In front of a record breaking crowd Sunday night at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, FL, two WWE future Hall of Famers took to the grand stage of them all and gave their all and then some for the fans who paid to see them.
Triple H and The Undertaker faced off Sunday in a brutal Hell In A Cell match. Dubbed an “End of an Era” match, the match to end all matches, those two men made that history. With any storyline, sometimes you need to ramp up the drama, which in this case, came in the form of Hall of Famer “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels.
Michaels, the long-time friend of Triple H, was named the special guest referee for the match. Michaels also has history with the Undertaker, losing to him in a legendary match at WrestleMania 26, the aftermath of which saw HBK retire. Ironically, it was that match that fueled the fire for this years “End of an Era” match between HHH and Undertaker. The Undertaker goaded Triple H into taking this match by comparing Michaels to Triple H, implying that even though Michaels couldn’t get the job done by ending Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak, he was still a better in ring competitor than Triple H.
The mutual respect shown at Mania between these three iconic superstars played a major role in this match. Michaels’ respect for his longtime friend, Triple H and his professional respect for The Undertaker was tearing him apart. He wanting to stay objective as a referee, Michaels tried his best to be impartial, but when too many chair shots were received by the Undertaker by Triple H’s hand, Michaels stepped in. Undertaker pleading with Michaels not to ring the bell, while Triple H screaming at Michaels to end it or he would. Michaels obviously conflicted, left the match continue, until it was his friend, Triple H was on the receiving end of countless chair shots and being threatened with a sledgehammer by the Undertaker with Michaels trying to reason with them, but to no avail. Both fought over the sledge hammer, which was introduced into the match by Triple H, it was the Undertaker who got his hands on it first. Triple H badly beaten and barely able to stand up, gave The Undertaker a crotch chop, reminiscent of the days of DX, and the Undertaker didn’t take too kindly to the gesture, and he responded with a sledgehammer handle to the head of Triple H. He picked up Triple H and delivered the final tombstone piledriver, one of Undertaker’s finishing moves, and Michaels counted Triple H’s shoulders down for a 3 count.
These two competitors endured a grueling match for more than 45 minutes, leaving both of them very battered, bruised, and exhausted. This match was an astounding performance by top notch WWE talent and the epitome of what WrestleMania is all about.
The match ended with Michaels helping the Undertaker to his feet and the two embraced with mutual respect for each other. Triple H, lifeless in the middle of the ring, both Michaels and the Undertaker assisted him to his feet and out of the ring. When the three reached the top of the ramp, and stood on the stage, they embraced each other, which will for sure be a WrestleMania moment that will stand the test of time.
Personally, as an avid fan of all three of these superstars, I too was torn as to who I was going to favor in this match. For the past 20 years, these three superstars were a major part of wrestling fandom. As exciting as it was to watch these men excel at their craft, it was sad as well. The drama inside the ring added to the story these three were telling for so many weeks prior to WrestleMania 28.
This match was definitely worth paying for extravaganza on pay per view. The “End of an Era” match left me asking more questions regarding the actual purpose of the contest. Was it the last we’ll see the Undertaker? Was this his last match or was it the last match for Triple H? And now, who carries on the torch and leads the way for the young talent on the roster?
Triple H and the Undertaker gave fans everything they had and more, in a match that is arguably one of the best matches of their careers, and may go down as one of the best matches in WWE history.