The Undertaker’s Last Bow?

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Could this be The Undertaker’s final salute?

 

There aren’t enough words to describe how surreal it is to watch the Undertaker perform in the ring. I remember watching the Undertaker when the Smackdown! brand led by Dave Batista and Booker T held a 2 day show here in the Philippines. I was there to watch two men, the late Chris Benoit (who battled with Chavo Guerrero that night) and of course the Undertaker, who at that time engaged in a bitter feud with Mr. Kennedy. Watching his entrance from the cheap seats was spine chilling. Undertaker won of course and that night he saved Batista from a beat down by Booker T, Fit Finlay and William Regal.

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The Undertaker through the years.

Fast forward to about 11 years later, he was still performing by this time he had been with the WWE for 26 years. In the world of theatrics and entertainment such as pro wrestling, lasting for 26 years in one company is amazing. Who would have thought that a gimmick that started out as an indestructible zombie or western mortician turned out to be one of the most captivating characters in wrestling history?

The Undertaker, real name Mark William Calaway made his professional wrestling debut in 1984 as Mean Mark Callous, he wrestled in World Class Championship Wrestling, New Japan Pro Wrestling and World Championship Wrestling before ending up with the World Wrestling Federation (now known as the WWE). He made his WWE debut on the 1991 Survivor Series PPV, teaming up with the villainous Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase’s Million Dollar Team against Dusty Rhode’s The Dream Team. Little did we know that this silly gimmick would be a staple in Professional Wrestling.

From that point on, the Undertaker (or Taker) won several WWE Titles, Tag Titles and feuded with the likes of Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior, Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts, Yokozuna, Kamala, King Kong Bundy, Giant Gonzales, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Mankind, CM Punk, Kurt Angle, Diamond Dallas Page, his storyline brother Kane, John Cena and Brock Lesnar to name a few. He also participated in a lot of gimmick matches such as the Biker Chain Match, the Hell in a Cell, Steel Cage Match, Hell in the Cell, Ladder Match, Casket Match and the Buried Alive Match.

Through the years, Taker kept the gimmick interesting by adding character depth and some weird ass powers such as conjuring fire, lightning, rising from the dead, teleportation and the power to manipulate or posses someone. Beyond all those silly powers, and different gimmick types or appearances of the Undertaker showed up, we can always count that his matches were very good or amazing. His ability to create drama in the ring, provided fans of this ‘scripted’ spectacle a breathtaking experience. Undertaker was simply amazing in the ring.

Then there was WrestleMania (or Mania), WWE’s premier event. Undertaker provided a lot of memories during Mania. His matches are often the highlight of the night. For most of us wrestling fans, we always look forward to Mania, even if the match card isn’t Mania worthy. The reason we tune in to Mania every year is because of ‘The Streak’. ‘The Streak’ is defined as the Undertaker’s 21 straight victories at WrestleMania if you’re interested then here are his WrestleMania victims.

1. ‘Superfly’ Jimmy Snuka (Mania 7)
2. Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts (Mania 8)
3. Giant Gonzales (Mania 9)
4. King Kong Bundy (Mania 11)
5. Kevin Nash (Mania 12)
6. Psycho Sid (Mania 13, for the WWE Title)*
7. Kane (Mania 14 and Mania 20)
8. Big Boss Man (Mania 15, Hell in a Cell)
9. Triple H (Mania 17, Mania 27 and a Hell in a Cell match at Mania 28)
10. Ric Flair (Mania 18)
11. Big Show and A-Train (Mania 19, Handicap Match)
12. Randy Orton (Mania 21)
13. Mark Henry (Mania 22)
14. Dave Batista (Mania 23 for the World Heavyweight Title)
15. Edge (Mania 24 for the World Heavyweight Title)
16. Shawn Michaels (Mania 25 and Mania 26)
17. CM Punk (Mania 29)

* – The streak was first mentioned

The streak lasted for 21 straight victories which surprisingly ended at Mania 30 against Brock Lesnar. I remember that match, I was in shock, I always thought that Taker would retire undefeated at Mania and that will be his legacy. It was taken away by WWE matchmakers, suddenly Mania was never the same without the Streak.

On April 3rd (April 2nd in the States), Undertaker lost for only the 2nd time in Mania, his once immaculate record of 21-0 now stood at 23-2. After getting speared for the nth time, he jobbed to up and comer Roman Reigns. After the match he left his MMA gloves, his cowboy hat and trenchcoat in the middle of the ring. He broke character and kissed his wife at ringside (he still plays a zombie with dark powers), and perhaps waved his final goodbye to the fans.

At this moment, it was hard for me to write about a man who I grew up watching, whose career was part of my childhood much like those 6 NBA Championship won by the Bulls. Undertaker is like my guest every night when he wrestles or cuts a promo or something. He was WWE’s Icon, their poster boy and their heart and soul.  I always remember those matches, the feud, the silly angle, the time you (almost) married Stephanie McMahon because you’re playing a Satan Worshipper, the Higher Power storyline, your run as the Biker Undertaker, the streak and your whole career. Thank you Undertaker, if this was the last match then I’m glad it ended at WrestleMania.

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Wrestlemania 29 The Review

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Every year the World Wrestling Entertainment better known as the WWE holds an event that can be compared to the Academy Awards, the Superbowl or the NBA Finals. The media buzz for Wrestlemania is comparable to the buzz that surrounds every major sporting event in the World, well at least that’s how the WWE feels like telling its fans.

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This year’s Wretlemania was held in this year in East Rutherford, New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium (home of the New York Jets and New York Giants) where more than 80,000 strong jampacked the said arena to witness Wrestlemania 29 on April 7, 2012. Before the show started a Wrestlemania Pre-Show was held, and a match between Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett and The MIz was held, where in MIz captured the WWE Intercontinental Championship via Figure 4 Leg Lock.

The actual show opened up with a video package of the devastation of Hurricane Sandy and how the people in NY and NJ area helped each other to get back on their feet. Then we saw the NJ National Guard as Michael Cole told us they were instrumental in helping the people during the aftermath.

Opening Match: The Big Show, Sheamus and Randy Orton versus The Shield (RomanReigns, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins)

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The show opened up with 3 Wrestlemania veterans and former World Champions against the young upstarts the Shield, while the match featured a typical 3 on 3 match, it has some highlights like Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose getting their vests removed as Sheamus and Big Show pounded on them mercilessly. The ending came when Randy Orton tagged himself in, instead of Sheamus giving the hot tag to the Big Show.. Randy Orton cleaned house and eventually the numbers caught up and Shield won by pinfall as Big Show didn’t break the 3 count as he stood in the corner watching it all happened.. Big Show knocked both Orton and Sheamus before leaving the ring.. Very good opening bout 7/10.. The Shield go their Mania moment.

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Match 2: Mark Henry versus Ryback

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Making his WrestleMania debut Ryback came into the ring with a lot to prove, he wants to prove the people that he can be the next best face in the WWE. The former Skip Sheffield entered the ring against WWE veteran Mark Henry. The match was your typical strongman versus strongman match. Henry dominated about 55% of it before Ryback came charging back, while egging the crowd to chant Feed Me More (which the raucous Jersey crowd reciprocated). The end came when Ryback attempted to finish the match with a Shell Shock but Henry held on the ropes as the whole 450+ frame of Mark Henry landed on Ryback for the victory.  Passable match 6/10

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After the match Henry came back to the ring to make sure that Ryback will be inducted to the Hall of Pain. But Ryback got his 2nd win and eventually hit the Shell Shock to foil Henry’s plan and for Ryback to have his Wrestlemania moment.

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The WWE honored the US Special Olympic Team – David Denan(hoping that I got the spelling right) and Ashely Webber (with perhaps Stephanie McMahon, the US Olympic Commitee and NJ Governor Chris Christie), and got a decent pop from the crowd.

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Match 3: For the WWE Tag Team Championship, Team Hell No (C) versus Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston (with AJ Lee)

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Capture13The match kicked off with Dolph mocking Daniel Bryan’s 18 second Wrestlemaina 28 debacle against Sheamus (when Bryan gave then girlfriend AJ Lee a kiss before their World Heavyweight Championship match, then Sheamus Brogue Kicked him to win the title). This time Bryan came inches away from ending the match after a high kick was landed on Dolph’s kisser, the match was high paced not your typical tag team match, Big E Langston was impressive overpowering Kane and manhandling Daniel Bryan. In the end Bryan and Kane came away with a pinfall victory after a flying headbutt from Bryan. Daniel Bryan had his Mania moment as the crowd cheered for him in unison with a resounding YES chants. 7.5/10

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Match 4: Fandango versus Chris Jericho

Fandango or should I say FFFFFffffffffAAAAAAAaaaaaaaNNnnnDddAAAAAAAaaaaaaaNNNnnnnGGGggggOoooooo knows how to enter in style.

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Reminiscent of MVP’s entrance in Wrestlemania 23, Fandango entered into the squared circle in style, WrestleMania style. That on the other hand Chris Jericho countered with his own entrance.

Capture16Fandango, on his first televised match in the WWE went up against WWE veteran Chris Jericho, dubbed by JBL as Mike Tyson versus Buster Douglas, if Buster didn’t box at all. Jericho schooled Fandango for the majority of the match, while Fandango had his own moments as well, especially when Fandango hit him with a flying leg drop from the top rope. The match came to an end when Jericho injured his knee and Fandango capitalized with a roll-up. Fandango’s first match was a hug success, as Jericho put him over, the only way Jericho can. 8/10

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Excellent debut!

Bathroom break and dinner time Puff Daddy sings, borefest!

Match 5: For the World Heavyweight Championship: Alberto Del Rio (C) (with Ricardo Rodriguez) versus Jack Swagger (with Zeb Colter)

Jack Swagger entered the ring riding an camouflaged ATV with an American Flag on it called the Patriot Mobile (he entered while the video package of Del Rio and Swagger rivalry).

Capture18Colter then proceeded to cut a promo regarding the immigrants of the NY/NJ area that got  a  few boos from the MetLife Stadium crowd. Del Rio then makes his entrance with a special introduction from Ricardo Rodriguez.

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The match was a huge huge treat to the raucous crowd in MetLife as they were treated in a very entertaining match, Del Rio in my opinion is ready to to be part of the big guns of the WWE, his charisma and ability can captivate the crowd. The match went back and forth, a little gritty but not as gritty as the Triple H Brock Lesnar match later that night. In the end Del Rio retained the World Heavyweight Championship by making Jack Swagger tap out by the cross arm breaker. 7.25/10

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And Michael Strahan former New York Giant player and legend enjoyed the bout as well.

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Match 6: The Undertaker versus CM Punk (with Paul Heyman)

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CM Punk is currently using the early 90’s classic Cult of Personality by Living Colour, Living Colour then played it live in front of the crowd in MetLife, CM Punk entered the arena and pointed at the band before his Mania match with Taker. With that I would like to say that than you God, you washed the Puff Daddy suckfest out of our minds with a very good performance by Living Colour. Thank you!

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Again, THANK YOU LORD!

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Undertaker entered in what looked like Hades rising from the underworld, it was awesome watching it, I wonder how great it is live. Anyway with CM Punk disrespecting the the late Paul Bearer (former manager of the Undertaker) and stealing the urn (the source of the Undertaker’s “powers”), Undertaker puts his undefeated Mania record on the line against CM Punk, perhaps the best in ring performer in the WWE today. The match itself was awesome, filled with high energy moves, memorable reversals, near falls after near falls to the point that I was actually clapping my hands, it’s really great to be a WWE/wrestling fan come Mania season, thank you Undertaker and CM Punk. In the end Undertaker wins after a tombstone piledriver and honored his fallen friend and confidant.

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Classic Undertaker ring exit. Match grade 9/10

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Match 7: Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman) versus Triple H (Shawn Michaels): Career Threatening Match 

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Shawn Michaels made his way to the ring first to be with his friend Triple H for the following bout. This is his first appearance since Wrestlemania 26 and his first apperance as a manager.

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This match for me was a disappointment , I was expecting a knockout drag out fight between the former WWE and UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar and Triple H, a match than can exceed what they accomplished in SummerSlam 2012 but all I got was a photocopy with different result. Of course this one is a bit more physical, but still had a slow paced, Triple H trying to have a huge surge while Lesnar toys with him type of match. Not that it wasn’t good but, it was more of a let down for me. Triple H wins via Pedigree. Shawn also had his moments as he superkicked Heyman’s head off.. 7.5/10

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Class of 2013 Hall of Fame introduced to the crowd led by Bruno Sammartino, Trish Stratus, Booker T, Mick Foley, Donald Trump, and Bob Backlund.

Main Event: For the WWE Championship – The Rock (C) versus John Cena II

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This match is about a notch better than their Wrestlemania 28 encounter, though the difference is they traded more finishers more near falls in this match. The Once in a lifetime tag from last year didn’t come true as the Rock and John Cena faced each other again, because The Rock’s GI Joe Retaliation move got pushed a year, instead of its 2012 release hence his appearance for another go around with Mania is to re-promote the Joe film. So anyway going back, they did some usual stuff they do, punches, kicks, signature maneuvers etc. until Cena hit the final Attitude Adjustment for the 3 count. Cena recaptures the WWE title.

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At the end of the match Cena and The Rock shook hands and hugged.

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Cena even left the ring for the Rock to have his final salute to the crowd and so that the crowd can applaud him as well.

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And the show ends with 2 men raising each other’s hand.

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My overall grade for Wrestlemania 29 is a solid 7.5/10, while my only complaint is the Jericho-Fandango match could have gone at least 2 or 3 minutes to really sell the leg injury that Jericho had, other complaint is the photocopy Summerslam match between Triple H and Lesnar, because I felt they could have done it better. And my ultimate complaint Puff Daddy, Sean Diddy Combs or whatever his name is, it really doesn’t matter, Puff Daddy’s performance is an absolute snoozer. Overall memorable show.