on the offence. HBK reverses and sends Taker into the stairs and he does the Foley knee first bump, man that looked painful. Michaels rams them into Taker's lower back a few times. Michaels piledrives him on the stairs and that look nasty and the crowd gasps, in fact I gasped, I thought the one at Badd Blood looked bad, jesus christ. For good measure, Triple H pounds Taker with a crutch and chokes him. Shawn Michaels hits him with a chair. Back in, Michaels hits a back elbow. He rolls The Undertaker into the casket but he fights back with uppercuts.
The Undertaker headbutts Triple H! Michaels comes back with a swinging neck breaker. Michaels goes for the sleeper and Taker drops to his knees. With the crowd fully on his back, The Undertaker fight back. He counters into a back suplex. Shawn Michaels hits the flying burrito and kips up. He hits that awesome elbow drop of his deep in the heart of The Undertaker and then begins to tune the band for the Sweet Chin Music and hits Taker square in the chin with it. He rolls Taker into the casket and gloats with the crotch chop so Taker grabs him with the testicular claw and escapes, god that must of hurt, or felt good, depending on who you are I suppose. Michaels begs off but The Undertaker hits some rights and a back body drop. Another chop and whip and Flair-esque upside bump.
The Undertaker then hits a big boot but whiffs on a flying zombie hip check or some shit and lands in the casket. Shawn Michaels hits a splash from the top all the way down to the casket and Earl just fucking shuts the lid and stands there like an idiot, I mean really!? He lies to another ref and says the fall knocked it down when we all clearly saw him shut it, anyway. Michaels tries to escape but Taker pulls him back in. Both escape and back in the ring, The Undertaker hits a choke slam. The Undertaker hits a badass spike Tombstone off the apron into the casket, awesome awesome awesome in every sense of the word but The New Age Outlaws and Los Boricuas hit the ring as well as others.
The lights go out and the crowd go fucking crazy, the organs play, Kane's bad ass old theme plays and business is about to pick up. Triple H slides out of the way and Kane clears the ring, choke slam after choke slam on superstars attacking his brother. Kane hits his signature taunt and then turns on The Undertaker, now in all honesty, even though I knew they weren't "bonding" like the storyline would have us suggest, I didn't think he'd attack Taker, I thought he'd clean house and walk off to continue the storyline a bit anyway.. Kane then choke slams The Undertaker into the casket, fuck knows where Shawn Michaels is whilst all this is going on and closes the lid, the referee rings for the bell and Shawn Michaels retains his title where he'll go on to meet Stone Cold Steve Austin at Wrestlemania.
Post-match Kane and Paul Bearer lock the casket and wheel it to the top of the ramp. Kane takes an ax to the casket and then pours gasoline all over the casket before setting it on fire and doing his brother taunt that him and Taker used to do back in the day, "Moments later" the road agents put out the fire and open up the casket but The Undertaker of course is nowhere to be seen. He gives some voiceover narration about getting revenge on Kane and we're outta time on what I thought was a pretty good match up considering.
I give this match THREE AND A HALF STARS ***1/2 , This is probably the best casket match ever and thoroughly entertaining as to be expected when both men are involved. Literally the exact same booking as the casket match four years earlier at the Royal Rumble 1994 between The Undertaker and Yokozuna but with better execution. I liked the original beginning, that was effective with lots of reversals without the usual wristlock, hammerlock, side headlock, criss cross, etc. Also, the heavily booked ending seemed to fit this better than the also awesome Ground Zero match, add to that it's memorable ending. The match scores points due to the chemistry between the two, its pacing and the performance of Shawn Michaels.
Up next, We go 11 years into the future for the next encounter between the two men. Wrestlemania 25.