Ever since the Undertaker’s undefeated streak was conquered by Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 30, I’ve awaited the Deadman’s future with far more anticipation than I ever have before. When a dynasty comes to an abrupt close, when the impossible occurs, you often find yourself in an overwhelming state of suspense and disbelief. “I never thought it could be done,” you might say, “but what happens now?”
In the case of the Undertaker, what came next was a whole lot of nothing. No appearances. No matches. No references of any kind, save for Paul Heyman’s constant reminders that his client was now “the one in 21-1.” Taker wasn’t even around this year to help build toward his annual Wrestlemania bout, leaving Bray Wyatt to promote the match all on his own. Taker showed up for Wrestlemania 31, vanquished Wyatt and once more vanished into the darkness, leaving his fans with no indication on what his next move might be.
Following the biggest victory of his career in the squared circle, Brock Lesnar left no room for doubt over what his encore would be. Setting his sights on the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, Lesnar obliterated John Cena at last year’s SummerSlam to win the title and then ran roughshod over the rest of the company. When Seth Rollins cashed in his Money in the Bank contract at Wrestlemania 31, pinned Roman Reigns and stole the title from Lesnar, the table was set for an eventual championship bout between the two. Last night at Battleground, those plans came to fruition, with Lesnar appearing to be a three-count away from retribution.
Then a gong went off, the lights went out and the Phenom appeared, ready to exact a little revenge of his own. Take from me and I will take from you.
The reaction to this incredibly rare Undertaker sighting has been decidedly mixed, with some fans relishing the return of their favorite wrestler and others chastising the WWE for yet another instance of illogical booking. I’ll admit that the timing of it all seems a little off. How can fans be happy with that when the end result was Rollins squirming away with the championship once again? If Taker was hell-bent on avenging the end of his streak, why the hell did he wait so long? Then again, even Rocky Balboa had to embark on a long, soul-searching journey before he was ready to take on Clubber Lang for the second time.
I don’t think you can give this decision a fair critique until we see how it plays out, so let’s just say that I’m equal parts skeptical and cautiously optimistic. At the ripe old age of 50, I have doubts about the Undertaker’s durability in what will surely be a rather stiff contest, especially after his last meeting with Lesnar resulted in a trip to the hospital (for real!). He already may or may not have been limping during his brief appearance last night. And I feel uneasy in regards to what Taker’s insertion into this storyline means for Rollins, because I’m just not sure I can stomach Kane getting a shot at the title.
On the other hand, the idea that you can’t position a face against a face is as ignorant as it is laughable. Ever hear of Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior? Or Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Rock? Maybe it’s not the traditional way to book a feud, but it can be done, people. It’s happened before and it will be called upon again. Plus, there’s always a chance that Rollins could remain in this program, which would add a level of intrigue to a match that we’ve already seen. If nothing else, wrestling fans should be excited because it’s the fucking Undertaker and it won’t be long before he retreats into the shadows for good. Enjoy him while you can.
If nothing else, WWE has given me a compelling reason to watch Monday Night Raw tonight, and that may be the only justification needed for having Undertaker spoil Lesnar’s party at Battleground. I may ultimately not like where this goes, but after a year and a half full of uncertainty, I have to see how this plays out.