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Watch explosive footage of John Cena and AJ Styles forming an unlikely partnership against KO and The Bulgarian Brute on the July 11 edition of SmackDown LIVE.07/13/2017 - 12:45
No, we're not counting a pinfall -- that's World Heavyweight Champion Undertaker's record against Batista over the last 13 months.
Friday on SmackDown, it's do-or-die time for The Phenom, as he goes one-on-one with The Animal for the World Heavyweight Championship. It's the proverbial game seven of their series -- with the Rated-R Superstar, Edge, lurking in the next round at Backlash.
But before Edge finds out who he will face this Sunday, he -- as well as the WWE Fan Nation -- will witness another chapter in the epic war between Batista and Undertaker. Six times in 13 months, these two have torn down the house in a war that began on the Grandest Stage of Them All.
At last year's WrestleMania, Batista walked into Detroit's Ford Field as World Heavyweight Champion -- but Undertaker walked out with the gold. That night, The Phenom won their first meeting, dropping The Animal with a Tombstone Piledriver to claim the title, run his WrestleMania streak to 15-0 and go one-up on Batista.
Over the next six weeks, they would battle twice more -- once in a brutal Last Man Standing Match at last year's Backlash, then in a SmackDown Steel Cage showdown -- with neither man able to defeat the other. But when Undertaker suffered a torn biceps thanks to a post-Steel Cage Match attack from Mark Henry, Edge swooped in to steal the gold, effectively tabling the epic Undertaker-Batista series.
Flash-forward to Cyber Sunday. On a cold late-October night, Batista finally exorcised his demon. With "Stone Cold" Steve Austin serving as fan-appointed guest referee, The Animal -- who had once again won the World Heavyweight Championship during Undertaker's injury hiatus -- successfully defended the gold against The Phenom and evened the score.
They would have another rematch, this time at Survivor Series inside the most demonic structure in WWE -- Hell in a Cell. Again, it would be Batista who came out on top, as Edge -- who was making his own re-emergence after a four-month injury layoff -- cost Undertaker his chance to regain the gold.
Since then, Undertaker and Batista have come face-to-face a few more times; both men were involved in the Armageddon Triple Threat Match where Edge regained the World Heavyweight Championship, and The Phenom and The Animal were also the last two men in the No Way Out Elimination Chamber Match that saw Undertaker officially punch his WrestleMania ticket. Then, there was just last week, as both Superstars were counted out in their sixth official singles scrap.
But that match was non-title, and it didn't have the specter of the main event of Backlash hanging in the balance -- at least for Batista. This Friday, that will all be there. As of now, Undertaker will defend the gold against Edge this Sunday, while Batista is set to battle Shawn Michaels. But, if The Animal can score his third win over The Deadman, it will be Undertaker who's left out in the cold at Backlash.
Batista and Undertaker know each other very well -- almost too well, one might surmise, which should make for a hard-hitting human chess game come Friday night. But which one will put the other in checkmate and punch their golden ticket to Baltimore?