Fantasy Booking Undertaker's Role at WWE WrestleMania 35

Kevin Wong@@kevinjameswongFeatured ColumnistMarch 17, 2019

Credit: WWE.com

The Undertaker's role at WrestleMania 35 has not been announced.

He'll be there, with any luck; his appearance is an annual tradition, and WWE is already selling WrestleMania 35 products with his image. There are even Superstars who are teasing matches with him. In an interview with WKQX radio, Elias expressed his wish to have a dream match with The Phenom.

But ideally, The Undertaker would not compete at WrestleMania 35. It is better for him to preserve the mystique he has left rather than let us know how much fight he still has in him.

Think back to last year's WrestleMania 34 buildup. John Cena spent several weeks conducting a one-sided feud with The Deadman and taunting his lack of heart. After all, Undertaker had been defeated soundly at WrestleMania 33 by Roman Reigns, and it was not a good showing. He was in need of hip surgery, and beyond his entrance, he had none of his signature presence and charisma.

He couldn't even jump with enough force to sell his classic Tombstone Piledriver reversal. And on top of that, the match lasted an agonizing 23 minutes—an epic, entirely inappropriate length when placed against The Deadman's capabilities. It was setting him up for failure.

So in his match against Cena last year, WWE got smart. The promotion stopped trying to recapture The Undertaker of the past decade—the prime "beat The Streak" Taker who had classic matches with Shawn Michaels, Triple H, and CM Punk—and instead went back to the early '90s version, who beat up his opponents in three-minute squash matches.

Back then, these lopsided, no-sell exhibitions accomplished a dual purpose. They got the supernatural gimmick over with the audience, and they hid a young Mark Calaway's relative inexperience. And at WrestleMania 34, the squash match served a similar purpose. Only this time, it was to hide what an older Calaway was no longer capable of doing.

If The Undertaker continues to wrestle once per year, we can look forward to more three-minute squash matches like this one; he's not getting any younger. Win or lose, it is about what he's capable of before the cracks start to show.

A defeat at The Showcase of the Immortals under these circumstances is embarrassing for the recipient. And thankfully, Cena was willing to take it—it gave The Undertaker a nice cap to his career, and Cena was going to Hollywood anyway. But to continue repeating this will help no one.

Maybe this year, he can do his entrance and cut a promo. Maybe he can interrupt Elias and then hit him with a Tombstone. It's important WWE finds a spot on the show that celebrates The Undertaker but limits his exposure to the audience—that allows him to be awe-inspiring without breaking the illusion he has spent decades crafting. And that spot, wherever it is, is in a non-match capacity.

Preserve the mystery. Less is more.

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