The 8-Ball 1.06.14: Top 8 Guys Who Shouldn't Break The Streak
Posted by Mike Hammerlock on 01.06.2014
From Goldberg and John Cena to Baista, Sting, Daniel Bryan and more, 411's Mike Hammerlock counts down the top 8 guys who shouldn't break the Undertaker's legendary WrestleMania streak!
Yes, that's a road to Wrestlemania you feel under your feet. We're officially in that time of year when the card starts to take shape. For all the attention on the unified WWE title and the Royal Rumble, we're also getting into full swing for rumors about who might challenge the Undertaker's streak at Wrestlemania. Names are popping up fast and furious in the dirt sheets. The way it seems to work is, if you win a match or cut a good promo, then you immediately get stuck into a rumor that you might be given the chance to break the Streak. All returning talents get Streak rumors too. I mean, why would you come back if you weren't going to fight Undertaker?
The Magic 8-Ball has no way of sorting through that much fiction to find the facts, but it does know who shouldn't break the streak even if they get the match. Technically the list of guys who shouldn't break the Streak ticks up into the millions. It includes the kid who mows your lawn, Stephen Hawking and Brodus Clay. I'd have included Dolph Ziggler here, but there's a 0.00% chance of that match ever happening. If Dolph ever got relevant enough to merit that match, then he wouldn't need to win it. Originally I had planned a piece for next week listing the eight guys who should break the Streak, but I don't think there's any way I can come up with eight names I can take seriously, or pretend to take seriously. The list of names of guys who might face Taker but shouldn't win is much longer. In fact, it's pretty much all the prime suspects for his potential Wrestlemania opponent.
8. Goldberg and Sting
Why they might fight: All right, I'm cheating here. I had nine guys for this 8-Ball, so I squeezed two guys into the #8 slot. Just when you think you know the answers, I change the questions. Plus, it makes some sense to lump Goldberg and Sting together. Both would be novelty matchups. Goldberg easily could go on a quick destroy-everything-in-his-path run (like he was Goldberg), making it look like he's a serious threat to the Streak. He also famously refuses to job for anyone. We'd probably have rampant speculation that Goldberg might use his MMA training to go for a shoot win, and could Taker be zombie shootfighter enough to stop him? Sting obviously hasn't ever worked in a WWE ring. Putting him up against Taker would be fantasy booking along the lines of "Who would win, a Siberian tiger or a bull shark?"
Why they shouldn't break the Streak: They're WCW guys when you get right down to it and Vince McMahon won the war. No way is Vince going to give away one of the landmark achievements in wrestling history to a WCW guy. Plus, Sting will be 55 by the time Wrestlemania rolls around and Goldberg is no spring chicken (in fact, I can vouch for exactly how old he is, to the day). Neither of these two would be able to use a win over Taker as a springboard to bigger and better things. Even worse, epic matches have become an important part of the Streak and neither Goldberg nor Sting is up to delivering one of those. For all those reasons these two shouldn't even get the match, let alone the win. It would be a step backward for what has become an annual event where the performance lives up to the hype.
Why they might fight: Even though fans were experiencing Sheamus fatigue before his injury, he has been a top tier player in the WWE almost from the moment of his debut in 2009. When he returns in the near future, it's going to be sold as a very big deal. I suspect he might be headed toward a different sort of clash (don't rule out Daniel Bryan looking for WM28 revenge or a beef collision with Brock Lesnar), but Sheamus is one of the biggest names in the company who hasn't gotten a shot at the Streak. This could conceivably be viewed as a pass-the-torch match.
Why he shouldn't break the Streak: Sheamus turns 36 this month. If someone's going to break the Streak, then he should be able to milk a decade, minimum, out of it. In 10 years, Sheamus is going to be announcing Gaelic football matches. Spoiler alert: age is a consistent issue with everyone on this list. The other reason why Sheamus shouldn't get the win, or the Wrestlemania slot against Taker, is - name a great Sheamus match. Top of my head, best I can remember him in was mid-2011 against Christian for championship shot against Orton while Christian was still working the face side of "one more match." The big Irishman simply isn't must-watch material in the ring.
Why they might fight: Batista's return is getting big hype. Plus, he and Taker put on one hell of a feud back in 2007. Technically Undertaker should be on Batista's ax grinding list. Big Dave could come back on January 20, talk about how his WM23 loss to Taker haunts him each and every day and then say if we wins the Rumble he wants to cash it in on the Streak rather than the WWE title. On top of that, it's a throwback to the days when you pretty much had to be an enormous human in order to get a show against Undertaker Wrestlemania: King Kong Bundy, Giant Gonzalez, Diesel, Sycho Sid, Kane, Big Boss Man, Big Show, A-Train, Mark Henry, Batista. HHH is one of the smaller guys who's tilted at the Streak. Batista would bring the danger of a physically imposing opponent back into play.
Why he shouldn't break the Streak: Aside from the age thing, Batista's going to be spending at least as much time in Hollywood as he does in a wrestling ring over the next couple of years.This needs to be more about wrestling than celebrity. Unless Vince McMahon is being offered ownership of Marvel Comics, then no way should Drax the Destroyer beat the Undertaker.
5. Randy Orton
Why they might fight: Prior to WM21, the Streak was a severely underwhelming bit of mid-card filler. They had to remind us persistently that there was a streak because otherwise it would have withered away due to lack of interest. If Undertaker had retired 12-0, the Streak would have been a footnote. Orton made the attempt to break the Streak seem like it was the Mount Everest of pro wrestling. In fact, the Streak as we know it was born the moment when Taker reversed the Tombstone Piledriver on Orton (yes, I know the clip above is from their Hell in Cell match at Armageddon, but it built on the iconic reversal from Wrestlemania). Orton's surely been nursing a kayabe revenge itch since 2005. Having a world title on the line definitely would put the Streak in jeopardy. Orton would have as much to lose as Undertaker.
Why he shouldn't break the Streak: Orton's mission right now is to put over the unified title as the biggest thing on the planet. I suppose having the champ beat the Streak would achieve that, but these are two things that ought to exist on their own. No need to thin out the Wrestlemania card by combining the two. Plus, Taker would need to win the Rumble to make it happen. That's way too much spotlight for a guy who only wrestles a few times each year. What Orton should be concentrating on is stealing the show with the main event, been a few years since that happened at Wrestlemania. Randy should be chasing snowflakes.
4. CM Punk
Why they might fight: Because last year's match was amazing and the rematch would be another guaranteed MOTY candidate. Everybody and their dog wants to see that rematch. If anything, the biggest risk with Punk vs. Taker is that it would make too many people happy. People would have to start complaining about having nothing to complain about. If, for any reason, Punk isn't in the WWE title match, then Punk-Undertaker II becomes an awfully compelling option. Also, I'm dying for Punk to make an "In On the Kill Taker" reference.
Why he shouldn't break the Streak: By the time Wrestlemania rolls around, Punk will have gone more than a year since his last title bout. Seeing that he held the WWE belt for 434 days before that, it's time he re-entered the championship picture. Plus, note above where I mentioned how Randy Orton needs to chase a five-star match at Wrestlemania. Punk is the guy who can make that happen. On top of that, if there's any two guys out there with unfinished kayfabe business, it's Punk and Orton. Much as Punk-Undertaker II would be great to watch, Punk has other pressing matters that require his attention.
3. Daniel Bryan
Why they might fight: You may have noticed some people feel Daniel Bryan got screwed just a little bit last year by not receiving a substantial title run with the WWE belt. If others are involved in the title chase at Wrestlemania then Undertaker would loom as the potential career-defining fight for Bryan. Now that the Wyatt Family is in the mix, it would also add to the intrigue. Could Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper and Eric Rowan tip the scales in Bryan's favor? With the Shield likely heading their separate ways in 2014, the stage is set for the Wyatt Family to become the dominant faction in the WWE. What better way to assert their dominance than to pick up Daniel Bryan and have him break the streak? Also, Bryan-Undertaker would be guaranteed to burn down the house.
Why he shouldn't break the Streak: Why did Daniel Bryan join the Wyatt Family? Because no matter what he did, the Authority found a way to screw him. He's got fish to fry and the Undertaker isn't one of them. So, despite being the youngest guy on this list and being a lock for a classic match against Undertaker, Bryan's enemies list starts with HHH and HBK (and I think we can expect Kane to get involved here). If he ultimately triumphs against the Authority and gets himself a clean, no screwjob victory for the WWE title, then he won't need a career-defining win over Taker. Daniel Bryan needs to beat the Man, not to become a myth buster.
2. Brock Lesnar
Why they might fight: The wow factor on this matchup is off the charts. It would be the two biggest phenoms of their respective generations in a clash for the ages. Both of these guys are freaks of nature. We might even be getting worked for this matchup with rumors that Brock's too stiff for Taker. That challenge in selling the Streak these days is the opponent has to present some real jeopardy. Lesnar does that in a way no one else can. He has the real and kayfabe resume to make Undertaker look like the underdog. Lesnar-Undertaker has all the makings of an epic.
Why he shouldn't break the Streak: If/when Undertaker gives up the Streak, it should be against a full-time wrestler. Brock is cast perfectly as a guy who shows up a few times a year and has a major match. His credentials speak for themselves. He's already in an Undertaker role, so he'd get just about nothing from beating Undertaker. Even if this match happens this year, Taker should win it. Brock's career doesn't need the enhancement. The WWE would be wiser to keep both these big cats prowling out there in the jungle.
1. John Cena
Why they might fight: Well, if you want to sell tickets, this is the match that would do it. This tilt needs to happen while the Streak is still alive. When it happens depends on how long Taker wants to keep blowing the doors off of Wrestlemania, and how long he's physically capable of doing it. He'll be 49 when the big event goes off this year. We are getting near the end. To a degree what makes this such an ideal pairing is so many people (like myself) desperately do not want Cena to break the Streak. There is a dread out there that it's been maintained because Cena's holding the "Beat the Undertaker at Wrestlemania" card. Like so many other things, the Streak might secretly be a John Cena story. No one else can beat Big Evil, time to call Super Cena. If they fought, the anti-Cena crowd would be marking out every time Taker hit a move and in agony whenever it looked like Cena was closing in on a victory. It's also officially weird how little Taker and Cena have worked together over the years. There's either a story there or they could pretend there's a story there.
The more I consider it, maybe it's time to pull the trigger on this match. I'd add one stipulation: it's got to be a submission match. Both of these guys are famous for their refusal to quit/submit. Cena's done it, but not since 2003. Undertaker almost tapped out to Kurt Angle once (triangle choke on 7/4/2000), but he turned it into a pinfall just as he tapped, making it a half-tap at best. Having to soften up the other guy and work a whole host of submissions would make for a great match. They could also go for a KO. How many Tombstones would it take to incapacitate Super Cena? I want to know that way more than how many licks it takes to get the center of a Tootsie Pop.
Why he shouldn't break the Streak: Age and a career that doesn't need another boost are the two most glaring reasons. Yet John Cena's character needs to taste some discouragement. He's going to win plenty of other things and have other big moments, but this needs to be one that eludes Cena. Cena falling to the Streak actually would kick it to an even higher level. If the guy who has won everything else can't do it, then maybe nobody ever will. It also would open the door for the next generation to challenge Taker. Until Cena gets his shot, it's hard to imagine a Roman Reigns, Big E or Bray Wyatt would really stand a chance. Cena losing would be a way to put over the younger guy who breaks the Streak in the future. Lose for the kids, John.
I take requests.. The purpose of this column is to look forward. What could be? What should be? What is and what should never be? What would make more sense? If there's someone or something you think should be given the 8-Ball treatment, mention it in the comments section. I might pick it up for future weeks.