The Seemingly Final Years
The Undertaker may have been making more classic matches late in his career, he slowly started appearing less on WWE television. With a part-time schedule, he can take less bumps on the road while making his sudden appearances extra special. At the same period though, I have developed a love-hate for watching wrestling, with ‘Taker and CM Punk being the only two reasons for me to tune in. (That’s for another story.)
But that does not mean I never lost sight at WrestleMania, knowing that my hero has collected 21 straight wins on that event. And in 2014, he has crossed paths with someone he fought in his “American Badass” days, the former WWE and UFC world heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar. The rekindled feud with mediocre buildup would lead them to a singles match at WrestleMania XXX. And then…
Shock. Heartbreak. Those two were the emotions I felt when Brock Lesnar ended “The Streak”, and everyone in that arena and perhaps the whole world felt the same way. And the more shocking thing is that compared to my favorite match ever, their match was not that great. But what can we do? Brock Lesnar, with the guidance of his advocate Paul Heyman, became the 1 in Undertaker’s 21-1 record at WrestleMania, and that will never be erased in the history books.
I know I may have skipped more moments on this post. But even if I make this piece longer, all these happy-and-sad reminiscing goes back to what happened at the end of WrestleMania 33. Nevermind the fact that Undertaker suffered his second loss at “The Show to Shows”; with him staring at the crowd not as The Undertaker but as the man behind the character, soaking all the cheers and salutes from the fans, and then laying down his signature entrance attire and gloves at the center of the squared circle, he made one thing very clear without saying a word—his career has ended.
And that non-verbal statement made me cry. Why did it it made me cry? I cried because the first person I was drawn to when I first watched WWE—an undead black magician overlord with supernatural abilities and countless druids—is now moving on. I cried because the most significant person of a huge part of my childhood, professional wrestling, has closed his book. But most importantly, I cried because after all the years of putting his body on the line for the entertainment of his fans, his 52-year old mind and body deserve a very long break, and at that very night he got that well-deserved break.
November 22, 2017 is the first year of me celebrating my hero’s debut anniversary with him being retired from active competition. And you know what? Now I’m fine with that because I know that the man behind The Undertaker, Mark Calaway, is now fully enjoying the fruits of his 30-year career. And that I can raise my glass to as well.
To the Lord of Darkness, the Phenom, the Grim Reaper of the WWE, The Undertaker thank you so much for all the wonderful matches and moments you have given me and the rest of the pro wrestling world. And no, I’m not going to fully expect another match from you from this point forward. But if there is a 1% chance you will go back to one more match, please face John Cena, Finn Bálor or Shinsuke Nakamura. Or probably all of them. Please?
But seriously, thank you very much, Undertaker. You will always be my favorite wrestler of all time, and there will never be anyone like you. Happy 27th anniversary, Deadman.
Image credit: All photos are owned by World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.