Craig Wilson, John Carbery and Brian Damage
The WWE roster is filled with “superstars” at every level. There are the main roster guys who regularly appear on Raw and SmackDown, those who are used as glorified jobbers and those who are barely used at all. In this series of pieces, we will take an individual wrestler barely used and decide if they are worth keeping or should they be let go. Today we decide if we Book or Cook The Undertaker.
Craig: This week’s suggestion is brought to you by Brian Damage! An inspired choice, however. The Undertaker has been with the WWE since Survivor Series 1990 – almost 26 years. In that many things have come and gone: Hulkamania, the New Generation, The Attitude Era and several other eras as well as several wrestling promotions. The landscape has changed dramatically but the Undertaker remained as important as ever to the WWE and Vince McMahon.
His undefeated streak had been a huge part of the annual booking towards WrestleMania. Sure, some, particularly in recent years, felt forced rather than organic but it still led to big time feel matches on the grandest stage of them all.
However, with his undefeated streak ended, although back up to 2-0 now, and his very limited schedule – will we even see him now until after the Royal Rumble? Is it time to cook the Undertaker or is there still value to having him appear, even just at WrestleMania?
John: I think there’s still a lot of value in the Undertaker, providing he’s used in small doses. Its weird looking back at his career. In the 90s he was insanely over on the strength of his gimmick while the majority of his matches were absolute stinkers. From 2000 on though he consistently delivered a string of classic main events throughout many of his top line feuds. Its like looking at two different guys. He has obviously slowed down a lot in the last number of years, and truth be told I counted him out completely after the streak was shattered by Brock in a dud at WM30. Still, he managed to deliver big time in the follow up matches at Summerslam and Hell in a Cell last year.
It seems to be a kind of delicate balance at this point, when used at exactly the right time and in perfect circumstances Taker can be an effective crutch for the WWE to lean on while promoting an otherwise weak show, how long this can go on for though is obviously questionable. I think they’d do well to tread carefully and find a good point to end Taker’s career and see if they can somehow transfer some of his star power to the person who inevitably beats him in his last match, but whether his body holds up to that task is another question entirely.
Brian: I say this with nothing but love for the Undertaker, but I think his time needs to come to an end. Maybe one final match and then ride off into the sunset. Give him that last big hurrah to his career that he so richly deserves. After that though, it might be time to bid adieu to him and his legendary career.
I say this, because even when he is used sporadically, he seems to take a lot longer to recover and be 100%. Sure, he is a lot older and that is completely understandable but when is enough enough? There has to be a time when somebody new takes his spot on the Wrestlemania card. Somebody to build around for years to come.
Craig: I agree with everything said so far. John’s point about early Undertaker vs. recent Undertaker is absolutely spot on. As much heralded as the streak was, as a compilation of matches – it didn’t really get going until well into it. There is an argument for enough is enough, for sure. But he is a big star attraction – the yearly sighting of the Undertaker is undoubtedly one of the big draws of WrestleMania and as long as he is willing to lace up the boots, however long that task now takes him, he will continue to turn out for Vince McMahon and the company that has made him the star he is.
But do I still see a place for him? Even my interest is dwindling now. The passing of the torch, I think, was wasted on Brock Lesnar. That could have been the moment to cement the next superstar of wrestling but was instead given to another guy on a part-time schedule.
I love The Undertaker as much as the next guy, but for me it is creeping closer and closer to it being over. for the good of his health and for the chance to focus on the stars of tomorrow. It’s a cook from me but I can’t help but feel that it is his decision and his decision alone.
Brian: While I am sure the decision will be his and his alone, sometimes you as the boss need to make that decision for an employee. Pro wrestling for the most part takes a physical and mental toll on the competitors. It’s a young man’s business, especially nowadays with all the wrestlers can do in ring.
The Undertaker is ageing quickly, he is slower in the ring, takes a lot longer to recover from bumps and bruises and just isn’t what he once was. Is he still an attraction? Absolutely, but the last thing you want to see is Taker hurt himself ala Sting did or hurt someone else. It is sadly a cook for me as well…
The consensus here is that it really is The Undertaker and him alone that decides when the curtain comes down on his illustrious WWE career. He may well have a few more matches left in the tank but it is really only he that knows.
Got an opinion on the future of The Undertaker? Then leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
You can read all previous ‘Book or Cook?’ pieces here.