February 11, 2012
Undertaker's streak very much alive
By JAN MURPHY - Kingston Whig-Standard
He’s unquestionably the most loyal employee not named McMahon in World Wrestling Entertainment history.
His now 20-plus-year run of domination inside the squared circle with the company is unmatched not only in its length, but in its lore.
He was born Mark William Calaway, but he died — at least in the world of professional wrestling — in 1990 when his alter ego, The Undertaker, came to be.
He is also unquestionably the man to beat when it comes to the grandest stage of all in sports entertainment — WrestleMania.
In 19 appearances at WrestleMania, also unprecedented, The Undertaker has never tasted defeat; adding even more mystique, power and aura to an already mysterious yet astounding career.
There have been more entertaining performers at WrestleMania history — most notably WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels, often referred to as Mr.?WrestleMania. There have also been more entertaining matches, many featuring Michaels, fellow WWE Hall of Famer Stone Cold Steve Austin and Canadian legends Bret (Hitman) Hart and Adam (Edge) Copeland, to name a few, but make no mistake about it, there is only one Mr. WrestleMania and his name is The Undertaker.
It’s improbable, if not impossible, that WWE Inc. chairman and CEO Vince McMahon and the brass at WWE planned this historic WrestleMania run by The Undertaker from the outset.
There are just too many invariables. Such things as injuries, contracts, and the need to push up-and-coming stars no doubt are always considered in the leadup to the big show each year.
The more likely scenario saw the company recognize along the way that the Deadman, as he is affectionately known, had to that point been perfect at WrestleMania. Upon that realization, the question became twofold: 1) Should The Undertaker lose at WrestleMania, period? and 2) If so, to whom and under what circumstances?
Whatever the case, The Undertaker enters WrestleMania XXVIII having never lost on the grandest stage in wrestling. And the list of the souls he has dispatched of at WrestleMania is an impressive one.
WrestleMania VII): Jimmy (Superfly) Snuka; 1-0.
WM VIII): Jake (The Snake) Roberts; 2–0.
WM IX: Giant Gonzalez; 3–0.
WM XI: King Kong Bundy; 4–0.
WM XII: Diesel; 5–0.
WM 13: Sycho Sid; 6–0.
WM XIV: Kane; 7–0.
WM XV: Big Boss Man; 8–0.
WM X-Seven: Triple H; 9–0.
WM X8: Ric Flair; 10–0.
WM XIX: Big Show & A-Train; 11–0.
WM XX: Kane; 12–0.
WM 21: Randy Orton; 13–0.
WM 22: Mark Henry; 14–0.
WM 23: Batista; 15–0.
WM XXIV: Edge; 16–0.
WM XXV: Shawn Michaels; 17–0.
WM XXVI: Shawn Michaels; 18–0.
WM XXVII: Triple H; 19–0.
Not only did Undertaker face some nasty foes along his perfect road, but some nasty matches. Included in his 19 WrestleMania matches were no disqualification matches (three times), a casket match, a Hell in a Cell match, a No Holds Barred match, a handicap match, World Heavyweight Championship matches (two), a WWE Championship match and a Streak vs. Career Match.
That brings us to this year’s WrestleMania, which looms on April Fool’s Day in Florida.
The main event this year was determined nearly a year ago. It will feature the much ballyhooed return to WrestleMania of wrestling legend-turned-action-filmstar Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson. The Rock was at WrestleMania last year, but as a special host. This year, he will be in action when he takes on current legend and top superstar John Cena.
While that match captures mainstream headlines and the interest of Hollywood people and others, wrestling fans will be obsessed with The Undertaker’s streak and who will challenge it as the Deadman looks to take it to an even 20.
On the surface, it appears as though that distinction belongs to none other than fellow legend and WWE Chief Operating Officer Triple H, who was also Taker’s opponent last year.
At least on the surface, with both nearing the end of their careers, and after stealing the show at WrestleMania last year, a rematch seems like a no-brainer.
Last year, The Undertaker added to his WrestleMania aura by surviving three of Triple H’s signature move, The Pedigree, and one of his own, the Tombstone Piledriver, before defeating Triple H with a Hell’s Gate submission hold, extending his streak to 19-0.
The win did not come without consequences, however. For the first time in his career, The Undertaker was carted from ringside, unable to leave of his own volition, carving a fairly substantial hole into a long seemingly indestructible persona.
It also sidelined the Phenom for 10 months. In fact, until the past Monday night on Raw, the last image wrestling fans had of The Undertaker was of him being carted away from the ring after his victory.
While the match is not yet official (Triple H seemingly declined an invitation by The Undertaker when he left the ring and walked away), a video montage played twice later during Raw certainly seems to indicate The Undertaker won’t take no for an answer.
While he currently has no opponent or match, that The Undertaker showed up and is willing to put his streak on the line is merely enough in itself for any warm-blooded wrestling fan.
The rest is gravy.
Or is grave?