Phenomenal Injuries: Did the Nature of WWE Help Shorten the Undertaker's Career?
Ever since his debut at the 1990 Survivor Series, the Undertaker has dominated the WWE. Some may be considered better wrestlers, some may be better showmen, but it is arguable that he is the greatest character wrestler in history.
In an era where the label legend and icon are thrown all too often, the Undertaker warrants both terms.
As a wrestler fan, it was always my dream to see the Undertaker in action. Living in Northern Ireland, I did not have that opportunity until recently. Had I waited a year later, I would have missed my chance.
The experience was phenomenal if you pardon the pun.
The entrance, the presence and the history made for an exciting and memorable night.
It will remain a great disappointment for all those who are wrestling fans who never see the Undertaker live in action.
It occurred to me recently, however, that while the WWE promoted this incredible superstar, it also did him a great injustice.
Did the WWE actually shorten the career of the Undertaker with the nature of its schedule?
Don't get me wrong. All wrestlers have a chaotic schedule, but the nature of the Undertaker's character always pitted him against monster characters. There have been the likes of Vader, Kane, Batista, Brock Lesnar, Kevin Nash, Mark Henry, King Kong Bundy, King Mabel, Big Show, the Great Khali and the late Yokozuna. In each case, the Undertaker had to perform monumental feats of strength and agility.
Do you think the Undertaker's career could have been longer?
If we think about it, to even do a simple wrestling move such as a bodyslam takes great strength. Think about lifting something that is equal to or greater than your own weight. The body takes that stress and while you may be able to do it, the pressure on your system is great.
Think now about doing that same thing for over 20 years. The fact that the Undertaker not only bodyslammed many of the biggest men but also tombstoned them makes the Undertaker's scheduling all the more hazardous.
The comic-book nature of the WWE has at times put the Undertaker against these monsters as a means of promoting the organization's supposed strength and awesome power. In the case of the Great Khali or the late Giant Gonzalez, such faith was misguided, but the Undertaker was forced to shill irrespective.
The WWE is not exactly the most compassionate company to work for, but I wonder had its chief executives considered the Undertaker's physical well-being sooner if they might have placed him on a much easier schedule, and perhaps he might still be wrestling full-time.
Rather than wrestling these so-called cartoon giants, the Undertaker could have been pitted against smaller men and deployed more of the ground attack that he used in his latter years.
He is nearing the age that most wrestlers legitimately retire at, so perhaps his career would still have come to an end at this time, but as past WrestleManias have shown, the Undertaker is still able to produce legendary matches, and he also puts people in seats.
Or as Quentin Tarantino put it, you buy your seat, but you will only need the edge of it.
Maybe its just greed from this wrestling fan, but I dream of once again seeing the Undertaker. Once more hearing the graveyard symphony. Once more smelling formaldehyde in the air and the blue lights. Once more seeing a chokeslam followed by a tombstone.
Maybe after 20 years, the Undertaker needs to retire. Maybe his injuries will allow him to naturally retire unlike so many others who held on for too long.
But while the creatures of the night exist, we will all seek one more match and one more appearance from the greatest wrestler of all time. Some might not agree with the latter statement, but few will argue that he is a legend of our time.
There is only one Undertaker, and his like will never be seen again.
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