What's up, ladies and gentlemen? My name is Eric Kanes and today I am going to be discussing one of the hottest topics that gets brought up every year right before WrestleMania season—The Undertaker's streak.
The Undertaker's streak has become a staple of WrestleMania over the past several years and his streak is more valuable than all of the titles in the company combined. As we've seen with guys like Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio, winning a world title can help you but it certainly does not guarantee main event status.
On the other hand, one victory over The Undertaker at WrestleMania would instantly create a new star. That is usually why there is so much hype going into The Undertaker's WrestleMania match every year.
However, The Undertaker's career is coming to an end. At 46 years of age, The Undertaker has had one of the most legendary careers in history, lasting over 25 years, but he also suffered a lot of injuries over that time span. This match at WrestleMania will more than likely be his last. That means that if the streak will ever end, it will be this year.
With so much at stake, WWE is going to have to put a lot of thought and effort into choosing just the right opponent for The Undertaker this year. This article is going to look at the top five current wrestlers who could give The Undertaker a run for his money. In each slide, we are going to take a look at the benefits of that particular superstar facing The Undertaker and also the incentive they'd have behind facing him.
One important thing to note: I do NOT think that all five of these guys should end The Undertaker's streak. I only believe that three of them should. This article is about the top five guys who should face The Undertaker at WrestleMania, not beat him. However, this article is titled "The Top 5 Candidates To End The Undertaker's WrestleMania Streak" because if I had to choose five guys, these are probably the five I'd choose.
And now, without any further ado, let's get this show on the road.
Coming in at No. 5 is "The Game" Triple H, who fell just short of beating The Undertaker last year. I have to admit that going into the match, I was not expecting much considering that both men are over 40 with a bunch of injuries under their belt and the build-up to this match wasn't that great either. However, these two guys put on a hell of a match. I consider it to be the No. 2 Match of the Year, right behind CM Punk vs. John Cena at Money in the Bank.
Triple H's incentive and the story behind facing The Undertaker is simple. This is now Triple H's third time facing The Undertaker. The first time he faced him in a regular match and the second time in a No DQ match. He fell just short last time and now that he knows all of The Undertaker's strengths and weaknesses, he is confident that he could beat The Undertaker.
I know that we just saw this match last year but I would not be totally against seeing another 30-40 minute classic between these two in The Undertaker's final match.
At No. 4, we've got "The Viper" Randy Orton who, like Triple H, has faced The Undertaker at WrestleMania before as well.
Randy Orton's incentive this time would be this: He could come out during The Undertaker's return this year and say that the last time they faced off, he was the "Legend Killer" but now, he's become sort of a legend himself.
He has won the Royal Rumble, become a nine-time World Champion, main evented WrestleMania and basically been there and done that. Any other wrestler would dream of having this kind of career but he isn't satisfied.
For all these years, one thing has been killing him and that is that he failed to end The Undertaker's streak. However, the last time they faced off, he was young and stupid. Now, he is in the prime of his career and he wants just one more shot.
From that point on, you can have Randy Orton one-upping Undertaker each week with mind games and basically putting over the fact that Orton is in his prime while Undertaker's days are numbered and his streak is in serious jeopardy. Randy Orton vs. Undertaker could be a very hyped up and anticipated matchup. Plus, with the way Orton is usually booked, it would not be hard to convince people that he could very well end the streak.
There is also one other reason that this match would be great: even if some people don't want to admit it, Randy Orton is one of the best workers on the roster. He can definitely carry The Undertaker through his injuries and make him look really good in his last match.
However, the one negative to Orton facing Undertaker would be that he really does not have much to gain from this match, unlike the next three guys on this list.
Sheamus has only been in WWE for two years but he is already one of the most protected babyfaces on the roster. He rarely loses clean and WWE is trying to build him up as a badass kind of face. What better way to get him over than to have him face, and possibly beat, The Undertaker at WrestleMania?
Sheamus' incentive would be similar to Randy Orton's. He's in the prime of his career and feels that he can end The Undertaker's streak. He is in better shape than all of Undertaker's previous opponents were and is up for the challenge. You can have The Undertaker say that he admires Sheamus' courage but he feels that he is in way over his head. Have Undertaker initially refuses Sheamus' challenge until Sheamus calls him out and says that he must be scared. Then, have The Undertaker give in.
In the coming weeks, I'd replicate one of the previous "SmackDown vs. RAW" storylines. Bring back guys like Jimmy Snuka, Jake Roberts, A-Train, etc. for one night only and have Sheamus destroy them in matches. Maybe even have him defeat the likes of Randy Orton, Triple H and Mark Henry before the big match.
At WrestleMania, regardless of the outcome, let them have a competitive match and have The Undertaker shake his hand post-match. Have him get on the mic and admit that Sheamus proved him wrong. Even if Sheamus doesn't win this match, getting endorsed by The Undertaker on-screen would put him over huge.
Seeing this, I know you probably think I'm insane. However, hear me out on this one. I really feel that if done right, The Miz could easily become the top heel in the company for many years to come.
The story here should be that sometime in mid-January, The Miz comes out and says that ever since he debuted, he has never been able to get the respect of the fans. He started out as nothing and worked his way up to becoming United States Champion, but people still disrespected him. He overcame the odds and became WWE Champion, but people still disrespected him. He even won in the main event of WrestleMania but he was still disrespected.
Now, he's going to do something nobody has ever been able to do and after that, people will have no choice but to show him some respect—he is going to defeat The Undertaker at WrestleMania. He can point out that he's already 2-0 and after WrestleMania, he will be the new "Phenom."
In the coming weeks, have him hire Brodus Clay, Mason Ryan and Ezekiel Jackson as his enforcers. All three of those guys would benefit from being partnered with him. Have The Miz say that this faction will destroy WWE until The Undertaker accepts his challenge.
At that point, they can come out unannounced during the Royal Rumble and toss a bunch of people out, enter the Elimination Chamber as somebody is walking out and take all of the participants out and even attack The Undertaker's brother, Kane. The Undertaker can eventually return and accept the challenge saying that he'll make Miz regret he ever messed with him.
However, on the week before WrestleMania, have Brodus Clay, Mason Ryan and Ezekiel Jackson injure The Undertaker's leg. Teddy Long bans them from ringside at WrestleMania but it is too late. For the entire match, The Miz focuses on the injured leg and uses it to his advantage to end the streak. You can even have him grab the tights or put his feet on the ropes to add insult to injury.
I can just imagine the crowd rioting and starting "Bullsh*t" chants now. This match would make Miz one of the most hated wrestlers in history. It wouldn't make Undertaker look that bad either because he wasn't in his best condition for the match. Miz can also start a streak of his own, except it would be the complete opposite of Undertaker's streak.
Every year, people want to see Undertaker retain his streak. In this scenario, people would pay to see whoever is facing Miz destroy him. Every year, Miz could somehow find a way to come out on top until eventually, an up-and-coming face finally beats him.
Either way, even if you are a firm believer that The Undertaker's streak should never end, you can't deny that this match would do wonders for The Miz and WWE, because they will have created a new star.
If it were up to me, I'd build Wade Barrett up differently than every other current heel. Every current heel, whether it's The Miz or Alberto Del Rio or Mark Henry is built up as a coward. Maybe they get one or two months where they go on a winning streak but eventually, they start running away from their opponents, which is ridiculous.
It would be especially ridiculous with a man of Wade Barrett's stature who is supposed to be a 6'7", 250 pound former bare knuckle brawler. Instead of having him be a typical chickensh*t heel, have him be booked as a dangerous man.
Have him go on a winning streak from now until WrestleMania. He's already on a winning streak in singles matches and it's been fantastic so far but I really hope that WWE doesn't drop the ball here. When it comes time for WrestleMania, have him beat whoever he has to beat to get a match with The Undertaker.
For the build-up of the match, do it in a similar way to last year's Triple H vs. Undertaker match build-up. Give them a few face-offs but don't actually have either one throw a single punch for the sole reason that Undertaker's character wouldn't want to do something cheap like that and Barrett's character wants Undertaker in perfect condition so he can prove how good he is at WrestleMania.
When it comes time for the match, have both men give it their all but have Undertaker come just short. Simply have Barrett get a clean win after hitting Wasteland several times and then have him do an injury angle post-match where he puts him through a table, taking out Undertaker for good.
WWE thinks that people will hate heels if they're worse than everyone else and have to cheat to win. I don't get that mentality. It makes more sense to have a heel who is hated because he is better than everyone else and he knows it.
WWE has been lacking a good monster heel for a while. While Mark Henry has been getting a great push, he'll likely be gone by this time next year. Having Wade Barrett defeat Undertaker at WrestleMania now would give them a great top heel, which they desperately need, for years to come.
Now, since I know people will ask why I didn't include certain wrestlers, let's take a look at why they missed the cut:
CM Punk—He's easily my favorite wrestler on the roster today and a match against The Undertaker at WrestleMania would, without a doubt, be a classic. However, he's probably the only wrestler who is unanimously loved by all of the fans.
Putting him up against The Undertaker would turn some of his fanbase against him which makes no sense, since he is getting so over as a face. Plus, he wouldn't benefit from a match with Undertaker as much as someone like Sheamus, Miz or Barrett and he's probably the only wrestler who can bring some prestige back to the WWE title.
Chris Jericho—If he comes back, he needs to face CM Punk. Case closed.
Mick Foley—I get that this would be a good match for nostalgia but Mick Foley hasn't wrestled a match in over two years and is just as banged up over the years as Undertaker. Both of these guys would need somebody to carry them through a match so this wouldn't work. Plus, since Mick Foley is a retired wrestler, nobody would believe that he could actually end the streak.
Alberto Del Rio—He's not a legitimate main eventer. He's just not. He's shown no main event potential either. Plus, nobody would believe that he is a credible threat to the streak. If I couldn't believe that he could beat CM Punk in his first defense against him, how am I going to believe that he could beat the freakin' Undertaker at WrestleMania? Also, he's stated himself that he has less than five years left before he retires. If it were up to me, I'd rather invest in someone like Wade Barrett or The Miz, who could be a top star for many years, if not decades, to come.
Kane—Why do people even want to see this?
Brock Lesnar—I'd love to see this but he works for UFC, not WWE so he's not really an option.
John Cena—Just like with Brock Lesnar, I'd love to see it but it's not an option since he's already booked against The Rock.
And that shall conclude my take on who should face The Undertaker at WrestleMania. Until next time (which will likely be a "WWE '12" review sometime in the next week or two), I'm out!
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