WILKES-BARRE, PA – On Tuesday during the 900’th episode of SmackDown, the Undertaker made his first appearance since WrestleMania 32, and his first appearance in three years on the blue brand.
The Deadman strolled to the ring during a special edition of “The Cutting Edge” featuring the members of SmackDown’s Survivor Series five-man team – SmackDown commissioner Shane McMahon, WWE World Heavyweight Champion A.J. Styles, Dean Ambrose, Randy Orton, and Bray Wyatt.
Once ‘Taker was in the ring, he said that he was returning to SmackDown for two reasons.
- That WrestleMania will no longer define him – “I’m back, taking souls and digging holes.”
- To warn Team SmackDown that if they do not beat Team Raw, they will have a reason fear the deadman.
Since last night, many have been speculating about how often Undertaker will be appearing on WWE programing. Undertaker has not been in a full-time role with WWE since 2010, and it would be a lot to ask of a 51-year-old to pick up that type of schedule once again.
The notion the Undertaker gave to Team SmackDown, telling them that they should fear the deadman if they are defeated by Team Raw, gives off the impression that Team SmackDown will lose on Sunday. That loss could set up several feuds for the Undertaker to be a part of. Does the Deadman want a rematch with any of his recent WrestleMania opponents, like Bray Wyatt or Shane McMahon? Maybe Undertaker will revive his old rivalry with Randy Orton. Perhaps ‘Taker will square off against the likes of Dean Ambrose, one of the top talents in WWE. Or maybe, just maybe, the Undertaker would want to face A.J. Styles and become champion one final time.
It is exciting to find out that ‘Taker plans on being around more on a regular basis. For years, Undertaker was the top draw to SmackDown, and his appearance alone brings an element to the blue brand that cannot be replicated by Raw.
However, just because he plans on being around more, does not mean that he will be wrestling every single week.
Let’s face it, this is a 51-year-old we are talking about. He is a 26-year veteran in the WWE who’s body has been through countless injuries. Photos as recent as a few months ago were leaked that showed ‘Taker walking on crutches after supposedly undergoing a hip surgery after WrestleMania. It is unreasonable to expect him to wrestle on SmackDown every single week, but it is okay to expect him to appear on TV most weeks and then wrestle at pay-per-view events leading up to Wrestlemania.
For months, it has been speculated that Wrestlemania 33 will be the Undertaker’s final match. If this is the plan, it is a great idea on WWE’s part to get as much out of the Undertaker as they can before he hangs up the boots. Maybe this return is the beginning of that final stretch. If that’s the case, there are several opponents lined up for the Undertaker that can put on great matches with him. Before Wrestlemania 33, there are four main pay-per-view events – TLC, Royal Rumble, Elimination Chamber, and Fast Lane. The brand designation for Elimination Chamber and Fast Lane is yet to be determined, but that provides at least three shows that could feature the Undertaker on its card.
Opinion: If you asked me to lay this possible “final run” out, I would make sure that the Undertaker faces the likes of Styles, Ambrose, Wyatt, Orton and Kane, either at these pay-per-view events or on SmackDown sparingly. Then, I would book the dream match everyone has been speculating about – John Cena vs. The Undertaker – for Wrestlemania 33. Cena defeats ‘Taker at ‘Mania and the Deadman rides off into the sunset.
I could even make things more interesting by having Undertaker defeat Styles at the Royal Rumble, winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Cena wins the Rumble, and challenges ‘Taker for the title at ‘Mania, making the match a championship bout.
There are countless possibilities for how to use the Undertaker on his latest run, It is unknown whether or not this is the last run for the Deadman, but if it is, it is appropriate to have him around as much as possible before we say goodbye to one of the greatest wrestlers of all-time.
Here is my view of the Undertaker’s return entrance at SmackDown’s 900’th episode in Wilkes-Barre.