Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame
Join Date: Dec 2004
Re: Official DVD/Match/Show Discussion Thread
Here's my reviews of all 19 Undertaker Wrestlemania Matches! The Streak in Full!
Vs. "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka at Wrestlemania VII
This is a match that has become more historically significant over time. If The Undertaker had flopped as a gimmick and was gone by the end of 91, we would look back on this match as a shitty squash match Mania filler for a gimmick that ultimately went nowhere. Now though? It was the start of a legacy. It was the start of a 2 decade storyline that carries through Wrestlemania up to this very day. It was more than just the Wrestlemania debut of The Undertaker. It was the start of something special and we didn't even know it. The match itself is just a squash match used to kill time & feature a newer character. That's about it. Taker made quick work of Snuka and that was that. So I wouldn't say it was a "good match" but it was a good display for Taker's abilities & character, & like I said, it started the streak, so its got history backing it.
Vs. Jake "The Snake" Roberts at Wrestlemania VIII
This Mania was weird as it felt like Plan A got thrown out the window and they had to switch everybody around. The plan seemed like it was going to be Hogan Vs. Flair for the Title, Savage Vs. Jake in some kind of Loser Leaves Type of Stipulation, and Undertaker Vs. Sid as the trademark big man match. But plans changed, Sid turned heel to face Hogan, and Savage went for the gold against Flair, which left Jake & Taker, two partners, to be paired together in a feud. What really struck me though was how easy it was to accept Taker as a babyface. The feud was rushed, for sure, but I'll always remember that Funeral Parlor segment where Jake trapped Taker's hand in the coffin and DDT'd Paul Bearer. Jake was such an awesome heel back then with his "Trust Me' act, and Taker was such a cool set up anyway, that I took to Taker pretty quickly as a babyface. The match was pretty ordinary until the finishing segment which I thought was pretty sweet. Back in the day, nobody, and I mean NOBODY got up from Jake's DDT. Undertaker sat up after one, and then ANOTHER! It was one of the early indicators of how unstoppable a force Taker was. Taker won after Tombstoning Jake on the floor (another cool visual) and win number 2 was in his grasp. It was a Plan B match, but still enjoyable all the same.
Vs. Giant Gonzalez at Wrestlemania IX
Honestly, I feel like this match gets way more hate than it deserves. Was Gonzalez terrible? Yes. But to me, this match being labeled one of the very worst in Mania's history is largely undeserved. I didn't even think the match was that bad. Heck, it wasn't even long enough to be boring. There were some cool visuals like Taker being tossed around like a rag doll and the stare down. I also really liked the ending where Gonzalez knocked out Taker who had to be stretchered out. The fans boo Gonzalez, but then the Gong sounds and Taker storms back down to the ring and takes down the Giant with a few leaping lariats. I thought it was pretty cool! You'll never hear me say this is one of Taker's best Mania performances, but I definitely feel he's had much worse.
Vs. King Kong Bundy at Wrestlemania XI
Not a good match. Bundy was a good big man, but these two just didn't mesh well. Hell to be honest, this Mania was completely terrible anyway, so there you go. I don't really have much else to say about this one besides how weak the finish was. Taker couldn't Tombstone Bundy, so he ended up beating him with a clothesline. Yeah....weak.
Vs. "Big Daddy Cool" Diesel at Wrestlemania XII
This was Taker's best Mania match up to this point. Before he had worked with guys that were past their primes (Jake, Snuka, Bundy) or big man characters that were fed to him (Bundy & Gonzalez). Here though, he was facing a guy that was still somewhat fresh after a year long title run and a big heel turn, so this had a perfect semi main event feel to it. Nash was never known as a great worker, but I felt like this was one of his better matches in the WWF. It was just a good ol' fashioned smashmouth big man affair with Taker getting his fifth Mania win. I think this one gets overlooked a bit, but like I said, its the best one up to this point in Taker's Mania resume.
Vs. Psycho Sid in a No Disqualifications Match for the WWF World Heavyweight CHampionship at Wrestlemania 13
Taker's first Mania World Title Match and Main Event did NOT go well. I don't blame either guy for this. This was just booked to be a disaster. It was obvious that whatever plan they had for Wrestlemania's main event this year was not going to happen and this was a last minute solution with no build up. Did Taker win the Rumble? No. Did Sid have a long run as champion leading into this show? No. Did Sid & Taker have any kind of animosity based storyline between each other? Honestly, I don't even remember them interacting in promos leading up to the show. So that lack of build up translated in what had to be one of the most lifeless Mania main events ever. The effort was there. I mean you had two 7ft guys flying off the top rope, but nobody cared, and who can blame them? The ONE attraction this match had going for it was "Well, at least I get to see Taker win the belt". Well they even messed that up by having a freshly turned heel Bret Hart help Taker win the title by screwing over Sid. So yeah, thanks for taining that whoever booked this. This is one of the worst Mania main events ever and its just a shame that Taker is tied to it. Oh well, he would make up for it in future World title matches.
Vs. Kane at Wrestlemania XIV
We go from one of Taker's worst to my personal favorite. I'm dead serious. Out of Taker's 19 Wrestlemania matches, THIS is my favorite to date. A large part of that is due to the storyline which was executed perfectly. The personal rivalry between two brothers that had been brewing since Kane's first appearance in October 97 was just insane. And they did a brilliant job of building animosity while also keeping them apart until Mania. Its the kind of handling you barely see anymore. We get to Mania and we have a determined and sympathetic babyface in Taker unwillingly facing his own flesh and blood in the form of a seemingly unbeatable wrecking machine. Great booking. And the match itself is awesome because Taker was just outmatched and overpowered. It was shocking to see Kane just dominate Taker the way he did as we were used to seeing Taker be the dominate one. JR had a great call in that match: "I've never seen one, two, or a group of people manhandle The Undertaker as we are seeing right now". They did a great job of convincing me that Kane was going to win, and to watch him kick out of Two Tombstones, almost a third, it really made Kane look like a monster. I also have to say that this was Kane at his best as they captured the Jason Voorhees act perfectly. He didn't sell. All you could do was push him back and he would just keep coming, and the presentation was just flawless. Undertaker's greatest challenge turned into one of my favorite Mania matches.
Vs. The Big Bossman: Hell in a Cell Match at Wrestlemania XV
Well we go from my favorite Taker Wrestlemania Match to the one I feel is the absolute worse. Wow, this one is bad. By this point, Hell in a Cell had become an early legendary gimmick following the first two PPV contests. This was the combo breaker as this match was a piece of shit. Horribly boring & easily the worst Hell in a Cell match in history as well. The only cool thing about this match was after it was over when Taker hung Bossman from the cell which was a great visual. Other than that though, this was an utter trainwreck and I would probably even go as far to say its the worst match of Taker's career period. Now like the Sid match where Taker bounced back with good World Title matches, Taker has a chance at Wrestlemania XXVIII to undo his bad HIAC Mania mark and do something special with Triple H. Speaking of which...
Vs. Triple H at Wrestlemania X-Seven
When I first saw this match, I never dreamed that it would become a Mania trilogy, but then again, I never dreamed either guy would still be wrestling in 2012, so what do I know? Anyways, this was one of the last great pairings that the Attitude Era could offer but we never really got on any kind of big stage, so it was cool to see. I thought for a one month build, they actually did a very good job of capturing a lot of intensity and hatred in the feud to make it a worthwhile Mania match. Come match time and these two beat the living hell out of each other! It was a wild & crazy affair with one of the best brawls through the crowd I've ever seen, including Taker chokeslamming Trips off a media tower, which was a great visual since it looked like HHH just disappeared from sight. The only real knock I have on this match is the ref bump which left the referee unconscious for like 10 minutes with nobody checking on him. Other than that though, it was a very fun match with sledgehammers and big finishers to add to the excitement. It was also the first time The Undertaker was featured at Wrestlemania as the American Bad Ass, and this was by far the best of his ABA Mania bouts. Point of interest, this was also the first time that I recall them making any kind of point of Taker being undefeated at Wrestlemania which actually made me think Triple H was going to win.
Vs. "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair in a Streetfight at Wrestlemania X-8
The cool part of this match was the visual of Taker holding up 10 fingers to signal him being 10-0 at Wrestlemania. The match itself was overshadoed by the Hogan/Rock encounter like everything else on this card, but it was definitely the second best thing on the show. It wasn't perfect, but Flair & Taker had a fun & violent context that even involved an appearance from Arn Anderson. Also check it out for probably the best Superplex I've ever seen. Overall a good 10th Win for Taker. Although I have to ask: Why was JR calling Taker Booger Red and constantly repeating it to try and get that over? Did they really think that would get over?
Vs. A-Train & The Big Show at Wrestlemania XIX
This one was underwhelming. I don't know of any other way to describe it. It wasn't terrible or even bad, but it was so unimportant. And the intended goal of getting Nathan Jones over was made moot when it was deemed that he was so terrible that they pulled him from the match the night of the show. And even with a 2 on 1 situation, there was no way on Earth Taker was going to lose this one. It almost felt like Taker was being used as filler here, which I guess is understandable given how many main events were on this show to begin with.
Vs. Kane at Wrestlemania XX
The era of the American Bad Ass was over and it was time for Taker to go back to his roots. Unfortunately, this match pales in comparison to its Wrestlemania XIV counterpart in every way. Kane was unmasked and on a major down slide by this point. He wasn't the dominant killer we knew in 98. And the match was nowhere near as good either and just felt like a squash match for Taker to showcase him as the Dead Man again. The entrance was fantastic and that was the best part of the whole thing and it was even better to have Paul Bearer back. The match though....meh. I was disappointed that Taker still looked like The American Bad Ass. It felt like he was half assing The Dead Man thing at first, and that was disappointing. His outfits in later years were much better. The XIV match lived up to a great build up. This one did a great job of building anticipating for Taker's return (go back and watch some of the stuff they did. It was pretty cool) but except for the entrance, it didn't quite live up to it.
I would also like to say that I hope to God this is the LAST time we see Taker Vs. Kane at Mania since I am sick to death of watching them wrestle each other.
Vs. Randy Orton at Wrestlemania 21
This one is heavily underrated. This feud might have saved Randy Orton's career as he was just coming off a stupid face turn and being thrown through the Triple H buzz saw. But the return of The Legend Killer led to a jumpstart in Orton's career and a great rivalry heading into Wrestlemania. I've said it before, but this was the last time I truly felt like the Streak was in jeopardy. Taker was facing a young up & coming talent that had potential for long time main event stay and ending the steak would have been the perfect win to give him. It just seemed like it was going to happen. When Orton countered that Chokeslam into the RKO, I honestly thought the streak was dead. It was an awesome moment in an often overlooked match that was part of an overall great rivalry, probably the best of Orton's career. But Taker gets lucky number 13 as we chug along.
Vs. Mark Henry in a Casket Match at Wrestlemania 22
Its kind of surprising that a Casket Match didn't happen at Wrestlemania before this one. Its just too bad Taker got stuck working with Henry. Seriously, this match was like watching Taker have a match with a Giant Pillow. All Henry had to do was be in place for Taker's big spots and that was it. There were some great visuals like Taker's over the top dive over the Casket onto Henry and a couple others. It wasn't an overall exciting match though. If I had to rank it among Taker's Mania bouts, it'd be listed among the average ones.
Vs. Batista for the World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania 23
Taker's World Title Wrestlemania redemption is at hand. This was the biggest match that the Smackdown brand had to offer for Wrestlemania, and it worked out very well. A dominant long term monster champion going up against the dominant legend with a Royal Rumble victory and an unbeaten streak at Wrestlemania. Unfortunately, the feud itself wasn't that great since they never fully turned Batista heel, which made it kind of weak sauce. But the match itself delivered big time in one of Taker's best Mania matches up to this point. It was a great big man power match that culminated in a proper Undertaker World Title win. I've heard people say this match should have closed Wrestlemania, and that's probably correct since this seemed to be the match that most people cared about.
Vs. Edge for the World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania XXIV
Getting on my booking high horse here, I really wish that Edge hadn't lost MITB at Wrestlemania 23, or been in another match that he had won. Prior to that, Edge had been unbeaten at Wrestlemania at 5-0 which was way more than anyone else had up to that point. If WWE had the foresight to keep that going, Edge would have headed into this Mania 6-0 and they could have sold this match as "Undefeated Vs. Undefeated" the Title hanging in the balance. Also, I felt like the way they had set up this match and the way they booked the shows leading in to it, Taker winning was about as obvious as it gets.
BUT, the match itself was pretty good. It wasn't as good as the highly emotional Flair Vs. HBK match from earlier in the show, but it was a worthwhile Wrestlemania main event. These two would have even better matches with each other later in the year, but Wrestlemania was a good first entry into their series and it was nice for Taker to get a good Wrestlemania closer as well.
Vs. "The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania XXV
The set up for this match seemed to be....we want these two to wrestle at Wrestlemania. There wasn't much of a set up outside that. The end result though was an outstanding match with nearfalls that actually shocked me, namely Michaels kicking out of the Tombstone. It was two of the very best that the WWE has ever offered going all out in a contest that pushed them both to the limits and it was one for the ages. There isn't a whole lot to say other than that. This is a match that gets all its praise entirely for the in ring product, which was top notch.
Vs. "The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels: Streak Vs. Career at Wrestlemania XXVI
I don't think the in ring product is as good as the XXV match mainly because its easier to shock us the first time around. As an example, when Taker hit the Tombstone at XXV and Michaels kicked out, I almost shit my pants. When it happened at XXVI, I expected it because it had happened the year before. However, what this match has over the XXV match is a much better set up & build. Shawn's desire to end the streak led to him putting his career on the line in desperation. It raised the stakes and came from established history & a story rather than just "Hey, lets fight". It was a brilliant call on WWE's part to have them close the show as the emotional response to Shawn's retirement was the perfect way to close Wrestlemania. And I'm not knocking the in ring work either, which was once again a great effort from both guys. If this is truly the last match of Shawn's great career, then it was a hell of a match and a hell of a moment to close.
Vs. Triple H: No Holds Barred Match at Wrestlemania XXVII
Phew! Finally got through this. The 19th Undertaker Wrestlemania match and the set up for the 20th. I actually liked the build up for this one. Again, it played off what happened at XXVI by Triple H trying to avenge his friend. The match itself was definitely the best part of this Wrestlemania. I've heard the phrase "one of the greatest matches ever" thrown around, but I wouldn't go that far. I felt like it got a tad silly towards the end with all the kickouts. I mean after kicking out of two Pedigrees, a Tombstone, and got knows what else, how can anybody believe that the streak is ever going to end? But the match itself was overall very good and very brutal. There were a lot of tough shots and bad falls in this one and it did a great job of setting up Taker's year long departure. Not an all time favorite, but definitely a very good match and a worthy Wrestlemania entry for Taker's streak.
Ranking the Streak!
19) Vs. Bossman: HIAC at XV
18) Vs. Bundy at XI
17) Vs. Sid at 13
16) Vs. A-Train & Big Show at XIX
15) Vs. Snuka at VII
14) Vs. Henry Casket Match at 22
13) Vs. Gonzalez at IX
12) Vs. Kane at XX
11) Vs. Roberts at VIII
10) Vs. Flair Streetfight at X-8
9) Vs. Diesel at XII
8) Vs. Edge for World Title at XXIV
7) Vs. Orton at 21
6) Vs. HHH at X-Seven
5) Vs. HHH No Holds Barred at XXVII
4) Vs. Batista: World Title at 23
2-3) (TIE) Vs. Shawn Michaels at XXV & XXVI
1) Vs. Kane at XIV
Last edited by TripleG : 03-03-2012 at 08:21 PM.