Over the course of 22 years, The Undertaker amassed the single most impressive record in WWE history: “The Streak.” The Dead Man had 21 matches at Wrestlemania from his debut in 1991 to 2013. While injuries caused him to miss Wrestlemania X and Wrestlemania 2000, every other year, Undertaker defeated his opponent. Some of these matches produced classic moments. But, one could argue that The Streak never should have ended.
It all started innocently enough. At Wrestlemania VII, Undertaker defeated “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka in just over four minutes. The following year, he beat Jake “The Snake” Roberts. Then, in 1993, there was the unforgettable (for better or for worse) victory over Giant Gonzalez.
Still, it’s hard to imagine that anyone could see this turning into what it eventually turned into.
From 1993-1997, the ‘big men’ were slotted against Undertaker. Not all of the matches were great, but his victories over Gonzalez, King Kong Bundy, Diesel, and Sycho Sid gave him an aura of invincibility. It was as if no one could defeat him.
Then, in 1998, a new opponent emerged with a story much deeper than any previous opponent. That opponent was Kane, the brother of The Undertaker. See, Kane was burned in the fire that claimed the lives of their parents. Presumably, Paul Bearer raised him until the point of manhood, when he would storm the gates of the WWE and declare vengeance on his brother. At the time, it was one of the biggest matches in WWE history.
(Can we all agree to just skip over the Hell in a Cell against Big Bossman? Okay, thanks.)
In 2001, Undertaker walked into one of the major programs (a match with Triple H) at Wrestlemania X-Seven at 8-0. At that point, the WWE was on to something. Then, it started to feel like these Undertaker matches were getting bigger and bigger. It meant a great deal to get the ‘Taker slot at Wrestlemania.
Over the course of the next five years, Undertaker would wrestle and defeat such legends as Ric Flair, The Big Show & A-Train, Kane (again), Randy Orton, and Mark Henry. I can remember being a senior in high school and thinking Kane was going to be the one to end The Streak. He didn’t. The next year, it was the same thing with Randy Orton. That was 2004 and 2005. Little did I know The Streak would continue for 10 more years.
It was after Wrestlemania 22 that we entered into peak Streak territory. Undertaker won the 2007 Royal Rumble. Thus, he earned an opportunity to face Batista for the World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania 23. It was the first time the ‘title vs. The Streak’ angle was used. They put on one of the greatest matches in Wrestlemania history. Regardless, ‘Taker winning seemed automatic at this point. And, as he continued to win, his legend continued to grow.
He would go on to wrestle Edge in the main event of Wrestlemania XXIV in Orlando. The bout pushed 25 minutes, and remains one of the finer main events in Wrestlemania history to this day. But, there was still room for The Streak to become more significant. Undertaker would defeat Edge to close the show as World Heavyweight Champion.
Then, something magical happened. In 2009, the Undertaker wrestled Shawn Michaels. It didn’t seem like much at the time. But, once the bell rang, these two found lightning in a bottle. Some have called it this the greatest Wrestlemania match of all time. Moreover, some have even called it the greatest wrestling match of all time.
The following year, Michaels would challenge Undertaker to a ‘Streak vs. career’ match. If Michaels lost, he would retire. Yes, in 2010, the WWE officially established that beating the Undertaker was far more significant than winning any championship. Michaels lost, retired, and hasn’t wrestled since. The fact that he has stayed retired demonstrates the amount of respect he has for that match and The Streak. Or, maybe he’s just a beat-up old guy now.
Regardless, Triple H obsessed over beating Undertaker at Wrestlemania. The two put on an excellent match at Wrestlemania XXVII. Then, again at Wrestlemania XXVIII inside Hell in a Cell. In 2013, The Streak would claim its last victim when the Dead Man defeated CM Punk at Wrestlemania 29.
But, all good things must come to an end, right? At Wrestlemania XXX in New Orleans, the unthinkable happened. Brock Lesnar pinned the Undertaker in the middle of the ring. 1-2-3.
I’ve never heard a crowd of so many people fall so quiet so quickly. It was shocking. And, whether you believe Lesnar to be the right guy to do it or not, it was the most unforgettable moment in Wrestlemania history. While we all knew that day would eventually come, it just felt weird. Like, suddenly, all was not right with the world. This wasn’t how things were supposed to be. The Undertaker wins at Wrestlemania. He just does.
Thankfully, we’re (mostly) grown adults who realize it’s a scripted entertainment program and were able to move on with our lives the following morning. But, still – one can’t help but wonder what could have been if The Streak hadn’t ended so abruptly.
Undertaker’s matches since then have been rather lackluster. What should’ve been a classic showdown with Bray Wyatt felt like simply going through the motions. Wyatt is a man who could’ve benefitted infinitely by ending The Streak. Last year, Undertaker defeated Shane McMahon in a stunt-fest Hell in a Cell match. It just wasn’t good.
And, then we arrive to 2017. Undertaker is wrestling another opponent, Roman Reigns, who would’ve been a suitable choice to end The Streak as well. The road to Wrestlemania hasn’t quite had the same panache since Lesnar won in New Orleans. Is it bad booking? Or, could it be that what became one of the WWE’s biggest storytelling devices for the show no longer exists?
Reigns vs. Undertaker feels thrown together. There’s no rich history between the two. Nothing dramatic happened to ignite this rivalry. Can you imagine what this match would mean if The Streak was still alive?
So, wrestling fans – all of this begs the question: does Wrestlemania miss The Streak?