Legend has it that in Europe during the Middle Ages, Hun invaders would mark their territory by mounting the head of a slain enemy on a stake. Undertaker went a step further at Unforgiven, reclaiming his territory by leaving the body of the World's Strongest Man broken and battered on the mat. The conquered mass of Mark Henry in his wake sent a clear message: That Undertaker's resurrection is complete, and no one on the SmackDown roster should feel safe from his wrath.
After a four-month absence, The Deadman returns to Friday Night SmackDown this week, where he will again face Mark Henry. But exactly how large a shadow will his return cast upon Friday nights from here on out?
"Undertaker is the most dominating commodity in the history of WWE," acknowledged WWE Tag Team Champion Matt Hardy. "He pushes back everybody's chances at the World Heavyweight Title. He's always going to be at the top of the food chain."
Hardy's sentiment is eerily echoed by one who is best acquainted with The Phenom.
"Undertaker has unfinished business in this place," declared his brother, Kane. "Mark Henry is only the beginning."
Shockingly, some SmackDown Superstars appear unfazed by Undertaker's return… or so they claim.
"Undertaker thinks by beating Mark Henry he's a contender?" Kenny Dykstra posed rhetorically. "Well, he's not, and you know why? He hasn't beaten a real contender, a future WWE Hall of Famer. He hasn't beaten Kenny Dykstra."
Even SmackDown's U.S. and WWE Tag Team Champion -- and a Franchise Playa who has felt The Deadman's wrath before -- felt the need to add his three cents: "I gladly welcome Undertaker back to SmackDown -- a.k.a. The MVP Show."
After all the speculation, it's worth remembering just how Undertaker found himself in his current position to begin with. Last May, The Phenom retained his World Heavyweight Championship against Batista in a bloody, exhaustive Steel Cage Match, only to be assaulted unmercifully by the then-returning Mark Henry. As Undertaker lay tattered and fatigued, Edge cashed in a "Money in the Bank" opportunity at the title and, as many believe, stole the gold from The Deadman.
Despite such Rated-R larceny, the feelings of SmackDown Superstars are mixed as to whether or not Undertaker should be able to return and vie to reclaim the World Heavyweight Championship as his own.
"I don't think Undertaker should be in line for the title, especially since he lost it to Edge fair and square," complained Dykstra. "He should start at the bottom, where he belongs."
In his ever-intimidating way, Kane points out that Mark Henry and the World Heavyweight Championship may not be the only targets in Undertaker's sights. "After that Steel Cage Match with Batista," he noted, "my brother probably can't wait to lay his hands upon The Animal again, some time down the road."
Regardless of where Undertaker's journey begins, it will never end until he has the opportunity to recapture the World Heavyweight Championship, and find himself once again atop a heap of defeated carcasses. His voyage to take back what he feels is rightfully his will undoubtedly be strewn with hordes of challengers naïve enough to believe one thing -- that they could destroy that which can never be destroyed.