Undertaker's final WrestleMania moment may have featured The Deadman as close to death as he has ever been.
Despite being billed an undead creature of the immortals, there he was, sprawled in the middle of the ring. Eyes open, his body—and most notably, his defining WrestleMania streak—had permanently evaded him.
Undertaker's loss set off a universal wave of hysteria across all walks of wrestling—fans, announcers and analysts to name a few.
Even institutionalized wrestling website PWTorch lost its composure, literally failing to believe what had been broadcast worldwide.
Two separate incorrect reports from the site insisted Undertaker raised his shoulder. Columnist Ben Tucker implored:
After a tombstone piledriver couldn't put away Brock Lesnar, the Dead Man went to the well a second time. Lesnar reversed it into his third F5 of the evening and covered Taker. The ref began counting as Michael Cole shouted "The Streak" one... "is" two... "Uh." [No he didn't]
WWE's lead play-by-play-announcer was at a loss as, for the first time in history, The Undertaker was pinned at WrestleMania. The bell was called but the referee called for a two count. [No he didn't]
Meanwhile, live blogger James Caldwell reported:
Taker followed up with the Tombstone Piledriver. Taker folded Lesnar's arms, but Lesnar kicked out at two. Taker sat up, stared down at Heyman, and pulled himself to his feet for a throat-slash. Taker wanted a second Tombstone, but Lesnar reversed into a Tombstone of his own. Lesnar then transitioned into a third F5. Lesnar covered and, yes, a three count was rendered as Taker kicked out. [No he didn't]
But in reality, or at least this new reality, Undertaker was pinned clean in the middle of the ring. The referee did call for the bell. The streak is dead. And it was the right call.
It was commonly believed that Undertaker's steak would never end, and if it did, it would be best used to “make” an up-and-coming talent.
With all the holy grails that have been fumbled by failed prospects in WWE history, is it any guarantee that a Bray Wyatt win over Undertaker would have made him?
Even with a career-defining win over Undertaker, Wyatt is always one loss to John Cena away from spider-walking into obscurity, which has now been nicknamed the 2015 Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.
The Miz beat generational star John Cena in the main event of WrestleMania XXVII. Dolph Ziggler successfully cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase on the Raw after WrestleMania XXIX. Billy Gunn was the 1999 King of the Ring.
None of it mattered. The follow-up is where the real work begins, and in all three cases the follow-up failed.
With Brock Lesnar, however, the follow-up is not nearly as important. That work has long since been done. Even before the streak, he was a one-man blockbuster who sold himself. And if sales begin to slump, he travels with a legendary pitchman in Paul Heyman.
If WWE thrives on capitalist concepts (such as booking a select few talents as bigger stars than their contemporaries), Lesnar ending the streak was like a premier franchise paying a can't-miss free agent.
This is a new Brock Lesnar who is somehow more marketable than he was when he walked into the WWE. His compensation—which takes the form of a win over a previously undefeated phenom—is a priceless marketing tool. The streak may be dead, but its legacy lives through Brock Lesnar's conquest. The rich just got richer.
Good ole capitalism.
For all the criticism of Lesnar even losing one match under the pre-determined pretenses of WWE, all of that talk now dies.
WWE has been shrewd to never mention any of Lesnar's losses on air whenever he shows up following a designed hiatus. One F-5 of Mark Henry and it's like he's undefeated all over again.
Did WWE make the right call in ending Undertaker's WrestleMania streak?
As Lesnar exited the ring with an elated Heyman in tow, Michael Cole dryly mustered the words, “he was mortal,” in reference to Undertaker.
In ending Undertaker's famed streak, Lesnar took a piece of The Deadman with him.
Cole will spend the next decade or so screaming recited buzzwords about that infamous win. And when he does, it will be impossible to separate Lesnar from the memory of the Undertaker.
Both will work together in a strange mix of sentimentality and pay-per-view (or WWE Network) propaganda.
It turns out Undertaker was immortal after all, 21-1 be damned.