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Slow build rivalries Part.1 - HBK/Undertaker/HHH

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Hi EWN peeps!
djdylanmanov here back with my second blog, this two-part blog I will be focusing on the strength of having the fans invest emotionally into a feud with a slow build.

Particularly I want to pen my opinion to the unique way the WWE have built some recent headline Wrestlemania feuds and dovetailing feuds from year(s) gone by with a fresh new challenger.
I will start by breaking down the feuds with a trip down memory lane and then bring it to the home plate with my opinion on how they have engaged me as a fan and in these instances built successfully the slowest build feuds I have ever experienced.

HBK vs. The Undertaker

Noone can deny that The Undertaker’s streak is unlike anything that will likely be seen/repeated or superseded in our lifetime. His legacy is cemented with his Wrestlemania success and his 20+ year run as a powerhouse and life-blood of the WWE and for those Superstars lucky enough to have challenged the Streak at Wrestlemania it is made up of all superstar walks of life from Giants, Supersized athletes, Up-and-comers and established household names The Undertaker regardless of the pre-determined result, annually has fans on the edge of their seat engaged from the minute his entrance hits to when he goes down on one knee flooded in purple light and smoke reaching up victorious at yet another Wrestlemania.

This brings me to his feud with Shawn Michaels…
After becoming the first superstar to pin the then, undefeated Vladimir Koslov on a March 2nd 2009 episode of MondayNight RAW, The Heart Break Kid earned the right to challenge The Undertaker (16-0 at the time) for the Streak at Wrestlemania XXV.

HBK would then prove unsuccessful to beat the Demon of DeathValley in what many have dubbed as a contender for the greatest Wrestlemania match of all time.

Fast forward to 2010…
After calling out The Undertaker at The Slammy awards as his win being a “fluke” and that he can beat The Undertaker in a rematch, the weeks to follow showed the reformed DX (Unified Tag Team champions) slowly drifting apart, with HBK becoming more and more obsessed with The Undertaker accepting the re-match.
This would prove poison going into a Triple Threat Unified Tag Team Titles match on the Feb 8th episode (cue vintage McMahon accent) “Mondiiiii Naaaaiiiiggghhhttt Raaaaaaaaaaaaarrrw” to the team of Miz & The Big Show in a triple threat match.

Following the match it setup the storyline dissolve of DX, leaving HBK to then go on to concentrate on persuading Taker (then 17-0) to accept his rematch for Wrestlemania XXVI. After weeks of persistence from Micheal's, The Undertaker was adamant that he had his chance and he couldn’t get the job done so the answer was UN-equivocally NO. Desperate to change his mind however possible, The Showstopper would interfere in The Undertakers World Heavyweight Championship match at Night of Champions setting up rematch on the Grandest Stage of them all, on one condition… it would be a Streak vs. Career match!

One again proving unsuccessful this would draw close to the illustrious in-ring career of (as Paul Heyman accurately dubbed – and put on your Paul Heyman weasel voice for this one…) “Thiiiie Greatest in-ring perrrrrformerof all timeeeee” Mr. Wrestlemania, Shawn Michael s on March 28th 2010 at Wrestlemania XXVI

HHH vs. The Undertaker

On the Feb 21st 2011 episode on Monday Night Raw we saw the return of the Undertaker after a hiatus and various return vignettes shown hyping his eventual homecoming back to the squared circle (many including I thought these vignettes were for Sting however proved to be in fact the Deadman)
With the eerie use of Johnny Cash as a refreshing alternate entrance theme, The Undertaker returned to RAW but would be interrupted with a equally big ovation for the returning Cerebral Assassin. No words were exchanged on this meeting in the middle of that very ring however a motion towards the Wrestlemania illuminated sign above the ring was all that was needed to seal the two for a match at the upcoming Superbowl of Wrestling.

Now let’s all turn a blind eye to the fact that these two Superstars met at Wrestlemania X-Seven (many fans of the Attitude Era’s favorite Wrestlemaniaof all time)
The Game then touted to The Undertaker in the weeks to follow that he has climbed every mountain in the WWE, won everything and done it all… the one thing left for him is to take The Streak at Wrestlemania XXVII and that he will not show remorse in punishing the Deadman and proving why he is The King of Kings.

When finding out that HHH would be challenging The Demon of Death Valley for the Streak at Wrestlemania XXVII I immediately thought that this will be a high class display of The Deadman's strike hitting and vintage move set complimenting the power of HHH’s offense to bring to the fans a match that would 1) Tell a brilliant story and also 2) Take the Phenom to the limit physically… which was proven in my mind when this match became a No HoldsBarred Match.

After punishing The Undertaker with seemingly endless back body chair shots and finishing move Pedigree’s throughout the match many thought as did I that this would be the match the Streak would be broken, however seemingly out of no-where the Undertaker would lock in Hell’s Gate forcing the Game to tap out,extending the Streak to 19-0.
The hidden Easter egg here to continue the feud on for another year was that Undertaker for the first time in his Career had to be escorted from the ring, battered and looking very much human. Unlike the unstoppable force we have seen for two decades of destruction.

Fast forward now to this year’s Wrestlemania XXVIII just gone by…
Triple H returned on the January 30th Monday Night Raw to confront Interim Raw GM John Laurinaitis' performance (many expecting he fire JL and appoint a new GM)
As he was eluding to a decision to terminate Big Johnny he was interrupted by the entrance music of The Undertaker. The Undertaker would then over the course of following weeks goad HHH into accepting a rematch to their Wrestlemania XXVII bout to prove that he can beat him (Cue Dusty Rhodes accent here) “Whithouta Shadowova Doubt”
After initially refusing out of respect for The Undertaker and his career, Trips would accept the challenge after best friend Shawn Michael s claimed him to be a coward and couldn't do what he couldn't do, questioning his manhood and honor. Because of these words, HHH accepted the challenge and the re-match would go ahead.

This match would be contested for one-fall inside Hell In A Cell, with HBK acting as special guest referee.This demonic structure boasts tonnes of unforgiving steel that takes years off superstars careers – this is the battleground that would draw an end to yet another 24 month long slow built feud.
HHH would again prove unsuccessful in his claim to defeating the Undertaker and successfully claiming the Streak with a role reversal showing an utter display of dominance for the latter two thirds of the match by the freshly short haired Deadman, but more intriguing to me is the part that Shawn Michael's played in this feud…

Shawn Michael's throughout the match was emotionally invested in this bout, be it in reality or storyline, from the bell start to the match end, he was as invested in the match as the two future Hall of Famer's going head to head.
The Undertaker would go to 20-0 at Wrestlemania and following the Fireworks and celebrations you saw three superstars helping each other to the back, holding each other up and coming together as one on stage…
A job well done and emotional payoff for what was a feud the Undertaker shared over two opponents >> over 4 consecutive Wrestlemania’s >> over 48 months.

Rivalries all dovetailed together over years through friendship/personal respect and who would come out on top as the better man on the day.

This is the first example of a multiple year feud build for Wrestlemania I have experienced, I would love to hear all of your feedback both positive and constructive and stay tuned for part 2 where I focus on the John Cena/Rock/CM Punk rivalry…

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Updated 08-22-2012 at 11:17 PM by djdylanmanov (weblinks)

Thoughts and Opinions


  1. deadly56's Avatar
    I got to say, you really are a good at giving recaps and adding you're own 2 cents in. Over the years no one was really acknowledging how big of streak Taker had, but I would say ever since his match with Orton, that's when the streak was becoming a big deal. Shawn and HHH, I would say have greatly pushed, that the streak is a very big deal. Now the streak has gotten, so huge it's obvious no one will be able to defeat Undertaker. But their is a chance when Undertaker is at his last Wrestlemania the person that could face him, might be given the privilege to defeat him.

    Anyway there is one thing, that I think you're blog is missing and that is maybe you could show the promos of the feuds. But no need to worry that's when I come in.
    Updated 08-22-2012 at 12:13 PM by deadly56
  2. deadly56's Avatar
    HBK vs Taker2 Wrestlemania26 promo

    HHH vs Taker Wrestlemania28 promo

    Updated 08-22-2012 at 12:11 PM by deadly56
  3. jelle1809's Avatar
    Damn good Blog!!

    As told before, I must congratulate you on a job well done making a fine recap of those build-ups.
  4. djdylanmanov's Avatar
    Thanks for the feedback guys much appreciated! I have added the links to the promo vids cheers for the tip!
    Stay tuned for part 2 and as always any feedback... Just bring it!

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