The Undertaker hasn’t worked a non-WrestleMania pay-per-view since 2010, but that streak could—let’s again stress that could part—end at the upcoming SummerSlam pay-per-view.
After all, it’s long been rumored that “The Phenom” would step into the ring at the WWE’s summer spectacle for a tag team match of some sort.
First, it was reported by F4WOnline.com (via WrestlingInc.com) that The Undertaker would team up with his brother Kane to take on The Shield at the PPV. Now, the same site is reporting that there’s speculation that we might see Undertaker and Kane vs. The Wyatt family instead.
No matter which scenario may or may not play out, news that Undertaker might be competing at a non-WrestleMania PPV for the first time in three years has been met with a wide array of reactions—ranging from “that would be awesome” to “I don’t see it happening” to “that shouldn’t happen until WrestleMania.”
Regardless of where you stand on the possibility of 'Taker competing at SummerSlam, it’s likely that this thought has crossed your mind at some point: Is it worth the risk?
For the first time since 2010, The Undertaker has worked more than just a WrestleMania match over the course of the calendar year. He wrestled at a house show prior to 'Mania before going on to compete in a six-man tag team match on Raw and a singles match on SmackDown after extending “The Streak” against CM Punk at 'Mania.
After going two full calendar years wrestling just one match per year, The Undertaker wrestled not one, not two, but three matches in a span of nine days. His last match ended with him being triple-powerbombed through the announce table by The Shield.
That’s a lot of damage done to a man who is pushing 50 and is already worn down, especially when you consider that his body had likely grown accustomed to laying it all on the line in one match before giving his body a break for the rest of the year.
In fact, the F4WOnline.com report indicates that Undertaker isn’t exactly 100 percent these days: “The Undertaker may not be ready for SummerSlam as he's hurt again. Apparently Taker injured himself in his most recent WWE TV angle with The Shield a few months ago.”
Unsurprisingly, it appears that being ruthlessly slammed through a table by The Shield did The Undertaker’s body no favors, and after battling injuries over the course of the last several years, he’s apparently injured again.
If that’s the case, then this one’s a no-brainer: It’s not worth the risk to have The Undertaker compete at SummerSlam.
The Undertaker has grown to be synonymous with WrestleMania, and in recent years, it’s been the widespread expectation that he will compete at WrestleMania and WrestleMania only. Anything beyond a match on the grand stage of WrestleMania—like a six-man tag team match or a singles match against Dean Ambrose—is a special and rare treat rather than the norm.
Because fans have grown so accustomed to only seeing Undertaker around WrestleMania time, there’s no shame in him recuperating from his injuries until 2014 and returning just in time for another 'Mania match at WrestleMania 30.
Would it be nice to see The Undertaker team with Kane to take on either The Wyatt Family or The Shield at SummerSlam? Of course it would be.
But The Undertaker is a well-respected veteran within the industry and arguably the greatest WWE Superstar of all time, and at this point, he’s more than earned the right to wrestle only on the grand stage of WrestleMania.
Putting him in a match at SummerSlam—even if it’s a tag team match in which he can be protected—would be far too great a risk because you just know that The Undertaker isn’t going to mail it in or “take it easy.” He’s going to give 110 percent in the match, and like that powerbomb from The Shield did, it could get him injured again.
Don’t let that happen, WWE.
We all know that The Undertaker’s days as an in-ring performer are nearing an end, but until that day comes, his defense of “The Streak” will always be considered the main attraction of WrestleMania.
While it would be fun for the fans to see him at SummerSlam this year, that pay-per-view is already going to be a loaded one that will likely feature Punk vs. Brock Lesnar as the show’s main event. Lesnar, of course, is one of the biggest draws around, and his match against Punk is going to be one of the most anticipated WWE matches of the last five or 10 years.
SummerSlam will draw because of Punk, Lesnar and the WWE’s other top stars, and it will do so whether or not The Undertaker wrestles on the show.
It’s tempting to add The Undertaker to what is likely to be a stacked card to see if he can make the PPV’s buyrate go through the roof, but it’s something that could bite the WWE in the butt come WrestleMania time.
If The Undertaker gets injured and misses WrestleMania 30 next year, one of the biggest pay-per-views of all time will take a substantial hit.
Luckily, that’s something that can easily be prevented simply by keeping Taker out of the ring until then.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!