It’s time for the top ten and we begin with a match from WrestleMania 28 in Miami, which was a show I attended in person. Today is also The Undertaker’s 52nd birthday, so it’s nice to be able to write about a match from when he was 47 years old going against Triple H inside Hell in a Cell.
This is where things start to get difficult in terms of the order of matches because everything from this point on is a five-star match to me and the scale only goes to five stars – at least the rating scale I use. How can you properly order when they are different kinds of matches? That’s the hard thing. What’s important to remember is we’re talking about amazing matches that should be celebrated, so that’s what matters.
If you’ve missed anything in the countdown so far, the WrestleMania’s Greatest Matches archives are here.
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 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 kind 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 FUCKING 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 2012.
(Note: My review wasn’t full play by play because I was there and wrote this a few day after. Sorry for not having every move. I think this summary is pretty complete, though.)
Hell in a Cell: Triple H vs. The Undertaker (w/Shawn Michaels as Referee)
I’m glad 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.
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. 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.
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. Then Hunter took control. I’m not sure how many chair shots he delivered to Undertaker during the match, but it was probably around 20 or so. It wasn’t enough to put Taker away, though. The spot where Undertaker had Triple H in the Hell’s Gate while HBK was out was also very well done. It should have been the end of the match, but with no ref in sight it kept going. We were happy with that. When Charles Robinson ran in to count a pinfall and Hunter kicked out at two, Undertaker gave Robinson a Chokeslam. 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.
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. 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 god dammit! Undertaker came back with all of that to hit a lot of his patented moves and he delivered a Tombstone to Hunter that only got a two count. Cue the classic shocked Undertaker face. They stumbled back up to their feet for the “yay-boo” punch exchange and then Hunter hit him with a Pedigree for another two count. See the crowd shot that followed? We were all standing. The entire building was on their feet by that point in the match. It was an unreal atmosphere, unlike anything I’ve ever felt at a wrestling show.
The sequence after that involved Undertaker getting the steel chair and beating the hell out of Triple H as payback for what happened earlier. Hunter grabbed the sledgehammer, Undertaker stopped him from using it because Hunter was too hurt, so Hunter gave him the crotch chop and Undertaker decked him with the sledgehammer to the face. It was time for the end, which was similar to the Michaels/Undertaker match at WM26. Hunter was on his knees, Undertaker picked him, hit the Tombstone and that was it at 30:50. The crowd went wild. We appreciated what we saw. A classic wrestling match. The Undertaker is 20-0 at WrestleMania.
Winner by pinfall: The Undertaker
Analysis: ***** Outstanding match! This is the best match I’ve ever seen live. I’m calling it a five star match. I think it was slightly ahead of last year’s match because the story they told was slightly better. The nearfalls were amazing. These two “old” dudes in their 40s gave us a classic wrestling brawl that I will never forget. I watched the broadcast with three friends that used to watch the product all the time during the Attitude Era. They’ve since outgrown it, 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.
Post match, Michaels and Undertaker helped Hunter up. They embraced. They walked out together. They stood on the stage together and looked back at the crowd. That image was an iconic one that fans will always remember. It was the last time that we’ll likely see them involved in the same match at the same time.
You can read my full recap of WrestleMania 28 right here.
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 FUCKING 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 carried 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.
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, which I covered here, 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.
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. I’ve seen it four times now. It’s never going to stop being cool. 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.
Rankings So Far
- The Undertaker vs. Triple H @ WrestleMania 28
- Chris Benoit vs. Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels @ WrestleMania 20
- Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart @ WrestleMania 12
- Ultimate Warrior vs. Randy Savage @ WrestleMania 7
- Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle @ WrestleMania 19
- Money in the Bank Ladder Match (won by Edge) @ WrestleMania 21
- Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho @ WrestleMania 19
- The Undertaker vs. CM Punk @ WrestleMania 29
- Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton vs. Batista @ WrestleMania 30
- Edge vs. Mick Foley @ WrestleMania 22
- The Undertaker vs. Triple H @ WrestleMania 27
- Randy Savage vs. Ric Flair @ WrestleMania 8
- The Undertaker vs. Edge @ WrestleMania 24
- John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels @ WrestleMania 23
- Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H @ WrestleMania 30
- Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit @ WrestleMania 17
- The Rock vs. Steve Austin @ WrestleMania 19
- Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns (vs. Seth Rollins) @ WrestleMania 31
- Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle @ WrestleMania 20
- The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan @ WrestleMania 18
- Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair @ WrestleMania 24
- Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch @ WrestleMania 32
- Bret Hart vs. Roddy Piper @ WrestleMania 8
- Ultimate Warrior vs. Hulk Hogan @ WrestleMania 6
WrestleMania’s Greatest Matches archives are here.
Thanks for reading. My contact info is below.
John Canton – [email protected]