Who Should End Undertaker's Streak?
January 20, 2007 by Langdon Beck
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For nearly on a decade and a half now, The Undertaker has been my favourite wrestler. I dig the entrance, I dig the character, I dig the moves and for the most part, I dig the matches. And every year when the Road to WrestleMania kicks off, I hope that whoever he's facing at that year's event doesn't end his winning streak. This is not because I'm fundamentally opposed to the streak ending; I'm not. I think that it should happen at some point. It's not like The Undertaker character will be forgotten without it, and it could literally make an entire career of whoever manages to achieve the feat. I don't think it'll happen this year (at least, I hope not... if there's any justice, Taker's winning the Title this year) but if it's going down, it's going down relatively soon. And it must, and this is the important thing, be to the right man.
For simplicity's sake, I've narrowed the potential streak-enders down to the males currently on the active WWE rosters. Including Johnny Jeter, Paul Burchill, and Vladimir Koslov who are not currently committed to any one brand, there are 84 possibilities for the position of "man who ends the streak". Now, we begin the task of narrowing it down to the most likely contenders.
First of all, we can forget about those who have been established for a few years now, but have made no significant impact, i.e. the guys who appear on the flagship shows so infrequently that if you didn't check the internet, you'd barely know they were under contract at all. While we're at it, best forget about the cruiserweights too because, let's face it, a cruiserweight ending the streak just ain't happening (but for the moment, we'll keep the more high-profile members of the weight class in mind). Without the good-as-they-may-be-they're-not-going-to-achieve-a-lots of the E, we now have 64 possibilities.
Next, we'll eliminate those who don't wrestle full time, or may be nearing the end of their careers. As good as Undertaker vs. Finlay or Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels would be, someone who's not going to be around for years and years to come shouldn't really be the one to beat Taker at WrestleMania. The man who wins has to have enough years of active competition left to really take advantage of the claim for a long time. "I did what [insert the various legends that the Dead Man's beaten] couldn't and ended The Undertaker's winning streak" should be enough to get, or keep, a younger guy over for a sustained period of time. If you're a part-timer, or if you're winding down or retiring in six months anyway, what good would ending the streak do your career in the long run? When we put this logic into action, we eliminate not only the likes of Finlay and HBK, but also Chris Benoit, Kane, and Batista, as well as the chance of returns from, or dream matches with, anyone from Stone Cold to The Rock to Jables Layfield, taking us down to approximately 35 contenders. We're more than half way there!
In the field of WWE, turning from a good guy to a bad guy and vice versa is a fairly regular occurrence (just ask Kurt Angle; he did it about three times a year. Of course, he does it three times a month in TNA right now, but I digress). Therefore, it's difficult to predict who's going to be cheered and who's going to be booed in a few months' time, let alone in a couple of years, but it seems sensible to conclude that it's going to be a heel that'll beat Undertaker at 'Mania. Whoever does it will be booed for life (at least I'd hope so... I know I'd hate them forever) so not even WWE could expect the ending of the streak to be cheered. It's not necessarily that a face ending the streak would be a bad thing in itself - it's just that a heel would be able to take more advantage of it for a longer period of time. There's only so much momentum you could gain from it as a face. So, we can remove from the list anybody who looks like they'll be babyfaces - or should be babyfaces - for a long time to come. Consequently, RVD, Rey Mysterio and the Hardys are out of the running. No John Cena? Nope ... as big a merchandise seller as he is now, a heel turn could do wonders for Cena's character. It was as a heel that Cena had one of his best matches to date against Undertaker, and if he were to become a bad guy again in the future, ending the WrestleMania streak would almost certainly cement him as the top heel in the company.
The streak-ender should, as I've said above, have longevity in terms of his career. That means no pulling a Brock, and nobody who's susceptible to injury, and nobody with short-term appeal, both in terms of gimmick and as a wrestler in general. This gets rid of a trio of monsters; Mark Henry, the Great Khali, and Umaga (who, good as he is, would be quite a likely candidate were it not for the fact that I can't see the gimmick being a long-term thing).
We're left with a pretty good couple of dozen guys now, but to narrow the field down further, it's going to get ruthless, so I'll get rid of anyone who has very little chance of becoming a World Champion in WWE during their career, because the man that beats Undertaker would surely have at least one championship reign in their future. If I also take Triple H out of the equation - as he's been at the top long enough to have absolutely no need to beat Undertaker at WrestleMania and doing so would do nothing for him - we're left with just over a dozen wrestlers. They are;
Carlito, CM Punk, Edge, John Cena, Johnny Nitro, Ken Kennedy, Kenny Dykstra, Lashley, Marquis Cor Von, Mike Knox, Randy Orton, Shelton Benjamin, and Test.
Hold on now. Mike Knox. MIKE KNOX? There'd be no way, right? Well... I'm not so sure about that, myself. From the sounds of Deep South Wrestling TV reports, the Knox we've seen on WWE TV is nowhere near the standard of DSW's Mike Knox. DSW's Mike Knox can wrestle, and he can talk. Given the right opportunity he could shine in WWE-proper, so he's in. For now. Except that I've just taken him, Shelton Benjamin, Johnny Nitro, and Carlito out of the running.
Nine left. I'm hoping to be left with three contenders by the end of this, but that's probably not going to happen. I will now have a look in more detail at each of these wrestlers and what ending the streak could do for them.
CM Punk: It could do the world for him. The world. People like Punk, but in my opinion, he's a better heel than a babyface. A move to one of the two big brands is likely forthcoming, and let's say he took on Undertaker as a good guy. It'd be a competitive match - a size difference for sure, but that didn't affect Shawn Michaels or Bret Hart in their matches with Taker. Punk might pull off the upset win and follow it with a cheap attack and a variation on his "you stupid old man, I'm a snake" promo from ROH. Instant mega-heel, which, with Punk's charisma, would continue for a long time. It'd make him.
Edge: He's been WWE Champion a couple of times, sure, but in between reigns, he's been shifted up and down the card in various places. A win over Undertaker would cement him firmly at the very highest echelon. The match would be one to remember (I can't be the only one who thinks they'd match up well?) and hey, if I remember correctly, Edge is unbeaten at WrestleMania too. It writes itself.
John Cena: I've already discussed this, but it'd only work if Cena became a long-term heel. I don't see that happening, so Cena is officially out of contention.
Ken Kennedy: Like with Punk, ending the streak would make Kennedy. But he and Undertaker have already had a big rivalry, and Kennedy already has plenty going for him (the nearly-legit claim to have defeated half a dozen World Champions, for one thing). A win would undeniably do him wonders, but does he need it? I'm not 100% sure, so I'm afraid he's out.
Kenny Dykstra: He did, in years past, describe himself as a WrestleMania Moment Waiting To Happen, and this could be that moment. He's got the personality and attitude to pull it off, and would benefit magnificently from a win. My only concern would be age. The streak-ender should be young, but would Dykstra, in his early twenties, be TOO young? Taker's streak should probably end while he's still relatively young, but while that's true, if Dykstra were to beat him at age 24, he still has decades of career left. If WWE were to wait until Kenny was in his late twenties, Undertaker will be nearing, if not in, his fifties, and beating him might become like beating Ric Flair is now; still an accomplishment, but not as big an achievement as it once was. Sadly, Dykstra's out.
Lashley: First things first, if Lashley were to do this he'd need a manager or a mouthpiece. Good mic skills are essential for whoever ends the streak to fully capitalize on it, and Lashley can't do that - at least, not by himself. Other than this problem, if Lashley were heel, this would be all he needed to keep himself right up at the top of the heap. But if not, the honour would be wasted on him. I have a feeling Lashley's future will favour being the good guy, so, despite a Taker-Lashley contest likely being an entertaining one, he's out of contention.
Marquis Cor Von: Can I just call him Monty Brown? It just sounds so much less ... I don't know ... ridiculous. But anyway, this is another guy for whom ending Undertaker's streak would be a career maker - in a few years' time when he's more established, that is. He's certainly got the charisma to pull it off. Could be another one of those "a new era has begun" moments. The Alpha Male is definitely in the running.
Randy Orton: It has been done before, but it could be done again with the outcomes reversed. But I have reservations - Orton's been near or at the top a number of times before and has never really been able to keep himself there effectively. Winning against Undertaker would be great for him, but he may not be able to take advantage of it as successfully as someone else. Orton's out.
Test: Test? Seriously? Yeah, seriously. WWE likes him (when they're not firing him, that is) and he'll probably be around for a while, but he's never really been able to get over. This could be the thing that does it for him. It's a long shot, but it could work.
Well, not quite three, but I managed to cut it down to four. CM Punk. Edge. Marquis Cor Von. Test. If The Undertaker is to lose a WrestleMania match, I think (or perhaps I hope) it will be one of these men. They would make the most out of it, and in turn, it would make the most out of them.
by Langdon Beck (Submit your feedback here)..
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