"The Undertaker: The Streak" gathers all 20 Wrestlemania appearances of one of the WWE's longest working and most respected performances, Mark Callaway, more commonly known as The Undertaker. Beginning with a short, 40-minute retrospective of The Undertaker's 20-match undefeated streak at the biggest event in pro-wrestling that acts as a highlight reel and minor platform for reflection when it comes to the most recent matches in the superstar's career, this four-disc set then devotes its three remaining discs to presenting all 20 bouts, (mostly) uncut for the interested pro-wrestling fan to consume and reflect upon.
For such a legendary collection of matches in terms of historical significance, watching all 20 chronologically revealed the sobering fact that, by-and-large, "the streak" is full of a lot of matches that are marginal at best, especially in the earlier and latter half of The Undertaker's Wrestlemania career. In fact, the first four matches are quite dull, with his Wrestlemania IX appearance against Giant Gonzalez coming in as one of the worst matches of that event, which itself is considered the worst Wrestlemania in history. It's not until his fifth outing against Diesel (Kevin Nash) that fans truly get anything resembling The Undertaker at the height of his career, even then, Diesel isn't as polished a performer as Sycho Sid who The Undertaker would meet the next year and win his first WWE title from.
Many of the matches though suffer from lack of context; for instance both his matches against Kane were the culminations of months of buildup and to the uninitiated the importance of both are completely lost. Likewise, his absolute annihilation of Ric Flair at Wrestlemania X8 is almost pointless and sad not knowing the back-story. Truthfully told, until Wrestlemania XXIV, there's only one great Undertaker match in the lot, his first (of three) battles against HHH in the Hell in the Cell at Wrestlemania X-Seven. No one needs any context to appreciate a great old-fashioned pro-wrestling brawl; both men give their all and the result is gripping to the end, even already knowing the outcome.
While nothing between X-Seven and XXIV is as bad as his fight against The Big Bossman at Wrestlemania XV which the DVD itself edits the only noteworthy moment, a faux hanging of the Bossman from the Hell in the Cell post match, it's obvious in hindsight his tired handicap match against Big Show and A-Train, gimmicky casket match against Mark Henry, anti-climatic crushing of Randy Orton, and second title victory against Batista are merely placeholders in what was likely serious consideration behind the scenes whether the streak should end. Fortunately for viewers, the matches at Wrestlemanias XXIV through XXVIII are some of Undertaker's best career moments and in one instance, one of the most important matches in WWE history: the retiring of Shawn Michaels.
The price of purchase of this set is easily justified with the final six matches, beginning with a legendary, third title victory against Edge, to two pairs of brutal show-stopping matches with Shawn Michaels and HHH respectively. I would feel perfectly fine in classifying his first encounter with Michaels at Wrestlemania XXV to be the best match of possibly not just his career, but Michaels', which says a lot for those who know the career of the latter. The HHH encounters at XXVII and XXVIII are pure legacy builders with the 20th consecutive victory firmly cementing The Undertaker's legacy as one of the WWE's greatest all-time performers. Like the bout at X-Seven against HHH, these matches need no back-story; the wrestlers are in top-form and give the crowd their moneys worth from the elaborate entrances to the 30-minute runtimes of nearly every match. Sadly, these matches are only a fourth of the entire collection and don't offset the quality of the complete package. "The Undertaker: The Streak" is by no means the 20 best matches in The Undertakers career, yes there are a few top entries in here, but at the end of the day, the set is what it is, an anthology of his appearances at Wrestlemania: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that the documentary is presented in is a nice technical presentation with warm colors and above-average detail. The matches themselves are almost all 1.33:1 original aspect ratio transfers with only the final five matches showing up in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio from an HD source. The early matches, shot on video have the hallmarks of the format including minor compression artifacts, slightly faded colors and healthy dose of comet trails. The post-2000 material fairs much better, but it's in the HD era of WWE broadcasts that things really shine with vibrant color and detail and minimal compression issues.
The Dolby Digital English 5.1 audio track is complete overkill for the main documentary feature as the only new audio recorded are interview segments and a very milquetoast score. The matches themselves are standard stereo tracks (save for the final five matches) and more than adequate with only a bit of distortion on the first few in the set.
"The Undertaker: The Streak" is a tough sell. The most ravenous wrestling fans likely own all the Wrestlemanias on DVD already, thus rendering this collection useless. That leaves the casual viewer and the devoted Undertaker fan. Really only the latter group will find the entire set of interest, with the former group finding more value from watching the documentary and then investing their time in the cream of the crop. The range of quality of all 20 matches is just too inconsistent to call this an outstanding release. Recommended.