Although WWE sort of stumbled into its good fortune with Undertaker's streak of wins at WrestleMania, now up to 21 in a row without a loss, in recent years it has become the stuff of legend. Simply challenging it is considered an honor as great as -- or perhaps even greater than -- challenging for the WWE world heavyweight championship title.
Considering the fact that the streak is held in such high regard, and Undertaker is set to defend it once again against Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 30 on April 6, 2014, in New Orleans, we're going to rank each match from worst to best. Considerations will be made for both the work within the match and the story heading into it, not to mention historical significance.
Yesterday we tackled numbers 21-17. Today we tackle numbers 16-12:
16. Sycho Sid, WrestleMania 13
This match had the unfortunate task of following quite possibly the greatest match in WrestleMania history, and maybe the greatest match of all time when Bret Hart and Stone Cold Steve Austin executed a double turn to perfection in a submission match earlier in the evening.
Not only that, there was a logjam in the main event scene at the time featuring Sid, Undertaker, and the aforementioned Hart and Austin, not to mention Shawn Michaels, who had lost his smile not long before all this and was out on commentary. Sid vs. Undertaker was the worst of every possible match-up with Hart vs. Austin the best.
The matches themselves bore that out.
Before we could even get to the main event, however, Hart came out and cut a promo running his mouth before Sid hit him with a powerbomb and sent him out. Undertaker just stood in the corner quiet for all this while Michaels made fun of Hart.
So, by the time we got to Sid and Undertaker actually wrestling, it was the last thing anyone wanted to see.
There was trouble right away when Sid worked a rest spot and it was clear they had too much time to kill within in the match and not enough in them to fill it with anything meaningful. This despite the fact that thematch was no disqualification.
They did some brawling on the outside, breaking a table in the process of getting the match back on the right track, before heading back into the ring for another rest hold.
It was impossible not to watch this with all the information imparted from everything to come after it. That means Sid's leg break from WCW Sin 2000 was fresh in my brain every time he came off the ropes, which happened no less than three times.
Overall, though, the pacing was too slow, and the match was just, well, boring. They never really took advantage of the added stipulation to any meaningful degree and a late run-in from Hart only distracted from the proceedings instead of adding to them.
There is one thing to say about this: Sid kicked out of a chokeslam and it was the first meaningful nearfall of Undertaker's WrestleMania career in the sense that the crowd anticipated the finish and had it taken from them. There's history here, what with this being Undertaker's first championship win at a WrestleMania but it came after a dull, plodding affair.
15. Mark Henry, WrestleMania 22
This feud was incredibly thin. Undertaker was attempting to challenge Kurt Angle for the world heavyweight championship and Henry cost him that so "The Deadman" laid out a challenge for a casket match at WrestleMania, the first of its kind.
So there was at least some history made here.
This was also the last WrestleMania to feature Undertaker working with anyone considered anything other than a major star, a marquee attraction on any card, "The Showcase of the Immortals" included.
The match itself was short, one of the shortest of any of the streak matches, and featured Henry working from his position of strength and power while Undertaker sold for him. Every time 'Taker attempted to work one of his signature spots, "The World's Strongest Man" powered his way out.
The high spots included a Last Ride out of the corner and Undertaker doing his top rope dive past the casket set up next to the ring onto Henry on the floor just beyond it. The Tombstone also looked impressive if only because, well, Henry is a big ass dude.
So while the finishing sequence was good and got the crowd to pop big, the match was kind of just there. Entirely forgettable if not for the dive over the top rope past the casket. And, well, before re-watching for this series, I had forgotten about that spot too, so there you go.
14. Big Show & A-Train, WrestleMania 19
This was originally supposed to be a tag team match with Nathan Jones, who was a protege of Undertaker's after assisting him in his ongoing feud with Big Show and, later, A-Train.
Let's just say it: This sucked, or at least the hype for it did. The build up was weak, mostly silly nonsense that felt like it was given less attention by creative because of everything else WWE had going on at the time with bigger stars lining the top of the card. In fact,if you can believe it, this was the second of nine matches to take place that night.
It was that lame.
It was announced really late that it would be a handicap match and that was all the reason the announce team needed to claim the streak was in jeopardy. Hilariously enough, Undertaker hit A-Train with a choke slam to start the match to tease an immediate pinfall which, in hindsight, probably would have been the better option.
It wasn't so much that the match was really bad, it's that it felt unimportant. There were some good spots, like Undertaker locking in a cross armbreaker on A-Train that was only broken by a monster leg drop from Show. The heels also worked together fairly well as a team, tagging in and out and assisting each other during abdominal stretches and what not.
There were some rough points too, like an ugly DDT on A-Train and the run in from Jones late in the match. You just don't ever want to see Undertaker need assistance from anyone to keep the streak alive.
"The student helps the teacher," Tazz remarked on commentary. That's fine for any other match but not the streak, which was openly being acknowledged at this point, and not while Undertaker is a babyface especially.
Again, the match itself was okay, but it was missing a lot of other ingredients that could have greatly enhanced what we ended up with.
13. Diesel, WrestleMania 12
Considering the way Diesel was booked during his time with the WWF in 1995, there's no telling whether or not this match would have gone differently if Kevin Nash hadn't already given notice that he was signing with WCW by the time this went down.
Because of that, this was a foregone conclusion, something that wasn't necessarily the case with Undertaker WrestleMania matches at the time.
The good news is that Diesel was still doing fairly decent work at that time. Much like 'Taker, he was a big man who could actually move fairly well. This was shown early in the match as the two cut a blistering pace to start.
Unfortunately, they couldn't keep it up.
What happened instead was Diesel dominating the match while Vince McMahon put over that no one had ever done this much damage to "The Deadman". He would work a spot, then play to the crowd; work a spot, then play to the crowd; work a spot, then play to the crowd.
The highlight may have been both men laying each other out with a big boot at the same time.
Realistcally, this match went longer -- just over 16 minutes -- than it needed to. It was the longest match on the card underneath the Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels Iron Man match in the main event
It dragged on with awful spots like an extended bear hug that looked awful because Undertaker was actually on his feet for this. It just looked like two tall men loosely hugging each other.
Ultimately, Diesel hit a Jackknife Powerbomb out of nowhere. Instead of pinning Undertaker, he played to the crowd, kicked at 'Taker, and asked him to get up again. So that's what happened and Diesel hit yet another powerbomb. And, once again, he played to the crowd for a few minutes before dropping down to, you know, actually bother pinning his opponent.
Naturally, Undertaker fought this off with the dreaded threat of a chokeslam off his back. You know, the old dramatic grab of the throat. This fended off no less than three lame pinfall attempts.
Eventually, 'Taker hit an ugly chokeslam followed by a Tombstone for the pin.
This wasn't awful but it wasn't very good either.
12. Kane, WrestleMania 20
The second time the two brothers would meet at a WrestleMania match would be historic for a number of reasons, the least of which being that they were meeting for a second time. Kane had been unmasked halfway through the year before and had his character go through one of its many "I'm more sadistic than before, treat me like a new monster" phases.
As for Undertaker, this marked his return to the "The Deadman" gimmick, killing off BikerTaker once and for all. The atmosphere was really something else, with the show taking place at Madison Square Garden and 'Taker getting a full blown druid entrance with torches and Paul Bearer and all of it.
Kane played his character up to the fullest here, to somewhat cheesy effect. The story was that he had buried Undertaker, thus killing him, and he couldn't buy his brother's revival as real.
The match itself was short and underwhelming. Undertaker controlled the action early before Kane made a comeback off a counter that looked like it was supposed to be a back body drop but ended up being something else entirely. In fact, it was very nearly an awful botch.
They traded finishers not long after, mostly centered on Undertaker coming back from Kane's chokeslam to deliver one of his own followed by a Tombstone that got the pin.
This was nowhere near as good as their first encounter. In fact, as a stand alone match it wasn't very good at all, but what surrounded it made it worthwhile.
Maybe the worst part of all this was Undertaker continually failing to roll his eyes into the back of his head. It just felt bad.
Tomorrow we get to number's 11-7.