Paul Heyman said it best last night when he said that The Streak is a staggering accomplishment.
Many have written about it, especially over the past several years. We even offered a feature piece a couple weeks ago. The questions have been asked over and over again: “Is it time to break the Streak?” “Should the Streak be left unbroken?” Debate it all you want, but one thing is for sure and it’s that the quest to beat the Streak has been compelling.
Except this year.
The Streak has found a place in Wrestlemania lore, being the most interesting thing about Wrestlemania over the past several years. But this year, the build is less than interesting and mostly flat. That leaves this writer, as well as others, dumbfounded.
The biggest glaring problem for this writer is that WWE simply didn't strike while the iron was hot with this story. These two teased a match three years ago now when Undertaker and Brock crossed paths at a UFC event. They exchanged words, and an energy was formed. News sites both in wrestling and in UFC exploded with stories and opinion. People couldn't get enough of this idea.
This was a compelling possibility. It had heat, real heat. Sites across the internet begged the question if Brock could get Dana White to even temporarily allow him to go back to WWE and face Undertaker at Wrestlemania 27. We saw the footage time and time again, slowed it down, and analyzed it like the Zapruder Film. This might have been THE angle of an otherwise lackluster Wrestlemania 27. But in all the blather and hype, it all fizzled out. Lesnar prepared for his next UFC fight, and Undertaker went on to have a really good match with Triple H.
Contracts, an illness that Brock suffered (diverticulitis), and other circumstances made us wait three years to get this match. And now, aside from not striking while the iron was hot, this hype has really disappointed.
There isn't a doubt that Brock Lesnar is all that Heyman hypes him to be as "The Beast Incarnate." But when that gong hit on their first exchange, Brock looked scared. He put his hands to his face and looked as if he had seen a ghost. On last night's show, when the trademark Druid music hit, he watched on with a look of trepidation. As they brought the casket to the ring he again wiped his jaw. He approached the casket but wouldn't full-on go after it. He tapped it with his foot, he stood at arm's length.
Brock is wearing a shirt that says "Eat, Sleep, Break the Streak." His call-out was forceful, if not a bit odd vocally. But his visual cues lead me to think that Brock Lesnar doesn't believe he can beat the Undertaker. As a fan it leads me to believe he won't do it, either.
Undertaker's last several opponents convinced me. Shawn Michaels, Triple H, and CM Punk all sold me that they were capable of doing what a dozen or more other men could not do, and hang a loss on The Undertaker at Wrestlemania. They were all in and they believed in their ability to defeat him to the point that they seemed overly confident and almost cocky. To accomplish that goal, someone almost has to be that.
Lesnar has been on a run. Since he has returned, he took out Big Show with a million chairs, the New Age Outlaws, and robbed the Rhodes Brothers of a tag title rematch opportunity. All are formidable, but let's be honest - going after random acts doesn't translate into much when facing a legend such as Undertaker. The Streak is an animal all unto its own, a mark in history to be conquered.
It takes two to tango though, and Undertaker hasn't been up to his normal self either. When he faced Triple H and Shawn Michaels in four of the past five Mania events, he wasn't cartoony. He dropped a lot of the "magic act" that he used in the past. Part of that was simply because he didn't need it given the respect between him and his opponents. When he faced CM Punk, he utilized those tricks again but it fit because his long time manager Paul Bearer had passed away. It almost worked like a tribute.
Bottom line - Undertaker was real, not a cartoon gimmick, for the past five years. This year is starkly different. He's playing mind games with Lesnar, appearing in caskets and popping up behind people in the ring. His promos are all about hellfire and damnation. It's like Undertaker has resorted to his gimmick from the 1980's all over again.
The most glaring issue is the lack of heat on Lesnar as the heel. Paul Heyman is great on the mic, but he can only do so much and it appears that there's no intent to have Undertaker physically harm Heyman. Lesnar hasn't as much landed a punch on Undertaker. So what incentive do I have to buy in that Lesnar is a credible threat to Undertaker right now?
As bad as last year's angle with CM Punk and the urn was, this story is even more so in trouble. Lesnar looks scared, and Undertaker is a cartoon - both of which are weak versions of their best characters. Fans just aren't hot for this feud. They will still buy in to the near falls, the match will still be physically good if not different than previous years. But the ending is not in doubt and that is the secret to the Streak.
WWE forgot about that for this year's story.