WWE Turning Point: Analyzing Historical Impact of Brock Lesnar Ending the Streak

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WWE Turning Point: Analyzing Historical Impact of Brock Lesnar Ending the Streak
Credit: WWE.com

With WrestleMania 30 in the rear view mirror, hopefully most of the shock and disappointment from one match in particular has worn off. Though, that isn't very likely.

The undefeated streak that The Undertaker had posted at the company's marquee event had long been considered to be the most impressive record in the entire industry.

Certainly no one would ever beat him at WrestleMania, right?

Credit: WWE.com

Undertaker started by defeating Jimmy Snuka at WrestleMania 7, and then a Tombstone piledriver outside the ring at WrestleMania 8 led to a victory over Jake Roberts that made him 2-0.

Giant Gonzalez, King Kong Bundy, Diesel and Sycho Sid would be his next four victims. By the time he faced his brother Kane at WrestleMania 14, he had already put together a great win-loss record.

Yet at that time, no one really discussed it—at least not on WWE television.

He managed to get by Kane before destroying Big Boss Man inside Hell in a Cell the following year. At WrestleMania 17, Undertaker got the first of three WrestleMania victories over Triple H.

Credit: WWE.com

Ric Flair would be the man to step up to the plate at WrestleMania 18 in Toronto and he too fell victim to Undertaker. Following that win, Undertaker counted out 10 on his fingers and held them up.

No one has ever even come close to doing that, but Undertaker wasn't even halfway done.

After winning a handicap match at WrestleMania 19 over Big Show and A-Train, he faced off with Kane again at WrestleMania 20. He defeated him for a second time.

WrestleMania 21 may have been the first time fans felt the streak was in real jeopardy.

Randy Orton had developed his "legend killer" gimmick for quite some time at that point, defeating the likes of Mick Foley and spitting in the face (literally) of Harley Race.

The next goal in his sights was to beat Undertaker at WrestleMania and with the help of his dad, Hall of Famer Bob Orton, he almost did. Yet still, Undertaker prevailed.

At WrestleMania 22, Undertaker defeated Mark Henry in his signature Casket Match. After that point, he had to fight and scratch each year to keep his streak intact.

By WrestleMania 23, the streak had become a huge part of the storyline heading into the annual event.

Batista would be the man in front of Undertaker, but this time the WWE World title was on the line as well. Undertaker won the match to win the title and keep the streak going.

The next year, he had a similar bout with Edge. For the second year in a row, Undertaker won the World title at WrestleMania, though Edge had come as close as anyone to beating him.

WrestleMania featured a match between Undertaker and Shawn Michaels. An argument can be made that this was the greatest match in WWE history. Fans were on pins and needles watching the match, knowing that if anyone could end the streak, it was Michaels.

Yet he fell short as well.

WWE felt that match was so good that they needed to do it again. This time, Michaels agreed to put his career on the line.

Undertaker went to 18-0 after defeating Michaels again, ending his storied career in the process.

WrestleMania 27 and 28 would see Undertaker battle Triple H both times. Though their previous encounter at WrestleMania 17 was never talked about, fans knew Triple H would give Undertaker all he could handle.

Both times, Triple H came within a hair of defeating him. At WrestleMania 28, the match took place inside Hell in a Cell and was billed as the "end of an era." Shawn Michaels was the guest referee and he couldn't even help his friend end the streak.

After Undertaker won the match and went to 20-0, the three men walked out together in a great scene. That is where it all should have ended.

But at WrestleMania 29, Undertaker was lured to MetLife Stadium to face CM Punk. Though Undertaker won the match, it was clear to all viewers that he wasn't the competitor that he used to be.

Maybe this would be the end. Triple H and Michaels had a combined five matches to end the streak and they couldn't do it. Punk, Edge and Batista couldn't do it. No one would ever be able to end the streak, right?

 

WrestleMania 30

Undertaker and Brock Lesnar agreed to meet at WrestleMania 30 in New Orleans in one of the featured matches on the card.

Though Lesnar is a fierce athlete, fans had to feel the streak was safe knowing that Lesnar is just a part-time competitor.

Undertaker got the best of Lesnar leading into the match and the percentage of those who felt the streak was safe was probably very high.

After all, Undertaker always wins at WrestleMania.

Except on Sunday, April 6, 2014, he lost.

Though he still gave one-hundred percent in the ring, Undertaker did not look like the man who struck fear into his opposition for years. He didn't look like the unstoppable force that posted 21 WrestleMania victories.

Lesnar was able to kick out after the Tombstone and when Undertaker tried to get him up for it again, Lesnar countered into an F-5. It was the third time he'd hit his finishing move in the match and it would be the charm.

When the referee's hand slapped the mat for a third time, signaling the match was over, a silence came over the crowd at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome that no WWE fan is likely soon to forget.

Credit: WWE.com

The looks on the faces of some of the fans in the building were of disbelief, shock and bewilderment. No one could believe what they just saw.

Paul Heyman was shocked and even Lesnar, despite his amazing athletic history, looked shocked.

 

Historical Impact

It will take some fans quite some time to get over the fact that WWE actually chose to go in this direction. Not only did Undertaker lose for the first time at WrestleMania, but the streak was snapped by one of the most hated men in WWE history.

However, having Undertaker retire and walk away from the business with an undefeated record would have been right for only one man—Undertaker.

What Lesnar will do to build off the victory remains to be seen. Will he ever be a full-time competitor again? That's not likely and fans shouldn't be upset about that. It's not anything they didn't know going into the match.

There are three things that can be taken from this match.

First, WrestleMania 30 is clearly going to be the start of a new era being ushered in by WWE. New stars like Alexander Rusev, Adam Rose and Bo Dallas will all be Superstars that fans become familiar with this year.

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Furthermore, WWE won't need to use the streak as a selling point to get people to tune in for WrestleMania. Yes, it worked for a long time. But they seem to be very happy with the direction of the company and feel that their current model can take them in a different direction.

Frequently, WWE is chastised for being too predictable. At WrestleMania 30, they gave fans one of the most unpredictable moments in WWE history.

It can also be looked at from a logical standpoint. Undertaker was in the ring with a man who is bigger, stronger, faster and younger than him. Whether it's scripted entertainment or not, it should still be believable.

Finally, the loss to Lesnar could be a strong signal that Undertaker has wrestled his final match. After he just turned 49 years old, that's not a bad thing.

Besides, fans shouldn't harp on the one loss that Undertaker now has at WrestleMania. Instead, they should all remember the 21 wins. To put that in perspective, the second-most total wins at WrestleMania is eight, currently shared by four Superstars. Lesnar only has two.

Lesnar may have ended the streak, but he didn't harm Undertaker's legacy in any way. All this match did was help WWE open new doors—while closing others.

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