Thoughts From Across The Pond. 04.12.14. Should The Streak Have Ended?
Posted by Alex Watt on 04.12.2014
Brock Lesnar stunned the world by defeating the Undertaker at WrestleMania 30 to end the Streak! But should it have happened? And where do the two go from here? 411's Alex Watt takes a look!
Should the WWE have ended the Undertaker's Wrestlemania undefeated "Streak"?
"In time, all things shall pass away…"
The silence was deafening.
75,000 fans in the Superdome sat mouths agape in stunned disbelief as the reality slowly sunk in that the referee's hand had actually slapped the mat a third time.
You could have heard a pin drop in New Orleans at that moment were it not for the faux-screams of Paul Heyman at ringside.
A Machiavellian grin and a disdainful wink from the victorious Brock Lesnar confirmed the worst; "The Streak" was finished.
21-1 flashed the graphic on the screen as Lesnar and Heyman cockily skulked out of the arena, as the crowd continued to sit dumbfounded.
It was an audience reaction quite unlike anything we've experienced in the modern era. There was no cacophony of boos for the heels; no ironic cheers or chants from the "smart" portion of the crowd. There was nothing but silent shock, horror and awe.
Ironically – or perhaps fittingly – it was as though someone had died.
In an era when the WWE fanbase is more clued up than ever before, it takes something quite special to shock a crowd to this extent.
The fact is that nobody in that arena, and none of the millions of people watching at home, saw it coming.
After a poor build, in which Brock Lesnar was never truly made to look like anything approaching a real threat to the Undertaker's legendary unbeaten run at Wrestlemania, nobody truly believed that Lesnar would be the man to break the Undertaker's famous "streak".
It is clear now that the WWE had done this deliberately in order to throw viewers off the scent. The problem was, they had almost done too good a job. Nobody bought into a potential 'Taker loss and, as a result, there was little to no heat for the match in the Superdome.
In hindsight, the WWE may feel that they should have promoted the match much as they had for ‘Taker's other foes over the last several years and made Lesnar look like a genuine threat. The outcome would have been a shock regardless.
Naturally, it didn't help that after Daniel Bryan and Triple H had torn the house down in the opener, and John Cena and Bray Wyatt had turned in a fun match, that the Lesnar-Undertaker showdown was a complete letdown.
Watching live, Undertaker's performance was a major disappointment. After "The Deadman" had stolen the show at the prior seven Wrestlemania's (against CM Punk, Triple H x 2, Shawn Michaels x 2, Edge and Batista), it was sad to see that age had apparently caught up with the Undertaker as he looked every bit of his 49 years in a plodding affair.
However, in the days following the event, news has emerged that Undertaker suffered a serious concussion in the opening minutes of the match. It was even referenced by Paul Heyman in his typically brilliant promo on Monday's post-Mania Raw.
Naturally, this greatly hindered Undertaker's performance and Brock Lesnar was tasked with carrying the veteran through the match on the "Grandest Stage of Them All." Lesnar is a tremendous worker but in only his seventh match since his return to WWE, he was always going to face a tough task.
Under those circumstances, one can only credit the performers for what they were able to achieve on Sunday night.
Although the match sagged horribly in the middle, with a slow pace and lacking the intensity which seemed almost guaranteed from these two (and now understandably so), the go-home sequence was well worked and actually deserved more response from the jaded crowd.
Indeed, despite Lesnar hitting his undefeated foe with two F-5s, only for Undertaker to kick out, the crowd refused to bite. Lesnar countering a ‘Taker "Old School" attempt with an F-5, in particular, was a beautiful false finish.
Brock kicking out of the Tombstone Piledriver did garner a response but nothing compared to when 'Taker previous foes had done so. That moment when Undertaker hoisted Lesnar into Tombstone position was scary watching live, given that Lesnar secretes an almost inhuman amount of sweat and ‘Taker didn't look to have the strength or the grip to hold the former UFC and WWE champion in position. On second viewing, armed with the knowledge of Undertaker's concussion, that moment is utterly terrifying.
In the end, Lesnar countered another Tombstone attempt into a third F-5. It should have made for a tremendous finish but, again, the crowd simply didn't believe that Undertaker was going down for the count.
How wrong we all were.
The unexpected outcome completely sucked all the atmosphere out of the arena. So much so, that it took fans in the Superdome a substantial period of time, and a lot of Undertaker lingering in the ring, before they recognised that this could be the legend's final match. Eventually, the crowd gave the Undertaker the standing ovation that he deserved.
In fact, it seemed for a long time that the result and subsequent low energy in the arena would spoil the main event. It certainly took a while for the crowd to get back into the triple threat match. They eventually did, thanks to Daniel Bryan's masterful working of audience as the classic underdog, clever heel heat building tactics from Randy Orton and Batista, a run-in from Triple H, Stephanie McMahon and pals and, ultimately, the right ending.
It took a lot of work but the wrestlers got the crowd back on side. That it took them so long, however, demonstrates just how divisive a moment Undertaker's loss was.
So, was Brock Lesnar the correct choice to end "The Streak"; something which had become so famous, it almost transcended wrestling?
The choice for the streak to end was the Undertaker's choice; 'Taker has always respected Brock. The fact that Lesnar was able to find great success in the worked environment of WWE and also in real combat in Mixed Martial Arts and the UFC, has always held great stock with Mark Calloway, the man behind the gimmick. Calloway is, after all, frequently seen at UFC events and has brought a number of MMA submissions and strikes into his repertoire. Their Wrestlemania XXX match naturally incorporated many of those sequences.
Even so, many – including myself – feel that "The Streak" should never have ended. The only reason for the WWE to have Undertaker lose at the big show was to give a future prospect a huge career moment. For instance, if a wrestler like Roman Reigns had been the man to end "The Streak", many would have come to terms with the decision.
As it is, Brock Lesnar is a 36-year-old, part-time performer. A hugely talented one, no doubt, and a big name thanks to his status as former WWE and UFC champion, but a part-timer nonetheless.
What the WWE must do now is make sure that they don't drop the ball with Lesnar. As the man who ended something as important and historic as "The Streak", Lesnar has to be set up for a phenomenal 2014 in pro-wrestling.
WWE have already made the foolish errors of having "The Beast" lose twice since his return – to John Cena and Triple H – but nothing short of complete dominance makes sense now.
For Lesnar, another big win on Pay Per View should set him on a direct course to the WWE Championship. While Daniel Bryan concludes his unfinished business with Orton, Batista and "The Authority", Lesnar should continue to destroy everything in his path until the summer.
Come Summerslam in August, a showdown between Daniel Bryan and Brock Lesnar could do extremely good business. The classic underdog against the unstoppable monster.
As for the Undertaker, a lot of signs point towards this being his last match.
In the promotional videos for the match, much was made of Undertaker's advancing years and how each increasingly difficult defence of his streak at Wrestlemania was taking its toll. Besides being a piece of clever foreshadowing that a lot of us missed (as were the lyrics of the Mark Collie song "In Time" used as part of the build to the match), it also adds weight to the theory that the Undertaker will retire.
Relieved of the burden of the streak – and as conqueror of that, Lesnar will now have to carry a burden of his own – the Undertaker has nothing else left to prove in pro-wrestling. There is one potential match looming on the horizon, however, with a former WCW legend which may tempt Taker back for one more go around.
The WWE will find out next year whether their Wrestlemania numbers take a hit without the attraction of the Undertaker defending his streak on the show. Perhaps the long anticipated showdown between Undertaker and Sting, in a double retirement match, will be the way WWE looks to remedy this promotional issue.
But, for now, only one thing is certain.
The streak is dead. Long live the streak.
What do you think? Should "The Streak" have ended? And was Brock Lesnar the right man for the job?
And that'll do it for another week.
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