The People’s Column: Two for One! The Undertaker and Chris Benoit

I’ve been watching wrestling for about 12 years now.  In that time, I have seen many iterations of the same characters.  I have seen Rocky Mavia turn into The Rock.  I have seen Hunter Hearst Helmsley turn into Triple H.  I have seen Hogan go Hollywood and back multiple times.  Basically, I have seen a lot (and can tell you the main event of most Pay Per Views off the top of my head if you name the show).


Perhaps the most striking character change/evolution of the time I have been watching wrestling has been that of The Undertaker.  He is the phenom, the dead man and the demon of death valley.  Today, he is the World Heavyweight Champion.  He has consistently been the most over wrestler in the WWE for about 5 years.  Anytime that gong hits, the fans are on their feet.  His entrance is a piece of production magic and could possibly be one of the best things that the WWE consistently does.


That being said, the time has come for The Undertaker to evolve.  You may be amazed to hear me say that.  I love The Undertaker.  I look forward to his Wrestlemania match on an annual basis, although I am usually cheering for his opponent.  I believe that his presence adds a lot to the product and that the matches that he has had in the last three years have, for the most part, been the best of his career.


However, after seeing The Undertaker’s promo on Friday night, I know that he must change.  No one really believes that The Undertaker is out to steal souls.  He would have them in jars lining the entrance way if he was.  Or perhaps he thinks that he is the WWE’s version of a Dementor from Harry Potter.  Either way, he is getting ridiculous.


What I miss is the American Bad Ass promos from The Undertaker.  When that ring was “his yard” and if you dared enter it he would “make you famous.”  Many may not remember this time, but The Undertaker was one of the best 0overall promos in the business.


Am I condoning a return to the American Bad Ass character? Not exactly.  The tired act of the motorcycle and bandanna outstayed their usefulness in 2003 and need not be included in this new version.  In fact, his entrance does not need to change at all.  Perhaps it is the idea of making him a less supernatural force and more of a real bad ass.


This was hinted at during his rivalry with Shawn Michaels earlier this year.  In that time he cut the best promos of the “New Deadman” era.  He sounded both supernatural and serious.  He did not sound like a cartoon, but like a man defending his legacy.  The Undertaker has the ability to cut these promos, but he is not allowed to do so.  I believe that this is why his program with CM Punk has been less than spectacular.

The Undertaker has more talent than almost anyone on the WWE roster, both in terms of speaking ability and in-ring performance.  Now is the time for him to show both of those skills and show why he is the centerpiece of the Smackdown roster.


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Earlier today I read the Poll Position column about the Chris Benoit issue on the Pulse site.  I wanted to add my two cents on this issue, if for no other reason than to draw the ire of those around me.  Let me begin by speaking about how I felt about Benoit before June 2007.


Chris Benoit seemed to be a great wrestler.  Not a great promo and a tendency to get a little overly technical and slightly boring in the ring, but a great wrestler.  He really put it all on the line for his fans.  That being said, he went too far and should have stopped.  There were many moments when he should have seen this.  When he became addicted to drugs, he should have stopped.  When he began beating his wife (which charges were filed about prior to her murder) he should have been arrested and forced to stop.  Benoit should not have been wrestling into 2007.  I honestly don’t believe that he should have been wrestling in 2004 when he won the World Heavyweight Championship.


Yes, there are opinions taken in retrospect, but that is the only way that I want to look at this.  I have no interest in seeing Benoit anymore and do not mind losing all of his matches from history. Fans can complain about it all they want, but the WWE is not going to do anything that would remotely look like they are making money off of a murderer.  Chris Benoit was a dark spot on WWE history and should not be remembered for anything.  He may have wrestled well, but losing those matches really shouldn’t hurt.  Watch some Kurt Angle, Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart or Eddie Guerrero for your technical fix.

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