DVD Review: Tombstone – The History Of The Undertaker – WWE

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Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 547 Minutes
Certificate: 18
Number Of Discs: 3
Studio: Clear Vision Ltd/Silver Vision
Released: September 19 2005

This 2005 DVD on The Undertaker came at a time when it seemed that Taker’s best days were behind him. A little ongoing thing called The Streak would prove otherwise, but as a round-up of The Phenom’s WWF/WWE career up to the mid-2000s, it is a pretty good overview.

There is no in-depth documentary here, partly because The Dead Man was still active on WWE TV in full character. I don’t mind this, although others might; however, I do hope (and expect) the full, proper inside look at The Undertaker’s career at some point, either this fall or late next year.

As a match compilation, then, we open with clips of his Survivor Series 1990 debut and the first few full matches are key ones: his first WWF Title win over Hulk Hogan at Survivors 1991; his unusual Casket match with Yokozuna at Royal Rumble 1994 (I was genuinely terrified of this as a 5-year-old; I still am … only joking); and a big WM clash with Diesel in 1996. The DVD picks up steam with the beginning of his feud against Mankind, although the matches spotlighted here (Buried Alive & In Your House 14) aren’t the ones I would have picked (I was hoping for their bouts from King Of The Ring and SummerSlam in 1996, just for starters). We then get a great WWF Title match with Bret Hart at SummerSlam 1997, which begins the most eventful 12 months of Taker’s career.

Disc two starts with two PPV matches against Shawn Michaels, the best undoubtedly being their Hell In A Cell match (this DVD was released long before their classic WrestleMania showdowns). But the big story is that the Cell bout leads to the feud with Kane, captured here by their WrestleMania XIV clash and their Inferno rematch. We then get a match that had to be here, the HIAC war with Mankind at KOTR 1998 (but not the SummerSlam 1998 match with Stone Cold Steve Austin, unfortunately). The Ministry phase of his career is covered by PPV matches against The Rock and Stone Cold from the summer of 1999, which are pretty good, before a transformation heading into disc three.

Footage from Judgment Day 2000 shows that Taker returned from a serious injury not as the Phenom but as a biker character nicknamed the American Bad Ass. A controversial career change at the time, it did nevertheless lead to some good matches, like his WM X7 bout with Triple H featured here. His Undisputed WWE Title win over Hogan at Judgment Day 2002 unfortunately has several low points, but Taker rises to the occasion against Brock Lesnar in a brutal and very bloody HIAC match at No Mercy 2002 (had Lesnar beaten Taker again at the following WrestleMania, nobody would have complained). Taker fights a young John Cena at Vengeance 2003 (who knew this would be their only PPV clash?), before a story-based Buried Alive match against Vince McMahon at Survivor Series 2003 includes shocking interference by Kane, which most importantly leads to the return of the Phenom character as he defeats Kane at WM XX (albeit in a disappointing bout) to conclude the DVD.

The release is narrated by Mean Gene Okerlund (although it’s impossible to tell), and features two extra matches (great technical scraps against Bret and Kurt Angle from One Night Only 1997 and a 2003 SmackDown! respectively) and some bonus interview segments. Even given that this DVD lacks a documentary and precedes the crucial Streak years, it still excludes some notable matches: as well as those mentioned, the classic 3-way main event from Vengeance 2002 is missing, as is Taker vs. Randy Orton from WM 21 (which happened before the DVD was released).

Overall, though, this is a strong WWE DVD. A modern-day look at Taker’s career, including a proper documentary and a round-up of matches covering his entire career, from the pre-WWE days to the major bouts of the 1990s and his biker phase to the highlights of the Streak, would unquestionably be superior, but in the meantime fans should be satisfied with owning this and the Streak DVD (which was recently reviewed here; you can read my thoughts on this release by clicking here). The Undertaker’s supporters, the Creatures Of The Night, will love this DVD, I’m sure.

Overall Rating: 8/10 – Very Good