The Undertaker; a name more synonymous with Wrestlemania than perhaps any other wrestler who has graced the biggest stage pro-wrestling has to offer. Shawn Michaels may call himself “Mr. Wrestlemania” and Hulk Hogan may be credited as the man who made Wrestlemania what it is today, but The Undertaker (ever since 1991) is Wrestlemania.
Running Time: 182 mins
- Wrestlemania VII – Undertaker (w/Paul Bearer) v “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka
- Wrestlemania VIII – Undertaker (w/Paul Bearer) v Jake “The Snake” Roberts
- Wrestlemania IX – Undertaker (w/Paul Bearer) v Giant Gonzales (w/Harvey Wippleman)
- Wrestlemania XI – Undertaker (w/Paul Bearer) v King Kong Bundy (w/Ted DiBiase)
- Wrestlemania XII – Undertaker (w/Paul Bearer) v Diesel
- Wrestlemania 13 – WWF Championship Match: Undertaker (w/Paul Bearer) v Sycho Sid
- Wrestlemania 14 – Undertaker v Kane (w/Paul Bearer)
- Wrestlemania 15 – Hell in a Cell: Undertaker v Big Bossman
- Wrestlemania X-Seven – Undertaker v Triple H
- Wrestlemania X8 – No DQ Match: Undertaker v Ric Flair
- Wrestlemania XIX – Undertaker v Big Show & A-Train
- Wrestlemania XX – Interpromotional Match: Undertaker (Smackdown) v Kane (RAW)
- Wrestlemania 21 – Legend v Legend Killer: Undertaker v Randy Orton
- Wrestlemania 22 – Casket Match: Undertaker v Mark Henry
- Wrestlemania 23 – World Heavyweight Championship Match:Undertaker v Batista
No matter the line-up for Wrestlemania, there is always one match that you know will have some buzz surrounding it; Undertaker v *insert name here*.
This collection chronicles every match Undertaker has been in at Wrestlemania until 2007; the only one missing is this year’s awesome encounter with Edge. The names he has faced have been legitimate superstar names (for the most part) and he has always came out unscathed. It is no exaggeration to say that his “streak” of victories will never be matched… in fact, it’s highly unlikey his amount ofappearances at the event will ever be matched.
The disc has all fifteen matches and nothing else, so to review this, it makes sense to simply review each match as they come and give a rating accordingly. So let’s go back to 1991 and Wrestlemania VII. The main event (a greatly heated match) was Hulk Hogan v Sgt. Slaughter for the WWF Title, but on the midcard, a young rookie was making his ‘Mania debut. My main gripe is that some of the matches are joined “in progress”, while others are shown entirely. It’s not so much this that annoys me, rather the bouts that have been chosen to be shown in full compared to the ones cut.
Wrestlemania VII: The Undertaker makes his way to the ring to face “The Phenom” of the WWF; Jimmy Snuka. I personally have a soft spot for this match as it was the first Undertaker match I can remember seeing. I did watch pro-wrestling before this event, but Wrestlemania VII was the first show I really watched, and it was this match (alongside Savage v Warrior) that originally got me hooked.
This match is, at its core, a glorified squash designed to put the latest monster over in a big way. Undertaker was still pretty green, but Snuka made him look a million bucks by basically being destroyed. The only blemish is on the finish, as Snuka lands the wrong side for a cross-body and has to be put down before being picked up again.
Not a fantastic match, shown in its entirety, but a good start nonetheless. **
Wrestlemania VIII: This is an underrated match from the collection, and one that is unfairly overlooked when you consider the fantastic job Jake does in putting over Undertaker on his way to WCW. The build to the match was very well done and actually did what many thought impossible; it made Undertaker a babyface. With Jake’s plan to smash Miss Elizabeth with a chair foiled, the greatest mind in the history of the business made it his mission to take out “The Dead Man” at any cost. An assault on the Funeral Parlour set led to this contest and one of the most subtle put-over jobs you’ll ever see.
The one thing you will notice if you are new to wrestling is how slo-o-o-o-o-o-w Undertaker moves around the ring. The heat from the crowd is pretty good, and the two DDTs Undertaker takes are damn sweet (the second one is a thing of beauty).
What isn’t great is the Tombstone on the floor to Roberts; Jake’s head is clearly nowhere near the ground when Undertaker drops him… but the live crowd didn’t seem to care.
I’ve been lucky enough to have conversations with Jake Roberts, and he said that it was his idea to have Undertaker recover from two DDTs (apparently, ‘Taker didn’t want to recover from one). They compromised by having Jake DDT him and then, rather than go for the pin, mock the fans and go for Paul Bearer. It then kept both Undertaker and the DDT strong. How true this is depends on how much you believe Jake Roberts when he tells you a story.
Shown in its entirety. ***
Wrestlemania IX: Oh, dear. The previous two match weren’t mat classics, but nothing could ever be as bad as the match that took place at “the world’s biggest toga party” in Las Vegas. What Jim Ross, making his WWF debut, must have thought he had signed up to when he saw this debacle of a show. ‘Mania IX sucked big time, and this is easily the worst match on the card (and a strong contender for worst Wrestlemania match of all time).
For those who say Khali doesn’t belong in a ring or is the worst wrestler imaginable; let this be a lesson to you, Giant Gonzales/El Gigante is the worst wrestler imaginable. It’s not hard to see why he would be hired by a wrestling company founded on big men; the man stands a legit 7’8” tall and, when he reaches his arms out wide, really is a sight to behold… but he should have been kept as a 911 type character rather than a full-time in-ring competitor.
This match, shown from bell to bell, is as bad as everyone has ever said and should be watched for novelty value only. The only saving graces are that you know things are only going to be better from here on out and that Bill Alfonso (ECW manager of Taz, Van Dam and Sabu) is the referee. The actual highlight is the after-match shenanigans and current referee Jack Doan sporting a fantastic mullet when he comes out to help Undertaker to the back.
Wrestlemania XI: Undertaker v King Kong Bundy wouldn’t normally be a match you would be happy to see, but with it following ‘Taker v Gonzales, welcomed with open arms it was.
Not a bad match, but not one of Undi’s best either. It was a passable contest on a passable PPV. The only real story was Kama “I’m a reformed pimp these days” Mustafa stealing the new (huge) urn and making a chain around his neck.
Wrestlemania XII: The first really good match on the card… and it’s the first one they choose to join part-way through. I can still remember the build to this one, with Undertaker and Diesel trying to outdo the other (the dummy of Diesel in a coffin was scarily lifelike) from the moment Big Daddy Cool cost Undertaker the WWF Title at the 1996 Royal Rumble (if you want to see how a Tombstone should be taken, pay close attention to Bret Hart here).
At this point, the undefeated streak wasn’t really something discussed as a selling point, so there was no hype along the lines of “will Undertaker finally lose”. In fact, if this match was held in today’s climate, the entire talk surrounding it would be Diesel’s departure from WWE and imminent arrival in WCW.
It’s joined around the halfway mark and is a brutal (for the time) “big man” match. Diesel shows people how you powerbomb a man the size of Undertaker (twice) and both men trade power moves throughout the contest. This is easily the best match on the card so far.
Wrestlemania 13: Sycho Sid went into Wrestlemania as the WWF Champion (this was after HBK’s infamous “lost smile” speech to vacate the title), with Undertaker getting his first title match at the big show.
The main story of this match (joined in progress) was Shawn Michaels on commentary, Bret Hart being a pain in the ass (having came out and moaned like a trooper before the contest began) and whether Undertaker could defeat a man with the size and strength of Sid.
A decent match that has a happy ending for Undertaker fans (obviously; the DVD would be 14-1 otherwise), it is overshadowed by the interference of Bret Hart and suffers because of it. Sid, however, does go comically stiff as a board when taking the match-winning Tombstone.
Wrestlemania 14: The third match in a row that is joined in progress, and again, it’s one of the better matches on the disc. It really is baffling that the bout against Gonzales is shown in full, yet his good matches against Diesel, Sid and Kane are not.
The first thing newer fans will notice is that Kane looks completely different from what he is today. This Kane, the masked and mute monster, is what Undertaker’s brother should be; the Jason Voorhees of pro-wrestling… a dominating, destructive, overpowering force of nature.
Kane, like Undertaker when he first debuted, instilled fear in the younger fans, especially because he was bigger, stronger and (seemed) tougher than his big brother. This match was a fantastic big-man brawl that had a memorable finish.
It really is a testament to the Kane character that he is still around ten years after what should have been his WWF swansong. Many thought he was brought in to be another challenge for Undertaker and, when the feud was over, he would be gone and Undi’ would move on.
The fact it took three Tombstones (the first and third both being stunningly brutal) to keep Kane down for the three-count, and that Kane had the last laugh after the bell (although that isn’t shown here) let us know that the character was here to stay.
Undertaker put forth his strongest showing at Wrestlemania so far in this match.
Wrestlemania XV: “Hell in a Cell”, the ultimate WWF gimmick match of the era, has had some fantastic bouts contested inside its mesh structure… this isn’t one of them. As I have said earlier, it’s frustrating when you look at the matches chosen to be shown in full compared to the ones joined part of the way through. The last three matches were all really good bouts and were shown cut down, whereas this, the worst HiaC match (I don’t count the “Kennel from Hell” – also featuring The Bossman) in history, is shown bell to bell (but cut out the only memorable part of the encounter; The Brood hanging the late Ray Traylor from the top of the cell in a poorly executed segment).
This, like Wrestlemania IX, was obviously only included to make the collection complete, but I don’t think anyone would have complained if WWE simply mentioned them and showed the finish of both matches. This would have saved me from having to watch them again and also given more time for the better matches to be shown in full.
The second worst match of the streak.
Wrestlemania X-Seven: At this point in time, the undefeated streak was becoming more prominent. The set up for this contest was simple and effective; Triple H had come out on WWE television and said that he had beaten everyone in the company, only for our man to come out and correct the big-nosed McMahon-marrying Helmsley. So the match was signed on the simple premise of who was better. No crazy stipulations or storyline nonsense to lead us in; simply two guys who felt they were better than the other and now was the time to prove it.
Frustratingly, this is another match joined in progress (we come in when the two men are fighting on the lighting scaffold). To say this is a scandal is an understatement, because ‘Taker v Triple H was an awesome bout. I can remember watching it live on PPV and the feed went as Undertaker went to hit HHH with his sledgehammer. Hunter kicked ‘Taker in the nuts and then the feed was lost. I had to wait until the next day to watch a replay before I found out what happened.
Again, this was one of those matches where, going in, you thought the streak could come to an end. The fact it didn’t is a good thing for us (due to some great hype and matches based on the streak in later years), and the finish is well worked and original (at the time).
An awesome bout from (the missing) start to the bloody end (with fantastic commentary from Paul Heyman and Jim Ross and a brutal looking Last Ride), this is the most impressive on the collection so far.
Wrestlemania X8: To go 10-0, Undertaker would have to add another legend to his list of victims (Jake Roberts and Snuka); Ric Flair. Ric had only wrestled one match prior to this since he and Sting closed out the last Nitro, so there was some concern on whether the elder statesman of wrestling could still go. With the match having the added stipulation of there being no disqualifications, there would at least be some shortcuts to help them out.
The pre-match build was fantastic (shown here alongside parts of his heel turn on Jim Ross), with Flair saying no to a match until Undertaker attacked David Flair in the most entertaining segment of Flair, Jr’s career.
This is another match that is joined in progress, keeping up the run of the better matches being cut short while the crap matches are shown in full. Featuring a stunning juice-job on the part of Flair, a spinebuster from Arn Anderson as if it was 1989 and only the third heel Wrestlemania appearance, this is an awesome brawl from two veterans.
Flair does mess up on two attempts at a Last Ride, but the Tombstone finish makes up for it… and the last image of Undertaker standing on the apron counting his Wrestlemania victories on his fingers is a thing of heel beauty.
Wrestlemania XIX: Oh, dear (part 2). Say what you will about the match against Giant Gonzales at Wrestlemania IX, but at least it had a reason for happening. This handicap-match has no such luxury, but it sucks just as badly.
A-Train can be good (as his work in Japan can attest), as can Big Show (he and Undertaker have had exciting matches before), but this is just dire from bell to bell. The highlight for me is the spin-kick by Nathan Jones to Big Show near the end of the contest.
The best part of this match (inexplicably shown in full) is the final bell.
Wrestlemania XX: Buried alive at Survivor Series 2003, it appeared that Kane had finally rid the company of his brother; but Undertaker is made of tougher stuff. He’s been sent to Heaven, burned and buried once before, so everyone knew he’d be back… it was just a question of when.
The first real hint was at the 2004 Royal Rumble where Kane was eliminated after being distracted by the gongs of ‘Taker’s entrance. Videos started to appear on the TitanTron that the “Dead Man” would return at the show billed as “Where It All Begins Again”. Kane denied it would be so and made that intention clear as he entered the ring in Madison Square Garden.
“Oh, yessssssss!” heralded the return of Paul Bearer, and as the mortician pointed towards the entranceway, Undertaker made his return as the character that “made him famous” years earlier. The crowd reaction as he stood at the entrance with the druids lining the aisle was unbelievable… unfortunately, the match was less so as it was basically a squash to re-introduce the Dead Man gimmick, and as such was a disappointment. That this was shown in full, yet their superior clash from six years earlier was cut is a disgrace.
The one thing I did notice is that, intended or not, Kane, like his brother, had subtly changed his appearance/character in the years since his debut. The outfit became more revealing, the mask began to hide less of his face, he spoke more and more (including the awesome impressions of both The Rock and Hulk Hogan) until he lost the mask v title match against Triple H that led to the incarnation we see today.
Kane was a great opponent to bring the gimmick back against, but the execution wasn’t as good as it could be.
Wrestlemania 21: Ever since the streak became the focal point of Undertaker’s matches at Wrestlemania, I’ve never been more convinced that his streak could come to an end that I was with this match (there were moments against Edge at WM24 where I thought it was over, but this was only match were I was pretty sure he would lose before the match began).
Randy Orton was in the middle of his “Legend Killer” gimmick and was on a fantastic roll. He had claimed every legend he came across, and this was the biggest legend of them all; Undertaker’s streak.
The match (another one that is already under way) is fantastic, with Tazz and Michael Cole doing a really good job on commentary. Both men get about equal offence and both men come out stronger than they went in; an Orton RKO counter to a chokeslam made me, and some of the others watching the show live, leap up thinking it was over.
Truth be told, I believe Undertaker should have lost this one and Orton’s “Legend Killer” gimmick could have become the stuff of legend itself. As it is, Orton did well for himself anyway, so it didn’t derail him as much as it may have done with someone else.
Wrestlemania 22: A lot of people predicted doom the moment this match was announced, but this wasn’t the crapfest they assumed it would be.
Mark Henry is not a technical wrestler, but he is a decent power wrestler (and is a decent hand today). This does rank low on the list of great Undertaker matches, but it does have it’s highlights. The sight of ‘Taker leaping over the top rope and over the casket with a plancha, as well as the Tombstone on a guy so large will always be stunning to watch over and over.
The main problem with the match (and most gimmick matches, to be fair) is that it runs to the same old formula. Not the best match, but by no means the worst either, Mark Henry v Undertaker is just another wrestling contest.
Wrestlemania 23: We come to the best, and final, match of the collection; Undertaker v Batista for the World Heavyweight Championship.
Relegated to the middle of the card, this match (shown in full) was overlooked as a show-closer in favour of John Cena v Shawn Michaels. In hindsight, that was the wrong decision, but hindsight is always perfect.
There were questions about whether Batista (and his reputation for phoning it in) would be able to elevate himself to the fantastic run Undertaker was on leading into the bout. Those fears were unfounded; Batista put in a career-best performance (Undertaker wasn’t far off that level either) in the greatest match of Undertaker’s Wrestlemania streak.
With both men acting as if they were out to prove Vince wrong for not using them to close the show, they tore the house down with a sterling example of how to execute a brawl between to huge men. With the greatest commentary team in wrestling since Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler in their 1998 primes, Michael Cole and JBL, calling the action, the action ran for just over fifteen minutes and never dragged once.
Highlights include Batista powerslamming Undertaker from one announce table through the one next to them. There was also the spine-buster counter to “Old School”, the brutal brawling and Batista spearing Undertaker as soon as the bell rang.
Another interesting aspect was the crowd reaction; the fans in Detroit were not going to be happy with anything but an Undertaker title win and let everyone listening know it. Mimicking the John Cena/Triple H match from the previous year, when both men were trading blows, ‘Taker was cheered and Dave was booed (very loudly). I guess this can be used to show that they (all) aren’t booing Cena because they dislike him.
This is a fitting end to a legendary feat that will never, ever be duplicated.
Undertaker; I salute your longevity and ability to adapt and last for almost two decades. Love him or hate him, there is no denying the man’s impact on the world of professional wrestling. To take the most cartoonish of gimmicks and make it a legit main-event talent and legend of the business is phenomenal… perhaps that’s why he inherited the “Phenom” nickname from Jimmy Snuka.
No extras on this collection is a joke. There are so many hype videos that could have been included, not to mention some of the fabulous entrances Undertaker has had.
Eve ignoring all of that, to not have a single interview, from anyone at all, is a disgrace. There should have been something from each of his opponents (kayfabe or not) and some words from the guy himself on what it means to him to have this legacy.
A real missed opportunity to give an insight into the greatest gimmick pro-wrestling has ever seen.
A wasted opportunity that baffles far more than it entertains. Even going by the matches, if you look at the ones that are complete (v Snuka, Jake Roberts, Giant Gonzales, King Kong Bundy, Bossman, A-Train/Big Shown, Kane part 2, Mark Henry and Batista) and compare them to the ones shown underway (v Diesel, Sid, Kane part 1, Triple H, Ric Flair, Randy Orton), it is extremely lopsided.
Only the Batista match from the ones shown in full is above average, whereas all the matches that are incomplete are the best bouts from the streak. It seems like a slap in the face to those who buy this collection, as they are missing out on a lot of what the DVD is boasting to contain.
I can only recommend this for completists, die-hard Undertaker fans and those fans who have got into wrestling within the last few years. For everyone else, it really would be a waste of money.
The final straw is the complete lack of extras. Not one hype video, no TitanTron videos for his various entrances, no interviews with any of his opponents (or anyone else for that matter) and not a word from the guy himself means that this screams out that it is a cheaply put together cash-in.