One of the hottest topics in WWE today is, "will The Undertaker appear at WrestleMania 34 to fight John Cena?" Well...obviously. At this point, nobody could possibly believe that The Undertaker will no-show the Show of Shows, especially considering how much they've been building this up over the past several weeks.
It would be an error of judgement to build up such an epic WrestleMania encounter and then not deliver, especially considering the company's penchant for creating "WrestleMania moments" every five seconds.
While a lot of John Cena's badgering has been somewhat uninteresting, it has provoked quite a bit of chatter among fans. Many theories surrounding Undertaker's return suggest that he will come back as his early-2000's "American Badass" persona instead of as the Deadman.
Is it an entirely absurd hypothesis? Perhaps. Still, there are a few clues that suggest that this may be true. Feel free to disagree or to offer your thoughts/alternatives in the comments section.
#5 Kid Rock
Because this topic has already been covered here, let's get this one out of the way first.
Admittedly, compared to some of WWE's other inductees into their Hall of Fame's celebrity wing, Kid Rock is not such a bad choice. He has done plenty of live performances for the company and contributed both entrance themes for wrestlers and theme songs for pay-per-view events. Granted, Cyndi Lauper would've been a better choice, but anyway -
Seeing as there is always a WrestleMania segment that involves all of the year's Hall of Fame inductees standing on the entrance ramp and waving awkwardly, Kid Rock will definitely be appearing at WrestleMania 34. Now, before Limp Bizkit's "Rollin'" and before Jim Johnston's "You're Gonna Pay," The Undertaker would ride his bike down to the ring to the tune of Kid Rock's "American Bad Ass".
So, if he's already there... why not have him perform The Undertaker's old entrance music?
WWE loves live music and grandiose entrances at WrestleMania. They especially love when they can combine the two and have someone sing a wrestler down the aisle, even if it's Motörhead struggling their way through Triple H's theme (see WrestleMania 17). So, perhaps Kid Rock's Hall of Fame induction is a harbinger of things to come.
#4 John Cena's Instagram
John Cena's Instagram account is straight-up weird.
It's no secret that John Cena likes to create buzz among the Internet Wrestling Community through his Instagram posts. Sometimes, he's legitimately giving the fans a hint about what's to come (like he did with "Broken" Matt Hardy), sometimes he's just trolling (like he did with Kenny Omega), but it's never clear until the day comes if it ever does.
His latest maybe-clue came this past Monday when he posted a captionless picture of a garishly jingoistic t-shirt that reads "American Badass" on the front. Of course, this could just be another job, as he's been provoking The Deadman on his Instagram for several weeks now.
Now, there are a few ways to interpret this post - the first is that he's mocking Undertaker's "American Badass" character, a persona that fans can't seem to decide whether or not they liked. The second is that he's suggesting that The Undertaker is not the "badass" that he once claimed to be. The third is that he's alluding to Undertaker's return to the persona at WrestleMania 34.
The WWE Universe will have to wait until Sunday to find out for sure what Cena meant here if anything.
#3 He apparently wants to do it again
Although the American Badass character is maligned by many fans, pretty much everyone can concede to the fact that he seemed a lot more comfortable in the gimmick than he did as The Deadman. This is because the gimmick was his idea and based largely upon himself in real life.
In fact, some sites suggest that he would once again like to be himself out there.
Various dirt sheets have reported that, this time last year, The Undertaker was telling close friends that he wanted to return to the American Badass gimmick one last time. He cites that it was refreshing to play a character he created himself, rather than a character that was created for him.
These same close friends have also claimed that Taker has been feeling rather well since his hip surgery, which is also a good sign considering how pained he looked during last year's match with Roman Reigns.
If he truly is as healthy as the dirt sheets suggest, it would be gratifying to see a well-conditioned American Badass, as much of the vitriol for the gimmick is based upon the fact that he had let himself go in the early 2000's.
Sure, he can only do as well as a near-7-foot, 300+ pound, 53-year-old, 34-year veteran can do, but if he's in good shape, then the WWE Universe may very well be in for something special.
#2 John Cena's promos
Many of John Cena's verbal assaults on The Undertaker have centered around the notion that his ego is too damaged to risk damaging it even further. He has suggested that he is "broken down" (a statement he later rescinded, citing his workout videos on his wife Michelle McCool's Instagram), that he is a coward, that he is not the "God" that the WWE Universe has made him out to be, etc.
If that last bullet point isn't a teaser, I don't know what it is.
In the promo posted above, Cena overtly refers to The Undertaker as a "man" on multiple occasions. Not as a Phenom, not as a Dead Man - as a man. A man with emotions; one that cares about his reputation and his well-being. A Dead Man cares not for these things. A Dead Man is not a coward, for a Dead Man fears nothing. That said, if he were the "Dead Man," he likely would have answered Cena by now.
So how, then, can he prove he's not a coward? Simple - by being a "Badass".
#1 He left the Phenom behind
Following his loss to Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 33, a dejected Undertaker gathered his trademark black hat, gloves, and trench coat, removed them, and organized them into a neat pile in the center of the ring as if he were laying them atop his own casket.
He then made his way back up the ramp to the sound of tens of thousands of fans, who were convinced that they had just seen the last of The Undertaker in a WWE ring.
Or had they merely seen the last of The Phenom?
Sure, he appeared as The Phenom at RAW's 25th Anniversary show in January, but so did many other nostalgic acts of yesteryear, such as Razor Ramon, D-Generation X, and Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Clearly, showing up as the Dead Man at the Manhattan Center was a callback to the early days of Monday Night RAW, when he and Damien Demento main-evented the first ever episode in 1993.
But think about the promo he cut at RAW 25 for a second - at the end of it, he says "for all of those who have fallen, it is truly time you rest...in...peace". Now recall that he is among those who have "fallen".
He "fell" when Brock Lesnar conquered his undefeated streak at WrestleMania 30, and he "fell" once again when Roman Reigns added a second loss to his incredible WrestleMania record.
So, perhaps it was not his felled opponents that he was laying to rest... it was "The Dead Man" that he was laying to rest.
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