(Almost) 5-Star Match Reviews: The Undertaker vs. Triple H – WrestleMania XXVII

the undertaker triple h wrestlemania 27

With the Royal Rumble now behind us, it’s now time to look to the future, to WrestleMania. And what better way to do that than by revisiting previous WrestleManias to get everyone in the mood for this year’s big event?

Everyone wants to see a great WrestleMania. And the best way to have that is for there to be more than one good match. Because no one wants to sit through a 4-6 hour show and have only one good memory from it.

Thus it’s important to look back and see which WrestleManias were good and which ones were bad. Today we look back at what is generally considered a weak WrestleMania that really had only one good match on it. But was that one match really that good? Read on to find out.

As a reminder, I am reviewing Five Star and almost-Five Star wrestling matches as rated by Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer. It goes back to the 1980s and I’m going to pick different matches from different eras to see how they look today. Check out previous entries in my 5 Star Match Reviews series right here.

The story

After weeks of speculation, Undertaker made his return on February 21st, 2011. But his triumphant return was interrupted by Triple H, who came to the ring to confront him. and seconds later, both of them turned towards the WrestleMania sign to signal their intentions.

This was going to be a rematch from ten years ago. For whatever reason, WWE didn’t acknowledge that these two faced off at WrestleMania X-Seven at any point during the build to this match. I guess Vince McMahon didn’t want any reference to the American Badass and so he made everyone pretend like that never happened.

Anyway, this match was announced as a No Holds Barred match, which is a fancy way of saying “anything goes”. The thought of Undertaker and Triple H facing off at WrestleMania was a big announcement in itself; putting them in a no-rules environment definitely upped the ante. But would they deliver on what promised?

undertaker triple h wm27

The match

This match originally took place on April 3rd, 2011. It was rated ****1/2 out of five by the Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer.

Both guys rush each other the moment the bell rings and HHH starts out-punching Undertaker until ‘Taker choke-tosses him to the floor. ‘Taker sends HHH into the steel ringsteps and then starts dismantling the Spanish announce table. But when he turns around, HHH spears him into Michael Cole’s “Cole mine” protective cube. But that big move doesn’t appear to do much as Undertaker sits up seconds later and he…is…PISSED!

Back in the ring, Undertaker tanks some punches and hits his flying clothesline. He goes for Old School but HHH counters with an arm drag and then clothesline Undertaker back to the floor. He whips Undertaker into the barricade and then starts dismantling the English announce table. Triple H goes for a Pedigree on the table. Undertaker blocks and goes for a chokeslam. HHH blocks that and tries his finisher again. Undertaker counters with a back body drop that sends Triple H to the floor below. then Undertaker charges…and connects with his suicide dive.

After getting some time to recover, Undertaker smashes Triple H face-first into some ringsteps. Triple H blocks a Tombstone attempt but then eats a big head-butt. ‘Taker rushes for a big attack but Triple H counters with a spinebuster into the Spanish table.

undertaker triple h wm27 2

Triple H throws Undertaker into the ring but ‘Taker hits first with a chokeslam for a two-count. HHH blocks a Last Ride and drives Undertaker into a corner with shoulder checks. HHH starts doing the corner ten punches but ‘Taker counters with another Last Ride attempt. HHH escapes but fails to land the Pedigree. Undertaker lands Snake Eyes and goes for his follow-up big boot but HHH counters with a spinebuster. One, two, Undertaker kicks out.

HHH grabs a chair buy Undertaker boots him before it can be used. Undertaker hits HHH with the chair once but before he can hit again Triple H lands the Pedigree. The referee counts one, two, and – Undertaker kicks out again. HHH goes for a superplex. Undertaker counters into a successful Last Ride powerbomb. HHH kicks out. Tombstone Piledriver. One, two, and – NO, Triple H kicks out. ‘Taker teases a Tombstone onto the steel chair. HHH counters with a DDT onto it instead. Both men collapse.

After more recovery time, Triple H hits a second Pedigree but once again Undertaker stays alive. Pedigree #3. No three-count. Triple H grabs the chair and starts yelling ‘STAY DOWN’ as he whacks Undertaker’s back with it. But Undertaker gets back up. Chair-shot to the head. Undertaker keeps moving. Triple H: “STAY DOWN! JUST DIE! WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?!” Undertaker teases a chokeslam but releases Triple H of his own accord. He staggers over to the ropes but still demands Triple H fight him. HHH does the throat slash gesture. Tombstone Piledriver by Triple H onto the Undertaker! One…two…and – NO, Undertaker kicks out again. My God what a pop from the crowd!

Gob smacked at what he has just witnessed, Triple H grabs his trusty sledgehammer. He pulls Undertaker away from the ropes…when suddenly Undertaker traps HHH in the Hell’s Gate submission hold. HHH loses his hammer for a moment but then regains it. Then he drops it. He can’t power out, he can’t escape, he can’t flip over, and he can’t counter. And after almost two full minutes trapped in the hold, Triple H taps out! Undertaker wins! The Streak rises to 19-0!

Winner via submission after 29:25: The Undertaker

Post-match, Undertaker’s lights dim and the celebration begins, but without Undertaker himself. The man hasn’t moved at all since the bell rang. Even Triple H managed to pull himself into a sitting position in a corner. Triple H manages to slowly limp his way up the entrance ramp but Undertaker can’t even stand. The referee and a ringside doctor call for help and Undertaker is carted out of the arena. For the first time ever, The Undertaker is rendered unable to leave the arena under his own power.


That was a very simple match that worked to both wrestlers’ strengths. Most of the action was composed of each wrestler’s finishers and other big moves, plus some weapons strikes and ringside mayhem. I didn’t expect much else out of these two given their age and wear-and-tear. And after over a decade of hindsight, I can say that this is still a good match…though still nowhere near Undertaker’s classics from the previous two WrestleManias.

This was more of a gimmick match that tried to tell a much simpler story. Triple H tried to hit Undertaker with every big move and every object imaginable to try and keep him down but nothing worked. Undertaker refused to stay down despite everything Triple H did and said. Nothing, not even a Tombstone from Triple H, could keep the legend down.

It made sense in an interesting way: prior to this, WWE always masked Undertaker’s mortality. They tried in storylines and in presentation to really sell the idea that he was supernatural, even though everyone watching could tell that wasn’t the case. But here, Triple H achieved something that few others managed to: even though he lost, he shattered Undertaker’s sense of being larger-than-life. Triple H rendered Undertaker, for all intents and purposes, normal. He left the match not as the zombie, the Lord of Darkness, the Deadman, or whatever else he called himself. He left this match as a pro athlete who took such a monumental beating that he couldn’t leave the ring under his own power. But it’s somewhat unfortunate that the last two minutes of the match and the post-match were more compelling than about half of the match itself.

Outside of the biggest spots, there was quite a bit of emptiness here. It was as if both wrestlers built to a big spot, sold it for the appropriate amount of time, and then moved onto the next one. There was very little flow or smooth progression between big moments. Even if they tried to sell this as a wild and violent brawl, they underwhelmed on that front as well. for a No Holds Barred match, much of the ‘special’ stuff – spots on the announce table, being thrown around ringside, and use of the steel steps – wasn’t all that special because it was seen in normal matches already. As for the chair and the sledgehammer, they didn’t make that much of an impact. Yes, HHH walloped Undertaker’s spine with chair-shots, but there was a bigger payoff with the same spot in Steve Austin vs. Rock at WrestleMania X-Seven.

It was as if Triple H couldn’t bring anything new to the table. Yes, he hurt Undertaker a lot and the Tombstone spot was excellent. But that’s one spot in a thirty-minute match. The rest of the match saw him and Undertaker both act surprised when moves that never beat anyone only got two-counts. For a guy that billed himself as ‘the Cerebral Assassin’, he certainly wasn’t cerebral here. There was little heat, the near-falls weren’t all that believable, and the melodrama was good but not great. Triple H’s best friend is Shawn Michaels, the guy with whom Undertaker had two of his best ‘Mania matches ever. How did none of Michaels’ understanding of psychology and tension rub off on Triple H?

Final Rating: ***3/4

While I admire both wrestlers for really putting their bodies to the test here, I don’t think they put on that good of a match in hindsight. The drama was there to be sure, but the match was basically a heavyweight spot-fest with lots of brawling thrown in to give it some extra flavor. Considering the matches that came beforehand, this was a big step down from what was expected of Undertaker at this time.

While I don’t want to put any blame on one particular wrestler, I really think that Triple H didn’t bring out his A-game here. He relied on too many of his tired ideas and didn’t really do anything new. Given the weight of the story, it was expected that he’d at least try something out of the ordinary. Maybe he’d cut Undertaker’s legs from under him like Michaels tried to at the previous year’s WrestleMania. Maybe he’d go for the back early so that Undertaker couldn’t lift him. Or maybe he’d so something, anything else other than the same slow and plodding brawling he has done for years. WrestleMania’s supposed to be special and unfortunately the only special thing in this match was the post-match angle.

If you’re going to watch this match, do so on YouTube and be sure to change the playback speed. You still get the same match but the pacing and flow improves dramatically. This could’ve been so much better, but unfortunately one wrestler involved went back to the same well instead of trying something new when he really needed to most.

Thanks for reading. You can email me with any questions or comments, and be sure to check out my 5-Star and Almost 5-Star Match Reviews series here.