During the WWE Network pre-show for Sunday night’s Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, Booker T referred to that night’s rubber match between The Undertaker and Brock Lesnar as “our Manila.”
He was referring to 1975’s “Thrilla in Manila,” the final bout in the Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier trilogy, and it’s not a bad comparison.
Frazier beat the previously undefeated Ali at Madison Square Garden in 1971, similar to Lesnar ending Taker’s 21-0 WrestleMania streak in New Orleans last year.
Nevertheless, the boxing narrative is one legendary striker Undertaker would appreciate. (On the WWE Network “Stone Cold” Steve Austin podcast recently, Edge and Christian revealed how they used, in part, a collection of boxing DVDs to rescue themselves from the Deadman’s infamous kangaroo wrestling court.
By the time they were done in Manila, Frazier's trainer Eddie Futch had to give up on behalf of his charge because Frazier was essentially trying to fight blind from the pummeling Ali had delivered.
Lesnar and Undertaker didn't look much better than Frazier after an uncharacteristally bloody bout for WWE's PG era that eventually ended with Lesnar getting the pin in their rubber match.
All bets were off Sunday night, with Undertaker apparently legitimately hitting Lesnar against the ringpost and splitting his forehead.
The cut was so bad that Lesnar was sporting more of a crimson bodysuit than a crimson mask. A trainer had to be brought into the ring to towel Lesnar off and look at the wound before letting the match continue.
Not to be undone, Lesnar took off one of his MMA gloves and appeared to bust Undertaker open with a gash that would be hard to acheive with the standard razor blade gimmick.
The fight continued with an assortment of weapons, including a chair, ring steps and those most notorious announce tables, before Undertaker got Lesnar in the same hell's gate submission manuever he used to choke Lesnar out with at SummerSlam in August -- following both an apparent Undertaker tapout and a groin shot to Lesnar that the referee didn't see.
But Lesnar -- who had earlier delivered a pair of F5 finishers that the Deadman kicked out of -- fought out of the manuever before ostensibly taking advantage of a small hole in the ring canvas.
He tore it open and exposed the plywood under the mat. But at that point Undertaker got the advantage, hitting Lesnar with a chokeslam and a tombstone piledriver on the exposed wood.
But Undertaker couldn't get the pin, setting up Lesnar for the ultimate revenge. Lesnar nailed Undertaker with the same low blow Undertaker used at SummerSlam, then nailed Undertaker with another F5 on the wood.
With that, Lesnar pinned Undertaker just like he did to end Taker's 21-0 streak at WrestleMania XXX.
What looked like a poignant moment -- with the crowd honoring Undertaker after Lesnar had left -- was ruined when the Wyatt Family came out, pummeled Undertaker and carried him off to the disgust of the fans.