Debut PWMania Column: Opponents For Undertaker At WM29
What’s up guys? Welcome to my debut column here on PWMania.com. I’d like to thank Andy for asking me to write for his site. It’s great to be asked and I’m glad to be here. I write for a few other websites, including www.nodq.com, www.quickwrestlingnews.com and www.bleacherreport.com, so you’ve probably come across my work before. If you haven’t, then thanks for stumbling across me. I hope you’ll enjoy what I write for you.
I’m still trying to figure out a name for my columns, so until then, I’ll just post what they’re about. For my first article with you guys, I thought I’d go over my thoughts on the five men who are more than likely to face the Undertaker if he decides to wrestle again at next year’s WrestleMania.
A lot of things have happened in WWE over the last 12 months that have excited me, but there are still some things that concern me. I’m so glad that WWE has finally seemed to realise the talents of WRESTLERS. Yes, I said it, WRESTLERS. Men like CM Punk, Bryan Danielson, Dolph Ziggler and Cody Rhodes have all had sustained pushes towards, or at, the main-event level.
We’ve seen how the power of the internet and social media can affect the career of an under-used talent like Zack Ryder and the returns of The Rock, Chris Jericho and Brock Lesnar have got me excited about WWE again, probably for the first time in 10 years.
The one thing that concerns me is what’s going to draw us into WrestleMania once the Undertaker has retired. His astonishing record at WWE’s equivalent of the SuperBowl continues to roll on, but now, it seems like the odds on him continuing to wrestle are lengthening as each year goes by. The Streak will end, but under his own control. He will NEVER lose at WrestleMania. There’s no-one on the roster big enough to handle the mammoth task of stopping the demon of Death Valley.
What options does the Deadman have if he decides to continue on to WrestleMania 29? I’m going to look at 5 possible contenders: 3 who are currently with the company and 2 who aren’t. This is just my opinion guys, not what I think should happen. It’s like me fantasy booking Undertaker’s next match (if there is one). Let’s get crack-a-lackin!
From the Current Roster
Cena is probably the only one who could conceivably beat the Deadman at WrestleMania. Not because he deserves it (frankly, no-one deserves to end the Streak), but because he’s continually booked like f*cking Superman. I think that’s the thing that frustrates me the most.
It doesn’t even bother me that his character is stale or bland (well it does, but not as much as the way he’s booked), but it’s that he hardly ever loses clean. I spoke to my mate Dan about this the other week and we were trying to remember the last time Cena was pinned cleanly in a singles match.
No gimmicks, no run-ins, no interference, just a straight-up pinfall loss. If you take WrestleMania 28 aside, the last time that either of us could think of was a RAW from London about 5 years ago. I understand that he’s their biggest star and makes them a boatload of money, but a clean loss once in a while wouldn’t hurt.
On the other hand, if he doesn’t lose clean, it means more when he does, so I see their logic. It doesn’t mean I agree with it, but I understand it. Getting back to a potential Mania showdown with Taker, they haven’t had any interaction for about 8/9 years (as best as I can tell).
It would be fresh, different, something worth seeing. It wouldn’t be a classic wrestling match, but it would be a spectacle nonetheless. Cena going over Undertaker is the most believable of the contenders I’ve got, but that doesn’t mean I want, or think, it will happen.
The last time Randy feuded with Taker, he was growing into his role as a main-event player in WWE. He was nowhere near the star that he is now, making him a far more credible opponent than he was at WrestleMania 21. (By the way, that match was as good as Taker had had at Mania before HBK and HHH took it to a whole new level!)
He’s arguably the most over babyface on the roster. The crowd goes nuts for his music and when he hits the R-K-O. They’ve kinda made a mistake with Randy though. Initially, I think they tried to make him too much like Stone Cold Steve Austin. Instead of booking him like that, they should’ve made him the first Randy Orton.
Another thing Orton has in his favour is that, by and large, a lot of the male audience are behind him and believe that he’s capable of giving Taker an ass-whooping. He’s also capable of selling moves and beat-downs, which helps put the other guy over. One of his co-workers might want to take notes from Mr Orton on how to do that (just sayin’…).
I think a match with Orton would be the best structured match out of the options available on the roster. Randy’s grown as a performer to the extent that he’s generally a careful worker who can get the best out of his larger opponents.
The one bright shining light into the main-event scene since Edge’s retiral. He’s a man who has history with the Undertaker, none of it good. Punk’s been pretty much buried (pun intended) every time he’s faced Taker before. He’s never come out on the winning side.
I suppose that Punk’s situation is a little like Randy’s. Although he was at the main-event level when he was feuding with Taker, it seemed like WWE weren’t really sure about him and he ended up being dominated by the phenom. They made him look pretty weak in my opinion.
Since his last feud with Undertaker ended, Punk’s seemed a little bit different. Maybe a little more focused. There’s a steely look of determination in his eye whenever you watch him wrestle. It’s like he’s going out to prove a point. Not necessarily to the fans, but to his boss and co-workers. Almost as if to say: “Hey. I’m the best in the business. I don’t care whether you think it or not, I know I am.”
A potential match with Punk at WrestleMania might be the thing that solidifies Punk’s legacy as the best in the world. Think about it. A good performance against Undertaker at what’s effectively his PPV would make Punk even more of a star than he is now. A seal of approval from the leader of the locker-room might just make Vince appreciate what a star Punk actually is.
Stars who aren’t currently in WWE
He’s the most glaringly obvious choice of anyone who isn’t working for WWE. What more needs to be said about Kurt Angle? He’s the only Olympic gold medallist to rise through the amateur ranks to become the greatest professional wrestling technician of his generation.
Angle is the most versatile performer I’ve ever seen and I doubt that he’s ever had a bad televised match. If he has, then I can’t remember it. Whether he’s worked with smaller guys like Mysterio or AJ Styles, brawlers like Austin or Anderson, or big guys like Lesnar or Undertaker, Angle always manages to put on a show.
If you don’t believe what I’m saying, then I’ll ask you to do just one thing: watch his amazing match with Shane McMahon at the 2001 King of the Ring PPV. Shane has admitted that he’s not ever been a professionally trained athlete, but he went toe-to-toe with Angle in a 25/30 minute match that was a contender for ‘Match of the Year’ in 2001. If Angle can make Shane look good (and that’s not a shot at Shane), then imagine how amazing a potential match with Undertaker at WrestleMania could be.
Angle admitted in an interview last year that he could have been the one to end the streak. Admittedly, we only have Kurt’s word for it, but in an interview with Joel Ross and Rob McNichol in the UK last year for The Sun’s WrestleCast podcast, he said:
“It was considered back in 2006. The person who wanted to do it was The Undertaker himself. I was flattered, for him to go to Vince McMahon and pitch it. Undertaker, at that point, had never had a five-star WrestleMania moment match.
“He figured that the only one he could have it with was me, at the time. Thank God a couple of years later, he had Shawn Michaels and it worked.
“But Undertaker really wanted to have that match. He asked Vince to push our match back from No Way Out to WrestleMania and, since I was champion, they wanted me to keep the title. Undertaker was willing to take the loss.
“To me, that meant a lot because undertaker had a lot of respect for me – and I had more respect for him than he did for me.”
IF, and it’s a big IF, that story is true, then that tells us a hell of a lot about the admiration Undertaker has for Angle as a performer. Whether or not he still feels the same way is a question that only the Deadman can answer, but it’d be awesome to see a match between two bonafide legends and Hall of Famers. The term Hall of Famer isn’t even accurate. There should be a separate wing in the Hall of Fame for Kurt Angle and The Undertaker (as well as Shawn Michaels) in my opinion.
Out of all of the possibilities, this is the least likely to happen. Apart from Sting’s loyalty to Dixie Carter and TNA, Undertaker is now 47 years old and his body is beaten up beyond belief. He’s taken years of abuse and can barely string together a match. That’s the reason why I’ve not included any younger wrestlers in this group.
Sting isn’t exactly a spring chicken himself. He’s 53 years old. Although he’s an absolute legend, he’s no longer capable of carrying a match to the high standards that he’s set himself. Sting is the only iconic wrestler left in the business that has never worked for WWE. Every other name has done so, even if it was only briefly.
Here’s the one thing about Sting. He doesn’t NEED this match. He doesn’t NEED to work for WWE. It’s something that most of us, the fans, feel like WE need to see. Its two slightly similar characters of a similar age who have managed to avoid crossing paths throughout their three decades in the squared circle.
It makes you wonder what would have happened IF WWE had managed to sign Sting after they’d bought WCW. He’s the only wrestler to have won NONE of his World Heavyweight Championships in any variation of WWE. The simple fact is that the longer Sting stays with TNA, it becomes less and less likely that he’ll ever wrestle in a ring with WWE. He deserves that stage, whether he gets the opportunity or not is down to one man. Steve Borden.
Hopefully I’ve managed to create a few talking points this week with my suggestions for The Undertaker’s next match, if there is one. I know that there are names that I’ve left out, but hopefully you guys will understand why I’ve gone for these five wrestlers.
Before I shoot off, I want to introduce something that I want to be the most interactive part of my column. It’s called the Wrestling ThrowBack. Basically, it’s a moment from wrestling’s past that we can share and each week, I’m going to give you (the readers at PWMania.com) the chance to pick the Wrestling ThrowBack.
All you have to do is get in touch with me on Twitter @georgec1982, using the hashtag #WrestlingThrowBack, and tell me what wrestling moment you want me to include in the column. There’s only one condition. It has to be something from the last 20 years. All you’ve got to do is tweet me the link to the promo/skit/match and let me know why you like it so much. I’ll put it into my next column and give you a shout-out to boot! Not bad huh?
This week’s Wrestling Throwback comes to us from the UK. One of my regular readers Dan (@bigdan02) wanted me to highlight a match that took place almost exactly five years ago to the day. It’s a match from an episode of RAW taped in London, England between John Cena & Shawn Michaels that went for an hour (including commercials). Enjoy!
Well guys, that’s my first column. I hope you liked it. If there’s anything you’d like to talk about, just send me a tweet. My handle is @georgec1982. I’ll be back this weekend with a preview column of TNA’s Lockdown PPV. Until then, stay classy.