Why The Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns should not result in The Deadman's Retirement
The Undertaker is going to retire. No one knows when, and no one knows how, but it’s going to happen eventually. At some point, The Deadman will put on the hat and duster for the last time. He’ll emerge from the fog and tell the world that he’s done, and it’s time to leave. Then he will ride off into the sunset, leaving a grateful nation of fans behind.
Or, he will just lose to Roman Reigns at WrestleMania. The match that so many hoped would not happen, is one step closer to happening. The Big Dog made his intentions known to The Phenom, and now the clock is ticking until WWE makes the match official for April 2. But is the clock also ticking on Taker’s career?
The most obvious answer is yes. Undertaker has more years behind him than ahead of him, and his body can only take so much more. That’s evidenced by the fact that he’s down to one match per year again, which means the man only comes around for WrestleMania season.
There’s nothing wrong with that of course. Despite how many fans take issue with Undertaker picking and choosing his battles, the fact is if anyone in the business has earned the right to do so, it’s him. Taker has done more for WWE than arguably anyone else ever has, and he deserves to call his own shots now.
So when the most loyal WWE performer of all time comes to the boss and makes it known he only wants one match per year, then the boss should listen. Granted, it’s likely that Vince McMahon is in full agreement.
It’s not about keeping WWE running on a weekly basis anymore; it’s about building hype for the biggest night of the year. Undertaker does more in terms of selling tickets and popping ratings than anyone else in WWE right now, and he does so once a year.
It’s obvious that Undertaker will hang up the boots at some point. One match every twelve months or so may not sound like much, but Taker is a war-hardened veteran. He’s fought the good fight his entire career, and he’s told more stories than most WWE Superstars have ever heard. Taker is only getting older, and that fact cannot be denied.
But of all the dream matches, of all the dream opponents he could face, Roman Reigns was surely not on the short list. It’s no disrespect to Reigns, who has towed the company line for a few years now. He’s become the loyal soldier, he’s the man weathering the storm, and he’s the one fighting all odds to stay on top.
Had The Undertaker’s gimmick gone south, in the beginning, Mark Calaway would have been in Roman’s shoes. He would have been hated, jeered, and laughed at. Every time he opened his mouth, fans would have booed. Every time he stepped into the ring, he would have been ignored. Fans would have despised him for being a joke, and for daring to take a top spot when he had done nothing to deserve it.
That’s not to suggest that Undertaker and Reigns are the same talent. Far from it. Undertaker has an amazing aptitude for the business; a true understanding of what it is and how to not only live in it but to thrive in it. Had the gimmick failed, Calaway would still have gotten over because he is a force of nature and a true professional. He would have found a way to make it work.
The same could perhaps be said of Reigns, but the execution of his gimmick and the construction of his rise has been completely mishandled by WWE. Instead of being the man that took his opportunity by the throat and squeezed every drop of life out of it as Taker did, Reigns looks more like a man being directed. He’s told how to act, and when to act.
He doesn’t seem to be his own man; rather he’s a man playing the part of the man. WWE controls him from the inside out, and Reigns is just doing as he’s told. Whether or not any of that is true is unknown. Fans believe it to be true, and that means it is.
So to imagine that man could deal The Undertaker his last loss is unfathomable. Taker should go down in a blaze of glory, fighting it out with an old school guy like Triple H, Randy Orton, or even AJ Styles. The ultimate dream match of all time against Sting should have happened two years ago, but instead, Undertaker is now at the point where WWE has no one left for him to beat.
The question of whether or not Taker will defeat Reigns is surely being asked. Considering WWE’s obsession with booking Reigns as the unbeatable hero, it seems logical to assume he will indeed be responsible for retiring The Deadman. Reigns is on top because WWE wants him there and because he’s capable of being there. He can handle the pressure. But can he handle the responsibility?
Brock Lesnar will forever be known as the man that ended The Undertaker’s undefeated streak at WrestleMania. Lesnar will also forever be known as the hired gun that could shoulder the blame and live with the consequences of it every day of his career. He could do that because he’s a businessman, and nothing more.
But for Reigns, who is not a part-time Superstar, the issue of what he can handle is up for debate. One wrong move by WWE and Reigns’ career as the new top guy will be sabotaged. Expecting him to take The Deadman’s career and successfully use it to his advantage is asinine at best. This is WWE’s opportunity to prove it does indeed have Reigns’ best interests at heart.
Unless a monster heel run is in the works, Reigns has no business even attempting to end The Undertaker’s career, and fans know that. Whether or not WWE know it, is another matter altogether.
Tom Clark can regularly be seen on Sportskeeda. His podcast, Tom Clark’s Main Event, is available on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Android, Windows Phone and online here
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