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WrestleMania 32 full match preview: Shane McMahon vs. Undertaker

Two WWE icons will meet in the Cell. The future of the company hangs in the balance.

On Sunday night, the biggest WrestleMania in history will take place. The match that could very well end up being the main event of WrestleMania 32 will pit a 51-year-old legend against a 46-year-old non-wrestler who hasn't had a match in seven years. What's more, the match will take place in Hell in a Cell, traditionally the most violent stipulation WWE has to offer. And the fate of both men's futures will be on the line.

So how did we get to Undertaker vs. Shane McMahon in a Hell in a Cell match? The answer to that question is both very simple and extremely complicated.


Prior to the Feb. 22 episode of RAW -- which took place the day after WWE's Fastlane pay-per-view -- rumors began to swirl that the company had a very, very big surprise lined up. That surprise paid off in spades almost immediately, as the opening segment of RAW featured a ceremony for the presentation of the inaugural Vincent J. McMahon Legacy of Excellence Award.

After Vince McMahon presented said award to his daughter, Stephanie, they were both interrupted by the return of none other than Shane McMahon, who had been off WWE television and out of the company since 2010. The crowd, understandably, went bananas.

It's difficult to overstate what a beloved figure Shane is for longtime WWE fans. The son of the company's owner (and assumed heir to the throne, before Stephanie took a larger role and Shane stepped away for several years to manage other enterprises), Shane became a character fans loved to hate by combining all of his father's best qualities with an infectious energy. He then earned their respect and eventually their undying love by proving himself willing to take risks that most wrestlers wouldn't, to say nothing of millionaire offspring of company owners.

On Feb. 22 at the Legacy of Excellence ceremony, Shane claimed his sister hadn't earned the award or the distinction, given her treatment of the fans and WWE Superstars as part of the villainous Authority. He made it clear to Vince McMahon why he has returned to WWE: He wants to take control of RAW. He intimated that he has some leverage on his father, based on a deal they made years ago.

In response to this request and implied threat, Vince gave his son a chance to earn control of RAW. He said if Shane can win a match at WrestleMania, he can have RAW. But should Shane lose, he will have to give his lock box of family secrets to Vince. What's more, Vince will write Shane out of his will and disown him. Shane accepted, which is when Vince announced his WrestleMania opponent would be the man synonymous with the event: The Undertaker. If that weren't enough, the match will also be under one of the Dead Man's trademark stipulations: Hell in a Cell.


Many wondered what the Undertaker -- the man who is 22-1 at WrestleMania events in his 25-year career as the Phenom  -- would have to say in response to the match that Vince set up for him at the biggest event of the year.

The Undertaker appeared on the Feb. 29 episode of RAW to accept the match on his end. (Vince McMahon is still his boss, after all. Not to mention that the Dead Man loves competing at WrestleMania and has a sense of pride about his record at the event.) He warned Vince, however, that when he defeats Shane handily, the blood will be on Vince's hands, not his own.

On March 14, Shane and the Undertaker finally came face to face. Shane-O-Mac accused the Undertaker of being nothing more than just another puppet under Vince's control. Shane, naturally, ate a chokeslam for his troubles.

On the March 21 edition of RAW, Vince McMahon ratcheted up the stakes one last time. He added one last stipulation to the Hell in a Cell match: should Shane McMahon pull off the miraculous upset of a lifetime -- or perhaps more accurately, should the Dead Man lose the match -- the Undertaker will be barred from ever competing at another WrestleMania. For life.

Everything came to a head on March 28, as Undertaker appeared on the go-home RAW to say that WrestleMania was HIS yard and run down Shane, calling him names that aren't very nice. Shane didn't back down from the Dead Man at all and the two brawled outside. Shane managed to hit Undertaker with a TV monitor and put him through a table with his signature top-rope elbow, but the Undertaker sat up to stare down McMahon one last time.


Can Shane McMahon wrest control of RAW from his father and from the Authority? Can he somehow become only the second person to ever hand Undertaker a loss at WrestleMania? Would a Shane McMahon victory mean a return to the brand split that ended in 2011? And what's in the lock box?

All of these questions are set to be answered on Sunday in Arlington, as WrestleMania 32 gives us perhaps the most unlikely Hell in a Cell of all time.

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