This Sunday at WWE Survivor Series 2020, WWE will celebrate 30 years of The Undertaker’s career with a Final Farewell.
What The Undertaker’s Final Farewell entails? Nobody is quite sure. Is it a match? A segment? A promo? A video? Who knows.
The Undertaker has not wrestled in an actual match since he won the coveted Tuwaiq Trophy in February of this year. (Yes, WWE Super Showdown 2020 from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was in THIS calendar year. I can’t believe it either.)
To find the last true non-special show (Australia and/or Saudi Arabia) singles match The Undertaker has wrestled you need to go to WrestleMania 34 against John Cena. Of course, that match lasted less than three minutes and was more of a segment than a true “match.”
Ironically enough, the last true singles match of Undertaker’s career game in a No Holds Barred match at WrestleMania 33 against Roman Reigns, a match that ended with The Undertaker leaving his iconic gear in the ring, long a symbol of a pro wrestling retirement.
That brings us back to Survivor Series 2020, The Final Farewell, The Last Ride, whatever you want to call it. Presumably, this is it for The Undertaker. This is the final bell, the last shovel of dirt on the career of The Deadman.
It’s a pro wrestling retirement so take that with a grain of salt. Hell, he’s even faked us out with retirement before.
But let’s assume this is it. This is the final crash of thunder, the final bolt of lightning, the final time the lights in the arena will dim and we’ll hear Jim Johnston’s iconic Funeral March.
Why isn’t this a bigger deal?
Certainly, nobody would mistake me for a WWE superfan in the year 2020 but this is the company that made me and probably most of you reading this, wrestling fans. Likewise, over the last 30 years, The Undertaker character has undoubtedly touched us in a certain way. I can’t speak for everyone but as a young fan gravitating towards WWE obsession in the mid-90s, The Undertaker was THE DUDE. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Rock and Vince McMahon made WWE explode in pop cultural relevancy but The Undertaker was an integral part of that growth as the stabilizing factor both before and after. His match with Austin on an episode of RAW in 1999 drew a still-record 9.5 rating.
My early days of renting pro wrestling pay-per-views centered around finding the coolest and most interesting Undertaker matches: Buried Alive, Casket, Undertaker vs. Undertaker?! Those were constants in my rotation. The first character I’d play with in any Nintendo 64 or Sega Genesis wrestling game was The Undertaker. First pick when I went to an arcade and it had WWF WrestleMania: The Arcade Game… well it was Yokozuna (that salt bucket was powerful!) but the second pick was always The Undertaker!
The Undertaker remained one of, if not, my #1 favorite wrestler right until the point when I truly began to discover the vast world of wrestling outside of Stamford, Connecticut and Atlanta, Georgia.
To his credit, Undertaker hooked me right back in with his series of incredible matches against Shawn Michaels. Even the WrestleMania matches with Triple H, albeit a bit masturbatory, far exceeded my expectations and ended up being among my favorite matches in their calendar year.
In the last five years though, I have definitely grown tired of The Undertaker. Chalk it up to my increased age or his, The Undertaker just doesn’t do it for a 30+-year-old me. And that’s fine.
Still… if this is truly it. If The Undertaker is officially hanging up the trenchcoat, shouldn’t this Sunday be a bigger deal? Shouldn’t more people be talking about this?
I run a professional wrestling website. I’m pretty in-tune with the buzz surrounding an event. Right now, there’s next to no buzz for The Undertaker’s Final Farewell. The patented VOW Buzz-O-Meter is barely registering.
Is this due to general WWE malaise? Are people simply losing interest in any WWE PPV in 2020?
Is this due to the malaise of Undertaker’s Last Rides? Seemingly a never-ending spree of final curtain calls and final moments since WrestleMania 33?
"That's a hell of a run."
The moment @undertaker returned to the back after his match with Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 33 😢
He *was* ready to call it a day…
— WWE on BT Sport (@btsportwwe) November 16, 2020
Maybe the uncertain nature of what the hell Undertaker’s Final Farewell is going to be? Will he even be at The ThunderDome? Presumably, he will but he hasn’t been very visible on WWE television at all in 2020, particular in the pandemic era.
If he’s at The ThunderDome, what does he do? Does he walk to the ring and walk out? Does he cut a promo? Does he Tombstone someone one last time? Does he put a jobber in a body bag?
I have no idea. None of us do. Is that why nobody cares?
I don’t expect to write this column and answer any questions about this Sunday, this is more rhetorical in nature but it does speak to a larger issue in WWE.
This is one of their icons, really the last icon of their past glory, hanging up his boots and calling it quits. The next generation of guys after Undertaker have already seemingly moved on in Batista and John Cena. We’re decades away from your Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns having their final goodbyes. Brock Lesnar? He wouldn’t be caught dead doing final farewells and hell, we may have already seen his.
So, why isn’t this Sunday a bigger deal?
This is The Undertaker. The phenom. 30 years into his WWE career, an icon, whatever superlative you want to use.
This Sunday is The Undertaker’s Final Farewell and yet, it feels as empty and as hallow as a double-deep, double-wide casket.