The Undertaker put the most prestigious active streak in sports entertainment on the line at WrestleMania XXX on Sunday, but it came to a shocking end at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans with Brock Lesnar reigning supreme.
ESPN's Dan Rafael summed it up:
Needless to say, plenty of current and past WWE stars were in total shock by the outcome:
This fan was speechless to say the least, as ESPN's Bomani Jones points out:
The WWE's Twitter account provided more fan reaction:
WagerMinds reminds us how big of an underdog Lesnar was going in:
Grantland's Bill Barnwell has an interesting theory:
By losing to Lesnar, Taker's legendary streak halted at 21 straight victories, leaving him with an overall WrestleMania record of 21-1. Despite Lesnar's megastar status, his victory on Sunday may very well go down as one of the biggest upsets in WrestleMania history.
The Phenom always manages to raise his game on the grandest stage of them all, and WrestleMania XXX was no exception, even in defeat. Taker vs. Lesnar lived up to the hype in a big way prior to the result, and the shocking finish left the Superdome stunned.
The Undertaker got the better of Lesnar for the most part during the build toward WrestleMania, although the creative team did a nice job of allowing The Beast Incarnate to enter the event on a high note by having him F-5 Taker on the go-home episode of Raw.
Even so, there wasn't much belief that Lesnar could truly threaten the streak. From a physical standpoint, Lesnar certainly looked like Taker's equal, but the logistics of the situation suggested that Lesnar ending the streak wouldn't have made much sense. That didn't stop WWE from doing the unthinkable, though.
Lesnar entered the match as a mainstream star, and beating The Undertaker at WrestleMania doesn't necessarily change that in any way. Losing to The Undertaker wouldn't have impacted it either. Also, Lesnar is already well established as a part-time superstar, so he may not even be around often enough to reap the benefits of his win over The Undertaker moving forward.
Despite all that, The Undertaker and Lesnar managed to put on a classic. Last year's battle between Taker and CM Punk was fairly predictable, but it didn't take away from the magnitude of the moment. Most probably figured the same was true for The Undertaker vs. Lesnar, but the swerve ending gave the match legendary status.
The one constant between this year and last was Paul Heyman, who did an excellent job of building up Lesnar before and during the match.
As seen in this photo, courtesy of WWE's Instagram account following Lesnar's pre-'Mania attack on Taker, Heyman's intensity helped sell Lesnar as a credible threat to Taker even though some struggled to believe that he could actually end the streak:
Heyman even delivered a memorable line regarding Taker's streak being in jeopardy on the go-home episode of Raw, which proved to be prophetic, courtesy of PWTorch.com's Wade Keller:
Now that The Undertaker's streak is a thing of the past, the focus immediately shifts toward what the future holds for him. It has long been assumed that the end of the streak would spell the end of The Undertaker, so perhaps Sunday's bout was the last of The Deadman's illustrious career.
Even though the absence of the streak takes away from The Undertaker's aura, he would still be a major draw at "The Show of Shows" in the coming years. There are still plenty of potential opponents for Taker, with the two most intriguing roster members being John Cena and Daniel Bryan. Cena and Bryan are two of the biggest stars in the business right now, and they would undoubtedly put on great matches with The Phenom.
Bray Wyatt also has to be mentioned since he is seemingly being built up as the next top heel. His gimmick would play well off The Undertaker, and he could garner a ton of momentum with a WrestleMania win over Taker.
Perhaps the one match that wrestling fans want to see more than any other, however, is The Undertaker vs. Sting. It has been rumored and speculated upon for many years, and the pieces may finally be in place to make it happen.
Sting doesn't have much time left as a wrestler at 55 years of age, and with his TNA tenure over, the time is now for Sting vs. The Undertaker.
Even if that doesn't come to fruition, though, The Undertaker will continue to be one of wrestling's biggest draws for as long as he wants to continue wrestling. He proved once again on Sunday that he is one of the best big-match wrestlers of all time, and that should remain true moving forward, provided we haven't seen the last of him.
As for Lesnar, it will be interesting to see how WWE uses this significant victory to further his character. One can only assume that he will be part of the product leading up to Extreme Rules, and it should almost certainly vault him into the WWE World Heavyweight Championship scene.
Lesnar didn't need to beat The Undertaker, and there will continue to be complaints about the fact that he did. WWE can't go back on its decision, though, so it might as well make the most of Lesnar's accomplishment.
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