Cheap Heat: Undertaker’s One Remaining WrestleMania Match
By Jacob Fox
It’s not really my nature to play backseat general manager. I generally prefer to talk about why something has happened as opposed to why something else should happen. However, every wrestling fan usually has an opinion on what his favorite promotion should be doing. I might not be the loyal viewer that I claim to be if I do not occasionally stick my nose in the booker’s business. So I am giving my view on what WWE should do with the Undertaker if he chooses to compete at WrestleMania XXXI.
I should begin by stating that my true belief is that Undertaker should not wrestle ever again. Over the past few years, during his rare appearances, he has had trouble moving; one time struggling to simply lower himself to one knee. His physique has not been maintained. He has no muscle tone and appears somewhat doughy. At WrestleMania XXXI, Undertaker’s stomach drooped downwards when Lesnar put him in the F-5. For months following the defeat, rumors abound of the various injuries that Undertaker supposedly sustained.
In spite of age and injury, wrestlers rarely retire when it is best for them to do so. At the age of 49, it is not only conceivable, but also likely that wrestling fans have not seen the last match of the Undertaker.
The ending of the Undertaker‘s WrestleMania streak has not stopped fans from wondering who he might compete with in this year‘s event. The most common rumor seems to indicate that he will be facing Bray Wyatt. This makes some sense since the two have similar characters, roughly based on horror movie archetypes. The Undertaker is seen as the prototypical unstoppable evil force. Wyatt, on the other hand, seems to be loosely based on Max Cady, Robert De Niro’s evil ex-convict from “Cape Fear,” mixed with an uncomfortable amount of Charles Manson. Beyond character similarity, though, this match makes no sense.
Under scrutiny, there is no possible good outcome of a WrestleMania encounter between Undertaker and Wyatt. If Wyatt is victorious, the Undertaker’s 21 year winning streak becomes a two year losing streak. While one defeat does not tarnish what the man has accomplished, two losses in a row may cause damage to the legacy. In turn, Wyatt would not get the prestige for defeating Undertaker at WrestleMania since the streak is not being defended. A loss for Wyatt simply doesn‘t make sense because WWE needs to keep building him as a top heel. Neither man stands to benefit much from victory.
So what would make sense for the Undertaker at WrestleMania XXXI? There is just one: a rematch with Brock Lesnar.
In the past year, there has been one constant in wrestling. Any time he has wanted, every time that he has had the opportunity, Paul Heyman has reminded the wrestling world of his and Lesnar’s conquering of the streak. After the tired clichés of “what’s best for business” and “9.99,” Heyman’s reminder might be the most oft spoken phrase of 2014. Heyman has kept the defeat fresh in everyone’s mind.
Before I defend the choice, I have to acknowledge there are many reasons why this match might be a bad idea. The first would be the earlier mentioned health problems of the Undertaker. Fighting the notoriously stiff Lesnar puts Undertaker at risk for another injury. In addition, the original match was a bit of a train wreck and not very fun to watch with fans likely only really remembering the outcome. A rematch would probably be just as lousy. Heyman and Lesnar would have little to gain by accepting such a match since they have already won this match a year before.
Despite these drawbacks, there are a few reasons why a rematch between Lesnar and Undertaker is beneficial to WrestleMania. Not only does it remove the pointless rumored encounter between Undertaker and Wyatt, but it opens up the card for better possibilities. This match up removes Lesnar from the main event and puts him into the only other confrontation that makes sense. In turn, many other main event possibilities worthy of WrestleMania become available.
If Lesnar retains at the Royal Rumble, his most ballyhooed possible WrestleMania opponent has been Roman Reigns. Reigns, however, has not had the momentum that a Royal Rumble winner should have. Many of his entrances have been met with dead crowds. This is in direct contrast to the absolutely fiery crowd reactions enjoyed by faces such as Dean Ambrose and Daniel Bryan. Reigns will likely be a major player in WWE in the future, but pushing him to the title before the crowd is really behind him will likely end up hindering his development. Doing so is reminiscent of pushing Batista to the WrestleMania main event last year when he had almost no fan support. In addition, Lesnar and Reigns have zero heat between them and an artificial feud would have to be put together in a short period of time.
Pitting Lesnar against the Undertaker again allows more variables for the main event. Despite the support of Heyman, Lesnar is not the top heel in WWE. That distinction goes to Seth Rollins. He has done everything right since turning on the Shield. He easily brushes off the crowds “you sold out” taunts which makes them hate him even more. He threatened to break Edge’s neck, exponentially increasing the heat he already commanded. Rollins irritates his detractors in a way that would only be amplified by having him enter the WrestleMania main event as champion.
If Rollins is the heel champion, WWE has a variety of opponents to set up against him, many who already have history with him. Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose still have unresolved animosity towards the man who broke apart the Shield. Either man can be easily inserted in the main event against Rollins. Perennial fan favorite Daniel Bryan is also a contender for a Rollins opponent. Rollins is the centerpiece of the Authority and Bryan has been their main opponent from the start. He could easily be inserted against Rollin in the main event. The simple fact is, if Lesnar is removed from the main event to face the Undertaker, the main event possibilities blossom.
Maybe the best reason, though, to have a rematch between Lesnar and Undertaker lies in one simple truth. The streak can never return, but it can be redeemed. The only way for this to happen is for the Undertaker to defeat Lesnar at WrestleMania XXXI. Lesnar’s accomplishment will not be diminished in any way, and Undertaker will not have the cloud of being defeated in his final WrestleMania appearance hanging over his head. All streaks have to eventually come to an end, but all careers don’t have to end when the streak does.
— Jacob Fox
Editor’s note: It is nice to welcome Jacob to the OWW team. His column “Cheap Heat” should be a very good read.