Undertaker Returns to WWE Raw to Confront Brock Lesnar Ahead of WrestleMania 30

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistFebruary 25, 2014

Photo courtesy of WWE.com

If it wasn't already apparent that WrestleMania season is upon us, it became abundantly clear tonight when The Undertaker made his yearly return to WWE.

In the final segment of Monday's episode, the Dead Man made his triumphant return. The WWE Twitter account welcomed him back:

He entered the ring and engaged in a stare-down with Brock Lesnar. After Lesnar's manager Paul Heyman asked him to sign a contract to face his client at WrestleMania XXX, Undertaker promptly threw Lesnar through a table. Wrestlezone.com sums up the scene: 

It's important to note that the Undertaker never officially signed the contract, but it's hard to imagine any other opponent for him after Monday's thrilling display.

The Undertaker is synonymous with WrestleMania, and while there are always question marks regarding his status due to his age, he always manages to come through by returning during the road to WrestleMania and putting on classic matches on wrestling's biggest stage.

Although The Phenom is now 48 years old, he hasn't shown any signs of slowing down. Perhaps he isn't as fit as he was during his prime, but he is able to make up for that with his experience and his mere presence.

A recent photo of The Undertaker was released by SEScoops.com prior to his return, and while fans seemed concerned about his look, those concerns quickly disappeared once he made an appearance.

The problem may lie in his opposition. Robert Littal of Blacksportsonline.com is concerned that Lesnar may not be the best opponent for the aging legend:

Most expected Taker's match against CM Punk at WrestleMania XXIX to be the best contest on last year's card and, as it turns out, that was the case. Even though essentially everyone knew that Undertaker was going to win, it was a captivating performance, and that says a lot about the legendary Undertaker.

There aren't many wrestlers who can remove themselves from the business for much of the year only to perform at the highest possible level when they return. The Undertaker has been doing that for the past several years, though, and there is no reason for him to stop because it works for him.

Taker currently owns an incredible 21-0 undefeated streak at WrestleMania, which is something that no other Superstar will ever come close to touching. It is often discussed whether or not the streak should end, and fans like to debate who should end it if that ultimately happens.

The easy answer is that the streak should live on forever, but it is possible that an opportunity will present itself at some point that would allow WWE to push a rising star to a new stratosphere by beating Taker. Even if that does occur, however, it probably won't be this year.

If The Undertaker ever loses at WrestleMania, then that will be the end for him. His entire character is predicated on returning prior to WrestleMania in order to defend the streak, so there would be absolutely no reason for him to come back with the streak intact.

Taker is obviously going to retire at some point, and when he does, WrestleMania will be left with a gaping void. As long as The Undertaker can continue to get the job done in the ring, though, this current arrangement works perfectly.

The WWE gets a guaranteed marquee match without having to put much work into it, while Taker presumably gets a big-time payday without having to go out on the road and wrestle on Raw, SmackDown or house shows.

The Undertaker stayed on for a few weeks after WrestleMania last year, and he actually wrestled a few matches on Raw and SmackDown involving The Shield.

It was great to see Taker on regular WWE programming in an active capacity again even if it was only for a short time. He succeeded in putting The Shield over and making the group look fantastic. Perhaps he can do something similar with the Wyatt Family this year.

Taker is such a legend in the business that he automatically elevates anyone that he steps into the ring with. That will happen at WrestleMania once again this year, and hopefully it will happen after 'Mania as well.

Whatever the case, The Undertaker is back, and assuming he'll face Lesnar, things are sure to get a lot more interesting in the coming weeks.

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