Published on August 29th, 2016 | by Pro Wrestling Stories0
The Greatest Match of All Time
SHAWN MICHAELS vs. UNDERTAKER – “One To Go Out On”
The Heartbreak Kid made his entrance first, gloriously so (as you can see in the image above). They went the obvious route for a storyline with this match. Shawn was famously born again, and Taker was – well – Taker, playing the role of Lucifer.
It was good versus evil.
Dark versus light.
Shawn Michaels and Undertaker performed their parts beautifully. By the time the bell rang, all they needed to do was turn in a match on caliber with the ones they’ve had before, and the fans would have been happy.
Other than the titular classic, the 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania wasn’t exactly spectacular. The rest of the card is full of bouts that could’ve taken place on Backlash, or Unforgiven, or any other run of the mill PPV. Shawn and Taker could have put in minimal effort and they would’ve outdone the rest of the roster.
Of course, that was not their style. The Showstopper and The Phenom went above and beyond their call of duty that night, producing some truly magnificent storytelling in the ring in the process.
Most people were expecting a good match. They were veterans who were capable of doing something special. But what we got was something much more. The match actually wasn’t even supposed to be that great. They had gone over their allotted time while only halfway through with what they had planned to do. Usually, in these situations, the match agent or Vince would tell the referee to tell the wrestlers to cut their match short. But this was different. Michael Hayes was the agent for the match and he recently broke down the backstage reaction to the bout going long on Ric Flair’s WOOOO! Nation podcast:
“They were only halfway through and the allotted time…I was looking like ‘they have 10 more minutes [of match time] and at least 25 more minutes to go…And Vince comes over the headset and says, ‘I don’t care. Let ’em go.’ And everyone else had to follow suit.”
The match stole the show and instantly became the blueprint for any big stage match that followed.
Hell, during the match, The Dead Man actually almost became dead, man.
SHAWN MICHAELS on The Undertaker’s horrible landing from his suicide dive:
“You hear the gasp of the people… I was pushing one guy* and didn’t actually see the impact, but I remember looking over and seeing the little indentation [in the mat] and obviously being concerned…but he was moving, so I figured that was good.
Unfortunately for The Undertaker, we sort of get accustomed to thinking he’s 10-feet tall and bulletproof, and a lot of times that works against the poor guy. I think certainly that’s something that we’re aware of and cognizant of that, even in respect to one another.
We’re two guys that a lot of folks see as warriors who can do everything under the sun, and we can pull one another aside and know otherwise. We can do our best, but all you can do in a situation like that is give each other a squeeze and let each other know we’re moving on, and it’s like everything — we’ll worry about it afterward…”
(*The ‘cameraman’ Michaels pushed was played by Sim Snuka, son of Jimmy and sister to Tamina – a knowing wink back in time to the very first streak match.)
Thankfully, Taker survived the suicide dive and kept on working his ass off. Then, after one of the most physically and emotionally moving wrestling matches in history, Taker managed to catch Shawn and put him away with a final Tombstone Piledriver.
Watch this incredible match in full here (show this to anyone who has ever refused to get into wrestling and dare them not to be invested after!):
“I remember going home after [Wrestlemania 25] and saying to my wife, ‘That was pretty good…maybe THAT should have been my last…”
As we know, this was not his last. One more final battle between the Undertaker and Michaels was to come…