WrestleMania 33 witnessed The Deadman retire at the hands of Roman Reigns in what is believed to be one of the greatest and iconic post-match farewells in the history of WWE. With John Cena calling out The Phenom on Monday Night RAW for one more match at this year’s WrestleMania, the WWE Universe is on the edge of its seat to see if The Undertaker actually returns to accept Cena’s challenge for The Grandest Stage Of Them All. However terrifying or spine-chilling it might be, let’s take a look back at the 13 greatest returns of the Undertaker that redefined his existence in the WWE:
The previous time The Undertaker had battled his kayfabe brother, Kane at WrestleMania XIV, and this time WWE took a long time to build a solid storyline for the duo at WrestleMania XX. At Survivor Series 2003, unmasked Kane buried ‘Taker by involving in the matchup between Vince McMahon and The Deadman. This led to the long build which finally climaxed at WrestleMania with The Undertaker hitting a Tombstone to pick up his second victory over the Big Red Monster. Streak: 12-0
Royal Rumble 2006
Kurt Angle’s victory over Mark Henry to win the now-defunct World Heavyweight Championship would be short-lived as The Undertaker would make his return in the most bizarre way in the history of the WWE. The Phenom arrived in a majestic fashion, atop a chariot led by horses and flanked by his trademark druids. The Deadman would raise his arms to the heavens whereupon bolts of lightning (cluster of pyro) would explode first in the rafters and then in the ring. The ring would collapse with the new champion, Kurt Angle still in it.
Judgment Day 2000
It all began when The Undertaker made a shocking return on Judgment Day with his American Bad Ass gimmick and single-handedly took out the McMahon-Helmsley regime, thereafter delivering a Chokeslam followed by a Tombstone to Triple H. The sequence not only set up The American Bad Ass as a challenger to Triple H, but also laid the foundations for a feud with The Great One as his attack on The Game would cost The Rock his Iron Man Match with the now-defunct WWF Championship on the line.
Survivor Series 1996
The Undertaker was put into the ground by Mankind in the first-ever Buried Alive match at In Your House. The return came at a month later at Survivor Series where The Deadman went on to extract his revenge by defeating Mankind with Paul Bearer suspended in a shark cage, 20 feet above the ring during the match.
Punk’s feud with Jeff hardy was over and the latter heading out of the company. A victorious and now-defunct World Heavyweight Champion Punk was standing over Hardy in the centre of the ring with the title raised over his head. And right then, the lights went out. The bells tolled. Lights on. After taking 4 months off the TV, it was The Undertaker lying in Hardy’s position. The Deadman sat-up and delivered a spectacular Chokeslam to the champ.
Survivor Series 2005
At No Mercy 2005, Randy Orton confined The Undertaker to a casket and set it on fire. Just about a month later, the bell toll interrupted Orton’s victory celebration. Along with the Gregorian chants and the druids, out came the casket. The upright structure plunged into flames with a “lightning bolt” strike and out came The Deadman. ‘Taker entered the ring and ploughed his way through the entire SmackDown roster except for Orton. The segment laid the foundations of the iconic Hell In A Cell match between The Phenom and The Viper.
RAW (February 21, 2011)
With vignettes being shown to hint at a big return/arrival leading to rumours of The Icon, Sting finally coming to WWE, it was on the February 21 episode of RAW that the smoke cleared only to reveal The Undertaker making his return to the ring. However, before The Deadman could even say a word after making his slow walk down the aisle, Triple H’s music hit. Out came The Game and both men in the ring, after a close stare-down, turned to face the WrestleMania sign hanging from the rafters leading to their match at WrestleMania XXVIII. Streak: 20-0 at the Showcase of the Immortals, 2012.
RAW (March 2, 1998)
After Kane had locked his kayfabe brother, The Undertaker in a casket, The Deadman returned to stand up to Paul Bearer’s call of someone worthy enough to stand up to The Big Red Monster. The lights went out, the bells tolled; the casket appeared on stage where it was struck by a “lightning bolt”. The Phenom, lying atop the casket, sat up, stood up and stared down at Kane before cutting a booming promo.
The Undertaker had to undergo a surgery for suffering an arm injury that forced him to take some time off in May 2007. In order to send him off, WWE had Mark Henry attack The Deadman thereby enabling Edge to cash in his Money In The Bank Briefcase and rob ‘Taker of his now-defunct World Heavyweight Championship. Hungry for revenge, The Phenom made his return four months later at Unforgiven where we would defeat The World’s Strongest Man with a Last Ride from the corner.
After picking up the victory over Rey Mysterio at SummerSlam 2010, as vowed, Kane went straight to lock Mysterio inside the casket. Mysterio stalled but in a failing attempt and was dragged by Kane who went on to reopen the lid. The Undertaker! It was The Deadman! In the casket! The Phenom sat up, entered the ring and The Brothers Of Destruction grabbed each other’s throat in an attempt to Chokeslam the other. However, The Big Red Monster quickly overpowered his kayfabe brother and delivered a Tombstone before laying waste to The Phenom.
While The Undertaker’s real-life cousin, Brian Lee, did return to WWE dressed up as The Deadman, ever since ‘Taker missed WrestleMania X, it wasn’t until SummerSlam 1994 that the real Undertaker would show up along with Paul Bearer to defeat the heel imposter ‘Taker accompanied by Ted Dibiase.
On RAW (February 24, 2014), Paul Heyman would fire on all cylinders on the microphone regarding how The Beast should be in the Title picture but all he is getting is a “consolation” match at WrestleMania. Heyman further goes on with an open-contract in hand demanding the Lesnar wants to make history at WrestleMania and that Stephanie McMahon w/ Triple H would give Brock history to conquer at WrestleMania. The lights went out, the bells tolled and out came The Phenom as the Beast w/ his Advocate were about to leave the ring. After an intense stare-down and taunts from Lesnar, The Undertaker would finally deliver a Chokeslam to the Beast, driving him through the table. However, Lesnar would have the last laugh at WrestleMania XXX, courtesy of the third and final F-5 to The Deadman to finally become the first man in history to defeat The Undertaker at WrestleMania. Streak conquered. 21-1.
After losing his streak to Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania, The Undertaker made his return during a championship match between The Beast and Seth Rollins. The lights went out and the bells tolled just when Lesnar was going in for the third count to secure the pinfall over Rollins. Lights on, the Undertaker is in the ring with a furious Lesnar before delivering a Chokeslam and two Tombstones to The Conqueror, courtesy of a low-blow.