Road to Wrestlemania 23: Undertaker
March 25, 2011 Leave a comment
The 2007 Royal Rumble was all about making what should have happened already a reality. It marked the first time that the #30 entrant won a Royal Rumble, but more importantly it became the first time that WWE veteran Undertaker won the Rumble match during his career. After eliminating a man who would challenge him at later Wrestlemanias, Undertaker won himself a title shot on wrestling’s biggest stage for the first time since 1997. But when it comes to Undertaker at Wrestlemania, there’s more on the line, as he looked to extend his winning streak to 15-0. For the full story, follow the link.
Undertaker had been chasing the World Heavyweight Championship over on Smackdown throughout much of the latter part of 2006. In early January of 2007, he competed in a Beat the Clock Challenge in order to determine the #1 contender for a match at Royal Rumble. The time to beat was Mr. Kennedy’s, at just under 5 minutes. Undertaker faced off against (a much younger and greener) The Miz and looked set to win; until Kennedy pulled Miz outside of the ring, and although Undertaker eventually pinned The Miz, time had run out for the Deadman, and Kennedy was named the #1 contender. The following week on Smackdown, Undertaker was given a match against Mr. Kennedy, that should he win he would be added to the World Heavyweight Championship match. However, Kennedy attacked Batista (who was at ringside), which prompted Batista to retaliate and in the process disqualify Undertaker. The title match at the Rumble remained a one-on-one contest.
With his title hopes in mind, Undertaker had only on option, to enter the 2007 Royal Rumble match for the 8th time in his career, a match that he had previously failed to win. Fortunately for Undertaker, luck was on his side, and he drew the number that meant he would be the last man to enter the Rumble match, #30.
At #28, just two entries before Undertaker had come The Great Khali, who dominated the match upon entering, eliminating a total of 7 men along the way. He downed everyone in sight, including The Miz at #29 in just 7 seconds. Then came #30.
Taker had drawn the #30 on two previous occasions (more than anyone else in history), but like ever #30, had yet to win the match despite its advantages.
Taker arrived in the ring, and slugged it out with Khali. Khali was eventually staggered, allowing Undertaker to dump him over the rope and out of the match. Then after eliminating MVP there stood just four men – Undertaker, Edge, Randy Orton & Shawn Michaels. A bitter MVP wasn’t finished however, and tried to re-enter the ring with a steel chair in hand, but the referees intervened. That didn’t stop Randy Orton however, who took the chair and hit Undertaker over the head with it. As Orton stood tall, a opportunistic Edge eyed him up for a Spear, but Randy caught him in the act.
Edge played it cool however, and convinced Orton that they needed to work on the bigger threats – Undertaker & Shawn Michaels. Orton hit a quick RKO on HBK, which caused him to roll underneath the ropes to the outside. Rated RKO then started work on the 30th entrant. Undertaker was groggy and busted open, but that didn’t stop him mounting a comeback. He managed to fend off both Edge & Orton, but the former soon hit Taker with a Spear, and yet another chairshot. With the Deadman laid out, Rated RKO set him up for a conchairto, but it didn’t quite work out as planned. Shawn Michaels re-entered the ring, and as Orton charged at him to stop him, he was back body dropped over the top rope by HBK. Edge then swung a chair at Michaels, but Shawn ducked it, hit Edge with Sweet Chin Music and eliminated him from the contest.
It was down to the final two, the two most experienced men in the match to decide a winner. Undertaker was looking for his first Royal Rumble win, while Shawn was looking for a third. The crowd were split, but equally happy should either man win. After a kip-up and a sit-up, Taker & Shawn started to battle, in what turned out to be one of the longest final sequences in Rumble history. It had been almost 10 years since we’d last seen Undertaker & Shawn battle it out, and immediately the chemistry was there.
Shawn tried to use his quickness at first, but was overpowered by Undertaker. There were a couple of near eliminations for both men, but they both managed to stay alive in the match.
After a battle on the top rope, Shawn knocked Taker down and hit him with his signature elbow drop. Shawn attempted Sweet Chin Music, but got caught with a chokeslam instead. Undertaker then signalled for a Tombstone Piledriver but Shawn slipped for his grasp and hit him with the superkick.
It wasn’t clear who was going to win the match, but in the eyes of the crowd, both were worthy winners. Some were just enjoying seeing these two go at it. Both men clambered to their feet, but it was Undertaker who found himself in the more prone position near the ropes. HBK tuned up the band once again, tried Sweet Chin Music for the elimination, but Undertaker ducked, got under Shawn’s legs, lifted him up and over the top rope for the victory.
- Brand: Smackdown
- Entry Number: 30
- Time: 13:15
- Performance: Won
- Eliminations: The Great Khali (#28); MVP (#26); Shawn Michaels (#23)
Undertaker made Royal Rumble history by becoming the first #30 entrant to win the Royal Rumble match, as well as being the man whom it took the most attempts before winning, after being in 7 previous Royal Rumbles. The crowd were pleased to see Undertaker win after all the years, but had also been tantalised about the possibility of him and Shawn Michaels squaring off again.
Undertaker then took time in choosing who he would face at Wrestlemania, appearing on Raw, Smackdown & ECW to staredown their respective champions. Eventually, on an episode of Raw in early February, Undertaker nominated his opponent by signalling the throat cut to the World Heavyweight Champion from Smackdown, Batista, as all three champions stood in the ring. They were soon joined by Shawn Michaels, Randy Orton & Edge however, who all wanted a shot at John Cena’s WWE Championship at Wrestlemania. HBK later won a triple threat match to determine the #1 contender, and like Undertaker, had a main event match at Wrestlemania.
For the upcoming PPV, Vince McMahon announced an inter-promotional tag team match, consisting of the 4 men that made up the Wrestlemania main events. Undertaker would be teaming with his opponent Batista to face the WWE Champion John Cena and his challenger HBK.
Bot teams managed to co-operate for the majority of the match, even coming to the aid of each other at some point during the action. However, as Undertaker was preparing to Tombstone John Cena, Batista betrayed the Deadman, hitting him with a spinebuster and then walking out on the match. One Sweet Chin Music & FU later, and Undertaker was pinned and Raw was victorious. Batista attributed his betrayal to the loss of respect he had for Undertaker, and so the match was set.
Batista had won the World Heavyweight Championship at Survivor Series 2006, and had held onto the gold for 126 days, but in order to keep it, he’d have to break Undertaker’s undefeated streak. After one of the Undertaker’s best ever entrances, the two men eventually came face to face.
Batista showed no fear or intimidation, hitting Undertaker with a spear as soon as the bell rung. The two large men would trade blows throughout the contest, both using their power to fight the other. It seemed that Batista might end the streak and retain his title after he powerslammed Undertaker from one announce table through the other, but Undertaker avoided being counted out to keep his streak in tact.
Big Dave hit Undertaker with everything he had, including his signature spinebuster, and a Batistabomb, but just like every Wrestlemania before and since, Undertaker kept kicking out. The match reached its conclusion when Undertaker recuperated and hit Batista with the Tombstone Piledriver, went into the cover and not only won the World Heavyweight Championship, but continued the streak up to 15-0.
Undertaker became the first man to win the WWE Championship & World Heavyweight Championship at a Wrestlemania, with a span of 10 years in between. Undertaker would ultimately lose the championship at the hands of Edge, who cashed in the Money in the Bank briefcase after Undertaker had just defended the title against Batista. Undertaker won the title back from Edge however, at Wrestlemania 24, and has yet to lose a match at WWE’s largest PPV ever since.