Undertaker's Possible Last Ride and The Deadman's Road To WrestleMania XXVII
Outside of the ring, another serious injury has forced The Deadman to the sidelines, and out of the storylines, once again.
The question on many wrestling fans' minds is: What does the future hold for The Undertaker?
The obvious answer for the immediate future is nothing. The Undertaker's latest recovery will take the remainder of 2010, and possibly the first part of 2011. Unfortunately, his status for WrestleMania XXVII is uncertain.
My gut tells me we'll see The Streak on the line in Atlanta. But who will be the challenger?
According to Internet reports over the past few months, one of three men will be across the ring from The Undertaker in the Georgia Dome April 3.
After poor crowd responses to his clashes with The Undertaker, the early favorite, Kane, has fallen out of favor with Vince McMahon. Sheamus stepped to the forefront when Kane vacated the opportunity to challenge The Streak, but The Celtic Warrior is no longer the favorite to clash with The Deadman on The Grandest Stage of Them All.
McMahon's current favorite to take on The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXVII is none other than the leader of The Nexus, Wade Barrett.
The build seems obvious. The Undertaker returns at Royal Rumble or Elimination Chamber to gain vengeance on Barrett for aiding in his burial at Bragging Rights. The feud builds, culminating in Barrett challenging The Streak.
But does anyone really believe Barrett could defeat The Undertaker at WrestleMania?
We would have to go back to WrestleMania 22 to find an opponent that wasn't a serious threat to The Undertaker's WrestleMania win streak. Even with a WWE Title reign under his belt, Barrett would likely seem a longshot to end The Streak.
Regardless of who he faces at WrestleMania XXVII, the biggest question remaining for The Undertaker is when to hang the wrestling boots up for good.
Mark Calaway will turn 46 years old about 10 days before WrestleMania XXVII, and with a list of recent injuries that seems to grow by the week, retirement is becoming something that may be necessary much sooner than later.
There is no doubt WWE will take a huge hit by the retirement of The Undertaker, but the company took a massive hit last spring when Shawn Michaels called it a career.
Like Michaels, I don't see Calaway hanging on longer than his body will realistically allow. Calaway has other ventures outside of wrestling that should keep him occupied when his storied career comes to a close.
I am as big of an Undertaker mark as there is out there, and like many of The Undertaker's long-time fans, I'd love to see The Streak make it to 20-0 before Calaway calls it a career. Unfortunately, I don't think Calaway's body can take another year and another potential injury.
Calaway has often said he'd like Paul Bearer to return for the final run of the Undertaker character. With Bearer back in the WWE Universe, and a body that is beginning to betray him, look for WrestleMania XXVII to be the swan song for the legendary Deadman.
20-0 would be a nice way to cap The Streak, but 19-0 is just as good.
There likely won't be a speech on Raw the night after, like we saw from Michaels and Ric Flair. It just wouldn't fit the Undertaker character.
Whatever way we see The Deadman walk off into the night, it will truly be unforgettable.
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