WWE rumors surrounding The Undertaker’s health and official status headed into WrestleMania 33, which some believe could be his final show as an active competitor, continue to make headline news.
The 51-year-old WWE star, who has been considered a part-time wrestler for a number of years now, has traditionally been adamant that he will continue to compete at WrestleMania events as long as his body is physically up for the task.
Recent WWE rumors indicate, however, that he may finally be nearing a time when that is no longer possible.
At issue for The Undertaker is a recent hip surgery this past Fall that has seemingly left “The Dead Man” limited in his ability to do little more than his traditional slow-walk entrance into the arena. Although extensive details regarding Taker’s surgery continue to remain sketchy, the consensus among most wrestling media outlets seems to be that the operation is little more than a stop-gap to buy him time before he ultimately needs his hip replaced.
As many of The Undertaker’s fans observed on Sunday at the WWE Royal Rumble, the former seven-time WWE World Champion looked to be noticeably in pain while competing in the event’s annual battle royal. Of note, Taker spent just 8:46 in the ring, eliminating Sami Zayn, Baron Corbin, The Miz, and Bill Goldberg, albeit doing so in a noticeably slower manner than usual, before being carefully tossed out of the ring by Roman Reigns.
Clearly, there was something behind the WWE rumors that The Undertaker is really starting to slow down.
“Word from backstage is that Taker was really hurting after the show,” noted Wrestling Inc., citing wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer. It was Meltzer, according to Wrestling Inc., who revealed during an episode of his Wrestling Observer Live podcast that The Undertaker’s painful-looking limp was very likely linked to his recent surgery.
For that reason, rumors regarding the Undertaker’s expected WWE WrestleMania opponent, which could be his last match, have been in flux recently as WWE officials continue to assess the situation.
Over the past few months, rumored opponents such as John Cena, A.J. Styles, and Braun Strowman have been penciled in for potential dates with The Undertaker, although, apparently, recent concerns on the part of WWE management have led to the shuffling of a number of the show’s matches.
WWE rumors, in particular, point to the company’s reluctance to waste a potential blockbuster Undertaker match against Cena or Styles at a time when Taker is so obviously physically hobbled.
At the same time, a very physical WWE match against up-and-comer 33-year-old Braun Strowman who is 6’8″ and 385 pounds seems unlikely as it would be very difficult for The Undertaker to mask his own physical limitations.
For that reason, WWE officials seem to have settled on a WrestleMania match with Roman Reigns. The logic behind this match, which was obviously set into motion with an intense stare-down following Reigns’ elimination of Taker from the Royal Rumble match, is that Reigns makes the most sense as The Undertaker’s opponent for a number of reasons:
- Roman Reigns is physically capable of absorbing punishment, as has been shown in physical matches against Brock Lesnar and Triple H at past WrestleMania events.
- Reigns has had difficulty connecting with a segment of WWE’s audience, and thus, wrestling Taker would give his persona more of an edge. Plus, Reigns is likely to be booed either way.
- Reigns’ style, while physical, is not as demanding on his opponent as some other wrestlers’ move sets.
- Reigns’ WWE legacy is strong enough that he could provide a fitting last opponent, if necessary.
Most notably, WWE rumors point to Roman Reigns’ willingness to work around The Undertaker’s own limitations this year.
While WWE officials have been privately concerned about The Undertaker’s status for this and future WrestleMania events, most believe that the WWE legend would be capable of wrestling at least 10 minutes, especially against an opponent such as Reigns that is likely to help prevent too much wear and tear on his body.
As noted by WrestlingInc, The Undertaker’s status was very much up in the air as of a few months ago.
Now, WWE rumors seem to indicate that The Undertaker’s recent Royal Rumble performance serves as a primary indicator that “The Dead Man” is likely finally reaching the near-end of his storied career with WWE.
WWE officials are not looking to seal The Undertaker’s casket by any means, and they are still hoping for a future big-money matchup with John Cena, should Taker be able to take time off and heal after WrestleMania.
The company just wants to be prepared in the event this is The Undertaker’s final match.
[Featured Image by JP Yim/Getty Images]