For decades, the sound of a gong has meant two things in the world of professional wrestling.
First, that WWE Superstar The Undertaker would soon be making his way to the ring. And second, whomever he was coming for was going to be in deep trouble in a matter of moments.
And that image still hold true to this day. However, fans and competitors alike are now much more aware that the 48-year-old performer heading into the squared circle is not the same threat that he once was.
With his very frequent (and increasingly longer) absences from WWE programming, the Undertaker has now carved out quite a niche for himself. Each and every year, the WWE Universe waits to see what unlucky superstar will have to face certain doom at Wrestlemania.
It looked as if CM Punk sincerely had a shot at ending the legendary streak that has become one of the most impressive records in professional wrestling history. But in the end, the streak was alive and 21-0.
And while other part-time wrestlers like the Rock and Triple H are mentioned as taking the focus off of younger, and more deserving talent, has the Undertaker now become the shining example of a broken wrestler that just doesn't know when to walk away?
And more importantly, is his "Deadman" persona still even relevant in today's landscape where over the top characters have fallen by the wayside in favor of more "real" gimmicks?
Yes, there are certainly silly or over the top characters, like Santino Marella, Hornswoggle and Zack Ryder. But all of these men are primarily used as enhancement talents, or fodder for laughs.
In recent weeks Ryder has teased a more serious gimmick, which might be his last hope for ever attaining long lasting glory within WWE.
In the golden age of professional wrestling, everyone had a gimmick, or some type of crazy character. But once the Attitude Era came about for WWE, many of these characters fell by the wayside. Very few endured after that.
And while wrestling fans will always respect what the Undertaker has done throughout his wrestling career, at this point in time, they expect him to return once a year, win a match, and then retreat to his personal life until the next year's Wrestlemania.
And despite making several appearances following Wrestlemania this year, he is again off of WWE programming for the time being, mainly attributed to the brutal attack perpetrated by the Shield.
Incidentally, in years past, people used to flee in terror from an oncoming Undertaker. The Shield however, had absolutely no issue going after him, and succeeded in laying him out in brutal fashion.
Does the character, or more importantly the man nearing middle age portraying it still hold the same weight that it did even three or four years ago?
Could he revive his old American Badass persona?
That one is certainly considered more "real," and could give an old dog some new tricks in order to reclaim his yard from younger and hungrier competitors.
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