On the latest episode of Jim Ross' "The Ross Report" podcast (h/t WrestlingInc.com), Shawn Michaels was the guest. Being that he's one of The Undertaker's best friends, the end of "The Streak" at WrestleMania was discussed.
While they didn't cover it quite as in-depth as one would hope for, some notable details were revealed:
- Earlier in the day, when Ross asked Undertaker how many matches he had left in him (health-wise), 'Taker said to ask him again in a few hours.
- According to Michaels, the call to end The Streak was made just four hours before the show.
- They didn't get into what reason Vince McMahon had for making the call to end The Streak, but Michaels is sure it's a good one.
The Undertaker has been in terrible shape for a long time, which is why he can barely wrestle once a year. While he's banged up everywhere, according to a report on Wrestling Observer Radio a couple weeks ago (subscription required) his shoulder and hip are in the worst shape.
His shoulder is such that there has been concern about nerve damage limiting the use of his hand, and he's had every surgery short of a joint replacement to address the hip problems.
The worries about how much time he has left go back over 15 years, but he found ways to work through them until he had to limit his schedule more and more in recent years.
It's hard for me to hear the latest details and think ending The Streak was the wrong thing to do.
By the time he stopped working non-WrestleMania matches a few years ago, it was clear he only had a few bouts left in him. It's become largely forgotten since the match delivered, but CM Punk did interviews before their match last year where he mentioned that Undertaker's injuries could limit the fight. Punk told IGN:
I expect the best from myself, no more no less. I don't know what anybody else expects from this match given [Undertaker's] year away from the ring and possibly his physical condition. Or the fact that I don't have a Hell in a Cell or all these different kinds of stipulations, like No Disqualification, to work with. But I like it when they handcuff me.
There's also the fact that, well, the match with Brock Lesnar wasn't any good. Sure, Undertaker did suffer a concussion early on, but we've seen him on autopilot before, like when he got knocked for a loop in his WrestleMania 25 match with Shawn Michaels.
Maybe it was never a good idea for him to wrestle Brock Lesnar, who has a very physical style, given the shape he's in, and maybe Lesnar wasn't as good at leading the match after the concussion as Michaels was. Still, I don't know how anyone can think he has anything left.
And then there was this video, shot by a fan the next day:
How can anyone see that and ever ask Mark Calaway to wrestle another match as The Undertaker? He's not The Undertaker, a seemingly immortal cartoon character. He's a real person who's given his health to the wrestling business. Of course, there's the argument that his retirement doesn't mean The Streak needs to end.
I would disagree: The ending makes a streak more legendary. If Bruno Sammartino had just retired after holding what's now known as the WWE World Heavyweight Championship for eight years, it wouldn't mean as much. He'd be a "boring invincible hero," per TVTropes.org. Ivan Koloff's ending the reign and stunning Madison Square Garden silent is a huge part of Sammartino's legacy.
Lesnar-Undertaker is our Sammartino-Koloff. Nobody expected Lesnar to win. While the match being bad did hurt the moment a bit, there literally won't be anything in wrestling like it again for decades. We're better off having that moment than having The Undertaker fade away after a bad last match.