WWE Wrestlemania XXX: Undertaker: 'The Streak' Is Dead. Long Live 'The Streak'

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WWE Wrestlemania XXX: Undertaker: 'The Streak' Is Dead. Long Live 'The Streak'
Photo courtesy WWE

A WWE tradition came to a close Sunday evening when—in front of a sold out Superdome and millions more worldwide—The Undertaker lost for the first time in 22 WrestleMania events over the past 24 years. Brock Lesnar’s victory delivered, quite literally, the Undertaker’s first and only WrestleMania loss in a generation.

The stunning conclusion to the match—and the fact that immediately after it the 49-year-old Undertaker was taken to the hospital for concussion monitoring—has a dumbstruck WWE Universe wondering if Sunday was the Deadman’s last dance.

In addition to expressing shock at an Undertaker loss, media outlets such as ProWrestling.net are questioning why a proven and bankable commodity such as Lesnar was granted the rub of being “the one” instead of any number of up-and-coming wrestlers who, unlike Lesnar, are part of the full-time roster. With no official word, who made the call and why are only speculations.

 

An Opinion

This loss is astounding, and I empathize with the gut reaction that if it had to happen, it should have been to someone who could launch their own career or make it a generational passing of the torch—as Andre did for Hogan, Hogan did for Rock and Rock did for John Cena.

It struck me today, though, that the Undertaker did not pass the torch to an individual, so much as he passed it on to the business; a veteran’s way of stepping aside—just as Major League Baseball’s iron man, Cal Ripken, ended his consecutive game streak—without fanfare, without speeches and without putting himself above the sport.

"The Streak" has become as much a WWE institution as The Undertaker himself. Superstars acknowledge The Phenom in interviews as a locker room leader, and he was one of the few who confronted Vince McMahon the evening of the “Montreal Screw Job.” By all accounts, a case could be made that The Streak should not have ended, and by all accounts, a case could be made that only The Undertaker would be the man who ultimately decided whether or not he was going to lay down—just like the uncertainty backstage among Hulk Hogan and Bobby Heenan over whether or not Andre would sacrifice his 15-year undefeated streak added to the electric atmosphere of WrestleMania III.

This is the third or fourth draft of this article, as I’m resisting the temptation to do an Undertaker career retrospective or talk about retirement matches where fans know the outcome versus the big surprise.

The fact of the matter is that we simply do not know what the Undertaker has in store for us. If management allows him to wrestle one or two matches a year, if the fans still want to see him, if his heart is still in it… a lot of “if’s” all worthy of consideration.

While The Streak has become an institution, such records can also become burdens. It becomes all about "that thing," not what it took to create it, or what the original intention was. These things tend to take on a life of their own—just ask George Lucas, who created something so beloved by the world that he had to give it up because it was no longer his own.

Until either the WWE or the man himself says for certain, I will refrain from ringing the timekeeper’s bell on the Undertaker’s career. Maybe he is done, maybe he isn’t. The yoke off his neck, maybe he will reinvent his character yet again.

One thing is certain, though: The Streak is dead. Long live The Streak.

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