Another Mania has come and gone, but unlike other Manias, over the last two decades, something was missing. That something was The Undertaker. Taker has been a stable of WM since 1991, and between 91 and 2018 he’s only missed two of them(WM10 and WM16). Taker had put together quite an impressive streak of Mania appearances (18 in a row to be exact) and during that span has also put together a fantastic streak of WrestleMania performances and winning streak that became one of the selling points of Mania.
With all that said though, I was relieved and glad that Undertaker was absent from this year’s Mania, and that probably sounds harsh but looking back at Taker and the booking surrounding him since his streak ended at WM30, him being around has made very little sense and hasn’t done much to progress the WWE forward in any way.
Let’s start at the streak ending, shall we? Prior to it, most fans assumed that when Taker decided it was time for it to end that would be to a somewhat established, but young and upcoming superstar that would benefit from such a great honor going forward and at the same time replace Taker as that special attraction/cornerstone of the company. Best Wyatt comes to mind.
That didn’t happen though, instead Taker and both Vince alike decides that it would be wiser for the steak to end at the hands of Brock Lesnar. Who while a very credible star who was very believable in beating Taker clean for the streak it came off as Avery strange decision considering that Taker spent the better part of late 2002 putting Brock over in Brock’s first run with the company. Not only that, but Brock rarely appears on WWE programming.
Now let’s fast forward a year later, Taker shows up a year later for another Mania but this time against the guy (Bray Wyatt) that probably should have been given the honor of ending the streak. There’s no telling where Bray would have been at today had he gotten that honor. I’m sure he’d be a much bigger deal today if that were the case. Anyway, the match takes place, and Taker went over. Call me crazy, but wouldn’t it have added more sense for Taker to beat Brock at WM30 and then lose to Bray the following year.🤷🏿♂️
But here’s where the booking surrounding Taker gets even dumber, he comes back later on in the year to interrupt a Brock/Seth title match to cost Lesnar the win so he could seek revenge on Brock for taking his steak a 1 1/2 earlier. So the rematch takes place at Summerslam, and Taker wins in cheap fashion after hitting a low blow after the ref missed Taker tapping out to Brock minutes earlier. What exactly was this suppose to accomplish? Instead of Taker coming off like the phenom he came off as a cowardly heel, and it just made Brock look even more like a rockstar instead (which is what happened at WM30). Then the next month Taker and Brock face off at HIAC with Brock going over Taker clean. Then afterward, the Wyatt family comes out and attacks which was set up to renew the feud with Taker and Wyatt.
Now let’s skip ahead to Survivor Series. Taker recruits the help of good brother Kane to help him fend off the Wyatt Family. A tag team match pitting Taker and Kane against Bray and Strowman takes place. Now surely Taker is going to put over Bray here right? WRONG! Taker and Kane go over so basically in a rehash of what we got between WM30 and WM31 takes place, Taker puts over Brock AGAIN (which Brock didn’t need) while going over Bray AGAIN (a feud that Bray needed)? So what exactly was the point of Undertaker’s booking in 2015?
Now let’s skip ahead to 2016. Shane McMahon makes a triumphant return to the WWE after a six-year absence. So what happens next, Vince places him in a match against The Undertaker with the stipulation being that if he can beat Taker Vince would give him control of RAW. Now, why on earth would Taker agree to fight on behalf of Vince in the first place? Anyway, the match takes place, and Taker wins. But the next night on RAW Vince gives Shane control of RAW anyway making the whole Taker/Shane match useless, and according to “sources” the plan was for Shane to go over, but Taker wasn’t willing. So basically Shane did that insane spot off the cell and nearly killed himself in a match that never needed to happen.
Then later on in the year during the build-up to the RAW vs. SD Survivor Series elimination match Taker shows up with his chest all puffed out threatening the SmackDown team if they lost. Which made no sense considering that he hadn’t appeared on SD all year (so why pretend to be some sort of moral authority of a brand that you don’t even show up too anymore)
The following year Taker then set out to face Roman Reigns at WM33 which WWE heavily implied would be his swan song. So the match happens and it was clear as day that Taker’s body and physical condition could no longer hold up for an extended match but like a true professional. Taker loses clean to the new face of the company clean in the middle of the ring and afterward gestures that he was done by leaving his coat, hat and gloves in the middle of the ring to a standing ovation before heading into the back. The next the WWE pays homage to Taker by playing a video package highlighting his career further indicating to everybody that it would be the last of The Undertaker right? WRONG!
The next year we get a Mania showdown between Taker and Cena which was definitely a dream match that probably should have occurred years ago. The match happens, and Taker wins in a glorified match in a match that deserved so much better but due to Taker’s declining physical abilities we were left with some half-assed thrown together match that rendered the great send-off he got in his post Mania 33 match useless. You guys starting to see a theme here?
A month later he shows up in Saudi Arabia and squashes Rusev (a guy who threw the good graces of the Rusev Day chant had become one of the companies hottest acts). Basically, just another unmemorable/useless Taker match that shouldn’t have happened. But Taker says “HOLD MY BEER” because he then shows up in Australia to face HHH for what seemed like the billionth encounter between the two in a really meaningless encounter between two legends that’s been done to death.
I mean if WWE insisted on having him face another past his prime legend on a glorified house shoe match you might of well have given us Taker/Sting (at least fans would have tuned in to see those two standing across from the ring from one another for the 1st time no matter how horrid the match would have been).
But once again Taker says HOLD MY BEER, LET’S RUN THAT BACK IN SAUDI ARABIA” but this time Taker recruited the services of Kane while HHH recruited the services of HBK who Taker “retired” at WM26 (another great send-off rendered useless). Anyway, the match takes place between the four great but passed their prime legends in a tag match that I could barely remember a single thing about the minute is it was over.
So let’s keep it real here, nothing Taker has been involved in since the steak ended has made much sense storyline wise. Nor is any of it memorable. It’s like when your grandparents get up there in age; sometimes you just have to put your foot down and tell them that they are too old to drive. I hate to say it but Taker’s time has passed long ago and he’s officially entered into Dirk Nowitzki or Vince Carter in the NBA territory. It’s painful to watch and I wish someone would just pull the plug, so we don’t have to watch this spinning in circles booking anymore!