The lights dim black. Smoke emanates from somewhere unseen and shooting flames erupt, seemingly, out of the abyss. The first gong strikes. It is the foreshadowing of a mystical presence. Fans explode with desire, as he makes them anxiously await his entrance. He is none other than The Undertaker: arguably the most respected performer in all of pro-wrestling.
One might think that the return of The Undertaker to WWE programming would be epic. He is, after all, The Phenom: notorious for his Wrestlemania victory streak, his awe-inspiring presence and his incomparable entrance. The legend of the Undertaker is engraved into wrestling history. Indeed, he is unlike any other wrestling figure or superstar to have ever graced the wrestling scene. His legacy is sealed, but so is his most recent foe's.
Triple H has been the most dominant force over the past decade. A multi-time world champion, Triple H is already one of the greatest performers in the history of the sport. His legacy is set and unchallenged. He has nothing more to prove. Or does he?
At WM 27, The Undertaker defeated Triple H, only to be carried out on a stretcher. Fans would not see or hear from ‘Taker for nearly a year. The Undertaker was brought to his knees. In a second act of humiliation, at his return, ‘Taker eyed the WM emblem hanging before him, almost as if to signify that he wanted a rematch against Triple H. To pour vinegar on the wound, Triple H patted ‘Taker on the shoulder. The message appeared to be, “Sorry, ‘Taker. You are a miserable old man, and I feel sorry for you. I’ve got bigger fish to fry.”
While this storyline would be a change in how storylines are usually written for The Undertaker’s WM matches—an opponent pleads with ‘Taker to have the opportunity to break his WM streak—sometimes change is not always a good thing. Triple H’s patronizing response to ‘Taker was beyond insulting. Too, while it belittles the legacy of The Undertaker by having him appear fragile, broken, and desperate, it also taints Triple H’s legacy.
Triple H does not need to defeat The Undertaker. It would not benefit his career at all to humiliate The Undertaker but would only serve to present him as a disrespectful egomaniac.
It wasn’t enough to have ‘Taker decimated at WM—despite the fact that he actually won the match. We must see him begging and pitiful. Management, writers or even, Triple H himself might believe that this makes Hunter look strong, but the opposite is true: it makes him appear highly insecure.
Defacing the legacy of a well-respected iconic figure is disgraceful. The only legacy tainted will be that of Triple H. For a competitor of his caliber—an athlete who has nothing left to prove—that would be a tragedy.
Or perhaps Triple H was just playing mind games with ‘Taker and isn’t a disrespectful egomaniac. Only time will tell.