Yesterday, the Inquisitr and other publications reported on The Undertaker’s WWE return, which has been confirmed to take place on the November 15 episode of SmackDown Live, the “go-home show” before Survivor Series 2016. This will mark the WWE legend’s first appearance on the company’s programming since WrestleMania 32, where he defeated Shane McMahon in a Hell in a Cell match. But does it mean an appearance at Survivor Series just five days after that appearance, as another big, marketable name adds more star power to one of WWE’s “Big Four” pay-per-views?
On the surface, Undertaker’s appearance at the November 15 SmackDown Live will be in commemoration of the brand’s 900th episode. But the fact that that episode is the “go-home” show for Survivor Series, or the last edition of a weekly televised wrestling show before a pay-per-view event, has many people speculating why the “Deadman” is back in WWE. Then there’s the fact that Undertaker’s WWE return will be taking place just about a month after he was sighted walking around on crutches, arguably looking older than his 51 years, and looking as far as you can get from wrestling shape.
It’s a much-talked-about return, that’s for sure, and Forbes has a few theories on why The Undertaker is coming back to WWE well before WrestleMania season, and coming back less than a week before Survivor Series 2016. According to the publication, the comeback may have something to do with the stipulation of ‘Taker’s WrestleMania 32 match against current SmackDown commissioner Shane McMahon.
At that time, McMahon had just made his own WWE comeback, more than six years after leaving his father Vince’s company to focus on his own business endeavors. With Shane and sister Stephanie vying for control of Monday Night RAW, Shane was placed in a match against The Undertaker at WrestleMania 32, where the older McMahon scion would take over RAW if he won, but no longer have anything to do with WWE if he lost. Despite Shane losing, he was back on WWE programming right after WrestleMania 32 by popular demand and was eventually named SmackDown commissioner.
With all of that in mind, Forbes’ Blake Oestriecher believes there’s a possibility Shane McMahon brought back The Undertaker for a WWE return on SmackDown Live to settle whatever unfinished business they may have from WrestleMania 32. Then again, it could be a simple nod to ‘Taker’s legacy, as he had long been more commonly associated with the SmackDown brand.
Or could it be a way for WWE to tease The Undertaker’s appearance in a match at Survivor Series 2016? In the above-mentioned Inquisitr report, we mentioned that this may be a longshot. But Forbes’ Oestriecher wrote that the possibility is still there, even if it’s just a non-wrestling segment at this month’s big pay-per-view event.
“While The Undertaker is synonymous with SmackDown, he has also has a long history with Survivor Series, which is where he made his debut way back in 1990. Thus, either the timing is coincidental, or WWE is hoping to have The Undertaker compete, or at least perform, at Survivor Series as well.”
There are other possibilities to consider, what with The Undertaker’s SmackDown appearance less than two weeks away. For one, there’s his storyline brother Kane currently being involved in a feud with The Wyatt Family and Randy Orton. It wouldn’t be too implausible if ‘Taker returns to save Kane from a Wyatt Family/Orton beatdown of some sorts. We could also see WWE start building up toward the Deadman’s rumored WrestleMania 33 appearance, though it’s still far from clear whom he will be facing at the company’s biggest event of the year.
All told, there are many possible ways to write The Undertaker’s WWE return. Many of them have sufficient merits to them, but as Forbes pointed out, it could all boil down to two things in the short term — better ratings for SmackDown Live and something interesting for fans to talk about and look forward to.
[Featured Image by Paul Abell/AP Images]