So this is one that I decided upon what to go for based upon some simple facts… this incarnation of this feud produced two of the greatest matches of all time, on the grandest stage of them all, and was between two of the greatest WWE superstars of all time. It wasn’t really about being the champion, it was about being the man, two guys going at it in the ring and both wanting to be the better. At WrestleMania 25 Shawn Michaels stepped up to try and end the legendary undefeated WrestleMania streak of The Undertaker. The next year he tried again.
My favourite feud of all time is that between HBK and The Phenom that spanned between 2009 and 2010.
So The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels have a long history dating back to the 90s. The two have had many memorable battles including the first ever Hell in a Cell match, and also the casket match in which HBK suffered the back injury that would almost end his career. They renewed their rivalry somewhat in 2007 when they had an amazing finishing sequence as the final two men in the 2007 Royal Rumble Match. They were also the first two entrants of the Rumble match the next year with HBK in fact superkicking Taker over the ropes to eliminate him from the match. But the next year, with WrestleMania 25 around the corner, The Undertaker’s legendary Streak then stood at 16-0. On the February 23rd 2009 Raw Michaels beat JBL to earn the right to attempt to end The Streak, but was informed he would have to beat another would-be challenger for The Undertaker the next week, in the form of giant russian Vladimir Kozlov… which he DID! The next week on Raw; the future WrestleMania opponents took on Kozlov and JBL in a tag match and got the win… but then after HBK hit Undertaker with Sweet Chin Music. And then we were off to the races….
WrestleMania 25 – The Undertaker defeated Shawn Michaels
Michaels came down from a platform from ‘above’ all dressed in white, as if he were the christ to the ‘evil’ Undertaker who himself came rising from below as if he had come from hell itself. Of course he was all dressed in his usual black. I’ve not done it justice but these were two unbelievably grand very much-WrestleMania worthy entrances. Duelling chants echoed around the arena as the match got underway with a game of cat and mouse almost…, Michaels giving the DX crotch chop being stood on the middle rope then hitting away at Taker after playing possum with a bad knee. Taker then took back over with huge strikes, and later slammed him over his head to the floor. Taker then press slammed Shawn to the floor then dropped the elbow for a 2 count. Taker then hit Old School, and tried to hit a high boot to the corner but Michaels moved in time, and then dropping him on his knee and following up with a crotch chop from behind. Michaels then kicked Taker in the side of the head to send him down again, before then going for a figure 4… Michaels did all he could to keep the hold on as Taker tried to fight out, eventually striking his way out of trouble. Michaels kicked Taker down again but was then driven into the corner, and Taker hit more strikes. Taker continued the assault after and eventually hit snake eyes and the big boot after followed by the big leg drop, but again only got a nearfall after. Taker signalled for a Chokeslam, but Michaels somehow got him down and got a Crossface in… Taker again tried to fight out, eventually rolling him over and getting a nearfall… but HBK still had the hold locked in, and Taker eventually powered to his feet and hit a sideslam for another 2 count. They then exchanged strikes, and HBK took Taker down with a flying forearm. Michaels did a kip-up to get back to his feet and eventually hit a couple of inverted atomic drops and then some chops to Undertaker, before taking him down again with a flying forearm. HBK then went to the top rope looking for the elbow but Taker did his signature sit up and went after him. He caught Michaels on the way down by the throat and as he lifted him up Michaels went behind and tried the superkick but Taker dropped to the floor for safety. Then Michaels tried for the figure 4 again, only for Taker to grapple and manoeuvre HBK into Hell’s Gate!!! Michaels though scrambled to the nearby ropes. Both men then went outside the ring, with Taker slamming HBK’s head onto the steel steps, and placing him on the ring apron, striking at him and then he tried for the big leg drop to send Michaels to the floor outside the ring, only for Michaels to kick Taker in the head. Michaels then did a baseball slide to knock Taker down again, then went to the top turnbuckle and did a moonsault to the outside, only for Taker to move and almost slam dunk HBK to the floor, so the landing was extra hard on the mats outside the ring. Then came one of the more infamous spots of all time… with Michaels outside the ring, Taker ran the ropes inside and went for an amazing dive to Michaels on the outside over the ring ropes… only for Michaels to pull a nearby cameraman (actually WWE talent Sam Snuka fka former SmackDown Tag Team Champion Deuce) in the way instead… the plant was meant to cushion Taker’s fall, but he really didn’t and it was a nasty landing for all involved, OUCH!
With everyone down, HBK rolled back in the ring… but went back to try and will the ref back into action as the crowd hushed somewhat. HBK urged the ref to start the count, And the crowd really raised the volume to will Taker back into the ring… which he did at a count of 9.5 almost to their delight and HBK’s absolute dismay. HBK set up for the big kick, but Taker caught Michaels by the throat and hit a huge Chokeslam but only got a nearfall. The crowd are losing their minds at this point (they don’t lessen the excitement from here on out by the way in this match). Taker tried the Tombstone but Michaels got down, HBK tried the superkick but Taker caught him, tried the chokeslam again, but Michaels pulled back and finally caught The Undertaker with Sweet Chin Music… and both men went down… Michaels crawled to the cover but Taker kicked out at 2 and the crowd went wild! Must also say how good the commentary from the allstar team of Jim Ross, Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler is for this match too. After that Michaels did a kip up and Taker grabbed HBK’s throat again as he got close to him, he then kicked him in the chest and looked for a Last Ride but HBK rolled over trying for a pin, but Taker picked him up and tried again and got it… but again only got a 2 count!!! Taker was showing frustration now too! Taker then went to the top rope himself and tried his own big elbow but HBK moved out the way… after both men staggered to their feet HBK was sent over the ropes but held on to them and tried to flip back into the ring, only for Undertaker to be there to catch him and hit a Tombstone Piledriver… BUT SHAWN MICHAELS KICKED OUT AND WE SAW AN AMAZING REACTION OF SHOCK FROM TAKER AND A HUGE POP FROM THE CROWD, UNREAL STUFF!!! Taker looked furious and pulled his straps down and did his double throat slit to signal the end was near, as he looked down at Michaels he picked him up and tried the Tombstone again, but Michaels countered into a ddt. With Taker down HBK went to the top rope and hit an elbow drop. He tried to tune up the ban after, and then hit a big Sweet Chin Music and The Streak looked over, but Taker kicked out to a huge pop from the crowd!!! With both men exhausted they both grappled up and exchanged big strikes and chops, until Taker hit a big kick to send Shawn down. Taker tried again for a Tombstone but Michaels fought out, and after Taker sent HBK into the corner, he ran to him for a big move but Michaels kicked him away and Taker went down… Michaels went up top and went for a moonsault … but Undertaker caught him and then hit another Tombstone… and this was enough to get the pinfall and the win.
To put it simply, this was probably the greatest match in WrestleMania history.
I could tell you the story of the build to their rematch a year later… but instead I’ll let one of the best video packages of all time do that instead…
WrestleMania 26 – The Undertaker defeated Shawn Michaels
The main event of WrestleMania 26 began with with a long stare-down, and HBK doing Taker’s throat slit before bell and then unleashing chops on Taker, before being hit with snake eyes and a big boot early. Taker then ran with a big clothesline to Michaels in the corner, Taker then yanked Michaels arm and eventually was able to walk the ropes for Old School. He wanted a Chokeslam but Michaels got down and then kicked at Undertaker’s leg, but was sent down himself by a big punch. Taker hit strikes in the corner, and wanted a Tombstone but Michaels countered and striked away and targeted the arm. Michaels stopped a chokeslam attempt but then Taker wrenched Michaels arm… but after a brief exchange Michaels tried Sweet Chin Music but Taker ducked underneath. Michaels went after Taker’s knee again, and had him in the corner trapped kicking it repeatedly but Taker fought back and hit punches in the corner. Taker sent Michaels over the ropes to the outside, and thought about repeating his attempted big dive from the prior year, but Michaels got back in the ring and charged at Taker’s hurt knee. HBK tried a figure 4 but Taker kicked him away, then on the outside Taker drove HBK into the ring post. Taker got HBK on the apron and hit the big leg drop, but seemed to hurt his knee more doing it. HBK immediately took Taker down with a double leg once he got back in the ring, and then locked in the figure 4… at one point Taker’s shoulders were down and the ref got to a one count, but Taker immediately sat up and looked furious before screaming in pain again… he did the same again but went back down again… then again and as the ref counted the two Undertaker sat up again but this time rolled over to reverse the pressure of the hold… to which Michaels was forced to release the hold. Michaels and Taker exchanged chops and strikes, then after being sent by Taker against the ropes Shawn Michaels came back with a flying forearm to take Undertaker down. Michaels then did the big kip-up spot, but Undertaker just picked him up and hit a huge Chokeslam… but only got a nearfall off the pin attempt. Taker picked Michaels up for the Tombstone but HBK wriggled out, reversing it into an ankle lock on the injured leg of Taker… eventually Taker managed to kick his way out of it. HBK then sent Taker over the ropes to the outside, but hanged on himself and tried to springboard off the ropes onto Taker but was caught and then Taker flipped Michaels over and hit a big Tombstone on the floor outside of the ring! After the doctor that came to check on Michaels was hit away by Undertaker, he then dragged Michaels back into the ring and went for a cover but Shawn kicked out. Taker kicked Michaels in the chest and went for the Last Ride and he did hit it but it looked a little clunky, and it appears Michaels was the one who was able to counter and get the better of the landing, and it was HBK who then put his arm over for the cover and got a nearfall off of it. Taker’s injured leg buckling apparently which was actually a good callback now I think about it. HBK then made his way to the top turnbuckle and hit the big elbow drop… but Taker got his legs up to counter, which hurt both Taker’s hurt leg and also Shawn as well… Taker than caught Shawn unaware and got in the Hell’s Gate submission hold… but Michaels in a great move managed to flip over and try and get a pin but only got a nearfall off of it. Both men got to their feet and Michaels immediately hit Sweet Chin Music, and got a VERY close nearfall after… Michaels got up after and tuned up the band looking for it again… but Taker blocked it and hit a HUGE Last Ride!!! But HBK kicked out again!!! Taker eventually pulled himself to his feet with the ropes used as support, then tossing HBK over the ropes to the outside. Taker then cleared one of the announce tables (the match is No DQ or Countouts by the way). Taker pulled Michaels up and said to him “I’m gonna end this thing right here, right now” before setting him up for the Last Ride, but Michaels went behind him as Taker pulled him up, and then Shawn hit the Sweet Chin Music that sent Taker sprawling onto the announce table behind. With Taker flat out on the table Michaels made his way to the top turnbuckle of the ring, and with the crowd in the palm of his hand he tried for a moonsault to Taker on the announce table, and they went crashing through it! It seemed Michaels connected with Taker’s hurt leg… Both men staggered up and Michaels tried his best to get Taker back in the ring… and then… well see for yourself below…
This was an awesome match that told a great story, and whilst slightly lesser in quality as a wrestling match than the match the prior year, it was more than worthy of being the main event of WrestleMania and was a fitting end to a terrific year plus long story.