After that lose to Roman Reigns. The Undertaker had done everything right after the match leaving his turncoat, hat, and the gloves in the middle of the ring to a rousing reception, yet …
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Every time The Undertaker made an in-ring appearance after Wrestlemania 33, there was a sense of foreboding among the fans. The frailties of this 50 plus veteran were visible on his face, his movements and storytelling, yet WWE continued to push on with Mark Calaway, testing even the hardcore of WWE and The Undertaker fans – to the limit. The icon had technically hung up his boots in pro-wrestling terms after that lose to Roman Reigns. He had done everything right after the match leaving his turncoat, hat, and the gloves in the middle of the ring to a rousing reception.
Even though the match which in itself was a dud, and this is no dirt in Reigns but more on Taker’s inability to match his own high standards.
And that was partly why Undertaker returned at Raw 25 Years Episode next year, and then at WrestleMania 34 for a squash job on John Cena; then at the Greatest Royal Rumble; then at Super Show-Down in Australia; then at Crown Jewel; then on RAW the night after WrestleMania 35; then at Super ShowDown in Saudi Arabia; then on RAW and Extreme Rules 2019; then at Super ShowDown in Saudi Arabia to win the Tuwaiq Trophy; then at Elimination Chamber.
Undertaker was seeking the perfect ending – and that finally came at WrestleMania 36 against arguably the best-ever performer outside of WWE – AJ Styles in a path-breaking match. The Boneyard match was everything that Undertaker was not. The company loyal guy for 30 years should have put over a younger company talent going out, yet he won against a 43-year-old veteran of the business – Calaway hails from the ‘Good Ol’ Wraasling’ hub – Austin, Texas, and yet his final match was a cinematic pre-recorded narrative –which worked, worked so bloody brilliantly that the Phenom was satisfied.
Taker described the Boneyard Match as “storytelling at its finest” and the “perfect ending” to his Hall of Fame career.
“If there was ever a perfect ending to a career, that right there was it. If [WWE Chairman] Vince [McMahon] was in a pinch, would I come back? I guess time will only tell there. In case of emergency, break glass, you pull out The Undertaker. I would have to consider that. Never say never, but at this point in my life and in my career I have no desire to get back in the ring.”
“I’m at a point where it’s time the cowboy really rides away. There’s nothing left for me to conquer. There’s nothing left for me to accomplish. The game has changed. It’s time for new guys to come up. The time just seems right. I think this documentary has helped me discover that. It’s really opened my eyes to the bigger picture,” he added.
And on June 21, 2020 – Mark Calaway finally announced retirement in a rather tame manner – unlike how many would have thought – not leaving his gear in the middle of the ring, not with the raised fist with the final gong of his career, but as Mark Calaway sitting in his coach with all of his frailties in a pre-recorded message on a docu-series. WWE put out a #ThankYouTaker hashtag and that was that – similar to how Brock Lesnar pinned The Undertaker after the third F5 at Wrestlemania 30 to end the streak. It was over, ‘it is over’.
But, hey, let’s be honest, the enigma ‘The Undertaker’ remains ‘unretired’.