After Wrestlemania 32, it wasn’t clear what the fate of the Undertaker was going to be. Pictures of him on crutches after hip surgery shocked fans, and raised questions as to whether he would be physically able to perform at the next Wrestlemania.
However, the questions about the Undertaker’s health have been recently dispelled, and it looks as if the Dead Man does have at least one more match left. And all signs point to his opponent at Wrestlemania 33 being John Cena.
As wrestling journalists and betting sites reported earlier this year, Cena vs. Undertaker was already planned for Wrestlemania 32 when Cena got injured and the match had to be canceled. This is a match that Vince McMahon clearly wants to happen.
Cena vs. Undertaker is one of the few genuinely fresh matches left in the WWE uppercard. The last time they faced each other one on one was 2006, and that match was a quick no contest ended by run-ins. You have to go back to 2004 to find the last real Taker/Cena match. To give you an idea of how long ago that was, Cena was still a rapping heel who was working his way up out of the midcard.
Unlike last year’s Shane McMahon match, Cena is a credible opponent for Undertaker. He has the strength to lift Taker and make his offense look convincing. But at the same time, he can also bump and sell for Taker to keep the match exciting, which is something a lot of other big men on the roster can’t do. Cena can beat the Undertaker without making it look like a fluke, and he can lose without losing much of his heat.
Cena may be on his way out at WWE as well. At 38, Cena isn’t getting any younger, and movie making is eating up more of his time. Like the Rock before him, he might bolt WWE for Hollywood any day. So why not get some dream matches with him while they can?
It’s possible, however, that WWE may decide there’s more money in having Cena chase the WWE Championship instead, with the possibility of tying Ric Flair’s title record at Wrestlemania.
There are some other potential competitors for the Undertaker at WM 33, but all of them have downsides that Cena doesn’t have. Sting has said he wants to face Taker before calling it a career, but at this point Sting’s ring readiness is questionable at best. Goldberg / Undertaker has novelty going for it, but Goldberg is likely to be busy with Brock Lesnar, and his style might not mesh well with Undertaker’s.
A.J. Styles is a possible dark horse opponent for Taker; a Styles/Undertaker match could recapture the magic of the classic matches Taker had with Shawn Michaels. But it doesn’t look like Styles will be losing the WWE Championship anytime soon.
This may well be Taker’s last Wrestlemania match (although that’s been said before, more than once), so it’s possible WWE might want to promote a new star to face Taker, someone like Kevin Owens or Finn Balor. WWE does prefer to use guys with more star power against Undertaker, but then Bray Wyatt got a shot only a couple years ago.
If Taker/Cena is indeed the direction WWE wants to go, the question arises: who’s going to win? While it’s hard to give a definite answer without knowing the situation and the storylines around the match, all wrestling fans can agree on one thing: never bet against the Undertaker at Wrestlemania!
However it shakes out, Undertaker/Cena will be a solid, Wrestlemania-worthy match, something for fans to look forward to as the Royal Rumble comes up and the Road to Wrestlemania begins once more.