For over three decades, the Undertaker has been a part of World Wrestling Entertainment programming. He has seen the company grow and change through the Rock N’ Wrestling Era, the New Generation Era, the Attitude Era, the Ruthless Aggression Era, and the current Reality Era. That kind of longevity is rare, even for men cut from the same cloth as the Dead Man. It is no wonder why fans worldwide respect and love the Phemon, even in situations when we probably shouldn’t. His matches has become special attractions that fans eagerly anticipate, and no place have fans waited on bated breath more intently than the grandest stage of them all – WrestleMania.
Of course, a very large part of fan’s obsession with the Undertaker at WrestleMania was the long fabled streak of undefeated WrestleMania victories. The Dead Man has compiled a record that surely will not be broken anytime soon. Until WreslteMania 30, the Undertaker was victorious was 21 straight matches. Once fans began to notice the Phenom’s unique record, it became part of his mystique and suddenly, the story behind his matches became less important because the story was always the same: Can this guy break the streak?
Brock Lesnar was finally the man to break that streak last year, to mixed reviews from both inside and outside the industry. When it initially happened, there were fans in shock, and as the month’s passed and we got closer to the first WrestleMania without the streak, fans began to wonder if people would still are about an Undertaker match without the legendary streak on the line. Fans got their answer at WrestleManis 31 this year when Bray Wyatt challenged the Phenom to a one on one contest, and fans reacted with the same passion and reverence that they always have for the Dead Man.
The Undertaker made a surprise return to the squared circle outside of his usual WrestleMania hype dates earlier this Summer when he attacked the man that broke his precious streak, Brock Lesnar. A match for this year’s Summerslam was held, and with a questionable outcome, most assumed a rubber match between the two was destined for WrestleMania 32 in Texas. All of those assumptions were proven false at Night of Champions when it was announced that the third chapter in the modern feud between the Undertaker and Brock Lesner would be written in October, at the Hell In A Cell event, contested in a match of the same name.
The announcement was a pleasant surprise for many, but it has left many with one looming, unanswered question. Who will face the Undertaker at WrestleMania 32? Who could possibly fill the shoes of the Beast Incarnate and be deemed worthy to challenge the Dead Man in what many have speculated will be his final wrestling match before he retires? There have been a number of different rumours circulating the internet in the last few weeks about who could get the coveted spot. Today we examine who could play the Phenom out in his song swan match, should that be the case in Texas.
One of the names that always comes up when discussing WrestleMania opponents for the Undertaker is John Cena, and it isn’t difficult to see why. Love him or hate him, Cena is the biggest star in WWE. He is building a legacy that one day might rival that of the Phenom, and these two future Hall of Famers haven’t locked up against one another since 2003, meaning that this match could look fresh again for older viewers, and seem completely new for younger audiences too. If in fact this is the Undertaker’s last ride, then it would be appropriate to send him out battling the best that WWE has to offer.
There is the other side of the coin however. The side that argues if the Dead Man is going to leave, then he should retire by passing the torch to the future of WWE, and no performer fits that bill quite as nicely as the current WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins. 2015 truly has been his year, and he has proven to be a very good, if not great heel champion. It would be appropriate to cap off his 12 months of glory with a win over the Phenom on the stage that launched such a successful year. At Night of Champions, Seth Rollins was involved in an accident that left Sting badly injured. It was so severe that Sting’s days of in-ring action might be finished forever. If WWE were to play this up with Rollins, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to believe that the Architect would soon target another WWE legend to retire.
While we’re on the subject of Sting, is it insane to believe that he could be the one to step into the squared circle with the Dead Man in Texas? For many the answer is an obvious yes, end of story. Others seem to believe that Vince McMahon’s adage of “Anything can happen in the WWE!” I’m not here to debate if that is the case or not, nor am I going to argue what kind of match we could get from these aging, injured superstars. Regardless of how one feels about the possible match-up between Sting and the Undertaker, one still must consider it a possibility. Fans still love fantasy match ups, and despite the negatives associated with it, many fans are still clamouring to see this dream match. Add in the fact that this could end up being a double retirement contest on the showcase of the immortals, and it wouldn’t be that difficult to imagine.
Believe it or not, Sting might not be the only superstar who could retire side by side with the Phenom in Texas. For years, fans have heard rumours about the end of Kane’s WWE in ring career, and when talks of the demon’s eventual demise come up, it is always rumoured that his final match will be against his storyline brother at WrestleMania. Although these two may be blood in fiction only, they have travelled the road together so many times as both partners and opponents that it is arguable that no one in the WWE locker room knows the Dead Man better than the Big Red Machine. It is rumoured that Kane is the only man that Undertaker has offered to let break his WrestleMania streak. If that rumour happens to be true, then I’m sure there would be no issue from the Phenom with the Brothers of Destruction going out on top against one another.
Perhaps instead the Dead Man and the Big Red Machine could team up one last time and ride off into the sunset together against another legendary tag team, The Dudley Boyz? Who knows how long they will continue to compete? Perhaps we can rename the annual tradition RetirementMania! If thatdoesn’t work, maybe the Brothers of Destruction can face the creepy duo of The Wyatt Family? Bray Wyatt already has WrestleMania history with the Dead Man, and now that he has Braun Strowman by his side, the two could provide a modern threat to both Undertaker and his brother.
If you want to follow the modern threat train of thought, why not book the Dead Man against Roman Reigns? If WWE wants him to be their chosen one, besting the Undertaker at WrestleMania would be a sure fire way to accomplish that. Or how about NXT Champion Finn Balor? His Demon persona could haunt the Dead Man leading up to an epic clash of other worldy entities! The truth of the matter is, there is a litany of names that could face the Phenom at WrestleMania 32, and many of them would work. The truth is that the Undertaker has built up such a legacy for himself that you could have him fight Zack Ryder and fans would still clamour to see it. The match is never really about his opponent. When the Undertaker is in the ring at WrestleMania, he is the only one the fans care about, and perhaps that is the way it should be.