I’m going to be honest, these two matches don’t really need an introduction, they basically sell themselves, but not including some kind of introduction would seem odd. Triple H and the Undertaker are two names that are always mentioned in people’s Mount Rushmores of Professional Wrestling, the Attitude and Ruthless Aggression Eras, and just in GOAT conversations/arguments that take place in the wrestling fandom.
Undertaker and Triple H had clashed at WrestleMania before, in 2001, but by 2011, both men were coming to the end of both their careers. Undertaker had largely stepped back from full time wrestling and Triple H was starting to take a more backstage role in WWE. So, what would cause these two pillars of WWE to clash again and again? Shawn Michaels.
In 2010, the Undertaker had agreed to a WrestleMania rematch that Michaels had been asking for, but he’d demanded something in return: If Michaels lost, he had to retire. Michaels agreed, and when he lost, the valiant, controversial, sometimes deeply troubled, Heartbreak Kid took his final bow.
However, Triple H wasn’t satisfied with that and in 2011 and 2012, sought to avenge his friend’s defeat by doing what HBK and so many others, including Triple H himself, had been unable to do: Defeat the Undertaker at WrestleMania. That quest would push him, the Undertaker, and the Game’s friendship with Shawn Michaels, to the absolute limit and end an historic era in WWE.
Round 2: The Undertaker – WrestleMania 27
Sometimes the best storylines and match builds are the ones that require very little talking. When the Undertaker returned to WWE in 2011 after a long absence, and was interrupted by the Game, who was making his own return, everyone knew what it meant, even before either man looked at the WrestleMania sign. For Triple H, it was about finally ending the streak that had cost his best friend his career. For the Undertaker, it was about respect, and continuing the streak that had come to define his career.
Triple H comes out first. I think the crowd thought it was the Undertaker because the lights went out, but it’s the Game with the return of the Skull King entrance and it is a big one. Game’s got a bunch of soldiers with shields, no, not the Shield, but actual shields. He’s got a crown and robe on, then the lights go out again and it’s time to play the Game.
On thing that always stands out to me is that, during Triple H’s entrance, we get a sweet little moment between JR and Lawler. A few segments before this, Lawler had had his first, and only, WrestleMania match and had seen his win overturned by the Anonymous RAW General Manager. Lawler was, understandably, not happy about this, and JR tried to cheer him up by pointing out that they would be calling this match together, and it was the first time in about a year that they’d be doing commentary together. It was a nice moment between two friends.
Taker’s entrance was every bit as cool as Triple H’s. He was doing the whole ‘Ain’t No Grave’ thing, but they didn’t use the music, which SUCKS, but the Last Outlaw doesn’t need special music, I guess.
This match is No Holds Barred and it was definitely that. Both men clearly learned from their first WrestleMania encounter ten years before and didn’t both with the gloves. It was nasty early. Good thing was that they destroyed Michael Cole’s Cole Mine thing.
This match was a LOT better than their WrestleMania X-7 fight. Both men were in very different places in their careers and had more notches in their belts.
This match spent very little time in the actual ring, but what was in the ring wasn’t much easier to watch than what was outside the ring.
If you want my opinion, and why else would you be reading this, I think Triple H should’ve been the one to end the Streak. Given their rivalry and how good these matches were, I think it should’ve been the Game to be the 1.
In the end, despite wearing out at least one steel chair on Taker’s back, the Deadman would refuse to die and would lock in the terrifying Hell’s Gate and choke the Game out.
Winner: Undertaker by submission, however, Triple H gets the moral victory. He was able to walk away from the match, Undertaker had to be stretchered out. I call that a draw.
Comment: Brutal match, but incredible storytelling.
End of an Era: The Undertaker – WrestleMania 28
When Triple H had come up short in his quest to end the Streak, the Game probably assumed that it was over, and he’d have to content himself with a moral victory, he had been able to walk away from the brutal encounter, while the Undertaker had been stretchered out. However, the Undertaker, embarrassed by his inability to walk away after his, demanded a rematch, which Triple H declined several times before giving in. To up the ante, the match would take place in a structure that both men were known for winning in: Hell in a Cell and to raise the takes for Taker, it was decided that Shawn Michaels would be the special guest referee.
JR comes out first, which marks this match as a big deal since JR had largely been out of doing commentary for awhile.
Shawn Michaels is out first and the crowd is excited to see the Heartbreak Kid back in the WWE. There is a lot of speculation on whether or not HBK is going to be impartial.
Triple H is out next and instead of Conan the Barbarian, he seems to be invoking He-Man, with his own version of Castle Greyskull, just not the BattleCat, or the sword. I guess Undertaker is going to be the Skeletor of this match.
The Deadman Cometh. Taker’s entrance is not nearly as cool as Triple H’s but WWE’s Skeletor doesn’t need a whole lot to get your attention. Plus, the robe is cool. The haircut, not so much.
Here comes Hell. You know something is cool when it gets its own entrance music, which the Cell does, or someone wanted to cover the silence.
This match almost picks up from they stopped at the previous WrestleMania. Hell in a Cell is always a brutal match, add in two men who have made careers out of destroying people in this environment and you have a NASTY match, even by Hell in a Cell standards.
The third man in this mayhem, HBK, told a wonderful story of being torn between his duty as a referee, his friendship with Triple H, and his respect for the Undertaker. It really seemed like HBK was going to help Triple H do the impossible, but HBK stuck to his morals, even though it seemed to cause him a lot of distress, and after the Undertaker locked Hell’s Gate on him.
In the end, the Game, even with Michaels, was no match for the Undertaker, and he knew it. With a defiant DX crotch chop, the Game was put away with a Tombstone Piledriver and the Streak became 20-0.
Winner: Undertaker by pinfall. Afterwards, HBK and Undertaker help Triple H up the ramp and all three men gaze out at the WWE Universe. At that point, it was the last time we were going to see all three men, the last of the outlaws, three of the remaining remnants of the Attitude Era, together in the ring. Now, that has changed since 2012, but it was still a powerful moment.
Comment: One of the best WrestleMania matches I’ve ever watched. Truly end of an era.