When The Undertaker takes on Shane McMahon at WrestleMania 32 on April 3, it’s going to be one of the bizarre main event level matches in World Wrestling Entertainment history. That’s because the 50-year-old Undertaker is set to take on the 46-year-old son of his boss that hasn’t had a WWE match in nearly seven years with the company’s future on the line…at least in storyline form.
It wasn’t what WWE originally had planned for The Undertaker at WrestleMania. The rumored original plan was to have Taker face John Cena, who has WWE’s “franchise player” since he won the WWE Title for the first time at WrestleMania 21 in 2005. While Cena and Undertaker wrestled a few times prior to that, they never had a big match at a WrestleMania. It was supposed to happen this year.
The Undertaker/Cena match would have been a huge attraction, but it’s not happening due to Cena undergoing shoulder surgery for a torn rotator cuff that will cause him to miss 4-6 months of action. Cena’s out until May most likely. Earlier this month, Cena confirmed he won’t be in a match at WrestleMania. Perhaps they can do it at WrestleMania next year in Orlando.
With Cena out of the picture, WWE Chairman Vince McMahon called on his son Shane to come back. The same son that left WWE in late 2009 after the company didn’t promote him to the CEO role that Vince’s wife Linda gave up when she ran for the Connecticut senate in 2010. Shane likely felt slighted by the lack of a promotion even though he had worked his way up in the company. Instead of Shane as the heir apparent to Vince (who is now 70 years old), it appeared as though Vince has favored his daughter Stephanie and her husband, the wrestler/executive Triple H, who is the current WWE Champion.
Shane’s return to WWE on February 22 was a total surprise. He wasn’t anybody’s radar – even the most hardcore fans – because he had been gone from WWE for so long that people weren’t thinking about him as an on air performer, much less being in a featured match at WrestleMania. As soon as he came back, it was obvious it was the right call. The fan reaction to his return led to one of the loudest ovations in WWE history. It was a sustained cheer from the crowd while the wrestling world was buzzing. Not only that, but ticket sales for WrestleMania sold faster after Shane’s return as well.
To WWE’s credit, they have turned the real life McMahon family perceived tension into a storyline that makes sense. Fans can sympathize with Shane wanting to get back into the mix to get control from his sister and brother-in-law because it feels like he was pushed out by his younger sibling. It also makes sense when Stephanie complains about things because when Shane went home, it was her and her husband that were running the day to day operations of the company. The whole thing makes fans wonder: Does Vince really favor Stephanie over Shane? Nobody really knows except for Vince, but at least WWE can play it out in their storylines how they want.
Will the match go on last at WrestleMania? It might. Since Roman Reigns isn’t getting cheered the way that WWE wants, he may get booed after beating Triple H for the WWE Title. The company could be willing to put Taker vs. Shane on at the end of the night because it may be difficult for any match to follow this. The WWE Title often times end the show, but history has shown that WWE is willing to change it up once in a while.
Who should win The Undertaker’s Hell in a Cell match with Shane? It’s a tough one to call, but a case can be made for either man.
Why The Undertaker Should Win
It’s hard to know how many matches The Undertaker has left in him at 50 years of age (he turns 51 on March 24). In 2015, he worked more matches than he did in the five years prior, so he must be feeling better. That workout video posted a few days ago shows that he’s in great shape since there aren’t many 50 year olds that can lift 500 pounds and jump 40 inches high in the same workout. The man has always been an athletic marvel. It’s not like he is one of the best wrestlers ever because he’s tall. He’s a legit athlete that put in the work to get to where he is.
If he’s only going to wrestle a few more times in his career, WWE may want to keep him as strong as possible by giving him a win at the biggest show of the year. Remember that next year he might get that match with Cena and that could be billed as his retirement match. Do they really want to have him lose to a non-wrestler one year before he might have that Cena match? I have my doubts about that.
Add in the fact that he’s 22-1 at WrestleMania and it would be hard to imagine why WWE would want Undertaker to lose. The only guy that beat Undertaker at a WrestleMania was Brock Lesnar, who is one of the most dominant performers ever. Should Shane be the second man to do it? The majority of WWE fans would likely say no.
There isn’t that much motivation for The Undertaker to win the match other than pride. He was put into the match by his evil boss Vince McMahon, who considers Undertaker to be his instrument of destruction. It’s not like Undertaker asked to be in the match and he’s certainly not fighting for Vince. He’s fighting for his legacy, which is arguably as important as any wrestler in the history of WWE considering he’s been doing this for over 25 years.
Win or lose, look for Undertaker to dominate the match. He’s the bigger man, the more experienced worker and it should be a story where it looks like he can end it at any time, yet Shane keeps finding away to avoid being beaten. Where it goes after that is anyone’s guess at this point.
Lastly, The Undertaker is the man that made WWE’s Hell in a Cell match famous with a total of 13 HIAC matches to his credit. That’s more than anybody else in WWE history. He lost his last one to Brock Lesnar at last year’s HIAC event, but once again Lesnar’s a different kind of athlete compared to Shane. Going into the match, Undertaker’s the undisputed favorite in the match although as we’ve seen in WWE history, anything can and will happen especially at a show like WrestleMania.
Why Shane McMahon Should Win
The WWE product is stale right now and they need change in terms of who is in charge of the storylines on screen. If Shane wins the match, he gets control of Raw, which seemingly means control of the company. That will allow him to be a babyface owner of the company that would replace Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, who are very boring in their roles as the heel Authority group – a role they have been in since the summer of 2013.
What’s been bizarre about this story is that they had Shane mention that he’s got some power over his dad, which was hinted as some sort of financial bailout from a bad business deal. There hasn’t been much of a follow up to that story, but that’s the reason why Vince agreed to do the match. Most likely WWE is going to ignore that aspect of the story since it was only used as a method to set up the match.
Why did they put in the stipulation that Shane gets control of WWE if he wins? Because WWE knows that they need to change things up in order to shake the sagging ratings and maybe win back some of those fans that have tuned out during The Authority’s reign of terror.
Shane’s return could lead to him wanting to be around WWE on a more regular basis. He’s a proud father that has three sons under the age of 13 (you might remember his oldest boy Declan that debuted as a baby at the start of WrestleMania 20 in 2004) that are likely going to grow up loving the business just like he did. If Shane doesn’t stick around WWE long term, they could easily have him pick a retired babyface wrestler like Sting or Daniel Bryan to be an on screen GM that is there to make the matches.
There has to be some long term plan here. It wouldn’t make a lot of sense to bring back Shane for what would amount to six weeks of work and then have him go away again. He’s getting some of the loudest crowd reactions out of anybody in WWE, so they need to keep that momentum by making him a regular part of the shows again. In order to do that, he should win this match.
As the video above shows, Shane has always been willing to put his body on the line in order to do something memorable for the fans. Will he take a bump off the cell (perhaps the side of it) and go crashing through a table? He might. Now that he’s close to 50, maybe he won’t go as far as he did 15 years ago, but when it comes to a McMahon at a WrestleMania you just never know.
Where things get difficult is how they will find a way to give Shane the win. The good news is the Hell in a Cell structure allows interference. Ideally the guys are locked in there without anybody going into the cage, but we’ve seen many times where the cage was broken open or people went out of the door. That’s probably going to happen again leading to some sort of interference.
While it may be difficult to figure out how Shane will win, the right decision is for Vince’s only son to find a way to get the job done.
Who Will Win The Match?
The pick here is Shane getting the win because of the “Shane gets control” stipulation that was added to the match. They need to reset the company in the storylines with Shane as the man in charge because if they don’t, the stale nature that currently exists in WWE is going to continue.
It’s likely that Vince McMahon will show up during this match, perhaps he’ll try to hit Shane with a chair, maybe Shane avoids it and Vince will hit Undertaker leading to Shane getting the win that way. At least if they do that way it protects Undertaker from losing clean while also accomplishing the goal of having Shane take control of the company.
No matter who wins, WWE has done a good job of building up interest for this match. For many WWE fans, this is the most intriguing match on the WrestleMania card just because nobody really knows who is going to win. For a lot of people, the less predictable that a match is, the better it is.
Good luck to The Undertaker and Shane. The wrestling world will be watching.