The Undertaker and Triple H was an “End of an Era” Hell In A Cell match with Shawn Michaels as special guest referee may be most remembered for two things; one of the greatest near-falls in professional wrestling history and the final image of the three legends arm-in-arm atop the WrestleMania stage.
WrestleMania 28 emanated live from Miami’s Sun Life Stadium in front of 78,363 fans on April 1, 2012. A record 1.2 million would watch live around the world, making it WWE’s most bought pay per view event in history.
Aside from Undertaker and Triple H, it featured the “Once In A Lifetime” John Cena vs. The Rock in Dwayne Johnson’s first WrestleMania match in seven years. Chris Jericho would also challenge CM Punk for the WWE Championship.
WrestleMania 28 marked the conclusion of four brilliant years of storytelling between three of the WWE’s all-time greats.
At 2009’s WrestleMania 25 and 2010’s WrestleMania 26, Shawn Michaels would unsuccessfully challenge The Undertaker’s undefeated WrestleMania streak, the second attempt being his final career singles match.
Going into 2011’s WrestleMania 27, Michaels’ longtime best friend and former D-Generation X partner Triple H would step up to Undertaker’s 18-0 WrestleMania streak in a no holds barred match. Ultimately The King Of Kings, like his best friend before him, would fail.
However, The Undertaker would be unable to walk out of the arena under his own power.
For the first time ever, The Phenom looked human. His supernatural aura was no longer the same. Undertaker may have won the battle, but Triple H arguably won the war. One year later, and The Undertaker wanted to avenge this. He would challenge Triple H to a rematch at WrestleMania 28, in which Triple H declined.
The Undertaker and Triple H – End of an Era
It took Undertaker saying, “You know that you can’t do what your buddy Shawn Michaels couldn’t do because you know Shawn was always better than you,” to entice Triple H. The Game would accept on one condition: the match would take place inside Hell In A Cell.
The 20 ft and over two-ton structure was regarded as Undertaker’s specialty match and one he made famous in matches with the likes of Michaels and Mankind. Triple H did, however, hold more victories inside the cell than anyone.
Two weeks after the Hell In A Cell match was made official, and Michaels would reveal he had been made special guest referee. Would HBK remain impartial, or would he make emotional and brash decisions?
Would Triple H be able to do what Michaels could not, and end The Undertaker’s 19-0 streak inside of Hell In A Cell? It was a true “End of an Era” as the two last stars of WWE’s Attitude Era prepared to do battle one more time.
The first entrance would belong to legendary WWE commentator Jim Ross, who would return to call the match alongside Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler. Shawn Michaels would follow, getting his typical loud reaction from the fans.
Triple H would be next, the 13-time world champion walking through a giant statue of the chainmail-skeleton armor which he wore at WrestleMania 27. “There is only one thing left for The Game, and that is tonight, and that is to end the streak of The Undertaker at WrestleMania,” remarked Ross.
The Undertaker would be next, making his slow and unnerving walk to the ring as the former D-Generation X teammates looked on. The Phenom would remove his hood to reveal a new shaved-head look upon entering the ring.
The crowd erupted with conflicting “Undertaker,” and “Triple H,” chants as the two intensely stared down. Yet one entrance remained, as Metallica’s The Memory Remains fittingly accompanied the lowering of the Hell In A Cell structure.
The Undertaker and Triple H – Ring The Bell
The two legends would exchange strikes in the center of the ring with Undertaker first taking control, the two would trade momentum back and forth as the feeling-out process began.
The Deadman would throw Triple H out of the ring before slamming The King Of Kings’ head against the steel ring steps. Triple H would briefly take control by throwing The Phenom into the cell’s chain-link fence. Undertaker would quickly return the favor, reversing an Irish whip attempt into the fence and delivering a back-body-drop onto the floor.
The pair brawled between the ring and cage, with Michaels attempting to check on a dazed Triple H before being shoved by Undertaker, beginning a build of tension between the two.
Back in the ring, Triple H would attempt to fight back with a clothesline and face buster that didn’t faze The Deadman. The Undertaker then dropped Triple H with a clothesline of his own. Undertaker would take Triple H by the arm, scaling the ropes to a loud reaction from the crowd to deliver old school.
Back on the outside The Deadman would use the steel steps as a weapon, blasting Triple H with the upper half and sending the larger bottom half into the ring. Draped on the ring apron, The Game would fall victim to The Phenom’s signature leg drop.
Once again in the ring, Triple H lures Undertaker in and plants him with a sudden DDT. The King Of Kings looks to end the streak with a pedigree onto the steps, but Undertaker reverses into an elevated back body drop.
“The Undertaker knew just how close he was to being 19-1 at WrestleMania,”
said Jim Ross.
Undertaker gets Triple H back to his feet and hits the ropes in a likely big boot attempt, which is thwarted by the Cerebral Assassin who plants Undertaker with a devastating spinebuster onto the steel steps.
As Triple H attempts to capitalize and perhaps make the first pinfall attempt of the bout, Undertaker traps him in the hell’s gate, the same submission which finished Triple H off one year earlier at WrestleMania 27. In an impressive feat of strength, The Game hoists Undertaker up and plants him with a powerbomb for a two-count.
The Undertaker and Triple H – A Merciless Assault
Triple H takes the opportunity to introduce two steel chairs into the match, cracking Undertaker across the ribs and back. He then sets the steps up, leaning them against the ropes, and sends Undertaker crashing into them.
He focuses his offense again with the steel chair, striking Undertaker repeatedly. Michaels restrains The Cerebral Assassin and rips the chair from his hands, saying;
“Just cover him, it doesn’t have to be like this. You know he’s not gonna quit.”
Michaels asks Undertaker if he wishes to quit, to which The Phenom shakes his head. Triple H yanks Michaels out of the way by his shirt, before continuing his relentless assault with the chair.
“End it, or I will,” Triple H yells at Michaels while pointing at Undertaker.
Michaels again asks Undertaker if he’d like to quit, to which he gets a stern;
“Don’t stop it. Do not stop it.”
Triple H yells at Undertaker to stay down, again mercilessly attacking with the chair. The Game finally attempts to cover, but Undertaker powers out at two. Triple H heads to the outside once again, this time to retrieve his signature weapon – the sledgehammer.
“I don’t care, Shawn, I’m ending this one way or another,”
– screams Triple H in Shawn Michaels’ face as he gets between the two.
“I’m ringing the bell, please let me ring the bell,”
- says Shawn to Undertaker.
Triple H again shoves HBK out of harms way and blasts Undertaker with a sledgehammer shot to the jaw. He attempts a cover, but Undertaker again kicks out. Triple H positions the sledgehammer atop the prone Undertaker’s skull and raises it before Michaels jumps and rips it away.
The King Of Kings again wants Michaels to end it, this time as Mr. WrestleMania asks The Deadman, he’s pulled into a hell’s gate, which is broken up by Triple H striking Undertaker with the sledgehammer. The Game attempts another sledgehammer strike but is pulled into another hell’s gate.
Triple H again attempts to both power out to no avail and passes out in the submission. With Michaels down and unable to call the finish, referee Charles Robinson runs down the ramp and enters Hell In A Cell.
Back in the ring Undertaker plants Triple H with a chokeslam for another close two-count. Frustrated and desperate, Undertaker plants Robinson with a chokeslam of his own.
The Undertaker and Triple H – Oh So Close
Undertaker attempts to finish The Game with a tombstone piledriver, however he slips out and pushes The Deadman into a sweet chin music from Michaels. Triple H follows this up with a pedigree and covers.
Undertaker manages to kick out as close to three as humanely possible. The crowd reaction says it all, this will forever go down as one of the greatest kickouts in not only WrestleMania history, but the history of professional wrestling.
“It’s not over, It’s not over! The streak lives,”
– says Ross.
The crowd gives the match a standing ovation as Michaels is in disbelief. Triple H again reintroduces the sledgehammer, throwing his best friend out of the ring when he gets in the way. Before he can capitalize, Undertaker sits right up and gets back to his feet, unleashing strikes on The Game. He sends Triple H into the corner. He followed it up with a splash, snake eyes and a boot to the face.
After a leg drop to seal the deal, Undertaker hoists Triple H up and delivers a tombstone piledriver. He crosses The Game’s arms for his iconic pinfall, but Triple H somehow manages to kick-out.
Back to square one, both men trade punches while getting back to their feet. Undertaker attempts another tombstone, but Triple H turns it into a pedigree which Undertaker kicks out of.
The Undertaker sits up and crawls to the steel chair. He gets up and steps on the sledgehammer which Triple H was attempting to grab. The Deadman gets his revenge, hitting Triple H with 10 consecutive chair shots. A cover attempt is unsuccessful, Triple H still has some fight left.
As Undertaker gets to his feet, Triple H again crawls to the sledgehammer. He blindly charges Undertaker, who easily catches the weapon and shakes his head. The Game defiantly shoves The Phenom and taunts him with a D-Generation X crotch chop.
An enraged Undertaker blasts him with his own weapon as Shawn Michaels looks away.
The Deadman pulls down the straps of his singlet as he looks a kneeling Triple H dead in the eyes and gives him a cutthroat taunt, calling for the end.
Undertaker hoists Triple H up for one more tombstone piledriver. Michaels counts to three; it’s over at 30:47.
The Undertaker is 20-0 at WrestleMania.
The Undertaker and Triple H – The Streak Lives
“I’ll tell you in four decades of sitting at ringside, I can honestly say I have never-ever witnessed anything like what we have just seen,”
Michaels, Undertaker and Triple H would help carry one another up the entrance ramp. They would embrace atop the stage to a thunderous ovation.
Three of the biggest stars of WWE’s most popular period stood arm-in-arm in front of the “20-0” graphic, creating an iconic image that remains infamous to this day.
The match would earn both WWE’s Slammy and Pro Wrestling Illustrated awards as best match of 2012. Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer would give the match a 4.75-star rating.