The Undertaker’s undefeated streak at Wrestlemania has, in many ways, become one of the most celebrated and anticipated aspects of any “Showcase of the Immortals.” Fans have long been captivated by The Dead Man’s ability to overcome the challenge of a given Superstar in order to preserve a winning streak that, in many ways, has become more important than any of the sport’s top championships.
In a year where fans have been overly critical about the predictability of the Wrestlemania card, the fact that there are so many that are still absolutely captivated by a streak that has never really been in danger is interesting.
The Streak has become one of the big attractions at Wrestlemania each year, with fans interested both in who will step up to the plate to challenge it and whether or not they will succeed.
Which is odd because, in twenty attempts, no one has been successful.
There have been few, if any, occasions where fans thought there was a very legitimate chance that the streak would be ended. The Shawn Michaels matches featured two all-time great matches in which near-falls were in abundance, but did anyone really believe Michaels would be the Superstar to defeat The Dead Man?
All three matches against Triple H were brutal affairs, one of which resulted in Undertaker being placed on a stretcher and wheeled from the ring. But outside of the Wrestlemania X-7 match, where Triple H was arguably the best wrestler in the business and the idea of the streak was nowhere near what it is now, there was little doubt that The Undertaker would leave Atlanta and Miami still touting an unbeaten record.
Edge, Randy Orton, Mark Henry and Batista were at or near the top of the card when they challenged the streak in the 2000s. Diesel and Sid were physically intimidating, their size similar to the Undertaker’s. The Giant Gonzalez and King Kong Bundy were absolute monsters and portrayed as true threats to The Dead Man.
But the chances that they would leave Wrestlemania with their arms raised in victory were all-but nonexistent.
If the outcome of every match in the legendary streak is in little doubt, why do fans find themselves so absolutely enthralled in the build-up and execution of the match?
Is it because, at least over the last decade, fans can typically expect a very good or even great match?
Perhaps it is because fans of any sport are obsessed with the idea of a winning streak of any kind.
Maybe, just maybe, the undefeated streak represents the one aspect of professional wrestling that fans consider untouched by the ever-changing business. The Streak has spanned three generations. It has survived five eras of professional wrestling history (the early 90s, New Generation, Attitude, Ruthless Aggression and PG Eras) and has proven The Undertaker’s ability to adapt, evolve and stay meaningful over that time.
It is the one common denominator that fans from today’s PG Era can share with the fans that grew up in the take-no-prisoners, finger-flipping Attitude Era, or watched their first match during the transitional period of the early 1990s. The Streak brings fans together and gives them one match a year that they can celebrate, regardless of what the different sections of the audience think about the rest of the card.
The Streak is a celebration of professional wrestling, as well as the celebration of a phenomenal performer who has given of his mind, body and soul for the sake of the sport fans love and cherish so much. It is a reminder of what wrestling was at a time when it is evolving into a much bigger, stranger form of entertainment. It allows fans to celebrate the tremendous matches that have resulted from it.
For one period of time each year, fans simply do not care if they know far in advance how a match at Wrestlemania will end. They simply sit back, relish in the opportunity to enjoy the story being told and, ultimately, lose themselves in the feeling one gets watching The Dead Man defend the one thing he still has left.
That is a feeling that is extremely rare in today’s world of sports entertainment and one every fan should cherish.
While they still can.