The Undertaker’s undefeated streak at WrestleMania was on the line during this match against the only man that The Undertaker faced three times at a WrestleMania. His name is Triple H.
Let’s go back to 2011 for this No Holds Barred showdown.
Who: The Undertaker vs. Triple H @ WrestleMania 27
When: April 3, 2011
Where: Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia
The Undertaker became a part-time wrestler in 2011. He only wrestled one match that year – at WrestleMania 27 against Triple H. His last match before that was at Bragging Rights 2010 when he lost a Buried Alive Match to his storyline brother Kane.
The Undertaker appeared on the February 21, 2011 edition of Raw with a countdown. The song “Ain’t No Grave” by Johnny Cash played as he entered the arena and then his theme song played. When The Undertaker took off his hat after he got into the ring, Triple H’s music hit and he entered the arena to a thunderous ovation. The two legends went face to face, then Triple H looked at the WrestleMania sign and Undertaker looked at the sign as well. Undertaker did a throat slash, Hunter did a crotch chop and that’s all they needed to do. The crowd went wild for it.
What I liked about the moment is the announcers didn’t say anything. They let the pictures do the talking. There was more hype for it by talking about The Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak and how he retired Hunter’s best friend Shawn Michaels one year earlier. Hunter talked about how he had accomplished everything he could in the business and at WrestleMania, he would end The Undertaker’s 18-0 streak at WrestleMania.
What I Thought Back Then
My expectations were high because of the two men in the match. They’re great big match performers who knew were going to bust their asses to put on a memorable match. The WrestleMania 27 lineup wasn’t very good either, so I went into this match thinking they were going to be the match of the night. It was a lot of pressure on them, but I felt like they could deliver.
The weird thing about the match is that WWE seemed to ignore the fact that they wrestled at WrestleMania 17 ten years earlier. It was as if they didn’t want to tell the fans this match had already happened before at a WrestleMania even though most of us knew it since that is arguably the best WrestleMania ever. That match was pretty good, by the way.
I was at this event. It was my first WrestleMania. Our seats weren’t great, but I had fun even though it was a poor show. This was clearly the match of the night as well.
Here’s my full review of the match plus the analysis. I wrote this in 2022 because what I wrote originally wasn’t sufficient enough.
I was sitting in the section above the hard camera in the second level. About five rows above me was the third level, which is the private box level. It was filled with WWE talent. Legends like Ted Dibiase, Terry Funk, Ricky Steamboat and other current wrestlers were sitting up there the whole night. People in our section were turning around to snap photos of them. Most of them didn’t even acknowledge us. By the time Triple H & Undertaker started, we saw guys like Randy Orton & CM Punk up there. I guess it’s a better view than looking at a backstage monitor. I found out later, on WWE.com, that Shawn Michaels was up there too. A lot of people expected him to run out at some point. That didn’t happen obviously.
No Holds Barred Match: The Undertaker vs. Triple H @ WrestleMania 27
Triple H got an elaborate entrance wearing some armor when he first appeared on the stage and then he was in regular wrestling gear as he walked down to the ring. The Undertaker had the song “Ain’t No Grave” song by Johnny Cash for his entrance. The Undertaker made his usual slow walking, spectacular entrance that took nearly five minutes for him to get down to the ring. On the WWE Network version of his match, it’s the regular Undertaker song because they don’t want to pay royalties for the Johnny Cash song. That’s what usually happens. Here’s a fan cam version of Undertaker’s entrance on Youtube if you want to hear it with the Johnny Cash song.
It’s a No Holds Barred Match meaning anything goes in the match and you had to win in the ring. Triple H was 41 years old at the time of this match while Undertaker was 46 years old.
Hunter was aggressive with a barrage of punches, so then Taker just shoved him over the top to the floor. While they were on the floor, Taker whipped Hunter into the steel steps. Taker cleared off the Spanish announce table. Hunter got back up and tackled Taker through the “Cole Mine” glass setup that was ringside. Taker sat up while Hunter told him to bring it. Back in the ring, Taker hit a jumping clothesline. When Taker tried the rope walking move, Hunter countered it with an armdrag across the ring followed by a clothesline that sent Taker over the top to the floor. Hunter with a hard whip into the barricade at ringside. Hunter cleared off the English announce table where Ross and Lawler were. Hunter tried for a Pedigree on the commentary table, but Taker countered with a back body drop where Hunter hit the floor hard. Hunter was favoring his left arm/wrist that landed first on the mat outside the ring. When the guys were out of the ring, the referee stayed in the ring because obviously there was no countout in a match like this. Hunter slowly got back up, Taker ran the ropes and Taker jumped over the top onto Hunter on the floor. It was an impressive leap by the 46 years old Undertaker. It was mostly Taker’s hands hitting him followed by his body crashing to the floor after that. Taker teased a Tombstone on the steel steps, Hunter got out of that and Taker did a headbutt. Taker charged at Hunter, who was on the steps and Hunter gave Taker a spinebuster through the Spanish announce table. Good spot! They timed it well and it looked impressive.
Hunter sent Taker back into the ring, Hunter followed and Taker was ready for him with a Chokeslam for a two count. Taker teased a Last Ride, but Hunter drove him back first into the turnbuckle. Hunter worked over Taker with some punches against the turnbuckle, which led to the obvious spot of Taker going for the Last Ride and Hunter slipped out of it. They each went for moves, Taker got a hold of Hunter and sent him headfirst into the turnbuckle, but Hunter bounced back with a spinebuster for two. Hunter grabbed a steel chair from ringside, he went into the ring and Taker booted him in the face. Taker grabbed the chair leading to a stiff chair shot to the back. Some people do soft chair shots, but Taker was not soft with that one. Hunter came back with a kick to the gut and a Pedigree for two as Taker got the shoulder up. Hunter lifted up Taker to the top turnbuckle, Undertaker slipped out and hit a Last Ride Powerbomb for a two count. Taker was frustrated. That’s a spot Taker did many times in his career, usually after his opponent did the corner punches. Taker picked up Hunter and delivered a Tombstone piledriver with the arms folded across for one…two…no! Hunter kicked out. Taker was so frustrated that he fell back onto his back with hands on his head wondering what he has to do to win. Taker went for another Tombstone, Hunter slipped out and hit a DDT on the chair in the ring. They laid down in the ring to sell the physicality of the match. Both men slowly got back up to their feet using the ropes, Hunter got a hold of Taker and hit a Pedigree for one…two…and no! What a nearfall. JR: “So close!” It sure was. That was the second Pedigree of the match. Hunter got back up first, he hit a third Pedigree for one…two…and no again! Taker got his right shoulder up before the three count. JR: “I cannot believe what I have seen and perhaps The Game is feeling the same way.” Hunter got back up with the steel chair that he used to hit Taker in the back two times. Hunter: “Stay down!” Hunter delivered six more chair shots to Taker’s back. Taker pulled himself up using the ropes, he walked towards Hunter and Hunter delivered a chair shot to the head, but Taker clearly got his right hand up to block it, so it was a chair to the hand. Taker tried getting up. Hunter: “Stay down! Just die! Stay down. What’s wrong with you?” Taker grabbed Hunter with his hand around the throat. Taker backed into the ropes looking ready to fight and Hunter did the throat slash hand gesture. Hunter picked up Taker and gave him the Tombstone piledriver perfectly in the ring. Hunter folded the arms across the chest, the tongue out and it got one…two…no! What a pop for that kickout! Huge. Lawler: “He’s not human.” Hunter backed into the ropes with a stunned look on his face. The fans chanted “this is awesome” for them. They should have chanted it earlier, but it was definitely well deserved. Hunter left the ring leading to Hunter grabbing the sledgehammer from under the ring. Hunter stood over Taker, but then Taker grabbed him by the arm and applied the Hell’s Gate submission on Hunter’s head/arm/left arm. Hunter tried to fight it, he even stood up at one point, but Hell’s Gate was locked in by Taker. Hunter got a hold of the sledgehammer, he tried to use it as a weapon and then he started to pass out in the hold. Hunter tapped on Taker’s arm, so the referee Scott Armstrong called for the bell. It was a submission win due to Hunter tapping out. The match time was 29:23. The Undertaker is 19-0 at WrestleMania.
Winner by submission: The Undertaker
Analysis: ****1/2 Amazing match. I loved the finish. A perfect way to end it because if Undertaker beat him with a power move it would have diminished what Hunter did to him physically. Taker had trouble getting back to his feet, so instead, he won with a finishing move on his back. It makes sense. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Triple H and Undertaker. They worked their asses off to put on a great match here. The spots were timed well, they were done in the perfect sequence and the chemistry they had was really good considering they didn’t work a singles match together in a few years. I think Taker/Michaels at WM25 and WM26 are both five-star matches. This was just barely below that. My reasoning is that this was more of a brawl with well placed spots while the other two were more like traditional wrestling matches. I don’t want to nitpick. It’s a personal preference thing. Ultimately, though, we’re talking about three amazing matches. Rank them how you want. You won’t get too much of an argument from me. Taker sold that beating well. A lot of us thought he was legitimately hurt. Did it happen when he crashed headfirst on the floor? We had no idea. How many times have you seen him get taken out by a stretcher before? I guess that’s the WWE way of saying he has a level of vulnerability now. I’m glad Jim Ross was able to call this match too. It was better for having him there. Nobody can touch him in terms of calling the big matches. This was the highlight of WrestleMania 27. No question about that.
There was some pyro that went off along with 19-0 graphics all around the building to remind us that Undertaker was 19-0 at WrestleMania. Even though The Undertaker was the winner of the match, Triple H was up first with Hunter using the ropes to get back to his feet. Taker was getting checked on in the ring by Dr. Sampson and the referee Scott Armstrong. Hunter watched as Taker collapsed getting out of the ring and he was unable to stand on the floor. When Taker tried to get up, he fell onto his back on the floor. Hunter was gone by this point. The announcers went quiet for several minutes to let the pictures tell the story. There was another trainer that showed up along with Mike Rotunda (I.R.S.) and Dean Malenko, who were WWE Producers at the time. They had a cart that they brought down to the ring and then drove it up the ramp to take Taker away. It was not a stretcher because they needed something bigger and faster to go up the ramp.
Analysis: They used the post match scenes to tell the story for their match one year later. Hunter talked about how he was the one that left standing while Taker needed help out of the ring, so that’s what led to the Hell in a Cell match at WrestleMania 28. I had forgotten that the announcers went silent during that part. I think if you had the announcers speak and put over how we had never seen Taker taken away like that, it would have helped put the moment over even more. With that said, I understand wanting to let the pictures tell the story.
What They Said
Here’s Triple H talking about the match about one year after it happened in 2012. From WrestlingInc:
“To be in that arena and get it from the fans; great. To get it from your peers? Even better. To do it with The Undertaker who just epitomizes — to me — what our business is about. Not just as a performer but also a behind-the-scenes standpoint. To go out there and do that with him meant the world — I think — to both of us.”
The Undertaker told ESPN’s SportsNation that Vince McMahon actually hated the finish of this match:
“Yeah, [Vince McMahon] did not like it. He did not like it at all. To quote, ‘My Undertaker walks out of the ring. I don’t care if he wins or loses, my Undertaker walks out.’ We already knew what we were into. We were in the third year of the story. That alone is so special, to be able to continue a story for four years, it’s unheard of in our business. We knew what the Finish was going to be and we knew we wanted to come back. So how do we do that? Yes, I won the match, but I couldn’t leave on my own. He walked out, and he lost. People were blown away by that and it gave him — even though he took the L, it gave him the credibility — that no one else had ever done. He left the Undertaker laying and unable to walk out. It in turn led to me… that getting in my head, ‘Nobody leaves me laying.’ So now, we have to come back and we came back in Hell in a Cell, with Shawn [Michaels] as the guest referee. It was so good. Those four matches are probably my proudest body of work.” (Thanks to Fightful for the transcript.)
What I Think Now
I had forgotten how long the match was. It’s not easy to go 30 minutes and have a classic match. People might think it is, but the pacing is so important in a match like that. I think it’s easier if you go 17-20 minutes. I’ve never had a match obviously. I’m just saying from my perspective as a lifelong fan that sometimes when a match goes this long it can be difficult to put on a classic. These guys did it.
The chair shot was a big deal because they were banned. Most people knew they were banned too. I’m not sure if they were legitimately fined like reports said because Hunter was in the office and Undertaker is a veteran. It makes sense that WWE would say they were fined to make sure others didn’t try to do it in one of their matches, though. I like that chairs to the head are banned. It’s better for wrestler safety.
That nearfall after Triple H hit a Tombstone was incredible. I think most fans would remember the one that happened the next year even better, but this nearfall was certainly memorable as well.
I remember not loving the ending at the time. However, they did an excellent job of explaining it when they built up their next match one year later. The story was that Undertaker beat him, but he had to be helped out after the match and that made Triple H want another shot at him. Good storyline.
What Happened Next
The Undertaker took a year off and they did the match again one year later. It’s funny how people thought he might be retired after this match in 2011. Undertaker ended up wrestling nearly a full decade after that although the schedule was a lot lighter.
Triple H became a regular character on television as the on-screen Chief Operating Officer of WWE at the time. I remember wanting him to turn heel for a proper feud with CM Punk that summer, but they held off on it because WWE wanted him to be a face for the rematch with The Undertaker at WrestleMania 28 one year later. Triple H wrestled a lot less often after this match and was more of a part-time veteran.
When people think of The Undertaker vs. Triple H at WrestleMania this isn’t the match they think of first. That’s okay because the one that followed was even better. However, if you have 30 minutes to spend watching a classic match then you should give this one another look because it’s definitely worth your time. Two legends of the Attitude Era doing their thing. They may get older, but their matches never do. Enjoy it.
That’s all for me. Check out the full list of my WWE PPV Review archive right here. Thanks for reading.
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