I’m going to rail. I am going to rail so much I’m going to go off the rails into exquisite ennui. For those who don’t know my predilections, I am an avid professional wrestling fan. I love the genre, am at times obsessive about it. It’s vaudeville and I love vaudeville! But geeze, is the WWE trying to wipe it out.
There have been some major issues these last few years. There was the moronic Rusev/Ivan Drago gimmick, the Bautista booking fiasco of 2014, the absolute genocide of the tag team division, and the granola Daniel Bryan’s attempt to recover by any methods other than medically. I won’t even touch CM Punk’s abrupt departure, the continuing attempts to push The Miz, the waste of Sting in his one and done Wrestlemania appearance, or the burying of Ziggler. No, I suffered all this and survived. What sent me fully into rage mode was Battleground.
Battleground is not one of the big three PPVs, so I didn’t expect anything truly epic. I yawned at the snoozefest of Reigns and Wyatt, two men who seem determined to see who can be greasier than the other. The reveal of the return of Luke Harper to the fold wasn’t so much a shock as a “why the hell did they split up the Wyatt Family in the first place?” There was the pathetic triple threat match that was more Sasha Banks vs Charlotte with Brie Bella as guest referee. We witnessed Cena bury yet another up and coming wrestler, though in a decent match. Ryback was defeated by staph robbing us of a clumsy three way between him, Big Show and The Miz. And finally, we had Lesnar vs Rollins.
No one expected Rollins to stand a chance. For a guy with an awesome wrestling skill set and who can go whenever required, since winning the belt WWE has done its best to make him appear weak, inept, and rob him of any and all credibility. A squash match was expected and that is largely what we got…until that damn bell hit.
I was never a fan of Undertaker. I’ll state that up front. I knew him when he was Mean Mark Callous and saw no potential in him back then. He was just a big guy who could move moderately fast. He had no charisma, he had no look, the guy was just another jobber. Then he got the golden ticket and was given the gimmick of the Undertaker. It was a ridiculous character from the moment he appeared in 1990. He no-selled moves, plodded around the ring, rarely spoke (thank god), and just gawked at his opponents. He has been given moderate character development since then (the introduction of his brother, the removal of his manager Paul Bearer allowing him to speak for himself, the evolution of his character to a Satanic Cult Leader, then a biker, and evenually back to the Deadman, etc.) but he has never been anything epic in my eyes. He never carried the WWE in the lean times post-Hogan and pre-Austin, he has never had a memorable match save the near murder of Mick Foley in their Hell in a Cell battle, and now he has become what he has stood against forever: a has-been stealing opportunities from the full-timers. He was made by the hard work of others. When do you return the favor, man?
The man has no business being in the ring. He has stayed far past his time. People complained when his “streak” came to an end in 2014, but to me that was the moment that the audience finally saw what he was: he was done. The guy has been in the business for roughly three decades. His entire legacy and image has been built up around him. The “streak” was accidental and watching those first ten or so matches being won in clumsy bouts against no-names, won by DQ or countout, at times mostly on the lower end of the card, hardly inspire anything epic. It is obvious the guy got to where he was by luck and chance. After so many years of hearing about “the streak” to finally see it end, to the benefit of pushing talent, was noble and necessary. Undertaker needed to go and that sacrifice was meant to be the closure of a storied career. And then Battleground happened.
The Undertaker is clearly too old for this. It was obvious in 2014 with the concussion he suffered after sucking wind for roughly half the Wrestlemania battle he had with Lesnar. It was even more glaring versus Wyatt this year. What is the point of bringing him back? People complain about Lesnar’s part-time wrestling deal but do you think Undertaker will do more than Lesnar? Lesnar puts butts in the seats wherever he goes. Undertaker doesn’t. The deadman is cashing in on what’s left of his dignity and doing it for far less work than Brock who some fans like to crucify because he refuses to work full-time.
The whole point to wrestling has always been to foster the next generation. The thing that kills wrestling organizations is when men simply refuse to go (see WCW). If anything, someone else on the roster should have been given the role of taking Lesnar down to help build them up into the next A-lister. Hell, Reigns and Lesnar should have been the ticket, with both blaming the other for Wrestlemania and destroying each other for the right to a rematch.
Now I know there are fans of the Undertaker out there excited to see him back, but come on. Do you really think he is capable of giving us a decent match? The several minutes he spent in the ring Sunday night showed him sucking wind with minimal effort. How is he going to give us anything worth our time in a full on match with Lesnar who is in peak condition? It is embarassing the amount of disbelief required to call this an even match. And what about the outcome? If Undertaker wins, it doesn’t change the fact his streak is broken. It will also mar Lesnar as a beast thus negating having him on the roster and blunting another drive for the belt. If Lesnar wins, then what? We’ve wasted at least several months with his limited scheduled appearances and gained nothing for it. And what the hell is going on with the Heavyweight title while all this is going on? Rollins has no opponent in sight for the second biggest PPV of the year with roughly a month to find one. Wouldn’t this reveal have made more sense at Summerslam allowing him to move on to his next feud leading up to Wrestlemania?
I remember hearing stories of the Undertaker, of his love for the business: his threatening of Shawn Michaels to make him job to Austin as booked, his keeping the guys at bay so Hart and McMahon could discuss the Montreal Screwjob, his willingness to end the streak to put Lesnar over. So what the hell is this? It’s desperate. Have some respect for yourself. Just let it go.