The WWE should have allowed the Undertaker to retire undefeated at WrestleMania. The company owed him that much.
Despite having been of the biggest names in the business for the past three decades, Undertaker has also been one of the most unselfish. Undertaker has never demanded that he either be WWE Champion or a top contender at all times, not even before he went part-time. He has spent his career helping other guys make names for themselves and was never the type of guy to insist on
hogging the spotlight.
Fans who are satisfied with the end of The Streak insist that it was Undertaker’s decision. Where can we find that story or interview? Wrestlers work under contract and follow scripts. According to rumors, Vince McMahon made the decision just hours before the event.
Even if it really was Taker's decision, WWE should have either talked him into saving his first WrestleMania loss for his retirement match or talked him out of ending the streak altogether.
It would have made more sense that he would have chosen a “pass the torch” moment instead of a “fly-by-night” moment with Brock Lesnar. It is a well-known tradition for stars who are on their way out of the ring to put over an up-and-coming star. Brock Lesnar, although totally believable as
"the one in 21 and one," was not in need of a boost in star power.
He is a well-established name whose credibility comes from his NCAA wrestling championships and All-American status, his first run in WWE as the company's youngest WWE Champion, and his run in mixed martial arts as UFC champion.
A missed opportunity
Undertaker should have been allowed to retire undefeated at WrestleMania. If Vince McMahon and WWE ultimately decided against it, Bray Wyatt should have been the one to end the Streak, and it should have happened only after a long build up between "the Dead Man" and "the New Face of Fear ."
Realizing the error of ending the streak, WWE made Brock Lesnar the WWE World Heavyweight Champion for justification. Some fans and critics argue that part-timers like Lesnar and The Rock have earned the right to return directly to main event status, but there is no way to justify a title
run that lasts from SummerSlam until WrestleMania with only few title defenses. It just seems like a waste and a meaningless end to an iconic streak, scripted or not.
Considering the guaranteed fan disappointment and outrage over The Streak’s end, it should have at least been meaningful. Regarding the fact that some people have ridiculed wrestling fans for taking the end of the streak to heart, we must put it in perspective. Wrestling fans know match outcomes are predetermined, but we must compare pro wrestling to our other favorite TV shows.
If we have enjoyed them for at least one season, not even a full year or 21 years for that matter, we will be highly disappointed if the series finale is abrupt, not well thought out, or meaningless.
If WWE insisted on having the streak end, it should not have been the culmination of a last-minute storyline. There should have been a huge build up like Rock versus Cena, and the stakes should have been high for both wrestlers. It could have been The Streak versus the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Perhaps, the WWE could have reinvented the Ministry of Darkness or created a similar gimmick and had Undertaker and Bray Wyatt fight for the role of leader. There seemed to be very little creative effort on WWE's part despite Undertakers iconic status.
Just making an appearance
Undertaker looked and performed much better in WrestleMania 31 against Bray Wyatt than he did against Brock Lesnar the previous year. With the Streak already broken, the outcome of the match was unpredictable. Yet, the whole scenario was pointless for the same reason. The match came after a short angle, and the match did not benefit either man's career.
Evidently, fans still want to see Undertaker at WrestleMania, not just The Streak. At any rate, the streak-ending match should not have ended with Undertaker lying in the middle of the ring looking helpless, and WWE should have demonstrated some immediate concern for his well-being.
There should have been a tribute or at least a show of respect like when HBK defeated Rick Flair, when Undertaker beat HBK in the Streak vs. career match, or when The Rock beat Hulk Hogan. Undertaker deserved better.
Prior to WrestleMania 30, the rumor was that Sting was holding out for optimal terms before signing with WWE and going on to participate in a dream match with Undertaker. For whatever reasons, the WWE changed its plans, and Sting would only sign in time for WrestleMania 31, where he would face Triple H and lose in a match that seemed to be a petty matter of WWE burying WCW once and for all.
Perhaps this sets the stage for a WrestleMania match between Sting and Undertaker, even though it would have been more interesting when both men were in their primes or at least five years ago. According to Mike Johnson's April 1 PW Insider article, Sting and Taker shared a dressing room at WrestleMania and shared a flight, where they talked about scenarios for a
possible match between them. Maybe if the match takes place, they could battle to a draw.
Thank you, Undertaker
Considering all the abuse the Undertaker's body has endured over the years, especially having shown so many signs of being banged up within the past five years, some fans would rather see him retire out of concern for his health. Even though he has long since cemented his legacy, other fans hope for one more great match.
What would retirement from active in-ring work hold for Undertaker? Would he train and develop talent full-time or perform some other function with the company backstage? Would he become a manager, a commentator, or an executive? Whatever capacity Mark Calaway serves in the future should reflect an appreciation for his years of dedication and loyalty.
What do you make of WWE's treatment of Taker? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.