We bid farewell to Undertaker.
WrestleMania happened, new stars hit the main roster, the freaking Hardys returned to WWE, Kurt Angle is the general manager of Raw, and the Undertaker has apparently retired?!
Also, Coast 2 Coast officially turned a year old. That’s right we’ve kept this weekly wrestling column going for a whole year. What does year two have in store? No idea! But we’re going to react to a bunch of stuff!
1) We are now almost a week removed from WrestleMania. What was the high point for you? What was the low point?
Corey: There were a few high points as well as low points for me honestly and overall this year’s WrestleMania was way better than I think anyone expected it to be. The first low point to me was having Austin Aries vs Neville on the pre-show. The next low point was Bray Wyatt vs Randy Orton title match. Also the Smackdown Women’s Championship match didn’t have the energy I expected it to. Another low point was the Cena/Nikki vs Miz/Maryse match. I really hate the fact that after the perfect build up with all of those amazing promos those two teams cut on each other that the match itself was nothing, but a prop to set Cena up to propose. I’m all for love but unless they continue this feud when Cena gets back I’m going to call this one a dud. On top of that the match itself was not that great. A high point, one which I think anyone who was a fan of WWF/E in the late 90s and early 2000s, was when the Hardy Boyz made their return. That moment alone had everyone in my apartment and in the arena on their feet. I can’t even tell you how loud I yelled when their music hit! Another high point unexpectedly was Shane vs AJ Styles. Shane performed way better than I expected.
Josh: Definite low point was the Bray Wyatt vs Randy Orton match. It’s not even the finish that bothered me, but the pace of the match was odd. They went for something kind of creepy and weird, but after the first superimposed graphic catching everyone by surprise it lost its luster. The match needed more variety to pull off the thematic elements they were looking to incorporate. The high point of the night was definitely the return of the Hardys. The stadium crowd lost their collective minds and the New Day played the moment perfectly. I went on record saying I thought it was a bad idea, and I was wholly and completely wrong. It was a moment making event with an entire crowd and probably many people watching at home chanting “Delete” in unison.
2) What are your thoughts on Bray Wyatt dropping the title to Randy Orton?
Corey: I think it was terrible booking. This isn’t 2007 anymore. Randy is not this super young talent anymore, the man is 37. Bray Wyatt is 29 and this was the chance for WWE to truly get behind Bray and move towards a new era. You can tell by the crowd response when the match was over that everyone expected for Bray to come out as winner. Orton’s legacy was already solidified before this match so him beating Bray at this year’s Mania didn’t really make a lot of sense to me. Also with this loss Bray is on his way to becoming the opposite of the Undertaker. So far he’s lost every one of his Mania matches.
Josh: Pace, creativity and style were all a miss from this match. Not that they didn’t attempt because they definitely did, but sometimes you swing for the fences and miss. They missed pretty terribly.
3) Brock Lesnar and Bill Goldberg finally completed their trilogy of matches and Brock is now once again the champion for Raw. What were your thoughts on the match?
Corey: They gave me exactly what I wanted. The match was brutal and to the point. Now Josh and I pretty much texted the entire Mania and we both had the realization as soon as the match was over that in those few minutes only about four moves were used that entire time. But I personally don’t have any complaints. Also I just want to give a kudos to Brock because he literally ATE every single one of Goldberg’s spears. Kudos to Goldberg as well for not having been in the ring for over a decade and yet not only putting on a good match, but also being able to take every suplex. The outcome was a given but I’m still happy with the results.
Josh: That match was way better than it had any right to be. Four moves (five if you count a leapfrog) for the entire match. Seriously go back and count. Less than 10 minutes ring time, in and out, bang new champion. Hard hitting, awesome spot through the barricade — probably the third craziest move of the night, and a fitting conclusion to a months-long story.
4) This past weekend was also NXT Takeover: Orlando. What were your favorite match-ups?
Corey: I loved finally seeing Asuka vs Ember Moon. I think those two have some more feuding to do and I loved the fact that both of them were undefeated. With high hopes I’m going to say by the time they have their last match of their feud we may get an instant classic. But the match of the night and honestly also the match of the weekend was the elimination triple threat for the NXT Tag Team titles. DIY vs The Revival vs Authors of Pain. That match was a CLASSIC. All three of those teams looked like absolute gold in that ring. AOP are clearly the team with the least amount of experience between the three but at no time did they ever look out of place. These six men had absolutely amazing chemistry. I remember texting Josh about this match as well just because of how awesome it was. And to top it off they hit 5 stars before they even had their first elimination. I also loved the storytelling in the ring between DIY and The Revival. Two teams that hate each other, but accept the fact that they must team up and get rid of the reigning champs if they want to have a better chance at victory. The only thing I would change was the order of elimination. I would have had the Revival eliminated first and then had DIY eliminated. But other than that this match was perfect and I have already watched it three times since last Saturday.
Josh: There was really nothing better than the tag team elimination match between DIY, AoP, and The Revival. We’ve had a lot of really great tag team wrestling over the past year, but I’m not sure anything comes close to what those teams were able to accomplish. Every team was featured, every team looked strong, and every person in the crowd was enthralled by the action. An honorable mention should also go to the eight-man tag match that opened the TakeOver event. NXT (and WWE) are really fine tuning Sanity into this incredibly compelling stable. I’m just thrilled to see what the next steps are for them.
5) This week we finally saw a new round of NXT call ups. The Revival, Tye Dillinger, and Shinsuke Nakamura. What are your thoughts on where these men debuted on the main roster?
Corey: I think it’s great for all of them. My only fear with The Revival being on Raw is that somehow they would end up like The Ascension where they were taken seriously in NXT, but then turned into a joke on the main roster. Only time will tell. Tye DIllinger on Smackdown was a great move as well as Shinsuke Nakamura to the blue brand as well because they definitely need the star power. Personally I would have added all of the NXT call ups this go around to Smackdown due to the lack of depth in their singles and tag rosters.
Josh: Well nothing is set in stone yet as there are apparently some roster shake-ups forthcoming, but each call up is well deserved and if they stay on their respective debuting brands then all will be well. What’s most compelling to me though is what this does for the New Day. The New Day have already faced most of the competition on Raw, excluding the Hardys, so a fresh rivalry that’s not for the tag titles could do wonders for that team and keep us invested so WWE doesn’t feel the need to pull the trio breakup card just yet.
– I’m ecstatic Kurt Angle was named the Raw General Manager. I mentioned this as a great possibility back when he was first announced as an inductee into the Hall of Fame and on his first night he did not disappoint. Kurt has wonderful comedic timing and we’ve already gotten a glimpse of what he can do with talents like Sami Zayn, and Enzo and Cass. If get one or two backstage segments like that a night it will breathe a lot of life into Raw and make it a very fun show to watch.
– I can’t even really put into words what Undertaker’s retirement means to me. Corey is going to try so I’ll let him say his piece.
A Tribute to the Deadman
– The final match of WrestleMania saw Roman Reigns in a winning effort against The Undertaker. After the match we saw The Deadman take off his gloves, hat, and coat and lay them in the ring signaling that this was his last match. As far as match quality I’m ok with what we got. Granted we probably would have been able to get more drama out of the match had it been with a veteran like Cena but Roman did a good job. There were a few spots that were hard to watch like the botched reverse tombstone, but you can tell that was more so on Taker than Roman. It was almost like watching Kobe early on in his last season before he announced his retirement. You could tell what he wanted to do but his body just could keep up with his mind anymore.
As mentioned above at the end of Undertaker’s match it looks like this may very well be his last so I would like to take some time out and speak on the Undertaker and the career that he’s had.
The Undertaker, also known as Mark Calaway, has had a career that spanned the past 33 years with 27 of those years being consistently with the WWE. My uncle’s got me into wrestling at the age of 4 which was one year after he debuted in WWE in 1990 and from that point I, along with many fans around the world would continue to follow his career as faithful fans. Taker was almost like a freak of nature standing at almost 7-feet tall, yet was still incredibly agile showing many times in his career where he could easily walk the ring ropes as well as jump clear over the top ropes to the outside onto an opponent. It was almost unheard of for someone his size to do what he did in the ring. Combine that with the fact that he took a gimmick that most people would have failed at and turned it into one of, if not the, most iconic gimmicks in professional wrestling to this very day.
Watching him as a child in the early 90s all the way to 2017 has been amazing. Even through the years he made slight tweaks to his character to fit with the times and even in the early 2000s where he did a gimmick switch to his American Badass biker gimmick it still fit him and he still was a joy to watch in the ring. And it wasn’t just his persona in the ring that made people love him, but also how he carried himself outside of the ring as well. He was looked at as the head of the locker room. You never heard about him getting into any kind of trouble and he was the DEFINITION of loyal. When WWE (at the time WWF) was being pummeled in ratings by WCW and was close to going bankrupt, there were multiple wrestlers that jumped ship to WCW or other promotions whether it be for job security or money but Undertaker stayed and never once wavered. Eventually he along with the likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, DX, Mankind, Kane became the main people that helped WWF/E not only come back from near bankruptcy, but also win the ratings war and officially put WCW out of business. But like all good things everything must come to an end. The first thing that came to an end was his WrestleMania streak at the hands of Brock Lesnar. Around that time we would begin to see age starting to catch up with The Phenom. He wasn’t moving as fast as we were all used to and you could see that working almost 30-minute matches were starting to really wear on him. It became even more apparent as the years went by and with the number of surgeries that he’s had to have that our beloved hero would eventually have to hang up his boots. Now here it is in 2017 and it seems that the time has come.
It’s completely understandable though. The man is 52 years old and has put his body on the line to entertain us for 33 years of his life, leaving parts of himself in every city that he’s performed in. But even with that in mind I don’t think a lot of us were ready to see The Deadman’s final match. Now growing up I didn’t have a lot of people I viewed as “heroes” per say but wrestling is where all of these characters with large than life personas really stuck out to me and really were the closest things I had to heroes — with Undertaker definitely being one. As I got older and started understanding how it actually worked I obviously didn’t view them like that, but I still stayed a faithful fan of professional wrestling just because of how amazing it is. Now to truly try to put into words of how impactful Undertakers retirement is for someone who has watched professional wrestling and WWE as long as I have — think about it like this: If you’re a comic book fan imagine if DC completely retired Batman and anything related to the character. Or if you are an NBA fan, when Michael Jordan retired. Even though over the past few years Undertaker has really only wrestled at WrestleMania, with him being gone now there will definitely be a noticeable void. As the match was over and you saw Taker lay his things in the ring you could just look at the faces of those in the crowd and see heartbreak. We all knew it had to happen one day. We all know it needed to happen one day. But no one actually wanted it to happen. No one wants to see their hero fall. But on April 2, 2017 we saw our hero fall one last time in a tradition that says that on your way out you put over someone who can benefit from it. As the referee counted to three I instantly remembered all of the moments Undertaker gave us.
When he threw Mankind off of the Hell in a Cell at King of the Ring 1996 as well as when he choke slammed him through the cell. The first time he faced his “brother” Kane in an Inferno match. His Hell in a Cell match with Shawn Michaels. When he crucified Stone Cold Steve Austin on his logo. His creation of the Ministry of Darkness. His epic Cell match with Batista. His amazing return in 2000 with his American Badass Gimmick. His classic of a ladder match with Jeff Hardy in 2002 for the world title. His Royal Rumble win in 2007. His world title victory against Batista at WrestleMania 23. When he chokeslammed Rikishi off of the top of a cell during a six-man Hell in a Cell match. His classic End of an Era cell match with Triple H at WrestleMania. When he and Shawn Michaels stole the show at WrestleMania 25. When he retired Shawn Michaels at the very next WrestleMania. When the streak was broken. I could go on and on and on with memories that he gave us, but then I would be typing for the next six hours.
If you know anything about the grueling schedule for a WWE performer you know they basically live their lives on the road and Undertaker was no different. He gave us three decades of his life just to entertain us. Wrestling through injuries even when he probably should have taken the night off. That was just not the type of person he was. With everything you have given to not only WWE fans but wrestling fans around the world the only thing I can think of to say right now is this:
Thank you, Deadman. Thank you for the years that you gave. Thank you for the blood, sweat, and tears you shed all for the sake of entertaining us millions of wrestling fans worldwide. There will never be another like you. You can hang you boots knowing that you gave us everything you had to give and more.
Once again. Thank You.
And as you would say, Rest. In. Peace.