The Undertaker's WrestleMania future will be on the line when he steps inside Hell in a Cell against Shane McMahon on April 3 at The Show of Shows. The Phenom may be a legend and WWE's top Mania performer, but Shane is fighting for control of Raw and the future of the company.
Not bad for a main event that came out of nowhere.
This match materialized quickly, and some fans likely didn't understand the premise in the beginning. Why would Shane suddenly show up with no warning? Why would he apparently have the best interests of the WWE Universe at heart when he had been gone for so long?
Why would anyone even buy into that?
But despite the McMahon family's penchant for unpredictability and the fact that Shane likely shouldn't have been trusted, the fans bought in. Maybe seeing Shane was enough to warrant their full support. Maybe the prospect of The Authority being thrown off TV rallied fans to his cause.
Or maybe it was just a nice change of pace to have an unexpected and exciting match booked for Mania.
This bout is the bookend of a WrestleMania that features Roman Reigns vs. Triple H for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship—a match that many fans want nothing to do with.
Considering John Cena, Randy Orton, Cesaro and Sting are unavailable, this event was primed for something fresh and different.
Shane McMahon vs. The Undertaker fits that bill.
The main drawing point here is the double stipulation. If Taker loses, he's done at WrestleMania. This is a big deal because, next to Shawn Michaels, no one else in WWE has ever represented the event better.
Undertaker is the one constant for WrestleMania, and his matches have always been the most anticipated of the night.
It's not clear why WWE would throw this stipulation into the match. Perhaps this WrestleMania is indeed Undertaker's last, and it added the stipulation to soften the blow when The Phenom bids farewell.
Perhaps it was done just to build the match beyond that of a desperation bout, which is likely what it was to begin with. There had been no history here—no background to construct a match from. WWE needed a major bout; for the fans to take it seriously, it has to mean something.
On the other hand, control of Raw is the only logical way to get this over to the masses.
It instantly puts Shane over by placing him on the side of fans who are sick of The Authority's rule. The audience has rallied behind him, and they want to see him succeed because it's something new.
A Shane McMahon Raw promises a return to action with less talking and a renewed excitement surrounding fresh Superstars.
Just the possibility of a change is enough to put fans in front of the WWE Network; this match could've been held during any event, and it would have worked.
But could Shane actually win?
Odds Shark says no, as do many WWE fans. The ideas that Mania is Taker's stage and Hell in a Cell is his playground have been pushed hard, and that concept has reminded everyone of his dominance in the company's biggest event of the year. This has likely been done to spotlight the enormity of Shane's task, but it also casts serious doubt over his chance at victory.
|Undertaker vs. Shane McMahon odds at WrestleMania 32|
This is a tough one. Fans want change; if Shane loses, no change is possible. Raw goes back to the same old routine, and The Authority remains bulletproof. If Undertaker loses, it's another fall at Mania, which he does not need.
But if his loss came as the result of a shocking twist, maybe he would not be affected that much.
Sting went after The Authority at WrestleMania 31 but failed in his effort to beat Triple H. He made it his mission to bring the power structure down, but he could not do it.
Although he's been on the shelf for quite some time, it's feasible that he could interfere on Shane's behalf and cost Taker the match.
The Authority would be out of power, and Sting could claim that he did it for the greater good. This could set up a match between him and Taker, while Shane is left to turn Raw upside down.
Despite how it happens and against all odds, Shane must find a way to win this match. Raw needs a shot in the arm—a fresh restart like it has never needed before. Shane would bring that excitement back, even if it was only for a short time. Raw is WWE's flagship and needs to be as good as it possibly can.
Repeating the same Authority gimmick, which has been going for three years now, is not the way to do it.
Undertaker's legacy needs to somehow leave Mania without a scratch while also giving Shane the win. If the company can make that happen, everyone wins.
It's what WWE needs to begin a new day for Raw and for the fans who desperately need something fresh.
Tom Clark can regularly be found on Bleacher Report. His podcast, Tom Clark's Main Event, is available on iTunes, Google Play, Windows Phone, Amazon Android and online here.