Review: WWE Network’s 100 Best Matches To See Before You Die: #23 The Undertaker vs. Triple H (No Holds Barred, WWE Wrestlemania XXVII)

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(Here’s the link for the match on the WWE Network: http://network.wwe.com/video/v31294205?contextType=wwe-show&contextId=wrestlemania&contentId=66743782&watchlistAltButtonContext=series )

At #56, we saw the sequel to this match. The Undertaker and HHH fought in a Hell in a Cell, to consecrate the ‘End of an Era’ (whatever that meant!). That match was spoiled by excessive selling and a strange story being told in the ring. Here, however, the selling is just right (if a little overboard at times) and the story is solid. Out of their three WrestleMania bouts, this bout at WrestleMania 27 is surely their best…

It started off with one of the all-time great silent segments. The Undertaker made his annual return before ‘Mania. HHH interrupted him and pointed at the ‘Mania sign. ‘Taker smirked, and started to walk off. However, he turned around and executed his cutthroat pose. HHH replied with the D-X ‘suck it’ taunt (hopefully it wasn’t meant to be taken literally!). No words were exchanged, but the segment was electric. HHH, it later transpired, wanted to end The Streak because he had nothing left to do in the WWE. Would he be able to do what his best friend, Shawn Michaels, couldn’t do?

Right from the beginning of the match, it feels truly epic. It feels like two gods going to war, not over land or titles, but to determine who is the best between them. The storyline slogan was ‘to determinate “the last outlaw.’ Both were titans of a bygone era in the WWE, that of the Attitude Era. Yes, there were other remnants from that era (Kane, Mark Henry etc), but HHH and ‘Taker were the only legitimate legends left from the Attitude Era. They engage in a heated brawl as soon as the bell rings, with no man achieving the upper hand. HHH tackles ‘Taker through the ‘Cole Mine’ (Michael Cole’s bomb shelter by the announcer’s tables). However, it soon becomes apparent that HHH has the upper hand.

The Undertaker almost kills himself again…

This is the gripping story of the match: is The Undertaker fit to wrestle anymore? He’s a little slower, a little less mobile than he used to be. Has the pressure of The Streak broken ‘Taker’s spirit? Yes, he may have been 18-0 at that point, but at what cost? The younger HHH doesn’t seem to be afraid to brawl with The Deadman. He even seems to better ‘Taker in a fist fight. Later on in the match, HHH’s shouts of “stay down!” ring loudly and clearly. ‘Taker doesn’t seem to know when to quit…does HHH have to beat him to near-death to end The Streak? From the opening bell, it’s a fascinating match to watch. Unlike their sequel, the Hell in a Cell clash, the selling is believable (they don’t spend half the match on the mat, for example. Seeing ‘Taker being beaten, towards the end of the match, is sometimes difficult to watch, because it looks legitimate. HHH looks like he could end The Streak, and that’s another great facet of this match.

In the grand scheme of ‘Taker’s greatest ‘Mania matches, this is in the Top 5 without a doubt. I personally prefer their ‘Mania X-7 clash (which, incidentally, wasn’t mentioned in the build-up for this bout), but they are both of a similar (and very high quality). The ten years between the bouts is very apparent; there’s more story and psychology to their ‘Mania 27 clash, whereas the Mania X-7 bout was more of an exaggerated Attitude Era-style brawl. But there’s no denying the quality of this match. Their maturity shows throughout. The story of an aging man trying to fight time is a classic. ‘Taker can’t turn back time, and he can’t stop aging. But can he keep The Streak alive?

VERDICT: 9/10. A stunning brawl between two legends of the Attitude Era. It feels suitably epic, a clash of gods who are out of their time. But they can still put on a gripping bout.

Click here for my review of #24 Ric Flair vs. Randy Savage (WWE Title, WWE Wrestlemania VIII)

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