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A phenomenal collection of Taker. Time for another one!
on 30 May 2009
He is without doubt the WWF/E's most famous and reliable performer. He is not only a timeless gimmick, but the most talented `big man' wrestler of all time, and a true professional in and outside the ring. There has never been a wrestler like the Undertaker and may never be again. Ever since his debut at the 1990 Survivor Series, the Undertaker has remained one of the sport's biggest stars. While his character may have evolved over the years, he's still the same terrifying mountain of a man, the bringer of destruction, a renowned multi-time world champion, a huge, huge draw, the master of chilling, brilliant promos and a phenomenal wrestler. From 1990 to (now) 2009, there is plenty of evidence to support the Undertaker as perhaps the greatest wrestler of all time.
The longevity of the Phenom is perhaps the main reason why he's so revered. With the possible exception of Ric Flair, no other legend has bridged generations together like the Undertaker. He has warred with so many of the greatest stars the business has ever produced, put them over and triumphed over them in spectacular feuds. Hulk Hogan, Yokozuna, Diesel, Mankind, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Kane, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H, Kurt Angle, Ric Flair, Brock Lesnar, John Cena, JBL, Randy Orton, Batista and Edge: they've all come at him and all failed to bring him down, only to be on the receiving end of the Dead Man's wrath.
Tombstone: The History of the Undertaker is a three-disc-set that was released in 2005, chronicling his career from his debut at Survivor Series 1990 to his return at WrestleMania 20 in 2004. It was one of the WWE's biggest selling releases and to this day still stands as one of the greatest DVDs to come from WWE Home Video. Presentation-wise, it's absolutely excellent, providing the viewer with the perfect insight into Taker's career and evolution. The man behind the character, Mark Callaway, isn't interviewed at all throughout the programme. Instead, it's extensive narration pieces expertly put together, weaving in and out of the twenty-one matches collected here. This is all done as a means to protect the Undertaker character, which I don't have a problem with at all, because the presentation is faultless.
Many great things are touched upon here, such as Undertaker's Survivor Series debut, his scary heel-status, his affiliation with Paul Bearer, his year-long undefeated streak, the unforgettable WWE Championship victory over Hulk Hogan, the alliance with Jake Roberts that would eventually transform him into one of the WWE's greatest heroes, his bizarre disappearances and frightening returns, the white-hot wars with Paul Bearer, HBK, Mankind and Kane, the forming of the Ministry of Darkness/Corporate Ministry, his humanisation into the American Bad Ass and eventual rebirth as the Dead Man we all know and love. As I said earlier, the Undertaker has always remained a fascinating character and a reliable performer. The chronicling of his rich history honours the man and will please all loyal fans, as well as amaze newer, younger fans who don't know the full extent of the Undertaker's longevity.
Match-wise, Tombstone is just as phenomenal, thanks to the awesome storylines and the fact that Taker VERY rarely misses a step. His WWE Title win over the immortal Hulk Hogan kicks things off, which is such a historical contest. In terms of quality, the bout is rather passable, but the significance of it and the unforgettable outcome make it essential viewing. A casket match against Yokozuna from Royal Rumble `94 (despite suffering from a really ridiculous ending featuring too many heels) is a fantastic showdown with great chemistry and brawling. There's also a solid showdown with Kevin "Diesel" Nash from WrestleMania 12.
However, things REALLY kick up a notch when the programme moves onto the Undertaker's bouts with his greatest rivals. The Buried Alive bout with Mankind is a fantastic, action-filled funfest, and the WWE title match between the two is a violently good brawl. Of course, the legendary Hell in a Cell from the 1998 King of the Ring is included and is still perhaps the most frightening and horrific fight in both their careers. It's absolutely amazing and one of the highlights.
The Bret Hart bouts from SummerSlam `97 and One Night Only both feature excellent storytelling and won't disappoint at all. Taker's war with Kane at WrestleMania 14 is a true battle of the titans that is simply awe-inspiring, and their unique Inferno match from Unforgiven 1998 is a visually-stunning and exciting conflict that surpasses even the WrestleMania bout. The feud-ending match at WrestleMania 20 is another fun spectacle to watch as well. Plus, there's a good WWE Championship brawl against the Rock and a VERY good First Blood match against Steve Austin to boot.
But it's the feud against Shawn Michaels that rises above all others. Their first encounter at Ground Zero is brilliant and the awe-inspiring Hell in a Cell is simply the greatest match in both men's careers. Revolutionary, horrific and violent; it's a timeless classic. An awesome showdown with Triple H at WrestleMania 17, a good WWE title rematch with Hogan from 2002, the bloody classic Hell in a Cell against Brock Lesnar, a fantastic encounter with John Cena, a one-sided, yet entertaining Buried Alive match with Vince McMahon and an awesome SmackDown! battle with Kurt Angle round off things brilliantly. There's also some superb promos and segments, all completing an essential package.
Tombstone: History of the Undertaker is still a necessary purchase for all fans. It honours the man's legacy and does him true justice. But now it also makes one yearning for more. Disregarding Undertaker 15-0, another collection is definitely in order, featuring his later, more recent wars with Ric Flair, JBL, Randy Orton, Kurt Angle, Batista, Edge and most recently, his ultimate WrestleMania 25 showdown with HBK. Let's hope we get one, because if this DVD teaches us anything, there are still more chapters in the Undertaker's story to tell.