If you’re a wrestling nostalgist like me, I hope you were disgusted by the main event at WrestleMania 33.
Spoiler alert — The Undertaker lost to Roman Reigns. After the match, Taker removed his trademark hat, leather coat and gloves and left them in the middle of the ring. He then walked off into the fog and disappeared, signaling his retirement after an illustrious, 27-year career in the WWE.
We all knew Taker’s retirement was coming. He’s now in his 50s and you could tell he was losing a step. His body was starting to go, and he had indicated in legit interviews that he would hang it up if he couldn’t perform at the highest level.
But this was not the way he should go out. Hell no. Not The Phenom, the Lord of Darkness, the man behind The Streak. I was so pissed off about this match that my negative energy probably sent my wife into labor. She started having contractions four hours later. The next evening, my son, WFK, was born into a sad world in which The Undertaker is no longer an active wrestler.
Allow me to make the argument for why WWE botched this seminal moment in wrestling history.
There will never be another in-ring talent like The Undertaker ever again. There just won’t.
Mark Calaway is one of the top four workers in wrestling history, in my opinion. The other three are Shawn Michaels, Randy Savage and Bret Hart. I’m not talking about pure technical ability — I’m talking about the ability to have great matches, night after night, with pretty much whomever they were working. They could make lousy or mediocre wrestlers look like a million bucks.
Moreover, The Dead Man is hands down the best big man in the business, ever. Despite being 6’ 10” and over 300 pounds, he is an amazing athlete. Launching himself off the top turnbuckle, walking the ropes, consistently pushing the envelope and doing stuff that big guys can’t do.
He also cultivated the greatest gimmick ever. It’s gone through several iterations — my favorite being the Ministry of Darkness heel run in the late 90s — but I don’t think a gimmick has been so over for so long. Whenever the lights go out and that creepy bell tolls, fans go crazy. Other wrestlers have admitted time and again feeling overwhelmed or in awe standing in the ring watching ’Taker slowly walk down the aisle.
Then there’s The Streak. One of the coolest, most unique angles in wrestling. The Undertaker won 21 straight matches at WrestleMania until he lost to Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 30. Stupid decision by Vince and the creative team that I’ll never understand. Good ole JR said on his podcast that he would have had Undertaker go undefeated at ’Mania all the way through retirement, winning the WWE Championship on the way out. Ending the streak was a lame attempt to put Lesnar over. Whatever.
Lastly, The Undertaker is probably the only guy in the locker room that is universally respected, even revered. If you look up shoot interviews with various wrestlers on YouTube, they all shit all over each other. You’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who has a negative word about ’Taker.
In short, he’s the man. And he shouldn’t go out with an L to Roman effing Reigns.
I get why it happened. It’s all part of the WWE brass’ repeated insistence to establish Reigns as the face of the company. The fans hate Reigns, they hate his push, and nothing Vince, Triple H and whoever else is behind it do can get the guy over. They think ’Taker doing a job for Reigns will legitimize him.
So instead of following the fans’ lead, let’s piss all over them and have Reigns end ’Taker’s career. Not to mention, smash my dreams to pieces.
Thanks, Vince! My son and I will never forgive you.