What On Earth Is A Boneyard Match?

Undertaker vs AJ Styles took a trip down gimmick street.

The Undertaker

This past Monday on RAW, AJ Styles switched up the rules of his impending WrestleMania bout with The Undertaker. Styles laid down the gauntlet and challenged ‘The Deadman’ to a Boneyard match, something that has apparently been one of Undertaker’s specialities throughout his career. As of writing, we have no idea what exactly AJ means by a Boneyard match, many have speculated that he might be referring to a slightly revamped version of a Buried Alive match, something we haven’t seen since 2010, potentially even a Casket or a twist on the Hell in a Cell concept. It could even be something completely original, who knows.

‘The Phenomenal One’ has campaigned to bring back the Undertaker that has haunted the WWE Universe for the best part of 30 years, as opposed to the humanised Mark Calaway that has slowly unearthed himself on social media over the past couple of years. Styles and The OC have been insulted by Undertaker’s reluctance to maintain his aura, almost blurring the lines of kayfabe in their recent promos of ‘Taker during the build to ‘Mania 36.

Needless to say, this upcoming singles match is bound to be an excellent 15 minutes of wrestling. Undertaker works best with superstars that can bump hard from his offence and essentially carry the match. Styles is quite possibly the best candidate to get a good match out of the legendary ‘Reaper of Souls’. But perhaps adding the Boneyard stipulation to their singles match might start taking away from a potential barn-burner of an exhibition match.

Let’s run with the assumption that the Boneyard match is a modern take on the Buried Alive match, as the name best suggests. It certainly gives off that graveyard vibe and Styles has been very vocal about wanting to ‘bury’ the Undertaker for good. For those of you who have never seen a Buried Alive match from the past, the aim of the game is to throw your opponent into an open grave and literally bury them underneath an ungodly amount of dirt. Some of Undertaker’s most iconic Buried Alive matches include bouts against Steve Austin, Mankind and even Vince McMahon — it’s definitely worth checking out on YouTube if you want to prepare yourself for what’s to come and see some vintage Deadman at his best.

So if this were to go ahead in the Performance Centre, does this mean we’ll get the same match out of Styles/Undertaker than what we would have if it were a standard match? Probably not. The focus will shift from the athletic prowess of AJ and more onto Undertaker’s lumbering presence. It’ll be a lot slower with ‘Taker in charge. Styles doesn’t deserve to be put into a match where he’s having to stumble about and wait for a methodical Undertaker to issue his next move. Styles should be in charge, leading Undertaker through spots and keeping the action fluent and fast.

The Boneyard match will likely include the No DQ rule, meaning Undertaker can at least push for a match that doesn’t rely on his physical abilities. Instead, he can just batter AJ with a chair for ten minutes straight. I sense we’ll end up with a contest very similar to his WrestleMania 33 match against Roman Reigns, something that could have been a lot more than it was, with Undertaker using as many weapons as WWE allow him to while really bringing down the pace of the show.

The intrigue of this match is whether this will be Undertaker’s final dance at WrestleMania. The imagery of AJ and The OC literally burying Undertaker into an open grave would suggest that he’s been put to rest for good. But then again, we’ve seen several goodbye moments from ‘Taker, only for him to be brought back less than a year later for one last run.

Undertaker might not be on top of his game, but AJ sure is. Hopefully, together, their respective wrestling genius can string together an interesting Boneyard match. So long as it doesn’t drag on for too long, and Undertaker isn’t relied upon for more than just a few minutes of offence. Let AJ bump like crazy, only for him and the OC to knock him down into the grave and pour a load of dirt onto his legacy. It might not be the most graceful of ways for Undertaker to go out on his back, but it should be a big rub for one of the best heels in the company and hopefully set up big things for AJ Styles for the rest of 2020.

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