Brock Lesnar proved Undertaker to be mortal at WrestleMania 30 and 75,000-plus jaws simultaneously slid open.
WrestleMania has provided the audience with upsets and shockers before, but nothing that had the kind of effect Undertaker going 21-1 had. WWE toyed with the audience's expectations, building up a man as unbeatable, only to reveal that to be a falsehood.
Whether Lesnar was the right man to achieve this honor or if the streak should have been broken at all is a matter of debate, but there is no argument that WWE stunned its viewers at WrestleMania 30. The referee's hand hitting the mat for the third time was on par with Bruce Willis being dead all along and Verbal Kint actually being Keyser Soze.
Rarely do the results of a wrestling match truly shock fans. Pro wrestling's devotees are too in tune to the rhythms of the product.
They can spot sleight-of-hand booking, smell a screwjob coming and generally predict match outcomes.
That ability comes from a combination of identifying patterns, scrolling through spoilers and backstage reports, and WWE not generally being the most unpredictable entity in the the world.
The good guy usually wins at some point, champions who lose their titles call for a rematch on the next pay-per-view and John Cena kicks out of just about every finisher.
It's just the way things work in the circus/sports/Shakespeare-in-tights world that is WWE.
The prevailing logic going into Undertaker vs. Lesnar was that "The Beast" would give him a hellacious fight, but fail like all the men before him did. It's a drama fans had seen play out for years.
Shawn Michaels couldn't finish the job in two tries. Triple H had three chances to beat "The Deadman" at WrestleMania and failed each time. Batista, Randy Orton, CM Punk, Ric Flair all stepped up. Undertaker sat them all down.
The attempt to end the streak had become one of WrestleMania's key attractions.
We knew that Punk and Triple H wouldn't end it, but it was fun when they got close. Like them, Lesnar was supposed to just be the next victim who teased us with nearly winning.
Undertaker could then go on to face Cena or Sting or Roman Reigns and perhaps round out his record at 25-0. A quarter-century of dominance had a poetic ring to it.
WWE didn't build up Lesnar as much of a threat before this match. He was visibly scared of his future opponent, shaken by the sight of him emerging from a coffin he thought was empty.
Lesnar was powerful, but Undertaker has defeated Mark Henry aka "The World's Strongest Man" at WrestleMania. Lesnar was big, but Big Show, Giant Gonzalez and King Kong Bundy had all failed against Undertaker in the past.
When Lesnar hit his most damaging move, the F-5, for the first time, the crowd barely reacted. Familiar with the pattern, fans knew that in these matches Undertaker kicked out of finishers—be it Sweet Chin Music, the Go to Sleep or the Pedigree.
Lesnar hit the move again later in the match and the ref counted to three.
That moment felt as if someone had changed the lyrics to a song we had heard 100 times. The hero didn't get up. The impossible became possible with little warning.
Shock shot through fans' faces.
Eyes widened. Mouths opened.
Fans weren't sure if the decision was set to be overturned or if they had just been dreaming.
21-1? Is this for real? #WrestleMania— Jeff Peck (@TheJeffPeck) April 7, 2014
WrestleMania simply hasn't created a surprise with that much power before. The Miz beating Cena at WrestleMania 27 was certainly unexpected, but he had help. The Rock essentially beat Cena for him.
Shenanigans like that have happened in wrestling before. It's not a real loss, but more of a result of unfortunate circumstances.
Even if The Miz had pinned Cena on his own, it wouldn't have been as numbing a sensation. Cena had lost at WrestleMania before. He was booked a lot like Superman, but at WrestleMania, Undertaker was booked like a deity.
Bret hadn't rattled off 21 consecutive wins at WrestleMania beforehand, though. He was instead the big brother who fell to his brother this one time.
That's a feasible scenario, while Undertaker losing—much less to a part-timer—was as unlikely as you get. Seeing Undertaker win at "The Show of Shows" had become as much a tradition as inviting celebrities to the event.
Wrestling logic would dictate that if Undertaker would lose, it would be to someone whose career was trending upward—some young stud charging up the ranks. Beating Undertaker at WrestleMania would be an invaluable tool in making him a megastar.
Who should have ended Undertaker's streak?
Lesnar was already a marquee name. Not guaranteed to even be at next year's show, he's a special guest who comes around every few months to kick some tail.
WWE didn't do much to counteract those images of weakness before WrestleMania. The company didn't bring up Undertaker's previous failings against Lesnar. Instead, it led everyone to believe that the standard Undertaker WrestleMania match was on tap.
"The Phenom" would survive Lesnar's best, extend the streak and walk away until next year.
The rhythm changed on April 6, though. Smart, informed fans didn't see the twist coming.
We then discovered what Undertaker falling at WrestleMania sounds like—a dome full of silent spectators.