The Undertaker: Eight Favorite Contenders to Challenge His WrestleMania Streak

TJ WalkerContributor IIIFebruary 10, 2012

The Undertaker: Eight Favorite Contenders to Challenge His WrestleMania Streak

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    For nearly twenty years, The Undertaker has ruled WrestleMania. Since his Mania debut in 1991, he has toppled giants such as Diesel, Big Show, and Giant Gonzales. He has destroyed powerhouses like Batista, Mark Henry, and Big Boss Man. He has crippled multiple-time world champions, Randy Orton, Triple H, and Edge. He defeated all-time greats like Ric Flair, and Shawn Michaels. He even conquered his own brother (Kane).

    The Undertaker is a living legend who has done everything there is to do in the professional wrestling industry and more. When his signature gong fills the air, everyone, whether they admit it or not, is humbled. And that is partly due to The Streak.

    Undertaker's Streak is the greatest streak in wrestling and is easily one of the most exciting things about WrestleMania season and WrestleMania itself. Who will The Phenom humble this year? Will it be a quick-witted, devious newcomer? Or will it be a wise veteran, whose experience may even match that of The Undertaker himself?

    All year long, fans ask themselves these questions. And every year at about this time, we start receiving clues to the answer. This year is no different in that regard. However, something about this year is different.

    For one, no one is challenging The Streak. Instead, Undertaker himself is demanding a rematch. Why? It's because last year it was The Phenom's turn to be humbled. The man who has been a staple of WWE for years had to be carried out of the arena because he was too exhausted to move. Sure, he won the match, but in his words it "meant nothing." 

    And now The Undertaker has returned to demand vengeance from Triple H in exchange for immortality. The Game is refusing, and it's possible that Undertaker vs Triple H III will not take place.

    But then who will be the one to challenge the Streak? Members of the WWE Universe and the IWC have all come up with their favorites. With this slideshow, I plan on ranking the top favorites to challenge The Phenom in place of Triple H at Wrestlemania XXVIII.

    The rankings are based on how popular the superstar in question is. I will also discuss the potential build-up between the superstar and The Undertaker, the match itself, and the fallout.

"The Viper" Randy Orton

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    Since everyone else is getting a rematch, why not the WWE's 'Apex Predator'? All kidding aside however, this would be an interesting match-up. In HHH vs Undertaker II, The Phenom faced a completely Triple H than he did the first time.

    The same would be true for a rematch with Randy Orton. Back at WrestleMania 21, Orton was young, rash, headstrong, and had his daddy to watch his back. This time, Orton is older, wiser, much more focused and much more dangerous.

    This time around, Undertaker has to worry about Randy Orton's pure viciousness. Since the last time they battled, Randy has changed completely. He no longer cares about being stunningly handsome or being in the spotlight. These days, Orton is completely unpredictable. He personally dissected the McMahon-Helmsley faction, and even punted John Cena's father just to play mind games.

    The build-up between these two could be a WrestleMania match by itself. Randy Orton and The Undertaker are master psychologists both in and out of the ring and the result of them meeting now would be chillingly electric.

    This match would be slow and brutal to watch...and that's without weapons. A no-disqualification match between these two would be totally unnecessary and all it would do is take away from what they could really do together.

    The differences between the in-ring styles of these two is fairly obvious, but the similarities are rather striking. Both men incorporate the use of clubbing blows and high-impact moves. Orton's ability to use the RKO out of nowhere and his ability to counter the chokeslam are large advantages, but Undertaker is physically stronger and his size might hinder some of Orton's favorite moves (i.e the signature powerslam).

    The fallout from this match wouldn't be too big. Both men are already established stars and a Taker victory/Orton loss would do nothing for either men. It would be a clinic in psychological wrestling however, and that for sure will let it go down as one of the Undertaker's better matches.

"The Icon" Sting

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    Sting was one of last year's favorites to challenge Undertaker's Streak and with good reason. He is the most battle-tested warrior on this list, an all-time legend, and an Icon vs Phenom match would have been extraordinary.

    Outside the ring, both men are known as the strong, silent types (for the most part), but inside the ring, everyone knows that these two can go. As far as in-ring psychology goes, The Undertaker and Sting are two of the best.

    When the rumors were circulating last year, both men were far from their physical primes. However, in that time both have proven that they can put on good matches despite their respective ages. 

    In terms of wrestling experience, both men are even, having both started their careers in the mid-80's. Undertaker is the significantly larger of the two men, but Sting is much faster which would make for an interesting match-up. 

    Their move-sets are similar for the most part, with Taker having a few more power- and height-based moves as opposed to Sting's more high-flying type moves. Both men utilize a finishing maneuver that involves dropping the opponent on the head (Undertaker's Tombstone and Sting's Death Drop) and both having brutal submissions (Hell's Gates and Scorpion Death Lock).

    An interview by Sting (which can be read at http://www.prowrestling.com/article/news/21142), reveals just how close last year's dream match was to occurring, but this year it's less likely to happen.

    That being said, if it did happen, the match would be incredible. The two would not even have to do anything but stand and stare at each other and the Miami crowd would go ballistic. But because they are two of the hardest workers in the industry, we can expect an intense match with tons of near falls, death-defying moves, and more than one finisher maneuver from each.

    Odds are, it would be a one-time appearance so the fallout in the WWE wouldn't be too great. Undertaker kept the Streak alive. But to professional wrestling as a whole, this would be a match for the ages. Forget Rock vs John Cena; Sting vs Undertaker would be talked about for all ETERNITY.

Cody Rhodes

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    Ever since Rey Mysterio broke Cody Rhodes' nose (which occurred at about this time last year), Rhodes has solidified himself as an internet favorite.

    His promo work coupled with his in-ring talented have secured him a spot in the upper-mid card that he will likely always be able to come back. However, both Rhodes and his fans want more. They want Rhodes to become the first dual-champion since The Ultimate Warrior. And with his participation in the upcoming Elimination Chamber match, he may be well on his way.

    However, rumors are abound that Rhodes may be starting a storyline feud with his brother Goldust that will take the two sons of "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes to WrestleMania.

    But before those feuds started spreading across the internet, fans were lobbying for a different WrestleMania opponent for the young Cody Rhodes. Two in fact: The Undertaker and The Undertaker's Streak.

    While Rhodes does have the youthful cockiness that most newer wrestlers in his position have, he also has an air of experience about him that makes itself present whenever he speaks. This is what sets him apart from young heels like The Miz and Dolph Ziggler; he thinks ahead.

    This would make the build-up for this match significantly different than past Streak matches. Instead of boldly declaring that The Undertaker was just another wrestler, Rhodes would come out and admit that Undertaker is longest-tenured superstar on the entire WWE roster. And then Rhodes would cause the spark that would ignite this feud.

    Another thing that separates the young Cody Rhodes from his fellow heels is that he doesn't run away when faced with adversity, he faces his opponent without so much as a flinch. And like he has done with Booker T and like he is doing with his brother Goldust, Rhodes would look Undertaker square in the face and tell him to retire.

    And of course, after failing to be able to leave the ring under his own power, The Undertaker would not take that lying down. From this point, cue the blackouts and gongs that always come with The Phenom's return.

    The in-ring work between these two would be rather interesting since Rhodes has never had to face someone of The Undertaker's size before. Unlike the other multiple-time world champions that Rhodes has defeated (Randy Orton and Booker T), The Undertaker focuses on power and impact.

    The experience card plays out rather nicely for The Undertaker in this instance, but it guarantees nothing against Cody Rhodes. After all, the son of Dusty Rhodes can attack from any angle and his 'Beautiful Disaster' kick can come from absolutely nowhere.

    Rhodes' showings against Randy Orton have also shown that Rhodes can go toe-to-toe with the best of them and his speed will be a huge factor in a match against The Deadman. But Undertaker has faced faster men plenty of times in his career, so once again Rhodes is put against the veteran card.

    The fallout of this match would be rather small because Rhodes really would not have anything to say. He would just be another Streak victim. Likewise, The Undertaker would just have another win under his belt. 

"The Awesome One" the Miz

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    The Miz has been in a bit of an awkward position as of late. He's not quite at the main event scene (possibly due to backstage issues), but he's just too big of a star to be at the mid-card. The thing about. fighting Undertaker at WrestleMania is that, win or lose, you're in the main event. And that may be what Miz needs right now to truly establish himself.

    The thing about this match is that it will likely be similar to Undertaker's WrestleMania 21 match against Randy Orton in terms of build-up. Miz, being the heelish and cocky upstart, will start running his mouth, Undertaker will play some mind games, etc.

    However, there is a big difference between 'Legend Killer' Randy Orton and Miz: The Miz's character is that of a true narcissist where as Orton back then was just arrogant. The Miz takes confidence to a whole new level. And that's what would make the build-up for this match so interesting.

    A common theme with Miz is that when he gets criticized or shown up, he retaliates...viciously. Overall, I don't think Miz will have a particularly memorable WrestleMania bout, but I do think that it would be only the second time in Streak history that Taker will win via disqualification.

    After all, when cornered, Miz does not play fair (not that he does anyway). In the ring, these are vastly different. Undertaker is all about big moves and heavy impact whereas Miz is more focused on getting his opponent and keeping him down.

    Miz is often criticized for having in-ring work that falls rather flat compared to his mic work, but I doubt that would influence the match too much. The grandeur of a Streak match would be able to cover that up and Miz is a good enough worker that it shouldn't be an issue.

    The fallout from the match would be fairly big. The Miz would be a legitimate main event star, he could probably learn a thing or two from Undertaker, and it would be another win for Taker.

"The Voice of the Voiceless" CM Punk

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    CM Punk is in a good place right now. He's the WWE Champion, he can get away with doing whatever he wants to whoever he wants and still get cheered by the audience. It's fairly common knowledge that Punk has feuded with The Undertaker before, but it never became a Streak match.

    Looking at Punk now, that's probably for the best. If Punk had challenged the Streak then, it would not have nearly the impact it would now. After all, Punk is a much bigger star than he ever has been before and star power in a Streak match is always a plus.

    The build-up in this match would probably be painfully similar to the last feud these two had. Punk would probably shoot on Undertaker, talking about how Punk is not afraid of The Undertaker and how Undertaker is just a regular guy.

    The thing is, The Undertaker is not just an average WWE wrestler. It can be argued that Undertaker is the foundation of the WWE. The Undertaker is bigger than even John Cena and The Undertaker's Streak is arguably bigger than the WWE Championship!

    For that reason, I think the build-up would fall rather flat in this instance. Unless Punk could find something else to talk about, then this would just be a continuation of their last feud (only with Punk having a more babyface reaction from the crowd). Of course, if Punk could think of something else (like what, I don't know), then I'm sure it would be amazing.

    The in-ring styles of these two couldn't be more different. Punk is easily one of the smallest (if not the smallest) person challenge the streak, which would seriously cripple his ability to use his preferred signature the GTS.

    But Punk has proven that he has many other weapons at his disposal. Regardless, his speed is still up against the power of Undertaker, who is also rather fast in his own right. It's likely that it would take much time for either man to gain any sort of momentum in the match.

    Interestingly enough, both men are considered to be skilled strikers (although Punk is more of a martial artist, with his kicks and chops, whereas The Phenom is clearly more of a brawler).

    The fallout from this match would be pretty big. Even without winning, Punk can use the fact that he survived a war with The Undertaker to boost his already blossoming popularity and it makes his moniker of 'Best in the World' seem that more realistic.

Wade Barrett

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    The only man on this last without some sort of cool moniker, Barrett was allegedly supposed to challenge the Streak at last year's WrestleMania (with the springboard for the feud being Nexus aiding Kane in burying The Undertaker alive). Why Triple H challenged instead is up for discussion and completely irrelevant to the topic.

    Barrett is still a favorite to challenge the Streak for various reasons. By WrestleMania season, he probably won't be doing anything besides maybe competing in the Money in the Bank ladder match (or possibly still feuding with Orton). Also, Barrett and Undertaker have many similarities which will be addressed later in the slide.

    At this point, it'd be a little weird to bring back such an old (old as in WWE storyline standards) issue, so Barrett and Taker would probably have to start from scratch. It would make for an interesting match title: The Barrett Barrage vs The Undertaker's Streak.

    The build-up would probably involve Barrett talking about how dominant he has been and that nothing can stop his Barrett Barrage, not even the power of The Phenom. And thus,  a WrestleMania match would be born.

    Now for those similarities that were mentioned earlier. First off, both men are on the larger side with Taker having the advantage as far as height and weight are concerned. Both men are billed as being highly dangerous with their fists, so the fight would likely have several brawling spots. Both men are also strong powerhouses and both are rather durable, so this match would likely turn into a long, brutal war.

    For the most part, this would be a classic match but not necessarily an epic one. Being able to go one-on-one with The Undertaker would put Barrett even more over than he already is. Taker would come out as only the second man to survive the full force of the Barrett Barrage, which wouldn't mean too much in the grand scheme of things for him. 

"Y2J" Chris Jericho

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    Chris Jericho and The Undertaker: Despite the long and illustrious careers these two men have had, they've never actually had a legitimate feud with each other. In fact, the first encounter they had was only about two years ago on Smackdown in which The Undertaker won.

    It's always an epic match when two men of this level collide and at WrestleMania, this match could quite easily equal The Rock vs John Cena in terms of star power and electricity. When the return vignettes started airing and predicting the end of the world, many were unsure whether it would be Undertaker or Chris Jericho, but when Y2J returned, he promised to "end the world as we know it".

    What better way to completely change the landscape of the WWE than to challenge the Streak. Just the challenge alone would be huge. After all, there's no one in the WWE right now with as much as star power as Chris Jericho who has never challenged the Streak. 

    The build-up between these two would be incredible. Of course, they wouldn't have to say anything. Just the two of them standing in the same ring together would speak volumes about all the potential history between them. Both of these men have been through wars throughout their careers and they could trade stories like blows about why they are going to win at WrestleMania.

    Inside the ring, these two have very contrasting styles. That being said, they have both worked with all types of competitors. Jericho has waged war against men much larger than himself and likewise, Undertaker has worked with much smaller. Both men are two of the best in the business with tons of experience.

    Even though both men are older, they are both capable of putting on a good match. Both men have high impact moves, knockout finishers, and an infamous submission at their disposals. Plus both men are great at telling a story in the ring. From start to finish, this could be the match that challenges HBK vs Taker I as the greatest Streak match.

    Like the Sting vs Undetaker mentioned a few slides ago, the fallout of this match would occur more outside the WWE than in it. No one knows how long Jericho will stay in the WWE this time so he wouldn't win. But as stated before, this match could easily (on paper anyway) threaten HBK vs Taker as the greatest Streak match ever.

"The Devil's Favorite Demon" Kane

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    The history between these two is perhaps the most intense and awe-inspiring in the professional wrestling. These two men, the Brothers of Destruction, have gone from allies to bitter rivals over and over again for over a decade and with both Kane and Undertaker newly resurrected, the stage is set for yet another encounter between these two.

    Whenever the Brothers of Destruction implode, the fans are always given a show. The "unexplainable" supernatural phenomena that always occur and the way both men talk to each other make every encounter seem as if it could be the last.

    The Kane-Undertaker feuds always seem to come up because Kane has given over to his 'dark' side and his older brother The Undertaker has to come and beat him into submission. Ever since Kane's debut, that's been the cycle. However, the cycle was recently broken. At the 2010 edition of Night of Champions, it was Kane who had the last laugh.

    This could easily be a springboard from which this feud starts (again). During the build-up, Kane could turn his "embrace the hate" philosophy to Undertaker, who is clearly not as powerful as he once was. As such, this match would be built up similar  to the before mentioned Night of Champions PPV, with Kane showing off his new and improved hate-fueled power.

    Alternatively, this could be a continuation of the Night of Champions feud as Kane was already more powerful than his brother. Of course, Undertaker would be put into a situation similar to the one that John Cena is in now. The difference is, Undertaker is not as much of a good boy as Cena is. The Phenom has demonstrated before that he is more than capable of embracing hate and being just as twisted as his brother Kane.

    The problem with an in-ring feud between these two is that they have such similar movesets to one another. They both have the same signature moves and the same finishers, with some minor differences (Kane is more of a grappler, while Taker is more of a brawler). Of course, the flip-side to that argument is that they both know each other so well.

    Kane and Undertaker have battled with and against each other for so long, there's not much one can do that will surprise the other or the audience for that matter. Granted, it's always breathing taking to see Kane's flying clothesline from the top rope as well as Undertaker's outside dive, but they can only do those so many times before they get dull.

    As far as fallout goes, it would be pretty major. Right now, Kane is being built up as a completely unstoppable monster. As in, far more unstoppable than Mark Henry and centuries more ruthless. Even the greatest that WWE has to offer, John Cena, is no match. But having Undertaker defeat him at WrestleMania would actually mean something aside from just another Streak victory.

    It would mean that Undertaker had defeated the unstoppable monster. The Phenom would have reclaimed the glory lost at last year's WrestleMania. The Deadman would be the ultimate hero.