WWE: With Their Heads Held Low by Marc Madison

On Sunday April 3rd, The Undertaker’s legacy is once again at stake, this time against that of Shane McMahon. It’s billed as two men with something to prove, but does either man really have something to prove? In the case of The Undertaker, he continues to call Wrestlemania his yard and his legacy. On this past week’s edition of Raw it was claimed by Shane McMahon that The Undertaker’s legacy ended when his streak ended against Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 30. So now, what is his motivation? According to the stipulation that Vince McMahon has put forth, unless The Undertaker wins his career is over. In the words of Shane the match is ‘his to win and The Undertaker’s not to lose’.

The storyline has a number of flaws, but honestly, what is the company left to do? Word is that The Undertaker could have potentially faced either Brock Lesnar or John Cena. An injury to Cena changed those plans, and a Hell in the Cell match between Lesnar and The Undertaker, the culmination of their feud, ended speculation of that happening as well. Once it was revealed that it would be Shane McMahon who has to beat The Undertaker, we as wrestling fans were left thinking a few different things. First off, is Undertaker facing Shane enough of a drawing card to get people to watch Wrestlemania? Secondly, is it believable that a near forty-six-year-old that hasn’t competed for nearly seven years has a chance against The Phenom? Thirdly, how entertaining would you anticipate a match like this between the two of them? Is the prospect of this match really all that interesting? Fans in attendance at this past week’s RAW were cheering for Shane, even though he was poised to face-off against The Undertaker. So while it would be easy for us to say there is no chance in hell for Shane, fans are still given hope.

A number of different stories about behind the scenes matters have surfaced since Shane returned to reclaim his ‘throne’ and sit atop of the WWE. One of the stories that has surfaced was there being genuine animosity between Triple H, Stephanie and Shane over the direction of the company. Was that a legitimate story or one planted to create doubt in fans thinking? Perhaps there is change coming and Shane will be at the helm of it. A more recent story that has come out is that graphics have been created showing both a different look for Raw and Smackdown. While the red and blue color schemes have been there before, it only adds to the speculation that Shane will walk away the winner of the Hell in the Cell match up.

But, despite all the teasers out there that suggest Shane has a chance, we have to look at one thing when it comes to this match: How believable is it that Shane McMahon could defeat The Undertaker? If we did a tale of the tape between the two men, fans would be hard pressed to find something that shows an advantage for Shane. Whether it is his height, weight, experience, ability to intimidate his opposition, The Undertaker has most men beat. When you compare him to Shane McMahon, can we honestly say that the fight is fair? Vince stated that Shane would do anything to win. Thus, are we led to believe that Shane, on his best day, with everything in his arsenal, could defeat The Undertaker? Surely it would take unscrupulous means for him to win. And then the question becomes, why have the match if Shane has no chance of winning the match clean?

It’s pretty simple, actually. By having a match with no rules, WWE is attempting to even the playing field for both competitors. In a strictly one-on-one match Undertaker should win. However, by having it be a Hell in the Cell they not only avoid having it be a fair contest with a clean win, but it also masks other things as well.

One of the criticisms that this match has faced is the respective ages of both participants. The Undertaker is fifty-one years of age and Shane McMahon is forty-six. When it comes to speed, agility and mobility, time is certainly not a friend. Regardless of how good a shape the participants may be in, regardless of their training prior to the event, when it comes to competing in a ring where your stamina is constantly tested and you will need to use your strength and speed, not mention having to convince your audience that you are either in pain or able to recover, it is very different altogether.

Another criticism is the ring rust of both competitors, which this kind of match is intended to mask. Fans have become accustomed to the typical Undertaker spots: his leg drop off the ring apron, walking on the top rope, diving over the top rope. However, time and the ability to recover will play a part in whether The Undertaker can even hit some of them now. Having The Undertaker take his time between moves is certainly not hard to believe. Shane certainly appears to be the dark horse in this match. However, when we consider that Shane’s most notable matches have been ones where big risks were taken, having him in a match like this makes sense. This isn’t to say that Shane couldn’t hit suplexes or headlocks, but this format will mask whatever was lost in the seven years that he wasn’t in the ring. He can get away with the imperfections that come with not competing regularly, so when he crashes and burns in grand fashion fans will buy into that. Its will be a spectacle, and one that fans will more than likely appreciate. This will be one of those instances where what they do in the ring says little about their actual in-ring ability and more about what they can do to generate a reaction.

What is actually eating at some wrestling fans is, despite the alleged consequences of The Undertaker losing this match, the question remains: Does the match really serve a purpose for him, as he is in a no-win situation? It is only a couple of years removed from when The Undertaker lost to Brock Lesnar, in what was considered one of the most stunning Wrestlemania moments of all time. After that, he defeated a rising character in Bray Wyatt, who did a tremendous job trying to elevate the match and feud. To have him lose to Shane could negatively impact whatever The Dead Man has achieved over the past few years in retrospect. It would be a really sad state for the legacy of The Undertaker to have him lose to someone that hasn’t actively competed for so long. But the match was put together because of unfortunate circumstance and injuries.

While it would have been great to see other potential matches mentioned earlier for The Undertaker than this one, their hands could be really tied…or are they? As mentioned, a noteworthy feud for The Undertaker would be another program with Bray Wyatt. Even though Wyatt had said a number of times ‘Anyone, but you, Roman, anyone, but you’. He could want to take the throne as the face of fear. It would say a great deal about him and where the company sees Wyatt’s potential moving forward. Fans have heard Wyatt’s promos and his ability to build a program. He almost single-handedly carried the build to his match against The Undertaker last year. Perhaps an idea would be to in some way have Wyatt play a role. That allows him to continue on his path of wishing ‘Down with the Machine’ that is WWE management, while aiding Shane McMahon either directly or indirectly.

However, no matter how we slice it, the match needs help to warrant the hype. The problem with this feud is that they haven’t made us hate either man, or given us reason to jeer one over the other. From a fans perspective, the prospect of Shane winning and the change that could from it is certainly enticing. And the idea that it could be The Undertaker’s last match is also something that should generate interest. But in all of this, there hasn’t been enough done to sway fans either way in order to truly draw an interest. Add to that the fact that this match could essentially be the main event, and it becomes even more of a concern.

Who do fans want to win and who the fans think will win almost becomes irrelevant. The match was made because Shane’s popularity fills a void that is needed at a huge event such as Wrestlemania. And the void was filled regardless of which man comes out successful. We are left with the idea that, even if The Undertaker does win, ultimately nothing changes on the whole and both could be gone without a trace after the night is over.

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