There is plenty of speculation online about the surprise ending to the Brock Lesnar-Undertaker match at WrestleMania 30, which ended with the biggest swerve in wrestling history: Undertaker losing for the first time ever at a WrestleMania.
Lesnar scored a clean fall on Undertaker after hitting a third F5 finisher. There is nothing controversial about the 1-2-3, but there is chatter about how it came about, some focusing on whether ‘Taker was just late kicking out on the three count, and more interesting talk suggesting that he went against script and stayed down for the three to end The Streak on his own.
Adding fuel to both those fires is the delayed ring announcement of Lesnar as the winner, and extra delay in his ring entrance/exit music thereafter, making it seem as if the folks backstage had not been prepared for the ending to come when it did.
Something to consider on the other side is how quickly the announce and camera/director teams seemed ready to tell the story of the shocking upset, with the cameras panning the crowd to capture shots of stunned fans, and the TV talkers on point about the surprise ending and what it may mean for The Undertaker’s career.
I’m tending to side with this being on script all along. Not that WWE’s production team couldn’t wing it on the fly well enough to sell an ending that would be a surprise to the folks backstage as being scripted all along, but it just seems to make too much sense in retrospect (and with an hour to let it sink in) to end The Streak tonight.
The WM30 version of The Undertaker Streak match was clearly below par for the franchise, which has given us classics like Shawn Michaels, Triple H and last year’s epic clash with CM Punk. Looking back, the Punk match should have been the one to end The Streak, or maybe WWE, if the plan was to end it this year, no matter the opponent, should have put a young superstar (Roman Reigns? Bray Wyatt?) in position to feud with ‘Taker and then take The Streak as their elevation to main-event status. Giving The Streak to a part-timer like Lesnar does little to nothing creatively; we can’t even be sure that Lesnar will be around for Monday Night Raw tomorrow night, much less next month, in six months or a year.
Presumably, Undertaker has creative control over his character, and thus was in on the plan of having The Streak end at the hands of Brock Lesnar. Maybe his thinking was that he’d prefer to have it end with a guy who is a legit shoot fighter than to lose it to a mere professional wrestler, the idea being that if The Undertaker is ever going to lose and make it believable, then Lesnar is the one to make it seem believable.
The sad thing to the end of The Streak isn’t that it ended, because it was going to end eventually; it’s that it ended with a dud of a match, which was something that a lot of us were expecting with Lesnar being involved. Lesnar, as talented as he is in the ring, as a former NCAA and UFC champ, is just not that entertaining when it comes to professional wrestling, with little visible knowledge of ring psychology and even less willingness to put together anything resembling a logical progression from beginning to end.
Whatever any of us think, though, The Streak is over, and we have to assume with its end that we’ve now seen the last of The Undertaker. Definitely the most shocking three-count in wrestling history, and one that guarantees that WrestleMania will never be the same.
Whether that’s good or bad, we’ll have to see.
– Column by Chris Graham