Reviews

TJR WrestleMania’s Greatest Matches: The Undertaker vs. Triple H @ WrestleMania 28

wwe wrestlemania 28 hell in a cell undertaker triple h

This match took place at WrestleMania 28 in Miami when The Undertaker battled Triple H in a Hell in Cell match with Shawn Michaels as the special guest referee.

It was billed as an “End of an Era” match.

Who: Hell in a Cell: The Undertaker vs. Triple H (Shawn Michaels as referee) @ WrestleMania 28

When: April 1, 2012

Where: Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Florida

The Build

The match was heavily promoted as the “End of an Era” match because it was the last time that The Undertaker, Triple H and Shawn Michaels were a part of the same match. They were all in their 40s by this point. Michaels was retired. Undertaker and Triple H were wrestling on part time schedules, so it was a fitting name for the match.

The story about this match is that The Undertaker wanted another shot at Triple H since he ended up being carried out of the building while Triple H walked away even though Undertaker won by submission. Hunter: “You won the battle, I won the war.” Undertaker didn’t want people to remember him as a guy that was carried out after a WrestleMania win.

Undertaker wanted Hunter to give him another match so he can have his vengeance while giving Triple H a third opportunity at ended what was a 19-0 undefeated streak for Undertaker heading into this match. At first, Hunter said he wasn’t going to do the match. Undertaker replied by telling Hunter that Shawn Michaels was always better than him, which is true by the way. Hunter said you’ve got your match and said it would be a Hell in a Cell match.

Shawn Michaels was added as the referee of the match because Undertaker was the one that retired Michaels two years earlier and he was also the best friend of Triple H.

It was also fitting that they had a Hell in a Cell match because they didn’t have a HIAC match where it was just two of them before and they had by far the most HIAC matches of any wrestlers in WWE. As of this writing, Undertaker has been in 14 total and Triple H has been in 9. Next highest name is Randy Orton with 6.

Here’s the video package, which was pretty awesome.

What I Thought Back Then

I expected them to have a great match because they did it one year earlier and this time they had the Hell in a Cell structure involved. By having the HIAC structure to “play” with, they could use a variety of weapons, make it a more violent match and create some different kinds of nearfalls.

I remember a lot of people were mad that CM Punk’s WWE Title match with Chris Jericho wasn’t going to main event the show. I like both of those guys a lot, but I thought this match and Rock/Cena were bigger matches.

Since I was at the show, I was excited about it more than most people. The card wasn’t that great from top to bottom, but I was very interested in Rock vs. Cena just because it was Rock’s first WrestleMania match in eight years. Despite being a huge Rock fan, it was Triple H vs. Undertaker that I knew would be the best on the show.

Did I expect Triple H to be the one that ended The Undertaker’s undefeated streak at WrestleMania? Nope. Not at all. However, I give them credit because they did get me once in the match. You probably know it if you’ve seen it.

I enjoyed most of WrestleMania 28, but I was really pissed off that our view was blocked by THOSE F’N PALM TREES that surrounded the ring. I did get up for this match because I knew it would be awesome and it made the price of admission worth it.

Here’s my full review of the match, which was written in 2022.

They brought Jim Ross out to call the Hell in a Cell match. He should have stayed the whole show, but at least he was there for this epic match.

Analysis: Good call having JR out there for a big match like this. In the two years prior, they had Cole as more of a heel announcer that had issues with Cole and Lawler. I didn’t like the feud at all, but it went on for a long time.

Shawn Michaels was out first as the referee. Shawn lost to The Undertaker two years earlier (along with the year before that), which led to his retirement. Triple H made his entrance looking intense as usual. Hunter emerged from something at the top of the stage, but it wasn’t an elaborate entrance like he had some years. Hunter walked down to the ring with a sense of purpose. The Undertaker made his entrance doing a very slow walk down to the ring as usual. This was Undertaker’s first match since WrestleMania 27 one year earlier when he beat Triple H. After about four minutes, The Undertaker finally got into the ring. Taker took off his hood to reveal short hair cut. We were always used to long-haired Taker, so it was a bit different look for sure. Undertaker and Hunter had a long staredown, there was smoke that filled the ring and the cell was lowered at that point. The song “The Memory Remains” from Metallica played while the cell was lowered.

(It was a good placement for this match because for the previous hour the crowd was getting antsy. We were a rowdy bunch, but we didn’t get the chance to really show it. I think the entrances alone took about 15 minutes, which was fine with us. We knew they’d get a lot of time and I was ready to mark out like I was 10 years old again. It was cool seeing Undertaker rocking the short hair look. I’m glad he wasn’t totally bald. Keeping some hair was the right call. The crowd was strongly behind Undertaker. It’s not like we hated Triple H. We just wanted to mark out for every classic Undertaker spot.)

Hell in a Cell: Triple H vs. The Undertaker (w/Shawn Michaels as Referee)

This was billed as an “End of an Era” match. The Undertaker was 47 years old at the time of the match while Triple H was 42 years old. Michaels is the same age as Undertaker.

Taker took control early with punches to the body and head. Hunter got a boot up to stop a charging Taker, but there were more punches from Taker leading to Hunter getting tossed out of the ring. Taker with a headbutt, Hunter sent Taker into the cell, Taker whipped Hunter into the cell and Taker hit a back body drop on the floor. Taker whipped Hunter into the cell again. When Michaels checked on Hunter, Taker shoved him away and Taker headbutted Hunter. Taker sent Hunter into the cell followed by a whip into the steel steps. Taker with another whip into the steel steps. Back in the ring, Hunter with a clothesline, then a facebuster into the knee that Taker no-sold and Taker hit a clothesline. Taker did old school rope walk leading to the jumping punch to the back. Taker sent Hunter out of the ring and Taker hit him with the steel steps. If they were blading during matches in 2012 that’s probably where they would have done it. Taker set up Hunter on the ring apron where Taker hit the running leg drop in a spot that Taker did very often in his career. Hunter managed to get some offense going with a DDT. The steel steps (half of them so two steps instead of four) were in the ring, so Hunter slammed Taker’s head into the steps. When Hunter tried a Pedigree on the steel steps, Taker countered with a back body drop. Taker worked over Hunter with punches, then he charged off the ropes and Hunter applied a spinebuster on the steel steps. Taker applied the Hell’s Gate submission that Taker used a year earlier to win, but Hunter countered it and turned it into a slam for two. Hunter brought two steel chairs into the ring. Hunter with a chair jab to the ribs and a chair to the back. Hunter set up the steel steps against the turnbuckle and whipped Taker into them. Hunter dumped the steps out of the ring. Hunter worked over Taker with multiple chair shots to the back. There were about five of them, Michaels tried to stop Hunter and Hunter delivered another chair to the back. Hunter jabbed the chair into Taker’s back along with another hard chair to the back. Michaels grabbed the chair and tossed it aside. Michaels told Hunter: “You know he’s not going to quit.” Shawn was in the way, so Hunter hit Taker with more chair shots to the back. Hunter told Shawn to end it or Hunter will. Taker told Shawn: “Don’t stop it, do not stop it!” Taker was back up to his feet, Hunter with a chair to the ribs and a chair to the back for one…two…and no. It was just a two count.

Hunter left the ring looking for more weapons while Michaels checked on Taker, who told Shawn not to end it. Hunter had a cut around his left eye. Hunter brought the sledgehammer into the ring with Hunter telling Shawn he is ending this one way or another. Shawn pleaded to Taker to let him ring the bell, but Taker wanted to keep fighting. Hunter hit him with the sledgehammer to the head (when Hunter puts the hand at the end of the hammer) for a two count because Taker got his right shoulder up. Hunter teased a sledgehammer shot to the head, but Shawn took the sledgehammer away and fans booed! They booed a man preventing a sledgehammer shot to the head. Hunter wanted Shawn to end it, Shawn nearly ended it and then he stopped himself. When Michaels checked on Taker, that’s when Taker applied the Hell’s Gate submission on Michaels! Hunter broke that up with a sledgehammer shot on Taker to break up the hold. When Hunter went to attack again, Taker delivered a low blow kick to the groin and Taker applied Hell’s Gate on Hunter just like the year prior. Hunter grabbed the sledgehammer, but he wasn’t able to use it and Hunter slowly passed out. There was no tap from Hunter, but he was passed out and Taker let him go. Charles Robinson ran down to the ring, he opened the door and got into the ring. Taker hit a Chokeslam, Robinson was in the ring to count and it got a two count. Huge pop for that nearfall. Taker wasn’t happy with Robinson, so Taker gave him a Chokeslam! Taker went for a Tombstone, Hunter slipped out, Michaels with a superkick to Taker and Hunter with a Pedigree for the one…two…and no! Michaels counted it and it was not a three count, but it was damn close and one of the loudest crowd reactions I’ve ever been a part of. Holy shit, what a pop! I will never forget that reaction in my life. Michaels went to the turnbuckle and put his hands on his face looking frustrated. Cole said Michaels was calling it down the middle even though Michaels just superkicked Taker! That’s not really down the middle, is it? Anyway, the match continued from there. The reaction to that nearfall is legendary.

Hunter was frustrated with his best friend Michaels, so he tossed him out of the ring. Taker sat back up, he delivered punches, then a corner clothesline, Snake Eyes into the turnbuckle and a running boot to the face. Taker with a leg drop. Taker hit a Tombstone in the middle of the ring, Michaels was back in the ring to count one…two…and no! Hunter got his left shoulder up! The fans were going crazy again. Taker had a bit of slobber coming out of his mouth as he had a stunned look on his face. Michaels was again stunned by what happened as he sat against the turnbuckle. They slowly got back up to their feet, they exchanged punches with the fans cheering more for Taker and some boos when Hunter got in some punches. Taker went for a Tombstone, Hunter slipped out and Hunter hit a Pedigree for one…two…and no! Taker kicked out again. They slowly got back up again with Taker getting a hold of a chair leading to some revenge chair shots with jabs to the body and hard chair shots to the back. Taker delivered two stiff chair shots to the back. Taker delivered three more chair shots to the back and the chair was bent from it. Taker covered for two as Hunter got his right shoulder up at two. Hunter got up with the sledgehammer in his hands. Hunter tried to strike, but Taker stopped him and took the sledgehammer. Hunter shoved Taker away. Hunter with a crotch chop, so Taker hit him with a sledgehammer to the head. Hunter tried to get back up, Undertaker did the throat slash signal, Undertaker picked up Hunter, Undertaker hit the Tombstone, folded the arms and pinned Hunter for the pinfall win at 30:47. The Undertaker is 20-0 at WrestleMania. JR: “My god, what a war.”

Winner by pinfall: The Undertaker

Analysis: ***** It gets five stars from me. Incredible match at WrestleMania for the second year in a row between these two legends. When they announced it as a Hell in a Cell match I knew it would be even more violent than what they did a year earlier. Thankfully, the guys in the ring knew exactly what we wanted and delivered the kind of physical brawl that we will remember for the rest of our lives. I didn’t love everything that Michaels did. I think he was too emotionally involved and there were too many spots where he interjected himself a little much for my liking. That’s only a minor gripe, though. The story they told early on with Undertaker dominating showed that even though he was off for a year he was still in great shape. I’m not sure how many chair shots he delivered to Undertaker during the match, but it was probably around 20 or so. The spot where Undertaker had Triple H in the Hell’s Gate while HBK was out was also very well done. That spot where Michaels gave Undertaker a Superkick leading to the Triple H Pedigree was one of the better nearfalls you will ever see. When Undertaker kicked out, the place became unglued. The nearfalls were amazing. I liked the finish a lot because it reminded me of WM26 with Taker-Michaels when Taker was pissed off that he couldn’t put him away, then Shawn did the throat slash and that’s when Taker ended him. In this case, it was Hunter doing the crotch chop and Taker finished him off after that. These two “old” dudes in their 40s gave us a classic wrestling brawl that I will never forget. This is the best match I’ve ever seen live.

After the match, the cell was raised. Undertaker tried to sit up, but then he fell over to his side. Taker needed to grab the robes to get himself back up to his feet and that’s when Michaels grabbed his hand to help Taker get back. Taker and Michaels hugged while the fans cheered. There were a lot of “20-0” signs in the crowd. Undertaker posed on his one knee while the stadium was full of purple light, there were fireworks and 20-0 graphics everywhere. Hunter really sold the beating a lot because he stayed down for several minutes. Michaels and Taker helped Hunter get back up to his feet. The three legends all walked together up the ramp slowly.

This image of Undertaker, Hunter and Michaels looking back at the crowd is iconic. I believe all three guys have it in their homes or at least I know Undertaker does.

The fans gave them a huge ovation. It was the end of an era as well as the end of a four-year journey where Undertaker had two classic matches with Michaels at WM25 & WM26 followed by two more classics with Hunter at WM27 & WM28.

(I had so much fun watching this match live. The show up to this point had some sad moments, but this one really picked us up in a big way that we needed. When Undertaker gave Charles Robinson a Chokeslam, I remember something in particular. The drunk guy in front of me was yelling: “That’s what we came to see! Beat up the ref!” That’s also when a “this is awesome” chant started up. I can remember high-fiving strangers sitting around me just because we all wanted Undertaker to win. Sure, we knew what the outcome was going to be, but these guys are so good at their job that they made it feel real. It was real to us goddammit! A few days after WM28, I came home and I watched the broadcast with three friends that used to watch the product all the time during the Attitude Era. They don’t watch anymore, but I made sure they watched the whole thing. They loved all of it. They marked out for all the big spots. Like I said, it was a story that was perfectly told and a match that was truly unforgettable.)

 

What They Said

Here is a video that WWE produced about the match, so you can hear what other wrestlers thought about the match.

Sorry Big Show, I don’t think this was the greatest match ever, but you are good at sucking up.

Here’s Triple H talking about Hell in a Cell matches and plenty of comments about this match saying it was his favorite matches ever.

Also, this was the match that led to a 4/10 rating from Bret Hart. I love Bret, but I think he’s way off on that. It’s an amazing match.

 

What I Think Now

It’s an excellent match and the best match I’ve ever witnessed in person. Yes, my view was blocked by THOSE F’N PALM TREES that surrounded the ring, but we were still able to enjoy the match and mark out with 65,000 people that were there (or whatever number WWE chose to make up).

I’ll never forget the biggest two count I’ve ever seen in my life. Undertaker was on his feet, Michaels hit the Superkick, Triple H followed right away with a Pedigree and he covered for the one…two…no…but Undertaker kicked out. It was the most believable nearfall that I’ve ever seen in my life. This goes back to what I said earlier about how I knew Undertaker would win, but they certainly came close to fooling us here. That’s the beauty of pro wrestling, my friends.

I love how emotional the match was too. There were so many moments where Michaels was either wincing in pain or in near tears not wanting to see these guys hurt eachother, yet they kept on kicking out. It was so much fun.

A year earlier, Undertaker won by submission and was driven out on a cart out of the building. This time, he won with a Tombstone. After it was over, they all walked out together as three legends who gave us some of the most memorable WrestleMania matches ever. Good storytelling.

Here’s a review of this match from Alex Podgorski here on TJRWrestling. He didn’t like the match as much as me and only went four stars on it. Dave Meltzer in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter went 4.75* for this match.

 

What Happened Next

The Undertaker went away until next year’s WrestleMania. That’s what he tends to do! His match with CM Punk one year later was his last outstanding match.

Triple H was a face that feuded with Brock Lesnar. He lost their first match at SummerSlam 2012, won the rematch at WrestleMania 29, which I strongly disagreed with, and lost the third match to Lesnar at Extreme Rules 2013. He was a part-timer by this point in his career as well. In summer 2013, he turned heel and has been in that position ever since.

Michaels wasn’t a regular on television after he retired two years earlier. He was just used once in a while for angles like this one.

This wasn’t the last Triple H vs. Undertaker singles match because they did it again at Super Show-Down in Australia in October 2018. It just decent, but nothing special. That would lead to an even worse match at Crown Jewel 2018 when Undertaker & Kane faced Triple H and Michaels.

Final Thoughts

It’s a five-star match, so it’s high up there among the best matches ever. I can remember high-fiving my buddies that I was sitting with and just saying how cool it was that we got to see the match. We didn’t know how many more matches The Undertaker had left. I thought maybe this was it since he was 20-0 and that’s a nice round number. Obviously, I was wrong on that. Seeing that Taker entrance and experiencing his match at a WrestleMania is such a highlight. Credit Triple H and Michaels as well. It was a team effort.

They absolutely killed it that night. I’m so glad I was there.

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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

Email mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter @johnreport