Let me get this out of the way — I have been a fan of The Undertaker, and professional wrestling, for about as long as I can remember. From the time I was a little kid watching old WWF (now WWE) VHS tapes with my dad and brothers to hosting WrestleMania parties in college, wrestling, and more specifically, The Undertaker, has been a major part of my life.
During that time, however, The Undertaker, like other wrestling legends of my childhood, has teased his retirement from professional wrestling more times than I can count on both of my hands. So when the "Dead Man" announced that he was hanging up his boots for good earlier in 2020, and then again at Survivor Series in November, I was more than a little reluctant to believe it. I mean this in the nicest and most sincere way possible, but I'm not fully convinced The Undertaker is really retired from WWE, and here's why.
Remember When He Left His Entrance Gear In The Ring After Being Defeated At WrestleMania 33?
Back in April 2017, The Undertaker, looking like decades of in-ring work were finally catching with him) took on Roman Reigns in the main event of WrestleMania 33 in what seemed like it would be Taker's final match match at the Showcase of the Immortals. The match had this air about it that made it all seem like something more than a No Holds Barred main event. With the great Jim Ross coming out to call the match, the storyline going in of Reigns being the "Big Dog," and the way a weakened yet determined Undertaker wouldn't give up, it was an epic encounter. And then Roman Reigns won. He pinned The Undertaker and became the only other person (Brock Lesnar) to defeat the Dead Man at WrestleMania.
After the match, Taker left his gloves, hat, and signature coat in the middle of the ring and walked up the ramp with a capacity crowd cheering him on. Once he reached the end of the ramp, Taker gave his iconic "fist in the air" pose and descended beneath the massive stage. In the days following, there were many phone calls and texts between my friend group and the internet was abuzz because we all watched The Undertaker retire. Three years and seven months later, we're doing the same thing.
He Participated In An ‘End Of An Era’ Match A Few Years Before That
Five years before The Undertaker left his famous entrance gear in the ring following his WrestleMania 33 loss, he participated in what was called an "End of an Era" match at WrestleMania 28 against Triple H with "The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels (who was retired at that point but came back for a match in 2018) serving as the guest referee.
The Hell in a Cell match was not only going to put an end to the years-long feud between Taker and Triple H, it also seemed to be the final chapter of the two stars' careers (both of which continued for years to come). And after Undertaker won, he, Triple H, and Shawn Michaels stood on the elaborate stage in front of tens of thousands of fans and hugged in what seriously looked like the final time we would see them in a WWE match. It wasn't.
WWE Still Plans On Having Shows In Saudi Arabia, And The Saudi Princes Are Obsessed With The Undertaker
For the longest time, WWE made the lion's share of its money with the annual WrestleMania events, but with the company shifting to the WWE Network ahead of WrestleMania 30, effectively ending the traditional pay-per-view model in the process, it had to find alternatives for those big money events. In came the 10-year partnership with Saudi Arabia to produce multiple shows a year featuring some of the biggest names (even some who were already retired). According to Ringside News, The Undertaker is a favorite of the Crown Prince, and with the Dead Man technically still under contract with WWE, there's no reason to think he won't become just another retired wrestler to lace up the boots for one last go.
The Undertaker Has A Close Bond With Vince McMahon
There are few wrestlers that have a closer bond with Vince McMahon than The Undertaker (he has been around for 30 years now), and Taker has always been there to help out Vince when the WWE Chairman is in a bind. And although wrestling outlets like Wrestling News are reporting that McMahon isn't expected to call on The Undertaker to wrestle again in the future, who is to say that will remain the case? Who is to say McMahon won't have the level of talent that can consistently draw crowds (once they're allowed to return) or boost WWE Network subscriptions with a marquee match at one of the major events?
Pretty Much Everyone Who Retires Comes Back At Some Point
The main reason I am having a hard time believing The Undertaker is actually retired this time is the fact that so many wrestlers before him have all retired and come back for "one last match" or more than "one last match." Legends like Ric Flair (who lost to Shawn Michaels in his final match) and Shawn Michaels (who lost to The Undertaker in a career-on-the-line match) have both returned to the ring after calling it a day. And then there's the case of Terry Funk, whose "retirement" was a major part of Beyond the Mat. Between 1997 and 2016, Funk retired no fewer than five times, though he did come back again in 2017.
The point is, no one really retires from professional wrestling, and I'm having a really hard time believing that The Undertaker (and the wrestling world) will actually allow the 55-year-old legend to actually never enter the ring again. I hope I'm wrong and I hope he goes on to live a peaceful and fruitful life that doesn't require him to put his life on the line any more than he should, but history has shown us time and time again that it's never really over.
At the end of the day, The Undertaker is and forever will be one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time and has provided millions of wrestling fans (myself included) with countless memories (both good and bad) over the years. If he is gone, he'll be missed dearly…