The 411 Wrestling Top 5 1.29.14: Week 251 – The Top 5 Desired WM 30 Opponents For The Undertaker
Posted by Larry Csonka on 01.29.2014
From John Cena, Sting and Brock Lesnar to Chris Jericho, Goldberg, Roman Reigns and more, the 411 staff counts down their top 5 most wanted WrestleMania 30 opponents for the Undertaker!
Hello everyone and welcome to 411 Wrestling's Top 5 List. We take a topic each week and all the writers here on 411 wrestling will have the ability to give us their Top 5 on said topic, plus up to three honorable mentions.
So, onto this week's topic…
The 5 Desired WM 30 Opponents For The Undertaker
There have been tons of rumors for possible opponents for the Undertaker at WrestleMania this year. Select you five most desired opponents for the Undertaker at WrestleMania 30…
5. Seth Rollins - I'm at a weird place with the Undertaker's streak. For the past decade I've always been rooting for his opponent. As amazing as Taker is - that kind of agility in a guy of his ginormous size just isn't fair - I've consistently rooted against him. I think it's a lifelong Hogan hangover with me. I don't want the unbeatable guy to win. Explains my stance on John Cena too. Anyway, this year I just don't see anyone who necessarily should break the Streak. Ideally I'd have it be a younger guy and I don't think the WWE has a kid who's ready in both kayfabe and in-ring terms. It looks like Roman Reigns is going to get a major singles push toward something at WrestleMania. Exactly what remains to be seen. I just don't think Reigns has a ***** match in him at the moment. I'm positive Rollins does. If the idea is to give the Taker match to a kid who can blow our minds, then Rollins is the runaway choice as far as I'm concerned. Regardless of whether he wins, he'd stick that contest up in the pantheon of great Undertaker WrestleMania matches. For sure, I'd be rooting for Rollins. The reason I've got him at #5 is he hasn't been given the kayfabe positioning for the match, but I consider Rollins the most talented under-30 wrestler in the company (with Cody Rhodes ranking second).
4. Daniel Bryan - I sort of made this list with a recent 8-Ball column, so I'm going to try not to repeat myself overly much here. D-Bry is the ultimate underdog. He'd be playing David to the Undertaker's Goliath. On paper, he doesn't have the size or the pedigree to be the man to break the Streak. He's the perfect "don't tell me what I can' do" guy.
It also would make for some great promo drive-bys from HHH and HBK. "Yeah, yeah, I get it. You're the little engine that could. You're just going to keep chugging away and get over the top of Undertaker Mountain. Except, that's not going to happen. I hit Undertaker with an onslaught that would leave a man broken for life and he kept coming. He's a force of nature. You're just some plucky little wrestler. You are way out of your depth. Look at who Undertaker has beaten during the Streak. Every single one of those guys is better than you. You are going to lose and lose badly. You'll be lucky to last as long as you did two years ago against Sheamus." If Bryan could beat Taker, it would be the ultimate thumb in the eye to the guys who screwed him out of the WWE title.
3. Brock Lesnar - Sure, they had a massive feud in 2002, but that's ancient history. Back then the Streak was a mildly uninteresting footnote and Lesnar hadn't left the WWE for the world of MMA. A dozen years later, Lesnar has a legitimate claim to being the baddest man in a wrestling ring and Taker has everything to lose. It would be a brutally stiff match. Brock would be the absolute best pick in terms of selling the mindset that Undertaker is not a magical creature, rather he's a 49-year-old man up against someone who knows how to break him. Brock's mystique largely cancels out Taker's mystique. After Undertaker's bag of theater tricks failed him, he'd have to try to beat Lesnar as a man. Very cool story to tell.
2. John Cena - With the WWE Network launch tied into this year's WrestleMania, eyeball capture is going to be more important than ever. I assume Vince McMahon wants to proclaim on April 7 that WrestleMania XXX was the most watched WrestleMania of all time. Nothing is going to drive viewership more than John Cena vs. Undertaker. It sells itself, though ironically Cena and Taker famously no-sell their opponents. It plays off the assumption that Cena always was going to be the guy who breaks the Streak. From a business standpoint, it's almost crazy to have anyone else break the Streak before Cena takes a crack at it. Like so many others, I desperately would not want Cena to win, but I'd guaranteed be on the edge of my seat the whole match. I think that's the goal when you're booking a major event: have the crowd amped through the roof with anticipation.
1. Chris Jericho - I recognize the three guys above would be much better choices in terms of selling the event, but this is about what's most desirable to me. I'm an unapologetic Jericho mark. Every time he wrestles, I love it. He's immune to putting on a bad match. The qualitative consistency of his work is among the best who ever stepped into the ring. While I think Undertaker should give up the Streak to a new generation, it would give me a warm, happy feeling inside if they booked one last love letter to the Attitude Era. For all intents and purposes, Jericho is the last man standing. He wrestles a few months pretty much every year and puts over whomever they stick in front of him. If anybody deserves an epic WrestleMania victory, it's Chris Jericho. It would be the capstone moment for, arguably, pro wrestling's greatest generation. Plus, it would send people scrambling into the WWE Network vaults to relive what brought Undertaker and Jericho to that climactic match.
5. Sting - There. Somebody had to say it...
4. The Shield - This is for the sole purpose of getting revenge from last year. As most know, The Shield attacked him after WrestleMania 29 in 2013. Since then, The Undertaker has not been seen or heard from. JBL reminds us on commentary every single. For this to come full circle, you would think some kind of match or beat down is coming. Whether it happens at WMXXX or a random episode of Raw, nobody messes with The Deadman and gets away with it...unless you are The Nexus. Joking aside, this could be a three on one scenario or something with each member trying to prove their worth against Taker individually. Regardless, I only listed this to tie up the loose end from last year.
3. Nobody - Yep. Sorry, but I do not want The Undertaker wrestling just for the sake of wrestling. If he is to come back once or twice a year, it has to be worthwhile. Facing 3MB? No point. Wrestling Zack Ryder? Just stay home. Even a WMXXX match against Dolph Ziggler, Big E Langston, or even a rematch with CM Punk just does nothing for me. Nothing. I will go one step further. Even a match versus Daniel Bryan is equally as yawn inducing for 2014. A few years from now with more hype and build? Sure. Next year? Maybe, maybe not. Taker will win regardless, but it still has to have meaning. Just some random match to get Taker on the WMXXX card? No thanks.
2. John Cena - Ah, yes. In my mind, Taker has two matches left that will draw major dollars. Maybe a third if somebody else steps up to the plate in the next few years. My #1 choice is fairly obvious (read below). My #2 choice is Mr. John Cena. These two have faced off many times in the past but not in recent years. Their last 'big' match was on Raw. In 2006 on 2007, I think? Somebody probably knows the exact date. Either way, Cena vs. Taker has to be on the company's list of things to do...and FAST! Folks, The Dead Man is not going to wrestle forever. WWE has to be eyeing up WrestleMania 32 as his final match if the location is in Texas with over 100,000 fans in attendance. That does not leave a whole lot of room. One of these years, we will see Cena/Taker for The Stream. I do NOT think it happens in 2014 but must be considered a strong possibility.
1. Brock Lesnar - Easy selection for me. Even before their brief stare down in 2010, I expected Lesnar to return to WWE and battle Taker one last time. We saw Brock vs. Triple H. We saw Brock vs. CM Punk. We saw Brock vs. John Cena. None of those will compare to the energy and excitement surrounding Brock try to end The Streak at WrestleMania XXX. Like it or not, he is a believable monster in and out of the ring. No matter he is doing, everything about him seems REAL! When discussing Undertaker's undefeated streak at WrestleMania, that is as real as it gets for wrestling fans. To even fathom the thought of Lesnar defeating Taker at WM is money.
5. Ryback - What a stupid pick! they yelled in unison. I know, I know... the "big guy" ain't doing too much as of late. He's also (supposedly) got big time heat for being unsafe and being a crybaby. I know none of that would really matter to me if Ryback were allowed to put a beating on Taker leading up to Mania. Hell, Ryback could actually benefit from the "he looked good in a loss!" booking that these matches entail, anyways. Instead of being a complete schmo, what if we pretended that Ryback was actually an intimidating force, and treated him as such? Not a big possibility due to his place on the card (and possibly a Goldberg faceoff instead), but I wouldn't mind this.
4. Brock Lesnar - These two usually combined to create some memorable brawls, and perhaps one more for the road could be fun. I, like others, do worry about Taker's body being able to hang with Brock's physical style, but I'm pretty sure these two would be able to figure something out. Don't see it happening at all, but I wouldn't mind if it did.
3. Kane - We need the WrestleMania Trilogy, damn it! It can be Monster Kane, or Authority Kane, or whoever you want. He's tried twice over the last 16 years, and THIS year will be the year it works! Plus, maybe we could get some vintage Taker and Kane special effects and ghosts and goblins and whatnot with souls being sent to the depths of hell when it's all said and done.
2. Roman Reigns - Wouldn't this be quite the rocket push? Sure, you risk taking some steam off by having Reigns counting lights at the end, but what a statement it'd be to have him simply call out the Undertaker, on his own, and nearly pull it off. If you want to start getting these young guys into big spots, I could think of worse ways to go about it.
1. John Cena - In my humble opinion, this is basically the only Undertaker WrestleMania match left with any real importance. Everything else would be purely for spectacle (Brock, Sting) or a nod to something past (Kane, CM Punk). I guess Daniel Bryan could go in here, but it would take some ridiculous dropping of all storylines to get there. Cena, on the other hand? You don't have to turn Cena, you don't have to have him come out and decide he wants to end the Streak, you don't have to have any shenanigans. You can just have Undertaker appear, and call out "the very best that WWE has to offer," and just like that, you have yourself a gigantic match. People will care, people may actually worry that the Streak WILL end (it won't). Either way, for my money, this is the best match for not only Undertaker at WrestleMania, but for Cena, too.
5. Shawn Michaels Come on, it would make perfect sense, Shawn feeling the urge to get back in the ring just one more time and who better than Taker? The feud is a natural, Shawn wanting to prove himself, not wanting to go out as a loser and driven to taking Taker down as proof he's truly the Showstopper. Unlikely? Maybe. But the idea of these two putting on yet another MOTY is wonderful to think on and a great way to celebrate Mania's 30th.
4. Brock Lesnar Their terrific feud in 2002 was great but in the "American Badass" period of Taker's career. Seeing Brock going against the Dead Man would be more interesting as Brock is used to intimidating his opponents but this Undertaker wouldn't be as impressed by it. We know they can give us a great match with brutal hitting and moves and WWE has been ignoring Brock a bit too long. This would be a great revival of one of the better feuds of the last decade and a reminder of the phenom Brock was going against the Phenom of all time.
3. Batista Somehow, some way, Batista and Taker just clicked in the ring wonderfully. What was expected to be a slow battle instead turned into one of the best matches of the Streak and some good follow-up wars as well to show their stuff off. With Batista returning for the Rumble, the idea of him wanting to make his mark again by getting the win back over Taker makes sense and would be a hard-hitting encounter that might surprise some with its quality. The Animal and the Dead Man always did great together and be nice to see that revived.
2. Sting Not quite as impossible now given how TNA is self-destructing more than usual. Sting has to know his time is running down, he doesn't have as much in the tank and would want to give fans one huge showdown to top it off. WWE has given him short shrift in DVDs and such as he's the one major star of his time who never worked for the company but Sting must be tempted to put his story out at last. Working with WWE would be a good thing and a match against Taker would be astounding, two macabre icons going at it, maybe not a great match but just the sight of them together would be enough to get fans going. It's long overdue for Sting to get his due from WWE fans and this would be the best way to do it and pay off a dream encounter.
1. John Cena The only real choice for me. Cena has done just about everything in this company already, facing Taker at Mania is the last bold stroke. The build should be good, Cena's usual talk not getting to Taker and we know they can work well in the ring together. The match would be excellent, the biggest star of the company against the Dead Man and I'd love to see the Cena haters in a tizzy over the idea of him being the one to break the Streak. It'll end with Taker winning of course but prove how Cena brings his A-game to such huge bouts and be a great capper for both men to remind you why they're two of the biggest and best in the business.
5. Goldust - This is somewhat of an unconventional pick, but hear me out. Dustin Rhodes/Goldust was a pretty damn solid pro wrestler during the first half of the 1990s but, as time marched on, issues with addiction, weight, and injuries slowed him down and made it almost sad to watch him. There were some small improvements here and there but also some deep, deep lows, most notably his run in TNA as Black Reign. However, since Dustin has come back to WWE to start teaming with his brother Cody, it seems like he's in the best shape he's been in at least fifteen years, he's having numerous great matches, and he's still incorporating new moves into his repertoire. I honestly think he's capable of delivering an Undertaker match the caliber of which we've become accustomed to over the last several years. Plus, I think that you could do an interesting, reality-based storyline by acknowledging Goldust's personal and professional problems, with the idea being that he's battled back from them all and that and the perfect capper for his comeback would be to end the streak.
4. Big E Langston - Honestly, there aren't many young guys on the current WWE roster who I would like to see against the Undertaker at WrestleMania. It's not that they don't have some skilled young wrestlers, it's more due to the fact that they haven't booked most of them worth a damn. Seth Rollins? Dolph Ziggler? Antonio Cesaro? All talented guys, but none of them have been booked in such a way that they'd be a believable threat to the streak. The only individual who is a relatively fresh face on the WWE roster who could possibly be seen as having a chance against UT at this point is Big E Langston, who has been booked relatively well (clean losses to Randy Orton notwithstanding) and who has a natural intimidation factor due to his size and physique. Plus, though I don't think he's quite good enough to give us a match on the level of the HHH, Michaels, or Punk battles, he's still very good for his level of experience and in all likelihood could have a perfectly acceptable wrestling match with Undie.
3. Bill Goldberg - I have a confession to make. I've never understood why people have this burning desire to see the Undertaker vs. Sting, aside from the fact that, a couple of years ago, a bunch of fans read too much into some Undertaker return hype videos and claimed they were foreshadowing Sting, even though they did nothing of the sort. Taker and Sting's careers aren't linked in any meaningful way, and, though he's always worked hard, Sting isn't anywhere near the caliber of in-ring performer that we're now accustomed to seeing the Undertaker wrestle with at WrestleMania. If you're going to book a bout with a WCW alumnus, I've always been much more intrigued by the possibility of an Undertaker vs. Goldberg match for the streak. Granted, that doesn't resolve the issue of the match not being particularly good, but I think there's a better story to be told with Taker and Goldberg, as you would have two men with perhaps the two most memorable "streaks" in wrestling history going head-to-head. Plus, if you wanted to have Goldberg go into full-on heel mode, you could have him make the claim that he's a better wrestler and a bigger star than the Undertaker ever was, because he built up just as much recognition in a six year career as the Undertaker managed to build up in a twenty-plus year career.
2. Brock Lesnar - A lot of people have wanted to see this one ever since 2010, when then-UFC fighter Lesnar went face-to-face with taker ever-so-briefly after a championship match. There are persistent rumors that Vince McMahon reached out to Dana White and attempted to put the inter-promotional dream match together, but it was a no go from White's camp. Even today, though, you still hear people clambering for it. I would personally love to see the match, but, from my perspective, it's got nothing to do with what happened four years ago. It's got everything to do with Lesnar's current role and recent performances in WWE, as he is literally the only man on the roster who brings a legitimate intimidation factor to the ring with him and the only one whose matches have an actual air of danger around them. That would create an interesting dynamic in a match for the streak, even if we all know going in that wrestling is obviously worked and that the streak is almost certainly now going to survive through the end of the Undertaker's career. Also, like most of my choices, you've got a ready-made storyline that could get you to the match, as Paul Heyman had a storyline protégé fail to break the streak last year, and this could be his second bite at the apple. In fact, the only reason that I'm NOT putting Brock at the top of my list is that I would much rather see Lesnar vs. Batista at WrestleMania this year than just about any other potential match.
1. John Cena - And here it is. I'm not the biggest John Cena fan in the world. Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of these blind haters who boos him at live events, and I'm not one of these people who persists in the ridiculous belief that he "can't wrestle." I acknowledge the fact that he's an excellent face for the company, I respect him because he works incredibly hard, and I appreciate his matches for what they are. However, I'm still not a huge Cena fan in that I don't exactly find myself waiting with bated breath to see his matches or promos. Despite that, I think that a matchup with the Undertaker would be the exception to my normal view of Cena. There are essentially two hard and fast rules in the current WWE environment: the Undertaker always wins at WrestleMania and John Cena wins far and away the majority of his major pay per view matches. Obviously, at WrestleMania, one of those rules would have to give way to the other and, even though I think we can all guess to a reasonable certainty which one it would be, the story of how these two get to that point would make for an incredible atmosphere. That is especially true given the fact that, since Cena's very early WWE career, the two men have largely been kept away from one another in the ring.
YOUR TURN KNOW IT ALLS
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