TJR WrestleMania’s Greatest Matches: The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels @ WrestleMania 26

shawn michaels wwe wrestlemania 26 undertaker

It was the Streak vs. Career match that was the last match in the career of the man known as “Mr. WrestleMania” Shawn Michaels. His opponent? Perhaps his greatest rival, The Undertaker.

When I say the “last match in the career of Shawn Michaels,” it’s because it was the end of his run as a regular wrestler. He did come back for one more bad match at Crown Jewel 2018 when he teamed up with Triple H against The Undertaker and Kane, but as a Michaels fan, it’s a match a lot of us want to forget. It was bad…unlike this match!

Who: Streak vs. Career: The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels @ WrestleMania 26

When: March 28, 2010

Where: University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale (Phoenix), Arizona

The Build

Their match at WrestleMania 25 was incredible. The greatest match ever? Perhaps the best in WWE history. It was the Match of the Year. During the 2009 Slammy Awards, Michaels said he wanted another shot at Undertaker.

The story was that Michaels was obsessed with beating Undertaker at WrestleMania after losing to him the year before at WrestleMania 25. The Undertaker turned him down. At the Royal Rumble 2010, Michaels was determined to win the match and earn a title shot since Undertaker was the World Champion at that point. However, Michaels fell short in that match and was furious about it.

At the Elimination Chamber 2010 PPV when Undertaker was defending the World Heavyweight Title, Michaels showed up from under the Elimination Chamber structure, hit a Superkick on Undertaker and Chris Jericho pinned him to win the World Title.

Since Michaels had cost him the World Heavyweight Title, Undertaker was willing to give him one more try. There was a stipulation, though. If Michaels lost he had to retire. Michaels agreed to it and it became The Streak vs. The Career.

The Undertaker’s undefeated streak at WrestleMania was 17-0 at this point.

The video package for this match is my second favorite ever (after Austin/Rock from WrestleMania 17). I can remember listening to Placebo’s “Running Up That Hill” repeatedly after hearing in this video package.

They didn’t air this video package during the WrestleMania broadcast for some reason, but it did air on television. Watch it below.

What I Thought Back Then

The Undertaker was 45 years old at the time of the match while Michaels was almost 45 since his birthday is later in the year. It was two guys in their mid-40s doing a rematch of their amazing match one year. Could they top what they did the year prior? Probably not, but they damn sure tried.

Another thought I had was they better put this match on last because they didn’t do it a year earlier and it was a huge mistake. Thankfully, they did go on last.

The outcome in the match was never in doubt. I didn’t want Shawn Michaels to retire, but it made sense that he would call it a career in his mid-40s. He probably could have wrestled for another few years, but there’s no point in risking your health when you had as much money as him.

I was sad knowing that it was going to be the last match in the career of my favorite wrestler Shawn Michaels, but I was content with it also. If he wanted to retire then who are we to tell him not to? It was his choice to go out his way. There’s not a better way to go out than in the main event of WrestleMania against one of the best wrestlers ever in The Undertaker.

I was also excited about the match because of how good it was a year earlier. My expectations were high for their WrestleMania rematch.

Here’s my full review of the match, which was written live in 2010.

No Disqualification – Streak vs. Career: The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels

No elaborate Michaels entrance this year. He walks out first to a good pop, but I thought it would be louder. Maybe the crowd is tired? I don’t know. The Undertaker came out through the floor for his entrance. Screw you Gangrel and Rey Mysterio! How many people will throw a Gangrel reference in during Michaels/Taker? Me, that’s who. Cole mentioned that Undertaker’s defeated 10 former World Champions in his streak.

Epic staredown to start. Michaels did the Undertaker throat slash. Five minutes in, we got our first “vintage” of the match with the Undertaker’s legdrop. They’re working the story that Undertaker’s got a bad knee and had Michaels work on it with the figure four. The crowd is pretty quiet for a match like this. It’s been a long show, but if you pay as much as these paid you should be making more noise. Kip up by Michaels, Undertaker catches him, hits a chokeslam and it only gets two. Too early in the match for that. Undertaker went for the Tombstone, Michaels fought out and put him in the Ankle Lock. He drops down. The crowd is not reacting to this at all because nobody thinks it’s ending like this. And they’re right, of course. They worked their way out to the floor and Undertaker hit a Tombstone on the floor to a huge pop. Took a minute to roll Michaels in where he kicked out. Undertaker went for the Last Ride and Michaels was able to counter with what looked like HBK did an X-Factor to counter it by slamming his head into the mat. Michaels goes for the elbow and Undertaker puts up the knees to counter it. Great counter there.

Undertaker slaps on the Hell’s Gate only for Michaels to counter into a cover for two. That was a cool spot too. They both get up, Michaels separates and hits Sweet Chin Music! Only two. Yes, it earned an OUT OF NOWHERE~! from Cole. The crowd is waking up. Michaels went for another superkick, but Undertaker countered with a Last Ride. He hits it…for two! Now it’s time for some outside the ring spots, which is why they added the no DQ stips. He took the monitors off the Spanish announce table. Remember the days when fans chanted “Spanish Table! Spanish Table!” Michaels hit the Sweet Chin Music on the floor! Undertaker is laying on the announce table. Michaels crawls up the apron, climbs up to the top and he’s going for the moonsault. Wow! Moonsault off the top rope onto the table. Table broke and Michaels popped to his feet before falling down again! Killer spot.

Back in the ring, Michaels kicks him hard in the head with another Sweet Chin Music. That looked so perfect. Undertaker kicks out at two. That was one of the best superkicks I’ve ever seen. Another Sweet Chin Music is countered to a chokeslam. Tombstone by Undertaker hits. Covers him with the hands on the chest. One, two…no. That spot was similar to last year. The crowd is chanting “This is Awesome” and they are absolutely right. The Undertaker was about to do the cutthroat signal, but he stopped. He told Shawn to stay down, but HBK got back up, crawling up to his chest. Shawn gives the cutthroat signal to Undertaker and then slaps him! Another Tombstone by Undertaker. That’s enough for the win at 23:59. That’s the end of Shawn Michaels’ career. The Undertaker is 18-0 at WrestleMania.

Winner by pinfall: The Undertaker

Analysis: ***** This was a fantastic match just like the year before. Five stars again. They really pulled out all the stops and told a great story. These are two of the best ever on the biggest stage delivering the goods like they did many times. I loved it. Their chemistry is phenomenal and they built to the finish perfectly. I think the match at WM25 told a different story in that it was a more balanced match. This one was even through a lot of it, but the inevitability of the loss was there too. Don’t get me wrong, of course we know Undertaker is going to win at WrestleMania, but there was less of a surprise factor in this one. Perhaps it’s because it was the rematch. Still, that pop for Michaels kicking out that Tombstone was enormous and Undertaker did a great job of selling it too, wishing that Shawn would just stop. The idea this time around was that Michaels wanted Undertaker to really beat him to earn the win and that’s what happened after Michaels told him to end it. They had the undisputed match of the year (in my opinion) two years in a row. At least they were smart enough to put it on last this time.

Post match, after Undertaker posed in his purple light he picked Michaels up. They shook hands. They hugged eachother while trying to stay on their feet. The final shot of the night was Michaels in the ring getting the standing ovation he deserves for being one of the best ever. I enjoyed that moment of seeing the crowd paying tribute to this man who spent his life entertaining us like few others could.

You could read Shawn’s lips saying: “Thank you for a wonderful life.” No Shawn. Thank you.

The show ended with Michaels walking up the ramp, applauding and waving goodbye.

What They Said

Shawn Michaels to about his bond with The Undertaker:

“At the time of that match, and knowing it was going to be my last, I think I might have been able to see some sort of downside in my career. But now, all these years later, I don’t. There were ups and downs, sure, but as I look back now, all I see is absolute joy and pleasure. He and I didn’t know we could get any closer after the first (WrestleMania match). We were wrong. We could, and we did. And it’s one of those things I’ll have forever. To me, nothing compares to putting on a good show. And I mean that with respect to this entire business. But, truthfully, the wins, the losses, the championships — none of those things are as important as putting on a good match. He and I sat in the same locker room forever. We were just two, battle-worn warriors who had been going at it for a long, long time. And that match was just a great final memory to have. Because of that, the peace of my retirement is only greater now.”

Shawn Michaels to on his thoughts on this match:

“Going in, it was a good feeling because my family was there. But there was a little anxiety, because it’s still WrestleMania and it was the last one. You know people expected it to be really good. Because it was the Undertaker again, there were going to be a lot of comparisons to the last one (2009). So for all the upside you get out of just enjoying the moment that is WrestleMania, there was a little anxiety and a little stress wanting to just deliver a really good match.

But afterwards, it was just complete joy and then also, I think a lot of mental and physical and even spiritual exhaustion. “It’s over.” And again, that’s when it settled in. That’s when it got real. And it was almost as if everything under God’s green earth had been lifted off my shoulders and it was a nice feeling. It was a bit surreal, but I would have to say it was really the next day when everything settled in. Honestly, getting to make that speech on RAW, I felt like the luckiest guy in the world honestly. I couldn’t think of a better way for it to go, for it to end, and to have the opportunity and the time to express all of that on RAW was wonderful. That’s when it’s all allowed to be real and you’re allowed to talk about the wrestling business and your life in the WWE, in a very real sense. And it was a joy to be able to do that well.”

What I Think Now

I like the WM25 match more, but this one did live up to the incredible hype by delivering another five-star match. I thought they would do more wrestling outside of the ring because of the No DQ stip. All they really did was that insane moonsault off the top rope spot where Shawn went crashing through Undertaker on the table.

The finishing sequence matched the year prior. It might have even topped it with all the kickouts they did. There was a lot of desperation on the part of Michaels, which helped fuel the story and made it an even more epic match.

They had perfect chemistry. Even though it was face vs. face, they did such a good job of building up the importance of winning the match. I think any time there’s a big man vs. little man match it’s easier to tell a story because fans are going to be sympathetic to the shorter guy. In this case, both guys were beloved and fans cheered for each of them, but they were able to tell that big man/little man story well.

This is one of my favorite matches ever even though it meant the end of the career of my favorite wrestler. I think of it as a celebration of what Michaels did for over 25 years as a performer.

If you want even more thoughts on this match, check out the Alex Podgorski review here on TJRWrestling. He rated it five stars too.

What Happened Next

Shawn Michaels retired due to this loss. There was a special tribute to him the next night on Raw as a thank you for what he did during his incredible WWE career. As I mentioned in the beginning, Michaels did wrestle again at Crown Jewel 2018 although it was a bad match even though he probably got a huge payday for it.

The Undertaker wrestled a part-time schedule in 2010. He had a feud with his “brother” Kane later in the year where he put Kane over. After that, he didn’t wrestle again until WrestleMania 27 in 2011 against Triple H. Over the next few years, Undertaker kept going on mostly a part-time schedule. He was definitely slowing down as he got older, which was smart.

Final Thoughts

These guys are two of the best ever on the big stage and their chemistry with one another is tremendous. I doubt any wrestler could have a better match for their retirement than what Michaels did here. What a way to go out.


That’s all for me. Check out the full list of my WWE PPV Review archive right here. Thanks for reading.

My contact info is below.

John Canton


Twitter @johnreport