Join Matthew Roberts as he takes a look at the latest DVD release from WWE Home Video, which takes a look at The Undertaker and his resume on the grandest stage of them all… WrestleMania.
You will have your own opinion on whether the Streak should have been broken or not. Me? I think the only reason a streak exists in wrestling is for it to be broken/ended. Of course, the discussion doesn’t really end there. If you think that the streak SHOULD have been broken that still leaves the question of whether or not the right man did it…but that’s a whole other article.
Over six discs this set brings you a chronological look at all of Taker’s WrestleMania matches. Some are good, some less so. Some are terrible, some are amongst the greatest matches in WWE history.
We start in 1991 with WrestleMania VII and Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka. It’s not exactly very good, but it’s exactly what WWE PPVs were filled with on the undercard in those days. Matches like this were more of a novelty in the days when TV shows were filled with squash matches for the most part. By the time we get to WrestleMania VIII and Jake The Snake Roberts, The Undertaker has already briefly been WWE Champion and turned babyface. This match feels bigger than his Mania debut but it’s no better as a match. It’s most notable for the fact that Jake held up the WWE for money before agreeing to take part in/lose this match.
Still, both these matches are five-star classics compared to WrestleMania IX and Giant Gonzalez. Was Gonzalez the worst “high-profile” wrestler to ever bag WWF and WCW contracts? Possibly. It has a kitsch charm for old-school fans but seems very dated in 2022.
King Kong Bundy from WrestleMania XI isn’t much better and it’s really 1996 and WrestleMania XII before we get the first decent match, opposite “Big Daddy Cool” Diesel. Surprisingly good all things considered. WrestleMania XIII’s main event against Sycho Sid, on the other hand, has to be up there with the dullest Mania main event matches in history.
Spectacle wise, Kane at WrestleMania XIV blows that away but as a match it’s very much all sizzle and no steak.
Similarly, 1999’s Hell in a Cell Match with the Big Boss Man isn’t very good although the end visual certainly is memorable. WrestleMania X-Seven is one of the most famous cards in history and Undertaker’s first WM match (of three) with Triple H is a wild, chaotic and unfairly overlooked mini-classic. On the same note, WrestleMania X-8’s match with Ric Flair is one that is far better than it had any right to be and is another on that is unfairly overlooked when looking down Taker’s Mania resume.
Things regress at WrestleMania XIX as Undertaker teams with complete non-entity Nathan Jones to take on the Big Show and A-Train. Even the bookers realised there was no hope for Jones as he was attacked before the match and didn’t make an appearance until the end… Nice Live version of Rollin’ though. The 20th WrestleMania saw our man take on Kane again. Like before, it’s all sizzle with no steak. WrestleMania 21 sees a much better match against Randy Orton (I was convinced at the time that Orton should have won – in hindsight that would not have been a great booking decision) before another clunker with Mark Henry the next year as we regress to Taker Vs Big man genericity. WrestleMania 23’s Batista bout is fine but a little overlong but that is followed by 2007’s match with Edge. That remains one of my favourite Undertaker Mania matches of the lot. It’s action packed and, at the time, you could almost believe Edge might end the Streak.
There’s probably nothing left to say about the next four years as Taker takes on Shawn Michaels for the first two years in absolute classics, before spending the next two years battling Triple H. All four are must see matches if you call yourself a fan of the WWE.
WrestleMania XXIX’s bout with CM Punk was beset by an awful, exploitative build up and suffers slightly on the basis that you could never really feel Punk had any chance of winning but it remains a strong match. This is followed by THAT match with Brock Lesnar. As long as there are two people out there who remember WWE this is a match that will be discussed to the end of time. It’s far from the best match on this set but historically it’s a must see.
Post-Streak Undertaker takes on Bray Wyatt in a something-and-nothing match and I’ve no desire to revisit the following year’s match against Shane McMahon so we’ll skip that one. We round things off with the John Cena match which is more of an angle and the cinematic battle with AJ Styles that rounded out Taker’s Mania career.
With 15-0 and 21-0 sets (to name but two) having already been released over the years there is no question that this collections runs over some familiar ground. But it’s a fascinating look at so many different era’s of WWE and WrestleMania that coincided with the Taker’s legendary career. Even when the action dips, its an entertaining look at nearly 30 years of WWE.
9 out of 10.
Photographs courtesy of Fetch and WWE. Thank you to WWE Home Video for our review copy of The Undertaker: The Complete WrestleMania Collection which is out Monday 14 November on DVD. You can buy your copy from WWEDVD.co.uk by clicking here.