The Undertaker wanted it this way.
While I have read quite a bit of hatred towards Roman Reigns for finally retiring the Dead Man, let’s all remember this is how WWE’s most tenured superstar wanted it.
After 27 years of ring wars, and a body that is breaking down, the greatest wrestling character of all time has finally left the yard.
Regardless of how hard this company tries, there will never be an individual who embodies the spirit of kayfabe and this business as The Undertaker. A man who never worked out of character, a man who is well-respected, and a man who perfected his craft until the final pinfall. That is how we should remember him, and not because of who defeated him in his final match.
Reigns is in a no-win situation. The match, determined by WWE, set him up for failure with the fans no matter how you look at it. The Undertaker’s ability in the ring has been fading for years, and while he was solid in the first five minutes of the match, it was apparent that this decision to hang up his boots was the right call. As much as it saddens me and others, another hero has wrestled his last match.
I almost feel sorry for Reigns, who will forever be known as the man who delivered The Undertakers last call. While other wrestlers have had final matches, like Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels in Orlando nine years ago, the fans never wanted to see this confrontation.
It’s a necessary evil of an ever-evolving business. If the Roman Empire is to continue its dominance, it had to win this war. And the bewildered look on Reigns’ face at the end of the match was more of a reality check of what was about to happen.
Years ago, Michaels talked at length about how it was painful to retire one of his heroes, and if you remember the match it was one of the saddest endings in WrestleMania history. That wasn’t the case on Sunday night. The champion walked out of the ring, and the man who gave his heart and soul to this business and this company was given his just do. It was a fitting ending to a fantastic event, one that I thought exceeded my expectations.
How do you top a situation where a man who knows his limits goes out on his own terms? I’m sure millions of fans would have loved to have seen a win in his final match, but growth is a necessity in this business. Undertaker winning this match doesn’t promote that growth. If Reigns is to continue to attempt to get over with the fan base, he must be built as the baddest man in the yard. He proved that Sunday night.
I doubt seriously they will be a lot of pomp and circumstance Monday night when it comes to saying goodbye The Undertaker. That’s not how he wants it either. The quiet man would much rather walk away in character than ruin a good thing with over-celebration. While a man like Flair dictated exuberance, solemn respect is the best way to honor the Dead Man’s work.
Regardless of how fans feel, WWE got this right. Undertaker made sure they did. When the veteran stood in the middle of the ring, took his gear off and symbolically left it in the middle of the mat it ended in era. It’s the last time we will see him perform at WrestleMania or any other WWE function. And it was only fitting at the darkest point of the night (around midnight) that fans in Orlando honored him, just like he wanted, on his terms and in the best way possible.