In his latest piece, PWP Nation’s Eron Ramadanov explains why WrestleMania 33 in Orlando should be the last we see of the Deadman.
There’s only a hand full of performers in the wrestling business that take your breath away. Certain wrestlers and superstars have an indescribable quality about them that makes you pause for a split second and gaze in amazement. For most people my age (millennials), the Undertaker is definitely in that category of performers. His presence sends chills down your spine, his music gives you chills and his in-ring work is absolutely superb. The Undertaker has not only gained the respect of every single wrestling fan in the world, he has gained the utmost respect from the wrestlers he’s worked against and along side. When you think of a true professional, you think of Mark Calaway.
But the year is 2017 and the time has come for someone out there, who respects the Undertaker for all he’s done for the business, to tell him it’s time to hang up his boots. I take absolutely zero joy being the one who has to break it to him and the rest of the wrestling community. The Undertaker has lost “it.”
I did not come to this conclusion overnight. This feeling has come after watching the Undertaker struggle through match after match, doing his absolute best to overcome his aching body and decades of wear and tare. The first real sign of the Deadman’s career coming to an end was at WrestleMania 29, which I was “lucky” enough to attend.
Going into the show, I was stoked. It was my first WrestleMania in 9 years! The card was underwhelming in hindsight, but it was WrestleMania. I didn’t care who or what was on the card. As many of you would agree, WrestleMania 29 wasn’t exactly one of the best, but the one shining light on that card was the incredible match between the Undertaker and CM Punk.
To let it be known up front, I’m not exactly the biggest fan of CM Punk, but I will say one thing. CM Punk carried the Undertaker through that match (for those who know me, they will understand how big of a statement that is coming from me). I’m in no way saying that the Undertaker was horrible in that match or that he couldn’t work. But WrestleMania 29 was the first real sign that the Deadman was losing a step and it was evident.
Fast forward to WrestleMania 30, where we saw the end of the Undertaker’s WrestleMania legacy. Not only did the Undertaker lose in a match to Brock Lesnar that was the absolute shits, but decades of bumps and trauma finally caught up with the Deadman. It was clear that the Undertaker’s body was starting to fail him. What’s that saying? Oh, right… father time is undefeated.
After WrestleMania 30, many fans, including myself, believed that the Undertaker’s in-ring career was over. And in hindsight, it should’ve been. At that point in his career, the streak was the only reason for the Undertaker to wrestle another match. Once the streak was over, why continue? Where’s the incentive to come back, unless you’re going to avenge your loss against the man who defeated you?
Jumping ahead to WrestleMania 31, the Undertaker was pitted against Bray Wyatt, which I wasn’t really that interested in seeing. Yes, it was a cool match-up and I’m sure Wyatt was geeking out to work with the Undertaker, but the match lacked for multiple reasons, most notably, the lack of build and logic behind the feud itself.
If we’re booking logically (which is asking a lot from WWE), why would the Undertaker want to wrestle anyone but Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania? I understand the storyline between Taker & Wyatt is the new, young gun trying to take out the old, gun-slinging veteran, but what was in it for Taker in storyline? To prove he can beat Wyatt? Who cares? Even though the logic behind the match was spotty, I will say that the Undertaker looked fantastic compared to his match against Lesnar a year before. But once again, Taker’s limitations in the ring were clear and noticeable.
After WrestleMania 31, I did get what I wanted, which was a continuance of the Undertaker’s revenge against Brock Lesnar. I can’t really sit here and tell you the Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar matches were bad, because they weren’t. They were actually quite good, but I believe that was the Undertaker’s last stand. He seemed determined to right the wrong from a year ago. Not only to avenge his loss at WrestleMania 30, but to prove he could still go.
One thing you can’t take away from the Deadman is his determination and heart. Not matter what shape he’s in, he’s always giving us 100% of his effort.
Speaking of effort, that’s a perfect transition to the Undertaker’s latest WrestleMania match against Shane McMahon from last year in Dallas, TX. What can I really say about this match? Other than Shane O’Mac’s incredible Hell in a Cell spot off the top of the structure, the match was a lot of big move, rest for a few minutes; big move, rest for a few minutes. Undertaker didn’t move well and the fact that he was asked to carry Shane McMahon through the match is unfair to him and us, even with all the smoke and mirrors.
My final example of why the Undertaker should call it a career is his recent appearance in the Royal Rumble match. To be completely honest, the Undertaker looked absolutely horrible. He moved slow, didn’t take a single bump the entire match and had a stomach of a woman in her third trimester. To cut the Undertaker some slack, he is dealing with a serious hip injury and needs it replaced. According to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer, the Undertaker is waiting for his career to come to an end to get his hip replaced. Well, Deadman… I think the time is immediately following WrestleMania 33.
When I pictured the Undertaker’s retirement, I didn’t envision it to go down this way. The Undertaker deserves(ed) better. He deserved to go out his way, with dignity and respect. I hate to say it, but the Undertaker is approaching Mick Foley and Ric Flair in TNA Wrestling territory. The blame isn’t solely on the Undertaker; Vince McMahon is partially to blame for the death of the Undertaker’s character. From the booking of the end of the streak to year in and year out begging the Deadman to come back for “one more run,” VKM has diminished the legacy of one of the greatest of all time. It’ll be hard for some fans to wipe away the memories of the last 4 WrestleMania appearances when looking back at his career.
With all the information I provided above, I strongly urge the Undertaker to put his foot down to Vince McMahon and call it a career. Pass the torch to Roman Reigns, raise his hand at WrestleMania 33 and ride off into the sunset, not only for your legacy, but for your own health.
You may read this article and think I was harsh on the Undertaker… and maybe I was. So, in saying that, let me end on a good note. The Undertaker, no matter what’s happened in the last few years, will go down as one of (if not THE) greatest professional wrestlers in WWE history. His grace, class, respect and professionalism will never be matched or topped. Mark Calaway is a true gift to the wrestling business and will be remembered as such, long after his career is over.
So, after roasting the Deadman for 1,000 words, I’d like to end on this…
Thank you for the memories, Mark. You’re a true class act.
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