This past week on WWE SmackDown, Royal Rumble standout Bray Wyatt delivered an ominous warning: “After what transpires next, I promise, it will be hard for you to ever smile again.”
For many, Wyatt’s maniacal monologue -complete with the bold claim to “Fear nothing living or dead,” was a subtle confirmation that the long-rumoured Bray/Undertaker match will happen, in all likelihood at Wrestlemania 31.
Was Brock Lesnar the right choice to end The Streak?
At the time, this writer made a strong case for Brock becoming the 1 in 21-1.
To generate the greatest return on their investment, WWE needed to book the former UFC Champion as a complete beast; a heartless, merciless monster on a way-one path of absolute destruction that not John Cena, not The Undertaker, not Zeus, Allah or the entire US Military could stop.
So far, mission accomplished, and when a hero does eventually rise up to conquer the unconquerable, that man should -in theory at least- be main event material for the remainder of his career.
In that regard, bringing The Streak to an end at Wrestlemania 30 was the right move: He who slays The Beast who destroyed The Dead Man becomes a star with a legitimate claim to be The Man, a man WWE should be able to ride to the bank for years.
Hindsight however, is a funny old thing. Looking back over the past year, Brock could have easily bounced back from a loss to the company’s special attraction.
Perhaps the match didn’t even need to happen at all. What if Lesnar found some other top-tier performer to destroy whilst ‘Taker defended The Streak for the final time against Bray?
The Monster continues to be monstrous, whilst his place as the 1 in 21-1 could have done far more for Wyatt’s career than his losing effort against John Cena.
All of which begs even more questions:
As two stars who combine psychological warfare with a surprising amount of agility for men of their size, a meeting between Bray Wyatt and The Undertaker makes total sense.
That said meeting should take a place perhaps a year too late, does not.
With the exception of Daniel Bryan, there was arguably nobody hotter than Bray Wyatt back in the first months of 2014. By riding that momentum all the way to a match with The Phenom, WWE could have carved out another legitimate main eventer at a time when such things were hardly in abundance.
Have Wyatt end The Streak, and he could have well carried that momentum well into the summer and beyond, into headline bouts against Cena, Ambrose, hey, even Lesnar himself.
Even if the plan all along was for The Beast Incarnate to be the one to beat ‘Taker at Wrestlemania, there’s no reason why that couldn’t happen this year. Meanwhile, Wyatt could -had The Dead Man been willing- come out looking like a million dollars even in defeat.
You only need to look at Seth Rollins’ showing against Cena and Lesnar at the Royal Rumble to see how easy it is to make a star without having them pick up the pinfall. Wyatt could have easily fitted into the Rollins’ role in a match against The Undertaker.
As it is, whether he wins or loses in the seemingly inevitable match, The Eater of Worlds doesn’t have as much to gain now as he did just 12 months ago.
Who should win?
All logic dictates that, should his date with Undertaker happen, Bray should be the one with his hand raised at the end.
A star on the rise with enough talent to succeed at the top of the card, a win over just about anybody on The Grandest Stage of Them All can only help his ascent to the top tier. Pinning the shoulders of a man like The Undertaker to the mat can only add more gravitas to the situation, though again, not as much as it would have done at Wrestlemania 30.
Sure, Bray Wyatt beat The Undertaker at Wrestlemania. Big deal. It’s not like nobody’s ever done that before.
Meanwhile, in putting his younger opponent over as many feel he probably should, ‘Taker claims the not-too-favourable distinction of wrestling only two matches in two years, and losing them both.
If this is really it for the former Ministry of Darkness leader, if he’s to fall at the hands of Bray Wyatt then ride off into the sunset, never to be seen again (barring the obvious Hall of Fame induction), then maybe one more loss won’t have too much of a detrimental impact.
If the WWE are to get any more mileage out of their most tenured performer, then doesn’t it make sense that he claims at least one victory in order to prove that he’s still a performer fans can realistically expect to win matches?
OK, so a win for The Undertaker ultimately means that Bray Wyatt, a young star on the rise, loses to an ageing part-timer past his prime, but at least it means we can still get behind The Phenom for the one more match that is sure to mean megabucks for ‘Taker, his opponent, and WWE.
Of course, that only leads to another question.
What about Sting?
With Triple H calling out Sting for a confrontation at Fast Lane, a Wrestlemania bout between the two seems like a dead cert.
You have to wonder then, if the Stinger is on board, and if Undertaker is likely to be on board for a showdown with Wyatt, why aren’t WWE delivering the one match fans have been clamouring for, and which they themselves teased briefly in mid-2014?
Omitting Sting vs. Undertaker from the ‘Mania line-up only adds more fuel to the fires lit by those who claim Vince & Co. are deliberately going against what their fans want. In some respects, there are arguments in defence of WWE in the apparent war with their own fanbase.
In the case of Sting vs. Undertaker however, the mind kind of boggles. Assuming both men are fit to compete, this is a guaranteed money maker for WWE, something they’ll desperately need if they fail to convince fans that Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar is worth tuning in for.
Then again, it may well be this issue of money that is keeping this dream match off the cards, for now.
If Brock Lesnar choses not to renew his contract after ‘Mania, and if Roman’s reign turns out to be the disaster many are predicting, the company are going to be short on money-making attraction by the summer.
Which is where a Summerslam bout between the two icons could really come in handy.
Will Sting and Undertaker come face to face at Mania and work their way to a Summerslam match? With so much of what we’ve discussed being based on little more than rumour, will any of it play out at all?
Who knows? All we know for now, is that the Road to Wrestlemania is underway, and things are about to get interesting.