Now that it has been revealed The Undertaker will return to WWE SmackDown Live on Nov. 15 for the program’s 900th show, it’s time to once again speculate who the Dead Man will face come April at WrestleMania 33 in Orlando.
It’s no secret the 51-year-old icon in this business will at some point soon hang up his boots and call it a career. After 26 years on WWE’s roster and countless memories and a 21-match winning streak at the biggest show of WWE’s year, who will be the “lucky” one to walk the aisle and confront the most respected man on the roster? Because of his appearance on Smackdown Live, it is sure bet WWE’s creative team is looking at the best possible move not only to protect Undertaker, but to also give the fans a match they will remember.
Undertaker’s return ahead of Survivor Series will certainly start the rumor mill regarding more matches before next year’s annual return to the ring. Will he be part of the Royal Rumble? Will his opponent be determined through process of elimination in the actual Rumble match? Will he show up an event prior to April? How will WWE maximize him the best way they can because of small rosters on both the blue and red brand and not risk him getting injured?
These are all things that must be navigated through murky waters. Undertaker’s health is always a concern. However, appearances at sporting events have shown Mark Calaway in full custom, portraying everyone’s favorite man from the underworld. WWE would be wise to find someone who can carry a match should ‘Taker not be able to perform like he did last year in the Hell in a Cell match at WrestleMania 32 in Dallas.
Here are five opponents who could get the call to face Undertaker in what could be his final match in a WWE ring.
Goldberg – This was rumored last year as Goldberg was expected to become Shane McMahon’s proxy in the Hell in a Cell match. Right now, Goldberg is only under contract for one match with Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series. That could all change. First, if Goldberg looks good in the match later this month, could it lead to another match if he is given time to prepare. Second, Goldberg could be in line to be inducted into WWE’s Hall of Fame. A match with Undertaker could be a great way to close out his career for the final time.
John Cena – The “dream” match we wanted last season. Cena has few accomplishments left on his career “bucket” list. A confrontation like this – billed as a “legend’s match” may be just what Undertaker needs. Cena would protect Undertaker in the ring. It would also help put a cap on both their careers. We all know it is highly unlikely Undertaker will wrestle again after April until 2018. Cena could make this a match which helps continue to faze him out of the main event scene. The only thing Cena is focusing on is a 16th WWE World Title run, which should happen, but should also be short-lived.
Randy Orton – I hadn’t thought about this, but it makes a lot of sense. Undertaker is appearing on SmackDown Live. Orton just turned heel and joined the Wyatt Family. There is an angle with both Bray Wyatt and Orton here. There is also an angle with Kane as potential tag team partners. Now that the “streak” is over, there may not be a need to put Undertaker in a singles match. If WWE wants to put him in a program that will not force him to overexert himself, Orton is a wrestler who is safe and could protect him in the ring.
Sting – Yes, he must be mentioned. There is a feeling this match could still happen, even if “The Icon” called it a career at last year’s Hall of Fame ceremonies. Sting has many times the one wrestler he wishes he had faced before retirement was Undertaker. If not for a neck injury suffered at the hands of Seth Rollins, it could have happened. This is one of those
once in a lifetime matches – must like Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair. Would two men in their 50s be able to pull it out and could Sting carry ‘Taker if the match starts to break down?
Kane – As Jim Ross would say, “Dear God!” This must happen. There is too much unwritten history. Another chapter to be written. The biggest shame of Undertaker’s career would be the fact he does not close out his time in the ring with the man he is most closely tied to. The storyline of these two is one of the best told. This could be a retirement match for both men. It could also be better than we think in terms of two wrestlers knowing each other so well, reliving spots and making magic in the ring.