The fifth part of The Last Ride concluded with The Undertaker dropping a huge bombshell. Finally, his legendary career had finished. But we’ve been here before with this particular cowboy. In fact, 40 minutes ago in the same episode, he stated that he was done. When Brock Lesnar broke the streak at Wrestlemania 30, we thought that might be it. After he left his hat and coat in the ring in the main event of WrestleMania 33, we certainly thought that was it. But he kept coming back.
The series started with The Undertaker reflecting on his disappointing match with Roman Reigns. This triggered a depressing loop of good matches followed by bad matches as he chased the dragon of one last perfect match. It was tough to watch such a legendary performer be so full of self-doubt and anxiety.
Friday’s Smackdown was a show dedicated to the career of ‘The Deadman’. Superstars paid tribute and we saw various clips of ‘The Phenom’ throughout the show, including his WrestleMania match with AJ Styles. It was a fantastic, entertaining cinematic experience which allowed The Undertaker to excel. But it would be an incredibly strange send-off. Many of us imagined a more fitting end, at least in front of a crowd. Most fans seem pretty confident that Undertaker will eventually step back into the ring at some point. Loyalty to Vince, the lure of a big fat Saudi paycheck, or his love of performing, are all strong arguments for why he’ll come back.
But what if this was it? The Undertaker is 55 years old, and he’s clawed through many injuries and surgeries. He has to put in tremendous work to get into ring shape. We don’t know when crowds will come back to wrestling, and it’s possible that when they do, ‘Taker’s body won’t be able to go. In the documentary, he talks about his refocus on family. Both the deaths of his brother and Kobe Bryant made him realise how valuable his time with his loved ones is. This realisation could help him stop chasing that dragon of a perfect ending.
There’s been lots of talk about Undertaker hurting his legacy. Some fans already think some of his sub-par matches have tainted it. He has said that he never wants people to say “you should’ve seen him in his prime” when they see him performing nowadays. Nobody wants to see a repeat of the disastrous couple of matches he had in Saudi Arabia. If he does step back in the ring it should be in a match designed to protect him. The great tag match he had with Roman Reigns at Extreme Rules was booked to highlight his strengths. The ‘Boneyard Match’ allowed him to show off his personality while AJ sold his offence like death.
A “proper” match with AJ makes the most sense as a singles match. Or another squash match like we saw at Wrestlemania 35 against John Cena. Character-wise Bray Wyatt retiring The Undertaker would allow him to give back to the business one last time.
I don’t think anyone truly believes we’ve seen the last match of The Undertaker. The fakest thing in wrestling is a retirement. Even Shawn Michaels came back after his “perfect” retirement at Wrestlemania 26. The Undertaker’s been wrestling longer than I’ve been alive has seen countless legends come and go but remains a part of the WWE. We’ve seen him battered and barely able to move against Roman Reigns only for him to be in great shape against John Cena the following year. We watched in horror as he almost broke his neck against Goldberg only for him to main event Wrestlemania in a cinematic spectacle. They couldn’t have picked a more apt wrestler to portray an undead monster who won’t stay down.
The selfish wrestling fan in me wants there to be one more entrance, one more match, one more chance for the fans to show their appreciation. There is value in him putting some like Bray Wyatt over. But it’s just wrestling. Mark Calaway, the man, loves his family very much. It’s difficult to want anything other for him to be able to spend time with them. It’s not the exit we would’ve expected or wanted as fans, but maybe this shows that he can finally rest (in peace).
Do you think this is it for one of the most iconic wrestlers of all time? Or will we see him and Terry Funk battling in Saudi Arabia within the next couple of years? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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