We’re eight days away from WrestleMania XXX, and NZPWI is counting down the 10 best matches from the last 10 years of the showcase of the immortals.
We’re covering 10 different matches featuring 13 different superstars held at seven different WrestleManias over the past decade. Will your favourite make the list?
The next of our 10 in 10 is the second of our Undertaker matches and what was best described as “The End of an Era”. It was a match that featured three men who epitomised the Attitude Era and the match type that defined a rivalry.
Coming in at number eight, it’s the Hell in a Cell match between The Undertaker and Triple H with Shawn Michaels as the special guest referee at WrestleMania XXVIII.
NZPWI’s 10 BEST WRESTLEMANIA MATCHES OF THE LAST 10 YEARS
#8: TRIPLE H VS. THE UNDERTAKER (WRESTLEMANIA XXVIII)
These three men are synonymous with WrestleMania and have provided some of the greatest matches and greatest rivalries to ever grace The Grandest Stage of Them All. Furthermore, these three had created some the greatest matches against each other.
But this match was something different. The previous year, Undertaker had defeated Triple H, but for the first time was unable to leave WrestleMania on his own two feet. Although a win inside the ring, Undertaker did not see this as a victory.
After two decades of domination in the WWE, both Undertaker and Triple H were slowing down in their wrestling roles while Shawn Michaels had retired two years earlier (although that is a story for a later time). However, Undertaker wanted to prove his worth, to get that all-encompassing victory over the man they call The Cerebral Assassin.
Triple H would accept under the sole condition that they “go all the way”, that they fight in a match that had defined both of their careers: Hell in a Cell. The Undertaker accepted, Michaels was entered as special guest referee the next week, and in no time at all, the match would be dubbed “The End of an Era”. Add an impromptu Jim Ross on commentary and this match had all the makings of one of the greatest.
The event was held at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Florida, but the dark-end of twilight and Undertaker’s smoky entrance set an ominous tone for what lay ahead. Once all three super-human men had entered the ring, the cell lowered and trapped all three inside.
The Undertaker controlled the first part of the match with his unmatched striking abilities and his willingness to use the cage and steel steps as weapons. However, Triple H would turn around the momentum by turning Undertaker’s patented Hell’s Gate into a modified powerbomb.
Triple H would then maintain control before hitting a devastating number of sick chair shots. This showed exactly how emotional the match truly was, as Shawn Michaels attempted to stop his best friend, Triple H, from destroying The Undertaker with a sledgehammer shot to the head. The Game told Michaels that he would not stop until the bell was rung and the match was ended.
With Michaels so very tempted to call the match to an end, he asked Undertaker one more time if he wanted to give up. Unfortunately for The Showstopper, this allowed Undertaker to lock him into the Hell’s Gate and choke him unconscious. Once Triple H realise what Undertaker was doing, it was too late and the match was now without a referee.
The next moments would see a low blow from The Undertaker, a chokeslam followed by a two-count from the replacement referee, the replacement referee being chokeslamed, a Sweet Chin Music from a revitalised Michaels, a massive Pedigree from Triple H, and only a two-count pin attempt after that series of moves that would put any other wrestler away for good.
The look on the faces of Michaels and Triple H truly showed the emotion of the spectacle, neither could believe what had happened. However, this was a look that would be reciprocated by The Undertaker after he turned momentum in his own favour, hitting a Tombstone Piledriver for a two-count of his own.
Rightly so, the crowd were screaming chants of “this is awesome”, but the climax was still to be reached. Back and forth strikes continued before another Pedigree and another two-count. Now, it was Undertaker’s turn to lay waste to The Cerebral Assassin with the steel chair. Again, Michaels’ emotion was overwhelming, yelling at them both to just end it.
The end finally came when Triple H failed at an attempted shot with his sledgehammer. A final act of defiance, The Game told Undertaker to “suck it” before being hit by his own sledgehammer and then one final Tombstone Piledriver. The pin, the three-count, and The Undertaker was 20-0 at WrestleMania.
The final match of The Attitude Era, a decade after that era had supposedly ended, ended with Mr WrestleMania and The Phenom holding up The King of Kings in an emotional embrace. The fans in the stadium and around the world had witnessed the final immortalising chapter of the greatest era in professional wrestling.