Undertaker is returning to WWE TV at this weekend’s Survivor Series pay-per-view to celebrate his 30th anniversary. Even though it seems that Mark Calaway the man went out on his own terms with his hit docu-series ‘The Last Ride’ twinned with the cinematic masterpiece from this year’s WrestleMania, it all feels a little anti-climactic. Having made his debut at Survivor Series, ‘Taker will certainly receive all the deserved pomp and circumstance that will come with such an occasion.
With many touting this as the final farewell from ‘The Deadman’, chances are it will be far from that and WWE will use this as the last excuse to roll out everyone’s favourite cameo for one last retirement match. Wrestling historians will gladly pull up his previous encounters with Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns and AJ Styles as perfect retirement matches for the legend, yet Undertaker has returned one too many times for his actual retirement to hold any gravitas.
But let’s say this very last and final in-ring appearance from Undertaker actually ends up being his official retirement match: who could be that fateful opponent to see the 30 year veteran out of the door, one last time? We run down 5 potential retirement opponents for The Undertaker, taking into account who has a special relationship with ‘The Deadman’ himself, and who would make sense from a storyline perspective.
1. ‘The Fiend’ Bray Wyatt
The underlying theme of Bray Wyatt’s sinister alter-ego is that he’s righting all the wrongs from Wyatt’s history, any feuds that left Bray looking like a total waste of space, or opponents that passed him by without giving him the proper rub. When thinking of Wyatt’s biggest missed opportunities, his WrestleMania 31 feud with The Undertaker immediately springs to mind.
As far as their match at ‘Mania went, it wasn’t exactly terrible. It served its purpose of bringing Undertaker back a year on from his legendary streak being broken, and giving him enough momentum to then re-enter his feud with Lesnar. Many fans assumed this was Wyatt’s big break, Bray’s chance to stand out as today’s spookiest superstar. It wasn’t to be.
Now that Wyatt has rekindled his favour with the crowds and redefined himself as ‘The Fiend’, this would be a perfect chance for Bray to be christened by ‘The Deadman’ himself as one of the most powerful, supernatural forces in WWE.
Could there be a more iconic rival for the Undertaker than his own kayfabe brother, Kane? ‘The Big Red Monster’ may not be the most credible of opponents for ‘Taker, having taken a fair few losses at the hands of his big brother in the past, but it’d make a lot of sense for the Brothers of Destruction to be each other’s final showdown on the big stage.
It’s highly unlikely that the two legends will be able to match the quality of their iconic WrestleMania battles, but something with cinematic flavour might do both men justice in the legacy they’ll both leave behind as two of the most recognised names in all of wrestling history. Also, you’d be making a hard argument if you said that their 1997/8 storyline wasn’t one of WWE’s best fiascos. Every saga deserves a worthy ending, and this could very well be it for both Undertaker and Kane.
3. Finn Balor
Seeing as ‘The Prince’ is currently tied down in NXT, this entry joins Kane as one of the more unlikely of the bunch. Regardless, fans have been waiting to see ‘The Demon of Death Valley’ clash with ‘The Demon King’ in a battle to determine who the most demonic superstar really is. It holds the same promise as Undertaker’s encounters with the likes of AJ Styles and The Shield, young guys willing to take some stiff shots and hard bumps to make an investing story alongside ‘Taker. Finn could be the last in the line of talent that ‘The Deadman’ seems destined to fight.
Of course, this would need Finn to adopt the face paint and tassles one more time, even though his new anti-hero character is taking a step away from bringing out the Demon for his more high-profile matches. Perhaps if it weren’t for his most recent injury, we might have seen the return of the Demon at Halloween Havoc, maybe it’s best keeping that on the back-burner for now in case a match with Undertaker is at all possible.
Balor is also in dire need of a big credit to his name, inaugural Universal Champion just isn’t quite getting him through the traffic jam of talent on the main roster. Should Finn ever venture back to RAW or SmackDown Live, being the guy who retired the Undertaker would be a massive surge in momentum for him, once again making him one of the most promising talents on the roster.
4. AJ Styles
The Boneyard match with AJ Styles from this year’s WrestleMania was arguably the greatest match from the closing act of Undertaker’s career. It stole the show for numerous reasons, mostly because it stood as Undertaker’s masterpiece, a culmination for his ‘Holy Trinity’ of gimmicks and the 30 years of hard work he’s put into the business. Styles was the perfect opponent for him to bow out with, if it was indeed his final match.
Yeah, strong doubt on that. Undertaker and AJ had such a great time putting the match together, and then executing it, that they’ve probably been brainstorming a plethora of new ideas for a sequel, one that might take place within the confines of the squared circle. Lets face it, the Boneyard match was great fun, but it didn’t quite match the pageantry of a final farewell in front of a live audience.
I’m sure Undertaker would love to have the opportunity to create an actual wrestling match with a man he has oodles of respect for. Then, and only then will he get the satisfaction of a decent book end.
5. Roman Reigns
‘The Tribal Chief’ has fully solidified himself as one of the top heels in WWE, so it’s about time he claims a mighty feather for his already impressive cap. Roman took the honour of being the second superstar to have ever defeated Undertaker at WrestleMania, only a few years after Brock Lesnar. Really and truly, this should have been the catalyst behind Reigns’ heel turn, but it wasn’t to be. Nor was Undertaker’s phoney retirement, which took place after the bell was rung.
‘Taker returned a few months after to team with his WrestleMania opponent in a fairly impressive tag match against Shane McMahon and Drew McIntyre. Nothing came of their previous rivalry, Roman just accepted the fact that his harrowing victory over ‘The Deadman’ didn’t really amount to anything and everyone moved on with their lives.
Maybe now that Paul Heyman is twisting the ear of the Universal Champion, Reigns could rectify this slight smear on his big win and retire Undertaker for good. A match between these two with a new babyface/heel dynamic would be an absolute treat, and a huge way to cement Roman’s new attitude for the coming year.
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