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Published on March 11th, 2015 | by Gareth Davies

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Do We Really Need To See The Undertaker And Bray Wyatt?

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When Brock Lesnar shocked the world and conquered The Undertaker’s streak at WrestleMania 30, many were under the impression that we had seen the last of The Phenom. After over two decades of domination, and an undefeated record stretching back to WrestleMania VII, the sad sight of a concussed Mark Calaway slowly shambling back up the aisle was a stark reminder that time waits for no man. With the streak gone it was almost universally agreed that the Death Valley native should hang up his tights for good. That will do Dead Man. That will do.

Fast forward 11 months to the inaugural ‘Fast Lane’ PPV, and as The Undertaker’s entrance music hit it brought the otherwise quiet and sullen Memphis crowd to life. It wouldn’t last however, as by the time the druids had rolled the casket down to the ring those in attendance had correctly deduced that Taker wasn’t in the building. Instead Bray Wyatt emerged, and challenged The Lord Of Darkness to a match at WrestleMania. 

So, barring injury or some other unforeseen circumstance, Undertaker versus Bray Wyatt is scheduled to be a semi main event on this year’s biggest wrestling show. But even though there’s no doubt that Taker has earned a better send off than his disappointing bout with Lesnar, there’s still something that doesn’t feel quite right about this match. 

The biggest problem of course is that without the streak the mystique of The Undertaker at WrestleMania is gone. Sure, he’ll be a popular performer. Probably one of top three as far as crowd reactions go. But the lack of consequences when that final bell rings means that it’ll be more difficult to hide the obvious weakness of a 50 year old grappler with bad pins and a worn out back trying to come across as a serious badass.

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Internet sensation “Grumpy Cat” at last year’s WrestleMania

But that’s not the only issue. Part of the reason last year’s match struggled to gain traction was that after losing clean to John Cena on his first night back and to HHH at the previous WrestleMania, nobody thought for a second that Brock could break the streak. Even a half hearted attempt to boost his momentum by having him beat Big Show and Mark Henry couldn’t convince anyone that, of all people, the world’s most expensive enhancement talent was going to climb the impossible mountain. As such the Superdome crowd largely sat on their hands throughout the contest, only managing to raise a muted cheer every now and then.

This was partly due to WWE becoming increasingly lazy when it came to promoting streak matches in recent years. Consider how many times you’ve seen the following scenario. Wrestler A challenges The Undertaker at WrestleMania because… well just because they’re the ones who want to beat the streak that year. That’s it. No personal conflicts or interesting angles (unless you count the borderline offensive Paul Bearer stuff from the CM Punk feud). More often than not it was just “It’s my turn now” time and time again. 

The problem here is that the build to Bray Wyatt’s challenge has encountered the exact same troubles that previous scenarios suffered from. Except now, with the impossible mountain already having crumbled in to dust, there’s absolutely no reason for him to lay down the gauntlet in the first place. He wins and he’s just defeated a washed up old man. He loses and he’s been bested by damaged goods. It’s the Eater of World’s own personal Kobayashi Maru. 

This could probably be overcome if Bray was heading to this event as a white hot villain who had been destroying foes left and right. But ever since losing his feud with John Cena this summer the leader of the Wyatt Family has stagnated. His stable broke up for no reason, he had a series of matches against Dean Ambrose that did neither man any favours, and show after show he delivered any number of lengthy and meandering promos that accomplished the square root of sod all. As a desperate attempt to heat him up for Mania they’ve given him a couple of wins on TV and an impressive performance in the Royal Rumble, but really it screams of too little too late, much like Brock Lesnar’s belated push the year before. 

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Bray Wyatt. One of life’s laughers.

There’s even a question as to whether Wyatt is the right opponent for Taker. He certainly doesn’t seem to be from a storyline point of view. The Dead Man’s natural opponent should be Lesnar, challenging for the title after The Beast destroyed the streak and sent him home in an ambulance. Instead Lesnar and the legacy of the streak is being fed to Roman Reigns – a pet project that at this point has struggled to come together – and Taker and Wyatt have been thrown together because they’re both a little bit strange. Really there’s no other reason for it. Rather than grow a rivalry organically with intriguing twists and turns, instead we get some lame, half-baked, flimflam about Bray being in possession of the urn. Truth is this has been bolted together with all the elegance of Herman Munster.

Of course the match itself will probably be fine. Maybe even better than that. Taker is wise enough to know and work around his limitations, while Bray is far more competent than the majority of Big Evil’s previous Mania adversaries. Still they’re not a natural fit stylistically, as both men are at their best when portrayed as unstoppable forces. With no one to bump like crazy for either man, the chances of this becoming an instant classic are pretty slim. It has the potential to be good. It is unlikely to be great.

And it’s a shame because even if the in-ring quality doesn’t set the world alight, a full blown Wyatt-Undertaker rivalry could be one for the ages if WWE had their ducks in a row. Alas with no compelling storyline reason, and no clear character direction, this feels like just another match. An afterthought. Disposable. With that in mind one can’t help but feel that both men deserve better. Especially The Undertaker.

Gareth Davies
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Gareth Davies

Wrestling bore. Nerd without a cause. Gentle giant. Smiling assassin.
Gareth Davies
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