Triple H and The Undertaker main evented WWE’s Super Show-Down event from Australia. It’s the kind of match that, ten to fifteen years ago, it would be hard to believe was still happening in 2018, and yet WWE artfully built up to this encounter over a period of weeks. The central thread was not just two legends revisiting an old rivalry, but selling this as the last time they’d ever have a match with one another.
The addition of Shawn Michaels injected intrigue as he got heated with The Undertaker in promo segments on Raw, and rumors swirled that HBK was headed for a return to the ring after over eight years of retirement. Things got a step more interesting when The Undertaker announced he would have Kane in his corner for the match. Not only is Kane a fourth legend to add to the mix, but an unexpected one given his recent election to the position of mayor in Knox County, and more appealing for the fact that that career shift will probably mean we don’t see him in the ring much these next few years, if ever again.
The match itself was hardly a classic from a purist’s perspective, but the level of carnage and outside interference harkened back to the Attitude Era when these guys originally feuded. Moreover, the bells and whistles covered for aged performers who weren’t going to work anything like a five star classic by any traditional means.
This article takes a look at twenty items most fans may have missed from the Super Show-Down main event.
20 A Fourth WWE Stadium Showdown
It’s unusual for WWE to revisit the same matchup for a WrestleMania, or other PPVs big enough to emanate from a full blown, 50,000 seat plus stadium. The Rock and John Cena got to do it twice at back to back WrestleManias, and there were a few WrestleMania 34 rematches at the Greatest Royal Rumble show from Saudi Arabia.
Going into this weekend, only two matches had been featured in proper stadium shows three times—Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar (WrestleManias 31 and 34 and the Greatest Royal Rumble), and Triple H vs. The Undertaker (WrestleManias 17, 27, and 28).
It’s fitting that a rivalry as long running and often revisited as The Deadman vs. The Game would wind up the first to get a stadium spotlight for a fourth time, and all the more impressive that those matches happened over a span of over 17 years.
19 Michael Cole’s Clarification
Michael Cole isn’t generally recognized as someone who gives it to fans straight. Indeed, one of the criticisms against him is that he tends to come across like he’s shilling whatever Vince McMahon pumps into his headset. He is often the vehicle for delivering interesting statistically oriented information, though, and offered an important, if indirect clarification before the opening bell rang.
A part of the story of this match is that Triple H was looking to finally beat The Undertaker after losing to him at all three of their WrestleMania meetings.
Cole clarified, though that Triple H hadn’t beaten The Phenom one on one in over sixteen years. This note indirectly hinted at the fact that Triple H actually had bested him before—particularly given that their earliest matches date back to 1996. It was a deft way of getting nitpicking critics off of the commentary team’s back, while still emphasizing that The Undertaker has dominated most of the rivalry.
18 The Main Event Entrances Were More Important Than The Miz-Daniel Bryan Match
Most fans were surprised by how quickly and abruptly Daniel Bryan and The Miz finished up their match. It also came across as odd that Bryan, the face, and the guy hungry for revenge, was quick to high tail it out of the ring after he won.
It seemed WWE realized it was cramped for time to keep this show to four hours, and so rushed the penultimate match. It’s noteworthy, though, that WWE didn’t motor through any aspect of the main event including entrances. Not only the competitors, but corner men Shawn Michaels and Kane each got individual entrances. All the more so, The Undertaker didn’t appear in the ring or emerge from halfway down a ramp like he has for recent appearances. Instead, he got his full pyro, long walk down the aisle. The Deadman’s entrance alone got more time than Bryan and The Miz did, bell-to-bell.
17 A Mixed Presentation For The Undertaker’s Entrance
The Undertaker made the long walk down the aisle for the Super Show-Down main event. It has been a theme that when The Undertaker comes down for stadium shows like WrestleMania, it tends to take an awful long time for him to make it to the ring. That issue has only gotten more noticeable with age as it’s not only a part of the Deadman character for him to make a slow march, but he’s grown all the less spry with age.
Notably, the commentary team remained silent for the first half of The Undertaker’s walk to the ring, letting the WWE Network audience drink in the atmosphere of the moment.
After that point, Michael Cole in particular went into a hard sell of stats and the historical magnitude of the match. The choice nicely mixed up the presentation of this part of the show to keep listeners engaged.
16 Abuse Of Power Reference To 2001
The first turning point in what would become a long and winding road for this match was when the ring announcer proclaimed the bout would now be a No Disqualification Match. This stipulation had not been previously announced, which echoed back to the main event of WrestleMania X-Seven, when the match became no DQ right before the opening bell. In 2001, this was the beginning of telling the story that Steve Austin was in cahoots with Mr. McMahon and conspiring to get the WWE Championship on him.
Triple H’s smirk at the announcement told the tale that he was abusing his own power in this scenario. It’s fitting that the match would include a callback to WrestleMania X-Seven as that was also the site of Triple H and The Undertaker’s first stadium match at the Astrodome.
15 Michael Cole Cut Off Renee Young When She Slipped Up
In the early going of The Undertaker vs. Triple H, the announce team sold how long running and historic the rivalry between the two stars was up to that point. In discussing their Hell in a Cell Match from WrestleMania XXVIII, Renee Young began discussing her own experience watching that match. She used the verbiage that, at that point, “I was merely just a fan.”
For a company that prides itself on making its fans feel like part of the action as the WWE Universe, diminishing the importance of fans is a big no-no.
Whether it was based on instructions in their headsets or his own veteran judgment, Michael Cole didn’t quite let her finish her thought before transitioning to the next point.
14 Two Rare Instances Of Overt Choking
WWE has been vocally opposed to wrestlers choking one another in recent years, as part of being more family friendly and accessible to kids. Past instances of choking like Daniel Bryan chocking announcer Justin Roberts by his tie have resulted in big problems, with young Bryan even briefly fired for the incident in 2010.
This match included The Undertaker trying to choke Triple H with an electrical cord in the production area, for which Michael Cole went out of his way to call that The Deadman was trying to make The Game “pass out.” Later, Triple H would choke The Phenom with the handle of his sledgehammer to escape Hell’s Gate. If anyone can get away with some liberties around an issue like this, it would be these two legends and WWE power brokers.
13 The Brawl Through The Arena Harkens Back to WrestleMania X-Seven
The first WrestleMania match between Triple H and The Undertaker from back in 2001 drew mixed reactions. While the two men were closest to their communal physical prime at that point than in any of their matches, and the ring work was all competent, the match layout was suspect.
For a match without no DQ or Falls Count Anywhere provisos, the match had a disproportionately long stretch with The Game and The Phenom brawling outside the ring and through the crowd. It was an intense fight, but the ref bump to precipitate this segment of the match both felt contrived and ran too long.
The guys wound up working a similar stretch in Australia, complete with working their way to a production area in the middle of the crowd, in a callback to the earlier match.
12 Triple H Cut Off A Move The Undertaker Might Not Have Been Able To Do Anyway
At one point in the action, The Undertaker set up a dive over the top rope to the outside. This move had become signature spot for the Deadman, particularly in the latter days of hi full time career with WWE. It was always an impressive move for the agility and precision it demonstrated, particularly for such a big man.
Fans haven’t seen The Undertaker bust out this move much in the last five years or so, nor did he connect with it in Australia.
While we can’t know for sure, it’s reasonable to guess Triple H cut off the move in kayfabe to cover for the limitations of reality—The Undertaker no longer can clear the ropes at this point (nor is there shame in that for a man in his fifties.
11 Kane Took a Big Bump On Taker’s Behalf
It’s little secret that The Undertaker is a far cry from his best physically these days. While he looks better now than he did at WrestleMania 33, after a hip surgery, he remains a slower and more ginger than once he was.
At the age 53, The Deadman isn’t really in a condition that he ought to take any bumps bigger than the spinebuster he absorbed late in this match. While Kane is no young man, he is better equipped to take big hits and falls at this point. He was there, in this case, to take the biggest bump for his “team” on The Undertaker’s behalf when he ate an elbow through a table at ringside.
10 Everyone’s A Heel
For as much as the stadium crowd in Melbourne seemed predisposed to cheer everyone involved in this match as a legendary hero, the behavior of the four wrestlers involved in the match hardly justified any face reactions.
The heelish antics started with Triple H contriving then no DQ rules at the last minute and arrogantly taunting The Deadman for the early stages of the match. They continued with Michaels striking first blood when it came to outside interference. The late stages of the match saw The Undertaker punish Triple H gratuitously while trash talking Michaels. Kane was, in the end, probably the least heelish character in the match, but even he broke up a pin and, of course, teamed up with his brother in sneakily attacking their opponents after the bell.
9 A Rare Case Of Someone Saving The Undertaker From A Pin
The Undertaker is a veteran who has been a part of the WWE landscape for nearly three decades. Whether he played a face or heel, one consistent element of his persona was that he was always a monster. Indeed, while most wrestlers’ managers would save them from defeat quite often, in The Phenom’s case, when he did have a manager, Paul Bearer was more often a liability The Deadman got distracted trying to save.
So, it was an exceedingly rare sight to witness Kane pull the referee out of the ring to save his brother from one key pin attempt.
Far more often, it was The Undertaker who got robbed in situations like that, and this scenario bespoke the shades of gray around face and her lines for this match.
8 An Echo From The Climax Of WrestleMania 31
In the home stretch of The Undertaker and Triple H’s match, they sat in opposite corners of the ring, each looking exhausted. From that position, Shawn Michaels slid his best friend a sledgehammer. Kane gave his brother a steel chair.
The moment clearly echoed the climax of Triple H’s match with Sting at WrestleMania 31, when DX passed The Game his signature weapon, and the nWo guys offered Sting his trademark baseball bat. This moment rang a bit less resonant for The Phenom not having any special connection to a chair. Nonetheless, the moment underscored that each man had backing, and that with these weapons in hand, the end was near.
7 Reality Reversed
In a pivotal moment close to the end of the match, The Undertaker and Triple H came at each other with a steel chair and a sledgehammer, respectively. The Game managed to smash his weapon into The Deadman’s, and into The Undertaker’s face, in a bit that commentary sold as particularly devastating.
It makes some sense that getting hit with the force of the chair and sledgehammer would offer the worst of both worlds to The Phenom. In reality, though, this was a case of something that looks devastating in kayfabe actually being safer in reality. The chair absorbed the impact of the sledgehammer and allowed The Undertaker to largely control how hard he got hit.
6 A Sledgehammer Attack Into Hell’s Gate Calls Back To WrestleManias XXVII And XXVIII
A key spot in this march saw Triple H threaten to end The Undertaker with a sledgehammer, only for The Dead Man to counter with a Hell’s Gate submission hold. If this sequence seemed familiar, it wasn’t fans having déjà vu. The two worked a very similar sequence in their Hell in a Cell Match at WrestleMania 28.
Additionally, it was that very hold that The Phenom used to finish off The Game at WrestleMania 27.
This time, of course, The Undertaker wouldn’t succeed, as Triple H succeeded in regaining the sledgehammer and using the handle to choke the Undertaker until he released the hold.
5 Every Repeat Streak Challenger Was Involved
Once WWE established The Undertaker’s undefeated streak at WrestleMania as a central part of his gimmick, the slate of performers who got to challenge him at the biggest show of the year became who’s who of stars, with past and future world champs like The Big Show, Randy Orton, Marky Henry, Batista, Edge, and CM Punk taking their shots.
Even more distinguished is the list of guys who got to challenge streak more than once. In fact, there are only three performers on that list, all three of whom were in the mix for this match—Triple H, Shawn Michaels, and Kane. That distinction underscores how intertwined each of these men’s careers have been.
4 The Undertaker No Sold Sweet Chin Music To A Degree
Shawn Michaels’s Sweet Chin music is one of the best protected finishers in WWE history. The move has won him world titles, been an equalizer against bigger foes, and generally been a strike that hardly anyone kicks out from, especially since Michaels first rose to main event status.
The Undertaker didn’t exactly no-sell the first of two superkicks he took from Michaels toward the end of the match, but he did do the unusual in not bumping for the move. The only times this has happened in the past have typically involved someone turning into another move in contrived fashion (like the match-ending superkick-Pedigree combo The Phenom would take moments later). In only being staggered, The Undertaker sold his toughness while keeping the match’s momentum moving en route to the final sequence.
3 A Suggestion The Undertaker Is Weaker Than He Used To Be
One of the greats false finishes in the history of the Undertaker’s undefeated streak at WrestleMania came at WrestleMania 28, when incensed guest referee Shawn Michaels nailed The Undertaker with a superkick, only for the Phenom to get turned around into a Pedigree. For as over as the Deadman was, and as indestructible as his streak seemed, it was believable that taking two of the most over finishing maneuvers in WWE history in such code succession might finish him.
The Undertaker kicked out in 2012, but faced with the same combo in 2018, he had no answer.
So, WWE underscores the passage of time here. The Undertaker, while still formidable, couldn’t overcome this particular onslaught this time.
2 The Tables Turned From WrestleMania XX
The main draw of the Super Show-Down main event was not only how big of a star everyone involved was, but their longevity in WWE. Of the four, Kane and Triple H are the ones to have started with WWE most recently—a mere twenty three years ago.
It’s interesting to note that fourteen and a half years ago, each of the featured pairs actually worked WrestleMania matches as opponents at WrestleMania XX. The Undertaker returned after Kane put him out of action (in storylines), while Shawn Michaels joined Chris Benoit in challenging Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship in the main event.
1 Playing Off Expectations From WrestleManias 28 And 31
The ends of Triple H’s matches against The Undertaker and Sting, respectively, at WrestleManias 28 and 31 were built on the premise of old warhorses making peace. 28 saw Triple H, Shawn Michaels, and The Dead Man celebrate the end of an era as they, at least theoretically, put their time and their beefs to a close. 31 saw Triple H and DX make peace with Sting and the nWo from WCW.
After Triple H beat The Undertaker at Super Show-Down, the opponents and their allies joined up in exchanging handshakes and hugs and raising their hands together for the cheers of the crowd. The moment looked a lot like one of those WrestleMania ones, but was instead the artful setup for a swerve as the Brothers of Destruction destroyed their enemies.