Following the fall of Undertaker's undefeated streak at WrestleMania, WWE can begin a new cycle, having a new warrior go unconquered for an impressive stretch.
As high stakes in WWE's in-ring narratives and a way to elevate a star in search of megastar status, a similar streak has tremendous value. It's a tricky path to take, though. The special nature of Undertaker's feat becomes less so should someone else match it.
The shock is still fresh for some—Brock Lesnar defeated Undertaker at WrestleMania 30.
WrestleMania's most compelling, consistent attraction is gone. There will of course be title bouts and grudge matches at The Show of Shows, but no longer will Undertaker defend his streak.
As thrilling as the journey to 21-1 was, WWE has to be tempted to begin it again with someone else.
Stakes and Stardom
Undertaker's WrestleMania matches have been so great for the past few years in part because of the mystique around the streak.
Each year, a new Superstar would step up. Fans didn't believe that Shawn Michaels, CM Punk or Triple H would beat him, but every time they got close, hearts quickened, guts swirled.
That element helped those bouts earn rave reviews. Michaels and Undertaker's classics were boosted to an even higher level thanks to the stakes.
A new streak revisits the power of those stakes.
Should Roman Reigns go into his sixth WrestleMania with a 5-0 record, that match is suddenly a much bigger draw than it would be without him being undefeated.
Reigns vs. Orton is a match with potential, but it would not necessarily be a marquee bout. Should it be contested with a burgeoning streak on the line, it's suddenly a more compelling affair.
Fans would be more invested, likely leading to better ticket sales.
It's exciting when we think someone is closing in on a record that seems unbreakable. Barry Bonds' at-bats were far more newsworthy when he started creeping up on Hank Aaron's home run record. Tiger Woods chasing Jack Nicklaus' 18 wins at major tournaments is the biggest story in golf.
That's the kind of drama WWE can generate with another Superstar attempting to meet and surpass Undertaker.
In the process, a star becomes something much bigger. Alexander Rusev going 3-2 in his first five WrestleManias isn't anything special. However, he would force us to pay attention should he pile up win after win at WrestleMania.
Every year, his WrestleMania match would become more prominent. Every year, the suspense would be greater and the stakes would be higher.
WWE would build itself big names this way. Rusev or Reigns would start to be included in discussions comparing them to Undertaker, something that may not happen otherwise.
Those wrestlers' WrestleMania bouts mean far more with a zero in their respective loss columns. A win means a step closer to legendary status, a loss means a chance at history slipping away.
It would also benefit the men that eventually break up these streaks. They wouldn't get a resume-booster on the level of what Lesnar did in the Superdome, but it would certainly be something to brag about.
The hesitation about having a new wrestler go on an Undertaker-like run is undermining the importance of the original achievement. A huge part of what made his 21-win run so captivating was that it led him to a place where only he had ever resided.
Earning 21 straight wins at WrestleMania is a crown that only one king has worn.
In comparison, 44 men have held the WWE title and 22 wrestlers have won the Royal Rumble. The streak was unique to the Undertaker. It's part of what makes him not just a surefire Hall of Famer but a man with an aura of immortality.
The streak is WWE's answer to Joe DiMaggio's hitting streak. The achievement is unparalleled, and no one has even gotten close to matching it, as Paul Heyman pointed out during the build to WrestleMania.
As it stands, The Deadman is on his own tier. Putting someone else alongside him on it would devalue what he did. Being one of two men to accomplish something is clearly not as significant as being the only one to do so.
The streak is a testament to Undertaker's longevity and staying power.
His first WrestleMania win came in 1991. His earned his 21st WrestleMania victory in 2013. There's something mythical about Undertaker fending off defeat for that long.
When fans look back on it, it will feel as impossible to fathom as Bruno Sammartino holding the WWE Championship for almost 3,000 days from 1963 to 1971.
That number puts Sammartino on a pedestal only he occupies, just as Undertaker's streak does. Should a wrestler stretch out a title run past Sammartino's record, his feat is diluted.
For the sake of history, WWE can't have someone get near 21-0 at WrestleMania. The compromise between legacy and entertainment is to have Reigns or whomever it may be to get to 7-0 or 8-0 before falling.
That way fans can get excited about the possibility of history being made while maintaining Undertaker's lofty position.
A mini-streak is still mighty impressive. Superstars fall from the ranks of the undefeated each year. If Reigns were to achieve just a third of what Undertaker did, it would elevate his stardom without ruining the singular nature of the vaunted streak.
A new streak is a powerful tool, even if WWE only teases at someone catching Undertaker. Chasing history captures the audience's attention like nothing else.
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