The Streak was the biggest and most famous accomplishment in WWE history when it was still intact. For twenty-one WrestleManias, the Undertaker arrived, challenged a big opponent, and left victorious. No other accomplishment in wrestling comes close to the magnitude of this one, not even Andre the Giant’s 15-year undefeated streak.
The Streak became the Undertaker’s defining career feature. More than anything else, his name became synonymous with WrestleMania. Even if his matches might not have been the best on the card, him showing up was still a major reason why more people tuned in to see WrestleMania than any other WWE PPV in the calendar year.
But what if the Streak never happened? Where would the Undertaker’s career have gone if he never became undefeated at WrestleMania? We seek to find that out today.
The Streak wasn’t planned from the very beginning; it initially came about due to happenstance. The Undertaker was booked prominently at WrestleMania during all of those early shows because his character was incredibly popular. But in some cases, he only won because of backstage politics playing a role.
Nowhere was this more important than at WrestleMania XII, when the Undertaker took on Diesel, a.k.a. Kevin Nash. Nash was on his way out of WWE at the time, so it made sense for the departing wrestler to make the one staying to look as strong as possible. This is a major reason why ‘Taker won at WrestleMania XII.
Now imagine if Diesel had stated in WWE, and defeated the Undertaker at WrestleMania instead.
#1 He would’ve retired MUCH sooner
Let’s be honest; the ONLY reasons the Undertaker has kept coming back for all of these years was because there was lots of money to be made and because he was loyal to Vince McMahon. But the only reason that there was lots of money to be made in the first place was because fans wondered every year if the Undertaker’s streak would be broken that year.
And each time it wasn’t, anticipation grew for the next year’s event, to see if someone would finally end it. That wouldn’t have happened if the Streak never developed. The Streak wasn’t even referenced by ‘Taker himself until WrestleMania X8, when he defeated Ric Flair, and it didn’t become a key element of Undertaker’s ‘Mania storyline until three years after that.
If The Streak wasn’t so important of a thing, the Undertaker wouldn’t have still been wrestling into his fifties. The most likely situation: he would’ve retired by around 2010. He had serious hip and shoulder problems well throughout the 2000s. Thus, if ‘Taker didn’t have a reason to keep coming back every year for WrestleMania, then he would’ve hung up his boots a long time ago.
#2 His legacy would still be huge, but not as big as it is now
Many wrestlers have said that ending the Streak is more prestigious and greater an accomplishment than winning any world championship. That was how it was built up for many years, and that was why the Undertaker became more synonymous with WrestleMania than any other wrestler, including ‘Mr. WrestleMania’ himself, Shawn Michaels.
Had the Streak never occurred, this wouldn’t have been a key element of the Undertaker’s legacy. Instead, people would have put more emphasis on his other accomplishments, i.e. those that haven’t been mentioned as much as his Streak.
Emphasis would’ve been given to his most famous storylines and greatest championship accomplishments. There would definitely be frequent mention and praise of his famous storyline rivalry with Kane, which was one of the most interesting and riveting feuds of the Attitude Era. There would be considerable emphasis given to his various championships and accomplishments, especially on the occasions when he won the WWE Championship.
As good as those things are, they pale in comparison to the Undertaker’s Streak. Several wrestlers have won more championships and accolades than the Undertaker (Cena, Orton, Edge, Triple H, etc.), so the Deadman’s championship collection without the Streak is paltry when compared to those others.
Sure, fans would remember him for his outstanding gimmick and legendary moments, but his legacy wouldn’t have the same impact without the Streak intact.
#3 Fans wouldn’t have witnessed several outstanding and dramatic WrestleMania matches
The Streak is one of the best-crafted storylines WWE has ever put together. Every year, the stakes rose higher as another wrestler hoped to make a name for themselves at the Undertaker’s expense. All they needed to do was win and they’d be guaranteed a spot at the top of WWE for years to come. As such, many of the Undertaker’s WrestleMania matches were among the most exciting, dramatic and important to fans.
Even as WWE’s core fanbase dropped gradually over the years, there was always one constant, one single storyline that brought more fans together than any other: the Undertaker's. In many cases, the anticipation was soaring in the Undertaker’s match before it even began, as his opponents sought to end his precious Streak.
This led to several truly fantastic matches over the past few WrestleManias; his outings against Randy Orton (21), Batista (23), Edge (24), Shawn Michaels (25, 26), Triple H (27, 28) and CM Punk (29), were some truly spectacular matches the likes of which we may never see again. In fact, the Undertaker’s WrestleMania 25 match with HBK is now considered to be the single-greatest match in WrestleMania history. That is a monumental distinction given WrestleMania’s reputation for being the show on which the wrestlers put their best efforts into their matches.
Sadly, none of this would’ve happened had the Streak never occurred. There wouldn’t have been as electric an atmosphere, the drama of the story of the Streak wouldn’t be there to make the match feel more important, and these legendary matches – had they been booked for WrestleMania regardless of the Streak not existing – wouldn’t have been as important to ‘Taker’s respective challengers’ careers.
#4 WrestleMania wouldn’t have had as much financial success without the Streak
As mentioned earlier, a large majority of fans that tuned into WrestleMania over the years were there mainly for the Streak. If that Streak had never happened, then there wouldn’t have been much the Undertaker or WWE could’ve done to help increase viewership for WrestleMania.
For years, the Undertaker was considered the last holdover from the Attitude Era, the last true superstar that was a big name in the wrestling world during the peak years when wrestling was at its most popular in North America. Had his Streak never occurred, WWE would’ve had a much harder time convincing those lost fans to tune in just for WrestleMania. After all, they were only doing so out of curiosity regarding the Undertaker’s Streak and his staying power in WWE. If ‘Taker was wrestling just a normal match, then what was the point?
Consider the following: Bray Wyatt faced the Undertaker at WrestleMania 31, one year after the Streak was ended by Brock Lesnar. This was supposed to be a big moment, but the feud leading into this match – as well as the match itself – didn’t have anywhere near as much interest since the Streak was nonexistent. This is proof of what an Undertaker match at WrestleMania sans Streak would’ve looked like – an ordinary match lacking the special, and dare I say magical, aura of the Undefeated Streak he had before.
Sure, the Undertaker won against Bray and got his win back, but it didn’t matter whatsoever; the Streak was gone so there was no point in Undertaker even having matches, much less winning them.
While WWE can flaunt their current numbers regarding WrestleMania and call these a success, there’s no denying the fact that WrestleMania without the Streak would’ve been very damaging to WWE when Undertaker was fully active.
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