After a week away, you’ll be happy to know normal service is (somewhat) resumed today as FATP makes its return to PWMania.com! Thanks for the feedback/tweets I got last time out, when I said that I Want My Impact Back. I ended up with a ton of new followers on Twitter too, so thanks to everyone who read it and told me their ideas!
In the last week, we’ve sat through some God-awful segments on Raw and through a largely predictable Royal Rumble, particularly the 2 main-events at the PPV. I’m not even going to waste my time telling people why, even though it’s predictable, the likely WWE Title match will make a huge amount of money for everyone in WWE. People should already be able to see, and accept, that. If not, that’s not my problem, it’s yours.
We’re firmly on the Road to WrestleMania and this is usually the time where rumours circulate about Undertaker’s status for what’s become his signature event. There have been all sorts of stories going around this week about who he’s facing, whether he’ll even wrestle or if he’ll retire. There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind, and there shouldn’t be any in yours, that the man is a bona-fide legend and one of the best of all-time, from any generation. He’s a captivating athlete who never fails to deliver and that’s not an easy thing to do, especially in his physical shape.
This week, I thought I’d take a look at the main points that everyone’s been talking about: whether he’ll wrestle this year, who his opponent should be and whether or not he’ll retire. Before I get started, these will be my opinions. That doesn’t make them right or wrong and I’d love to hear what you’ve got to say about it! OK, let’s get started.
Will Undertaker wrestle this year?
If you look at Undertaker’s body of work, especially over just the last 15 years or so, it stands up there against any of the greats like Flair, Steamboat, Savage, Michaels or Perfect, especially when you consider the size of the man. He doesn’t have anything to prove to anyone at this stage of his career and I’d imagine that he takes pride in being able to have a Match of the Year candidate each time he wrestles. Granted that’s only once a year, but the fact it’s almost a “one-off” kind of deal means that he works harder to do more in that one match that others on the roster do in a year.
For what it’s worth, and this is just my opinion, I don’t think there’s any need for the Undertaker to wrestle again. By the time WrestleMania rolls around this year, the man will be 48 years of age. He’s already been a relative part-timer for at least the last 4 years, possibly 6. That just goes to show you the toll that the Attitude Era in particular took on Undertaker’s body. He’s in a bad way physically. It’s not so bad that it’s affecting his quality of life, but one wrong move could change all that. If he doesn’t feel that he can perform at the highest level this year, I’d rather he skipped WrestleMania to give his body a chance to heal up a little more.
If he does wrestle, who should his opponent be?
That’s a tough one. There have been a few names thrown around lately, but I’d rule Brock Lesnar and John Cena out of the running pretty much immediately.
Given what I’ve just said about Taker’s physical shape, I don’t think Brock Lesnar would be able to protect Taker well enough to make the match watchable. It’d be awkward to see Lesnar just leathering the you-know-what out of a near 50-year old man. Taker wouldn’t be capable of sustaining that sort of punishment for 15-20 minutes and even if he did, it would probably end his career.
John Cena isn’t an option either. I very much doubt that WWE would put the face of the company in a position where he’d likely be booed by 95% of the crowd. The only reason that I’d put Cena in there with the Undertaker is because of his star power. Cena’s the only one on the current roster who is as established as Undertaker at main-event level.
Other guys on the roster, like Ziggler, Bryan, Rhodes, Barrett, Sheamus etc aren’t established enough. Nobody would see them as a credible threat to Undertaker’s undefeated WrestleMania streak.
Now, let’s get to the 2 guys I’d love to see Undertaker wrestle at WrestleMania 29.
Starting with the former WWE Champion, and victim of the Arizona Screwjob, CM Punk. It’s the easiest storyline to build. Punk is now a genuine, marquee name in the WWE. Of the full-time roster, only John Cena has the same presence as Punk. Punk is untouchable on the mic and there are few better on the planet in the ring than Punk. For the last few months or so, he’s been on a crusade for respect, which is justified. He floored me on Monday when he said to the crowd: “Boo me? You wanna boo me? Fine, but in 20 years time, you’ll realise I’m a genius, but you’re just too stupid to realise it!” He’s damn right. Everything Punk has said in the last 18-24 months has resonated with a decent %age of the audience. He’s sick and tired of the “machine”. He wants to be recognised for the amazing talent he is and it’s about time he got it.
Punk is one of the only members of the roster who could have a match with Taker that would match the quality of the Deadman’s last 4 outings. Punk isn’t the same guy who feuded with Taker back in 2009. He’s so much better in every way and a genuine star. The dynamic of their match would be fantastic and if you believe what you read on t’internet, there are stories out there suggesting that Taker wants Punk to end the streak. If that rumour/story is true, it just shows you how much respect Taker has for Punk. I’d love to see them go at it on the biggest stage of them all, mainly because it would cement Punk’s place as one of the guys in the WWE.
The next one is surprising, so just bear with me. I actually reckon that the only guy on the roster, other than Punk, who’s credible and talented enough to put together a stellar match with Taker is a man who made his return to the WWE at the Rumble – Chris Jericho.
Jericho is just fantastic. I love watching him work. He’s the last of the “old guard” really, isn’t he? I spoke about this option with one of my friends the other day, and he felt that the fact Jericho basically lost every match during his last run meant that he couldn’t be viewed as a credible threat to Undertaker’s streak. I completely disagree with that. It’s not about wins and losses. It’s about having a strong character. Jericho’s character is so established that he spent most of his last run helping WWE to build new stars. Sheamus, Punk and Ziggler all benefitted from working with someone of Jericho’s calibre and I’ve no doubt he’ll do the same again with others this time around.
I just think that, other than his match with Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 19 and Punk last year, Jericho’s never had that “WrestleMania moment” that so many others have. To have his last WrestleMania moment against the biggest legend still working today would be a massive pat on the back to Jericho, from WWE, for all that he’s achieved since jumping ship from WCW in 1999.
Will Undertaker retire this year?
If I had to bet on it, I’d say no. When the Undertaker decides to retire, I’m sure WWE will milk it for all its worth, and rightfully so. The end of the Undertaker’s career will be a massive thing for everyone: fans, wrestlers, the WWE and the man himself. It’s by far and away the best gimmick of all time, but to just leave it at that would be an insult to the talent and hard-work that Undertaker has put in over his 20+ years in the business. If anything, I’d suggest that Undertaker might well decide not to have a match this year, to give us a huge send-off at next year’s landmark WrestleMania 30.
That’s my take (pun intended) on the Deadman’s situation as we head on the Road to WrestleMania, but what about you? You know the drill by now. Find me on Twitter @george_sltd and let me know whether you think Taker will retire this year, or who he’ll face if he decides to lace up his boots at WrestleMania. I’ll be back with another FATP in the next few days or so, but until then, have a great week and I’ll see ya soon!
Don’t forget to post your comments, thoughts and opinions below!