The People’s Column: Wrestlemania and Undertaker’s Streak

Welcome all of you savvy internet readers to another edition of “The People’s Column” (cue The People’s Court music in your heads, please).  First and foremost I must quote Chris Jericho and say “I’m going to WRESTLEMANIA!!!!”  I have pretty much the coolest wife anyone could ever want and we are road-tripping it to Arizona on Saturday and will be there live to see the greatest sports entertainment spectacle of all time!

The main reason that I am going to the showcase of the immortals (I love the ‘Mania has about 1,000 nicknames.) is the rematch between Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker.  This feud has been nothing but interesting for the last year.  If you remember the Madison Square Garden episode of Raw late last year, one of the highlights of the show was the stare-down between these two men.  At that moment I believe that the WWE realized that this match had to happen again.

The build to it has been an interesting and different build than standard WWE fare.  Normally we see a type of formula applied: Wrestler A wants to fight Wrestler B.  Wrestler B agrees to fight Wrestler A.  Attacks and match happen.  Losing wrestler either moves on or tried to provoke victorious wrestler into another match.

This match seemed to have less of that standard baggage.  In fact, The Undertaker actually turned down a challenge from HBK.  I do not believe that the “Deadman” iteration of ‘Taker has ever said no to a challenge.  That said, he did eventually agree to have this match, but not without a stipulation of his own, that HBK put his legendary career on the line (Quick side note: what was the yellow stuff on ‘Taker’s face at Raw?  Had he just finished a hot dog with extra mustard or something?).

And with that the stage has been set for one of the most important matches that has ever graced the grandest stage of them all.  So, with the lights having never been brighter (Thank you JBL!) an epic battle will be raged.  However, we must endlessly debate on the internet until that day, a mere four weeks away, comes is who will win and what will become of the loser.

First of all, I believe that this match will be the end of the line for whoever it is that loses.  To me, the mystique of The Undertaker is not showing up out of that dark (a bit that has been done to death lately) or caskets, it is the Streak.  This element of his character has remained unchanged for 17 Wrestlemanias.  It is what has made him relevant to modern audiences.  The Undertaker himself said that this is the one night a year that he has chosen to show his dominance.  For most wrestlers, a single win or loss would not make up such an important part of their character, but for The Undertaker, going 17-1 would be as bad as going 0-18.

For “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels the match explicitly says that he will retire if he does not defeat the streak.  That said, what else does HBK have to do?  He has held World Championships of four occasions.  He is widely known as one of the top wrestlers of all time.  To me, HBK is the greatest wrestler in history.  No one can grip an audience the way he can.  No one can work the matches that he has.  Shawn Michaels is the greatest of all time.  What better way for HBK to go out?  He could easily lose this match, with the man he just could not beat at ‘Mania.  I would love to see HBK win and end the streak.

Michaels can wrestle a much better match than The Undertaker.  The Undertaker has seemed beaten down for the last year.  Since he came back at Summerslam, he looked to be a step off.  He did not really wrestle more than a ten minute match until the Royal Rumble.  Yes, I do believe that ‘Taker will pull out all the stops to put on the best match possible at Wrestlemania.  I actually look forward to the two of them topping what they did next year (since I will be there live, I am hoping for it).  Shawn Michaels is still putting on the match of the year every year.  Since his comeback in 2002, no one has had the body of work that HBK has.  It has been one of the greatest runs in wrestling history and solidified Michaels as not just a talented wrestler, but as the top wrestler.

I am eagerly anticipating how this match will play out.  Both of these men are winding down.  They have been the highlight of Wrestlemania for years running and we all knew that they would be finished soon.  This year I believe that one of these men will sing their swan song.

As a side note, the match order at ‘Mania should be interesting.  For the first time in a long time, I really believe that three matches have the ability to close the show and make the fans happy.  Cena va Batista and Edge vs Jericho are both going to be epic (and very different) championship matches with personal issues as well as championships involved.  Then there is the Streak vs Career match.  I believe that this year may be the first time since Wrestlemania XI that a championship match did not close out the show (which was HBK’s first Wrestlemania main event, even though he did not go on last).

What do you think?  Who would you rather see retire?  How fondly do you remember Wrestlemania XI?  I would love to know.  Comment, email, blog, forum, do whatever it is that you do to get your thoughts across.  See you next week!

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