The View From Down Here – Booking the End of The Streak (Undertaker, HHH, Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin, The Rock)

It seems it’s all anyone wants to talk about at the moment – the Undertaker’s Wrestlemania Streak. Now, I put in my two cents’ worth on this subject last year, and also was roundly lambasted for saying that I was underwhelmed by some streak matches that others thought were the greatest evahhhhh! Personal opinions and all that, but I also think Undertaker is one of the more overrated wrestlers I’ve seen. Okay, now that I’ve set myself up for everyone switching to CB’s latest news post, let me continue quickly.

The thing is, at the moment, the question is: should Undertaker retire with the Streak intact, or should he put over some young guy as a mark of respect (as I was led to believe all veterans should do in their last match)?

First – I think the Streak and retirement are two separate things. I think if Undertaker was to retire, he should do it at Survivor Series, at the same event he started. If he can hold out until 2015, that’d be 25 years, go to woah, and would be something remarkable. In fact, as an Undertaker non-fan, even I would mark out even a little for that. That should be when he puts over the up-and-comer, or the next generation member, or whatever. Retirement is a separate issue from the Streak.

(Look, I know it’s silly, but every time I type that, I keep singing the phrase ‘The Streak’ in my head in Ray Stevens’ voice… but wasn’t that Mideon’s gimmick?)

But let’s say the streak needs to be ended…

It’s the RAW after Wrestlemania. HHH is in the ring, and he’s pretty badly banged up. “I couldn’t do it,” he says into the microphone. “I could not do it.”

Shawn Michaels comes out and pats him on the shoulder. “None of us could,” he says.

The screen on the Titantron flashes into life. Two familiar faces are there. The crowd goes absolutely wild as the Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin fill the screen. “Finally, the Rock has come back to…”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Austin interrupts. The Rock arches a people’s eyebrow and looks at him, but shuts up anyway.

Austin leans towards the camera. “You two cry-babies finished blabbing down there yet?” he asks.

Michaels and HHH tense up.

“Just because you two couldn’t do it, you think the Undertaker can’t be beaten? Is that right?”

Michaels and HHH look at one another.

The Rock now chimes in. “Do you think that he is unbeatable at Wrestlemania?”

“Well, I…” Hunter starts.

“It doesn’t matter what you think!” The Rock leans forward as well. “Now the two of us, we may not agree on much. But Austin here, he’s joined me in Hollywood, he knows how I think, and I know how he thinks. And we think the two of you…”

“Are full of sh[bleeped, of course].” Austin’s glare becomes cold. “Rocky here couldn’t beat Cena last night. Fair enough. The guy’s young enough to not even remember when you started wrestling, Shawn. But the Undertaker? He’s old. Old news. Old hat. Just plain old.”

HHH’s face breaks into a wide smile. “Are you saying you, a broken down cripple with a neck held together by duct tape and staples, could beat the Deadman?”

Austin looks at the Rock, who returns the gaze. As one they face the camera and nod.

“Two-on one? that’s hardly fair,” Shawn insists.

“Then he can find himself a tag team partner,” Austin says.

Rock now takes over. “Last year, I challenged John Cena, and a year later it happened. Well, this year, we challenge Undertaker. But, knowing him, he’ll find a way to avoid this. He’s a coward. Goes after the oldies he knows he can beat.”

“So you, Mr Executive in Charge of Being Beaten by Old Men, you go find that big, bald sonuvvabitchm, and you tell him, Wrestlemania 29, his ass is ours!”

“If ya smellllllll, what the Rock…”

“…and Stone Cold…”

“…are cooking.”

Over the next few weeks, the talk is of the open challenge from Austin and the Rock, but neither of them appear on TV, and it’s left to HHH to try and work out what’s going on.

Finally we come to the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, and Extreme Rules. It’s during the third match – a steel chain on a pole match between Brodus Clay and The Miz – that things get interesting. Clay has just attempted to grab the chain when the sound of breaking glass fills the arena. A 4-wheel quad bike roars out from the back, Stone Cold sitting on it. He comes right up to the ring as over the loudspeakers resounds, “If ya smellllll….,” echoes. And Rocky runs to the ring, to join his new-found partner.

They do not hesitate as they climb into the ring. Rock Bottom to Clay, Stunner to Miz and the two of them are in the ring. Austin has a mic.

“Hey, Hunter, we know you’re here, and we ain’t leavin’ ‘till you get your old ass down here and answer us!” he bellows.

HHH comes out to a chorus of boos. “Rocky, Steve, I know how you feel. I really do. But no one’s seen the Undertaker since he beat me at Wrestlemania.”

Rocky’s turn, “Then you haven’t got a show tonight. Because until we get an answer, we are not leaving this ring.”

HHH’s face goes cold. “Okay. Fine.” And the next match is on, a tag team match-up. But Hunico, Epico, Slater and Gabriel are beaten by the two in the ring with ease. “Next,” Austin growls.

HHH starts to take off his jacket, but Shawn Michaels is right by his side. He shakes his head. “You can’t,” he says.

“Someone has to.”

BONG!

All eyes fall on the Titantron. It’s dark, but the figure is instantly recognisable. The wide-brimmed hat lifts a little so that just the eyes are illuminated. “Dwayne. Steve.” The voice is like gravel. “The answer is no.”

“Coward,” spits Austin.

The eyes flash angrily. “Two-on-one? Answer is still no.”

“You’ve got a partner.” HHH looks at Michaels, his mouth open. Michaels is nodding. “Yeah,” he says. “I know you, Deadman. We fought two of the greatest battles in the history of Wrestlemania. And together we can take down these two has-beens.”

Hunter is shaking his head. “I faced him three times. It should be me,” he says.

Austin and Rock laugh. “There you go, ya bald jabroni. Pick Mr Executive or Mr Kill Things. You got a partner. And we got a match,” Rock laughs.

Michaels is shown training in gyms but, tellingly, never steps foot inside a ring. HHH, on the other hand, becomes involved in the next series of NXT, wrestling – and slaughtering – each of the competitors in turn. Austin, as a NXT trainer, pulls no punches in dissing HHH, but steers clear of the ring himself. The Rock, meanwhile, does a few sporadic appearances, but it is noticeable that even when promoting his new films, the WWE gets more attention than for the past few years, and he smiles a lot when talking about it.

So nothing is really settled. And then comes Survivor Series, when, after these months of bickering and put-downs by Austin on NXT, HHH decides to show he is worthy of being the Undertaker’s partner by taking on two men at once. But one well-aimed superkick from Michaels – the special guest ring enforcer – sees HHH pinned by Joe Hennig.

Come the November 19 edition of RAW, a 3-hour supershow, and HHH starts in the ring. He demands that Michaels comes out and explain himself. Michaels does, and the crowd response is mixed. “What was that kick all about?” he demanded. “You damn near took my head off!”

“And the young guys get the biggest win of their career. It was fair for the business. Good for the business. Remember that?”

“But what about the Undertaker?”

“It’s not your place any more,” Michaels says. “You’re in the back room. You’re not one of the boys any more. You’re a boss. It’s out of your hands. It’s in mine.”

HHH just stares at his old friend. Then he slowly takes off his jacket. Michaels responds by carefully removing the cowboy hat on his head. “Biiitch-fiiiight” sings a familiar voice. And, to a huge pop, the Rock appears on the stage. “Come on, girls, go for it!”

They both start towards him and he smiles as, without any fanfare, Steve Austin is at his side. All men stop. “Steve-O and I have come to a conclusion. It’s clear that you two need all the help you can get, and we ain’t seen Undertaker in nine months. So we’re going to come right out and say it – 3-on-2. Both of you partner with the Deadman. We’ll still kick your asses.”

Austin grabs a mic. “If you want to see Austin and the Rock kick three asses, give me a Hell Yeah!”

“HELL YEAH!” The crowd’s response is Pavlovian.

But then another face appears on the Titantron. “Rocky! Steve! You can’t do this!” Mick Foley’s smile is infectious, but the crowd’s pop is somewhat anaemic. “You’re two of the best I ever faced, but you’re looking at the Game, who beat me half to death in the Cell, the Showstopper, who beat Undertaker in the Cell, and the Undertaker, who threw me off the Cell! You need me!” The image morphs, like it had around twenty years earlier, and Cactus Jack is there. “You need an I-don’t-care partner.” Morph again and Mankind is there. “You need a maniac.” Morph again, into Dude Love. “You need… well, not me.” The crowd laughs as he morphs back into Mick Foley. “You need me. You need a third. 3-on-3. The greatest 6-man tag in the history of professional wrestling anywhere!”

Now the crowd’s response is wild. And all 5 men nod in silence.

But still nothing from the Undertaker. Until…

The night after the Royal Rumble. Despite CM Punk winning the whole thing, a 40-man Rumble, from number 5, breaking the longevity record in the process, all talk is on the upcoming Wrestlemania. And this is due to the actions of Steve Austin and the Rock. After Punk claimed the win, the two of them stormed the ring and attacked him. Rock Bottom, Stunner, People’s Elbow, throw out. And then, without saying a thing, the two of them stood, pointing at the Wrestlemania sign, staring at the Titantron. And that is the image that graces publicity and websites for the next three weeks. And so RAW opens… and the place looks empty. There are no commentators, no wrestlers, just regular TV staff.

The lights go out. The crowd is a little disturbed, thinking there may have been something serious happen. But when they come back on, there is a lone figure in the middle of the ring. The crowd explodes. The Undertaker lifts his head and stares right at the Wrestlemania sign. He lifts his hand, but instead of pointing at it, he runs his thumb across his throat. The crowd loses it.

Wrestlemania XXIX arrives, and there could only be one main event. And what a main event! The ring introductions last for almost 20 minutes. The crowd remains unglued for the entire time.

After several teases the match starts with HHH and Rock in the ring. The skill level, is, shall we say, limited, but the punches certainly look real. Tag to Michaels, tag to Foley, And Foley shows he can still bump like a pinball when required. Tag Undertaker. There are no real heels and faces, but the pop for the Undertaker is larger than anything heard in a wrestling show for 12 months. He throws Foley around until Mick manages to tag in Austin. He takes it to the Deadman until a cheap shot from Michaels turns the tide. And it breaks down. They pair off, going through the crowd, and up to the stage, with the ring left empty. Finally Undertaker and Foley are back in the ring while HHH and Austin, and Rock and Michaels continue elsewhere. Undertaker gets Foley up. Tombstone. Foley is out at 2. Last Ride powerbomb. 2. Rock in to make the save, but Undertaker manages to go old school, and Rocky sells it like he’s been shot. Austin in. Kick, wham, stunner, but Undertaker is saved by Michaels. Austin stands and eats superkick. Rocky makes the save, Rock Bottom. HHH makes the save, pedigree. Foley makes the save, double underhook DDT. And it’s the return of Socko! Mandible Claw, but Undertaker’s back. Tombstone number 2, but Foley still kicks out. Taker cannot believe it. He turns into a second stunner, then a rock Bottom, another DDT, and then the Socko Mandible Claw. But Taker will not go down. He gets up. Michaels is waiting for Foley, but Foley sees him and ducks. The superkick hits Undertaker. HHH sees this and smiles. He grabs the Undertaker, stands him up, Pedigree. Rocky in, People’s Elbow. And Foley crawls over and drapes an arm across the chest. The referee looks at the other 4 men, standing in the ring, watching, no one making a move. He counts 1, then looks again. No movement. 2, look, nothing. 3.

It’s over.

The others all lift Undertaker to his feet and applaud him, then leave him alone in the ring. The telecast finishes with the Undertaker nodding to the crowd, his face impassive, but his eyes red and wet.

What did you think?

 

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