The Undertaker seemingly retired a few days ago at WrestleMania 33. He is a legend of the wrestling industry, with a career of over twenty five years. He carried what could have been a silly gimmick into one of the best and most beloved characters ever. Yes, he reinvented himself for a brief period as the “American Badass,” but he’ll always be remembered for being “The Deadman.” So, to honour the career of The Undertaker, here are my ‘Top 10 Undertaker Matches.’
10. Vs Mankind, (Boiler Room Brawl, SummerSlam 1996)
‘Taker’s rivalry against Mankind pushed the boundaries of brutal in-ring action from 1996 to 1998. Of course, the peak of that violence was their Hell in a Cell clash at King of the Ring 1998. But that’s a match of two high spots and a lot of boredom in between. I’ve always had a soft spot for their wild Boiler Room Brawl. It was unlike anything you’d see in WWE at that period. ‘Taker and Mankind take big bumps and batter the hell out of each other all over the arena (and especially in the boiler room). It’s tough to watch at times because of the brutality. It also has a shocking ending.
9. Vs Jeff Hardy (WWE Championship, Ladder Match, Raw 1/7/2002)
The Undertaker was involved in one of the best matches on WWE Raw here. He may have been champion, but he was also known for being lazy and lethargic in the ring. It was as if he couldn’t be bothered at times during his “American Badass” period. But in this ladder match against Jeff Hardy he proved he could keep up with the young up and comers. Not only that, but he makes Hardy look like a main eventer at the same time. The drama comes from believing that Hardy might just snatch the title from ‘Taker. You’ll find yourself firmly in Hardy’s corner.
8. Vs Bret Hart (WWF Championship, SummerSlam 1997)
At this point, ‘Taker was only really known for his brawls against Mankind. His technical ability was rarely seen. Here, however, Hart brought that aspect out of ‘Taker and it worked. ‘Taker showed he could wrestle straight just as well as Bret Hart in a clash that was psychologically sound and told a gripping story.
7. Vs Edge (WWE Championship, WrestleMania XXIV)
It’s very hard not to include all of ‘Taker’s best ‘Mania clashes on this list, but I’ve tried to include non-Mania clashes as well (for that reason I’ve chosen not to include ‘Taker vs HBK at ‘Mania XXVII). But this main event deserves wider recognition. It’s almost forgotten in Taker’s ‘Mania resume. It shouldn’t be. It was Edge’s first (and last) ‘Mania main event and he certainly rose to the occasion. So did ‘Taker. It was a story of Edge using every nefarious means to try to retain the title and the story of ‘Taker trying to overcome those means. Yes, the outcome may be predictable, but Edge keeps doubt at the back of your mind.
6. Vs HHH (WrestleMania X-7)
Yes, their other two ‘Mania clashes may be more highly rated in general, but I think this is their most gripping clash. The other two matches are very good, no doubt. But they are also overwrought and drawn out. This match starts at a frantic pace and never lets up, even turning into a no holds barred match when the referee gets knocked out. The other two matches tell better stories, but this one is plainly more exciting and viscerally thrilling to watch. And, up to that point, it was the only ‘Taker match worth watching at a WrestleMania.
5. Vs Batista (WWE Championship, WrestleMania 23)
This was the surprise of WrestleMania 33. By that time, Batista could only count a few great matches in his career (if that, actually!). No one expected much from this match. It came before The Undertaker was known for putting on great ‘Mania matches. However, after this excellent match, The Undertaker would raise the bar with every subsequent ‘Mania match until Brock Lesnar broke the Streak. This is one of the best big man matches you’ll see. It doesn’t start off slow or falter towards the end. From start to finish, Taker and Batista beat the hell out of each other. And it’s superb to watch.
4. Vs Shawn Michaels (Hell In A Cell, Badd Blood 1997)
The first and best Hell In A Cell match had bundles of blood, brutality, drama and high spots. Because no one knew what to expect, everything was fresh and innovative. However, apart from the originality, it was just a great fight. It had built from the Summerslam match mentioned before. The Undertaker wanted vengeance for losing the WWE title thanks to HBK’s shenanigans. This was the only way the feud could end, with HBK separated from D-X by a extended cage. One of the most intense and violent clashes in WWE history.
(Click here to read my review of this match at #37 on the WWE Network’s Best 100 Matches To Watch Before You Die)
3. Vs Kurt Angle vs The Rock (WWE Championship, Vengeance 2002)
This is one of the best triple threat matches in WWE history. It starts off like any other triple threat match, with one wrestler outside the ring and two wrestlers fighting inside. However, straight after The Rock hits ‘Taker with a chokeslam, it turns into a rollercoaster ride. The pace is relentless, the action gripping. Each wrestler stands out (Angle a little more than the other two), but it is one of the finest moments of each wrestler’s career.
(Click here to read my review of this match at #73 on the WWE Network’s Best 100 Matches To Watch Before You Die List)
2. Vs Kurt Angle (No Way Out 2006)
I was torn between this match and their clash at Smackdown (4/9/2003). The TV match was one of the best matches on Smackdown history. But with an extra fifteen minutes or so at No Way Out 2006, Angle and ‘Taker really pushed each other to the limits. It’s almost a forgotten gem, coming a month before WrestleMania. But it was a match befitting WrestleMania. It was a technical masterpiece, as each wrestler chose a limb to work on throughout the match. Apart from the odd ending, it’s another example of a near-perfect wrestling match from The Undertaker.
1.Vs Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania 25)
Could there be any other choice for number one? This is as close to wrestling perfection you’ll get in the WWE. I named it my top choice in my ‘Top 10 WrestleMania Matches,’ and it would be the top choice in my ‘Top 10 WWE Matches’ (click here for Top 10 WrestleMania Matches). These two veterans showed everyone else on the WWE roster how wrestling was done. It was the peak of drama, psychology, story and wrestling in the WWE.
Honourable Mentions: vs Randy Orton (WrestleMania 21)
vs Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania XXVI)
vs Brock Lesnar (WWE Championship, Hell in a Cell, No Mercy 2002)
vs HHH (WrestleMania XXVII)
vs Stone Cold Steve Austin vs The Rock, vs Rikishi vs Kurt Angle vs HHH (WWF Championship, Six Way Hell In A Cell, Armageddon 2000)
Agree or disagree? Any you’d take away or add? What is your Top 10?