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WWE announced on Monday that The Undertaker would be appearing on a special Raw show in January in New York to mark its 25th anniversary. Numerous stars were announced for the show including legends Shaun Michaels and Kevin Nash. It’s also being advertised that multiple stars from SmackDown will be appearing.
At this point, we haven’t really heard anything on what this appearance by The Undertaker is likely to bring. It could just be a quick, generic promo which might involve him quickly hitting a signature move or two on a random jobber. Alternatively, it could even be him announcing that he’s not retired yet. The show he is scheduled to return at is the “go home show” for the Royal Rumble, so it’s not too much of a stretch to suggest he could be announcing his participation in the Royal Rumble Match itself. This could even lead to one final, final, final, final WrestleMania match.
Is Bringing Back The Undertaker a Good Thing?
Simply put; no – whatever the purpose of his appearance. I know this sounds like wrestling fan pessimism at it’s worst, but I do have good reasons for this.
Many may not have liked who it was up against, but the way Undertaker (seemingly) finished his career at WrestleMania was the perfect way for him to go. He’s left having (attempted to) put over the next big star and the way he left WrestleMania was a perfect way of symbolising the end of his career. He’s been looking pretty beat up in his last few matches and despite the fact he’s still really good, seeing him wrestle has become more uncomfortable to watch. If he were to have a match at WrestleMania, I’d undoubtedly get excited about it, but I won’t be too disappointed if he isn’t there, and I certainly won’t be expecting him. Either way, it still feels right to leave WrestleMania 33 as his final appearance.
I’m not too big a fan of him coming back just to cut a promo either. Even now, The Undertaker has unparalleled levels of mystique about him, and because of how transparent wrestling has become, it’s unlikely we’ll see another character with anything close to that again. As with anything unique, the more frequently it occurs, the less special it feels. As such, bringing The Undertaker back for random appearances at the odd show once he’s retired as a full-time in-ring performer will slowly diminish this mystique that he carries.
Bringing back big stars for big events (especially landmark/milestone events like this one) makes complete sense and is something I’m a big fan of. However, The Undertaker isn’t someone like The Rock or Stone Cold. Unlike them, it won’t work for him to come back, cut a quick promo and hit their finisher on someone for a quick nostalgia hit. He has spent his career building an enigma-like character and WWE need to protect that in order for it to remain special. Having him appear at every landmark show so he can quickly chokeslam a jobber won’t do that. Now he’s retired, he should remain off-screen.
Breaching The Brand Split
Depending on how they’re used, I’m also not too big a fan of having SmackDown superstars on this show either. I get that it’s a big milestone and that they want to make it seem as big a deal as possible and so they want all of their big stars at the show. But it’s a big milestone for Raw, not SmackDown, so if both brands are meant to be battling for supremacy for their show, why would SmackDown celebrate Raw’s landmark? This isn’t a huge issue but it makes it harder to believe they really want to fight for their show when it comes to things like the RAW V SmackDown Survivor Series matches.
It could work if they have a few of SmackDown’s top heels show up and badmouth Raw on its big night though as this could generate a bit of heat. They also have an extra reason to show up with it being so close to the Royal Rumble – the biggest cobranded match of the year. This would be a great opportunity to have someone bleat on about how they are going to prove they are better than all the other Raw superstars in the Royal Rumble match, and could even be a great chance to stage an inter-brand mass brawl.
However, although there are parts of this announcement I’m unsure about, this is still going to be a must-see episode of Raw, especially with it being so close to the Royal Rumble. They’ll be sure to make a big deal out of it so either way, it’s likely to be a pretty entertaining event.