It’s official, I’m feeling confused. WWE threw us a hell of a curveball this Monday night on Raw by announcing a Shane McMahon Hell in a Cell match vs. The Undertaker at WrestleMania 32. The words “impending disaster” come to mind as I can hear the wailing ambulance siren of Cesaro’s theme song ringing in my head.
Should the impossible happen and Shane wins, he will take over control of Raw and effectively put an end to Vince and Co.’s tiresome three-year supremacy of the Monday fixture. The more plausible scenario would be one-sided Undertaker victory, but then Shane wouldn’t take over and all the hype and buzz would be immediately nullified, leaving us wondering what the point of re-introducing Shane was.
So if we suspend all disbelief, forget about the importance of Undertaker’s Streak and what is means for a wrestler from a booking standpoint to face the Phenom on the grandest stage of them all, and trust WWE to not shoot itself in the foot with all its questionable decisions with regard to this confrontation (mainly how Undertaker’s stock would take a plunge after a loss to Shane), well we start to see a glimmer of a chance of a Shane victory. It is needless to say, however, that the prospects of a Shane McMahon win are exciting and would help phase out the tired narrative which has become The Authority. Therefore post-WrestleMania promises to be must-see television. But what can be said about the match itself?
Now let’s look at the facts: we have a 46-year old Shane-O-Mac stepping into the ring for the first time in seven years to face the 50-year old Undertaker in one of his last matches (and what could possibly be his very mast match). Though Shane may be willing to put his body on the line his matches were more series of stunts than real fights. Taking his lack of wrestling ability into account and looking at Undertaker’s age-related limitations too, we mustn’t expect an in-ring classic – the cherry on the cake being that match is taking place in a steel cage. Now the Braun Strowman – Undertaker match which had been rumored doesn’t seem so bad after all! WWE letting the rub of a WrestleMania match with Undertaker go to a non-wrestler who doesn’t need the rub simply doesn’t make sense.
So the conspiracy theorist that this writer may sometimes be reckons WWE has something else up its sleeve and we could be in for some more surprises as WrestleMania looms on the horizon. If I were a betting man, my money would be on Shane McMahon scheming his way out of the match while letting us think that he’s up for the challenge. A week or two prior to Mania he fakes an injury or finds some kind of a loophole in Vince’s challenge. The only way for WWE to work its way out of the booking corner it has created with the Shane-O-Mac Taker match is for Shane to find someone else to fight for him on his behalf. To keep this angle entertaining, WWE would be wise to either name the “proxy fighter” at the very last minute or let audiences find out who the mystery man is only after Undertaker has made his entrance at WrestleMania.
As for whom this mystery man could be, here’s a ranking of candidates from less likely to most likely opponent. Let the countdown start:
Why?: He’s over with the crowd. He’s an extremely gifted wrestler. And a win against Taker would catapult him to the spot he deserves.
Why not?: WWE haven’t given him a serious push in the past. And he won’t have recovered from his injury in time.
5- Seth Rollins
Why?: He’s got issues with Triple H, and by extension The Authority. He’s expected to return as a crowd-favorite babyface and claim his WWE World Heavyweight Championship back. And beating Taker at WrestleMania would give him the extra credibility.
Why not?: He’s still injured and is more likely to be part of WWE programming after WrestleMania.
4- The Rock
Why?: The Rock has announced he will be a part of WrestleMania 32 but we are yet to find out what his role will be. But with WWE needing huge star power for its Mania match card, The Rock lacing up his boots can’t be ruled out.
Why not?: He’s a Hollywood movie star with a busy filming schedule and he suffered an injury in his last WWE match. It’s unlikely that The Rock will wrestle in Dallas.
3- Shinsuke Nakamura
Why?: WWE have just signed arguably the biggest wrestling star outside of WWE. Sure, he has signed to compete in NXT men’s division but rumor has it he won’t stay there as he’s great performer who WWE will be eager to promote to the main roster and put him on the map with a landmark victory.
Why not?: He may be a big star and introducing him to WWE audiences in a Mania match vs. Undertaker would create numerous headlines and make him a top act instantly, but WWE rarely takes such chances. He could follow an AJ Styles route and be tested in the upper mid-card beforehand.
2- Finn Balor
Why?: Balor’s “demon” persona makes him a natural opponent for The Undertaker. His atmospheric entrance would make for great television at the Showcase of Immortals. For once we’d have the impression that a devilish force is at play and truly fear for Undertaker. The match itself would be a classic.
Why not?: The Undertaker is much more likely to take on an established member of the main roster. Balor is currently NXT champion and WWE would have to make him lose the title to Samoa Joe only two days before at NXT TakeOver: Dallas to make this happen.
1- John Cena
Why?: Legend vs. Legend. The magnitude of an Undertaker – John Cena match could headline WWE WrestleMania 32 should Cena recover from his shoulder surgery to make it back in time. This is a dreamed showdown that’d already been penciled in by WWE Creative. WWE has barely tapped into the potential of these two stars going up against each other. And the match would be on another symbolic level. What would be more fitting than Undertaker’s last match being against Cena? What’s more Cena is the face of WWE, and he could carry the Raw brand forward under Shane McMahon’s guidance.
Why not?: Only one caveat: Will Cena recover in time?