Following in the (dis)honourable footsteps of his brother, Sushain counts down The Undertaker's top 10 pay-per-view singles matches since his return as The Deadman at WrestleMania XX.
#10. The Undertaker def. Batista (c)
15-0 for the World Heavyweight Championship
Ford Field; Detroit, Michigan
WrestleMania23; April 1, 2007
Batty and ‘Taker can be proud that they put on "Feud of the Year 2007" and some thrilling, nail-biting contests. The first of these encounters came at WrestleMania 23. After an excellent Royal Rumbleshowing, especially the last few minutes with Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker was riding on a big wave of momentum and popularity into the promised main event, the third match on the card. Nevertheless, a unique combination of a fight and a wrestling match which blended together very well, it set a high standard for all the following matches. With someone like Batista as your opponent on the big stage, who isn't exactly mobile but, more so, stiff, you expect The ‘Taker to pull out an average performance at best. But Batty and ‘Taker were uniquely well-matched and they went at a good pace with a couple of great spots and working around the stiffness. Batista might have fallen, just like everyone else, but that does not detract from an effort that Batty was so proud of that he reportedly charged backstage, screaming, "top that!"
#9. Edge def. The Undertaker
Tables, Ladders and Chairs for the World Heavyweight Championship
San Diego Sports Arena; San Diego, California
One Night Stand; June 1, 2008
With the banishment stipulation enforced and in a TLC environment, the bout looked like Edge's for the taking. It turned out to be a well-paced contest that didn't overdo on weapons and big spots and it left you calling it better than other TLC matches. While La Familia was needed to get more heat for Edge, it was, by no means, necessary. It only left us saying that it was a terribly executed run-in and ended like it had been ending every time, with ‘Taker cleaning house. However, with a spectacular ending, good pace, no overdose on weapons/items and a heartfelt goodbye emotion for The 'Taker, it was probably his best pay per view outing for a while.
#8. The Undertaker def. Mr. Kennedy
Last Ride Match
Richmond Coliseum; Richmond, Virginia
Armageddon; December 17, 2006
When Ken Anderson debuted as the brash loudmouth Mr. Kennedy, WWE had a big star on their hands. While backstage problems became the death of him later on, his initial run was great. He had an awesome gimmick which set the ball rolling and his feud with Undertaker saw him take the ball and run with it. The 'Taker played it great and succeeded in selling Ken Anderson as a credible threat, both throughout the match and during the buildup and in previous encounters (No Mercy and Survivor Series; Kennedy won both times). The match lived up to the hype, the brawling was intense, the psychology, a couple of big spots (especially the fall from the scaffold) were perfectly executed and everyone believed Ken Anderson had a realistic chance of walking away with it for a third straight time on pay per view. With a perfect combination of the elements of action and surprise, this was one of The 'Taker's better pay per view outings of 2006.
#7. The Undertaker def. Edge
Hell in a Cell
Conseco Fieldhouse; Indianapolis, Indiana
SummerSlam; August 17, 2008
The farewell emotion for The 'Taker at One Night Stand was heartfelt but we still knew he would be back. Nevertheless, the return was explosive and was done in spectacular fashion. A well-constructed storyline with human emotions being masterfully manipulated for the cause added to the fact that it was believable and the excitement and hype for the match was huge. The execution was better than could have been hoped for and I don't suppose anyone thought that this could be botched anyhow. The crowd was hot, the ring psychology added a new twist, it was fresh, anticipated and all the big spots were executed to perfection. The ending couldn't have been done better and it was a thrilling cap to the entire night. The other main event, from RAW (Cena v. Batista), and the title matches are best forgotten and this encounter can be evaluated by both men proudly as one of their finest productions, once the dust settles on this one.
#6. Batista (c) def. The Undertaker
for the World Heavyweight Championship, with special guest referee Stone Cold Steve Austin
Verizon Center; Washington DC
Cyber Sunday; October 28, 2007
If The Undertaker had competed in wrestling matches before, this was most certainly a fight. With a lack of scientific skill evident against this opponent as I’ve stated before, a single alternative was available: kick the living hell out of each other. That is what they did. While they were kicking the hell out of each other, the psychology was still good, the two counts were riveting and a factor of uncertainty as to who the victor was going to be remained. The 'Taker and Batista were given seventeen and a half minutes and the main event slot for Cyber Sunday and they did not disappoint as they tore the house down and, with Batista as the hometown favourite, you had to wonder if he would emerge as champion. Batista was helped massively by the fact that ‘Taker put him over cleanly and sold him as a considerable threat for the match. Done and dusted, Batista could very well acknowledge this as one of the top five pay per view showings of all time while The 'Taker could be proud that he put on another magnificent effort.
#5. The Undertaker def. Randy Orton
Hell in a Cell
Dunkin' Donuts Center; Providence, Rhode Island
Armageddon; December 18, 2005
This perhaps qualifies as the last "good" Hell in a Cell match. Blood was in and brutality was in. The PG era has totally doomed every single Cell match since 2009. The ingredients were there and ‘Taker did a masterful job—there was no question that he was at the top of his game here. The match got the gutsy Legend Killer over (despite not winning; I began "believing" in Randy Orton after the match) and it was one of his finest hours—he was certainly up for it and was willing to try all kinds of wild stuff. The splash through the table. The tombstone. All edge-of-the-seat moments. All thrilling. Thirty minutes was enough to exercise the full potential of both competitors and keeping their characters intact. The match raised the bar for all Cell matches from the beginning of the CeNation era and, safely said, none have quite matched the standard set by this particular encounter.
#4. The Undertaker def. Edge (c)
16-0 for the World Heavyweight Championship
Citrus Bowl; Orlando, Florida
WrestleMania XXIV; March 30, 2008
This encounter was tying with Shawn/Flair on points for the best encounter of the night. The trouble is that because of a booking error and despite Ric Flair's assurances, no one is going to remember this match. It could be described as the "lost classic" of modern ages. Despite a card with John Cena on it, enough faith was placed in this match for it to be put on last. And it was duly rewarded. The match was easily one of Edge's best outings and The Undertaker succeeded in making Edge look a genuine threat to The Streak. The buildup was hot and the execution was up to near perfection. What might have helped it a bit would have been keeping it a relatively clean "wrestling match". A lot of unnecessary stunts—smashing of the Spanish announce table, chair shots when the ref's back was turned, smashing of the Spanish announce table, cutting flight from the top turnbuckle, smashing of the Spanish announce table—were perhaps only some of the possible risks involved. Because if you go one on one with The Undertaker and you blow your one big spot at WrestleMania, you end up looking like the biggest fail on the card.
#3. The Undertaker def. Shawn Michaels
18-0 in a no-countout, no disqualification 'Streak v. Career' match
University of Phoenix; Glendale, Arizona
WrestleMania XXVI; March 28, 2010
I really can't think of any rematch that got the hype and the kind of buildup that this one got. After costing the Deadman the World Heavyweight Championship and resorting to placing his own career on the line just to get him to accept, you have to admit, Shawn played this really good on camera. The buildup was huge and it was really, really believable. The most amazing thing is that the encounter matched, nearly blow for blow, what they had put on the previous year. Most times, it just happens that when one bout is phenomenal, the rematch is built up hot but never quite manages to deliver the same high standards set by the first bout. But that's exactly what happened. Once again, it won "Match of the Year". Once again, it outclassed everything on the card. Once again, it left nothing to be desired. While perhaps not matching WrestleMania XXV in intensity, riveting near falls and commentary (no JR at XXVI), it made up for that in emotion and drama. And that, sometimes, is all that really matters.
#2. Kurt Angle (c) def. The Undertaker
for the World Heavyweight Championship
1st Mariner Arena; Baltimore, Maryland
No Way Out; February 19, 2006
I think it doesn't need to be stated, as if it weren't time and time again, that if you place a talented athlete in the ring with The Undertaker for thirty minutes, you are absolutely guaranteed to see one for the ages. That is exactly what happened here as well. The Undertaker and Kurt Angle, coming off a hot 2006 Royal Rumble return and a not-quite-so-impressive Mark Henry title defence respectively, were both up for it and ready to give it thirty minutes. While it has since been revealed that Kurt Angle was initially picked to be the one to break The Streak, it is good that it never happened because a second encounter, besides breaking The Streak, would result in blotting the memories of this classic encounter. The crowd wasn't really wild, but who cared? The 'Taker and Angle wrestled with tremendous intensity, momentum shifts and made you feel that the bout could have swung either way. Instead of having a scrappy finish, which would’ve wasted the effort put in by both, Kurt went over clean. After a brutal, hard fought bout, you never really could feel that Kurt did the wrong thing by pinning ‘Taker clean. While a WrestleMania follow up could have done big business, especially with The 'Taker telling Angle that he was, "not done with him yet", it was best to let the feud cool off then and there. In the end, you felt, it was the perfect ending to one of the best matches of all time.
#1. The Undertaker def. Shawn Michaels
Reliant Stadium; Houston, Texas
WrestleMania XXV; April 5, 2009
Going thirty minutes for an intense, well-paced matchup without committing a serious fail isn't always easy for two near-forty-five year olds, especially under the bright lights at a WrestleMania. We were fortunate enough, however, to witness just that at WrestleMania XXV. If anyone needs a tutorial on how to pace a match properly with excellent psychology and momentum shifts and riveting two-counts, just watch this. Easily outclassing everything else on the card, it really was one of those rare matches that left nothing to be desired. The crowd was left chanting "this is awesome" and that says it all. Even watching this after two years, it never fails to send chills down your spine. Utterly timeless. Why it didn't get Meltzer’s five stars, I don't know, but it was rightfully awarded "Match of the Year" for 2009 by the Wrestling Observer.
The most positive effect a great match can have is that it raises the credibility level of both participants (think back to the Cell match with Randy Orton at #5). Admitted, both HBK and The Deadman had attained stardom many years prior. But this match went one better. It is a remarkable instance of two wrestlers in their mid-forties, nearing the end of their careers, putting on a match that people still speak in awe of and will do so for years to come. There was something very, very special about this.
Chaitanya confidently predicted that the Royal Challengers Bangalore would choke in the Champions League T20 and he was right.
Aur toh aur, "MI's victory can be thoroughly discredited because (1) their opponents choked and (2) they slimed their way to 5 foreign players."
And while this post might seem like a giant smokescreen to deflect attention away from my previous post on this subject a few days ago, I've come to the conclusion that God didn't really care much for the IPL teams in the Champions League T20 this year. I don't blame Him.
I know you've had your hands full with Tomas Transtrőmer, Steve Jobs and Raavan in the last few hours, but please make sure Somerset and New South Wales win their respective Nokia Champions League T20 semi-final matches over the next two days. Please.
This world's ability to generate sellouts in their droves, to provide incentives to existing sellouts to sell out to previously unimaginable levels and convert people you respect immensely for their abilities into garden-variety sellouts is truly astonishing.
Acceptance of the first category is perhaps an inevitable concession to the ways of this world. Acceptance of the second category is usually an exercise in spewing disgust before adjusting your life perspective to the fact that such things also, sadly, happen.
However, it is the third category that is the most difficult to accept, perhaps because it is the most difficult to fathom. And it hurts infinitely more when those converted are close friends.
Yet, it reinforces belief that there is value in fighting the good fight and holding a balanced opinion of people, no matter how worthy of admiration they may appear.
It reinforces belief that, when it's your turn to teeter on the brink of that cliff, you remember what dragged you to the edge to begin with and why living to fight another day is always, always the right thing to do.
I've been wilfully caught up in the self-defeating quest to get to know myself for years.
I've never expected anything beneficial to result from such a quest.
I tend to evoke extremely polarised reactions from people I get to know in passing. Consequently, only those people who know me inside-out would honestly claim that I'm a person who's just "alright."
It's not a coincidence that the description I've laid out above has no fewer than, title included, eleven references to me (make that twelve).
I'm affectionately referred to as "Ego."
I think that last statement might have given away a tad too much.