WWE Must Groom Full-Time Stars to Continue Undertaker's WrestleMania Streak

Anthony Mango@ToeKneeManGoFeatured ColumnistMarch 12, 2014

With each passing year, The Undertaker claims a new victim in his WrestleMania streak and unfortunately, every time that happens, one more name is crossed off the list of valuable opponents for him.

The Streak has become a phenomenon of its own right, flying directly in the face of what professional wrestling is built around: suspension of disbelief.

Every time a new WrestleMania comes up, speculation begins about who will take a shot at defeating The Undertaker and who might be worthy of possibly even ending the tradition.

But that is exactly what it has become—a tradition of watching people fail—which doesn't quite fit with the idea that we as an audience should always be questioning who can win every match and wanting to find out what happens.

Part of the reason we already know what is going to happen is because WWE has not done its job setting up the proper bowling pins for Undertaker to knock over in surprise triumph. There's no suspense when a strike is guaranteed in comparison to a 7-10 split, is there?

We've reached a point where almost nobody is a credible challenger for Undertaker to face and WWE needs to bring outsiders and part-timers in to fill that void.

Up until WrestleMania XXIV, when Undertaker defeated Edge in the main event to win the World Heavyweight Championship, the Deadman's opponents had been regular roster members.

Since then, though, he has only had one fight with someone who wrestled more than a few dates per year—CM Punk, at last year's event.

His two matches with Shawn Michaels and the two subsequent ones with Triple H that also involved Michaels in some capacity were not showcasing the brightest talent out of the new breed, but rather flat-out focusing on the idea of a disappearing era.

Triple H had even said that nobody else was good enough to fill the spot, effectively burying his own roster in the process.

This year, who has been placed in the role of the future "Mr. 22" in Undertaker's streak?

That man is Brock Lesnar, who wrestles an average of three matches per year with minimal appearances to set up those feuds—hardly a normal roster member as opposed to a special attraction.

But even with Lesnar, WWE has shined light upon the expected outcome that this former WWE and UFC champion with a penchant for destroying people is just not good enough.

On this Monday's episode of Raw, Lesnar was written off as "having no chance" against the man who didn't bat an eye in fear when standing next to him and instead jammed a pen through his hand in bold defiance.

What's odd about this situation is that bringing Lesnar into this was the logical move that nearly every fan saw as inevitable, as if WWE had no other choices.

Who from the regular roster could have stood toe-to-toe with The Phenom?

Among a talented pool of wrestlers, there aren't exactly plenty of fish in the sea for this responsibility.

Dolph Ziggler is often spoken of as a man of the future, but he can't even find a regular spot on Raw every week to justify putting his name in the hat.

A big man like Sheamus is currently struggling with Christian, and no offense to Captain Charisma, but if the Celtic Warrior is having issues beating him, what likelihood does he have of ending The Streak?

Ryback is one of the most physically impressive guys in the company today, but his credibility has been entirely neutered by WWE over the past year and a half.

Even if they could repair that damage, it would do little in the grand scheme of things.

As much as you could try to build up someone like that, he would just come off as yet another name on the list of the onslaught of big men that Undertaker put down over the years, such as King Kong Bundy, Giant Gonzalez, Diesel, Mark Henry, Big Show, Albert, Kane and so on.

Only three names would have any value behind them to be considered: John Cena, Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns.

In the case of Reigns, he is a relatively big guy that has improved drastically over the past year and become someone that WWE can probably depend on as a major player for years to come.

Still, he hasn't had even one singles feud or any championships or even title shots outside of his Tag Team Championship run with Seth Rollins. This hardly makes him seem like anyone other than the next stepping stone to come up short.

Daniel Bryan is easily the most over with the crowd right now and on a hot streak that is undeniable, yet his character for months has had other things on his mind, so there was no environment for Bryan vs. Undertaker to take place in.

Next year or the year after, if Bryan is able to maintain this level of popularity, he will be a prime candidate for challenging The Undertaker, but it was not in the cards for 2014.

Even then, once they've had a match together, if he too comes up short, then nobody will buy into the idea of him posing a threat in a rematch.

John Cena is the only man that WWE has spent the proper time molding that could be taken seriously as someone reputable enough for the test.

At any time, Cena is a conquest waiting to happen, and he stands in a class leaps and bounds beyond everyone else on the roster to the point where he has no equal in even the faintest light.

With the exception of those three men, WWE is not prepared for The Undertaker.

If something were to happen to them or other storylines dictated their appearance in other matches, like what happened this year, what would WWE do for Undertaker's challenger?

Fast-tracking someone who clearly isn't at that level will not convince the fans that it is a marquee match and will seem cheap.

That is why WWE has had to rely on abnormal commodities to do the job and at times give them something of an adrenaline shot to sweeten the deal as well.

Triple H had to up the ante with a Hell in a Cell stipulation to sell that match.

Shawn Michaels had to put his career on the line as collateral to warrant a sequel.

Did anybody really think CM Punk was going to win, even with the added unintentional bonus of Paul Bearer's death looming over, making it seem like Punk was as dastardly as they came?

Is it not tough to imagine WWE giving Lesnar a win this year seeing as how he is a part-timer that doesn't need the victory to justify his career?

Every time The Phenom comes out on top, the legend grows and his value increases.

The caveat to this is that you need a stronger challenger each and every year to attempt to beat the unbeatable.

Once The Undertaker has proven that he's unstoppable and that there is no worthy competition on the normal roster, he moves on to special ringers that equally are not up to par.

It has reached a point where the believability of someone being able to defeat The Undertaker at WrestleMania is almost entirely gone.

Only three people on the official roster and one noteworthy established stranger—Sting—are left.

If WWE does not do its job building up for the future, that means we have four more matches with The Undertaker at maximum until we've run out of options.

Four years may be a blessing that we don't even get, as Undertaker can't do this forever, but this has become one of the most entertaining cornerstones of the year and should continue to be celebrated as long as humanly possible.

For the future of something as truly epic as The Streak, WWE is not doing it justice and needs to lay some more groundwork if it is going to continue and grow.

Anthony Mango is the owner-operator of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment as well as the host of its podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.


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