COMMENTARY — Sting vs. The Undertaker at WrestleMania has been a dream match for a long time.
That’s mostly because Sting and Undertaker are the two “company guys.” In their careers, they were defined by their ring psychology, pitch-perfect workmanship, and undeniable loyalty.
Once Mark Calaway donned the dark clothing and became the ‘Taker, he never budged from the WWE for 24 years. There were periods of inactivity, yes, but whenever he was in a ring, it was wrestling for the McMahons.
And when Steve Borden brought his Sting persona to NWA/WCW in 1987, he, too, stayed put and ended up going down with the ship 14 years later. To this day, Sting hasn’t stepped foot in a WWE ring, though that could soon change.
Twenty years ago, I would have done almost anything to see the two lock up just one time. Now? It’s a filler match — the moment where you pull yourself out of the easy chair and go check to see what’s in the fridge.
The obvious reasons for this dramatic shift: time and age.
Times have changed since the Monday Night Wars ended. A new generation of fans are steering the pro wrestling ship, and they have their own favorites: Roman Reigns, Bray Wyatt, Daniel Bryan, Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose.
They’re the ones the masses stand behind today. They’re the ones who now bring the excitement. In another 20 years, some will be forgotten, some won’t; but most will be replaced as the star attractions.
But that’s life. Time passes, tastes change. What makes Sting and Undertaker a WrestleMania filler match is the second reason I mentioned above: age, and the corrosion of ability that goes along with it.
While Sting appears to be in better shape than Undertaker, he’s certainly not where he used to be in the energy department. That was apparent with his work in TNA. While not what I would call an embarrassment, the younger guys clearly had to slow things down for him in order for his matches to be interesting. He couldn’t rise to their pace.
On offense, Sting is now quite limited. His act pretty much consists of the Stinger splash, the Scorpion Death Lock, and the Scorpion Death Drop. He’ll also occasionally use the baseball bat he carries around.
Still, as limited as that sounds, it’s head-and-shoulders above where Undertaker is today.
The Phenom used to tear down the house, but what showed up to face Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 30 was a carton of milk long past its expiration date.
Throughout the match, ‘Taker’s cardio suffered. Brock had to slow it down to a snail’s pace, and by the time he finally pinned the Undertaker, thus ending “The Streak” and my misery, the Deadman needed an ambulance.
While the shocking end served as a temporary distraction, the reality was that this guy could no longer go.
Observing the understandable decline of these two superstars, I’m reminded of the very true words of Jerry Seinfeld, who recently killed all fan hopes of a Seinfeld reunion when he said this during a recent AMA:
“I think it would be lame, and I think it would be an embarrassment to the nice place that the show occupies. I’m absolutely happy keeping it the way it is. You can’t keep asking for more of certain things, you know? One of the keys to life is having a sense of proportion, knowing how long to sit at a restaurant after you’ve eaten, or how long you should go on vacation — if you go to Hawaii for a month on vacation, I guarantee you that by the end you’ll hate it. So it’s the same with a TV show, you want to do a certain amount of it, so that when people look back on it they love it. I could have easily done the show for one or two or three more years, but it would have changed the way people look back at it. I think I made the right decision. Because people like the show now even more than they did in the 1990s, because it didn’t get worn out.”
The same truth applies to Sting vs. The Undertaker at WrestleMania 31. It would be an embarrassment and a sad way to remember two of the best to ever step in the ring.
What do you think about Sting vs. The Undertaker as a WrestleMania 31 match? Share your thoughts in our comments section.
[Images taken from Wikipedia Commons]