Undertaker's WrestleMania Does Not Define Future WWE Hall of Famer

Erik BeastonFeatured ColumnistApril 9, 2014

Credit: WWE.com

The image of The Undertaker lying motionless in the center of the ring as a graphic displaying "21-1" is displayed on the video screen hundreds of feet above him is one that fans of professional wrestling and World Wrestling Entertainment in particular are having trouble digesting.

For many, the end of The Streak is the end of their childhood. For others, it is the end of an era. Still, others look at it as the end of a safety net, for lack of a better term.

Before Sunday's WrestleMania, there was one certainty: that Undertaker would walk to the ring undefeated at the Showcase of the Immortals and would leave the same way. It was guaranteed, like death and taxes.

Which is why his loss to Brock Lesnar caused so many to run the emotional gauntlet. Shock gave way to sadness, which gave way to dismay and ultimately anger. There were some who refused to believe what they had seen. Those fans chalked the loss up to a refereeing error and concocted other conspiracy theories to try to rationalize the booking decision.

But it was for naught. After 22 years, Undertaker decided that on April 6, 2014, in a match against former UFC and WWE heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar, that he was willing to let go of the greatest winning streak that sports and entertainment have ever seen.

And there is nothing wrong with that.

Undertaker's legacy is not exclusively tied to The Streak. It merely enhanced what was already a Hall of Fame career. It solidified his role as the greatest phenomenon WWE had ever seen and made the character truly immortal.

But it never made the character.

The presence, the performance, the delivery of his promos: Those elements make The Undertaker who he is, was and forever will be. It's the aura that surrounds him as he entered the arena, as well as the fact that he has been able to remain relevant as long as he has despite the changing of the guard more times than one can count.

His legendary matches with the likes of Mankind, Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H, Edge, Batista, CM Punk and the aforementioned Lesnar have shown off a wide array of styles and cemented his legacy as one of the best big men to ever lace a pair of boots.

The Streak was a major attraction at WrestleMania. There is no denying that. It was, arguably, the biggest draw WWE still had. It brought casual fans back to the product every spring, and the annual match was the most anticipated on any card.

The record's demise on Sunday night may hurt WWE from a business standpoint come next year's show, but that is the only effect it will have. If the loss to Brock Lesnar was in fact the last time Undertaker competes in a wrestling ring, he will still be a first-ballot Hall of Famer whose contributions to WWE and professional wrestling as a whole are immeasurable.

The Streak, like any great storyline, had a beginning and an end.

The character of the Undertaker, however, will live forever.