This Should Be ‘Taker’s Last ‘Mania

Mark Madden

Undertaker‚ÄčNo one in wrestling gets more respect than The Undertaker. It’s absolutely universal. No one ever says a bad word about him. He’s the greatest gimmick performer in the history of the business. His winning streak at WrestleMania started as coincidence. It took on a life of its own.

‘Taker will reportedly put 21-0 on the line against Brock Lesnar at this year’s ‘Mania. Putting “the dead man” against “the real guy” makes zero sense. Definitely a styles clash, and Lesnar’s physicality would seem to put the elderly and brittle ‘Taker at risk in a very real sense. But the buildup should be great, and everyone involved will survive. Probably.

‘Taker should never lose at ‘Mania. No one wants to see that. ‘Taker should beat Lesnar. Lesnar would have no problem. That makes ‘Taker 22-0.

Then he should never perform at WrestleMania again.

Enough’s enough. The recycling is absurd. ‘Taker wrestles ONE MATCH PER YEAR. Hulk Hogan is returning. Batista is back. It happens every year. Full-time performers can’t get over under those circumstances. It’s an old saw, but true. The part-timers are the guys who matter. Too many full-timers get scraps.

I couldn’t care less about the morale of the locker room. It’s not my locker room. Anyway, the object is to draw money.

But bringing back old-timers or part-timers or whatever is going to have diminishing returns. After a while, it’s passé. It doesn’t help. The Rock was different. He’s a Hollywood mega-star. Everyone else is just a fake wrestler.

It’s a no-win situation. WrestleMania becomes the only PPV that matters – aren’t we there already? – but becomes jaded through booking repetition. The other PPVs – with the “regular” guys – become filler. That’s the purpose of the WWE Network: To make sure marks buy that filler. The non-‘Mania PPVs just become extra Raws. Raws held on Sunday.

When he was a full-timer, Undertaker ran WWE’s locker room. If anyone is likely to look around, not be a mark, and see what’s best for the long term, it’s him.

Put ‘Taker in the Hall of Fame. Let him finally break character during his induction speech. Let people meet Mark Calaway, the man. Put him on TV, if he wants. Let him have the occasional match, if he wants. Just not at ‘Mania.

Vince McMahon’s product is creatively fading because – among a multitude of reasons – it’s getting old and tired. It has too many fallback options. Undertaker is one of those options. Eliminate those options, and the pressure to get new people over might trigger creativity. Probably not, but it might.

WrestleMania is WWE’s biggest show. But the booking has been lazy. By rote. The Royal Rumble winner vs. the champ. ‘Taker continues his streak. Bring back this guy. Bring back that guy. Everyone gazes at the WrestleMania sign. Yawn.

Does saturation equal success? WWE better hope so. Because moving forward, that’s all WWE has going for it.

Follow Mark on Twitter: @MarkMaddenX

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