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The grave history of Buried Alive Matches
Being a WWE Superstar is all about being fearless. Getting in the ring every night takes a certain amount of guts. But what do you do when you’re confronted with the prospect of being thrown in an open grave and having dirt shoveled on top of you until you’re buried alive?
Most Superstars, understandably, wouldn’t even want to consider such a thing. That’s probably why there’s only been five Buried Alive Matches in WWE history. In honor of the few Superstars daring enough to step foot into WWE’s makeshift cemetery, join WWE.com in celebrating the 20th anniversary of the most macabre match of all time.
The Undertaker vs. Mankind: In Your House, Oct. 20, 1996
The rivalry between The Undertaker and Mankind that broke out in 1996 tore WWE apart. Neither rings nor boiler rooms could contain the carnage that The Deadman and his sadistic foe were creating. Seeking a permanent end to this quarrel, both competitors agreed to face each other in the first Buried Alive Match.
Unsure of what to expect in such a morbid match, WWE officials did not sanction the bout, clearing them of any responsibility for the mayhem that was sure to occur. Mankind and The Phenom brutalized each other, brawling around Indianapolis’ Market Square Arena, back and forth between the ring and the graveyard. Steel chairs, ring steps, shovels and the concrete arena floor all came into play, as the two rivals used everything in sight to maim each other.
The Undertaker seemed to have the battle wrapped up after a devastating Tombstone. He carried Mankind to the grave until the unstable Superstar locked in his dreaded Mandible Claw. The Phenom recovered from the submission hold before Mankind could crack him with Paul Bearer’s urn. That gave Undertaker the opening to chokeslam Mankind into the grave. The official signaled for the bell as The Deadman began piling dirt on his rival. The Undertaker continued to shovel the grave full of soil until he was attacked from behind by a group of Mankind’s allies, including Triple H and JBL and a new face in WWE, The Executioner.
The evil band of Superstars rescued Mankind from the grave and tossed The Phenom in, ganging up to fill the grave with dirt until thunder boomed throughout the arena. The group scattered as lightning struck the headstone and the gloved hand of The Undertaker shot up from the earth, letting the WWE Universe know that he would not perish.
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker: In Your House - Rock Bottom
The Undertaker often became an unwilling participant in Mr. McMahon’s crusade to rid WWE of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. At Judgment Day 1998, The Deadman had the opportunity to win the vacant WWE Title in a match against his brother Kane. The WWE Chairman, however, forced Austin to be the referee and declare a winner or be fired. The Texas Rattlesnake, naturally, declared himself the winner after taking out Undertaker with a vicious chairshot and “Stone Cold” Stunner. Austin was fired and rehired, won the WWE Title and was stripped of it following a controversial Triple Threat Match against The Phenom and Kane in September 1998.
The Undertaker, though, never forgot Austin costing him the championship. Now leading the evil Ministry of Darkness, The Deadman set out to get vengeance on The Bionic Redneck. Mr. McMahon saw the heated rivalry as the perfect opportunity to prevent Austin from entering the 1999 Royal Rumble Match. He put the two foes in a Buried Alive Match, figuring The Undertaker was a sure thing in the grave bout.
Mr. McMahon didn’t count on there being any supernatural interference, though. Austin and The Phenom brawled throughout the arena, battering each other with anything they could get their hands on. The Texas Rattlesnake had the upper hand after Stunning The Undertaker right into the grave. Austin began shoveling dirt on his foe, but stopped to go backstage, giving The Deadman a chance to escape the grave.
The Undertaker tried to hide, ducking behind a pile of dirt with a shovel, awaiting Austin’s return. He didn’t expect a burst of flames to explode from the open grave. With the WWE Universe stunned, Kane arrived on the scene, attacking his weakened brother and Tombstoning him into the grave.
Just as Kane attacked, Austin returned to the arena, commandeering a backhoe to make the burial process much quicker. The WWE Universe exploded in cheers as “Stone Cold” had his arm raised in victory and celebrated by pouring a cold one out on The Deadman’s grave.
The Rock 'n' Sock Connection vs Undertaker & Big Show: SmackDown, Sept. 9, 1999
Mankind and The Rock are one of the most popular duos in WWE history. Their witty rapport instantly endeared them to the WWE Universe, and their unusual chemistry made them a formidable team. The Rock ‘n’ Sock Connection became a force to be reckoned with shortly after its formation, as the team defeated The Undertaker and Big Show to win the World Tag Team Championships.
The former champions got their rematch on more terrifying terms: in the only tag team Buried Alive Match in WWE history. The fight quickly spilled outside the ring, with the announcers’ table, the steel ring steps and chairs coming into play. The Great One and Mankind soon had a two-on-one advantage against The World’s Largest Athlete at the grave. A quick beatdown with the shovel sent the giant into the earth, but The Undertaker prevented the challengers from burying his massive partner.
The Deadman blinded The Rock with a handful of dirt before brawling out of sight with him. Big Show and Mankind fought to the stage. Though Mrs. Foley’s Baby Boy battled valiantly, his gigantic foe’s power was too much to overcome. Big Show hurled Mankind across the stage and into the grave. Mankind tried to fight his way out of the pit, but the combined might of Undertaker and Big Show won out.
However, one of Mankind’s foes wasn’t content with letting the giant finish the job. Triple H entered the gravesite and cracked the giant in the neck with his trusty sledgehammer and buried Mankind himself, giving the victory and the championships to Undertaker and Big Show.
The Undertaker vs. Mr. McMahon: Survivor Series 2003
Mr. McMahon made The Undertaker’s life a living hell on SmackDown during fall 2003. The WWE Chairman prevented The Deadman from defeating Brock Lesnar to regain the WWE Championship. So after Undertaker overcame Lesnar and Big Show in a Handicap Match where if he won, he could pick any match and any opponent, the choice was easy. The Phenom looked McMahon dead in the eyes and let him know that at Survivor Series, they’d be facing off in a Buried Alive Match.
When the bout finally came, Mr. McMahon stood toe-to-toe with The Deadman. That turned out to be a foolish move as Undertaker’s first punch turned the WWE Chairman into a crimson mess. He brutalized Mr. McMahon for what seemed like an eternity, beating him around ringside with his massive hands and a steel shovel.
After a back-and-forth battle on the grave, The Undertaker looked to have Mr. McMahon prepped for burial. He made his way to a massive payloader near the gravesite. As he opened the door of the massive vehicle, fire shot out and sent The Deadman crashing to the arena floor.
Kane then appeared as Mr. McMahon scattered out of the tomb and into the payloader. The Big Red Monster threw his incapacitated brother into the pit. The WWE Chairman unloaded a massive amount of dirt into the grave, ensuring The Undertaker would not escape. Kane cackled maniacally as he played with the soil on his brother’s grave, thinking that he was now rid of The Phenom for good.
The Undertaker vs. Kane: Bragging Rights 2010
It would be seven long years before The Undertaker would be able to attempt to get retribution on his brother for burying him alive. Kane was terrorizing SmackDown as the World Heavyweight Champion with his father, Paul Bearer, by his side. The Undertaker was determined to regain the title and put an end to this family feud once and for all.
Thirteen years of bickering and fighting came to a head at Bragging Rights 2010 when The Brothers of Destruction waged war in a Buried Alive Match. The squared circle could not contain the fury of the hellacious siblings. Kane and The Undertaker battled into the WWE Universe, desperately trying to wear each other down so the horrific burial process would be somewhat easier.
In a bout where submission wrestling is usually out of place, The Deadman used his grappling knowledge to his advantage, locking in the devastating Hell’s Gate on his brother. The Big Red Monster passed out, allowing The Phenom to roll him into the grave. However, The Undertaker sought even more retribution, attempting to bury Bearer with Kane. He was nearly successful, until Wade Barrett and The Nexus ganged up on him at the top of the grave. The group of rookie Superstars held Undertaker still as Kane grabbed Bearer’s iconic urn and smashed it into his brother’s skull, sending The Deadman tumbling into the tomb.
The Devil’s Favorite Demon then screamed at The Nexus to leave the gravesite as he stared ominously at a payloader nearby. Kane raised his arms, summoning his mystic powers to take control of it, dumping a ton of dirt on his brother. Bearer and his monster scurried from the tomb as the arena went dark. The familiar toll of funeral bells echoed as lightning struck the tombstone. Fire shot up as The Undertaker’s music played and his symbol emerged on the gravestone, letting the WWE Universe know that he would not rest in peace.