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Ring Crew Reviews: Tape Digging Volume 8 - The Undertaker's Surprising Defeats
Posted by Jack Bramma on 06.05.2014

• I've done a few of these and always find it interesting to take a dive into old comp tapes that I have laying around. In case you do too, here are the previous versions

Tape Digging Volume 1

Tape Digging Volume 2

Tape Digging Volume 3

Tape Digging Volume 4

Tape Digging Volume 5

Tape Digging Volume 6

Tape Digging Volume 7

WWF Hardcore Championship: Maven vs. The Undertaker (c). WWE Smackdown. 02/07/2002. At Vengeance 2001, Taker reached the top of the mountain once again and became hardcore champ. The following month at the RR, Maven would shock the world and dropkick Taker out of the rumble with the Hardy Boyz and Lita’s help. Unfortunately, Taker would spend the next half hour beating Maven mercilessly around the arena. For the next few weeks, Maven didn’t do much but he DID get a shot at then-undisputed champ, Jericho. Maven came up short and then got further destroyed by Taker. This would be Maven’s revenge match.

• Pre-match, Maven gets talked up by Al Snow. Snow’s advice: “If he’s going to beat your ass, let him beat a MAN’S ASS! … If things go really bad, I’ve got the car running, gassed up, I’ll get you out of there as quick as we can and off to the hospital.”

• They slowly circle with Maven keeping his distance. Snow offers him advice in the form of a trash can lid and Maven SWAT team rolls over to it. He waffles Taker with it a few times and Taker no sells to elbow him into the corner and pound him down. Maven feeds back out for a shot to the breadbasket and Taker warns Snow to stay back. Snow respects his wishes by sliding a trash can to Maven. UT no sells that to punch THROUGH the trash can and knock Maven down. Maven bails out to take a breather. Taker easily blocks his stuff and sends him into the ring steps. Taker no sells everything Maven’s got to knee him and bring him back in. Taker gets the trash can and waffles Maven to the head a few times for a nice soubnd effect. Maven is DONE and rolls to the floor. He collapses into Snow’s waiting arms and Taker is still pissed about before and shitcans Al into the front row. Back in, Maven has bladed and Taker takes his sweet time prepping the Last Ride. BUT WAIT! SNOW IS BACK IN WITH THE RING BELL! HE BLASTS TAKER! MAVEN WITH A SCHOOL BOY! ONE, TWO, THREEOHNOHEALMOSTGOT’IM! Taker’s pissed and BOOT OF FEAR’s Snow out to lunch. Maven tries to sneak Taker and heads up top but Taker catches him in the CHOKESLAM! Taker covers for 1, 2, he pulls up Maven just because. He grinds his forearm into Maven’s face just to treat him like a piece of Tough Enough trash. Taker locks in the Dragon Sleeper. BUT WAIT! THE ROCK HAS COME OUT! HE’S GOT A CHAIR! He blasts Taker and follows up with a ROCK BOTTOM! MAVEN IS STILL TOO OUT OF IT TO RECOVER! He crawls over and drapes the arm for 1, 2, 3 to crown a new champ at 5:36.

• Complete squash slightly elevated by the clear mismatch only being evened by the interference and of course, Rock. *

• Rock would go on to defeat Taker at N.W.O 2002 and Maven would hang on to the hardcore title through WM where he and Goldust where he and Goldust knocked each other out and Spike Dudley came in to sneak a victory.

Hell in the Cell for the WWE Championship: The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar (c). WWE No Mercy 2002. Brock won the Undisputed Strap clean as a sheet over Rock at SS, but he didn’t want to defend against the H’s and then chose Smackdown as his home. Bischoff created the world strap for RAW. Meanwhile, Taker defeated Angle and Benoit in a triple threat to become number 1 contender for the WWE belt. UT and Brock squared off at Unforgiven in a lackluster double DQ. Over the next few weeks, Brock would break UT’s hand with a propane tank and then Heyman would use the power of alleged adultery to break up Taker’s marriage with his neck tattoo-main squeeze, Sara.

• Heyman would lobby to have the cast banned for tonight, but no dice. Earlier tonight, Taker met with Larry the trainer and demanded a cortisone shot to get him through HITC.

• Cole wants to talk turkey and Taz speculates about how Brock prepared for tonight. Taz: “I don’t know if Brock got a welder to build a cell on his farm.” No motorcycle tonight for Taker because a broken hand and obviously the cell takes up too much space.

• Brock avoids a few cast shots to start and keeps his distance. Brock with a Greco-Roman TD and Taker elbows free and just smashes him with another elbow. Brock counters with a powerslam for 1, 2, only 2. Cole: ”The rules are THERE ARE NO RULES!” Thanks for that. Brock works the shoulder surges in the corner but Taker avoids after a whip and flips Brock with a cast shot. Heyman: “NOT THIS WAY!” Taker sends Brock off but he stops short and bails out. He’s all EAT, SLEEP, BREAK OUT OF THE CELL but the MasterLock chain no sells his boots and stays locked. Back in, Brock goes right to the broken hand and uses the CLUBBINGBLOWS. He wraps the arm around the ropes as Cole recounts Brock’s year thus far – making Hogan tap, beating Rock for the strap, and now trying to take out Taker in the cell. Of course, we know how this one turns out, so HOLY SHIT is that a hell of a push in a year or what. Let’s not forget – King of the Ring, the 2003 Royal Rumble a few months later, going over Angle in the main event of Mania, etc. That’s just crazy. ANYWAY, Brock goes to an armbar and Chioda wants to know if Taker wants to give it up. Taker: “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHOHOHOHOHHAHHHHHHHH!” Rather than quit, Taker lands a haymaker with the cast and another to Brock’s head and he’s busted open already. Heyman screams in agony for the safety of Lesnar more than Taker seems concerned about his hand. Where’s Larry with the cortisone for Heyman? Brock falls to the floor and Taker trashes Brock around the ring, into the cage, and into the stairs. Cole: “THE CHAMPION TASTING HIS OWN BLOOD!” Taker climbs up the cage a bit and then drops down on Brock with a boot. Another whip into the cage and Brock leaps into it and then bumps like hell on a LARIATO for Taker. Taker now grinds the open wound across the cage and then tosses Brock like a sack of trash into the cell. Taker lands his apron offense as Cole decides to give a synopsis of the feud: “You heard earlier, that slime ball, Paul Heyman tried to drag the Undertaker’s…. um…well, EX-FRIEND of his from seven years ago, Tracy, back into this thing.” Not exactly Game of Thrones. Taker heads all the way up top. Heyman: “WHAT DO YOU WANT?!” Cole: “WHAT DOES HE WANT!? THE WWE CHAMPIONSHIP!” Taker lands a BOOGER RED DEVIL CAST HAMMER off the top.

• Heyman sticks his arm through the cage and tries to hold off Taker hilariously so Taker spins and boots him down to a pop. Brock is done and gets thrown into the stairs again. Heyman blades off a boot – a boot and some chain link, but a boot – and now Taker uses his tie to hog tie him into the cage. Brock’s all NO MAN LEFT BEHIND and charges in only for Taker to sidestep and Brock to harpoon Heyman back into the barricade. Taker with a head of steam to finish off Brock but gets flapjacked INTO the cage and then Brock hoists him up to ram him into the post and cage. Nice. Heyman recovers enough to yell that Taker is a SONOFABITCH and then slips his belt to Brock. Brock lassoes Taker’s arm and then Heyman ties him to the cage. Heyman: “YOU’RE GOING TO DIE NOW! YOU’RE GOING TO DIE NOW!” Brock gets a chair and waffles down Taker from behind and then zeroes in on the hand for 1! 2! 3! 4! 5! 6! 6 SHOTS TO THE BROKEN HAND! The only reason that Brock stopped is that the belt broke. Brock tries to tear free but of course, Taker fires up to start pummeling Brock with lefts and yes, rights. Brock goes back to the right hand to take over. Taker uses an up kick to get some distance as they crawl and tear inch for inch over the cast on the floor. Brock boots the shit out of him and Taker finally is out enough for Brock to tear the cast off and rip it to pieces. Brock wraps the hand around the ropes as the crowd rallies behind Taker. Brock puts Taker up top but Taker goes low and then Brock takes a MAN-SIZED bump off the top to the center of the ring. Taker then uses the cage rafter to cat-walk across and drop an elbow off the top. He drapes the arm for 1, 2, 2 ½. Brock cuts him off with a Stun Gun only to eat the FOOT TO THE FACE back into the cage. Heyman: “BROCCCCCCCCCCCCCK! WE’RE LOSING! WE’RE LOSING!”

• Taker decides to bust out a TOPE SUICIDA into the cage on Brock. Taker tries picking up the stairs but the broken hand won’t allow him. Psychology! Lesnar takes over and trashes Taker into the cage and Taker feeds out for a LARIATO. Cole: “THE RIGHT HAND MAY BE THE WEAKNESS IN THIS MATCHUP!” This is the man that somehow Mike Adamle couldn’t outpace. Brock picks up the stairs and destroys Taker. Taker blades and stumbles up and then feeds in for another BRUTAL shot. Lesnar and Heyman exchange high fives while Taker bleeds all over the place. Back in, Taker tries a rally but runs into a spinebuster. Cover gets 1, 2, no. 1, 2, kickout again. Taker Hulks up and channels the power of cortisone for the vaunted REVERSE PSYCHOLOGY RIGHTS! He boots Brock’s hand to repay the favor and then spits BLOOD ON THE CAMERA! OK, even Kevin Steen is questioning whether or not this is in good taste anymore. Taker hooks Brock and wants Old School but Brock armdrags him off the top. The blood is just pouring off Taker. Taz, meanwhile, rewrites the entire lineage of the company in one of the most insane gaffes of all time: “UNDERTAKER HAS NEVER BEEN PINNED! NEVER BEEN SUBMITTED!” Cole: “…” That makes zero sense, even if he meant just HITC, Taker had still lost to HBK in the very first one. ANYWAY, Brock wants the F5 but taker slides behind for the CHOKESLAM! THE UNDERTAKER’S GOING TO DO IT! ONE, TWO, THREEOHNOHEALMOSTGOT’IM! Taker fires up for Ho Trains but Brock wants a Last Ride. Taker counters out with a backdrop and hits the big swinging DDT off the ropes. 1, 2, kickout. Taker tries the Last Ride but Brock drives him into the corner for harpoons. Taker counters back and walks out of the corner for LAST RIDE! He’s too out of it to cover. He crawls and hooks the leg for 1, 2, HAND ON THE ROPES! Crowd is all in now. Of course, this is also the infamous moment when the blood dribbles off UT’s head into Lesnar’s mouth and now the FMW crew is calling the health department for code violations in the workplace. UT calls for the Tombstone but Brock counters and gets him up for the F55555555555555555! 1, 2, 3 to end it clean at 27:20 and the crowd can’t believe it.

• Post-match, Lesnar puts the belt around his neck and climbs the cell to show indeed that he is King Shit for all time.

• The match was kind of a revelation as it was Brock’s best match to date and Taker’s best match in a long time. It showed Taker was willing to put over someone young in a big match and that Brock was willing to get his hands dirty to earn his stripes. Make no mistake, Taker was never going to look weak in a match like this and he makes a point to dominate a good chunk of the first half and to shake off a lot of built-in hand psychology. Still, Taker’s no-selling/bad selling of a cortisone-fueled, broken right hand didn’t bother me nearly as much this time around as on previous viewings. On another front, there is a LOT of blood; Heyman blades, Brock blades, and Taker breaks the Muta scale. Brock got to kick out of a ChokeSlam and avoid a pinfall from a Last Ride and Taker ate a straight pinfall on one F5. I’m satisfied. ****1/2

World Heavyweight Championship: The Undertaker vs. Kurt Angle (c). WWE No Way Out 2006. At the tail end of 2005, Batista had a legit triceps injury and had to vacate the belt. HBK was allegedly slated to win the belt but didn’t want to give up his Tuesday for bible study. Instead, Angle was moved from RAW over to Smackdown and won the belt in a surprise appearance in a battle royal in January. The following RR was one of the least interesting and entertaining in years as Mysterio laid his way to a record-setting RR way, Cena ended the Rated R experiment after only 3 weeks, Kurt Angle and Mark Henry one of the worst RR title matches ever, and UT showed up at the show’s close on a WM3 wagon earning a title shot.

• UT goes for the Liu Kang kick at the bell but Kurt easily avoids. Kurt wants the Germans but UT hooks the ropes to block. UT quickly spins around for some backhands but Angle sidesteps all that and bails out to get away from the Zombie psycho. Cole puts over how neither man has EVER submitted. Back in, they go to the lockup and UT grinds the headlock. Angle sends him off but UT gets the shoulderblock for a quick 1 count. Time for the shoulder surges and UT smashes Kurt’s left arm into the top turnbuckle nicely. UT hooks him into a test of strength and uses it to scoop Angle up WITH EASE using just his bad arm. UT drops him down and drops a leg on the same arm. Crowd is eating up the arm theatrics early. UT starts working a short arm scissors and Angle puts the hair to try and escape. UT switches into the Matt Hughes position and goes for an Americana but Angle counters back to standing position. UT still on the arm but Kurt fights back with rights only to eat another arm wrench. UT wants OldSchool but Kurt escapes with still more rights. He tries to send UT across but Taker counters with an arm drag ON THE BAD ARM THAT FLIPS KURT! YEAHHHH! Dueling chants as UT pulls him back over to the common for Old School. Angle tries no selling but runs right into a Downward Spiral for 1, 2, only 2. That was quite the interesting exchange. Angle no selling Old School? Taker busting a Flatliner? Taker whips him hard across and hits Snake Eyes and wants the Liu Kang kick but Angle ducks for the Germans in a nice call back to the match’s beginning. Only 1 so far for Angle though as he’s still selling the arm. Delayed cover gets a quick 1 count. Angle stomps a mudhole in the corner to try and come back. UT counters and lands a flying hip check and wants the Liu Kang kick YET AGAIN and YET AGAIN Angle ducks and Taker whiffs to the apron and gets knocked off by Angle. Angle seizes the opportunity and sends Taker into the stairs and tries a HAMMER OF INTENSITY, INTEGRITY, AND INTELLIGENCE but Taker catches him and posts him back-first to take over.

• Brutal shot on Kurt there. UT puts Kurt on the apron for his usual assortment of running elbow strikes and leg drops on the apron. Cole: “REMEMBER THE SURGICALLY REPAIRED NECK OF THE CHAMPION!” That’s some nice work from the wildly inconsistent Cole. He’s as bad as they come at times, but when he’s got great work in front of him and a “big match feel”, he knows how to give it the appropriate hard sell. ANYWAY, back in UT covers for 1, 2, only 2. UT wants the ChokeSlam and goozles Kurt. Angle counters out with kicks to Taker’s knee but UT overwhelms him with a staggering uppercut. He sends Kurt off but Angle ducks behind and CLIPS THE KNEE! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! AND NOW WE GO TO SCHOOL, OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST WITH A BROKEN FREAKING NECK STYLE! Kurt stiffs the shit outta him and then posts the knee. Angle wraps the bad knee a few more times and Taker is done. OH NO! RING POST FIGURE FOUR! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! OH MY GOD! Nick Patrick threatens Kurt with a DQ and he quickly releases, but the damage has been done. Taker tries running away and Angle drags him down and uses the point of the elbow and drives it into the knee. UT can’t walk and Angle stomps away. Taker tries pulling him away into the ropes for a break and Angle mounts for some GnP crossfaces. This is just a thing of beauty. Kurt drops down on the knee a few more times and tries again but UT blocks(!) only to get the knee worked over again. Angle with a Euro uppercut but UT pulls him to the floor to take back over. UT goes to the MT knees on the floor to buy some time. Nick Patricks starts the count on both while UT gives Angle a Batista kick. Taker wants the apron leg drop but SELLS THE KNEES FIRST! Now, he’s ready for some signature stuff. NO! ANGLE CATCHES THE LEG FOR THE ANKLELOCK! ANKLELOCK ON THE FLOOR! 5! 6! 7! Angle finally shows some humanity and stops to get back in the ring. NO! HE BREAKS THE COUNT TO GO BACK TO THE ANKLELOCK ON THE BAD LEG! STOP THE MATCH! 1! 2! 3! 4! 5! 6! 7! 8! Angle finally drags Taker’s carcass back in the ring and UT collapses on impact. Kurt immediately grapevines the leg and works a spinning toe hold variation and switches to standing. He pulls Taker back to the middle of the ring for the grapevine. Taker tries countering out by Kimuraing the arm but Angle torques the leg to keep pressure on. Taker finally gets a bit of a reprieve with some kicks to Angle’s face to escape. This is beautiful stuff all the way around.

• Angle pounces again immediately with a double leg and some GnP. Patrick chastises Angle and the distraction is enough for Taker to try a TRIANGLE CHOKE! THE CHAMPION MAY TAP OUT! Angle manages to reach the ropes with his legs and then crawls to the floor to get the bloodflow and oxygen going. This is now two one-legged men in an ass kicking contest. UT gets the vaunted Second Zombie Wind which is pretty unique considering Kane never got a first one. ANYWAY, Taker trashes Kurt into the barricade and the timekeeper’s table. Taker follows up with the DEVASTATINGRIGHTHANDS to Kurt's face and ribs and Kurt goes down in a heap. UT preps the table and breaks the count. He charges back in but Angle ducks behind for the ANGLE SLAM THROUGH THE UNPREPPED TABLE! YEAHHHHH! Angle gets in to break the count. 1! 2! 3! 4! 5! Taker is getting up but can't walk. 6! 7! 8! 9! HE CAN'T BEAT THE COUNT! BUT WAIT! Kurt's all YOU BETTER NOT FUCKING COUNT HIM OUT, I WANT THE 1, 2, 3! Bleep count: Three. Angle Gold Medals up and runs down UT on the floor and goes to the Euro uppercuts. Taker counters with a desperation whip into the stairs and Angle goes down. Back in, Taker slowly heads up top but Angle cuts him off for a superplex. Taker takes him to the Learning Tree and dumps him down but Kurt counters back with the popup, belly to belly, overhead superplex when it was still innovative. Angle hooks the leg for 1, 2, KICKOUT! Taker tries slugging it out but instead cuts off Angle with a FOOT TO THE FACE! 1, 2, 2 ½.

• Taker wants the goozle and gets it. CHOKESLAM! NO! ANGLE ROLLS THROUGH INTO THE ANKLELOCK! TAKER ROLLS OVER INTO THE TRIANGLE CHOKE! ROLL BACK THROUGH FOR THE ANKLELOCK! Taker rolls back through and CHOKESLAMS KURT! Unfortunately, not selling the ankle in the process, but that's a minor gripe. UT covers for 1, 2, 2.9999. Kurt is still punchdrunk so Taker cues up the LAST RIDE! KURT SLIDES DOWN HIS BACK FOR THE ANKLELOCK! Taker reaches for the ropes, but Angle pulls him back to the middle, so Taker boots him away. Taker goes back to half-way selling the leg, so Angle foregoes the psychology route for brute, force trauma of another AngleSlam. Angle hooks the leg for 1, 2, shoulder up. Angle DROPS THE STRAPS! ZOMBIE SITUP! DOUBLE HULK UP! THEY GO TOE-TO-TOE! Taker wants the Tombstone but Kurt floats back into his own just so Taker can do the same. Angle slides back down into the ANKLELOCK! GRAPEVINE ANKLELOCK! YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! THAT BEATS 'EM ALL! BUT WAIT! Taker Cenas up to turn over and just boot the shit out of Angle until he releases. That's the first time anyone had ever broke the grapevine. Angle follows up with one final AngleSlam. Angle goes for the pin and Taker catches him in the Triangle Choke. Kurt almost taps before collapsing into the submission. Nick Patrick raises the arm one time! TWO TIMES! ANGLE GETS THE ARM UP! BRET/PIPER ROLL UP FOR 1, 2, 3 TO RETAIN AT 30:22!

• That's arguably the best Fed match of the past decade. Other contenders are a few different Cena/Punk matches, Eddie/Brock, Cena/Edge TLC, Cena/HBK in London, Cena/Brock, WM XX triple threat, HBK/Taker, etc. ad nauseam. The only real drawback here is that the psychology was gone after the AngleSlam through the table. Taker just stopped caring about selling the AnkleLock other than aggressively limping his way through signature moves. He had a master beat his leg unmercifully, ring post F4, several AnkleLocks, and the vaunted Grapevine AnkleLock and they still barely played into the finish or the selling at all the last 10 minutes. Still, that's a minor gripe, because you've got an easy ****+ match with two mega-face, protected psychos going blow for blow and not giving up an inch. Both guys get to look super strong and had a moment where they showed they wanted to win the match more than get a cheap victory. Also, both guys let the other paste into them for several minutes with Kurt showing vulnerability to the neck and arm and Taker showing mostly vulnerability to the knee and ankle. It's awesome, but it's not perfect. ****3/4

• Angle would lose the strap in a triple threat at Mania to Mysterio while Taker would defeat Mark Henry in a casket match.

The Great Khali vs. The Undertaker. WWE Judgment Day 2006. Khali debuted on Smackdown in the spring of 2006 with Daivari as his manager. He beat the trash out of UT during a free TV match with Mark Henry and sent him packing. Over the next weeks, Khali would dominate various established guys including then-World Heavyweight Champ Rey Mysterio, throwing him around like a rag doll in one of those no-contests that completely undermined Rey’s reign. Nonetheless, Taker was AWOL following Khali’s attack for weeks until using Teddy Long as his mouthpiece to challenge Khali to this match. Taz calls Khali “the most physically intimidating human being on the planet.” Cole follows up and questions whether UT’s spirit has been broken.

• Taker chant at the bell. Khali goes for a right and UT ducks and goes to the ribs and wails away with rights. Khali no sells and shitcans Taker out and Cole and Taz are stunned. Cole has never seen anyone shitcan UT out…. with one arm…. this early in the match… or something. Back in, UT goes to the strikes and again Khali whips UT over the top. Khali’s 2-0 in the RR thus far. Cue the Snitsky taunt and Troll Yell from Khali. Khali slowly tries to set up a CLUBBINGBLOWBARRAGE but Taker pulls one from Stone Cold’s book and Stun Guns Khali. Back in, more punching and now UT shows off his range going to kicks. He hooks up the arm for Old School but Khali counters and arm drags UT off the top. Cole: “NO ONE HAS EVER DONE THAT TO UNDERTAKER! … off the top.” Khali and UT slowly sync up a few turnbuckle smashes and Khali levels UT with a right and chokes away. TAKERTAKERTAKERTAKER! Khali softly sends UT across but UT leaps into the turnbuckle WITH AUTHORITY to sell it regardless. Another right and UT is done. Khali boots him and UT bails out to the floor. Khali follows as Taz proclaims Khali to have a “swift boot” but Cole one-ups him to anoint this as Khali “stalking the Undertaker like he’s some prey in the Punjab Jungle!” ANYWAY, UT tries fighting back with elbows and rights but Khali swats him back and sends UT into the stairs for the Foley bump. Man, UT is busting ass. Khali yells at the crowd while Daivari is all THAT’S FOR MUHAMMAD HASSAN and boots Taker on the floor.

• Back in, Khali with a slam and calls for the Brain Chop. HE HITS IT! THAT’S THE CHOP! Khali plants his foot on UT for the academic 1, 2, 2.999999999. ZOMBIE SITUP! UT tries urning up but Khali fights back and they slug it out. UT tries some big headbutts but Khali no sells. UT wants Old School and hits it but Khali won’t go down. Khali feeds back to the middle for another slug it out. TAKERTAKERTAKER! Khali still won’t go down so UT winds up for the flying clothesline and Khali falls into the ropes for the Andre spot. THIS IS THE OPENING THE UNDERTAKER NEEDED! UT starts laying into Khali. BUT WAIT! DAIVARI IS ON THE APRON! He tries to score one more for international objects everywhere but UT goozles him and scares him away. The ref bails out as well. Khali wants another Brain Chop but UT ducks for the CHOKESLAM! NO! BOOT OF FEAR FROM KHALI! ZOMBIE SITUP! NO! ZOMBIE SITUP! NO! ZOMBIE SITUP! YES! After two failed attempts, UT finally comes through but he’s still reeling. ZOMBIE AB PSYCHOLOGY! Khali senses the end is near and hits a second Brain Chop. No Zombie Situp, just a regular one this time but Khali ain’t no joke and trashes UT with a boot. Boot on the chest gets 1, 2, 3 – Taz: “WHAT THE HELL?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!” – at 8:32.

• That might be the most one-sided beating of the Undertaker’s (not Mean Mark’s) career. And such a surprising finality and decisiveness to the boot pin. UT would get his win back stiffing Khali and working him over in a Last Man Standing match later in the summer of 2006 on Smackdown. They were supposed to blow it off in the elusive Punjabi Prison but elevated liver enzymes and all that. Still, this was way more entertaining than it had any right to be, mainly due to UT working hard and the ridiculously but effective zombie psychology vs monster psychology. **3/4

TLC Match for the vacant World Heavyweight Championship: The Undertaker vs. Edge. WWE One Night Stand 2008. If UT loses, he must leave the WWE; but only after dropping the Streak to Paul Heyman’s client, Barack Lesnar or something. At WM XXIV, UT and Edge went streak for streak and UT came out on top with the world title and a still-intact undefeated streak. Edge’s main squeeze, Vickie, would book him into a submission match-rematch at Backlash where again Edge would fall short. Due to the use of the “illegal” Hell’s Gate, Vickie stripped UT and held up the strap… IN ABEYANCE! Edge would win a battle royal and become number 1 contender but the blowoff at Judgment Day would go to a dull countout. Therefore, they would have one more go in a TLC match to settle the score.

• Cole brings up that the world strap has never been decided in a TLC match before and Foley zeros in on the belt itself and notes the nameplate is blank. Good stuff from both. Cole also points out that UT has never been in a TLC match and Edge has been in nearly every one of them.

• Edge tries to use his speed but UT hits the foot to the face to take over early. He works over Edge in the corner with heavy bombs to the midsection and bruising headbutts. He sends Edge across for another haymaker and he’s dominant early. Timid UT chant from the crowd as he goozles Edge in the corner. UT hits Old School and a BOOT OF FEAR and Edge is toast. UT goes to the ladder first but Edge baseball slides it back into him. Rather than work over UT to get some offense going, Edge stacks a few tables and promptly gets swatted down by UT with a ladder. After a few pugilistic shots, Edge is comatose as Taker drags him into the stairs. UT realizes he was rather rude interrupting Edge’s spelunking, so he finishes stacking up the tables. Being one with keen insight on the strategy behind table stacking rather than, ya know, getting in offense or climbing for the belt, Mick Foley offers his take on commentary. Foley: “Maybe this match doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it’s dramatic and someone’s going to get hurt.” Thanks for that. ANYWAY, UT finishes stacking the four tables 2 by 2 at ringside. Edge takes over and drops Taker face-first into the stairs with the old Raven spot. Edge brings in a regular ladder and starts the climb. UT easily pulls him down and dumps him on the top rope. Taker sets up the ladder in the corner and preps Snake Eyes on the ladder but Edge counters and shoves him into the ladder face-first. Nice set up and counter in that sequence. Taker returns the favor whipping Edge into a ladder in the opposite corner. Taker starts the climb but Edge meets him and Taker again easily wins that exchange but Edge lands on one of the ladders and careens into the ladder with Taker on it and he falls onto the OPPOSITE ladder. Cooler than it sounds. Taker recovers first after selling for maybe 5 seconds to drop Edge with Snake Eyes. Crowd chants for tables and Taker delivers with a few chairshots to Edge. Taker goes for the apron leg drop but Edge counters with a STEEL CHAIR TO THE ASS! TAKER SELLS! THE ACHILLES GLUTES OF THE DEAD MAN!

• Edge seizes the moment and bridges a ladder between the ring and the barricade. Taker jumps him for the Last Ride but Edge counters with the low blow. Cole: “LOW BLOW!” Foley: “BLATANT low blow.” I’d love to watch a WWE Network show that detailed the varying degrees of subtlety in low blows on a scale from Flair in 86 to Flair in 2006. ANYWAY, Taker is seeing stars and turns around in a chairshot to the head and Taker goes down with a thud. Taker gets up and Edge lays him out with another unprotected chairshot. Edge puts Taker on a table and then splashes him off the announce table through the regular table. Not as cool as it sounds. Back in, Edge starts the climb to glory much to the crowd’s chagrin. Taker no sells to dive in and pull him down only to eat a SPEARSPEARSPEAR! Edge sandwiches Taker’s knee in the ladder and gets a chair for the Conchairto. Cole: “HOW YOU GOING TO CLIMB A LADDER WITHOUT A KNEE?!” Good stuff. Edge brings in the Tommy Dreamer Ladder and again waffles Taker with two more chairshots TO THE SKULL! Edge gloats and goes for one more chairshot but Taker counters with a 0.4 Flair low blow. Taker goozles Edge and ChokeSlams him through the ladder bridge and unlike at Mania XXIII, it doesn’t look gimmicked. That was brutal. Taker starts the climb and the crowd is feeling it. BUT WAIT! IT’S THE EDGEHEADS! HAWKINS AND RYDER HAVE COME OUT! They pound down Taker and bring in a table and another to sandwich Taker between ladders. Hawkins heads up top but Taker urns up to ChokeSlam Hawkins off the top through a table ON THE FLOOR! He goozles Ryder for a ChokeSlam off the apron through a table. EDGE IS UP! HE SPEARS TAKER OFF THE APRON BAD-KNEE FIRST INTO THE BARRICADE! YEAHHHH! Edge climbs up but Taker is up again and he catches Edge in the LAST RIDE THROUGH TWO TABLES! Foley: “EDGE IS GOING FOR A RIDE!” Cole: “THE LAST RIDE!” BUT WAIT! LA FAMILIA HAS COME OUT! BAM AND CHAVO! They go for the Conchairto but Taker fights off both with chairshots. Taker climbs and it’s almost over. BUT WAIT! EDGE IS UP AND HE DUMPS TAKER THROUGH FOUR TABLES WITH AUTHORITY! Edge pulls down the strap to take it at 23:23.

• Edge would hold the belt for a few more weeks until Batista attacked him and that allowed CM Punk to cash in and take the strap. Taker would go on hiatus for a few months until returning at Summerslam to take Edge’s soul to hell. This was pretty damn awesome as a spotfest, much better than it had any right to be with all of the over-booking, but at least Taker was willing to take one huge bump to help put Edge’s win over some. The chokeslam through the table and of course Taker’s last ride through the 4 tables were great. The cutoffs with Hawkins and Ryder and their payback was well deserved from Taker as well. There was too much table-setting for it to be a true classic, but it’s pretty good nonetheless. ****

Extreme Rules: Jeff Hardy vs. The Undertaker. WWE Smackdown. 11/14/2008. This is all part of another review I plan on doing covering Jeff Hardy’s rise and fall in the WWE main event from 2006-2009. Suffice to say, Hardy was right there for months and couldn’t get over the hump. At Cyber Sunday 08, he won the fan poll over Kozlov but still lost to the H’s for the WWE strap. Still he and Trips were doing their MegaPowers shtick ever so briefly before Hardy lost his shit because Vickie wouldn’t give him another title shot. She demanded that Jeff be more EXTREME, so he decided to pick on someone his own size like THE UNDERTAKER to get a title shot! Hardy blew his and Trips tag match against MNM and then targeted the dead man with a chair just because. Taker was in the midst of another long feud with Showster, but he decided he had time to dance with Hardy in Extreme Rules the following week. Of course, Hardy went off the deep end becoming a Joker-esque madman in his attempts to get the belt.

• Hardy avoids early with speed and burritos until Taker boots him down. JR: “Tonight, Hardy will have to go from an Strange Enigma to an Extreme Enigma.” Hardy sells death but still avoids an elbow drop. He dumps Taker out but he lands on his feet. Jeff has been studying tape and catches Taker with a dropkick to keep him on the floor. Hardy tightropes down the barricade for another burrito. He tries an unprecedented THIRD BURRITO IN A ROW! Taz: “EXTREME TO THE MAX!” Taker though interrupts the call to Guinness and catches Jeff and drives him into the stairs back-first. Nice. We take a break 60 seconds in and we’re back to Taker working over Jeff in the corner with rights and lefts. During the break, Taker targeted Hardy’s back by tossing him into the ringpost. Taker shitcans Hardy and trashes him into the barricade flipping him in the process. Taker stays on the offense and smashes him into the announce table. JR: “IT’S LIKE BEING WITNESS TO A FELONY!” Back in, Taker goes through his assorted apron offense including the leg drop WITH A CHAIR! Hardy sells it to the floor and under the ring, but he comes up with a Kendo stick. He cuts off Taker with a few shots but still manages to sell. Back in, Taker finally goes down to a knee but washes that bad taste of selling out of his mouth by instantly booting down Hardy again. Hardy sold that big boot more than Taker did 10 or so shots with a Singapore cane. That kind of one-sidedness draws some audible boos to Taker. He winds up and takes Hardy to the woodshed across the back and Hardy bails out to the floor again. Taker stays on the offense with headbutts and right crosses.

• Taz: “I don’t understand Hardy requesting this kind of match with THE DESTRUCTIVE UNDERTAKER!” ANYWAY, Taker with a head of steam for another Liu Kang kick on the floor but Hardy ducks and Taker crotches himself on the barricade. Hardy fires up and comes wailing out on Taker, who absorbs all of it and blasts Jeff down with one right hand. Taker wants Snake Eyes on the stairs but Hardy slides out and shoves the Dead Man into the stairs. AIR HARDY OFF THE STAIRS INTO THE BARRICADE! JR: “HARDY WALKING ON THE PSYCHOTIC FRINGE, TONIGHT!” That dive took more out of Hardy though and Taker is back strong sliding into the ring. Taker covers for 1, 2, no. Old School time again to noticeable boos but Hardy counters and crotches him. Hardy dives to the floor and brings out the ladder plunder. Taker promptly gets up and boots the ladder back into him to completely neutralize that strategy. JR brings up their “classic” ladder match from 2002 while Jeff counters a whip with Whisper in the Wind. Double KO. BUT WAIT! THE BIG SHOW HAS COME OUT! He tosses out Jeff and Showster easily ChokeSlams Taker down. Hardy tries to distract and hangs on long enough for Taker to no sell the ChokeSlam and waffle Show with the chair. Now, Hardy’s got the chair and lays Taker out. Jeff sets the ladder up in the corner for the pommel-horse guillotine legdrop off the ladder. Cover gets 1, 2, 3 to win it decisively at 12:26.

• Sort of a strange match where Taker was in full-on “I ain’t going down, tonight” mode but lost nonetheless after some Big Show interference. I think the ending works better if you either cut out Big Show’s interference entirely or have either Taker or Hardy able to temporarily put him down long enough for the match to conclude. Then, have Show get the cheap heat on a post-match beatdown. Or, because all of Hardy's offense looked paltry given how little Taker was giving him damage-wise, give it the Aries-Joe finish with a few more moves to justify Taker’s Frankenstein routine. As is, Hardy’s win is a bit tainted because of the interference and distraction. A good, but not great match which works better as a chapter in the Jeff Hardy push than as an independent match on its own merits. ****

• Hardy would get cheated out of his title shot by a stalker’s hotel attack (Matt Hardy) at SS. He would have to wait until Armageddon to finally win the belt in a triple threat over Edge and Triple H. He would drop it back to Edge a month later when Matt Hardy revealed himself as the stalker at RR. Taker would defeat HBK at WM 25 for the first time in their Mania twosome.

Vladimir Kozlov vs. The Undertaker. WWE Smackdown 02/27/2009. We’re coming off the heels of EC 2009 where Trips won the WWE strap and Edge won the World strap. UT was without a dance partner for Mania 25 and Kozlov was undefeated. HBK defeated JBL on RAW for the opportunity to face Taker but still had to face Kozlov the following week to seal the deal. Kozlov stared down HBK on the RAW prior to the Smackdown where he’d face the Phenom. Oh yeah, Kozlov is still The Undefeated Kozlov. After losing in EC, that was quietly amended to The Still Undefeated In One-on-one Competition Kozlov, but that didn’t have quite the same ring to it.

• All JR and Taz can yak is UT and his WM streak. They circle to start and Kozlov grabs a headlock. Taz and JR now move on to speculating about whether or not Kozlov can use his Sambo to counter out of Hell’s Gate. UT sends him off but Kozlov bowls him over with a shoulderblock. BACKTOTHEHEADLOCK! Taz changes topics to discuss Kozlov’s evolving repertoire and suggests that Kozlov “continue to dance with what brought him to the dance” which is quite the reappropriation of “dance with what brung ya.” ANYWAY, Kozlov again plows over UT with another shoulderblock. Taz tries to put over “what makes the Deadman deadly” and it apparently includes UT’s big boot to Kozlov’s torso. Crowd sweetening for this is off the charts as UT whiffs on an elbow drop and Kozlov dumps him out and the crowd (noise) goes CRAZY. You’d think he just slammed Yoko on the USS Intrepid. Kozlov prematurely celebrates as UT lands on his feet. We take a break and are back to UT measuring for the apron leg drop. Back in, UT charges in but Kozlov elbows him back. UT cuts him off with another elbow. Cover gets 1, 2, no. UT wants Hell’s Gate but Kozlov counters out with headbutts. Clothesline from Kozlov and he liver kicks UT down. Kozlov hits some shoulder surges in the corner but UT tosses him into the corner only for Kozlov to counter back into another clothesline. Cover gets 1, 2, 2.99. Kozlov goes to the chinlock to slow things down. Taz and JR race each other to overreaching on the psychology behind this basic chinlock. Taz opens the proceedings by claiming it’s the same chinlock that Kozlov scouted earlier in the match and saw that UT was susceptible to it. JR raises him one by comparing it to Ed “The Strangler” Lewis’s vaunted chinlock that won him world titles in the 1920s. Given that far-reaching, historically-based carnie bullshit, Taz folds. UT counters out with a back suplex which JR labels a “shrewd maneuver.” UT goes back to the soup bones and Kozlov joins him to slug it out. Kozlov telegraphs a backdrop and UT lands the DDT. Cover gets 1, 2, kickout. JR: “That’s the same kickout used by Gene Kiniski that saved the NWA Championship so many times in the 1960’s.” OK, not really. UT builds momentum with knees and a Ho Train. Kozlov feeds out for Snake Eyes and another big boot to the solar plexus. 1, 2, 2.99. UT wants the ChokeSlam. Koz headbutts free but UT kicks him down again. Cover and another kickout. UT wants Old School. Kozlov cradles him into a powerslam off the top. Cover gets 1, 2, 3(!) to take it clean at 8:20.

• UT would get his win back a few weeks later on another Smackdown. This was government issue with only Kozlov’s headbutt counters and UT welcoming Kozlov to counter out of almost all of his stuff making it interesting. **1/2

• Taker would defeat HBK at Mania while Kozlov was a lumberjack in the tag title unification, pre-show match between the Colons and MizNMorrison.

Buried Alive Match for the World Heavyweight Championship: The Undertaker vs. Kane (c). WWE Bragging Rights 2010. In 2010 at WM XXVI, Kane came up short at MITB, while his brother UT was successful in retiring HBK. Fast forward a few months and MITB holder Jack Swagger had cashed in to win the world strap from Chris Jericho and was scheduled to defend at F4W, where Mysterio would end up winning the belt. UT won a qualifying match but later that night, Kane found him in the notorious “vegetative state.” Kane swore up and down that he would find the man responsible for doing that to UT and he channeled his vengeance into winning the MITB briefcase and then cashing in on Mysterio the same night at the inaugural MITB PPV. UT would return at Summerslam but would get attacked and beaten down by Kane who was revealed as the attacker all along. UT would promptly lose back-to-back matches to Kane including No Holds Barred and Hell in the Cell matches. This would be for all the marbles.

• Interestingly enough, at Survivor Series 2003, Kane already buried alive UT though admittedly that was in Vinnie Mac’s stead. Of course, at GAB 2004, Paul Bearer was also kayfabe buried alive in cement, but he’s here tonight as well. He turned heel on UT and cost him at HITC, so he’s in Kane’s corner.

• The proceedings are opened with Josh Matthews standing in the open grave cutting a cryptic promo in a hilarious monotone.

• UT jumps Kane in the aisle and immediately goes to the soup bones. UT with a plethora of right hands and Kane is reeling already. UNDERTAKERUNDERTAKERUNDERTAKER! Big boot and Kane goes down at ringside. He gets sent into the stairs as well and UT stink eyes Bearer away and back up the ramp. UT sends Kane into the barricade and sizes him up for another haymaker. UT preps the stairs and smashes Kane into them. Persistent WEWANTBLOOD chant gets going at 60 or so seconds in while UT hits a Ho Train. Kane bails out and tries talking a walk over the barricade. UT gives chase so Kane cuts him off with an uppercut. UT no sells and the scrawl of a brawl is on. Into the crowd they go and UT chokes away on the arena steps. UT with an uppercut and Kane tries to slowly walk in the opposite direction but changes tacks to slug it out. UT escorts him back to ringside and brings in the steel chair plunder much to the bloodthirsty crowd’s delight. UT with a running boot and Kane has gotten in shit so far. Apron leg drop follows and UT tosses in the announce table awning. He gets a chair but Kane again backpedals and tries to run through the crowd. UT won’t let him get far and runs him down again. For the 20th time or so, Cole again repeats that YOU MUST BURY YOUR OPPONENT ALIVE! Lawler is bit bored and calls the World Heavyweight Championship an “afterthought” given the grueling punches, kicks, and power walking we’ve seen thus far. UT continues squashing Kane around the arena. Fan: “I WENT TO UFC LAST NIGHT!” Well, at least, he got to see blood. UT and Kane have a meeting of the minds and decide they don’t have the gas tank for a parking lot broadway and decides to reroute this scenic hike back to ringside. TAKERTAKERTAKERTAKER! It’s been 7 minutes and Kane has been an afterthought.

• Right on cue, he cuts off UT at the pass with a few chairshots. Kane with some paltry chairshots as Cole and Striker put over how it’s not Taker himself, but his legacy and his shadow that Kane wants to bury. Kane hits a few more pitiful-sounding shots and at least the crowd is still chanting for Taker. Kane fires up for the ChokeSlam, but they’re still in the ring, so it doesn’t do him much good. Cole says that “envy is seeping through Kane’s pores” which gives this feud quite the dermatological bend. Kane wants and hits a SECOND CHOKESLAM! OH MY! WHATAMANUEVER! Kane hoists him up for the walk back to the gravesite, but UT slides behind for rights and lefts. Kane responds with the boo/yea slug it out. Again, crowd is still into it and pops accordingly when Kane finally goes down on UT’s penultimate and ultimate strikes. Striker: “A PHYSICAL EULOGY BEING DELIVERED RIGHT NOW BY THE MINISTER OF DARKNESS!” Man, these Kane gimmick matches where he and someone else punch and jog and flop their way lethargically through the arena are so dead to me. I’d be fine if I never saw another. ANYWAY, Kane escapes UT’s grasp and fumbles and falls over himself trying to run away. UT says that’s it and goozles him for the CHOKESLAM! NO! KANE THROWS DIRT IN HIS EYES! Striker: “THE SYMBOLISM ALONE SPEAKS VOLUMES!” ……………………….. Kane wants UT to know he can’t see him? Kane wants UT to know how unholy, blasphemous, and earthly he is? Kane feels like he’s salt of the earth, common folk? Kane replaced the ashes in the urn with… dirt? ANYWAY, UT is done and wants to know if he can take 6 months off now instead of after the match. BUT WAIT! ZOMBIE SITUP! HELL’S GATE! Kane taps out on the Astroturf and UT releases him and rolls him over into the grave. Crowd loves that, but he’s got to bury him as well. Paul Bearer begs for mercy but UT goozles him for the CHOKESLAM! BUT WAIT! IT’S THE NEXUS! THAT PACK OF FERAL DOGS! The numbers overcome UT and he’s pummeled down. Kane recovers to get out of the grave. Striker: “MAGGOTS ARE EATING AT THE CORPSE OF THE UNDERTAKER!” THE SYMBOLISM, TONY! Kane waffles UT with the urn and Nexus gets the shovels. Striker: “LIKE INDIANS AT A GRAVESITE!” That’s some kinda ass-backwards graverobbing “dig”, amirite? Kane, though, refuses their help and instead uses his supernatural pyro powers to commandeer the bulldozer and bury UT alive at 17:01.

• Every single one of the matches from their 2010 feud is agonizingly slow, labored, and dull as.... well, dirt. They are only interesting for the fact that Kane was en fuego as a promo at the time and UT went a surprising 0-3 on PPV during that fall. Of course, UT would return to join the H's in an awesomely dramatic steely gaze at the WM sign and defeat him for the second time at 27, so all's well that ends well. As for the match itself, Kane barely got in a few punches for the first 10-ish minutes of the match. You'd think that with that kind of free reign on the shine, Taker would manage something worthwhile, but no dice. Even once he took over, Kane still only hit a few chairshots and two ChokeSlams before UT no sold that and Kane tapped out to Hell's Gate anyway. Just boring as shit with nothing to see here. *1/4

• Post-match, UT's symbol is spotlighted on the tombstone.

• Kane would hold the belt until losing it at TLC in a four-way TLC match to Edge. Taker would come back and defeat the H’s at Mania 27.

The Beast vs. The Streak: Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker. WWE Wrestlemania XXX. This match had a rather lackluster build. Lesnar wasn't doing anything better and going into the RR starting throwing out that he wanted a title shot but didn't want to wait in line. The only consequences for said action were Mark Henry standing up to him a few weeks in a row and promptly getting F5ed on the floor and through the barricade. After the 2nd time, Showster decided to stand up for the honor of waiting in line for title shots unless you sue to get them like a man. They clashed at the RR and Brock waylaid him before the match with a chair and that was that. The night after the RR, Brock called out The Authority and demanded a match with then united champ, Orton, or RR winner, Batista.... OR ELSE! The Authority didn't budge, so Brock busted up return tag match between The NAO and The Rhodes Brothers with the help of a steel chair and then exited for several weeks. When he returned, Brock decided that the title was of secondary importance, he just wanted the biggest, most important match he could have at Mania. Of course, Taker answered that challenge and then stabbed Brock's hand signing the contract in blood which is quite the symbolic vengeance for the broken hand years earlier in HITC.

• Pre-match, JBL puts over all of Brock’s career accomplishments including the IWGP belt and UFC victories and says all of that will be near meaningless if Brock beats The Streak tonight. Even King is forced to admit that if Brock wins tonight that will cement Heyman as arguable one of the greatest strategists and managers of all-time. JBL one-ups him to say that it will remove the argument and simply make Heyman the GOAT. Taker’s Druid music interrupts to give us a viral takeover and shots of numbered caskets for each victim of The Streak including Giant Gonzales, Bundy, Trips, Batista, and yes, CM Punk.

• After dumping the David Allen Coe gear, Taker looks a bit piqued, tonight, maybe lobster red is more apropos. UT pounces at the bell with rights in the corner. Brock sends him across easily for a belly to belly suplex. Brock clotheslines him out but UT lands on his feet. Taker gets back to the apron but Brock knees him to take over and hooks him up for Sheamus CLUBBINGBLOWRAMPAGE but Taker counters to a Stun Gun. Taker is back on the offense as Cole is busting out the swimming metaphors to give this one the epic feel. Taker goes after Brock’s arm and then posts him as it’s VERY methodical even for Taker. Another labored push into the post from Taker and back in, he wants Old School. Brock cuts him off with shoulder surges but Taker avoids a harpoon and Brock again eats post. Back to the floor and Brock is sent into the stairs and the crowd is quiet. Taker can’t quite find a groove so they punch for a bit to buy time and Taker goes to his apron offense and the leg drop. Taker ambles around and stares off into the distance like Murtaugh contemplating fishing in Montana or hunting in Texas.

• Back in, Brock laps into Snake Eyes and it’s time for the ChokeSlam but Lesnar counters him to try the F5. Taker shoves him off to again work over the arm. Taker storms in for the Liu Kang kick but whiffs. Brock then reverse posts the leg and Taker eats it to the floor. Taker comes back with an elbow but Brock shoots for a single leg and dumps Taker down on his back. JBL: “Maybe, we’re seeing the last ride of The Undertaker here at Wrestlemania.” Cole: “You have said on so many occasions, John, that all good things come to an end. All streaks are broken.” King: “JBL is one of those guys that goes to a NASCAR race to see a crash.” ANYWAY, Brock easily stomps down Taker who looks older with each passing second. Brock pulls Taker to the middle of the ring and takes his sweet time just punching him down and then kicking his leg out from under him. Brock torques the ankle before Taker rolls to the floor to regroup barely able to stand. Brock chases him down and kicks the leg out again. Taker tries to fire up but Brock counters and whips him into the stairs but Taker botches the bump/trips falling into the barricade. I’m sure some of this is Monday Morning Quarterbacking, but this is either one of Taker’s best sell jobs ever or he’s just old; then again, he did suffer a concussion sometime during the match. Back in, Brock with a snap suplex and he’s feeling it and the crowd boos him mildly because they have no idea what’s coming. Brock goes back to knees as Taker takes a breather against the ropes. Brock moves and Taker collapses. Cole : “He looks very mortal guys.” King: “This is the most uncomfortable I’ve been watching any Undertaker match at Wrestlemania.”

• Taker is punchdrunk but tries covering up on the ropes. Brock easily dispatches his defenses and starts teeing off like Taker’s a punching bag. Taker counters with a DDT and the crowd perks up a bit. Taker gets a flurry going and a Ho Train and another. Snake Eyes and the Boot of Fear follow. Leg drop gets 1, 2, 2 ½. Taker calls for the ChokeSlam. King: “I don’t know if you feel it, but it’s as if there’s a sense of dread here in the Superdome.” Cole: “A pall over the arena.” King: “It’s almost as if…” JBL: “People realize that we’re starting to see the end of an era.” Taker hits the ChokeSlam for 1, 2, shoulder up. Brock slides out and immediately hits the F5 in one of those sell/no sell video game sequences for 1, 2, no. Crowd tries rallying and chanting for Taker. Heyman: “IT’S YOURS! TAKE IT! TAKE IT! FINISH HIM!” Taker is done but still has enough gas to pull Brock into Hell’s Gate. Brock stacks him up for a modified RampageBomb. Taker strains pulling himself to his feet but Brock checks his watch and decides to just pull Taker to the middle and then lays down to practically put himself in Hell’s Gate. Brock teases tapping before another RampageBomb. JBL: “Undertaker hasn’t been on his feet in five minutes. He’s caught him in two submissions but both from his back. He can’t even get to his feet.” Taker crawls over and Brock pounces pulling him into the Kimura. Taker counters and seems energized as he grinds the hold and drops down grapevining the arm. Brock struggles but finally gets the ropes. Brock tries rushing in but Taker gets up the boot and then musters up enough juice for Old School and the crowd comes alive. BUT WAIT! BROCK PULLS HIM DOWN INTO AN F5! 1, 2, 2.99999. Brock goes to the Germans and Taker is just dead weight. Heyman gets in Brock’s ear: “THIS IS YOUR DESTINY! THIS IS YOUR DESTINY! THIS IS WHAT YOU TRAINED FOR! THIS IS YOUR’S! 21-1 AND YOU ARE THE ONE! YOU ARE GOING TO LET HIM DEPRIVE YOU OF THIS! YOU’RE BROCK LESNAR! YOU’RE A CONQUEROR!” Brock mounts in the corner for 10 punches but inevitably gets countered to Last Ride. Double KO and Taker can’t capitalize. Taker recovers first and scoops him up for TOMBSTONE! ONE, TWO, THREEOHNOHEALMOSTGOT’IM! Zombie situp and he says it’s over for real this time. He wants another Tombstone but Brock counters back and counters into the F5! 1, 2, 33333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333
3333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333! THE STREAK IS OVER AT 25:12!
No music. No commentary. Just silence.

• Post-match, Taker gets probably the most legitimate ovation in losing in history.

• It's a slow match with the psychology hardly ever mattering though it is present. Taker starts with Brock's arm and then Brock switches over to Taker's leg but it never gels or feels significant. Instead, the dominant story is just Taker looking and feeling old. It feels even more meaningful because it perfectly plays into the finish with Taker just being too old and slow to recover, fire up, have effective offense, etc. In that way, it resembles HBK-Flair from WMXXIV but that was face-face and everyone knew it was the end. This is standard face-heel and no one thought it was it – though watching the match, it’s hard to see it any other way. Then again, he did have a concussion, but we'll never know how much of a mitigating factor that was. If they kept the match exactly the same and Taker won, it’d be predictably hollow because of how ineffective and rundown he looked. If he was playing it up for the angle and finish, that’s one thing, but if that’s the best he had in him, he’s probably better it was the end, all else being equal. ***

• follow me on Twitter - @RingCrewReviews

The 411: This is an interesting string of matches to watch in sequence as you can see Taker evolve but you can also see him evolve in how much offense he gives each opponent and how much he sells. Quality-wise, they will vary across the board but they are mostly a strong bunch.
Final Score:  7.5   [ Good ]  legend


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