WrestleMania Week – Best of The Undertaker

He’s one of the most iconic characters ever to set foot inside a ring, and his epic WrestleMania win streak had people wondering who his next opponent would be. But what were The Undertaker’s best WrestleMania matches?

The Undertaker made his WrestleMania debut in 1991, defeating “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka at WrestleMania VII and continued to win at the company’s biggest event whenever he appeared over the next 22 years. He won 21 straight WrestleMania matches, including a number of World Championships, in that time, facing everyone from Giant Gonzalez to “Nature Boy” Ric Flair. The win streak was so prolific that when it finally ended in 2014, the crowd at the Superdome went silent.

Almost all of The Undertaker’s greatest matches have come in the last 10-15 years. In the early days of the character, the slow and plodding nature of the man who seemingly couldn’t be hurt made matches dull and fairly predictable. His in-ring ability improved dramatically around 2005, and for a few years, he consistently had one of the best matches of whatever WrestleMania he was on.

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The Deadman is rumored to be facing John Cena this year in a match many have clamored for since Cena became the company’s franchise player. Even though the show is this Sunday, in the same building where he lost his first WrestleMania match, the contest still hasn’t been announced, with rumors indicating the match will be announced at the show as a “surprise attraction.” Over the last two or three years, word has circulated that The Undertaker has fought his last match, but still, he comes back for WrestleMania. If he fights Cena this Sunday, will the match get added to the list of his greatest big-time battles?

** NOTE – The lists being published this week were compiled from the larger list of WrestleMania match rankings done for Scott’s Blog of Doom and Place To Be Nation. Check out those sites for more great WrestleMania content. All rankings are, of course, just my opinion and are not meant to be a definitive list**

10. Undertaker vs. Bray Wyatt (WrestleMania 31)

It was the first WrestleMania match for The Undertaker after The Streak ended the year before. It was also his first match since that loss, so a level of ring rust was expected. But The Deadman put in an impressive performance against Wyatt, who was also game for the match despite reportedly hurting his ankle earlier that weekend. I don’t think anyone expected Wyatt to get the win here, which made his kicking out of The Undertaker’s finishing move – the Tombstone Piledriver – a bit unexpected, but a second one put “The Eater of Worlds” away.

9. Batista vs. Undertaker – World Heavyweight Title match (WrestleMania 23)

Reportedly, both The Undertaker and Batista, the World Heavyweight Champion, were a bit miffed that their title match wasn’t closing out the show, getting passed over for the John Cena-Shawn Michaels WWE Title Match (Read about that HERE), so both men were motivated to try and steal the show. The two behemoths did not disappoint, as they put on one of the best matches of the night as they beat the hell out of each other. Despite getting powerslammed through one of the announce tables, The Undertaker managed to fight back and pin Batista after a Tombstone to win the match and the title.

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8. Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar (WrestleMania XXX)

The result of this match alone merits its inclusion on the list, as it’s not a particularly good match, hampered by The Undertaker seemingly getting knocked for a loop early on and fighting while in a daze against one of the scariest dudes to ever fight in a WWE ring. At this point, The Undertaker had beaten everyone at WrestleMania and, regardless of what The Beast Incarnate threw at him, no one expected Lesnar to be the man to break The Streak. And even as the referee’s hand came down for the three count after Lesnar hit The Deadman with the third F-5, I expected The Undertaker to kick out. But he didn’t. Sure, all streaks need to come to an end, but this was still shocking.

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7. Triple H vs. Undertaker (WrestleMania X-Seven)

The first of three WrestleMania matches with Triple H, this match took place during The Undertaker’s “American Bad Ass” phase, when he was a biker instead of an undead zombie who buried people. The match, in storyline at least, was thrown together because neither man had an obvious opponent for the big event. The brawl took to the floor and into the crowd at the Astrodome, and bodies flew all over the place before The Undertaker hit Triple H with his Last Ride powerbomb to get the win. This match began to redefine what a WrestleMania match from The Undertaker could be and was a precursor to a series of classic matches.

6. Undertaker vs. Randy Orton (WrestleMania 21)

In 2005, Randy Orton was a cocky young upstart who called himself “The Legend Killer.” He was looking to shoot his career into superstardom with a WrestleMania win over The Undertaker, even going so far as to recruit his father, WWE Hall of Famer “Cowboy” Bob Orton Jr. This was probably the first time many people actually expected The Undertaker to lose at WrestleMania, and it added a lot to the intrigue as the match went on. In the end, though, The Undertaker reversed a Tombstone attempt from Orton into one of his own and managed to put the future World Champion down for the win.

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5. Undertaker vs. CM Punk (WrestleMania NY/NJ)

An urn serving as the source of The Undertaker’s powers being stolen and used against him has been a frequent trope for the Deadman’s opponents. When CM Punk used an urn against The Undertaker for this 2013 match, he was also disparaging the memory of The Undertaker’s recently-deceased former manager, Paul Bearer. The disrespect from Punk and his manager Paul Heyman added some heat to the build for the event, which carried over into the match itself. Punk managed to give the Deadman a good fight, but ended up being the 21st victim of The Undertaker’s Tombstone piledriver.

4. Undertaker vs. Edge – World Heavyweight Title Match (WrestleMania XXIV)

For the second year in a row, The Undertaker was challenging for the World Heavyweight Championship, but this time he was back in the main event of WrestleMania. The champion, Edge, did everything he could to not only keep the title around his waste but also be the man to end The Streak. Edge hit The Undertaker with a camera, got help from his cronies Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins and managed to evade most of the Deadman’s biggest moves while hitting him with his own finisher, the spear. It wasn’t enough, though, as The Undertaker fought back against everything and countered a second spear into his Hell’s Gate submission hold to get the win and the title.

3. Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker (WrestleMania 25)

The Heartbreak Kid and The Deadman had an amazing feud back in 1997-98, which included the first-ever Hell in a Cell match and Michaels injuring his back so badly in a casket match that he had to retire for four years. Since his return in 2002, though, Michaels and The Undertaker never crossed paths, until the 2009 edition of WrestleMania. The Undertaker put The Streak on the line against “Mr. WrestleMania,” and Michaels went all out to try and get the win. The match was a near work of art, marred slightly by The Undertaker diving over the top rope at Michaels, only to accidentally get dropped on his head. Michaels covered for it, though, by using it as an opportunity to get a cheap countout victory to break The Streak. The Undertaker managed to get back into the ring, though. When Michaels attempted a moonsault onto The Deadman, The Undertaker caught him and hit him with a monstrous Tombstone to get the win in the match of the night, and possibly the match of the decade.

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2. Undertaker vs. Triple H – Hell in a Cell (WrestleMania XXVIII)

At the previous WrestleMania, Triple H sought to avenge his best buddy, Shawn Michaels, after losing his second straight match and his career to The Undertaker (more on that in a minute), to no avail. This time around, Triple H challenged The Undertaker to a rematch within the confines of the Hell in a Cell cage. To stack the deck further, Michaels would serve as special referee for the match. There probably isn’t a soul alive who watched that match as it happened who didn’t think Triple H would get the win here, especially after Michaels hit The Undertaker with a superkick, followed by Triple H’s finisher, the Pedigree. But The Undertaker would kick out, and he would fight back to hit the Tombstone on Triple H. The drama in the match, billed “The End of an Era,” intensified every blow in the final half of the match and created several WrestleMania Moments in the process.

1. Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker (WrestleMania XXVI)

As WrestleMania season approached in 2010, Michaels became obsessed with the idea of beating The Undertaker. He came close the year before and he wanted another chance. He could do it, he argued, if he had just one more shot at it. But The Undertaker refused. Michaels continued to provoke The Deadman, even costing him the World Heavyweight Championship in an Elimination Chamber match. The Undertaker only agreed to the match when Michaels agreed to put his career on the line. It would be difficult to top the match the two men had the previous year, but they managed to do it here. Michaels desperately did everything he could to get the win, but The Undertaker wouldn’t stay down. After kicking out of two Tombstone piledrivers, Michaels slapped The Undertaker in a final act of defiance, before getting hit with a third Tombstone, jumping in the air this time, to end Michaels’ career.

That’s it for this time around. In our final list tomorrow, we celebrate the greatest tag team matches in WrestleMania history!