The Undertaker Vs Mankind – King of the Ring 23/06/1996
This is the first match between these two, despite their feud starting almost 3 months before! And it’s not like there weren’t any PPV’s between Mankind’s debut/first attack on The Undertaker and KOTR either, so it was nice for a feud to have a slow build before going into a match! Also, despite the fact I have seen all their other matches before, this is my first time viewing this one!
Paul Bearer comes out alone, and The Undertaker doesn’t appear to be anywhere. Is Undertaker afraid of Mankind? Hell no! He’s lying in wait on the top rope, and once the lights come on, Undertaker launches himself into Mankind with a massive clothesline!
It’s not very often that The Undertaker needs to attack an opponent from behind like this, which just goes to show you how much of a threat Mankind was being made out to be, even against The Undertaker.
Undertaker starts off strong thanks to the clothesline, but it isn’t long before Mankind gains control and starts to beat down the Phenom with moves like his signature elbow drop from the apron to the floor. He tries to use a steel chair on the Dead Man, but this would be a mistake as The Undertaker kicks it back into the face of Mankind, and then back drops him onto the concrete! Awesome spot for WWF 1996.
His years as Cactus Jack allow Mankind to take this kind of punishment and still come back, even allowing him to go for the Mandible Claw for the first time, a move that has put down The Undertaker on a number of occasions leading up to this match. However, knowing how deadly the move is, Undertaker makes damn sure he blocks it, even if it forces Mankind to lock in another hold to wear him down.
Out of desperation The Undertaker goes new school with a flurry of rights and lefts to escape the hold and put down Mankind (get it? New school… moves he would do in his later years? Oh shut up, it’s clever dammit! :P). Mankind again shows his toughness by taking all of those shots and STILL coming back to regain control, which leads to an awesome running knee to The Undertaker’s face while he is leaning against the steel steps (Mankind runs around half of the ring to build up speed too lol). At this point though, both men are in another zone, and continue to take punishment while also being able to dish it out, which The Undertaker demonstrates by placing a steel chair in the way of Mankind when he goes for another elbow off the apron! Some really awesome stuff here, just a big, wild brawl while keeping within the rules enough for the match to continue. Similar to what they would do at the Revenge of the ‘Taker PPV in 1997.
When a monstrous Piledriver doesn’t put Undertaker away, Mankind loses it, screaming and pulling his hair out. Always loved the Mankind character for things like that. Since the big Piledriver didn’t work, Mankind attempts to use the Urn, but Bearer takes it off him, leading to a Mandible Claw attempt once again. Paul Bearer sets Mankind up to be hit in the head with the Urn, but Mankind moves, and Undertaker is levelled with the Urn, put in the Mandible Claw, and this one is over! Even with the interference of Paul Bearer, getting a win like this over Undertaker was HUGE back then, and would still be huge today.
Really awesome match, pretty much what I have come to expect out of these two men. Mankind was great for Undertaker’s career, finally giving him someone GOOD to work with instead of the usual giants and obese guys that couldn’t move or work. With Mankind, Undertaker got to unleash his true potential that rarely got the opportunity to come out. They mix the brawling perfectly into a standard match so it doesn’t come across as a street fight, but at the same time it’s not a regular match you would normally see with no stipulations or anything. Not their best match together, only around the 4th best, but that just speaks volumes of the series they had together. Glad I finally got around to seeing it thanks to Undertaker’s latest set, something I probably wouldn’t have done for a while until I got around to buying the KOTR DVD’s.