Tiffany MC is back again to continue her journey through The Streak, a legendary look at the legendary WrestleMania career of The Undertaker!
The years of 2003 and 2004 were years of uncharted waters for WWE and the Undertaker. In the summer of 2002, the WWE went through its first Brand Split with superstars being exclusive to one brand or another. Undertaker was drafted to the SmackDown brand and quickly staked his claim as the bull of the woods, helping to create stars like Brock Lesnar and a brash up-and-comer named John Cena. He would also ally himself with SmackDown General Manager, Stephanie McMahon, and face Vince McMahon in a BRUTAL Buried Alive Match at Survivor Series 2003.
Even though he started out as a heel during the first few months of the Brand Split, Taker proved too popular with fans to stay a heel and he slowly morphed back into a face/tweener.
However, the Streak was still not a part of the Undertaker’s legend, but in these years, the Deadman would find himself facing a monster uphill battle and having a second reckoning with Kane at WrestleMania. He would also return to his supernatural roots and reunite with an old friend.
WrestleMania XIX – Derailing the ShowTrain: After coming up short in his feud with Brock Lesnar in the fall of 2002, the Undertaker found himself battling the Big Show, who put Taker out of commission for a couple of months. When Taker returned, he set his sights on punishing Big Show, but Show had a partner, the A-Train, and Taker found a partner in newcomer Nathan Jones, who had also been targeted by ShowTrain. This match would be the first and only tag team match to be part of the Streak.
We start off with Limp Bizkit singing Taker to the ring with ‘Rollin’. I’m a big opponent of WrestleMania taking time out of the show for a musical act, but in these years, the musical acts actually served a purpose. Taker was in his Big Evil gimmick, which he would use until Survivor Series 2003. This would be the last WrestleMania he would come to the ring on his motorcycle.
After that entrance, Big Show and A-Train’s entrance was blah and they made the STUPID mistake of touching Taker’s ride.
I’m going to be honest, I didn’t like this match. I hated that it was supposed to be a tag match and then a handicap match. I would’ve preferred that Taker and Big Show face each other one on one. That said, this was an okay match for what it was, but it wasn’t a great match.
Rating: 5/10 It didn’t suck, but it wasn’t setting the world on fire either.
Highlight: Nathan Jones’ Spinning Heel Kick.
WrestleMania XX – Cain and Able Part 2: At Survivor Series 2003, Undertaker had been battling Mr. McMahon when he was attacked by Kane, who helped the boss defeat Taker and bury him alive. Kane was feeling pretty jubilant about putting his big brother away, claiming that Taker was a traitor for forgetting that he and Kane were monsters and because Taker had forgotten himself, Kane had had no choice but to bury him.
At the Royal Rumble 2004, Kane had just come out and was tearing the place apart when Undertaker’s gong sounded, distracting Kane and giving Booker T time to get rid of the Big Red Machine. Enraged, Kane spent the next two months claiming that he wasn’t afraid of the Undertaker or his impending return, claiming that Taker was dead, despite the increasingly creepy mind games Taker seemed to be playing with his treacherous younger brother. It was going to come to a head at the twentieth anniversary of WrestleMania.
Kane came out first and this was during his ‘Unmasked’ years and it was billed as an ‘interpromotional’ match rather than a grudge match, which it certainly was.
Taker’s entrance was SOOO cool. The lights went out, which was our first hint of the big change that was coming, then we heard Paul Bearer, who hadn’t been on WWE TV since 1999. Bearer came out with the Druids, and the urn. Bearer chastised Kane and then turned his attention to the entrance. The Deadman Cometh. The pop when Taker’s music hit was ungodly and we got our first look at Taker’s Deadman gimmick, which was a mix of his previous gimmicks, but it was really a back to basics of the original foundation of the Undertaker gimmick: An undead, Old West, undertaker.
The match that had to follow that incredible entrance almost couldn’t hope to live up to the hype, but they did a great job of trying. This was a very psychological match, as well as a physical one and Taker definitely had the edge starting out because Kane couldn’t believe that he was back…right up until Taker clocked him.
I don’t remember why Taker was out between Survivor Series and WrestleMania, but he showed no sign of ring rust, but his repertoire did seem a little limited, but he broke out the crowd pleasing stuff.
I will say that the match wasn’t quite as good as WrestleMania XIV, but it was still very enjoyable. The Taker/Kane story is one that can always be told and be good, but the match was a little lacking. I can’t put my finger on just what was lacking, but I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I did their battler in 1998.
One funny part was watching Brian Hebner nearly kill himself trying to get out of the ring after Taker threatened him for trying to referee the match.
The biggest difference between this match and their bout at WrestleMania XIV was that Taker dominated the match, though Kane got in some good offense. The pop when Taker hit the Tombstone was every bit as loud as his entrance and the Deadman’s return made it 12-0
Rating: 6/10 Really good match. Not as good as 1998, but a really good match.
Highlight: Taker’s Entrance. Brian Hebner running out of the ring. Kane selling Taker’s return. I honestly think Kane peed his pants a little.