The Undertaker is a week away from competing in his 25th WrestleMania. To put that in perspective, next Sunday’s extravaganza from Orlando, Florida will, of course, mark the 33rd year of the WWE’s grandest show of their calendar year. The Undertaker made his WrestleMania debut in 1991 when he defeated Jimmy Snuka at WrestleMania VII. That victory marked the beginning of what would become the greatest streak in the history of professional wrestling, which lasted up until 2014.
That year, as you recall, the Undertaker was defeated in shocking fashion by Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 30 in New Orleans, ironically the site that will play host to WrestleMania 34 in 2018. By virtue of the Undertaker’s loss, the WWE was planning on building Lesnar into an indestructible monster that would run roughshod over the entire locker room until Roman Reigns dethroned him at WrestleMania 31.
Next Sunday, the Undertaker will face Reigns, the WWE’s hand-picked star to become the new face of the company, but one that the fans have rejected since the anointment began taking shape on television in late 2014, and cemented at the 2015 Royal Rumble. The WWE is reportedly trying to do it all over again with Lesnar expected to become Universal Champion next week and defending that title against Reigns in the main event of WrestleMania 34 a year from now.
To help set up the rekindling of a Lesnar-Reigns feud that never really saw a resolution, it’s expected that Roman will claim ownership of the WWE’s “yard” by beating the Undertaker. However, that is far from confirmed as Braun Strowman could play the role of wild card considering his ties to the current storyline.
It should be noted that Reigns wasn’t always the first choice to face the Undertaker at WrestleMania 33. Plans changed at least twice since the Undertaker returned to the WWE last fall when he showed up to help celebrate SmackDown’s historic 900th episode. He cast an ominous warning to the members of Team SmackDown for the impending Survivor Series pay-per-view, but nothing ever came of it.
At the time, there were two reasons the Undertaker showed up on the blue brand. There was a possibility that he was going to face AJ Styles for the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble and then perhaps defend it against John Cena at this year’s WrestleMania. However, recent hip surgery was preventing him from wrestling a full-on singles match in January, so the title match was scrapped but things with Cena remained in place until late December or early January.
Vince McMahon changed course again, shifting the Undertaker to RAW and booking Cena into a mixed tag match with Nikki Bella, The Miz and Maryse. WWE officials began moving towards a marquee program between the Undertaker and Finn Balor, but when the latter wasn’t cleared the week of the Royal Rumble, they replaced Balor with Reigns. Roman took Balor’s spot, both at the Rumble, and at WrestleMania.
And now, despite constant rumors of the Undertaker’s retirement, the WWE is planning for the Deadman to be in New Orleans next April. And according to a new report, the dream match between the Undertaker and John Cena on the grand stage will finally come to fruition at WrestleMania 34 inside the Superdome.
Part of the reason Vince scrapped Cena in favor of Roman Reigns was that he believed the Undertaker’s opponent should be someone who would benefit long-term from working with the Phenom. Putting Cena in that spot next year would seem to go against that line of thinking, but much like the proposed Reigns-Lesnar title match, everything is subject to change this far out from that show.
The WWE has yet to confirm the main event for next Sunday’s showcase, with three matches posing a legitimate case. The showdown between Reigns and the Undertaker join the Universal Championship match between Lesnar and Goldberg, and the WWE Championship bout between Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton as the three that have an argument. Conflicting reports have named all three as the headliners, with one of our recent reports suggesting that Undertaker-Reigns would go on last because the Deadman is again considering retirement, along with some recent backlash to Goldberg’s title reign.
As we noted in that report, it’s highly unlikely that the WWE wouldn’t take full advantage of a major build towards what would ultimately become the Undertaker’s final match with the company. If he is set to retire, they would want to market it as an historic angle, and the current program is far from that. It’s been stated that a Cena-Undertaker match wouldn’t have had the same mainstream impact this year as Cena’s mixed tag match, especially with a rumored marriage proposal looming.
Also worth considering, the Undertaker was part of the WWE’s press conference to announce WrestleMania’s return to New Orleans earlier this year. It’s unlikely the company would use him in that spot if they weren’t planning for him to be involved. Putting the Undertaker with John Cena next year becomes much bigger if the match is built around the idea that it is finally his last ride.
[Featured Image by WWE]