Projecting When the Undertaker Will Return to WWE Programming

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistApril 7, 2014

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 15:  The Undertaker (L) pushes Bam Neely into the corner during WWE Smackdown at Acer Arena on June 15, 2008 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Gaye Gerard/Getty Images)
Gaye Gerard/Getty Images

The unthinkable happened at WrestleMania 30 when Brock Lesnar countered out of The Undertaker's Tombstone attempt, hit the third F-5 of the match and the referee counted the Deadman's shoulders 1-2-3. 

It was a stunning moment in wrestling history, with the entire crowd in New Orleans stunned at what just took place to the point they had no idea how to react. The finish also leaves doubts about Undertaker's future in WWE. 

Undertaker and WrestleMania just go together. His match is the one fans look forward to the most every year, emphasizing the value of wins and losses in this scripted sport, and usually it delivers. 

But the one assumption that longtime wrestling fans have had is the first loss at WrestleMania, if it ever happened, would end up being Undertaker's last match in WWE. 

If you happened to watch the show when Lesnar won, WWE played it up like this was Undertaker's final match. He was given the long, sad exit walk up the ramp, soaked in the applause for as long as he possibly could and the announcers talked about how he went down swinging. 

Everything about the post-match had an air of finality to it for Undertaker. He just turned 49 years old and has taken a beating throughout his career to the point it takes almost an hour to get in the ring. 

Taker was also legit injured on Sunday night, with (subscription required) reporting he went to the hospital in an ambulance after the match with "a concussion and possible neck injury."

Of course, this is professional wrestling, where nothing is ever over until it's over. Undertaker is going to have a spot on the WrestleMania card for as long as he wants. 

Projecting when Undertaker returns to television used to be simple. All you had to do is look at the calendar, see that it was getting into late January/early February, assume that the gong would go off at the end of Raw and be ready for a WrestleMania feud. 

However, thanks to one loss against Lesnar, it's not as simple as that anymore. Undertaker's identity on WWE television has only been defined by WrestleMania for nearly a decade. 

"The Streak" was always treated as the most precious thing in professional wrestling, much more important than the WWE or world heavyweight championships, and fans reacted to it as the most important match on the show. 

There's no longer a zero in the Undertaker's WrestleMania loss column, so what is the point of having him wrestle again? Sure, the fans are going to go nuts when he comes out because that's what they do. 

But looking at things from a big picture perspective, what's the story that you tell if Undertaker returns for a match? We know it has to be at WrestleMania, if it happens, because if Taker tries to avenge this loss at, say, SummerSlam, it won't have the same impact because the scale of 'Mania is so much greater than any other event WWE has. 

Undertaker trying to avenge the WrestleMania loss to Lesnar next year won't sell because he's still "21-1" entering the match. 

When you stop to break everything down, the last match of Undertaker's career should be at WrestleMania 30. He'll get one more television appearance, possibly tonight if he gets out of the hospital, to retire in a fashion fitting the Undertaker. 


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