SLAM! Wrestling’s Blaine van der Griend goes through The Undertaker’s undefeated streak at WrestleMania, one match at a time.
The event: WrestleMania 17
Where: The Reliant Astrodome, Houston
The result: Win over Triple H; WrestleMania record, 9-0
By the turn of the century, The Undertaker had made a full transformation from the Phenom into a more realistic “biker” character. But he was still not in the mood for any games, which included his WrestleMania 17 opponent Triple H.
“People make too much of adapting. One either has the appropriate skill set and feel for the genre to rise to the occasion, or they don’t,” said WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross. “I never had any doubts that Undertaker couldn’t take any viable persona and make it successful. From bell to bell, the athlete was the same.”
No matter how good a wrestler is, there is always someone out there who can match him/her skill for skill, or even surpass that athlete’s skill level. This created an interesting dynamic for this WrestleMania 17 bout, as The Undertaker and Triple H had never worked a one-on-one program together, nor had they ever competed against each other in a match of this magnitude.
Like many others, Triple H’s early years in the business were very forgettable, as he struggled with a series of dead-end gimmicks, before finding his niche as The Game.
He got started in WCW, working under the persona Terra Ryzing, which did not last too long. He was then Jean-Paul Lévesque, briefly paired with Lord Steven Regal (now William Regal) in a tag team known as The Blue Bloods.
Despite the fact that Triple H may not have many fond memories of his time in WCW, his blue blood gimmick stuck to him like glue, when he first entered the WWE as Hunter Hearst Helmsley.
It seemed like Triple H made a lot of friends in high places very easily. However, his loyalty to his friends wasn’t exactly a good thing for him, as he received the brunt of the punishment once Scott Hall and Kevin Nash departed for WCW in 1996.
Triple H was able to bounce back though, winning the Intercontinental Championship and the 1997 King of the Ring tournament, thanks in part to his new bodyguard and real-life girlfriend at the time, Chyna.
Triple H and Chyna later joined forces with Shawn Michaels, forming one of the most popular factions in the history of the business, D-Generation X. After Michaels left the industry due to injury, Triple H ran with the ball as the new leader of D-X.
The year 1999 may have been the most important year of his career, as the WWE’s top star “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was out with an injury, providing an opportunity for rising stars such as Triple H. And The Game certainly capitalized on said opportunity.
He married the boss’s daughter Stephanie McMahon as part of a major storyline (the two were dating in real life) and also won the World Wrestling Federation Championship during this period.
In the year 2000, the title was traded back and forth between Triple H and The Rock, before Austin would make his triumphant return, participating in yet another major angle with The Game, who had become the company’s top heel by that time.
After he had seemingly beaten every top babyface in the WWE, Triple H was left with one final challenge, against a man he had never beaten, The Undertaker. The match was praised by many as one of the best that either of them had ever had. It quickly became a brawl from the word “go” and eventually spilled into the crowd as well.
“As broadcasters, our job is to watch our monitors and describe as best we can, what we see there and to enhance the in-ring personas, no matter who they are or where they stand in the big picture,” Ross said. “I think that our camera and TV production people are the best, and I recall being able to still utilize our monitor. It seems that we were still able to keep the fans watching, informed.”
Both men had thrown everything including the kitchen sink at their opponent, but neither was able to put the other away. All it took was one mistake to make the difference between a win and a loss. Fortunately for The Undertaker, Triple H lost focus for one second, allowing the Deadman to sneak in a Last Ride for the win.