After WrestleMania 28, the Undertaker needs to hang up his tights and walk off into the sunset for the last time.
Unlike his many returns from the dead over the years, he finally needs to be put to rest. It isn't what fans want, but while the Undertaker never ages, Mark Calaway does.
The Undertaker is 46 years old, and by the time WrestleMania 28 happens, he will be 47. The Undertaker is an unstoppable force who fans can't see losing, but they can get wrapped up enough in his ability to tell a story that they forget he is a middle-aged man.
Mark Calaway, who portrays the Undertaker, hasn't been on TV or wrestling for the company for a year now. He hasn't competed since the last WrestleMania, and between injuries and time off, it is because he has abused his body through the years. He can't maintain the pace he once did.
He isn't Ric Flair. He can't compete into his 60s and keep going.
The comparison is worth looking into as well. Some fans may love Flair continuing on, but in many ways it is a sad reminder that he wasn't able to stay away from the ring. Even when the WWE gave him the perfect sendoff, he couldn't leave the business.
Thanks to fans who still wanted to watch him, he was able to go to TNA and continue working. Now he slurs his lines and seems a bit off-kilter. He has diminished in so many ways that it is hard to remember how he once was.
The Undertaker could be the same if he doesn't walk away now.
Fans will keep cheering him because he has given them so much over the years and because he is the last performer of a certain era. He reminds them of a time when the WWE was filled with superhuman characters and strange gimmicks. He reminds them of a time when the program wasn't PG.
He reminds them of their childhood.
While the first two changes aren't necessarily bad, it is the last that sticks. He gives fans a way to look back to fonder memories.
But those rose-colored glasses have a terrible side effect. The fans want him to stay around and continue the streak for years to come, even when he is past his prime.
Undertaker wrestles once a year. He is only able to continue the streak and it takes everything he has to do it. Sooner or later, he won't even be able to do that.
Fans will always love him, but after WrestleMania it is time for the Undertaker to finally be laid to rest, and for Mark Calaway to move on with his life.
That way, both can rest in peace.