At WrestleMania XXVIII, two of the most decorated figures in WWE history, The Undertaker and Triple H, will engage in battle once more – this time, inside the diabolical Hell in a Cell. According to Triple H, when he and The Phenom exit the Cell on April 1, it will mark the end of an era.
After initially resisting The Deadman’s challenge to a WrestleMania rematch – dismissing it as bad for business – WWE COO Triple H has finally relented. If The Game succeeds in his years-long quest to end The Undertaker’s closely guarded WrestleMania Streak, he will have achieved the ultimate victory, to the perhaps-irreparable detriment of the esteemed Undertaker “brand.”
Hinging on this match are not only the professional legacies of two true icons, but also the future of WWE as a whole, Triple H claims.
Although there is always a temptation to write off terms such as “legacy” and “icon” as hyperbolic, in the case of The Phenom and The King of Kings, such deference is more than merited.
Their bodies of work speak for themselves. The Undertaker and Triple H have collectively logged 39 years in WWE rings. Combined, they account for a remarkable 20 WWE and World Heavyweight Championship reigns. There’s not a single major Superstar of the modern era – from WWE Hall of Famers Shawn Michaels and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin to future Hall of Famers The Rock and Mick Foley – who hasn’t fallen to The Phenom and The Game at one point or another.
With both battle-tested veterans in the twilight of their respective careers and a tinge of finality hanging in the air, The Undertaker and Triple H undoubtedly view WrestleMania XXVIII as an all-or-nothing equation. For The Phenom, it's about improving The Streak to an unparalleled 20-0, and keeping the one prize that has belonged only to him. As for The Game, he may never have another chance to snap The Streak and snare that one prize which has eluded him all these years.
Yet, when these two august legends collide inside The Deadman’s domain – a stipulation suggested by The Game – the paramount concern for both Superstars could well be survival.
The Hell in a Cell structure is a fitting venue, considering the histories of the participants involved. The Phenom and The Game have ventured inside the Cell more times than anyone else. Even though the heinous cage is most closely linked to The Undertaker – he fought HBK in the very first Hell in a Cell Match, in October 1997 – Triple H has actually proven more victorious, racking up a 6-2 record compared to The Undertaker’s 5-5-1 record.
The addition of the Cell will only intensify this war. Neither Superstar has been able to shake the physical and emotional aftereffects of their No Holds Barred Match at last year’s WrestleMania. Surviving both The Undertaker’s Tombstone and Last Ride, Triple H unleashed a Tombstone of his own – as well as an unprecedented three Pedigrees – before having to turn to his weapon of last resort, the sledgehammer. Yet as The Cerebral Assassin prepared to strike The Undertaker, The Phenom deftly maneuvered Triple H into his Hell’s Gate submission hold, ultimately forcing an exhausted Game – who knew he had reached his limit – to tap.
A year removed, The Undertaker remains vexed by that encounter’s final scene of medical personnel carting his battered body away from the ring. Since his return in January, The Deadman has been obsessed with destroying The Game and reasserting The Streak’s dominance. Triple H, who managed to walk away from the hellacious confrontation, is also unsatisfied, having come within a hair of achieving the unthinkable.
Adding another dimension to this contest is the giant disparity in how each competitor views The Streak. Nothing has served to deify The Phenom more than The Streak, and as such, The Undertaker is intent on preserving it for posterity. Although The Game is acutely aware of The Streak’s import, his responsibilities as WWE COO cause him to cast it in another, more capitalistic light. By seemingly discounting The Streak as a mere commodity – an opportunity for licensing deals and merchandising – is Triple H inviting even more wrath from an already driven Undertaker, who assuredly sees The Streak as sacrosanct?
At WrestleMania XXVIII, the rivalry between these two time-honored warriors will finally reach its culmination. Just how far is The Undertaker willing to go to defend The Streak and, in turn, his own legacy? Can the Cerebral Assassin actually best The Phenom on the day when he appears to be at his most unbeatable? Just as important, at what ruinous price will victory be attained this time around, when they battle inside the confines of a structure made famous by The Undertaker – the unforgiving Hell in a Cell?