It’s March 2014 and the Road To WrestleMania is in motion. We kicked off the year with the Royal Rumble, which saw the returning WWE Superstar/Amateur MMA Fighter/Hollywood Muscle, Dave Batista, win the Rumble, which sets him up for the main event at the 30th Anniversary of the Biggest Show Of Them All. Much to the groans of the wrestling fan base, the return of Batista has been underwhelming and nobody can wrap their finger around this guy who used to dominate the company during mid-2000. They want to see a deserving body, a workhorse, like Daniel Bryan, be the guy to challenge current WWE Champion, Randy Orton, for the strap. WrestleMania is supposed to the Super Bowl of professional wrestling but over the last handful of years it’s been nothing but a glorified plug-in pay-per-view. The matches just don’t live up to the hype that Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage had built around them. Matches like Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, 60 Minute Iron Man Match, or “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Rock tying up. WrestleMania may have strayed away from moneymaking matches but there is one constant that keeps people tuned in, awing at his presence, and essentially, watching HIS show. With an outstanding record of 21-0 at WrestleMania, there is no other superstar who rules the Grand Daddy Of Them All then that of the Demon From Death Valley, the Undertaker.
New to the scene, the Deadman was an imposing figure standing 6 ft. 10 in. tall and weighing close to the 300 lb. mark. He was likened to a Western mortician who was a pain-impervious zombie donned in black attire with gray gloves and gray boot spats. His entrance attire consisted of a trench coat, a gray-striped tie, and gray-ringed Stetson hat to complete the ensemble. This was a very different character from what the WWE fan had seen before but one thing was for certain, this Undertaker meant business and was here to stay.
At WrestleMania VII in 1991, the Undertaker made his big stage debut against WWE Hall Of Famer “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka. It was a rather quick affair as the veteran Snuka had nothing to give in terms of competition towards this anomaly of the squared circle. Kicks, punches, head butts, whatever attack he used did not faze this man but all it took was one Tombstone to close the door on Snuka’s career in the WWE and open a portal to one of the most celebrated streaks in professional wrestling.
The Undertaker’s Streak is the biggest title on the line at WrestleMania these days. I could sit here and go through all of his victims from Jake “The Snake” Roberts to Ric Flair to CM Punk but the history of the Streak can be found by a single Internet search. What I want to tap into is how this streak is the most important aspect of the show because everything else has no substance behind it. For a while, the Undertaker was just winning these matches at Mania because talent were either leaving or the storyline just worked out that way. Correct me if I’m wrong but the peak-of-the-streak wasn't fully evolved until his feud with Randy Orton in 2005 and the WWE started to acknowledge that the Undertaker has yet to be defeated at the company’s bonanza.
WrestleMania XXIV geared into a mild Streak Vs. Streak feud when the Undertaker would challenge Edge for the World Heavyweight Championship. Maybe it’s just the genius of Edge that is coming back to me as he bragged that while Taker may have been 15-0, Edge himself was 4-0 and that he would surpass the Deadman’s feat by knocking him off the mountain first and continuing his dominance. Needless to say, heel tactics and Edgeheads were not a problem for a 16-0 bump. What is probably the most inspiring detail of the Undertaker’s Mania Reign is that it was something that developed organically and became the main ingredient for future shows. Now everybody wants to be the “One”.
Shawn Michaels obsessed over it after losing the first time only to give up his career in the second round. Triple H tried, failed, and got baited back into it before walking away from a ruthless Era. CM Punk, WWE Champion for 434 days, would not sulk about losing the title but rather accomplish another goal and challenge the Undertaker at WrestleMania 29. There has never been anything mentioned about what the storyline would feed off of but when Paul Bearer (Percy Pringle) passed away right before the start of the feud, in true wrestling fashion, the storyline would have Punk mock the legacy of Paul Bearer infuriating Taker. Alas, as cold blooded and contrived as the story was, the Evil of the Deadman reined victor over the dastardly evil Punk.
We are about a month away from WrestleMania 30 and the Streak is once again on the line against the Beast Incarnate, BROCK LESNAR. Some people might have groaned of two Undertaker/HBK matches and more wanted to put their head in the sand at the thought of back-to-back matches with Triple H but after everyone that the Undertaker has run through at WrestleMania, I’m more disappointed in this match-up then Mark Henry being rolled up like a giant Hershey kiss in the Casket Match at WrestleMania 22. As I’m sure this story will play out in the weeks to follow, there is absolutely no reason to have Undertaker challenge Brock other then to fill out Lesnar’s contract and plug him into this Streak match.
I like Brock, don’t get me wrong but this is not the program he should’ve been penned into. After fictitiously breaking arms last year, Paul Heyman proclaims Brock the #1 Contender to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. There is nothing more for Brock to do except get his title shot and then GONG! Brock doesn’t get his match because the Undertaker says so? I really don’t know how or who thought that Undertaker being at a UFC card, THREE YEARS AGO, would hopefully catapult this match to a “must-see” WrestleMania caliber match-up. This show is supposed to be the biggest show of the year with storylines coming to a close, moments to be made, and memories to last forever. What the WWE has failed to do in recent years is recapture any of that magic and with this being the 30th anniversary show; I would think that big headline matches are the priority. I’m not saying that Undertaker/Brock isn’t a big deal but couldn't’ve they worked out something for SummerSlam?
The Undertaker is one of the most respected guys in the wrestling world, in the locker room, and by fans all around. However, he is pushing 50 years of age and his body has been through a number of surgical repairs so he can do his one-off at WrestleMania. I whole heartily believe that Brock WILL NOT beat the Streak but he sure as hell will beat up the Undertaker good. That’s great and all to see these monsters go at it but again, this match has no substance or flavor and this whole show is about delivering the goods sprinkled with “What-If”? Maybe Taker feels that he has another match or two left in him, making it to 50 years old exactly before riding off into the sunset, but at WrestleMania 30, one of the matches on the card should be:
The Undertaker Vs. JOHN CENA
I hear some of the groans just like the clicking of my keyboard but doesn’t this match make more sense? Wouldn’t this have more variables to it? More… substance? The Undertaker has been racking up a pretty heavy win column and is one of the WWE’s biggest attractions. John Cena is THE man, been nothing but a workhorse who held countless of titles and love or hate the guy, has good matches under his belt as he has worked with every top of the line wrestler to come through those doors… except for the Undertaker.
Now you can argue that he had a brief program with him when he was leader of the Dr. Of Thuganomics but in that time, Taker also was pretty involved with the rookie monster, Brock Lesnar (see Undertaker/Brock Lesnar-Hell In A Cell). Since then, John Cena became the poster boy for the WWE. The guys hate him and the ladies/kids love him, Cena has always been in the mix of big angles/storylines. I don’t think I need to emphasize the profile for the Dr. Of Thuganomics.
Brock is the Beast Incarnate and a big challenge to the Deadman but maybe, Brock and Taker could’ve been done at SummerSlam. Brock could decimate the Undertaker, which would question the energy and strength he may have left. The beating from Brock at SummerSlam would plant the seeds for next year’s WrestleMania and whoever was to challenge him, would have the advantage.
While “Streak” articles are hot right now, I am looking for some sort of feedback from you guys as to what kind of articles you might enjoy reading. I’m able to knock out one’s like these on any given topic but is there something in particular that can be changed, re-formatted, or given more focus? I want you to enjoy them as I do writing them. Constructive criticism is encouraged, and who am I kidding, I even enjoy reading the negative 8-) Until next time, this is Vinny signing out.