Just under two weeks removed from the biggest event in the wrestling calendar, WWE WrestleMania XXX, there is still a state of shock over the events surrounding the infamous streak of the Undertaker. Opinion is divided as to whether it should have ended that night or indeed continued in the mystical and amazing way it has twenty-one times before. Like him or not, Brock Lesnar with Paul Heyman in his corner, conquered what no man has ever done before and what many believed would never happen.
The reaction when the three count happened is one I have never seen before. Not only seeing the 75,167 fans in attendance stunned and shocked but hearing absolutely nothing. It was moment that words could not describe, a moment that people who paid for that ticket or were watching it on TV never thought they’d see. I remember watching it at home and being completely silent with myself and my friend’s jaws well and truly on the floor. In a matter of seconds, Twitter and other social media outlets had exploded as the WWE Universe was trying to comprehend what they had just witnessed. #ThankYouTaker really put into perspective what it meant to the fans who had invested so much time and belief not just in the story but over the years, over the streak and the career of the Deadman.
However in amongst all the outpouring of gratitude towards The Undertaker, there was growing opinion not just from fans but from performers themselves that Brock Lesnar was not the man to have ended the streak, with many believing no one should. And no offence to Lesnar himself who is an incredible athlete with a stunning resume, and could break me in half like a twig, I do have to agree on a few levels.
If we look at it from a storyline perspective, The Beast has not had the most successful run since his return in April 2012. Sure, he has had some big time matches against big names like Cena, Punk and Triple H, however they mostly either ended in defeat, a hollow victory through Heyman’s interference or left him looking weak. So when we look at WWE rivalries past and present, a strong emphasis is placed on momentum and Lesnar definitely did not have it.
From a larger perspective, Brock Lesnar has never really performed on the grandest stage. Lesnar hasn’t had a WrestleMania moment since his titanic battle with Kurt Angle at WrestleMania 19. We can’t really call his appearances against Bill Goldberg or Triple H as defining moments. Especially with the latter two resulting in defeat. The Streak has quite rightly taken the mantra as the holy grail or the golden egg to truly solidify yourself as a somebody in professional wrestling. Therefore its the biggest challenge and takes someone prepared, from a storyline viewpoint, it should have been Undertaker’s match.
Secondly, in my personal opinion, the match where the Undertaker’s streak finally came to an end should have been against a young gun. The new kid on the block that’s on the path to main event status. Names to be considered for this are performers like Roman Reigns, Cesaro and Daniel Bryan for example, to summarise a superstar who has something to prove but needs that push. Undertaker is seen as the last Ring General, and defeating him at WrestleMania would have seen the passing of the torch to the next face of the WWE. When you add in the fact that Brock is effectively a part-timer and does selective shows along with the reputation he has, was he worthy and really he has nothing left to prove. The only man to be WWE Champion and UFC World Heavyweight Champion is no small feat. Therefore it’s an accolade that Lesnar could have still had a great career without.
Finally, and some may argue most importantly, that match was not worthy of being the culmination of the twenty-two year streak and all the hours and time fans invested into it. It did not match the prediction I had of a more MMA style ‘slugfest’ but instead had Brock Lesnar dominating and Undertaker not really be able to do anything. It was obvious too that the crowd in attendance in New Orleans were not involved. It was such a quiet atmosphere and they never got into it until before you know it the bell had rung. When we look back just in recent history at the matches Undertaker had with Shawn Michaels, Triple H and just last year with CM Punk, if the result went the other way I don’t feel fans would have felt robbed. All of these matches had such depth and brilliant storytelling that every single fan was on the ends of their seats and you genuinely did not know which way it was going end. The build-up to the match was detailed and helped build towards the big encounter. The match at WrestleMania XXX unfortunately didn’t fall into the same category, which is a shame for someone that is just as important for establishing WrestleMania as Hulkamania, The Texas Rattlesnake and The Great One if not more.
So with this all into account, we have to ask ourselves why did it happen then. WWE has a group of clever writers and staff that probably know everything I have just said. Personally, I believe it was Undertaker’s time to exit and ultimately it was his decision to end the streak. I may be wrong, but a man who has been so loyal to WWE and is held in such high esteem amongst his fellow colleagues, past performers who never even competed with him as well as his bosses is surely enough evidence. This is Undertaker’s crowning glory amongst his many WWE and World Heavyweight title reigns, so I’m sure the decision was not taking lightly. It may go some way to giving an explanation as to why the match was not to the same caliber as previous years. Undertaker looked a shadow of his former self and probably after every recent WrestleMania having to have operations and recuperation and being 49-years-old, he could have simply had enough. Therefore, I believe no matter who the opponent was this year, whether it was a young gun like Ambrose, Reigns or Cesaro, or even a former foe, we would have seen the end of the streak. Brock Lesnar was the lucky one.
So what happens now? WWE will have to work hard to give some sparkle to WrestleMania 31 in California now missing from the regular Undertaker match. Now that he has lost at WrestleMania, I highly doubt we will see him in competitor form in the Silicon Valley in 2015. After twenty-two years of seeing him performing at the show of shows, there is no doubt that it won’t be the same without him, or the famous dongs, with many fans not being able to remember WrestleMania without the man from Death Valley.
However it opens up an extra chance for the next Undertaker, the next Ring General to make their own name at the biggest event in sports-entertainment. Is this the last we have seen of the Undertaker? Only time will tell, although I believe we have seen the last at ‘Mania, part of me hopes and believes its not the last we have the seen of the Deadman altogether.
May the streak Rest In Peace!