R.I.P. (1990-2011), John Cena a Heel?

Mark Madden

R.I.P. (1990-2011)

I’ve been told Paul Bearer’s return to WWE is the start of Undertaker’s retirement angle. WWE doesn’t have the angle mapped out, nor is a date set for conclusion. WrestleMania seems logical. ‘Mania could also be a stepping stone to SummerSlam. But this IS the beginning of the end.

Let’s get THIS out of the way: Undertaker will NOT be losing his last match by way of anointing the "next big star.” Not quite how it’s done anymore. NOBODY wants to see ‘Taker lose his last match. Then again, nobody wanted to see Ric Flair lose his last match. Difference is, ‘Taker has stroke. ‘Taker is also a WWE creation. Flair wasn’t.

Undertaker wins his last match, period.

Undertaker really is a phenom. The name fits. The longest-running successful gimmick performer in history, few have more respect in the ring, in the dressing room, or among the marks. Class act, too. Rarely a bad word said about him.

His act has had a few hiccups, like when he indulged his biker fantasy. LAME. But when he does his gimmick straight old-school, it’s SCARY. Porn star Jenna Jameson is a big wrestling fan, obviously knowing it’s a work. But she thought Undertaker was REAL. Assumed he lived his character 24/7. It’s not like fooling Barbara Walters, but how often does ANYBODY suspend disbelief these days?

I have no idea what ‘Taker’s final angle will be, or how it plays out. But ‘Taker won’t settle for second-best.

I’m glad Paul Bearer’s back. He’s such an integral part of the Undertaker character. I’m glad ‘Taker and Kane are currently entangled. The chemistry between them is among the best opponents have ever had. It’s difficult to belief that Kane won’t be involved in a big way when Undertaker’s final run hits the homestretch. That’s how it should be.

Mark Calaway is worthy of any and all praise. The gimmick, on paper, is cheesy. A ghostly gravedigger. A pale, wailing, cartoonish manager. A long-lost brother. But the execution, for two decades, has been flawless. So good, you ignore the silly stuff. Great worker for a big man. Impeccable timing.

Taker has absorbed so many injuries over the years, I thought (and wrote) he would embarrass himself as his body broke down. But he didn’t. He seems a bit gimpy on occasion, but the aging Undertaker has somehow taken on nobility never bestowed on somebody like Hulk Hogan.

Maybe it’s because ‘Taker never cheated anybody.

I’m looking forward to his last run. Turn me on, dead man.

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