The Undertaker has only been seen once since defeating Triple H at WrestleMania 28 in a Hell in a Cell match, but that was just a brief appearance on the 1,000th episode of Raw. Several months have gone by since then, and fans are eagerly anticipating his return prior to WrestleMania 29.
There was some speculation that Taker might decide to take WrestleMania off, but those rumors seemed to be squelched by Triple H. The Game accepted a Slammy Award on behalf of himself and Taker for their 'Mania match, and he assured the WWE Universe that they hadn't seen the last of The Deadman.
When will The Undertaker return?
That announcement didn't come as a big surprise to me, but it was nice to get some assurance that Taker will be available to attempt to extend his unprecedented WrestleMania undefeated streak. The only questions that remain at this point are when The Undertaker will finally make his return, and who he will face at WrestleMania.
There are varying opinions on both counts, but they're likely to work in lockstep at the very least.
Each of the past two years, it was made quite obvious that Taker would be facing Triple H almost immediately upon his return. There are plenty more possibilities this time around, but I doubt that we'll have to wait long to see who his opponent might be.
The overwhelming majority of fans believe that The Undertaker will be facing one of John Cena, CM Punk or Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania.
All of them are certainly great options because they're top stars and haven't faced Taker at 'Mania yet, but I can't help but feel like all of them will be tied up in other feuds when the time comes for Taker to come back.
Punk, Cena and The Rock having a triple-threat match at WrestleMania seems like a solid bet right now and I have a strong feeling that we'll be seeing Lesnar vs. Ryback as well. Ryback is scheduled to face CM Punk for the WWE Championship on Jan. 7, and I can definitely see Lesnar returning, costing Ryback the match and starting a WrestleMania feud.
That leaves Taker in a seemingly tough spot since most of the top stars will be occupied.
A dark-horse possibility that only I have bandied about to this point is The Undertaker vs. The Shield. It may seem outrageous on the surface, but The Shield is the hottest thing in wrestling and deserves a high-profile match, and there are ways to make the feud work.
Who will The Undertaker face at WrestleMania?
If we do get The Undertaker vs. The Shield at WrestleMania as I suspect, I would have The Undertaker appear on a Raw at some point between Royal Rumble and Elimination Chamber. This would allow ample time to build toward a 'Mania match. His return would seem innocent enough as he cuts a promo and announces that he intends to extend his streak to 21-0.
While he is addressing the fans, however, The Shield would descend from the audience and hit the ring. Taker would fight them off at first, but Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns would ultimately gain the upper hand and powerbomb him through the announce table, just as they have done to Ryback on several occasions.
The Shield would explain its actions the following week by claiming that the biggest injustice in the WWE is the fact that The Undertaker can show up once per year and be given a premier spot on the WrestleMania card while younger wrestlers have to scratch and claw to get on it at all.
Perhaps The Undertaker would be absent for several weeks following the attack, but every time The Shield attempts to take out someone else, the bell tolls, the lights go out and the person they're trying to attack disappears.
This would all lead up to Taker returning once again and accepting a three-on-one handicap match at WrestleMania.
For those who look at things literally, it may be difficult to understand how The Undertaker could possibly compete against three younger men in peak physical condition, but The Undertaker has always been about suspending disbelief. He may be the only wrestler left with a gimmick that depends on unexplained powers, but we have to believe in it as fans because we always have before.
Ideally the match would have No Holds Barred rules, so Taker could remain in business by using chairs and other weapons. At some point The Shield would eventually cease control and seem destined to win the match and end the streak.
Due to the No Holds Barred stipulation, though, Taker could get some help.
The obvious choice would be his brother, Kane.
They have had their issues in the past, but they worked together on the 1,000th episode of Raw, Kane is officially back to being a face and Kane has also been feuding with The Shield. Maybe even Paul Bearer could make a special appearance with the urn to spur The Undertaker to victory.
I understand why some might be quick to dismiss such a notion since Taker many only have a couple WrestleManias left, and he should ideally face a top star every time, but there is also value in using The Undertaker to make new stars such as Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns.
Even if The Shield loses to The Undertaker, which it will, it is still beneficial to those budding stars because they had the opportunity to face one of the most iconic wrestlers of all time at his signature event. It would help everyone involved and The Shield deserves to be in a big match regardless of whether or not its members have "paid their dues."
This is far from being written in stone, and it's just an inkling that I have, but this would be a fantastic way to reintroduce The Undertaker and extend his incredible streak.