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By Arjun Keval Joshi of Canvas to Canvas.
DISCLAIMER: Before reading, please note that when discussing ending 'The Streak', this article does not necessarily mean that The Undertaker should be defeated, but simply that he will end his professional wrestling career by competing in a WrestleMania match against the specified opponent - win or lose.
In this era of the WWE, there are three major prizes that top-flight WWE Superstars strive to achieve. Unfortunately, these do not include the Intercontinental Championship or the Tag-Team Championships, though, they should (see ‘Mid-carder for life?‘). If you haven’t guessed already, two of the three grand achievements are the ‘Money in the Bank’ contract, and of course, the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
But the ultimate prize – that seems to be marketed in this light anyway – is defeating ‘The Streak’, a record that ‘The Undertaker’ has possessed for over twenty years. There is nothing quite like it, and many see it as a more superior accolade than obtaining the WWE/World Heavyweight Championships a hundred times. For years, many pro wrestling fans have debated back and forth how and when ‘The Streak’ should end. The following are some potential ideas that could leave fans delighted, somewhat satisfied, or absolutely disgusted at how a living legend could end his outstanding professional wrestling career.
If you read the ‘A WrestleMania idea…‘ article, you may have already got the feeling that this match has the ingredients to become something of a spectacle. You have two, dark-natured, legendary Superstars going head-to-head that fans have only been able to envisage via video games and discussion. Even WWE.com featured this ‘dream match’ in one of their articles! Should Sting beat ‘The Streak’? Definitely not. But a match of this magnitude may leave most fans feeling satisfied – or at least content – that this is the last time they’ll see ‘The Deadman’ in any physical competition.
Before you roll your eyes and skip this section (or even close the page for that matter), take a moment to think why WWE would do this. John Cena, love him or hate him, is WWE’s top dog. As a performing WWE Superstar, it is certain that Cena would love nothing more than to go one-on-one with ‘The Demon of Death Valley’. Of course, it would be ludicrous to have Cena ‘go over’, but having Taker’s last WrestleMania bout against ‘the man’ of this era makes sense somewhat.
While it’s extremely obvious as to why ‘The Devil’s Favourite Demon’ should not defeat ‘The Streak’, this match would be extremely emotional, both for the fans and ‘The Brothers of Destruction’ themselves. Kane and The Undertaker have a huge history, a legacy if you will, and to see Taker’s career climax with a match against Kane would be absolutely epic. Of course, Kane would have to lose his corporate gimmick and regain some buildup as ‘The Big Red Machine’, with a bad-ass-looking mask and all.
‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin
Although this match seems somewhat irrelevant, Taker has an an incredible history with Austin, as with Kane. WWE could market it as ‘the match that ends it all’, where ‘The Rattlesnake’ claims that he returned for one final match – to end ‘The Streak’. It’s a goal that no Superstar has achieved, and who better to challenge it than the man who revolutionised the industry in the late 90s. Again, it wouldn’t make sense for ‘The Toughest S.O.B’ to end such a prestigous reign.
Other potential last opponents in the hat include Daniel Bryan and The Rock.
So now what?
So far, every potential route for climaxing Taker’s streak has made sense for him to retain it. But what if Taker were to lose his final match at WrestleMania? Sure, some fans would be outraged, but if done right, it could be a key factor in greatly sustaining the future of the company. WWE need to stop relying on legends or top-end stars to keep fans pleased, and instead focus on the growth of their future talent. To give them credit, they have started to implement this well, via the likes of Cesaro and The Shield (Ziggler should have made that sentence). But without losing focus, who, if anyone, should defeat ‘The Streak’?
Hold your horses on this one. Let the explanation begin. Bray Wyatt has been on mainstream television for just under a year now (excluding ‘Husky Harris’), and has left a trail of awesomeness in his path. In this current era, it’s very difficult to implement a gimmick such as that of The Undertaker’s. Fans still accept Taker’s supernatural gimmick as it was a part of their childhood growing up watching pro wrestling. But any new stars that try to implement any sort of different gimmick other than their own name are seen as ‘corny’ and ‘fake’. Ryback and Fandango are to name a few (or simply because fans think they suck). However, Bray Wyatt has done just that, and extremely well for that matter.
WWE have countless avenues to build this match up. They could have Bray Wyatt out mind-game Taker, something which nobody has successfully done. People would think that he’s truly met his match. Eerie vignettes, pyrotechnics, coffins, and more could be used by ‘The Eater of Worlds’ to shake-up ‘The Deadman’ during the weeks leading to WrestleMania. Having Bray going over Taker would be a ‘passing of the torch’, and would catapult his career into an almost legendary status. By doing this, WWE have a new supernatural character to ride with, which helps with the overall sustainability of their current and future talent. He could even get a streak going of his own.
If the Wyatt’s leader isn’t the guy to do it, WWE should invest in somebody relatively new – and who they’ll stick with – to end ‘The Streak’. This would make sense as WWE are running out of ways to legitimately build new stars. It should be noted, however, that ‘The Streak’ should not solely be used as a mere tool to boost a rising star’s career. WWE need to be confident that who they’re choosing to do this has both star and lasting power and that their longevity in the business is somewhat guaranteed.
No matter what happens to The Undertaker’s celebrated streak, we’ll always remember ‘The Deadman’ as the holder of the most coveted prize in WWE history. There is nothing quite like it, and frankly there never will be, even if somebody does imitate it. As for Brock Lesnar this year, rest in peace, my friend.
To read more of Arjun's work check out his Canvas to Canvas blog.
COMMENT: Should WWE end The Undertaker's streak? - If so, how?