KARACHI : A lot of big wrestlers have come to professional wrestling over the years and entertained countless fans. But there is only one of them who can be called the greatest of them all: The Undertaker.
When he debuted in WWE back in 1990, almost three decades, no one thought that the gimmick of a mortician would work, let alone become the greatest character in wrestling history. But it was Mark Calaway who made it happen. He lived and breathed as the Deadman, putting his opponents away from tombstones and burying them alive.
In just a few years, The Undertaker had solidified his status as one of the greatest performers of all time. Fans loved him because he delivered one memorable moment after the other. He made every wrestling fan’s childhood better and that is the reason why, when Brock Lesnar ended his undefeated WrestleMania streak three years ago, it shook the world.
But if that was a shocking moment, WrestleMania 33 had a heartbreaking one. The Undertaker fought tooth and nail against Roman Reigns and came up short after being hit with four spears. As the ‘funeral march’ theme played after the match, he undid his gloves, coat and hat and left them in the ring – a sign of farewell. Taker had retired.
The wrestler’s WrestleMania record now stood at 23-2, with only Lesnar and Reigns able to defeat him at the Grandest Stage of Them All. The Phenom had been in bad shape since his battle with Lesnar at WrestleMania 30. Age was catching up to him and he couldn’t perform at the level he used to. The last three years, fans saw Taker struggle to keep up. This was a story of a man who ruled the yard for decades and was now past his prime, leaving him no choice but to hang up the boots. Taker, like Logan, was struggling with mortality and old age.
And even though his retirement was expected, the moment brought 75,000 fans present in the arena and millions at home to tears. This was a true end of an era, the end of our childhood. And the retirement felt even bitter because it was Reigns who ended Taker’s career. Reigns has been the most hated babyface in WWE for three years. He has been handed every achievement on a silver platter and yet, been unable to be accepted by majority of fans. That made it even more difficult to accept that the man who retired Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 26 after a classic for the ages, lost to the man who the audience doesn’t accept.
Ideally, The Phenom should have retired after the streak ended three years ago. But if not, the fact that there were far more deserving wrestlers such as Bray Wyatt or Fin Balor to do the honours, stung more. Wyatt has a similar persona of a cult leader and Taker could have easily passed the torch to him two years ago. Balor is the new Demon King and is already a superstar but WWE chose Reigns, resulting in the audience despising him even more. Last night, on Raw, the crowd couldn’t stop chanting curses at Roman and telling him to go away for over 15 continuous minutes. Retiring Taker surely hurt Reigns more than it did him any favours.
But the bitter taste aside, the better thing to do now is to celebrate the extensive career of the icon and pay our tribute to the lord of darkness that gave us classic matches, terrified us with scary moments, made us laugh and even cry. WrestleMania 33 will always be remembered as the Undertaker’s last ride and the grand stage that once defined his legacy, will always have a void. Thank you Undertaker, your legacy shall always live on.
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