The Undertaker's Streak is over. Now what?
Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for The Undertaker.
The once-undefeated, formerly unconquerable protector of WrestleMania’s vaunted Streak saw the lights of the Superdome ceiling on Sunday when Brock Lesnar struck The Phenom down with a trifecta of F-5s. Lesnar scored a historic three-count that left everyone so stunned they forgot to play The Anomaly’s exit music for a full five minutes.
It was a loss that left everyone shocked ( this guy especially). You could have heard a pin drop in WWE HQ – WWE.com’s own Joey Styles couldn’t even muster up an “Oh my God!” in response. Even Jon Stewart nearly lost his mind in disbelief on “The Daily Show” the next night. When all was said and done The Phenom was not only defeated but concussed; if you believe Paul Heyman – and you certainly do so at your own risk – The Last Outlaw keeled over in the locker room after the match and was escorted to a local hospital by Mr. McMahon himself. One week later, the reality has finally set in. There will be no do-overs, no mulligans. 21-1 still stands. The Undertaker lost. The Streak is broken.
So … now what?
Does The Phenom fade into oblivion like Mike Tyson once promised to do? Does he hang up the boots and call it a day? It’s difficult to imagine The Undertaker shedding his robe and embracing The Chairman as Ric Flair did during his Raw retirement ceremony, but it’s even harder to imagine him going out by falling short of a challenge he asked for.
Is this the moment when The Undertaker finally recedes into the shadows and a new era begins? Or will the bell toll one more time? The Phenom did look shaky at The Show of Shows, but, to be fair, a fight with Brock Lesnar could do that to anyone.
Either way, the facts are these: The Demon of Death Valley has officially lost two of his last three televised matches – an idea that was unimaginable as recently as two years ago. And, the greatest – and last – benchmark in the old guard of professional wrestling has been surpassed. The era of The Undertaker may not have come to an end just yet, but the era of the undefeated Phenom most certainly has.
The irony is that – despite the hand-wringing over The Phenom’s future – he remains as omniscient as ever in the hearts and minds of the WWE Universe. The sole WrestleMania loss has become part of the legend just as much as the 21 wins were (to say nothing of Lesnar’s and Paul Heyman’s own legends). Win or loss, return or retirement, the legend continues. The bell tolls on, and on, and on.
That’s not a prediction, by the way. It’s a spoiler.