The Undertaker has cut off his hair. He also, of late, appears somewhat more human...the collection of press-cuttings? The fact he's so talkative compared? The Undertaker, typically, is a somewhat quiet man. What has changed?
It has always been said that if The Streak died, which Triple H argued did when Taker was unable to leave the ring at WrestleMania 27, that The Undertaker would cease to be.
Tonight, Triple H refused to do battle with The Undertaker, because of the brand value of The Undertaker to Triple H and the WWE. Well, what if Taker took that away from the WWE?
What if the man behind the character, Mark Calaway, took away The Undertaker character from WWE?
Surely then, with no "brand" value, Triple H would be willing to accept his challenge? This experiments with the WWE's recent interest in "reality," in the so-called "reality era" we heard so much talk about amongst the IWC a few months back.
It is also something the WWE has attempted before: the American Bad Ass gimmick was something similar. It could be that persona that Taker assumes once more.
Another thing to note is that while Taker is still listed on the SmackDown! roster on the WWE site, his segment in the intro to the show has been removed. Some speculated this was because the man has been exclusively appearing on Raw since his return in February 2011.
But if this theory of mine holds true, it could be symbolic of the "Deadman" [persona]'s departure from WWE, even whilst Mark Calaway remains.
There is also an interesting bargain Taker could make. If he wins at WrestleMania, The Undertaker will return to the WWE, perhaps returning for his traditionally major spot at Survivor Series (somewhat appropriate given last year's Survivor Series saw the ring return of The Rock, so they could start promoting it as the show which previews any upcoming WrestleMania matches involving any WWE Legends?).
If "Calaway" loses, then he will retire permanently. Triple H would then be faced with a choice; the only way to do what is "good for business" is to lose.
This theory fits in entirely with the idea of Shawn Michaels as a special guest referee, and he is definitely not finished playing a role in this feud, based on tonight's show.
HBK would agree to referee the match, refusing to allow Triple H to lie down and allow Taker to win the match without legitimately trying to defeat him.
They have yet to suggest this is planned to be The Undertaker's final WrestleMania moment. While Taker has said he would like a more fitting end to his career than the final shots of the WrestleMania 27 match, finality is really not being pushed here.
This leaves me to believe he has one more match to be performed at least, so if he wrestles this match outside of his "classic" Deadman persona, it's not the end of everything.
The idea of Taker wrestling a match at this point in his career under a different gimmick might seem unusual, but do remember, Kane just returned to an old gimmick, with the return of his mask, and his more "satanic" behaviour. He is, to an extent, holding down the "mystic" side of WWE, too.
Honestly? I'm not quite sure what to make of all this. I do think the loss of the hair symbolises the end of The Undertaker, for now, in the traditional role we are used to seeing him play, and the emergence of a more "real" character.
The rest is a less confident theory, but one I think plausible, which would explain the "good for the business" setup, and HBK's insistence that Triple H "be a man."
The only other thing I can think of to explain all that, which does not explain the changes noted in Taker, is that Taker will go on a rampage, ruining WWE matches (a la The Awesome Truth) to "harm" the WWE product and pressure Triple H into dealing with him.
That would require regular interventions in matches by Taker, and frankly, I don't think we are going to see him in the ring regularly enough to make that possible.