If you've been watching WWE for the past few months, you'll notice that one of those things just doesn't belong. While Reigns' path has been building towards a climax with Triple and Ambrose has been repeatedly calling out the Beast Incarnate, The Undertaker's match with Shane McMahon has simply materialized out of thin air.
But that doesn't mean this can't and won't be an interesting feud. In the past several years, The Undertaker has gone up against the likes of Shawn Michaels, Triple H, CM Punk, Brock Lesnar, and Bray Wyatt—all of them having mainstay participation with the company. Shane McMahon, however, left a little while back to work for YOU On Demand. All of that seemingly changed when The Prodigal Son returned to Monday Night Raw the day after Fastlane.
Having said that, Shane didn't just want to be apart of the organization. He wants control of Monday Night Raw, thereby putting an end to long-term heel stable, The Authority. Vince's response? Have The Undertaker beat the holy hell out of his son, so that his daughter, Stephanie, and her husband, Triple H, can remain atop the mountain.
In the proceedings of this storyline, one eventually has to ask, where does this leave The Undertaker?
Option 1: The End of an Era
Let's face it: The Undertaker isn't getting any younger. Despite an epic Hell in a Cell bout with Brock Lesnar half a year ago, it's difficult to say how much longer he can physically push himself. Similarly, Shane McMahon isn't a baby lamb, either. While both men have performed death-defying stunts over the course of their careers (See below.), this match could very well be their last hurrah.
And if this match is the last ride for The Undertaker (pun intended), then it's safe to say he lays down for Shane-O-Mac. But would it be a clean win? Hell no!
As previously alluded to, Shane McMahon isn't a regular wrestler, so it would be almost insulting if he beat an athlete of The Undertaker's caliber outright. Since it's a Hell in a Cell match, weapon strikes are legal, but we've seen time and time again, that those alone aren't enough to put down The Deadman. So in this scenario, it's safe to say that Shane calls on the help of someone else. But who?
There are only three people who come to mind: 1) Sting, 2) John Cena, and 3) Vince McMahon, himself. If The Undertaker can't go one more round at next year's WrestleMania, then this could be the closest that Sting ever comes to having that dream match with The Phenom. Similarly for Cena, he's never faced The Undertaker at WrestleMania and has really only had one singles match with him throughout the span of his career. And with Roman Reigns morphing into the top babyface, this could be Cena's perfect opportunity to finally turn heel. And then there's McMahon. Yeah, Vince said that he wants The Undertaker to kill his son. But similar to the Prodigal Son parable, forgiveness is a heavy theme. And in the right of good storytelling, Vince could bear a last minute change of heart, costing The Undertaker the win and forcing his career to rest in peace.
Option 2: A General Manager from Beyond the Grave
The Undertaker has never been a general manager of either Raw or SmackDown, despite being a locker room leader. More so, there have been rumors of him saying that he doesn't plan to retire this year. So here's the loophole: While The Undertaker may stop competing, he can remain involved with WWE by acting as an authority figure, avoiding retirement from the industry.
Just think of the possibilities. By acting as a general manager, instead of an active wrestler, The Undertaker would be playing a new character within WWE. His role would dictate booking matches and screwing over the company's budding faces or heels, creating opportunities for novel verbal sparring. While the wrestling portion of his career may be done, this certainly would shake things up.
Arguably the best part about this option is that it makes more sense for him to win his WrestleMania match, going out on top after already sacrificing his legendary streak at the Show of Shows. After all, why would he be the general manager after taking a loss to the man who clearly wants control of Raw.
Option 3: 23 and Counting
Possibly the least interesting option of the three mandates The Undertaker overcoming the odds and defeating Shane McMahon, adding another victim to his extensive list of fallen WrestleMania foes. While there are many out there, who would like The Undertaker's career to keep going and going like the Energizer Bunny, the big fear here stems from two facets: 1) The story is growing stale, and 2) As previously mentioned, he can't compete at the top level anymore.
WWE has done a solid job of establishing the monolithic importance of his WrestleMania matches throughout the years, but one aspect of the story always feels the same: The Undertaker's pending retirement. Surrendering the streak was one thing for The Deadman. But a second loss? That won't just signify a "-2". A second loss will mean the end of his career. So year after year, opponents will line up at the gate to say, "I'm the one who will put you down." And fans aren't new to this story, so any future WrestleMania contests for The Undertaker will exhibit that structure.
In terms of his athletic ability, The Undertaker can still wrestle......to a degree. But as the years go on, he'll face more and more limitations and quality will suffer for it. Just take a look at Big Show and Kane. For all of the amazing work they've done for WWE over the years, fans ungratefully chant "Please retire!" And who would want that for The Deadman?
While there are a few notable opponents left for him, aforementioned veterans, Sting and John Cena, and rising superstars, Finn Bálor and Kevin Owens, plainly stated, The Undertaker is past his prime.
It's been a while since I've felt this way about an Undertaker WrestleMania match, but I personally think he's going to lose for the story's sake. The Authority has run its course at this point and WWE needs a fresh element again. And with rumors of a pending Raw versus WWE storyline on the horizon, this might just be what's best for business.
So what are your thoughts on The Undertaker's match with Shane McMahon? Will Shane represent another notch in his belt? Will The Undertaker's wrestling career continue? Comment below and let us know.
Thanks for reading!