WrestleMania 33 Analysis and Predictions Part 4: The Undertaker Match

Last, but not least, my final installment of my WrestleMania 33 series is dedicated to The Undertaker Vs. Roman Reigns match.  The Undertaker is the greatest performer in the history of WrestleMania.  His legendary undefeated streak of 21 straight WrestleMania wins will likely never be broken.  It is a statistical measure that stands up against Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak as a symbol of greatness.  Much like DiMaggio, when the Undertaker’s streak was broken, he picked up and resumed where he left off as the one of the best of all time.  He won his next two WrestleMania matches and boasts an all-time-best WrestleMania record of 23-1.

While he very rarely was in the main event, WrestleMania became the Undertaker’s show as his streak grew.  It was first noted during commentary at WrestleMania XIII that he was undefeated in WrestleMania matches.  The streak grew organically until it became the main attraction of the show year after year.  It was a unique storyline, one that lasted over two decades.  Champions came and went, and for that matter championship titles themselves came and went.  But The Undertaker kept his streak alive at every WrestleMania he appeared at between WrestleMania VII and WrestleMania XXX.

The pinnacle of The Undertaker’s streak was his match against Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XXV.  That match is the greatest WrestleMania match of all time.  It’s considered to be the Sistine Chapel of the art of professional wrestling. It was the perfect culmination of the right storyline and the right competitors, buoyed by their past performances at WrestleMania.  Every WWE wrestler should strive to be in a WrestleMania match half as good as Undertaker/Michaels at WrestleMania XXV.

Unfortunately, the WWE committed a creative blunder this year by pairing The Undertaker against Roman Reigns.  The same Roman Reigns who was critically panned for his performances leading up to, and in, the last two WrestleMania main events.  The same Roman Reigns that is booked as a babyface but is roundly booed out of every building he steps foot in.  The same Roman Reigns that most wrestling fans agree absolutely sucks.

Let me elaborate on that last point.  Why does Roman Reigns absolutely suck?  Let me offer some proof.

What are two things that every professional wrestler should be good at?  Those two things are skill on the microphone, and in-ring wrestling ability.  Wrestlers need to be able to tell stories using these two essential tools.  Roman Reigns is lacking in both areas.

Let’s start with his mic skills.  Roman Reigns has no ability to emote or excite anybody during his promos.  Classic wrestlers who are now in the WWE Hall of Fame all had the ability to connect with the audience during their promos.  They are able to ad-lib, and talk as if they mean what they are saying.  Check out these examples.

Stone Cold Steve Austin built an entire career out of this promo at King of The Ring in 1996.  To hear him tell the story, he made the whole thing up on the fly.  He invented the catch phrases “Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass” and “That’s the bottom line, because Stone Cold said so” on the spot.  Nobody had to write them down and hand them to him.  He lived and breathed the Stone Cold persona and this classic is what he came up with.

 

The Rock and Mankind were masters on the mic.  You could watch YouTube highlights of both of them for days on end.  The Rock had too many catch phrases to count, and Mankind was the perfect foil.  Neither man needed to be told what to say, they just went on camera and let it roll.

 

This last one is one of my favorites.  Watch as newly inducted WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle hold this live crowd in the palm of his hand.  This is a long promo and it gets better and better as it goes on.  He reacts to the crowd and then makes them chant “you suck!” louder and louder, over and over again.  He makes it personal.  You really believe that he is genuinely upset!

 

Now, watch Roman Reigns cut a promo.  In this one he’s trying to sell a match at Hell in a Cell.  Try staying awake for half of it.  Reigns looks like he’s reading a teleprompter and barely cares about what he’s saying.  Does he show any emotion?  Does he make you want to watch the match?  Or, does he make you wonder if something else better is on TV on another channel?

 

How about Reigns in-ring skills? Professional wrestling is an art.  When it is done right, we suspend reality and believe that the competitors in the match are actually trying to hurt each other in an attempt to win a match.  We know the outcome is predetermined in our minds, but when we watch the show, we believe that we are watching a legitimate athletic contest.  That is, of course, when it’s done right. When it’s done wrong, all you can do is say to yourself “Man, this guy can’t wrestle”.

Roman Reigns is an example of a guy who can’t wrestle.  I’m not saying he can’t do all the moves and take all the bumps he needs to take.  He can do that just fine.  But when I say he can’t wrestle, I’m talking about his in-wring psychology.  His ability to command a crowd and suspend belief by selling for his opponent, and mounting a credible comeback is extremely lacking.

Take this snippet for example.  Watch him no-sell the Seth Rollins buckle bomb and quickly return with his Superman Punch.

 

How often do you see him do this?  It’s a classic babyface move, the good guy takes a beating but suddenly he is able to make a comeback and topple the bad guy.  Hulk Hogan was a master at it.  He’d get beat up, start to shake, get the crowd pumped into a frenzy, and then stop selling for his opponent as he made his comeback for the big boot and leg drop for the win.  Reigns can’t figure it out.  The crowd never pops for his Superman Punch.  It comes out of nowhere, it’s like he instantly and miraculously isn’t hurt anymore and can start mounting a comeback.  Nobody buys it!

Roman Reigns is past the point of being able to improve.  He’s had his chance.  He has been in two straight WrestleMania main events! By definition, there is no bigger push for a wrestler to get!  This is as good as he will ever be!  And he stinks!!!!  A heel turn wouldn’t help at this point, he won’t be any better at being a bad guy than he is as a good guy!

There is a persistent rumor that Roman Reigns is going to get a push back to the main event of WrestleMania 34 next year in New Orleans.  The rumor is that there will be a rematch of Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns from WrestleMania 31 for the WWE Universal Championship, this time with Reigns winning the title.  Just the thought of this outcome makes me want to kick my cats across the room.

The theory is that if this is the plan for next year’s WrestleMania, that Reigns has to beat The Undertaker this year in order to set him on a winning path.  The Undertaker is nearing or at the end of his career, and traditionally in the wrestling business when someone is on their way out, they are supposed to “do business” and put over up-and-coming talents in order to pass the torch.

In most cases, it makes sense for a retiring superstar to lose his last match.  The Undertaker is a special case.  He has given too much for too long to the business and to the fans. He has the most prolonged and unique professional wrestling career ever.  He is one of the greatest of all time.  He is what Roman Reigns will never be, and Roman Reigns is not deserving of the honor of beating The Undertaker at WrestleMania.

This match will define the future of the WWE.  If Reigns does indeed go ahead to beat The Undertaker and win the main event and title at WrestleMania next year, it will set us towards a long and tortured path of Reigns being forced down our throats as the face of the company.  For the sake of the future of the WWE, let’s hope these rumors aren’t true and The Undertaker wins his 24th WrestleMania match at WrestleMania this weekend.

Prediction: Winner, The Undertaker

This is the end of my four-part series of Analysis and Predictions for WrestleMania 33.  If you have any questions or comments, please comment below or send me an e-mail (advice@njnonconformist.com).

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