Pruett's Blog Flashback: The Undertaker's Streak Series Part Six - The End of an Era - WrestleMania XXVIII and Streak Stats
By Will Pruett
In anticipation of WrestleMania, we'll be reposting this series with a new section covering Undertaker's 21st WrestleMania win appearing on Saturday.
WrestleMania XXVIII - The Undertaker vs. "The Game" Triple H in a Hell in a Cell match with "The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels as special referee:
The Undertaker was not seen between the moment he was carted out of the Georgia Dome at WrestleMania XXVII until the night after the 2012 Royal Rumble. In a scene so similar to the one between Undertaker and Triple H a year before one would think it was planned that way, Undertaker interrupted Triple H. He circled him in the ring and finally looked up to the WrestleMania sign. The only difference this year? Triple H gave Undertaker a pat on the shoulder and walked away instead of sharing a gaze into the WrestleMania sign.
This would cause Undertaker to plead for a rematch via video packages where he cut off his hair in agony over the match the previous year. Undertaker, while he won the match, did not believe he won. He didn't get to enjoy the pyro and festivities of going 19-0. He couldn't even walk out of the ring. Undertaker had something to prove. He needed to beat Triple H and enjoy doing so.
Triple H's logic for refusing the match was fear. His fear wasn't of Undertaker, it was of himself. He knew how close he had come the previous year, and he couldn't bear to be the man to end The Undertaker and The Streak itself. Triple H was eventually convinced by both Undertaker's hair cutting and his best friend.
That friend? Well, it was Shawn Michaels, who twice failed to end The Streak and lost his career in the process. In telling Triple H The Streak could never end, he motivated Triple H to give it one last show.
Another twist was about to come down the pike. Shawn Michaels was named special referee for the upcoming match. The match itself would take place inside Hell in a Cell, a structure Undertaker and Triple H have more history in than anyone else. Triple H had been in eight Hell in a Cell matches. Undertaker had been in ten (not counting random matches without finishes on Raw in 1998). They had never shared the cell, aside from a six man match at Armageddon 2000.
Shawn Michaels did his best to sell the possibility of him ending The Streak as referee. Triple H promised he would do what had to be done. The Undertaker promised vengeance. Three men with a long history together were headed into one match. This was the culmination of three years of work. This was the culmination of four WrestleMania builds.
At WrestleMania, only one voice could handle this epic encounter, Jim Ross. He was brought in to call this match and only this match. Along with the Cell and a special referee (who did not wear his traditional referee shorts), this match had every bell and whistle possible.
At WrestleMania, Triple H emerged from Castle Grayskull and Undertaker was spirited into the stadium by a lightning storm of some sort. Undertaker added a new jacket to his WrestleMania fashion streak, which looked similar to Super Shredder. Undertaker also debuted his short hair, which he emotionally cut off more and more of until Triple H agreed to the match. It's a good thing Triple H agreed before Undertaker reached his scalp.
The entrances were not finished when Michaels, Triple H, and Undertaker stood in the ring. The Cell itself was given an entrance. Metallica's "The Memory Remains" boomed through Sun Life Stadium as the Hell in a Cell engulfed the ring. This took the place of a traditional video package.
The challenge for the competitors in this match was to make the audience believe Undertaker could lose. He was going for 20-0 and given how great even, round numbers are, it was hard to think he would not win it. Shawn Michaels and Triple H did a nice job allowing fans to believe Undertaker would not win.
The match started out with the same intensity Triple H and Undertaker brought the previous year. They tore each other apart, with the action spilling to the outside and the Cell structure getting involved. While rumors were spread about Undertaker's health, nothing seemed evident. Triple H and Undertaker fought to the point in the match where brutality was necessary.
This was where Shawn Michaels came into play. Michaels begged both men to stop tearing each other apart. Triple H often reminded Shawn he had the ability to end it. Undertaker begged him not to. This lead to one moment where Michaels looked to be on the verge of calling for the bell as the brutality reached a high level an Undertaker looked out of it. In a self-preserving move, Undertaker caught Michaels in the Hell's Gate submission.
Moments after Michaels recovered, he would deliver Sweet Chin Music to Undertaker, which Triple H immediately followed with the Pedigree, leading to the most convincing near-fall of the match. It wasn't quite Triple H delivering the Tombstone a year earlier, but it was close.
The match continued down this brutal path, getting the most out of every move and allowing the audience to buy into every two count. Matches like this do not come around often. In the end, Triple H would fall victim to the Tombstone and Shawn Michaels would turn his head away rather than watch his best friend get destroyed. Michaels counted to three and Undertaker went 20-0.
After the match, Undertaker celebrated and after a few moments, helped Triple H to his feet. Triple H was carried out by Michaels and Undertaker. All three men shared a hug on the ramp.
The Verdict at 20-0:
For the entire build to this match and multiple times during it, the match was described as the "End of an Era." Now, a year later I am wondering what actually ended. Triple H has wrestled one match since this one and is scheduled to wrestle another. The Undertaker has appeared and will be wrestling at WrestleMania 29. What ended?
Neither man's careers ended on this night. Shawn Michaels' refereeing career may have ended, but that is even up in the air. It's hard to find the actual ending, but I do believe one is there.
The actual end was the end of this series. As a wrestling fan, nothing has stood out more than these four matches and this story in the last three years. Shawn Michaels gave his career for this era. Triple H cemented his legacy in this era. The Undertaker found legitimacy above what anyone imagined in this era. These matches and stories themselves are an era and it ended at WrestleMania XXVIII.
This era contained the best story ever told in wrestling. It had everything a good story needs. It had the perfect Aristotelian tragic plot. These three athletes created something truly beautiful. This is what ended. This was an era.
While working on this series, I compiled a few random trivia notes and facts about The Streak:
- Only three men have made multiple appearances as a part of The Streak. Kane and Shawn Michaels have made two. Triple H has made three.
- The only tag team to appear as a part of The Streak is Big Show and A-Train.
- The total time of every match in The Streak is 5 hours, 21 minutes, 18 seconds.
- A live band played The Undertaker to the ring only once. They were Limp Bizkit. The event was WrestleMania XIX. They were awful.
- The Undertaker has won two matches by submission: WrestleMania XXIV (Edge) and WrestleMania XXVII (Triple H).
- Two matches have been won by means other than pinfall or submission: WrestleMania IX (Giant Gonzalez by disqualification) and WrestleMania XXII (Mark Henry via casket).
- The gimmick match history of Undertaker at WrestleMania contains two Hell in a Cell matches (WrestleMania XV and WrestleMania XXVIII), one Casket Match (WrestleMania XXII), and 3 variations of the No Disqualification or No Holds Barred match (WrestleMania X-8, WrestleMania XXVI, and WrestleMania XXVII).
- The original Undertaker character appeared at nine WrestleMania's. The biker variation appeared at three. The new Deadman character appeared at eight.
- Two men have been the special referee for an Undertaker WrestleMania match: Larry Young (WrestleMania XI) and Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania XXVIII).
- The longest match of The Streak is the WrestleMania XXVII match with Triple H (30 minutes, 50 seconds). It is just nine seconds longer than Undertaker's WrestleMania XXV match against Shawn Michaels.
- The shortest match of The Streak is the first one. Jimmy Snuka lasted only 4 minutes, 20 seconds.
- The Undertaker has wrestled for a championship at three WrestleMania's (WrestleMania XIII, WrestleMania XXIII, and WrestleMania XXIV). He obviously won all three.
- The Streak has been the main event of three WrestleMania events (WrestleMania XIII, WrestleMania XXIV, WrestleMania XXVI).
- The Undertaker has defeated every member of Evolution (Triple H, Ric Flair, Randy Orton, Batista) as a part of The Streak.
- The two founding male members of Degeneration-X are very prominent members of The Streak (Shawn Michaels and Triple H). No word on whether Chyna has been contacted to complete the trifecta.
- Since beginning The Streak at WrestleMania VII, The Undertaker has only missed two WrestleMania's (WrestleMania X and WrestleMania 2000).
- The Undertaker's traditional theme (or some variation of it) was used at all but four WrestleMania's (WrestleMania X-7, WrestleMania X-9, WrestleMania XIX, and WrestleMania XXVII). The first three departures were awful. The fourth was a pretty amazing Johnny Cash song. His music taste evolved over his career.
Thanks for reading this series for another year everyone. It would not be possible without the amazing work of Ryan Kester as an editor and without the support of everyone reading this site. Happy WrestleMania week!
Let's do some good old fashioned talking about this blog and Undertaker's Streak! Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or to follow me on twitter at twitter.com/itswilltime.
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