TJR WrestleMania’s Greatest Matches #20: The Undertaker vs. Triple H @ WrestleMania 27

The Undertaker’s undefeated streak at WrestleMania was on the line during the match that is next up on the countdown of WrestleMania’s Greatest Matches. His opponent was the only man that The Undertaker faced three times at a WrestleMania. His name is Triple H. Let’s go back to 2011 for this one.

If you’ve missed anything in the countdown so far, the WrestleMania’s Greatest Matches archives are here.

Who: The Undertaker vs. Triple H @ WrestleMania 27

When: April 3, 2011

Where: Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia

The Build

The Undertaker became a part time wrestler in 2011. He only wrestled one match that year – at WrestleMania 27 against Triple H. His last match before that was at Bragging Rights 2010 when he lost a Buried Alive Match to his storyline brother Kane.

The Undertaker appeared on the February 21, 2011 edition of Raw with a countdown. The song “Ain’t No Grave” by Johnny Cash played as he entered the arena and then his theme song played. When The Undertaker took off his hat after he got into the ring, Triple H’s music hit and he entered the arena to a thunderous ovation. The two legends went face to face, then Triple H looked at the WrestleMania sign and Undertaker looked at the sign as well. Undertaker did a throat slash, Hunter did a crotch chop and that’s all they needed to do. The crowd went wild for it.

What I liked about the moment is the announcers didn’t say anything. They let the pictures do the talking. There was more hype for it by talking about The Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak and how he retired Hunter’s best friend Shawn Michaels one year earlier. Hunter talked about how he had accomplished everything he could in the business and at WrestleMania he would end The Undertaker’s 18-0 streak at WrestleMania.

What I Thought Back Then

My expectations were high because of the two men in the match. They’re great big match performers who knew were going to bust their asses to put on a memorable match. The WrestleMania 27 lineup wasn’t very good either, so I went into this match thinking they were going to be the match of the night. It was a lot of pressure on them, but I felt like they could deliver.

The weird thing about the match is that WWE seemed to ignore the fact that they wrestled at WrestleMania 17 ten years earlier. It was as if they didn’t want to tell the fans this match had already happened before at a WrestleMania even though most of us knew it since that is arguably the best WrestleMania ever. That match was pretty good, by the way, but not good enough to make this list.

I was at this event. It was my first WrestleMania. Our seats weren’t great, but I had fun even if it was a poor show. This was clearly the match of the night as well.

Here’s my full review of the match plus the analysis, which was written in 2011. It’s not full play by play like I usually do, but it got the job done.

I was sitting in the section above the hard camera in the second level. About five rows above me was the third level, which is the private box level. It was filled with WWE talent. Legends like Dibiase, Funk, Steamboat and other current wrestlers were sitting up there the whole night. People in our section were turning around to snap photos of them. Most of them didn’t even acknowledge us. By the time Triple H & Undertaker started we saw guys like Orton & Punk up there. I guess it’s a better view than looking at a backstage monitor. I found out later, on, that Shawn Michaels was up there too. A lot of people expected him to run out at some point. That didn’t happen obviously.

No Holds Barred Match: The Undertaker vs. Triple H @ WrestleMania 27

Between the entrances, the match time (they got about 30 minutes) and post match they must have been out there for 45-50 minutes. We were hot for this entire thing including the entrances. I had learned about the Triple H entrance earlier because one of the guys holding the shields is an indy worker that I happen to know. I liked so many of the spots. They were very smart about them. Going through the Cole Mine was fun and then HHH taking that backdrop off the table was brutal. He grabbed his wrist immediately. You knew it was bothering him, but you also knew this guy wasn’t going to stop because of a wrist injury. Then Undertaker did his top rope plancha, which resulted in him landing on his head much like he did at WM25. In that instance, Sim Snuka (holding the camera) was supposed to catch him and missed. Hunter didn’t break his fall very well here. Still, it’s amazing that a 46 year old man like Undertaker can still do a spot like that considering all the injuries he’s had. The next spot was Triple H hitting the spinebuster off the steps and putting him through the Spanish announce table. I loved the sequence of moves that followed with each guy countering signature spots with Hunter avoiding the boot to the face with the spinebuster. The crowd was hot for all of it.

The second part of the match occurred when Hunter brought the chair into the match. He came back from the chair to the back to hit the Pedigree for a nearfall. We didn’t think that was it, but it’s not like many people kick out of that move. Then you had Undertaker do his Last Ride powerbomb out of the corner spot. When Undertaker hit the Tombstone we thought that was it, but I also realized there were more big moves they were going to kick out of. The next big spot? Another Triple H Pedigree that Undertaker kicked out of. Watching it on replay shows that Undertaker didn’t take that very well. He was grabbing his neck and trying to get feeling in his fingers. Then Triple H hit his third Pedigree, which Undertaker kicked out of. This one looked like it was more protected. A lot of people thought that was it even though we all knew Undertaker was winning. Hunter used the chair next, which included several shots to the back and also a chairshot to the head. Apparently they got fined for that since chairshots are banned in WWE now, which is a good thing. How much did they get fined? Nobody really knows. I doubt they really got fined anyway. Not important, really. “Stay down,” Triple H told Undertaker. “Stay down! What’s wrong with you?” That added to the drama. Then Hunter hit the Tombstone. Look at how everybody stood up. That was the biggest reaction of the night. It was like: “Oh no you didn’t!” Oh yes he did. Then he folded the arms, covered him and Undertaker kicked out. Then THAT became the biggest reaction of the night. That was a legit markout moment. Great spot. And Hunter, to his credit, sold it perfectly. Hunter got the sledgehammer. Undertaker grabbed him before he could attack, putting him in the Hell’s Gate submission hold. Hunter dropped the hammer, then he tried to grab it and couldn’t. Then he tried to power out. He couldn’t. Then when he finally got the hammer he was too weak. He tapped out. I loved it as a finish. Perfect way to end it because if Undertaker beat him with a power move it would have diminished what Hunter did to him physically. Taker had trouble getting back to his feet, so instead he won with a finishing move on his back. It makes sense. The total match time was 29:26. The Undertaker is 19-0 at WrestleMania.

Winner by submission: The Undertaker

Analysis: ****1/2 What can you say? Amazing match. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Triple H and Undertaker. They worked their asses off to put on a great match here. The spots were timed well, they were done in the perfect sequence and the chemistry they had was really good considering they haven’t worked a singles match together in a few years. I think Taker/Michaels at WM25 and WM26 are both five star matches. This was just barely below that. My reasoning is that this was more of a brawl with well placed spots while the other two were more like traditional wrestling matches. I don’t want to nitpick. It’s a personal preference thing. Ultimately, though, we’re talking about three amazing matches. Rank them how you want. You won’t get too much of an argument from me. I’m glad Jim Ross was able to call this match too. It was better for having him there. Nobody can touch him in terms of calling the big matches.

The Undertaker sold that beating really well. A lot of us thought he was legitimately hurt. Did it happen when he crashed headfirst on the floor? We had no idea. How many times have you seen him get taken out by a stretcher before? I guess that’s the WWE way of saying he has a level of vulnerability now. I’d like to personally give a standing ovation for Undertaker, Triple H and ref Scott Armstrong (who did his job by checking on them when needed) for putting on an unforgettable performance that was the best match I’ve ever seen live. This was the highlight of WrestleMania 27. No question about that.

After the match, we all let out a breath because they took us on this emotional journey and they told the story so well. It was the best match I’d ever seen live in 25+ WWE shows. I’m glad I was able to be there for it. They deserved the standing ovation they got. It wasn’t just the fans that were giving them the ovation. The WWE people sitting 20 feet away from me were giving them that ovation too.

You can read my full recap of WrestleMania 27 right here.

What They Said

Here’s Triple H talking about the match about one year after it happened in 2012. From WrestlingInc:

“To be in that arena and get it from the fans; great. To get it from your peers? Even better. To do it with The Undertaker who just epitomizes — to me — what our business is about. Not just as a performer but also a behind-the-scenes standpoint. To go out there and do that with him meant the world — I think — to both of us.”

Good luck finding Undertaker comments about his matches. That doesn’t happen easily.

What I Think Now

I had forgotten how long the match was. It’s not easy to go 30 minutes and have a classic match. People might think it is, but the pacing is so important in a match like that. I think it’s easier if you go 17-20 minutes. I’ve never had a match obviously. I’m just saying from my perspective as a lifelong fan that sometimes when a match goes this long it can be difficult to put on a classic. These guys did it.

The chair shot was a big deal because they were banned. Most people knew they were banned too. I’m not sure if they were legitimately fined like reports said because Hunter was in the office and Undertaker is a veteran. It makes sense that WWE would say they were fined to make sure others didn’t try to do it one of their matches, though. I like that chairs to the head are banned. It’s better for wrestler safety.

That nearfall after Triple H hit a Tombstone was incredible. I think most fans would remember the one that happened the next year even better, but this nearfall was certainly memorable as well.

I remember not loving the ending at the time. However, they did an excellent job of explaining it when they built up their next match one year later. The story was that Undertaker beat him, but he had to be helped out after the match and that made Triple H want another shot at him. Good storyline.

What Happened Next

The Undertaker took a year off and they did the match again one year later. It’s funny how people thought he might be retired after this match in 2011. That was six years ago and he’s featured in another big WrestleMania this year.

Triple H became a regular character on television as the on screen Chief Operating Officer of WWE at the time. I remember wanting him to turn heel for a proper feud with CM Punk that summer, but they held off on it because WWE wanted him to be a face for the rematch with The Undertaker at WrestleMania 28 one year later. I think the Triple H character was always better as a heel and keeping him face in the summer of 2011 was a mistake in hindsight.

Their WrestleMania 28 match is coming up later in the list.

Final Thoughts

When people think of The Undertaker vs. Triple H at WrestleMania this isn’t the match they think of first. That’s okay because the one that followed was even better. However, if you have 30 minutes to spend watching a classic match then you should give this one another look because it’s definitely worth your time. Two legends of the Attitude Era doing their thing. They may get older, but their matches never do. Enjoy it.

Rankings So Far

  1. The Undertaker vs. Triple H @ WrestleMania 27
  2. Randy Savage vs. Ric Flair @ WrestleMania 8
  3. The Undertaker vs. Edge @ WrestleMania 24
  4. John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels @ WrestleMania 23
  5. Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H @ WrestleMania 30
  6. Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit @ WrestleMania 17
  7. The Rock vs. Steve Austin @ WrestleMania 19
  8. Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns (vs. Seth Rollins) @ WrestleMania 31
  9. Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle @ WrestleMania 20
  10. The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan @ WrestleMania 18
  11. Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair @ WrestleMania 24
  12. Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch @ WrestleMania 32
  13. Bret Hart vs. Roddy Piper @ WrestleMania 8
  14. Ultimate Warrior vs. Hulk Hogan @ WrestleMania 6

WrestleMania’s Greatest Matches archives are here.

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