The Undertaker's streak at Wrestlemania is easily the most talked about "record" in professional wrestling. Although in reality the streak is a product of creative storylines and something that could easily be duplicated if the WWE chose to do so, nothing should be taken away from the fact that the Undertaker has remained interesting and significant for over 20 years of exposure.
The WWE often talks about how impressive the streak is, but outside of the Undertaker's DVD about the streak (which is simply a collection of the matches), they have never really analyzed the streak match-by-match, which is something I would like to do today. Here it is folks, a match-by-match examination of the Undertaker's legendary Wrestlemania streak, as well as how the Undertaker's match with CM Punk should compare to its predecessors.
#1 Undertaker vs Jimmy Snuka Wrestlemania VII
The first victory for the Undertaker took place only about four months after his debut in the WWE. Although Snuka is often cited as one of the "legends" that the Undertaker has vanquished at Wrestlemania, nothing about this match was legendary. The Undertaker took care of Snuka in under five minutes and would continue to pick up squash victories in route to winning the WWF Title that November.
#2 Undertaker vs Jake Roberts Wrestlemania VIII
Forgotten by many younger fans, the Undertaker's feud with the wildly popular Jake Roberts is one of the best feuds of the Deadman's career and really helped establish 'Taker as a top flight talent in the WWE. The match itself was rather lackluster, with the Undertaker shaking off two DDT's to defeat Roberts in just six and a half minutes, but the victory for the Undertaker over someone as popular as Roberts cannot be discredited.
#3 Undertaker vs Giant Gonzales Wrestlemania IX
Although treated as mostly a joke presently, there was a time when Giant Gonzales was cited as a legitimate threat to the Undertaker. Gonzales was limited as a wrestler, but he did have ok charisma and had Harvey Wippleman in his corner. The match was built similar to the Undertaker's match against Mark Henry at Wrestlemania 22, with the Undertaker hitting the big man with everything he had to take him off his feet. Undertaker actually won this match via disqualification when Gonzales incapacitated him with a rag covered in chloroform. Also featured my personal favorite Undertaker entrance, with the Deadman being accompanied to the ring with a raven.
#4 Undertaker vs King Kong Bundy Wrestlemania XI
After taking Wrestlemania X off, the Undertaker returned to action against King Kong Bundy and the Million Dollar Corporation. In what was becoming an all too common theme for the Undertaker, the match was rather bland with the Phenom picking up the win after a flying clothesline.
#5 Undertaker vs Diesel Wrestlemania XII
Another disappointing match in the streak followed the very next year. After getting in the way of each other's championship aspirations, Diesel and the Undertaker decided to settle it at Wrestlemania. With Nash on his way out of the WWF, the match did not appear to feature a ton of effort from either party. Diesel dominated most of the match, but the Deadman overcame the onslaught to win his 5th straight match at Wrestlemania.
#6 Undertaker vs Psycho Sid Wrestlemania 13
The first main event for the Undertaker involved a clash with current WWF champion Psycho Sid. Wrestlemania 13 is mostly remembered for Steve Austin and Bret Hart's epic "I Quit" match, but the Undertaker was the one who closed the show with a big tombstone and title victory over Sid. By Wrestlemania main event standards the match was not very good, but the Undertaker was still able to get a solid performance out of a limited wrestler in Sid.
#7 Undertaker vs Kane Wrestlemania XIV
After Kane was introduced to the WWF the previous October, the Undertaker and his brother began their never-ending feud with their first Wrestlemania match. Kane was riding a huge wave of momentum as a monster heel, but the Undertaker still came out on top when he hit Kane with an impressive trifecta of tombstones in what was his best Wrestlemania match to date.
#8 Undertaker vs The Big Boss Man Wrestlemania XV
The first Hell in a Cell match to take place at Wrestlemania, the Undertaker disposed of the Big Boss Man rather quickly in under ten minutes. The match is probably best remembered for the post-match hanging of the Big Boss Man by the Brood from the top of the cell. Although the Undertaker was a major player in the WWF title and main event picture during the Attitude Era, his Wrestlemania matches were rather disappointing.
#9 Undertaker vs Triple H Wrestlemania X-Seven
The first of the truly great Wrestlemania matches for the Undertaker came ten years after his first victory on the grandest stage of them all against a white-hot HHH. This was the first Undertaker match to feature the American Bad-Ass character and he took care of business in an exciting match that featured the two future legends brawling all over the Astrodome.
#10 Undertaker vs Ric Flair Wrestlemania X-8
Ric Flair is the epitome of the big-time performer in wrestling. Whenever the lights get a little bit brighter Flair always steps it up a notch. Flair vs The Undertaker should have been an instant classic, and although the match was good-to-exceptional, it left the crowd feeling that something bigger could have taken place. This was the first match were the Undertaker acknowledged the streak, as he flashed ten fingers after he pinned the Nature Boy.
#11 Undertaker vs Big Show and A-Train Wrestlemania XIX
After two good/great Wrestlemania matches, the Phenom slipped back into his rut of working with limited wrestlers and trying his best to get a passable match out of them. Undertaker pinning men as large as A-Train and Big Show was certainly impressive, but seriously, how great can a match be if it involves Nathan Jones coming out to make the save?
#12 Undertaker vs Kane Wrestlemania XX
Kane had helped Mr. McMahon defeat the Undertaker in a buried alive match in November of 2003, and had since been claiming that the Undertaker was no more. However, mysterious signs of the Undertaker's return had begun to prop up on the road to Wrestlemania, leading to the brothers second match at Wrestlemania. The Undertaker returned in full Deadman get-up and pinned Kane to extend his streak to a dozen straight. Although the match was slightly disappointing, it was really all about the return to darkness for the Phenom.
#13 Undertaker vs Randy Orton Wrestlemania 21
Billed as the "Legend Killer", Randy Orton was certainly in position to take on the Undertaker at Wrestlemania. Accompanied by his Hall of Fame father, "Cowboy" Bob Orton, Orton came within a microsecond of snapping the streak in what is in my opinion, the best match of Randy's career.
#14 Undertaker vs Mark Henry Wrestlemania
The first casket match to ever take place at Wrestemania, this would be the final match in which the Undertaker would not be booked in one of the top matches at Wrestelmania. Henry dominated most of the match, but the Undertaker prevailed after executing a very impressive Last Ride/Tombstone combination on the 400+lb Henry. The real tragedy is that the Undertaker and Kurt Angle did not meet at this Wrestlemania. Angle and 'Taker met at No Way Out two months prior in an absolute classic match over the WHC. If the Undertaker and Angle had had a rematch at Wrestlemania, we may be talking about GOAT level stuff.
#15 Undertaker vs Batista Wrestlemania 23
The Undertaker captured his second World Championship at a Wrestlemania when he claimed the World Heavyweight Championship from the incumbent Batista. The match was solid, but only lasted an unsatisfying 15 minutes. Batista turned in one of his better performances of his career as his sheer power and high-impact moves made it seem like the streak was on the verge of ending.
#16 Undertaker vs Edge Wrestlemania XXIV
`The Undertaker the WHC title for the second year in a row when he forced Edge to submit using the Hell's Gate choke hold. It was the first time Undertaker had used the move and the first recorded victory for the Undertaker via submission. The match was an exciting back and forth affair, and one of the top matches of both men's illustrious careers.
#17 Undertaker vs Shawn Michaels Wrestlemania XXV
HBK vs Undertaker was what Flair vs Undertaker could have been. Often credited with being the best match of the decade, Michaels and Undertaker put on a modern classic at the 25th anniversary of Wrestlemania. HBK was one of the few superstars who were on equal legacy footing with the Phenom and it showed in what was definitely the best WWE match in the last 5-10 years.
#18 Undertaker vs Shawn Michaels Wrestlemania XXVI
The rematch one year in the making was not as great as the first one (although how could it have been?) but it may have been more dramatic as Shawn Michaels put his career on the line in hopes of breaking the streak once for all. Michaels came up short, but the match was a fitting tribute to the end of HBK, and was booked as the main event despite not being for any major title.
#19 Undertaker vs Triple H Wrestlemania XXVII
Both the Undertaker and Triple H returned to the WWE for the first time in almost a year on the February 21st episode of Raw and settled on a match at Wrestlemania. Although it was given ample time, the match was in my opinion, disappointing. Both men essentially traded finishers until the Undertaker forced the Game to submit. The important aspect of the match took place after, when HHH left under his own power, but the Undertaker needed a lot of assistance to make his way to the back.
#20 Undertaker vs Triple H Wrestlemania XXVIII
The third Wrestlemania match between HHH and the Undertaker took place inside the vaunted Hell in a Cell. The HIAC match, which was billed as the "End of an Era" match and also featured Shawn Michaels as the special guest referee, lived up to expectations and delivered one of the top matches of 2012. Although not exceptionally fast or full of technical holds, the match captured the often forgotten art of telling a story during a wrestling match.
So how does the Undertaker's upcoming match compare to the 20 past ones? I think that it is safe to say between how much attention the match is getting on Raw and how dominant Punk has been in the past year that the match will be a long and epic affair. Will it be as good as the Undertaker's matches with Shawn Michaels? Probably not. Punk is good but he is not as good as Michaels was. I'm predicting from a quality standpoint, the match should be on par with the Undertaker's matches with Edge, Orton and Triple H, which should give us all something good to look forward to next Sunday.