Wrestlemania 30 will always be remembered for the end of the Undertaker’s dominant streak.
An F5. A three-count. A twenty-one-year undefeated streak – gone.
The audience was stunned into silence. If I were to be picky about it, they were pretty bloody silent anyway – no way to end the career of an absolute icon of wrestling. Few have dominated the WWE like The Undertaker; a man who I struggle to count on two hands the amount of memorable, clean and meaningful defeats he has suffered.
But for me, three single moments will define Wrestlemania XXX and make it one of the most memorable of all time.
Of course, his finally overcoming The Authority to become the WWE World Heavyweight Champion is the culmination of an eight-month quest to regain his place at the top of the mountain. He overcame three men over the course of two brilliant (though admittedly a bit overbooked) matches to raise the belts in victory. You couldn’t see him for all the tickertape they were throwing down at one point, but Bryan saw nothing except that ultimate victory.
Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin and The Rock
This was an absolutely incredible way to kick off ‘Mania; when guest host Hulk Hogan fluffed two lines within thirty seconds in getting the name of the venue wrong and almost referring to the company as the WWF, I admit I smirked a bit at what else could have been in store for us tonight. But the moment we heard the glass shatter and saw The Rattlesnake make his way down the aisle, business certainly picked up. Austin got in a nice rib on Hogan for getting the venue’s name wrong, before confessing his own pride at being in the ring for such a momentous occasion. And just as we were getting ready for our first match, The Rock asked us that old familiar question and sent the fans into an absolute fit of joy – myself included. Seeing the three of them in the ring at the same time was such an amazing moment, and would’ve easily been the number 2 moment of the night for nostalgia’s sake, but for:
The End of the Streak
The match was, sadly, not the five-star classic we hoped for deep down. The build towards it was also somewhat half-arsed – god bless Paul Heyman for giving it his outstanding best as always. But two things are required for The Streak match to be pulled off convincingly: a great match and a real sense that the Streak was in jeopardy. I don’t really feel like either of these were satisfied, which perhaps explains my own deep sense of shock. It came out of nowhere, but in a bad way. When Daniel Bryan hit those sweet running knees on all three of his opponents last night, they literally came out of nowhere – ie, out of camera shot. What we got to turn ‘Taker’s 0 into a 1 last night was a sort of crumpled F5 into a half-arsed cover. Heyman sold it like a genius – that’s what he does – but it wasn’t a good shock to the system. Not like The Rock hitting the stage earlier in the night. Not even like Ron Simmons turning up for his annual curse.
Where do they go from here? For The Undertaker, whose old school tradition and love for the business keeps him grounded in the knowledge that you go out of this game with a loss, it could be time to bow out.
For Lesnar, as the Man who beat The Streak, surely the World Title picture beckons. But if Triple H refused to believe that Daniel Bryan was the Face of the WWE, then god help us if Lesnar’s face decides it fits the bill better.
Maybe The Streak should go out quietly. Adding the phrase “and one” to any future mentions would tarnish the fact that there’s an entire 21 before it. Don’t let it hang around anyone’s neck – Lesnar’s or The Undertaker’s. I don’t think Lesnar can be booked effectively enough to maximise its value given his part-time commitment to the company. And it certainly wouldn’t do to tarnish The Undertaker’s entire career with it. Don’t let 21-1 be an exclamation point. Let it be an appendix somewhere at the end of an extraordinary and unique document.