Making the Undertaker Grin and Barrett
I hate to kill the momentum – since my columns have been getting great feedback so far – but we are going to switch gears this week. In my debut column, I told you that I would cover how a Barrett/Undertaker WrestleMania match would work; and since I never make a promise I don’t intend to keep, it’s time for me to deliver.
You probably have heard by now that creative had toyed with the idea of a Barrett/Undertaker match. Maybe you had heard that, but since others claim HHH was decided since last fall, you choose to believe the Barrett pitch never happened. I personally don’t think those two ideas are mutually exclusive – even if Barrett was Plan B to HHH’s Plan A. Chances are that the head honchos threw out the Barrett idea because it didn’t feel like the event a ‘Taker Streak match has become. Like I said before, with The Rock being the host, this is a year that the Undertaker match didn’t have to be an event – the buy rates would’ve probably been high even if he stayed home this year to fully recover from being injured.
Coulda woulda shoulda. Didn’t.
WrestleMania 27, HHH and The Undertaker will have a No Holds Barred match. That decision is much better than the sure-to-disappoint Career vs. Streak stipulation initially rumored. For the past few weeks, the two have bantered a little back and forth. But really, all they had to do to create the feud and future match anticipation from the crowd was give each other their signature hand gestures. Honestly, does that last sentence bum anyone else out? I’m the only one? So be it.
On a side note: Hey WWE, do you want people to stop accusing you of treating SmackDown as the “B Team”? And do you want its ratings (which haven’t been rosy since jumping to Syfy) to increase? How about airing this feud only on SmackDown. You have plenty of star power pulling their weight on Raw – and HHH is a team player – so why is the majority of this “feud” only happening on Raw? If an outsider like me easily sees how that’s a no-brainer, what is their excuse?
Aaaaaaaand, we’re back! Sorry, I just had to get that off my chest. Back to my point, which is this: Undertaker vs. Barrett could not only work – it could be GREAT! Barrett hasn’t been fully established as a major heel yet, but the guy has great presence and is very talented in the ring. I have no doubt that if WWE plays their cards right, we have a future WWE superstar. So with that in mind, I want to lay out how I would book this feud (along with the reasoning), and raise Barrett to the next level.
There are two things to note before we lay this out. First off, this feud will be different than anything WWE has seen in a very long time. You know why? Because it’s a multi-year payoff. Did I just blow your minds? To the young readers, the myths are true that in the olden days – going waaaaay back to the 1990’s – WWE would have feuds that would last years before reaching their boiling point. I’m not talking about a feud similar to the one that Cena and Orton had a few years back, where they played hot potato with the championship belt for almost the whole year. But no, for this to be absolutely rewarding – and for WWE to reap the benefits from it – it has to take a few years. Not non-stop for 2-3 years, but it can’t be their current 3 month run-and-done feud pattern.
The second thing I wanted to mention is more of a disclaimer: The plot I’m going to lay out will never happen. I have no grand illusions that this has a snowball’s chance in hell of actually occurring. Are we clear? Good. Away we go!!
Whether or not they start the ball rolling at this year’s WrestleMania is optional – not crucial – but let’s say they plant the seeds this year. Here’s how they do it: HHH & Undertaker are competing in their No Holds Barred match. The beautiful thing about this match is that if The Undertaker still isn’t at 100% physically, he can still appear to be dominating by taking the match outside of the ring, and have HHH sell the hell out of being thrown against the barriers, etc. That’s one of the reasons I was glad they chose this format for their fight. HHH will have to work much harder, but this affords The Undertaker to work smarter. After all, there’s no doubt that The Undertaker will win this match – HHH winning this doesn’t ultimately benefit WWE, or anyone involved. The Streak has become more than The Undertaker’s legacy – it is now a part of WWE’s legacy as well.
This is where it gets interesting. The fans are eating this up; The Undertaker has almost broken HHH in two. Out comes Barrett, stomping down the ramp. With HHH laying helpless ringside, Barrett just overpowers an already tired ‘Taker. Once ‘Taker has been pounded and put through Barrett’s finisher, Barrett actually brings HHH into the ring and places him on The Undertaker so he can get the 3-count. HHH comes to just in time to pull away before the “3”.
The fans go crazy, Barrett’s looks furious, and you can see HHH saying to the official “not like this”. Barrett gets in HHH’s face, yelling how he blew his chance of winning, and who did HHH think he was turning down Barrett’s help. HHH gives him “the look” (remember the look he gave Legacy during their feud?), and just starts laying into Barrett. The Undertaker gets up enough strength to stand…and he joins HHH in beating down Barrett! Together they throw Barrett over the top rope, and Barrett – fuming – keeps eye contact with them as he backs up the ramp and out of the arena.
HHH and ‘Taker then turn to each other. You can see HHH assuring The Undertaker that he can wait until ‘Taker is ready to fight. The Undertaker takes a brief minute to regroup, then gives the “ok”. The fight finishes out with The Undertaker’s streak intact.
Like I said before, Barrett/Undertaker doesn’t have to start this WrestleMania, but I do think that it could help all three of them. For Barrett, the fact that he came in and almost caused the streak to end would give him MASSIVE amounts of heat. Some wrestlers spend years collecting as much heat as those 5-10 minutes would create for him.
This helps HHH in two ways. Since he will be working his ass off selling the bumps, Barrett coming in gives him a little break to just lay there and collect himself. Also, the fact that HHH isn’t willing to win the match unfairly will generate a huge pop for him, and maybe even elevate him higher as a face (even though I don’t think you can get much higher than he already is).
Finally, this benefits The Undertaker as well. Just like with HHH, with Barrett and HHH fighting for a bit, it allows ‘Taker a small breather. And of course it helps further his streak.
So all-in-all, this would be a solid, exciting, and (most importantly) satisfying match. Everybody wins!
Now on to the road to WrestleMania 28 in winter/spring of 2012. I wouldn’t be surprised if The Undertaker goes on another long break to heal up before ‘Mania. Actually, it’s important for The Undertaker to be on that sabbatical. Barrett comes out on SmackDown and cuts a promo challenging ‘Taker to WrestleMania. If Barrett came out in 27, he makes mention of it – saying that he was sick of The Undertaker’s stupid streak, so he wanted it to end, no matter who did it. Or if he wasn’t there for the match, he mentions how all these people have failed. Either way, his message is clear: If you want something done right, you have to do it for yourself.
One of the reasons he’s sick of it is because it’s just one match. He laments how pointless it is to brag about winning one event, when the same person loses at others. If he was allowed by corporate, he could point out that the winners of the King of the Ring end up wearing a stupid crown and cape. He wants the streak to end just so the people can finally realize that ‘Taker is just a man, and that it is just one match. So it could be booked similar to when CM Punk feuded with The Undertaker – except this one won’t end with a squash match.
After a few weeks of challenges, The Undertaker finally returns from his time off. Call me crazy, but I bet he’d return to the sound of a gong. What are the chances, right? Anyways, he confronts Barrett, but doesn’t accept the challenge. He states that he was back to shut Barrett up, but doesn’t think Barrett is worth his time – especially at ‘Mania.
Barrett sneers and says that The Undertaker is just afraid because he still is injured. He says that if The Undertaker wasn’t scared, then fight him. This feud continues to build with a few things mandatory. First, he can’t just accept Barrett’s challenge right away. Two, there shouldn’t be any fighting before ‘Mania. And finally – and most important – we have to believe that The Undertaker is really still injured (or at least not up to full strength). This gives the impression that The Undertaker came back early to shut Barrett up – but also the danger that ‘Taker might be sacrificing his streak since he’s not at 100%.
Finally The Undertaker accepts it. He claims that even though he’s not at full strength, he’ll defeat Barrett just to shut him up. The anticipated day finally happens and WrestleMania 28 is under way. The host does their best to hype the crowd – it’ll probably be Miley Cyrus, or someone else stupid and completely out of their element. I highly doubt The Streak match will be the last one (since WWE might not feel this would be viewed as big as a WWE Championship match), but by the time this event happened there would’ve been some amazing mid-card bouts and the World Heavyweight Championship match.
The Streak match begins. There is some good back-and-forth, but Wade focuses on the areas where The Undertaker is injured. Once again, I would prefer there be no outside interference. Hopefully by this point, Corre is disbanded (unless it’s just the tag team without Barrett). Barrett needs to be dominant by himself – or else it would be like a bully and his friends beating up a kid in a wheelchair. That wouldn’t exactly establish him as a credible heel. Anyways, no matter how much Barrett beats down The Undertaker, he still kicks out of the pin.
Frustrated, Barrett decides to unleash a “surprise” on ‘Taker. He gestures the control booth, and down comes a STEEL CAGE!! A worn down Undertaker looks up bewildered, and Barrett has a smug look on his face as the cage lowers to enclose the two inside.
Once the cage is completely down and Barrett makes sure it is secure, he turns to The Undertaker. Wade’s face turns to shock as The Undertaker does his “rise from the grave” move of sitting up, and looks at Barrett with a huge, scary smile on his face. The crowd goes wild as the announcers remind the fans that besides ‘Mania, The Undertaker is the master of Hell in a Cell!
Now the fans are really going crazy, because it looks like the tide is turning, and that The Undertaker will be victorious. Barrett is frantically trying to get out of the cage, and The Undertaker starts to take control. Finally we have an all-out brawl. The benefits of a cage match are similar to a No Holds Barred in the fact that you can work smarter by using the chain-linked walls of the cage. Also, it’s realistic for the tables to turn if mistakes are made.
Finally, the end of the match happens and….Barrett wins!!
I know I know, blasphemy, right? But hear me out. What greater way to pass the torch in this day and age. It would be as big as when Andre the Giant passed the torch to Hulk Hogan in WWF/E. Or in WCW, when Hulk Hogan passed the torch to Hollywood Hogan! With Barrett standing tall over a broken ‘Taker, there would be a sense of shock among the audience. Grown men would openly weep. Their kids would look up at dad bawling and try and calm him down by saying, “Don’t worry. Cena is about to come out.” The fathers would then start to cry harder.
This would be a monumental moment for all of WWE – but the circumstances would help cover WWE’s back. As previously stated, WWE has as much claim to fame for The Streak as ‘Taker does, due to how they’ve booked this into something of a legend. So the last thing they would want to do is screw it up, since it would hurt them worse than it would The Undertaker. So by The Undertaker fighting already injured, it would allow them to have an asterisk next to that loss (in other words, a level of deniability). Yet, it still poses Barrett as a credible threat.
However, it doesn’t end there. It concludes at WrestleMania 29 where The Undertaker takes on Wade Barrett one more time. This time, The Undertaker is physically ready for this battle. Barrett – being perfectly smug and proud of himself – gladly accepts ‘Takers challenge. After all, he beat him once, and he’ll do it again. ‘Mania comes around and the fight is more equally matched than last time. However, this time The Undertaker defeats Barrett!!
Now this part is crucial to seal the deal – the announcers have to exclaim how amazing this match was, and how it’s true that the only reason ‘Taker lost last year was because of being injured. They have to give the deniability to WWE that the last WrestleMania didn’t count. Sounds weird I’m saying that after everything I’ve written here, right? In actuality, what I’m saying covers all the bases for everyone.
For Undertaker, this paints him both as an underdog but also worthy of being the top draw he has been for almost 20 years. It continues and rejuvenates the importance of the legacy (for both ‘Taker and the WWE) for The Streak. Fans (and announcers) can choose to claim that he has never really lost. But this also solidifies Barrett to a high-level heel (that he rightfully deserves). He can use his ‘Mania win in his promo arsenal, which will remind the fans why they (love to) hate him so much. Even if fans don’t admit he ended ‘Taker’s streak, they can’t deny the threat he poses. The fans of WWE who demand the company to push boundaries – but continually get let down by the status quo – can acknowledge and appreciate the shock the WWE provided. Like I said, this strategy is a win for the wrestlers, the fans, and the company.
So that is how I would book an Undertaker/Barrett WrestleMania match where everyone comes away a winner.
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Noah James is a professional actor, published author, humanitarian, and (at times) a snazzy dresser. He also has an entertainment website at iamnoahjames.com. He can be emailed constructive compliments or hurtful words at firstname.lastname@example.org .