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.
For numbers 21-17 click here, for numbers 16-12 click here, for numbers 11-7 click here, and for numbers 6-2 click here. Today we get to the conclusion of our countdown with the number one match:
1. Shawn Michaels, WrestleMania 25
These two. This match.
The short term feud to get them here was built around the streak itself. They weren't just acknowledging it anymore, now they were outright making it the focal point of the story. So who better to challenge a long WrestleMania streak than a man known as "Mr. WrestleMania"?
What really helped was the fact that these two already had a deep history rich with awesome encounters like their legitimate five-star affair in the first ever Hell in a Cell match. Plus, they had a natural angle with Michaels, a born again Christian, playing up the light of good against Undertaker, the "Demon from Death Valley", with his seemingly unstoppable darkness.
Add in the fact that we're talking about two of the most respected veterans in the history of professional wrestling and this was shaping up to be something big. How big would depend on if the match itself delivered.
Did it ever.
You could actually argue this was the greatest match in the history of WrestleMania, right up there with classics like Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat from WrestleMania 3 and Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin from WrestleMania 13.
Remember when we said Undertaker vs. Edge from WrestleMania 24 would have been better served to shave five minutes off it? That match went 23 minutes long.
This one went 30.
Let's just give this the proper treatment and work through the entire encounter.
They opened with Michaels using his speed and quickness to get in and out with effective offense like chops, strikes, and elbows. Despite the respect he had thanks to his long, successful career, Michaels is still the much smaller man physically. He more than makes up for it with a brash attitude that he backs up with intelligent planning, however. This played out in the form of a crotch chop to suck Undertaker in, only for Michaels to jump over him, fake a knee injury upon landing, and use the opening created by the referee stepping in to hit a Lou Thesz press and a series of punches.
They've done so little up to this point and already the match is outstanding.
Once Undertaker got control, there was little Michaels could do to stop him. Old School connected clean but Michaels found an opening when "The Deadman" charged him in the corner. Again the speed of the smaller man was used to his advantage.
With said advantage, "The Heartbreak Kid" started working his opponent's legs. Because how do you effectively nullify the offense of a big man? Cut his legs out. Michaels locked in an inverted Figure Four and went about doing just that.
Undertaker, so difficult to get down and keep down, powered his way out and went about methodically weakening his opponent. Once he felt he had done enough, he attempted a chokeslam but Michaels was ready for it and countered into a crossface. 'Taker tried to roll to fight it off, even turning over for a brief pinfall attempt, but Michaels turned him back over. The eventual break was Undertaker again powering out with a side slam.
We're heating up.
Michaels found some momentum going back to the offense he opened with, chopping away at Undertaker's chest before coming off the ropes with his patented flying forearm. A pair of inverted atomic drops was followed by a clothesline that set up a flying elbow. Except "The Deadman" got up, so Shawn called an audible and came down with a double axe handle. Undertaker caught him and attempted a choke slam but Michaels twisted off and fired off Sweet Chin Music.
And it missed.
Undertaker sold like it didn't, at least at first, dropping to the mat like he was shot. This was one of only two mistakes made in the entire match.
They recovered nicely, though, with Michaels looking for the Figure Four again and Undertaker countering into the Hell's Gate submission. The crowd swelled in anticipation of the first near finish, but Michaels got to the ropes.
Now we're really hot, despite the miscue.
Michaels managed to get an advantage for a time right after but that came to an end when he tried a moonsault from the top rope to 'Taker on the outside and "The Deadman" stepped to the side while helping Shawn crash to the mat.
But wait, it got better.
Michaels sold while the referee was pleading with him over something, presumably to get him some help. Undertaker spent this time recovering back in the ring. Once he was well enough to get up, he went for it all in the form of his over the top rope suicide dive. Just before he did so, Michaels shoved the referee out of the way and put a nearby camera man in his place. They were out of position, however, and Undertaker ended up landing right on his neck.
Had he been seriously injured, this would have been one of the worst botches ever. But because he came out okay, this was a monster spot that will be remembered forever.
Because Undertaker was nearly dead at this point, Michaels revived the referee, dragged him into the ring, and begged him to count Undertaker out. He didn't care about winning via count out; he just wanted to win.
Michaels sat in the corner like a child bouncing back and forth hoping the referee would get to 10.
He only made it to nine.
Michaels, pissed, tried to hit Sweet Chin Music when Undertaker stood back up. To his surprise, "The Deadman" side stepped and hit a chokeslam.
Now it was insane.
Undertaker attempted a Tombstone. Michaels dropped off for a Superkick. Undertaker caught it and tried a chokeslam. Michaels broke it and stepped back just enough to hit Sweet Chin Music.
Now we're into legendary territory.
Michaels kicks his feet around frustrated but musters the energy to kip up and wobble over to pick Undertaker up. He's met with a rejuvenated "Deadman" grabbing him, dragging him to his feet, and setting him up for the Last Ride. Michaels slipped out once and attempted a roll up but Undertaker avoided it, grabbed him up again, and this time followed through with his powerbomb that got elevation like we had never seen before.
The live audience is buzzing like the building has tinitus at this point. The atmosphere is unreal.
Undertaker, exasperated at his own inability to finish his foe, went for a flying elbow from the top only for Michaels to roll out of the way. It took a minute for the two to get back to their feet. When they did, Michaels rushed over but was sent over the top rope. He tried to skin the cat but Undertaker caught him in perfect position for the Tombstone. Michaels desperately attempted to hold on to the rope to avoid it but "The Deadman" dragged him to the center and hit it perfectly.
"I am not believing this," Jim Ross commented. "I just had an out of body experience!"
Undertaker stood up and took his straps down. Time to end this. He picked Michaels up for another Tombstone but "HBK" countered into a DDT, though it didn't really connect well. 'Taker stayed down long enough for Michaels to hit his flying elbow. He then tuned up the band and connected clean on the button with Sweet Chin Music after Undertaker stood up and turned around.
There are no words for this anymore. Already legends on their way to the Hall of Fame, these two became immortal here.
Both men hardly had anything left, using each other to get back to their feet. An epic exchange of punches and chops ended with a big boot. Another Tombstone attempt was reversed before Undertaker came back from even more chops to send "HBK" into the corner. He followed strong but ran into a big boot himself.
Michaels went up top to try another moonsault but Undertaker caught him perfectly and hit one more Tombstone piledriver.
About as close to perfect as they could get.
Actually, if you take away the first Sweet Chin Music mistake and the ugly delivery of the DDT it would have been perfect.
Either way, this match was a thing of beauty, unlikely to ever be topped. That's why it's number one in our rankings.