Professional wrestling’s legendary superstar The Undertaker has once again risen from the proverbial grave to return to glory in the WWE. After his crushing defeat at the hands of Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 33, fans of The Deadman endured months of debate about his possible retirement as an active wrestler.
While the question was answered at WrestleMania 34 when The Undertaker destroyed John Cena in less than three minutes, it is important to remember that this is a 53-year-old man who made his in-ring debut in 1984 as Texas Red. Thirty-four years and several major surgeries later, the physical toll on the man must be taken into account. One only has to reflect on the sad spectacle of Ric Flair, overweight and alcoholic, flopping around the ring as a parody of himself to envision one possible destructive end to the legend of The Undertaker.
The return of The Undertaker may be more than a one-time deal after his recent follow-up to WrestleMania 34 with an appearance at The Greatest Royal Rumble in Saudi Arabia on April 27, 2018. Although he didn’t main event the show in King Abdullah International Stadium, Taker still managed to thrill the 60,000 fans in attendance when he closed to coffin lid on both Rusev and his buddy, Aiden English, in a Casket Match.
Although Undertaker’s appearance in Saudi Arabia was a bit longer and more physical than his match against Cena at WrestleMania 34, it pales in comparison to his classic WrestleMania 26 bout against Shawn Michaels, which lasted 23 minutes, 59 seconds. Will fans continue to be satisfied with matches that are shorter than the wrestlers’ entrances featuring a fading hero in the twilight of his career?
To answer that question, one would have to know why the Undertaker insists on returning to the ring, even after his reported hip replacement surgery last year. He certainly doesn’t need the money with a reported net worth of $17 million. While rumors abound about his loyalty to WWE owner Vince McMahon, one must wonder why Taker would risk permanent injury to do the boss one final favor?
Many wrestling fans are thrilled to see The Undertaker back in the ring as an active wrestler, but there are also those who would rather see Mark William Calaway retire before he ends up in a wheelchair for life or stains his remarkable legacy. Even the famed New York Post is in favor of Taker’s retirement, with the headline, “This is not how WWE fans should remember Undertaker.”
Opinions will vary on The Undertaker’s future, but until The Deadman himself decides to speak on the issue, there are no final answers to the questions about his future as a wrestler. The only thing certain is that when Taker finally does decide to retire, he will take his rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame.