3. The Undertaker, Judgment Day 2000
Another great return in 2000, and again during a The Rock-Triple H match. This time it was an epic 60-minute Iron Man Match. Vince McMahon “fired” The Undertaker on a September 1999 episode of SmackDown, but in reality Undertaker needed time to heal an injury during which he also tore up a pectoral muscle and hence his return was delayed further.
The match which had Shawn Michaels as the special guest referee was heading towards a draw, with the score tied at 5-5. The whole of McMahon-Helmsley regime was about to screw The Rock but then entered The Undertaker with his new “biker” gimmick. He single-handedly took care of the McMahons and the DX and went on to chokeslam and tombstone The Game, as the one hour time came to an end. Michaels called for Triple H as the winner because of outside interference by The Undertaker, much to The Rock’s shock. The match ended with a 6-5 win for Triple H.
Triple H might have won The Rock’s championship, but the real winner of the event was The Undertaker who showed everyone what he is capable of, in less than 2 minutes. Fans not only witnessed some of the best chokeslams of all time but also the birth of a memorable Undertaker gimmick.
3. Triple H, Raw Jan 7, 2002
On the May 21, 2001 episode of Raw, The Game was involved in a tag team match where he teamed up with Stone Cold to face Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit. In the middle of the match, Hunter tore his quadriceps and somehow wrestled till the end of the match, during which he also took a Lion Tamer from Jericho. This injury kept him out of the WWE for 8 months. As a result of this injury, Triple H missed the entire ‘Invasion’ storyline.
Triple H returned on January 7, 2002, less than 2 weeks before the Royal Rumble, all the fans got on their feet when they saw The Game return. Triple H made up for the 8-month loss by winning the 2002 Royal Rumble by last eliminating Kurt Angle and then defeating Chris Jericho at WrestleMania X8 for the Unified Championship.
1. Shawn Michaels, Raw June 3, 2002
Michaels suffered a serious back injury during his Casket Match with The Undertaker at Royal Rumble 1998. He suffered spinal disc herniation on two discs and another got completely crushed. He was forced into retirement after his WrestleMania XIV WWF Championship loss to Stone Cold. He made appearances as the ‘ WWF Commissioner’ and as a special guest referee in between but never wrestled again until 2002.
After staying out of in-ring action for over 4 years, Michaels finally returned for action on June 3, 2002 episode of Raw where we saw him joining the reformed nWo, celebrating his return with the old friend Kevin Nash. What makes this return so special is how Michaels made a comeback after suffering a career-ending injury, when everyone thought that his career is over, he himself thought so. He not only returned but wrestled Triple H in many hardcore matches and also won The Game’s World Heavyweight Championship in the first ever Elimination Chamber Match at the 2002 Survivor Series. Michaels went on to wrestler for another 8 years, during which he delivered the PWI Match of the Year for 7 successive years from 2004 to 2010. Amazing, isn’t he?!
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