The Last Ride…

by Kevin D’Hooge

Last Monday Kane and Undertaker escaped the kayfabe captivity of the Wyatt Family.
In the process The Undertaker added another date to the busiest schedule he’s had since 2010 (!). Believe it or not, The Undertaker has been a part timer for 5 years now.
In his defense, the guy has been wrestling professionally for 31 years now. 2010 was his last full-time year.
Let’s look at the events Undertaker has appeared at this year: Wrestlemania, the Mecca of wrestling, where he is 22-1. SummerSlam, the #2 WWE event all year. Hell in a Cell, an event named after the match he helped put on the map.
Up next will be likely be an elimination tag team match against the Wyatt Family at Survivor Series (the event Undertaker’s character debuted at).
I’m no fortune teller, but if I had to guess, Undertaker has to make one more appearance at the Royal Rumble. Either a one-on-one match with Bray Wyatt or being a surprise entry in the Rumble make sense.
That leaves us with Wrestlemania 32. It will be held in his home state of Texas in 2016. Rumor has it, John Cena is the favorite to land the spot to face Taker.
What all of this tells me is that we’re in the midst of Undertaker’s farewell tour. Do the math and there’s no other reason Undertaker would suddenly show up at all of WWE’s marquee events.
The next few months need to be treasured. There will never be another Undertaker.
In his prime, he was as strong, agile, athletic and fast as they come. He was a genetic phenomenon in the ring. Undertaker redefined what big guys could do.
As a character, he was a trendsetter. Undertaker found a gimmick and turned it into a mythic being. No matter the circumstance, Undertaker could adapt.
He could play the terrifying Dead Man. He could be the Corporate attack dog. He could then be the sadistic, satanic monster who turned on the Corporation. He could be the American Badass. He could also revert back to the Dead Man and become, oddly enough, the most beloved baby face of his generation.
Undertaker is more than a character. He has always been there for WWE. During the Monday Night Wars, when wrestlers across the world started chasing the deep pockets of Ted Turner and WCW, The Undertaker stayed loyal.
During his time with WWE he was always the locker room leader. While he is an 8-time World Champion, who has been in some of the most legendary matches of all time, it is perhaps his losses that say more about The Undertaker.
He had no problem with Stone Cold Steve Austin riding the waves of fame and toppling over him countless times during the 1990’s. He was fine with original Tough Enough winner Maven eliminating him at the 2002 Royal Rumble. He even let Great Khali beat him! Kurt Angle. Edge. You name it, they all had their day over Undertaker.
Also, let’s not forget the ultimate example either: giving up The Wrestlemania Streak to Brock Lesnar.
Okay, so some of these stars never panned out (Maven, Khali), but at least Taker gave them a chance. However, in some cases (Angle, Edge, Austin, Lesnar), Taker elevated stars into super-duper-stars.
I have been a staunch critic of Undertaker’s declining wrestling ability. I feel like he lost his magic somewhere between his match with CM Punk and his match with Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 30.
Maybe the concussion from his match with Brock shook him. Maybe it was other injuries catching up to him. Or maybe time finally won. Undertaker’s most recent matches have been passable, but they pale in comparison to his past masterpieces.
He’s slower, he’s lost a few steps, and he needs to catch his breath more often. Even The Undertaker is only human.
If anyone deserves a mulligan, it’s Undertaker. He’s given back to the company in so many ways.
He deserves to go out on top, on his own terms. Nobody wants to remember him being concussed and being badly beaten by Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 30.
For one last run, let’s let imagination take over. No matter how hard it is, let’s envision him as that same indestructible force he used to be.
This is it. He entertained us for 25 years. Let’s pay respect and watch the man hone his craft a few more times before it’s all over.
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