WWE Fans Do you remember a time when The Undertaker showed up at WrestleMania and could automatically chalk up a win for the Dead Man? Now that the streak is over, it has become increasingly hard to predict which direction WWE will go in the booking decision when it comes to the company’s most tenured and respected performer.
No longer is it “chic” for Undertaker to win. No longer is it comfortable seeing the 51-year-old big man get in the ring, and declare squared-circle as his backyard. And for me as a fan, seeing Undertaker (the shell of a performer that he is) get in the ring with Roman Reigns in less than two weeks in Orlando isn’t as exciting as it should be.
Had this been a match 10 years ago, with an upstart trying to take ‘Taker’s spot as the new “big guy” in this business, it would have been more compelling. Now, it is a match that seems to have more implications about the end of a career and the continuation of something fans just aren’t that excited about.
When wrestling was “cool” there was certain guarantees. Ric Flair would walk that aisle. Hulk Hogan would “Hulk Up” and take down his opponent. Dusty Rhodes would defend America and The Undertaker would win on WrestleMania Sunday. The times have changed. The fans haven’t changed their stance when it comes to the Dead Man, but WWE has changed its direction, making this match a defining moment for both wrestlers.
And more than anything most of us are pissed this could be the final match Undertaker wrestles, against a babyface most ardent fans don’t want.
I get the reasons, I get the symbolism, I get the need for the company to move forward. But this company has moved forward with the three-time WWE champion swinging and missing in getting over with the fans, and taking heat for it in the process. The McMahons continue to shove Reigns down their throats and they spit him out like he is a cheap liquor sold at a fine dinner establishment.
The best way WWE is going to make this kind of match work, in my opinion, is if Reigns finally does the right thing and turns heel. He would certainly get more of a pop from the fan base, and use the “win” over Undertaker as a springboard to a solid heel run. If WWE wants to promote Reigns as the new eader of the band down the line, possibly on SmackDown Live, they it can book him much like The Rock was booked, which worked out pretty well.
Let me also put out this disclaimer – Reigns will never be the same kind of superstar as The Rock or Undertaker. Few could reach that level of supremacy in this business. No one will for a long time coming.
WWE does its best juggling act every year to try and create matches which steal the show. The card this year is no different as there are eight matches already slated that could bring down the house in Orlando. This has essentially become a mid-card match that may go no longer than 10 minutes. Also, the notion of Reigns possibly having to carry ‘Taker through a match is shocking in itself. We aren’t sure, because of medical reasons, if the Dead Man can carry his part. The match last year with Shane McMahon might have been the last good match we see out of him.
Had this been the match we all wanted to see – a confrontation with John Cena – this wouldn’t be an issue. Reigns would be facing Braun Strowman or Samoa Joe. But injuries, booking issues and confusion sometimes gets in the way of the right thing. If this is the passing of the torch moment or a retirement match, I am so not in favor of it. But it’s WrestleMania, and therefore, like everyone else, I’ll live with it.