Ending the Undertaker streak of 21-0, broken at WrestleMania 30 by Brock Lesnar, was a last-minute decision to try and sell more subscriptions to the WWE Network, according to Jim Ross, former WWE commentator and host of The Ross Report podcast.
While Ross didn’t outright say it was a fact, he did relate the story as told to him by Shawn Michaels on the August 26 episode of The Steve Austin Show.
While talking with host “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Ross said that Michaels had told him the decision was made by Vince and The Undertaker about four hours ahead of showtime.
“He [The Undertaker] would have never lost at WrestleMania if I was booking,” said Ross. “The decision was made that afternoon about three or four hours before showtime. So it wasn’t a long decision that had gone back and forth and back and forth and back and forth. Apparently, it was made that day in a meeting with Vince and Taker.”
Ross also said that the decision to end the Undertaker streak was one that shocked even the Dead Man’s opponents.
“I don’t think Lesnar was even comfortable with it,” said Ross. “I don’t think Heyman was comfortable with it. I’ve heard that through the grapevine, not directly from them. I know that WWE was launching that network, and they needed to get a water cooler buzz going. They needed to sell subscriptions to the network, I get that.”
As a result, the company — namely Vince — asked themselves what could be done “that’s going to create the most talk about WWE and get us in the front of the people’s consciousness?”
“Well,” Ross said, “Undertaker losing. And that’s exactly what they did, and I think they did it to help attract attention to the brand and sell subscriptions.”
If this is true, it’s easy to see how fans could be miffed by it, and it could end up having an opposite effect on WWE Network subscriptions, especially among the die-hard fans who held The Undertaker streak as an almost sacred part of professional wrestling.
It almost seemed like in the wake of the WrestleMania 30 shocker that fans had grown to comfort themselves with the idea that The Undertaker “wanted it that way.” Learning now that may not have been the case adds a new wrinkle to the acceptance of the decision.
What do you think, wrestling fans? Was ending the Taker’s streak a cheap ploy or best for business?