The Build: Undertaker won the Royal Rumble in San Antonio to earn a Wrestlemania title match. He took his time choosing which champion he would face, teasing matches against John Cena and Bobby Lashley. But he ultimately chose Batista, the top man on Smackdown.
The action starts right off the bell when Batista plants Undertaker with a big Spear to set the tone. He proceeds to go balls out trying to beat Taker, but the Dead Man just keeps coming back. Batista even hits a Shoulder Block from the top rope, just about the only time I can remember him going upstairs in his career.
Taker hit the Plancha with refreshingly little incident. They fight outside for a ridiculously long time without being counted out. This is the first time I remember seeing one guy roll into the ring to “break the count,” which doesn’t make much sense to me. Batista puts Taker through the announce table with a beautiful Running Powerslam. He could take the count out, but he drags Taker back into the ring to go for the pin.
We don’t get enough matches that just feel like two guys are willing to kill each other to be champion. Batista escaped the Tombstone and hit a Batista Bomb with STANK on it for a great near fall. I remember being blown away by this match the first time I watched and I still am. Great pop for Taker’s first title win since 2002.
Rating: ****¼. Awesome match. I think most people (including me) thought they were going to stink it up here, and instead they stole the show. Simple story, with Batista as the monstrous champion throwing everything he had at Taker and Taker fighting through it all. I love the intensity, the Spear right off the bell, the Powerslam through the table, and that huge Batista Bomb. Batista lost, but if anything came out stronger in defeat.
The Aftermath: This rivalry continued. They faced off in a rematch at Backlash, ending in a draw in a Last Man Standing Match when neither man could answer the count. Two weeks later they battled in a Steel Cage Match on Smackdown, once more drawing when both men escaped the cage and their feet touched the ground at the same time. Their next match would be at Cyber Sunday, where Batista would finally defeat Undertaker. At Survivor Series a month later Batista emerged victorious in a Hell in a Cell Match after Edge interfered.