Thursday, 2 December 2021

Final bow: The Undertaker returns for one last run

KARACHI: If there’s one name synonymous with professional wrestling, and specifically WWE, that is The Undertaker’s. The iconic wrestler has been a benchmark and a leader in the ring for almost three decades, delivering countless memorable moments for fans across the world. Apart from that, ‘The Phenom’ held an unparalleled record of consecutive victories on ‘The Grandest Stage of Them All’ Wrestlemania, which, to humongous uproar by fans, was broken in 2014 by Brock Lesnar. Taker subsequently got revenge on Lesnar for breaking his streak and went on to accumulate a couple of more wins under his belt at the following Wrestlemanias, but now he has returned for one final run. There have been rumours every year that Taker is going to retire. However, judging by his early return on Smackdown’s 900th episode last week, it looks like Wrestlemania 33 in April may indeed be his final match.

The 51-year-old wrestler return last week has resulted in reports that he is slated to face John Cena, who he hasn’t faced before at `Wrestlemania. At this point, Undertaker is 23-1 at ‘Mania can change to 23-2. According to reports, The Undertaker will face the current WWE World Heavyweight Champion AJ Styles and defeat him to become the champion. Subsequently, Cena will return and challenge him to put his title and his career on the line. If it goes as planned, the match is sure to be a big draw. However, Taker to retire after a losing effort will definitely not sit well with the fans. When Lesnar broke the streak at Wrestlemania 30, shock and disgust reigned over 93,000 fans in attendance, who could not fathom the fact that the streak of the most respected wrestler had been taken away from him. A lot of them even left the arena before the main event match started. If Cena defeats him at Wrestlemania, it would mark two big records that would upset fans: firstly, Undertaker’s retirement, and secondly, Cena tying Ric Flair’s record of 16 world championships.

Cena has been a polarising figure for the past five years or so, with young fans cheering for him and adults booing him. For him to tie Flair’s record would be met with an equally polarising reaction, whereas Undertaker’s retirement is sure to be a heartbreaking moment for millions across the world. Nevertheless, The Undertaker versus Cena would surely help sell out what could be the most successful Wrestlemania. Interestingly, the match was supposed to take place at Wrestlemania 32 earlier this year, but Cena’s injury caused the match to be delayed. Now, with Cena and Taker both on the Smackdown Live brand, their rivalry seems inevitable. It all depends on the WWE to build the rivalry in a way that suits the stature of the legend that is The Undertaker. The ideal scenario would result in him retiring as a champion. If he decides to hang up his boots, The man who stayed loyal with the WWE through all hardships (in the 90s) and became a cornerstone for decades deserves a fitting farewell, and clearly, a Hall of Fame induction.

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