Unpopular Opinion: The Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak was overrated
In WWE lore, there are few historical accomplishments that can compare with The Undertaker’s undefeated streak at WrestleMania. For a performer to work matches on the main card of twenty-plus WrestleManias, and never in a throw-away battle royal context, is impressive in its own right. Moreover, that he would win every single one of those matches in his first twenty-one outings was a mark that no wrestler before him ever compared to and no wrestler to follow is likely to touch.
Hulk Hogan? He may have worked high profile matches at the first nine WrestleManias, but he had a draw with Andre the Giant to muddle his record at '‘Mania 4, a loss to The Ultimate Warrior at '6, and was disqualified at '9. John Cena? He only made it to four straight wins before losing a Triple Threat match to Randy Orton. Roman Reigns? For as big as his push was, he lost his first singles match at ‘Mania when Seth Rollins cashed in Money in the Bank.
However, while The Undertaker was a great worker with a great character, and had some great matches and moments at WrestleMania, the magnitude of his accomplishment tends to get blown out of proportion. At the end of the day, it should be viewed less as a source of wonder than as a statistical anomaly.
Yes, The Undertaker won twenty-one straight matches at the biggest show of the year. The first two were foregone conclusions opposite kayfabe overmatched opponents in Jimmy Snuka and Jake Roberts. Then there was a DQ win in an awful match with The Giant Gonzalez to prolong their rivalry. From there, we have clunkers with the likes of King Kong Bundy, Sid, and The Big Bossman to account for.
In the end, the best Streak matches were those in which The Undertaker had a better dance partner to more than carry his side of the load or a white-hot storyline. The latter dynamic sums up the difference between his fun monster showdown with Kane at WrestleMania 14 and the utterly dull rematch between the two at WrestleMania 20. Otherwise, it is matches with Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Randy Orton, and CM Punk that do more to define The Phenom’s ‘Mania legacy.
The Undertaker’s work was respectable—arguably even great—in the encounters listed. However, we can’t earnestly say that The Dead Man was more of a draw than Hogan, Cena, Steve Austin, or The Rock for those ‘Manias, nor that he met—much less exceeded—the level of in-ring performance of HBK, Bret Hart, Randy Savage, or Daniel Bryan in their WrestleMania years.
No fan of the modern era will forget The Streak anytime soon. Nonetheless, the record doesn’t necessarily deserve the level of reverence WWE places on it.