Did anybody see this coming?
It wasn’t real until 21-1 flashed on the big screen. Even after Brock Lesnar hit the Undertaker with a third F-5 and pinned the Phenom clean in the middle of the ring nobody believed what was happening. The reaction in the Superdome was one of pure and utter shock.
The whole scenario was amazingly emotional. People freaked out, grown men were crying and some fans actually left the building never to return. It was too much to handle; and it was exactly the reaction WWE wanted.
We can debate the merits (or lack thereof) of Lesnar beating the streak till we’re blue in the face. Whether it was the right or wrong decision will depend mostly on how Lesnar is utilized going forward. It’s up to WWE to make the most out of it, which probably means Lesnar will be WWE World Heavyweight Champion sooner rather than later. One thing’s for sure, and it’s that Lesnar is going to be the most over heel in the company.
Believe it or not, the decision to have Lesnar end the streak had as much — if not more — to do with Undertaker than Vince McMahon. Undertaker has long been targeting Lesnar as the man to beat the streak, dating back to a worked confrontation between the two after Lesnar was defeated by Cain Velasquez at UFC 121 in Oct. 2010.
As far as the match itself goes, it’s probably for the best that the finish overshadowed everything that came before it. Undertaker was clearly not himself. He was much slower than he’s ever been, looked like he was hurting badly and had a hard time executing moves he normally performs with ease. He is 49 years old, after all.
In many ways this made it easier to accept his defeat. If Undertaker decided he simply can’t go anymore (or doesn’t want to), then they had no choice but to end the streak. For old school wrestlers, part of the business is doing the honors on the way out. If this really was Undertaker’s last match, there was no way he was going out on top. Like the Dead Man said on Monday Night Raw, it was inevitable that the streak would be broken; and records are meant to be broken.
As much as fans hated the very idea of Undertaker losing at WrestleMania, there’s no denying the impact it had on everyone who saw it. You’ll never forget where you were or how you felt after the referee’s hand struck the mat for the third time. I’ve never seen so many people so emotional after a predetermined wrestling match.
In some ways the ending of the streak makes the streak itself that much more meaningful. Nobody remembers what Joe DiMaggio did during game 15 of his 56 game hitting streak, but nobody will ever forget game No. 57. Just like Joltin’ Joe, the Undertaker was human after all.
So where do we go from here? Step 1 was to get people talking, and WWE has already accomplished this in spades. Step 2 will be equally as interesting.
One thing’s for sure: Lesnar’s PPV defeats to John Cena and Triple H look pretty darn stupid right about now.