411’s Top 30 WrestleMania Matches of All Time: #22 – The Undertaker vs. Triple H (WM 28)
Posted by Larry Csonka on 03.15.2014
411 continues its look at the top 30 matches in the history of WrestleMania with Triple H vs. the Undertaker from WrestleMania 28!
Welcome back to 411Mania, and welcome to 411's official countdown to WrestleMania 30! Every year, the 411 staff comes together in some way to bring you, the fine readers of our site, a special countdown to WrestleMania. In past years we have done special countdown columns, ranking the shows, rating them overall, discussing special aspects of the big event, and even columns that have served as odes to the matches and moments that are etched into our minds.
To some fans, WrestleMania is the biggest show of the year, and the way that WWE has transformed the event into a near weeklong party, it may as well be a holiday to the fans that love our special brand of entertainment. Call it sport or call it a specially designed male soap opera, we love it and we love to talk about what makes things special. WrestleMania is an institution, and this year, as the WWE gets prepared to put on their 30th WrestleMania event, we decided to go big. Starting on March 7th, and running all the way to April 5th, 411 will present the top 30 matches in WrestleMania history.
Each writer on the 411 staff was given the opportunity to nominate 30 matches of their choosing. #1 on their list received 30 points, #2 received 29 points, and so on and so forth. Writers were asked to base their lists on both match quality and historical significance to create their nominations. The final list was created, and there was a ton of competition for the top spot. In fact, the voting was so tight that the top FOUR matches were separated by a mere 16-points.
Each day we will present a match from the list, which will include a full recap of the match from the 411 archives (from Scott Slimmer, JD Dunn, and Robert Leighty Jr.) as well as thoughts from the writers. Thank you for reading, and we hope that you enjoy our presentation…
#22. From WrestleMania 28 - End of an Era Hell in a Cell Match – Special Referee Shawn Michaels Triple H vs. The Undertaker
Jim Ross makes his way to ringside to call this match. That has to mean… something. Taker is sporting a short mohawk tonight, sort of Chuck Liddell style. Triple H and Taker slug it out right from the start, but Taker takes control and beats Triple H into the corner. Taker tosses Triple H to the outside and follows him, but Triple H whips Taker into the cage wall. Taker fights back by whipping Triple H to the cage wall and catching him with a big back body drop on the rebound. Taker beats Triple H down to the ground with a vicious series of head butts. Taker slams Triple H face-first into the cage. Michaels tries to check on Triple H, but Taker shoves him away. Taker whips Triple H into the ring steps as Michaels glares at him from inside the ring. Taker rolls Triple H back into the ring, but Triple H whips him to the ropes and catches him with a big right hand. Triple H lands a facebuster, but Taker no-sells and drops Triple H with a clothesline. Taker goes for Old School and connects. Taker again tosses Triple H to the outside, follows him, and grabs the steps. Taker rams the steps into Triple H's head and then slides the base of the steps into the ring. Triple H rolls onto the ring apron, but Taker connects with a big boot to the skull. Taker hits his patented apron leg drop and heads back into the ring. Both men are finally back in the ring, and Triple H catches Taker with a DDT. Triple H rams Taker's head into the ring steps that Taker put in the ring. Triple H goes for the Pedigree on the steps, but Taker counters into a back body drop off the steps. Taker slams Triple H's head onto the steps and goes for a Big Boot, but Triple H counters into a Double A spinebuster onto the steps. Triple H heads for Taker, but Taker catches him in the Hell's Gate. Triple H powers up and counters into a powerbomb for a two count. Triple H heads to the outside and retrieves two steel chairs from under the ring. Triple H heads back into the ring with stairs and drives one of them into Taker's gut. Triple H sets up the steps in the corner and rams Taker into them. Triple H tosses the steps to the outside, so right now the only weapons in the ring are the two steel chairs. Triple H connects with a chair shot to the back and beats Taker mercilessly. Michaels implores Triple H to just go for the pin, but Triple H continues to destroy Taker with the chair. Triple H drives the edge of the chair into Taker's head and neck, and Michaels again begs Triple H to just go for the cover. Michaels checks on Taker, but Triple H shoves him aside and again beats him with the chair. Triple H tells Michaels to stop the match if he wants the brutality to stop, but Taker begs Michaels not to stop the match. Triple H finally goes for the cover, but Undertaker miraculously kicks out at two. Triple H continues to yell at Michaels, telling him to end it or Triple H will. Triple H retrieves a sledgehammer from under the ring and tells Michaels that he's ending this, one way or the other. "End it, or I will!" Michaels begs Taker to let him ring the bell, but Taker refuses to quit. Triple H connects with a sledgehammer shot to Taker's head and goes for the cover, but again Taker kicks out at two. Triple H sets up for a full sledgehammer swing at Taker's head, but Michaels rips the sledgehammer out of Triple H's hands. Triple H commands Michaels to end the match, but Michaels just can't bring himself to do it. Michaels again checks on Taker, but Taker catches him in Hell's Gate. Taker has the Hell's Gate sunk in tight on Michaels, so Triple H saves his friend with a sledgehammer shot to Taker's head. That breaks the hold, but Michaels is out cold. Triple H checks on Michaels before turning his attention back to Taker, but Taker catches Triple H in the Hell's Gate. Triple H appears to be unconscious, but so is Michaels. Charles Robinson runs down the ramp and tries to get into the cage, but it's locked. Robinson finally unlocks the cage and heads inside as Taker hits Triple H with a choke slam for a two count. Taker is furious that he didn't get the three count, so he choke slams Charles Robinson. Taker goes for the Tombstone on Triple H… BUT MICHAELS HITS TAKER WITH SWEET CHIN MUSIC! Triple H connects with the Pedigree on Taker, but Michaels can only get to a count of two before Taker kicks out. Triple H grabs the sledgehammer again and tosses Michaels over the top rope and to the outside. Taker sits up, springs to his feet, and levels Triple H with a big boot. Taker connects with a clothesline in the corner and hits Snake Eyes. Taker drops Triple H with another big boot and follows up with a leg drop. Taker hits the Tombstone, Michaels slides back in the ring and starts the count… BUT TRIPLE H KICKS OUT! Michaels is a complete emotional wreck right now. He's huddled in the corner crying and gently rocking. Triple H catches Taker with a head butt, and they slug it out on their knees in the middle of the ring. The make it to their feet and trade punches. Triple H takes control and hits another Pedigree… BUT AGAIN TAKER KICKS OUT! Taker has now kicked out of two Pedigrees. Michaels looks like his soul has been ripped from him. Taker sits up, but Triple H crawls toward the sledgehammer. Taker grabs a chair and steps on the sledgehammer. Taker beats Triple H with the chair over and over and over again. The Undertaker is beating Triple H just like Triple H beat him earlier in the match. Triple H tries to use the ropes to climb to his feet, but Taker again connects with a chair shot to the gut. Michaels begs Taker to have mercy, so Taker goes for the cover… BUT TRIPLE H KICKS OUT! Triple H grabs the sledgehammer and slowly climbs to his feet. Triple H lunges at Taker with the Sledgehammer, but Taker catches him and rips the sledgehammer out of his hands. Taker holds the sledgehammer and stares at Triple H. Triple H knows he's beaten, so he crotch chops and eats a sledgehammer shot from Taker. Taker stares at the fallen Triple H and drops the straps. Triple H uses Taker to pull himself up, just like Michaels did two years ago. Taker hits Triple Hi with the Tombstone and FINALLY gets the three count. The Streak moves to 20-0.
- Scott Slimmer
Justin Watry: Hindsight is a funny thing.
When WWE initially started building up Triple H vs. The Undertaker at WrestleMania 28 as the 'End of an Era,' a lot of theories started up. Was it about somebody retiring? Perhaps HHH was finally stepping aside to play the corporate role? Maybe Taker was hanging up the boots? Did referee Shawn Michaels have to do with the headline? All of it created such an interest dynamic to the much-anticipated Triple H vs. The Undertaker showdown in 2012.
Not that it means much now, but the ‘End of an Era' tagline (to me) signified the closing of the Attitude Era once and for all. When these guys were talking about the last of a dying breed and using the word "we" a lot, the writing was on the wall. Barring Kane, Big Show, Christian and a few others, the late 1990's was over. Not Triple H's wrestling career. Not Taker's wrestling career. This was WWE's subtle way of telling fans it is time to move on. Like it or not, that era was ending. I had long moved on from that time period anyways, but officially closing that chapter with Jim Ross out to call the match, a steel structure overhead, and three all-time greats telling a story was as perfect as you can get.
Moving to the actual contest, a ton of memorable moments were seen without even discussing to wrestling moves. Taker debuted his new look. The steel structure hanging above got its own entrance with Metallica music playing! HBK teased ending The Streak without even being in the match. As noted, JR was brought out to commentate. Without even talking about the bell-to-bell action, the stage was set for this all to be amazing from the onset.
I thought the key to this whole match was the year prior at WrestleMania 27. As known, HHH dominated the match against Taker. Dominated. While The Dead Man ended up victorious, he certainly "lost" the match. He had to carted out. The Game was able to walk out and even appear on Raw the next night. Undertaker left television and was not himself for the next 12 months. It was him who wanted the rematch, not the other way around. Very intriguing story to tell. While everyone loves to get on WWE for their short-term stories, this was a great tale to tell that spanned a year...or possibly multiple years dating back to the Shawn Michaels saga.
When the match finally came to a close, Taker hit the tombstone for the pin fall win. HBK had been on an emotional roller coaster as a ref caught in the middle. Triple H had been through a war. The Undertaker got his revenge, but in the end - all of us were the big winners. We had seen a classic with JR speaking for all of us, when it was truly the end of an era.
Daniel Wilcox: I don't know if too many people really wanted to see this match at the time. Both guys were considerably past their prime at this point, and there was a fear that Triple H was going to go over and end the streak of the Undertaker. That theory proved to be nonsense, as did the theory that these two total professionals couldn't put on a WrestleMania classic even at their advanced years. The truth of the matter is this match (and it's sequel) was a critical part of a five-year storyline arc that began with Shawn Michaels retiring Ric Flair at WrestleMania XXIV. That victory meant that when it came to WrestleMania, Shawn had done it all – except one thing. That of course lead to Michaels and Taker having back-to-back classics at the event, with the second match costing Shawn his career. Enter best friend Triple H to avenge his DX companion. The build to this match was excellent, and the execution was just as good. These guys were well aware of their respective limits and as such they laid out a match that they could pull off physically while still being able to have the crowd on the edge of their seats from bell to bell. I've said this before about Undertaker's WrestleMania matches and I'll say it again – a true testament of greatness is being able to make the audience truly believe that Taker could lose at WrestleMania, and they pulled it off here with Triple H nailing the Undertaker with his own Tombstone. Eventually Taker would pull out the win, but the scars and bruises left on him at the hands of The Game meant they'd have to settle a score the following year inside Hell in a Cell - another classic. In fact, when you're talking WrestleMania trilogies, I would personally argue that Triple H and the Undertaker outdo Rock and Austin, and this is the best of the lot.