The Undertaker, the purported Lord of Darkness hailing from Death Valley, is undoubtedly one of the greatest icons of WWE. The mysticism associated with the character of The Undertaker has always provided him with an edge over the entire wrestling roster. Over the years, WWE has initiated an array of matches to build on the wrestling persona of The Undertaker. Buried Alive and Casket Matches have to feature The Undertaker because it is only the dead-man who enables the creative team to sketch a storyline centred on these matches.
As far as Championships are concerned, The Undertaker is dwarfed by the likes of Flair, Cena and Triple H, a joint tally of whose world titles stands at 43. The statistic which enables The Undertaker to his share of glory is his undefeated streak at Wrestlemania. The Phenom has braved 21 challenges over the past two decades and defeated a variety of superstars ranging from Kane, Triple H and Shawn Michaels to Batista, Randy Orton and CM Punk. The Undertaker’s undefeated streak at Wrestlemania has become such a favourite of the fans that it has started to do the unthinkable – to overshadow “Wrestlemania” itself.
The first thought which comes to a wrestling fan’s mind when he hears of Wrestlemania is no longer the powerful body slam executed by Hulk Hogan on Andre The Giant nor the resilient Iron Man Match between Hitman and Shawn Michaels; the only question which reverberates in his mind is who will come forward to challenge the Undertaker this year.
The business of sports entertainment demands that no individual be allowed to become bigger than the sport. Hulk Hogan was the first star which WWE produced but when Hogan returned from WCW in his “Hollywood Hulk Hogan” avatar, the WWE ensured his defeat at the hands of The Rock at Wrestlemania to signal a generational shift in wrestling. Despite his meteoric popularity, evident from the public acceptance of Mr McMahon that Austin was the most popular performer in the WWE, Austin was made to lose to The Rock at Wrestlemania. Unfortunately, that was the last time we saw Stone Cold wrestle as a regular in WWE. Just when the world thought that The Rock’s victories over Hogan, Austin and Cena at Wrestlemania provided him with a unmatchable lead over his co-wrestlers, the story writers had him defeated by John Cena at Wrestlemania 29.
Every performer has his “signature moments” in wrestling. For Stone Cold, it would be his 3 Royal Rumble Victories; Triple H can take refuge in his 13 World Titles and Shawn Michaels can revel in the glory of his uncountable Wrestlemania moments which earned him the title of “Mr Wrestlemania.” The Undertaker too has had his moments.
It is time the company realizes that no man can overpower the business. We all know for a fact that the future of wrestling does not rest with the 48-year old Callaway.
The Undertaker’s fans would continue to love and adore him with the same passion even if he loses at Wrestlemania but Wrestlemania would lose its cult status if the Undertaker remains undefeated and walks out of the WWE with an unblemished record. Wrestlemania would always suffer from the absence of The Undertaker if it happens so. They would never be able to fill in the void created due to the absence of the “streak” match.
The best way of dealing with this situation is by scripting the Undertaker’s defeat in an iconic Wrestlemania match which shall also bring down the curtains on his glorious career. If the question is who should be painted as the streak breakers, then the answer certainly lies in a younger wrestler who is in for a long ride with the company. That performer should not be a superstar like Cena but a superstar in the making. Only such a thing could keep WWE’s business interests intact, Wrestlemania’s status uplifted and the Undertaker’s “last ride” memorable.