No matter of your particular feelings on Brock Lesnar vs. Undertaker occurring again, there is no denying it has been one of the most exquisitely booked feuds this year thus far. By virtue of sapient booking and exceptional performances, it has made this upcoming match is definitely must-see.
As anticipated, Undertaker made his return at Battleground. Although everyone expected his presence, few were certain what he would do. Most predicted he would go after Brock Lesnar, although no one was positive how or when.
Just when Lesnar was about to conquer the WWE championship, the lights went out and there appeared the Deadman, who the St. Louis crowd greeted with a tremendous ovation. And, soon enough, we witnessed why Undertaker has been such a pleasure to watch for decades upon decades.
Frankly, there is nobody in the world who could take a silly zombie gimmick and turn it into the most multifaceted, revolutionary and extraordinary gimmicks of all time. But, last night, we witnessed why the character has worked for all these years. Mark Calloway does not pretend to be the Undertaker. Mark Calloway BECOMES the Undertaker.
Too many wrestlers these days, unfortunately, become over-concerned about how many flashy moves they can do, or how high or hard they can bump. But, no matter what they do, everyone who embarks that method fails to receive a reaction Undertaker receives whenever he does simple character expressions, i.e. rolling his eyes in the back of his head or him giving someone a "you are going to die" look. The ability to fully invest into a character and tell a story with the character is something fans will become emotionally attached to. Fans cannot become emotionally attached to an array of high-spot moves because it lacks a narrative.
Anyways, Undertaker, with vengeance in his eyes, as he makes his body uncontrollably shake, looked into Brock Lesnar’s soul, and Lesnar looked back at him with both dismay and anger in his face. There was a beauteous to the segment already, as both wrestlers were utilizing realistic facial expressions and distinguishable body language to articulate a story.
Undertaker went for a chokeslam, forgetting that Brock Lesnar is still the beast incarnate and still a fantastic wrestler. It was another subtle addition to the segment and thus enhanced the segment because it evinces that Lesnar is on a different level than the stereotypical wrestler who completely loses a one-sided affair to the returning wrestler.
Lesnar picked Undertaker up for a F5, but Undertaker wiggled his way out of it. Then, Undertaker showcased he was not in a showmanship mood. He returned only to make Lesnar pay for his sins, so he kicked Lesnar in the nuts and did it in a sarcastically manner like "no-sell this, bitch." Undertaker walked a thin line between "I am not in the mood to play games" and turning heel, and thanks to Undertaker impeccably walking that line and being such an endearing character, the fans did not take it for a heel turn at all.
With more furry in Undertaker’s eyes, he delivered a chokeslam followed by a Tombstone. He looked at Lesnar with a furious look upon his eyes, only to glaze a soulless look into Heyman’s eyes, and then even look at the announce team with a similar look. He performed in such a believable and methodical manner, and it caused the crowd to become eye-glued, due to the curiosity over what he will do next (aka having the crowd in the palm of your hands). He started to walk away, only to see Lesnar recovering from the move (which, again, proves how much Lesnar can endure). He executed another Tombstone, slowly looked around and then did his famous pose.
On a lackluster night, filled with insipid matches and dubious booking, all three veterans displayed their incredible virtuosities. Yes, three, because Heyman’s facial expressions and body language were unbelievably on point, changing on a dime whenever Lesnar established control or became the one in peril.
The following night, Monday Night Raw opened playing both literally and figuratively an entirely different tune. Instead of opening with a hackneyed Authority promo, The Deadman’s music played. Undertaker used his raspy, demonic and amazingly creepy voice, as he voiced his reasoning behind his actions in a deliberate manner.
Ideally, Undertaker’s motives were the most practical and sensible way to approach this story. Lesnar conquered Undertaker’s streak fairly, and Undertaker commends him for doing so. However, Lesnar and Heyman constantly shoved it in our faces and Undertaker’s face for more than a year, ignorantly believing they could keep poking the bear without the bear biting back.
Lesnar and Heyman believed they killed the Undertaker, but Undertaker reminded them it is impossible to kill something already dead. However, Undertaker acknowledges things have mightily changed since WrestleMania. Brock Lesnar now sits on top of WWE’s preverbal food chain, as he has not lost a match since ending the streak. Undertaker is coming for vengeance, due to both Heyman and Lesnar mocking him, but he is additionally coming to prove that he is still the phenomenon and WWE is still his yard.
Perhaps, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon can revert to full-fledged heel authority figures, so someone on the roster can benefit from giving them their comeuppance, but, as of now, the impartial authority figures who are not the focal points of the show was a breath of fresh air. Furthermore, their role within this feud enhanced it as well.
Neither Lesnar nor Undertaker should get the upper hand over each other until Summerslam. The less they touch each other, the more people want to see the match. So, pull-apart brawls or enabling a no-touch clause are effective ways to build this match up. However, WWE normally does them "just because" without a good reason behind them.
The Authority gave a good reason. They said it was an important match, so they did not want them hurting each other before it. These little tidbits are usually solely lacking within a WWE feud, and it is unfortunate because filling the little the cracks in a story gives everything purpose and reason.
Accordingly, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon told Paul Heyman to keep Lesnar away from the arena and then assembled security and most of the locker room to prevent Lesnar and Undertaker from going at it. However, Heyman wanted to express Lesnar’s rebuttal in the ring, so the Authority allowed him to do so.
As usual, Heyman filled all the nook and crannies of the storyline, tying it all together into a tight knot and making sense of all the possible plot-holes, along with making Lesnar’s actions and accomplishments appear even more catastrophic. Then, brilliantly, as always, he added more layers to the storyline, as he pointed into the camera and at the fans and stated Lesnar conquered your undefeated streak.
It was clever, because, let us face it: the fans were the most affected by the streak ending. It was one of the most feel good moments and biggest spectacles of WrestleMania. Fans loved seeing the Deadman’s streak continuously grow into something larger-than-life, and then three decades of unparalleled history was shockingly gone in 3 seconds, and Heyman shoved it down our throats deeper than ever, making it ever more personal.
Then, one of the best segments of the year happened: Undertaker appeared out of nowhere, and the once confident and cocky Heyman turned into a pusillanimous man-child, seeking for sympathy by articulating he is just an advocate and has children (so that Undertaker did not beat the hell out him).
Out of nowhere, Lesnar ferociously sprinted down the ring. The announce team was so afraid of what might happen that they ran for the hills, establishing even more that something hazardous and apocalyptic was about to transpire. The brawl was so sudden, kept escalating and was visually aesthetic too.
It was two men, with dangerous capabilities and pure abhorrence for each other, trying to tear each other apart in spite of 100s of people holding them back. They even kept brawling after coming back from commercial, making it feel so unique, unforeseeable and authentic as it went against the grain of Raw’s normal micromanaged format.
Instead of regressing a wrestler’s credibility to make a feud equal, WWE surprisingly elevated Undertaker to (or at least close to) Brock Lesnar’s level. That is how you build an epic match, and WWE certainly should do this more often, especially with the full-time wrestlers.
Some people are still skeptical about this feud, particularly the match’s quality itself. They had a disappointing match at WrestleMania, but it is worth noting that Undertaker was badly concussed early in the match. Furthermore, Lesnar was wrestling a completely different style then too. Now, he is more unpredictable and explosive and tries to end the match as quick as possible.
But, either way, the best option would be to stop worrying about things we cannot control and, for once, just enjoy this possibly epic ride to SummerSlam.