After reading Mike Mooneyham’s most recent wrestling column in the Post and Courier, I thought this might be a good time to jump back in the ring of writing. Mooneyham talks about a few topics in his piece that appeared Sunday, but the one that intrigues me is the idea The Undertaker may return to WWE to face John Cena at WrestleMania in New Orleans in April.
A match fans have wanted to see won’t be worth its weight in wrestling gold given the poor performances of the Dead Man in recent years and the on again, off again schedule of Cena, who seems more comfortable hitting the talk show and movie circuit more so than he does working a series of matches that mean something.
So much for becoming a 17-time world champion, thus eclipsing Ric Flair as the greatest title holder of all time. With so much time away from the ring, the 16th time Cena grabbed the WWE strap seems hollow, like the company did him a favor for legacy’s sake.
How can WWE think a match between these two icons is worthy of a WrestleMania build? It is rumored Cena’s WrestleMania opponent will be revealed at the January 22nd Raw event commemorating 25 years of the hallowed program. Just like Undertaker and Roman Reigns planting the seeds for their less than epic confrontation at WrestleMania during the Royal Rumble, WWE is trying to get out in front of this early enough to build something historic.
If indeed it is the 52-year retired performer who will lace his boots up one more time to fall at the feet of The Champ.
As Mooneyham writes, “The real question concerns Taker’s ability to put on a Wrestlemania-worthy match. Countless surgeries have taken a toll on the larger-than-life performer. Can he rise from the dead for one more retirement match?
Physical capabilities diminish with the passage of time, and wrestling can be a very unforgiving profession. There’s a sobering reality about age that even the magic that is professional wrestling can’t hide.”
If I sound less than enthused about this possibility, I am. There are other worthy opponents who would give Cena a better match. With the Rumble event less than two weeks away, the gossip mill is fraught with anticipation of a winner headed to New Orleans. Would Cena be the pick? Could the company finally get behind Shinsuke Nakamura, giving us the ultimate main event with AJ Styles?
There are only a handful of ways the company can lean heading toward the Road to WrestleMania 34.
Off the top of my head, I can think of other opponents for Cena, my favorite being Kurt Angle. My other would be Braun Strowman – which won’t happen – or Kane, in a send off of one of WWE’s greatest performers of all time. I could also see a Cena vs. Triple H scenario as well.
The ultimate confrontation would be CM Punk, should he bury the hatchet with the company he wore he would never return to. As a side note, when I discussed this with fellow CCB writer Sarah Hirsch, I thought should would jump through the computer in excitement.
Cena/Undertaker doesn’t do it for me. It didn’t a couple of years ago when it was first discussed. And it won’t do it for me should it be delayed a year, possibly giving ‘Taker an opportunity to get himself in the best shape in recent years.
In terms of showcasing, Cena still deserves better than mid-card status. But the business has walked past him while he has spread his wings. A date with The Undertaker seems like a hopeless attempt to create something that isn’t there anymore. It’s no surprise WWE would do this. But it’s disappointing they would do this now instead of making it work a few years ago.