Nineteen. To some it is just a number, a fairly low one at that. To pro wrestling fans it represents how many wins Undertaker has now chalked up in his WrestleMania undefeated streak. No matter how you look at it, nineteen wins and no losses at the biggest annual show in wrestling history is extraordinarily impressive. There is no other streak in wrestling history like it. Undertaker wining at WrestleMania is as bankable as the sun rising tomorrow. Even though it happens over and over again, people don’t get sick of it. The streak has become a safe haven in a way. As much as I like the streak, I have found myself feeling differently about it lately. The last week I have begun to wonder where it should go from here.
The last couple of weeks I took a look back at the undefeated streak of the Undertaker at WrestleMania. I thoroughly enjoyed going back through his Mania matches and was really geared up for his match with Triple H last Sunday. Past matches between the two have been pretty hit and miss. Their first Mania battle in 2001 had mixed reactions, and their matches in 2002, particularly their King of the Ring battle, weren’t anything special. There was however a really good match between the two at the Raw 2002 European pay per view. The top rope snapped during the match, thus hindering using the ring to its full potential, but they didn’t need it. They managed just fine and put on a good show. It was that kind of match, along with their veteran knowledge that had me excited for their Mania match, even if the build wasn’t so spectacular.
I had a kind of funny experience with this match. Due to circumstances out of my control, I didn’t get to watch Mania live. Instead I had to watch it a couple days later. However, during the show I had my computer up and running with Wrestleview and Wikipedia open for results. During the show I checked Wikipedia to see that it had listed Triple H and defeating Undertaker. Since it was Wikipedia, I chuckled and refreshed the page. It still had Triple H as going over. I waited a couple of minutes and refreshed again to see the same result. I knew it had to be someone messing with the page, but I began to entertain the idea of Triple H actually ending the streak. To be honest, I was fine with it. Once the match was actually over the results were corrected, all was right with the world.
The match itself has been compared to the Shawn Michaels matches because so many people hold those matches in high regard. Another reason is because the Triple H match has some parallels to the HBK fights, one of those being the repetitive finisher kick outs. Kicking out of another guy’s finishing move is bound to happen at Mania, but Undertaker and Triple H really took it far. It’s one thing when you have a match here and there with those kick outs, but for three years in a row Undertaker’s matches have featured home stretches centered on how kick outs. At some point, it gets to be too much. That being said, Undertaker and Triple H had quite a war. The match will likely get nods by PWI and other publications as the best match of 2011.
So here we are at nineteen wins. Many people are excited for Undertaker to get to twenty wins and then just retire, if not keep going. At this point I question sometimes if the streak needs to continue at all. I don’t feel this way because I feel Undertaker should put over a young guy. As a matter of fact, I think WWE would be reluctant to do such a thing. For how big the streak is, chancing the end on a promising star could be damaging if that guy doesn’t pan out. Some people questioned if Shawn Michaels really should have retired Ric Flair when MVP and Mr. Kenney were main event hopefuls at the time. Well, look at them now. WWE no longer has either guy. When you look at guys like Sheamus or Wade Barrett, they would be perfect Mania opponents for Taker, but what happens if they don’t stick it out. Another reason I question the streak is the caliber of matches Undertaker has had lately. The streak has been acknowledged in the past, but the 2005 show with Randy Orton was the first time the match was built around the streak. With the exception of Mark Henry, all of Undertaker’s matches at WrestleMania since have been against main event guys. He fought Batista, Edge, Shawn Michaels, and now Triple H. With an impressive streak of wins against the top stars, who is left for Undertaker to humble? The most logical would be John Cena, but Cena is already tied up for next year. Miz is a possibility, but who knows if they want to go that route. There are already rumors of another match with Triple H next year, but is anyone really clamoring to see Triple H lose to Undertaker at WrestleMania for a third time?
So what does WWE do? If they have Triple H end the streak, it could make for an intriguing win, but have a few fans ready to riot. As unfair as it would be to Taker, maybe the time has come for him to wrap up the Mania career. It’s not right to deny him the chance to perform at Mania, but really what left can he do? Who can he face? The only thing left to do is end the streak and finding the right guy to do that is no easy task. Other than John Cena, there really isn’t anyone fans would buy, or be satisfied with ending the streak. Of course I could be wrong. Perhaps WWE comes back next year with some incredible program between Undertaker and some guy on the roster and they go out and hit it out of the park at Mania, with Taker picking up his twentieth Mania victory. And maybe everyone is just fine with that. Maybe it’s just as right as the sun rising tomorrow.