The Undertaker has not been seen in a WWE ring since he beat Shane McMahon inside Hell in a Cell at WrestleMania 32 this past April in Dallas, Texas. Ominous reports in the aftermath of that match left many to wonder if we’d ever see the Deadman again. But fortunately, the Undertaker and Vince McMahon patched things up to the point that his return to WWE programming has been confirmed.
As we reported on Wednesday, the Undertaker will make his much-anticipated comeback in less than two weeks at the Survivor Series go-home episode of SmackDown Live on November 15 from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. It will have been more than seven months since the Phenom stepped inside a squared circle, but in the 24 hours since the news became public, fans have been left wondering what the plans for his return will entail.
Even though the Undertaker made his debut at the 1990 Survivor Series, it appears unlikely that he’ll be competing at this year’s event, 26 years later, in Toronto. The two prevailing thoughts have been that the Undertaker has been booked to appear to celebrate the 900th episode of SmackDown, seeing how he was a fixture of the blue brand for many years. The other is to kickstart his angle for the upcoming WrestleMania.
In all reality, he could be doing both.
Following his WrestleMania match with Shane, we weren’t even certain we’d ever see Undertaker appear again, let alone wrestle at the Showcase of the Immortals one final time. But then signs of mended fences between him and the Chairman started showing, and the realization that he was recovering from hip surgery may have been a key factor in his absence.
So reports began trickling out about potential WrestleMania 33 opponents for the Undertaker, with a short list that was headlined by John Cena. Sting continued to keep the door open, but that seems more far-fetched. Then, Goldberg returned and planted another possibility if everything went well with Brock Lesnar.
However, famed wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer seems to think a different name has entered the fray. On the most recent episode of Wrestling Observer Radio, Meltzer speculated that Undertaker’s return to the SmackDown brand, combined with Randy Orton’s recent heel turn, will lead to a match between the two in Orlando next April.
The initial belief (and perhaps still lingering) was that the Orton turn was a red herring designed to extend his rivalry with Bray Wyatt. But Meltzer seems to believe the turn was done as a way to set up a program with the Undertaker, which could potentially begin on November 15 and culminate at WrestleMania. If the “if you can’t beat them, join them” angle is a swerve, that likely won’t see a payoff until the conclusion of Survivor Series, setting up a final match between Orton and Wyatt at TLC at the end of the year. And if that’s the case, it becomes increasingly less likely that Randy is paired off with the Undertaker.
As noted, the leading candidate to face the Deadman on 2017’s grandest stage has been John Cena for quite a while now. But as Meltzer pointed out, there may have been a change of plans seeing how they’ve teased a record-tying 16th title reign during Cena’s feud with AJ Styles. The new plan may be to put Cena with Styles in a match for the WWE World Championship, where a Cena victory would provide a signature moment at the event.
The hot take reaction would be that the Undertaker has already faced Randy Orton at a WrestleMania (21), but The Viper would provide a much safer match for the 50-year old coming off hip surgery as opposed to say, AJ Styles. AJ would be a fresher opponent, but also one willing to take more risks to create a magical showdown on such a grand stage.
Do you think November 15 will provide an indication of the Undertaker’s plans for what could potentially be his final match in the WWE?
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