The Undertaker will always be considered one of the best to ever lace up a pair of wrestling boots. With a career spanning multiple decades, The Deadman has been one of the most consistently entertaining parts of the WWE since he debuted at Survivor Series 1990 (let's go with the big pay-per-view). As the years went on, he became known for his big returns.
Some were hyped up well beforehand while others were complete surprises, but they were always a big deal. Unfortunately, not every Undertaker return was well received. In fact, as he got older, there were diminishing returns to his... returns. He's still a legend, no doubt, but there's a lingering feeling that perhaps he could be used in a better way. Let's take a look at the best and worst of those returns.
10 Best: Survivor Series 2005 - Randy Orton
In 2005, Randy Orton was on top of the world. Sure, he lost to Undertaker at WrestleMania a few months before, but after being the lone survivor for team SmackDown at Survivor Series, it was clear he was back in his groove.
That's when the Undertaker made his return. While Orton was celebrating with his fellow SmackDown superstars, the lights go out and a casket is visible at the top of the entrance ramp. From there, lightning strikes the coffin, it catches on fire, and a super-jacked Undertaker knocks the door off its hinges. He then makes his way to the ring and lays the smackdown on everyone in the ring. This is Undertaker at his finest.
9 Forced: WrestleMania 34- John Cena
WrestleMania is always a whacky time, but nothing was quite as strange as Cena's segment with The Undertaker. After missing out on a few opportunities to appear at the event, The Face That Runs The Place begged Undertaker for a match at the show of shows, but he did not get a response.
So, ever the fan, Cena decided to buy a ticket and enjoy the pay-per-view with the WWE Universe. After Cena gulped down a few beers, he was told Undertaker had finally accepted the challenge, and the two put on a short match with Undertaker winning. Sure, it was fun. But when you tease fans with a showdown against the two biggest names in wrestling, there are some big expectations that this could never live up to.
8 Best: Unforgiven 2007- Mark Henry
Mark Henry and Undertaker have a very underrated rivalry. The two squared off in a decent Casket Match at WrestleMania XXII, and the world's strongest man was directly responsible for Undertaker losing the World Heavyweight Championship to Edge. A few months after that incident, Undertaker made his return and he made it clear that before he tries to regain his lost title, he wants revenge on Mark Henry.
At Unforgiven 2007, Undertaker made his return to face his new rival and his entrance was so over-the-top it's hard to criticize. WWE's pryo team must have had a fun time putting this together, as there were flaming symbols, giant pillars of fire and a fair few explosions. This one is fun to go back and watch.
7 Forced: WrestleMania 31 - Bray Wyatt
Following the death of The Streak, most thought Undertaker was done. But once WrestleMania rolled around, Bray Wyatt started cutting venomous promos against the legend. To Wyatt's credit, he did a fantastic job at building up anticipation for the match, but Undertaker didn't appear until the show itself.
Unfortunately, it looked like age finally caught up to the Deadman, as he looked slower than years past, and the two put on what many considered to be the worst match of the night.To Undertaker's credit, however, he looked a lot healthier than the prior year, when he was sent to the hospital directly after his match with Lesnar. So, there's a plus there, but this wasn't the return fans hoped for.
6 Best: Accepting Brock Lesnar's Challenge
Undertaker's return to accept Brock Lesnar's WrestleMania challenge was absolutely legendary — even when you take away the result of their match. Upset at being left out of the Randy Orton vs Batista WrestleMania main event (which later included Daniel Bryan), Lesnar came out with Paul Heyman, who told the audience that Triple H offered The Beast an open contract for a match at the big show.
Still clearly upset, Heyman told the WWE Universe that Lesnar won't fight unless he's given history to conquer and that's when the bell tolled. The Undertaker appeared, clad in his iconic hood, and made his way to the ring, stabbed Lesnar with a pen to sign the contract, and choke slammed him through a table for good measure.
5 Forced: Vince McMahon's Personal Wrecking Ball For Shane
We're not sure why Undertaker decided to let Vince McMahon use him as a pawn in his ever-rocky relationship with his son Shane, but it's a thing that happened. When the long lost McMahon returned to WWE, he was quickly welcomed back with a WrestleMania match.
Vince wanted his son to suffer, so he placed him in a Hell in a Cell bout against the Phenom. The match itself was fine, but the reason behind it and Undertaker's use was a little strange. It all just felt extremely forced.
4 Best: WrestleMania XX- Return Of The Deadman
When looking back at some of the most iconic moments in WWE history, few come close to Undertaker's return as the Deadman at WrestleMania XX. It seemed for years that Big Evil put his dark side behind him, living life as a biker instead. Yet, that all changed when Kane got involved in a Buried Alive match between The Undertaker and Mr. McMahon.
The American Bada** wasn't seen for months after the attack, but he was scheduled to return against Kane at the upcoming WrestleMania. Fans weren't sure what to expect, but when church music echoed through the arena, and druids with torches lined the entranceway, we knew we were in for a historic moment.
3 Forced: Goldberg's Next
We all knew Undertaker would be part of WWE's Super ShowDown, and we assumed Goldberg could be there, but when we learned the two would square off, it felt like it was coming 20 years too late.
Technically, Undertaker's return here came on an episode of Raw where he cut a promo, yet that was pretty underwhelming. Maybe if we were given some kind of reason for the match, there'd be more excitement for Undertaker's return, but this just wasn't it.
2 Best: Royal Rumble 2006- Chariot
When looking at the best Undertaker returns, it's hard to top riding in on a chariot like a total baller and shooting lightning out of your fingers just to ruin a man's celebration. It's a level of petty only the greatest of the greats can aspire to, and for now, Undertaker stands alone atop that mountain.
Now, it does raise some questions, like, why didn't he ever shoot lightning from his fingers during a match? — a surefire way to get a pinfall — but when you set that aside, it's hard to find a better return for any wrestler at any point in history. The fact that it signified a feud with Kurt Angle was only the icing on the cake here.
1 Forced: Roman Reigns' Partner
Maybe this suffers from recency bias, but Undertaker's return on Raw to help out Roman Reigns — a man who not only beat him at WrestleMania but disrespected him the following night by claiming the ring was his yard — was unneeded and unwanted.
Coming off a pretty brutal match against Goldberg in Saudi Arabia, fans were a little worried to see The Deadman rushed into another feud so quickly. Not only that, but Shane McMahon is probably not the ideal foe we'd like to see Undertaker conquer. To make matters worse, Undertaker was announced as part of the big Extreme Rules pay-per-view.