Five days before Survivor Series, the Undertaker made his triumphant return to the WWE on the historic 900th episode of SmackDown Live. The Deadman capped off a memorable night that included an Intercontinental Championship match and the return of WWE Hall of Famer, Edge, who also made his bones with the blue brand.
By declaring that WrestleMania would no longer define a career that ironically began at Survivor Series in 1990, the Undertaker foreshadowed what’s yet to come, an extended run that will include appearances beyond just his customary ‘Mania match.
Upon his return, depending on his recovery from recent hip surgery, the expectations were that the Undertaker would meet up with AJ Styles at the Royal Rumble, amounting to a WWE World Championship match between The Phenom and The Phenomenal One. That would lead to one final run with the title for the Undertaker, leading to a major angle with John Cena, culminating with his final match at WrestleMania 33.
However, earlier on Tuesday, we reported that the back half of that plan was in serious jeopardy. There is friendly tension between John Cena and the WWE at the moment, but tension nonetheless. It stems from part-time stars like Brock Lesnar and Goldberg cashing in on major paydays while working part-time schedules, whereas Cena feels as if he deserves similar treatment after the dedication he’s shown the company for 14 years.
According to Daily Wrestling News, this tension has led Vince McMahon to instruct his creative team to brainstorm alternatives for the Undertaker at WrestleMania. Believe it or not, the Deadman (who was telling people he was retired following WrestleMania 32) is more of a lock to appear on the grand stage than Cena at present. But where does Survivor Series fit into all of this?
Apparently, concern over Cena missing ‘Mania has been brewing for weeks, nearly leading to a major angle playing out in Toronto last week at Survivor Series. Few details are available as to who the Undertaker would face in Orlando next April if Cena opts out of the match, but one big idea was pitched before Survivor Series that would have changed the complexion of the WWE’s main event scene over the next few months.
The idea would have seen the Undertaker interfere in the closing match of Survivor Series between Brock Lesnar and Goldberg. Obviously, that did not end up playing out as they went in a completely different direction, but it was discussed at one point. The Phenom would have cost Goldberg the match, setting up a monumental collision between those two who have never faced each other.
The finish to the Survivor Series main event was a hot topic of conversation in the week following the event. Some questioned the decision and some criticized it, while yet others called it genius. Whatever your feelings were, the WWE accomplished what it set out to accomplish, which was to get people talking.
The Undertaker interfering would have achieved that same goal, but in a different way. Ultimately, Vince nixed that plan because he isn’t sold on a match between The Deadman and Goldberg, similarly to his feelings on an Undertaker showdown with Sting when the opportunity presented itself. Also, like many fans, Vince felt any program between the Undertaker and Brock Lesnar had already reached its conclusion, and there was no reason to revisit it.
When Goldberg agreed to extend his run with the WWE, the call was made to book the squash match at Survivor Series as a way to extend their feud all the way to WrestleMania. That took the Undertaker out of the equation as well, as the company will continue to hope that Cena comes around and they’re able to mend fences so that the dream match can go down as has been the plan for some time.
[Featured Image by WWE]