Ranking Every Undertaker Casket Match From Worst To Best

The Deadman is a casket match specialist, but just how (sports) entertaining is the stipulation?

At the time of writing, Undertaker is all set to take part in his first casket match in almost a decade. The stipulation hasn't had too much of a place in the PG era, but suddenly finds itself included on a ludicrously stacked card for WWE's Greatest Royal Rumble show in Saudi Arabia.

Like the buried alive match, 'Taker has made casket bouts his own. It's a match type specifically tailored to his supernatural gimmick, one which was particularly effective in enthralling fans back in the early '90s.

But how do casket matches rank in terms of match quality? Of the 16 televised casket bouts in Undertaker's career, some have been lumbering, hokey affairs, while others have represented the best of wrestling's over-the-top theatricality.

The Deadman has faced a wide variety of opponents under such circumstances, from Yokozuna to Chavo Guerrero. While originally a stipulation reserved for pay per views (and the house show circuit), matches have since taken place on Raw, SmackDown, and even a special on the MSG Network.

So let's sort the wheat from the chaff, and rank all of 'Taker's casket matches from worst to best. How will his upcoming bout with Rusev stack up? Judging by a lot of the bouts on this list, it doesn't have too high a bar to live up to.

16. Undertaker Vs. Yokozuna - Royal Rumble 1994


This was the second televised casket match of Undertaker's career, and unfortunately, is also probably the hokiest of all time. In fact, the aftermath of this bout led to one of the most farfetched moments not only in 'Taker's history, but maybe in WWE history too.

The Phenom clashed with Yokozuna in a bout for the latter's WWF Championship. The managers of both men had a hand in the build, with Jim Cornette establishing a no-rematch clause should 'Taker lose, and Paul Bearer responding with the casket stipulation.

The match quickly descended into farce, as 'Taker single-handedly fought off a huge number of heels including Crush, Bam Bam Bigelow, Jeff Jarrett, both Headshrinkers, and Diesel. Eventually, Yokozuna was able to steal the urn from Bearer and open it, causing green smoke (representing Undertaker's power?) to pour out.

Weakened, 'Taker was quickly hit with a succession of finishers from the assembled heels, before being easily rolled into the casket. The post-match shenanigans were even sillier, as the Phenom cut a promo on the TitanTron - presumably from inside the casket - before his spirit rose from the 'Tron and ascended to heaven. Yes.

15. Undertaker Vs. Kane - Raw, October 19th 1998


Our second match comes from a 1998 episode of Raw, just after Undertaker had turned heel and reunited with Paul Bearer.

Weirdly, despite having timeless character-based chemistry, the Brothers of Destruction have never particularly clicked in the ring. This bout is another example of that, although the booking didn't help either. It only lasted around four minutes and ended in a no contest when Kane chased 'Taker and Bearer to the back - not exactly the right way for a stipulation-centric match to end.

As well as having the dubious honour of being the only no contest in Undertaker's history of televised casket matches, this is also the only but on the list where the casket suffers immense damage before the final bell. It didn't particularly add a sense of excitement...

14. Undertaker Vs. Vader - WWE On MSG Network, March 16th, 1997


Of all the matches we'll look at here, this could well be the oddest. 'Taker vs. Vader took place on a MSG Network special one week before WrestleMania 13 and - despite going on to headline (and win!) at that 'Mania - the Phenom bafflingly lost here.

Another strange feature of the bout is that it's a very close carbon copy of one we'll discuss in just a second. The finish was basically the same in both instances, with Mankind emerging from the casket to choke out Undertaker, before rolling his limp body into the designated victory area (I didn't want to write 'casket' twice in the same sentence, but Designated Victory Area actually sounds quite badass).

Despite losing, 'Taker got a small measure of his heat back by beating down Mankind after the match. Somewhat thankfully, it lasted around five minutes - although sadly, this meant that neither Undertaker nor Vader were able to show off their in-ring ability to any great degree.

13. Undertaker Vs. Goldust - In Your House 8: Beware Of Dog 2


This could otherwise be known as the original Undertaker vs. Vader - but at least it took place on an actual pay per view, and lasted a decent amount of time.

With the first attempt at Beware of Dog wrecked by a thunderstorm, WWE put on the same show again a couple of days later and reshuffled the order of the card- which meant that this casket match was happily bumped to the main event slot.

Unhappily, the action here was sloppy. Neither Undertaker nor Goldust were on their A-game, leading to several miscommunications.

Mankind's involvement in the finish at least made more sense this time, but it was strange to see the Phenom succumb to the Mandible Claw so quickly. Foley also struggled getting 'Taker into the casket, making the finish of the match a little disjointed.

12. Undertaker Vs. Big Show - Survivor Series 2008


This was the last of Undertaker's casket matches to take place - at least until he clashes with Rusev at the Greatest Royal Rumble. While the action may not be particularly sharp, the finishing spot was at least a unique variation.

The pair battled up to the stage area and set up the casket vertically, allowing 'Taker to Irish whip Big Show into the container, which fell and closed in one smooth motion.

The rest of the match was a little hokey (especially for 2008), as Show's earlier attempt to escape was barred by flames shooting from the entranceway. Similarly, his tactic of destroying the casket didn't work, as Undertaker's druids simply brought out a replacement.

Although a slow and plodding affair, this was at least a passable effort - especially compared to the matches we've already taken a look at.

11. Undertaker Vs. The Rock - Raw, May 17th 1999


Although short and riddled with interference, this bout was at least an exciting one, charged with the infectious energy of the Attitude Era.

Ironically, the most enduring memory of the match didn't even involve the casket at all, as 'Taker sat up to disrupt Rock's traditional People's Elbow routine - only for the Brahma Bull to simply kick him back into place.

Truth be told, the most important factor in this bout was a man not even officially involved: Triple H. The Game ran out to interfere alongside Corporate Ministry ally Shane McMahon, bludgeoning Rock's already-injured arm with a sledgehammer. This at least forced Rocky to sell the arm, which he hadn't really done for the vast majority of the match.

10. Undertaker Vs. Chavo Guerrero - SmackDown, October 31st 2008


Perhaps one of the more easily-forgotten casket matches, Undertaker vs. Chavo Guerrero took place on a Halloween edition of SmackDown. 'Taker was feuding with Big Show at the time, and this bout acted as something of a prelude to their own casket match at Survivor Series.

It was a pretty straightforward affair, although casket matches often see Undertaker paired with an equally imposing opponent - so the big vs. small dynamic lent it a unique feel. Predictably, 'Taker dominated - only for Big Show to involve himself and slam the casket shut with the Deadman on the brink of victory.

Ultimately, Undertaker was still able to prevail, scaring off Big Show (who freaked out after taking a bump onto the casket itself) before finishing off Chavo in just over seven minutes. Not bad.

9. Undertaker Vs. Mark Henry - Raw, March 10th 2008


This edition of Raw saw a card filled with 'Mania rematches, and opened with a repeat of 'Taker and Mark Henry's casket showdown from WrestleMania 22.

Undertaker was about to headline his second 'Mania, squaring off against Edge in what would be one of the best matches of his undefeated streak. The result here was therefore entirely predictable, but the pair still managed to make it somewhat entertaining.

In what appeared to be a nod to 1992's original casket match, Henry adopted Kamala's strategy of blitzing 'Taker with slams and splashes. This led to a classic Undertaker comeback with a modern twist, which saw the Deadman catch his opponent in the Hell's Gate submission and choke him out - allowing him to simply roll an unconscious Henry into the casket with little trouble.

8. Undertaker Vs. Kama - SummerSlam 1995


I've criticised a couple of the matches on this list for being too cartoonish or hokey, but the main flaw in Undertaker vs. Kama is perhaps that it wasn't cheesy enough. The pair wrestled a long, ultra-serious contest, characterised by lengthy passages of brawling.

At one stage, both men ended up in the casket exchanging blows - a pretty unique spot at the time - but there was nothing here to particularly set the crowd alight.

On the other hand, this was a necessary step in the development of the casket stipulation. Despite being only the fourth televised casket match, it was beginning to run the risk of seeming outdated, as the larger-than-life HulkaMania era faded further into the past.

Paired with a more realistic fighter in Kama, 'Taker was able to focus less on the spooky hijinks of his previous three casket bouts, and instead draw attention to the wearing down of his opponent. It remains a gruelling watch, but a much-needed change of pace as well.

7. Undertaker Vs. King Mabel - In Your House 5: Season's Beatings


Taking place a few months after the match with Kama, Undertaker vs. King Mabel wisely cut the length of the bout a little shorter. It may have even been too short, but the King of the Ring winner wasn't exactly WWE's most trusted Superstar at the time.

The background to this match saw Mabel in the doghouse for garnering a reputation as an unsafe worker. He legitimately fractured 'Taker's orbital bone with a misjudged legdrop - which at least explains the Phenom's choice to wear that Phantom of the Opera-style mask.

In a nice deviation from the established trope, Undertaker's opponent actually brought the casket to ringside (or, more accurately, his entourage did - complete with graffiti decor).

The bout itself was a relatively simple tale of the babyface overcoming the odds, as Mabel's ally Mo attempted to insert himself into proceedings on a number of occasions. 'Taker saw off both men in fairly short order, tossing both into the casket simultaneously for a nice crowd-popping finale.

6. Undertaker Vs. Mark Henry - WrestleMania 22


The only WrestleMania bout on this list (and certainly not one of 'Taker's best efforts, when stacked up against some of his other streak matches) this nevertheless managed to be a decently enjoyable affair.

This was largely thanks to several key spots scattered throughout the bout, most notably Undertaker's jaw-dropping dive to the outside which saw him fly over the casket en route. 'Taker usually dominates the early proceedings of casket matches, but things went a little differently here as Henry jumped him before the opening bell.

Still, the Deadman was able to fight back, at one stage drilling the World's Strongest Man with an impressive Last Ride.

All in all, despite not being on the same level as 'Taker's 'Mania bouts with Michaels, Punk, Edge, and so on, this can still be seen as an example of the Deadman going all out to impress on the grandest stage of them all.

5. Undertaker Vs. Yokozuna - Survivor Series 1994


'Taker's Royal Rumble casket match with Yokozuna may have ranked bottom on this list, but their rematch at Survivor Series was a vast improvement.

This was primarily due to the fact that only a few heels interfered this time, rather than the massed ranks that attempted to chop the Phenom down earlier in the year. Bam Bam Bigelow and King Kong Bundy tried to get involved, but were stared down on the ramp by special guest enforcer Chuck Norris. Yes, you read that sentence correctly.

With our boy Chuck distracted, IRS entered through the crowd and choked out Undertaker with a sleeper hold. 'Taker was able to make a comeback and avenge his earlier loss to Yokozuna, a moment capped by Jeff Jarrett attempting to also intervene, only for Norris to take him out with a (rather flamboyant) heel kick on the outside.

4. Undertaker Vs. Randy Orton and Bob Orton - No Mercy 2005

Clearly Bob Orton was far past his prime here, and may have made this bout a little clunkier than it should have been - especially considering the exceptional in-ring smoothness of his son. However, in terms of psychology and character work, it must be considered one of the best casket matches produced by WWE.

The father and son duo did an excellent job of both selling 'Taker's intimidation factor, while heelishly teaming up to prevent him from ever gaining an advantage for too long.

One drawback would be the commentary, who didn't seem to quite understand the rules of the bout. Undertaker slammed the lid shut on Cowboy Bob earlier in the match, and it was implied that he would have to remain there for the rest of the bout, as per a quirk of the handicap stipulation.

Ultimately this would prove to be untrue, as in a unique finishing sequence, Bob burst from the casket to blind 'Taker with a fire extinguisher. This led to an RKO, but that wasn't quite enough to put away the Deadman. Instead, the end came when Randy nailed Undertaker with a chairshot, one which is definitely uncomfortable to watch in hindsight.

The pair celebrated victory by dousing the casket in gasoline and setting it on fire, which must be considered bad sportsmanship in all honesty.

3. Undertaker Vs. Heidenreich - Royal Rumble 2005


It's no secret that Heidenreich wasn't the smoothest (or most technically proficient) member of the WWE locker room in the mid-2000s, but that didn't stop me from genuinely enjoying this casket match from the 2005 Royal Rumble.

Few have done a better job than the bleached-blond heel of selling a fear of the stipulation, who tried to leave the match early on. His intimidation occasionally became psychotic rage, especially during a memorable spot where he hurtled the object down the ramp and into a dazed Undertaker, sat slouched against the ring apron.

'Taker bumped all over the place for Heidenreich here, perhaps because the pair were apparently booked for a match at WrestleMania 21 just a few months away. Ultimately, that bout never came to fruition, but this one was still thankfully populated by big spots. Another that stands out in the mind is 'Taker's legdrop from the apron to the casket, with Heidenreich's body sandwiched halfway out.

Add in a little interference from Snitsky ("He's a Raw Superstar! What's he doing here!?"), a little odds-adjusting courtesy of Kane, and you have the ingredients for a very acceptable instalment in the history of casket matches.

2. Undertaker Vs. Kamala - Survivor Series 1992


Now yes, this match was messy as hell. Kamala and 'Taker spent a lot of the time slowly brawling around the ring (and ringside area). However, as the first participants in a televised WWE casket match, there must have been a lot of pressure on both men to really sell the uniqueness of the stipulation. And boy did they.

There's sometimes something magical about watching wrestling from a bygone era, particularly when the crowd seems to be utterly enthralled by the pageantry of a casket stipulation,

Paul Bearer was magnificent here, although the real star was Kamala - often being afraid to even stand and fight with 'Taker, lest he end up in the casket.

For a short while, it seemed as though Kamala was actually going to win this one, as he kept Undertaker grounded (and apparently unconscious) with a series of splashes.

Instead, the Phenom was able to battle back and secure a 1-0 record in televised casket matches.

1. Undertaker Vs. Shawn Michaels - Royal Rumble 1998


Predictably, Undertaker's Royal Rumble 1998 match with Shawn Michaels must be considered the greatest casket match of all time, and it remains leaps and bounds ahead of all of its competition even today.

Yes, this bout may be best remembered as the site of HBK's retirement-forcing back injury, robbing him of several years of his career before his unlikely return in 2002. However, it's often forgotten that Michaels' injury came pretty early on in the bout, and that HBK battled his way through a match including some terrifying moments.

The most spectacular - particularly in hindsight - was his leap from the top rope onto the Phenom, who was lying prone in the casket on the outside of the ring. Another big moment saw HBK give 'Taker a huge piledriver on the ring steps, only to suffer a retaliatory Tombstone into the casket later in the bout.

As well as excellent action, match also had a dramatic finish - as the apparently-babyface Kane revealed himself to be aligned with DX all along, helping Michaels secure victory before setting the casket ablaze.

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Jack G. King

Written by Jack G. King

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