The Undertaker is back. According to the news on WrestlingInc.com, the Deadman returned to work a WWE house show on Saturday night in Waco Texas. He teamed with Sheamus against Wade Barrett and Damien Sandow.
And it’s off to the races we go.
For those of you who may not be familiar to the WWE product, this appearance is a very big deal, as to many fans out there, this officially kicks off WrestleMania season. But I have to say, I am a little surprised.
Not that he returned. The truth is, Taker is a WWE institution, a mainstay whose infamous WrestleMania undefeated streak is the stuff of legend. He is 20-0 and now it does seem that he is heading for his 21st match—and very probable 21st victory—in a row.
Seriously, how could he not come back?
Of course, his physical condition, especially for a talent of his age, is always a concern. After all, like the rest of us, Taker is only getting older and the ring has definitely taken its toll on his body through the years. This seemed like a very plausible reason for him to perhaps do the unthinkable and sit this one out, a scenario that seemed impossible to imagine.
But at the end of the day, Undertaker is a showman. He understands the impact that his character, and more importantly the undefeated streak, has on WWE’s ability to sell WrestleMania to the masses.
It’s safe to say that we could now see a bump in the pay-per-view buyrate this year.
What did surprise me about his return on Saturday night, however, is the amount of time it took to happen.
In 2012, Taker returned to the January 30 edition of WWE’s flagship program Monday Night Raw. This was well before the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, which took place on February 19, and created a nice lead-in for WrestleMania 28 on April 1.
This year, however, Elimination Chamber occurred on February 17 and at this point we can assume that Undertaker will be at Raw this Monday (February 25). With WrestleMania 29 on April 7, there is still ample time left to build something for WWE’s biggest show of the year. But for some fans, this was cutting it a bit close.
Try way too close.
But now we can all take a breath and just relax. Because Undertaker is back from the grave once again.
Be honest, would it be WrestleMania without the Phenom on the card? While we are all very aware of his age and the effects that the business has had on his body, the fact is at this point, we really want him to be there.
We need him to be there.
Again, he’s a lifelong WWE guy, one of the greatest legends that the company has ever produced, and he is a major reason why they have seen so much success. And when it comes to the grandest stage of them all? Let’s just say that the Deadman knows how to entertain.
His annual match is arguably the most anticipated of the night, and from the opening bell to the final bell, fans all over the world sit back and soak in the drama of it all. And every time Taker’s shoulders hit the mat and the referee begins to count, we tend to sit a little closer to the TV and the room tends to get a little quieter.
So, for the million dollar question. Who will Undertaker face this year?
Right now, I have to admit I am personally torn between Brock Lesnar and CM Punk.
Brock Lesnar is a very strong possibility, as he is at the very beginning of a new deal and he has not had contact as of yet with Triple H.
Until Hunter confronts Brock in the ring for the vicious attack on his father-in-law Vince McMahon, Lesnar is not technically committed to anyone. His dance card is wide open, and Undertaker may be the perfect man to fill that spot.
Punk is a great choice, as he always steps up his game whenever he’s in the ring against a legend. For Punk’s character, facing Undertaker would be a challenge that he should quickly accept, as he is thoroughly convinced that he is truly the “best in the world.”
Though that match would have meant more if Punk were still the WWE Champion, the truth is that Taker is likely not up for a title run, and it is hard to imagine that with 20 wins in a row that the company would allow him to lose now.
Regardless of what happens from this point on, the truth is that now it really does feel like WrestleMania season to me. Seeing the Undertaker back in WWE is like seeing the gunslinger return to the town that he once helped protect from injustice. At WrestleMania 29, it will indeed be time for this outlaw to get back in the saddle once again.
And hell‘s coming with him.