WWE officially began the next chapter of Triple H vs. The Undertaker on this week's Raw Supershow. Not being seen since Wrestlemania XXVII last year, Undertaker returns to defend his undefeated streak at Wrestlemania which currently sits at 19-0. A lot of readers have chimed in with their opinion on who Undertaker should face and several arguments are being made against Hunter getting a third shot at "the streak."
While I will admit I wasn't sold on Triple H vs. Undertaker again this year, the decision has since grown on me. I understand why people want to see Undertaker face a different opponent but please allow me to elaborate why I believe the field is so small on potential Wrestlemania opponents.
To start, we need to establish what we are dealing with. While The Undertaker is one of the most-durable and dependable WWE superstars of all-time, he's 46-years-old and will be 47 before the match takes place. He has permanent damage to his shoulder and his knees and back are shot from years of bumping in the ring. After a full year of healing, The Undertaker is still coming into Wrestlemania "banged up."
The Undertaker's illustrious career is nearing its end and who knows if it would in fact be over if it were not for "the streak." With that being said, the streak has grown to where it deserves to remain in tact. The only way I would be in favor of "the streak" coming to end is if there was a worker that had the potential to take the torch from The Deadman. Scanning through the WWE roster, there is no one worthy of such a rub. After all, we are talking about the man that put an "end" to the career of Shawn Michaels. To put a worker over The Undertaker at Wrestlemania in essence would be giving them not only a rub over Undertaker but a rub against the likes of Shawn Michaels and Triple H. It's a situation where the risk simply doesn't outweigh the reward.
Some have made the argument a loss could actually help a rising star such as Sheamus or Dolph Ziggler. I digress for a moment and invite you to take a lot at the wrestlers part of "the streak" - Jimmy Snuka, Jake Roberts, Giant González, King Kong Bundy, Kevin Nash, Sid Vicious, Kane, Big Boss Man, Triple H, Ric Flair, Big Show & A-Train, Randy Orton, Mark Henry, Batista, Edge and Shawn Michaels
When evaluating the list, it's important to consider "the streak" wasn't near as relevant in the earlier days, however, there are very few on this list that were not established prior to being booked against Undertaker at Wrestlemania. We can clearly see that A-Train being part of a handicap match with Big Show did nothing to help elevate him to stardom and Mark Henry didn't receive the "rocket pack" until last year. The one name a lot of people have pointed at is Randy Orton. The argument is that Orton's loss to Undertaker at Wrestlemania helped establish him as a top guy.
For that matter, let's focus for a moment on Orton's loss to The Undertaker. The Undertaker beat Randy Orton at Wrestlemania 21 in 14:14 in an interpromotional singles match where Orton's father, "Cowboy" Boby Orton, accompanied him to the ring on April 3, 2005. However, my counter-argument is while not the top guy he is today, Orton was already established.
Orton's elevation can be credited to two veterans - neither of which are named The Undertaker. You guessed it - Orton, along with Batista, were elevated in the Evolution faction by Triple H and Ric Flair. Remember, it was Chris Benoit that Orton defeated in the main event at SummerSlam 2004 to become the youngest World Heavyweight Champion of all-time at age 24. Therefore to argue a loss to The Undertaker elevated Orton to main event status is inaccurate because not only had he already been given the rub as champion but he had main evented a "big four" pay-per-view.
The point I am trying to make is "the streak" has never been used to elevate a younger worker. The only situation where I could see it having the potential to elevate a younger worker is if the younger worker would be victorious. However, as I discussed in the former of this editorial, there is no one capable of such a feat that is currently on the WWE roster. We can all make cases for some of our favorite younger workers, however, there are no "sure things" that I can see truly benefiting from ending one of the most-heavily promoted historic accomplishments in WWE history.
That leads us into why I feel the field is so limited. Who can be booked against The Undertaker where a loss they probably won't be able to avenge will not hurt them? It needs to be someone experienced, a big enough name to be billed as a headiner and someone that can be booked to have a legitimate shot at ending "the streak." After all, it's the ability to blur the line between real and contrived that results in the most entertaining bouts.
Scanning the WWE roster with what we already know about Wrestlemania XXVIII plans, I can only think of a few names - Kane, Triple H and Randy Orton. All three of these workers are part of the streak with both Triple H and Kane having two Wrestlemania losses against Undertaker. I would have not been against either Kane or Orton being announced as The Undertaker's opponent as I feel another loss against Undertaker at Wrestlemania would do nothing to hurt their respective careers. Triple H does give WWE the ability to incorporate Shawn Michaels into the match, which was the rumored plan as of early last month.
Triple H has lobbied heavily to get another crack at "the streak" with many people telling me he wants to be a "headliner" on the show and knows this is his only opportunity to have part of the "spotlight" that is so heavily focused on John Cena and The Rock. Hunter's political stroke clearly won out but I also understand why WWE wants to do this match again. The field was extremely narrow and a decision was made in a way that can incorporate Michaels if a deal is able to be worked out.
I realize people say this is boring, stale and "typical WWE" but outside of these three workers, Triple H makes the most sense. For people that say they won't order Wrestlemania because of this, I will boldly declare I don't believe you. This year's Wrestlemania has the potential to be the best ever. The lineup looks very strong on paper and Triple H vs. The Undertaker III is a strong piece of the undercard. They won't carry the show but aren't expected to either. The program is an undercard program that adds nostalgia to a lineup that has the potential to feature two very good, very deserving younger workers as WWE and World Heavyweight Champions respectively. At the end of the day we can dream about a "fresh" feud for Undertaker but the truth is, it's simply not possible.