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The Long Road to The Undertaker’s Retirement

The Undertaker was said to be feeling a great deal of pain following his short stint in the Royal Rumble. Many speculated on The Undertaker’s future last year when he left his gloves in the ring, a gesture that symbolises retirement in MMA. However, those who listen to The Dirty Sheets know that Undertaker WAS meant to retire last year.

We re-addressed this story again this week on one of our “DS Breaking news” podcasts (which you can hear below) while discussing Undertaker’s latest injuries from the Royal Rumble.

Many sources have told me that The Undertaker was adamant he would retire after WrestleMania 32. It was an agreement made on the weekend of WrestleMania 30. Prior to that, The Undertaker told Vince McMahon he was done after WrestleMania 28, but McMahon convinced him to stay and work two more WrestleManias.

The Undertaker planned to retire at WrestleMania 32, after facing John Cena in front of 100,000 people in his home state. However, John Cena suffered an injury and the WrestleMania 32 plans were thrown into disarray, with Shane McMahon was brought in at the last minute to replace John Cena.

A stipulation was added, that Shane would run RAW if he could beat The Undertaker. The Undertaker and Vince McMahon agreed that the Shane McMahon match was not the match to finish his career with and they agreed to begin a new storyline where The Undertaker would lose the match to Shane on purpose, in order to stick it to Vince McMahon, setting up a story that would conclude at WrestleMania 33.

The finish was set to be The Undertaker hitting Shane with a Tombstone, and then putting an unconscious Shane over his own body. He would then explain that he did it to secure a healthier future for WWE under Shane’s leadership and because he hated Vince McMahon.

Knowing The Undertaker was committed for one more year, the WWE even booked The Undertaker for a UK show in London, at the O2 arena (see video below).

However, somewhere between setting up the match and two weeks before WrestleMania, The Undertaker decided that the grind of getting into fighting shape for WrestleMania was too much for him and he told Vince that he would be finishing up after WrestleMania 32.

Feeling there was no convincing Taker to stay this time, Vince announced the stipulation that The Undertaker would never wrestle at a WrestleMania again if he lost.

The promoters of the UK tour were not aware of Vince’s decision until WrestleMania week. They were told that BOTH Daniel Bryan and The Undertaker were off of the UK tour and would be replaced by Shane McMahon. They told me at the time that, “they knew this was not an equal replacement and were prepared for the uproar this would cause.” They were also angry that the WWE ran The Undertaker advert (see above), all the way up to the advertised date, knowing The Undertaker was finished.

On the Saturday afternoon before WrestleMania, Vince McMahon decided to abandon the finish where Undertaker would place Shane onto his own body and decided that The Undertaker would be going over instead. It made NO SENSE to the story.

Shane was still going to run RAW and remain on TV, but The Undertaker WAS still going retire, so the original finish made much more sense, however, Vince went ahead with the illogical changed finish of Undertaker winning. Shane lost the match at WrestleMania 32, and ran RAW anyway, before being given SmackDown.

The Undertaker wandered off into the sunset, seemingly done with wrestling. It made a complete mockery of the stipulation and rendered the match completely irrelevant.

Somehow Vince McMahon has managed to bring back The Undertaker once again. Maybe it was the dissatisfaction of finishing his career against Shane, maybe it was the money or maybe this guy just can’t say no. The Undertaker returned to TV last November, with plans to face AJ Styles at the Royal Rumble in January and John Cena at WrestleMania 33.

However, once again, things were changed. The Undertaker wasn’t ready to work a full match with Styles, so Vince McMahon decided to have John Cena face Styles instead, with The Undertaker going into WrestleMania as the challenger.

A few weeks later, Vince changed his mind again (a common theme in this article), and decided that he did not want to do The Undertaker vs. John Cena match at all (I shall be doing a more detailed story on this later on in the week, here on Sportskeeda).

Vince McMahon then decided to move The Undertaker to RAW, where he was originally slated to face Finn Balor, however, this was changed to Roman Reigns when Finn Balor failed his medical, the week of the Royal Rumble, as outlined in a previous article.

Dave Meltzer reported that The Undertaker vs. Cena match had been changed, but it wasn’t so bad as it had been scrapped for “something the fans would love.” That was set to be Undertaker vs. Balor. Unfortunately, this plan didn’t materialise due to Balor’s failure to recover in time for the Royal Rumble angle, which was given to Roman Reigns.

Meltzer certainly was not referring to anything involving Roman Reigns when he said, “something fans would love.” However, despite ‘Taker’s poor physical condition and the fans dislike of Reigns, I feel that the match will come off well.

I believe that the fans hatred of Reigns will add heat to the match, as the crowd will desperately want Undertaker to win, which will mask the shortcomings of The Undertaker, as their investment is guaranteed. This may pan out to be better than a Balor vs. Taker match, where you have two guys people like, so you are less inclined to care about the result.

TLDR;

A lot has been made of The Undertaker’s condition at the Royal Rumble. However, it has to be understood that the guy just underwent surgery and is in his 50’s. He will be ready for WrestleMania 33 after which, I don’t think we should see him do anything again until the build for WrestleMania 34, the event where he should have his final match.

It would be fitting to have his final match at WrestleMania 34, in New Orleans, where the streak ended. After that, there should be no more talks between McMahon and Undertaker about doing anything more.

The WWE needs to move on without The Undertaker. I expect The Undertaker to end his WrestleMania career at 23-3, as he puts over two future talents at WrestleMania 33 and 34. Unfortunately, I think this rules out ever seeing an Undertaker vs. John Cena encounter at a WrestleMania, but hopefully I am wrong.

This article was originally published at Sportskeeda.


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Billi Bhatti

About Billi Bhatti

I am a lifelong WWE Fan, and have followed MMA for the past decade. I have attended WWE and UFC events in the US, including every Wrestlemania since 2005.

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