WWE Tombstone

History of the Undertaker

Description: For over fifteen years, there was no greater force in the industry and a much more respectful veteran than the Undertaker. Despite his common flaws today (like criticism such as refusing to job and no-sell his wrestlers), his historical significance in WWE will overshadow these minor issues. Debut as a member of Ted DiBiase's Million Dollar Corp at Survivor Series 1990, his dark, original gimmick has electrified audiences everywhere he went and his fearsome presence in the ring heightens the atmosphere like no other. It continues to do so as if this day as he gets one of the largest babyface pops on the WWE roster. His dominance in the World Wrestling Entertainment made him one of the top stars of the industry, along the likes of Ric Flair, Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels.

Now, you can revisit the Undertaker's dominating years in this messy but fascinating three-disc DVD set. I say messy because the packaging is pointless and ridiculous (DVDs sit on top of each other) and the match set is uneven and somewhat baffling (who on Earth would put Yokozuna v. Undertaker from Royal Rumble 1994 on any video product?). Fascinating, because it captures some of the greatest moments in the Undertaker's WWE career as well as some historical events that made him larger than life. Needless to say, 77% of the DVD kicks two tons of ass, while the rest is worthless crap. But those 77% are some of the best matches you would want to see.

Disc one starts out with the Undertaker debuting as Ted DiBiase's mystery partner at the Survivor Series 1990 and squashing Jimmy Snuka at WrestleMania VII to make himself look like a credible killer. We then get the first match of the set, with Hulk Hogan defending his WWF title against the Phenom at Survivor Series 1991. The match is horrendous but it is important for two reasons 1.) It was one of the rare times Hogan did a job and 2.) As a result of jobbing, drew bigger cracks in his popularity, as Taker got cheered when he won the title. Hogan's fanbase would start to diminish quickly until he left the WWF at King of the Ring 1993. We get some clips of the awesome Jake Roberts-Undertaker-Randy Savage saga, ending with Jake passing the "creepy babyface" torch to Taker at WrestleMania VIII. This somehow this leads to the casket match between Undertaker vs. Yokozuna at Royal Rumble 1994, a match that I don't understand why is in this set. It is an abomination and anyone who watches it, will feel the exact same thing. Thankfully, we skip the never-ending Million Dollar Corporation and Mabel feuds and head to a surprisingly good big man encounter with Diesel at WrestleMania XII. Afterwards, we get to the meat of the disc as he had great brawls with Mankind and an exceptional wrestling bout with Bret Hart at SummerSlam 1997, that establish him as the ultimate badass. There is also an underrated gem in the extras section where Taker-Bret would re-collide at WWF One Night Only 1997.

Disc two starts out with a bang as Undertaker waged war on Shawn Michaels after he screwed him out of the WWF Championship and kicks his ass in a wild, intense brawl at Ground Zero 1997. It is followed by the first-ever Hell in the Cell match at Badd Blood 1997, ranking as one of the greatest matches ever made, showing why Shawn Michaels was the best wrestler in the world back then. At the point, I suggest you stop watching the DVD as everything else ranges from mediocre-to-abysmal. His matches with Kane are absolute snorefests and the only worthy match on the rest of the match list is second Hell in the Cell match, which is only good for its great contribution to the Attitude Era, rather than a worthy successor to the Badd Blood encounter. His title defense against the Rock at King of the Ring 1999 is an overbooked disaster, showing who the idiot was that booked this match (I'll give you a hint. He was supposed to save WCW).

The third disc is a great improvement from the second disc, which is not saying much. Undertaker lost the title to Austin the night after KOTR 1999 and fought him again in an over-the-top and laughably cartoonish brawl that would make the Looney Tunes look realistic at Fully Loaded 1999. After a near year-long hiatus with a knee injury, he returns and kicks HHH's ass in a good, old-fashioned brawl at WrestleMania X-7. We fast-forward a year later, thankfully skipping the disastrous feud with DDP but also bringing us to the atrocious grudge match from hell against Hulk Hogan at Judgment Day 2002, in which Taker recovered the title. He would lose the title and lost to Brock Lesnar in a bloody, entertaining Hell in the Cell at No Mercy 2002, a job considered clean despite having a broken arm and an Internal affair storyline to back it up. We skip to July 2003 and he has a surprisingly intense encounter with John Cena at Vengeance. But for every ruby, there's a pile of crap following in the form of a horrible match and Taker has one with Vince McMahon at Survivor Series 2003 and another with Kane at WrestleMania XX. Also in this disc, is a great match with Kurt Angle in the aftermath of SummerSlam 2003.

Final verdict: If you're a die-hard Undertaker fan who craves for revisiting the Dead Man's past memories, then this is the DVD you should buy. For a normal wrestling fan, there is some damn good wrestling matches but be on the lookout for some steaming pile of cow dung afterwards and disappointment for the omission of several better Taker bouts like the one with Steve Austin at SummerSlam 1998, a solid title defense against Vader and his matches with the Ultimate Warrior. All in all, a solid compilation of the best AND worst of the Undertaker.

Rating: Recommended.

Reviewed by Joe L. on October 19, 2005.

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