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Charles (Loss)

[2012-04-01-WWE-Wrestlemania XXVIII] The Undertaker vs HHH (Hell in a Cell)

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Again, this is a review I wrote live, and it still feels as true now as it did then.

 

"So, still in complete awe of Hell in a Cell. I feel like I need another warning label like last year: if you hated this match, skip well ahead because I’m going to be gushing for a while.

 

What a monumental piece of pro wrestling. Bringing Jim f*cking Ross out to call it was awesome and I assume quite a triumph for those involved. Hunter enters through the mouth of a crazy dragon thing. Then Taker comes out in Wrestlemania Robe #3 and a BULLY RAY MOHAWK and somehow looks as badass as ever. And the Cell gets its own entrance music. This sh*t is so on.

 

I think one of the things I liked best about it is how different a match it was from last year. I was sort of expecting it to go like how Shawn/Taker II played off I, with them hitting the same finishers in different combinations and heightening the escalation through using more finishers as big spots. Instead, they went the opposite direction, they largely brawled around and didn't really go for finishers aside from Hell’s Gate. I particularly noticed it when Taker finally hit a Chokeslam well into the match and everyone went nuts. They did a really good job of actually cutting down the finisher use while still building a sense of escalation over last year’s match.

 

Shawn Michaels was phenomenal. There was always a fear in the back of my mind that he’d get in the way, but man, he added so much to this. From his pre-match promo and coming out dancing around all excited, he’s reveling in the fact that he holds the fate of the match in his hands. But by the time Hunter is murdering Taker and tells Shawn to ring the bell, suddenly, he realises that he doesn't want the fate of the match in his hands after all. He cant stand there and watch Taker die, but he cant pull the trigger on him either. He’s trapped. By the end he doesn't even want to watch. More than anything, I thought it was an incredible sell job of the physical danger and intensity of the match. He was flinching with every blow, he was desperate to stop one guy from killing the other, and by the end he was sitting there, literally in tears watching these guys destroy one another in the ring. Being there, that close to the action, while two men he respects so much do that to each other, it was literally too much to bear. A phenomenal f*cking job.

 

So much awesome going on in this match. One of my favourite parts was early on, when Taker took that disgusting Spinebuster on the stairs, and then clamped on Hell’s Gate, but because he was on the stairs Hunter was still on his feet and had the leverage to pick him up for the powerbomb. Bam, already Taker’s winning shot from last year has been escaped from.

 

At this point Hunter sort of thinks “F*ck this sh*t”, grabs a chair and, like last year, just beats the absolute SH*T out of Taker until he dies. Except this year you have Shawn there unable to handle it, or do anything about it. His desperate lunge when he turned around and realised that Hunter was about to DECAPITATE him was awesome. Taker ends up putting Shawn in Hell’s Gate and you’re legit not sure if he thought he was Hunter or if he was pissed that Shawn was considering ringing the bell.

 

And, Holy Mother of F*CK, that Superkick-Pedigree combo KILLED ME TO DEATH. Just killed me. A motherf*cking AMAZING nearfall. And this year it was Shawn’s turn to sell it. He was out of this world fleeing to the corner and just sobbing, hands over his eyes, and you’re legit not sure if its because he was astonished that Taker kicked or angry that their plan didn't work or terrified that he’d just tried to screw a zombie and was already regretting it, or all of the above. Taker is laying there, forever, and you know he HAS TO sit up, we wait and wait, and finally BAM, he sits up and HUNTER TAKES A BUMP. Off the Sit Up. Beautiful.

 

The second Pedigree also killed me. Shawn sold that one magnificently as well, just standing there in the corner with a look like he’d suddenly accepted the fact that Taker would never, ever die and Hunter’s fate was sealed. Hunter grabbing for the sledgehammer and Taker putting his foot on it was BADASS AS HELL. There’s also an amazing moment after chairshot revenge here where Shawn ponderously stands in the ring at the EXACT distance away from Taker for a Superkick. This was a split second in time at which, if he wanted to, he could have kicked Taker and followed through with a screwjob, but Shawn was already far, far past that point. He already knew what was happening and all he could do was stand there and witness it.

 

And what was happening was the end. The same end that Shawn gave Flair, the same end that Taker gave Shawn, and the same end that Hunter tried to give Taker. Now it's his turn, and everything is eerily familiar. Hunter is making that pathetic crawl to his feet. Taker is telling him to stay down. He tries one last desperate lunge with the hammer. And, knowing it's all over, he’s still defiant until the end and forces Taker to finish him off for good. Hunter was boasting in the beginning that Taker was the one asking him to be finished off, and here he is eating his words and fulfilling his fate.

 

The overarching moral of the story is that Undertaker is (forgive me) a phenom. He’s not a mortal man who has to be put down by his successor, he’s not human like his fellow old timers who are leaving it all out on the field one last time. He’s part of a group with Shawn, Hunter and Flair, an “era” if you will, but he never fell like they did in the end. The power of The Streak is greater than all of them, and it destroys the careers of its challengers and preserves the career of its owner in equal measure. He survives, and he survives through The Streak.

 

And then the aftermath. Taker makes a gargantuan effort to get to his feet, because his entire reason for being was redemption over the stretcher job. He HAD TO walk out. But in the end, it's Shawn Michaels who has to pull him to his feet. And it would seem only fair if Taker got his revenge and had Hunter stretchered out, but Taker has no malice left, it's all over. He makes sure Hunter gets to his feet and they all walk out together, acknowledging that they all accomplished something here; the last hurrah of their “era”. This is the conclusion of a story literally five years in the making. I could honestly write pages and pages more on this match, but suffice to say, it was completely incredible, one of the best matches I’ve ever seen."

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On the other hand, this was over-long and dependent upon the cameras and mics picking up dialog. It started out well enough but HAD to get it's plot points in. Really it was 3 matches long! Its a complete matter of taste here and while not awful, it was excessive and predictable. All of the things praised above are things I don't respect in the WWE style of wrestling/booking. I didn't 'get' the nuances mentioned  due to my ignorance but, it seems more like actors following a carefully written script than, wrestlers telling a story in the ring.

But its 2019 so, I'm sure no ones going back to check the reviews on it now. I just happened to get the dvd at the library today on a whim and thought I would chime in.

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Called this match happening after last years match, stipulation and all (Ah 11 year old self was pretty clever at the time, of course I predicted HHH would win. Can’t win them all, I’m afraid). The story of the match is pretty big and there was tons of stakes behind it. It was basically implied that it would be the last you would see either of these men. END OF AN ERA!! But that wouldn’t happen of course :P. 

Last time I watched the match, I really wasn’t fond of it at all. This time, I liked it a little more but not the point where I loved it and now consider it a classic. No, it has its moments and has its flaws. Shawn Michaels being all dramatic and stuff really isn’t my thing and was a big hindrance imo. The other two were fine. There was some nice brawling and a few good call backs to their previous match. The start was awesome with the match being very intense and having a hot start with Taker’s reveal of his new hair cut and the cell coming down to Metallica. Then the match got a little less awesome and it seemed to really drag for the most part. It was mostly Triple H beating Taker down and saying “FINISH IT” which begs to question of why he don’t just go for the pin. Idiot. Shawn doing DRAMA doesn’t help either. The finish was good but I didn’t buy into the pinfalls. The post match was cool too which helps but not a ton. Overall it’s a good, solid match that has two solid performances but it went a long time and wasn’t that interesting to warrant it. ***
 

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The 14 year old me watching this live about 4 in the morning thought it was just about the GOAT, but now 7 years later, it's not so good. Or good at all, in fact. Slow brawling with long-ass chair beatdowns + overly dramatic acting by HBK. I am finding it hard to come up with anything I liked about it; I guess at least Taker’s punches looked good, and the post-match with him getting up, and not having to be helped out was a good payoff to WM27, but yeah, this wasn’t my type of wrestling at all. *

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The Undertaker vs Triple H WrestleMania XXVIII Hell In A Cell Match

I was at this WrestleMania live and I didn't have the first clue about how to buy tickets properly for a WrestleMania. So I ended up with seats before one of the giant Palm Trees that was holding up the canopy. Couldnt see shit. There were "Move The Palm Tree" chants throughout the night. Somehow, my Dad, brother and me snuck onto the floor and just stood in the back near entrance ramp the hold time. At least the entrances were cool. However, because the floor is not raked, I really could not see much especially anytime they were out of the ring. I don't have many memories of this show besides high-fiving CM Punk after his match with Jericho. Had a much better time the following year at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey where I knew where to buy tickets and had a perfect view of the ring in the lower bowl with stadium seating. I have plenty of memories and had a lot more fun. 

This match was not bad per se. It was definitely long in the tooth. It felt more like a routine Undertaker and Triple H match. They hit their standard spots. Even though, they were prattling on about how this was The End of An Era, no one believed it then and it clearly wasnt as Taker and HHH have gone on to main event Wrestlemania since against Roman Reigns. Jim Ross saying "An Era we will never go back to" made me laugh more like an Era we are stuck in. 

The first ten minutes is methodical brawling around the ring. Undertaker controlled. Brief flurries from HHH, but caught off from Taker. They were pushing the storyline from last year that it was Pyrrhic victory for The Undertaker. Triple H left in better condition than Taker and Taker looked vulnerable. Taker is out to prove this is still His Yard. It made sense that Taker started off hot and maintained control. I sighed so hard when the first transition was a random DDT from HHH. Lame videogame wrestling. The Spinebuster on the Steps was much better, but Taker immediately applying Hell's Gate on the stairs undercut the spot. HHH cements control by slamming from the Hells Gate. Now we enter Act II. 

We moved from routine Undertaker control segment to the replay of last year's WrestleMania. When HHH uses weapons (Chair and Sledgehammer) to batter and bruise Undertaker. Oh yeah, Shawn Michaels is the ref. So HHH keeps telling HBK to ring the bell and just end it. Undertaker took an absolute asskicking. His body was back & blue. At one point, HHH attempts to bash Taker's brains in with the sledgehammer. Michaels stops him. That was a little excessive. Taker's gets annoyed with Shawn's constant nagging and puts him in Hell's Gate. HHH hits with the sledgehammer. He goes for the Killshot (like an actual fucking killshot)...Taker boots him in the balls. 

Now we go to Act III which was my favorite act basically they do a big bomb throwing fest. Undertaker looked great here. He was explosive. Chokeslamming HHH and Charles Robinson. Undertaker doing his full comeback and running the ropes was great. One of the few things I remember from being there live was the Sweet Chin Music->Pedigree spot. That was hot shit. The Kliq Conspiring to end the Streak is a great storyline and really should have been more of a focal point. Then what ends up happening is the reverse of the last year. Undertaker is the one standing tall and HHH is left dragging himself to fight. It all begins when Taker grabs the chair, and HHH is going for the Hammer but Taker puts his foot on it. Damn that is some great Alpha Male shit. Taker exacts his revenge with the chair. I loved Triple H lunging at Taker with the Hammer, but having no gusto behind and Taker just stops him. It is very reminiscent of the Undertaker goozle from the previous year that HHH no sold. Then they do the Defiant Crotch Chop Suck It, which mirrors Taker's Defiant Throat Slash. Taker puts him out of his misery with a Tombstone to prove it is still His Yard.

I'll tell one thing is that this match makes the previous year's match look WAY BETTER! That match had a Huge Fight Feel, great pacing, awesome highspots and great drama down the stretch. This was 20 minutes of boring, plodding brawling with stock HHH, Taker spots thrown in. The last ten minutes raise this match to good. Undertaker rocking his comeback and then Walking Tall and putting HHH in his place was glorious. It really did set Undertaker up looking strong to lose the following the year. They waited two years, but I liked this as a two year story arc to plant the seed of doubt and then re-establish Taker to set it up for the big loss down the road. It was a win there. ***  

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