As Wrestlemania 36 draws nearer and nearer to its empty crowd spectacular, we have been subject to the build of the marquee Undertaker match that has been a highlight of many ‘Manias’ past.
Working with AJ Styles this year does have the potential to go under the radar however as a decent match due to the ability of Styles himself. This got me thinking. What other matches throughout the phenoms storied near 30-year career have missed out on the acclaim it deserves. For every Mankind, HHH and HBK battle, the matches below deserve the recognition of the matches even more. Let’s look at some of the most underrated Undertaker Matches.
No Disqualification: Undertaker vs Ric Flair (WrestleMania X-8)
Let’s start with a Wrestlemania match that does not get half the credit I believe it deserves. Now, this was the second Mania match of ‘Biker Taker’s run and this was an all-out war.
The No DQ stipulation was up into full use here as both men ended up bleeding and headshots were used to maximise damage. This match also proved to the world that despite his ageing years, the Nature Boy could still go and deliver brutal matches. This was probably the 2nd best Wrestlemania match Undertaker had been in at the time (Triple H the year before took the top spot). One love spot, although flashy, really pops me and that’s Undertaker reversing the Figure Four Leglock in the chokeslam. Rewatch this and I’m sure you’ll agree it’s worth it’s due.
Undertaker vs Kurt Angle (Smackdown, 2006)
How these two never had a Wrestlemania match is beyond me. On March 3rd, two weeks after No Way Out, these two squared off for the World Heavyweight Championship. As was the norm in this generation of Smackdown, the two put on a stellar match. You had Undertaker entering what I consider his highest quality period as a performer and the undeniable Kurt Angle up against him. Reversals were aplenty in this contest, showing the best of both men’s abilities. Sure, the ending of the match can take the gloss off the match, and maybe that’s why it fades from people’s minds, but if you can find it, make sure you check it out.
Undertaker vs John Cena (Smackdown, 2004)
Remember a couple of years ago when people were clamouring for a match between Taker and Cena? Well, what we have here is one of the few matches where they have gone one on one. With Undertaker recently returning to his Deadman gimmick and Cena fully into his Jorts phase, this might possibly be the greatest match they both had. In another hard-hitting contest, they fully take advantage of a long time slot, taking their time to maximise the storytelling in the match. The match itself is graphic for its TV slot. This ain’t pretty. Want to point out that the ref bump in this is great, doing a full rotation off the clothesline that sits up there with the best of them.
No Holds Barred Match: Stone Cold vs Undertaker (Judgment Day 2001)
Let’s take a break from network TV and work our way back to Pay Per View. These men have had some legendary battles in the past, from Undertaker winning the title to Stone Cold Steve Austin burying The Undertaker alive, but here we had a different dynamic. With Undertaker now in his American Badass persona and Stone Cold in the midst of his heel run with Vince McMahon. In a theme that’s becoming apparent with these underrated matches, this again was a fight that was brutal (I’m running out of synonyms) Again this match was bloody and contained some great weapon shots including Vince McMahon getting involved. You could see the chemistry that these two have built over the years and having a different dynamic to what they usually had helped to add an extra twist to this battle. As was what was great with the American Badass persona of the Undertaker, he was able to let his rage loose and destroy everything in sight with multiple steel chair shots. Not only is this an underrated match for the undertaker but also for some called himself. In the end, both Triple H and Kane got involved as was usual at that time that helped build to the Two-Man Power Trip versus the Brothers of Destruction. Again, it’s hard to believe that people overlook this match possibly because of the change of persona of both wrestlers. Go and check it out.
And there we have it, some Undertaker matches that you might have forgotten about from his vast back catalogue of classics. I know there’s a lot more that I’ve missed out, but when you have near 900 televised matches under your belt, it’s hard to keep track of them all!
You can find me on Twitter @TDWalton. Thanks for reading.