Despite being 51 years of age and the WWE’s longest tenured in-ring performer, the Undertaker wrestled the longest match of the night Sunday at WrestleMania against Shane McMahon inside Hell in a Cell. The two battled for over 30 minutes, with the Undertaker coming out victorious. His win, and Shane’s loss, means that The Authority will remain in control of Monday Night RAW. The Undertaker might feel on-screen disdain for Vince McMahon, but he performed as Vince’s instrument of destruction Sunday night.
The storyline was built in such a way that if Shane won the match, he would assume control of RAW and likely dismiss Triple H and Stephanie from power, not to mention his father, Vince. And if Shane came out on top, Vince declared that the Undertaker would never wrestle at a WrestleMania again. The vagueness of that stipulation did not specify whether Undertaker could ever wrestle or appear on any other WWE programming, just not at the company’s biggest annual show.
It’s all moot now because the Undertaker was victorious. Shane provided the highlight of the night by leaping off the top of the cell onto an announce table that the Undertaker rolled off of a split second before Shane landed. The Phenom then finished him off with a tombstone back in the ring. Deadman wins. Authority stays in power. However, PWInsider is reporting that despite the win (and the kayfabe storyline), many backstage were speculating that he still had wrestled his last match at WrestleMania.
At the conclusion of the match, the Undertaker removed his gloves and walked back up the ramp. The removal of the gloves suggests, perhaps, that he was hanging ’em up, similar to that of a wrestler taking off his boots, placing them in the ring, and walking off. That is pure speculation at this point, and most indications are that Undertaker will compete at one more WrestleMania at most, with next year’s event in Orlando acting as his swan song. It’d stand to reason that the WWE would promote his retirement tour to the fullest, and despite the stipulation hanging over Hell in a Cell, not capitalizing on a farewell tour for the Phenom would not be best for business.
Fantasy booking comes into play a lot leading up to WrestleMania, and with the Undertaker performing on a limited basis, it’s even more prevalent with him. Shane McMahon provided the ultimate surprise opponent even though a lot of people didn’t agree with the booking. He may have been the only option worthwhile enough to face the Deadman thanks to a laundry list of injuries. And now that Sting officially announced his retirement, the dream match everyone wanted to see will never come to pass, and the short list of potential opponents becomes that much shorter.
Braun Strowman was believed to be a candidate to face the Undertaker at this year’s WrestleMania, but Vince pulled the plug on that idea due to the online backlash it received. John Cena has been rumored to be one of Taker’s final opponents stemming all the way back to two years ago. He too was injured and unable to compete this year, although he did make a surprise appearance in assisting The Rock against the Wyatt Family Sunday night. Recently, Cena appeared on The Michael Kay Show and even went as far as to say that if the Undertaker couldn’t beat Shane, then he should quit. Who knows if that was a work or shoot, but the fact that he said it at all certainly raised eyebrows.
If Sunday was, in fact, the Undertaker’s last match at a WrestleMania, he had a lot of friends and family there to witness it. That in itself is another factor that may have fueled the speculation regarding his future.
[Image via WWE]