One of the biggest matches at this year’s WrestleMania will see the legendary Undertaker face off against the most polarizing wrestler in WWE right now, Roman Reigns.
The match was teased at January’s Royal Rumble. Reigns entered that match at No. 30 even though he already lost a Universal Title match to Kevin Owens earlier in the night, thanks to Braun Strowman. When Reigns’ music hit, the crowd booed. They wanted to see a surprise name in that spot like Samoa Joe or maybe Finn Balor, but they got Reigns and hated it.
During the match, Reigns went after The Undertaker and eliminated him. The crowd booed Reigns even more for that. After the elimination, Reigns stared at Undertaker to tease the match that was coming in April.
Following the Royal Rumble, The Undertaker was off television for over a month. He returned to Raw on March 6, which was the day after Reigns’ big win over Strowman at Fastlane. Strowman called out Reigns, The Undertaker showed up instead and Strowman left the ring.
Reigns got in the ring with The Undertaker, told him it’s his yard now and Undertaker (after looking at the WrestleMania sign) dropped him with a Chokeslam as if to say the old dog still wants to play in the yard – a WWE term for “ring” in this storyline. The match was announced for WrestleMania one week later.
Last week on Raw, Reigns called out Undertaker. He wasn’t there, though. Instead, Shawn Michaels showed up. Michaels was a man who had arguably the greatest WWE match ever with The Undertaker at WrestleMania 25 and faced him again one year later at WrestleMania 26, retired after losing to The Undertaker. Michaels warned Reigns about the mind games of his opponent.
Reigns responded by telling Michaels he appreciated the advice but with all due respect, The Undertaker retired Michaels. Reigns added that he’s going to be the one to retire The Undertaker at this year’s WrestleMania. The crowd hated that, while people like me wondered what that really means.
That leaves us with two more episodes of Raw to go until WrestleMania. It also leaves me sitting here wondering what WWE might do with The Undertaker and Reigns in terms of how their match will go.
The Undertaker is a beloved legend who may be wrestling in his last match at this year’s WrestleMania since he turns 52 years old on March 24. Plus, his nagging hip injury likely needs surgery and he could even need a hip replacement. How many more matches does he have left? Nobody really knows. It’s not like he’s going to publicly tell us.
As for Reigns, he’ll turn 32 in May and is facing a man that is 20 years his senior. He was booed heavily when he won the 2015 Royal Rumble and has been booed ever since then. At some point, doesn’t WWE have to realize that maybe he isn’t the “next John Cena” and give him the heel turn a lot of us want to see? I think so, but it’s not up to you or me.
Since I know some people may bring it up, I don’t think Braun Strowman will have a role in the match. I think he’ll win the battle royal at WrestleMania. This story is about Undertaker vs. Reigns without anybody else involved.
I feel like Reigns vs. Undertaker needs to be more than a wrestling match. It needs to be something that sets up the future of Reigns in the short term and long term as well. He’s the guy that will be on TV every week for the next decade (as long as he’s healthy), so it’s important to do something memorable on April 2.
Here’s a look at four different fantasy booking scenarios of what I think might happen at WrestleMania. I’ll present the ideas, give a reasoning behind them and try to break down if it’s realistically going to happen. Let’s get to it.
Scenario #1 – The Undertaker wins his retirement match, Reigns hugs him afterwards:
I feel like WrestleMania needs a boost this year. How do you do it? By having The Undertaker tease that this could be his last match.
Have The Undertaker start Raw this coming Monday with a promo saying that at WrestleMania, he’s going to prove that this ring is still his “yard” and that his match at WrestleMania could be the last time in the yard.
Reigns can counter him by having a bit of an attitude in reply by noting that it will be his last match because Reigns will beat him so much that he will force him into retirement. The Undertaker can reply to that saying he’ll win and teach Reigns about respect as well. When Undertaker is about to leave, have Reigns hit him with a Spear as a reply to the Chokeslam a few weeks ago.
At WrestleMania, they can have a competitive back-and-forth match. Each guy will hit signature spots without being able to get the decisive fall. Reigns can kick out of the Chokeslam, the Last Ride Powerbomb and even one Tombstone. The Undertaker can kick out of The Spear twice. When it looks like Reigns is about to hit a third Spear, have Undertaker avoid it, slap on the Hell’s Gate submission leading to Reigns passing out. The announcers can put it over that Reigns may have lost, but didn’t submit.
After the match, both guys struggle to their feet, Reigns extends a hand for a shake and Undertaker hugs him. Reigns leaves the ring, Undertaker poses in the ring and the announcers put over the fact there’s no shame in losing to The Undertaker, who is arguably the greatest WWE Superstar ever. Also, Undertaker hugging him would be a way to tell the fans that they can embrace Reigns and shouldn’t boo him as much.
Why WWE Should Do It: Fans love The Undertaker and always will. If they see Reigns show humility in losing, it could lead to Reigns earning some sympathy from the fans that hate him so much. A man getting humbled is a way to change a character. In the weeks that follow, have Reigns talk about how his cockiness was a mistake that he must learn from. It would be a tweak to his character to make him more likable.
Why WWE Shouldn’t Do It: It’s simple wrestling booking. Older wrestlers like Undertaker shouldn’t go over younger guys like Reigns. That’s why it is tough to see Undertaker winning the match. It’s not like “The Streak” is a thing anymore either, so there’s nothing to protect at this point.
Scenario #2 – Reigns wins clean, Undertaker raises his hand after the match:
Give them 15 minutes to have a physical match. The crowd will be strongly against Reigns, as we expect, while The Undertaker will be loved as usual. Do all the near-fall tricks that we have seen in many Undertaker WrestleMania matches in the past. Make it as competitive as possible with Undertaker coming close to win. Reigns shouldn’t win with one Spear either. It should take two or three Spears to get it done because it puts over the idea that it was a close match rather than something easy.
After the match, Reigns can help Undertaker up. Reigns can extend his hand for a shake. Instead, The Undertaker can grab his wrist and raise his hand up in the air in a sign of the respect. It’s similar to what Daniel Bryan and The Rock did for Reigns in 2015, but the crowd booed that. Maybe with The Undertaker, it would be different. That’s how WWE would present it.
Why WWE Should Do It: This is Vince McMahon trying to tell the fans that Reigns is going to be the face of the company and there’s The Undertaker endorsing him at WrestleMania. If that’s what Vince wants for Roman, then this scenario makes a lot of sense in theory. It doesn’t mean the fans would agree.
Why WWE Shouldn’t Do It: I would be worried about the crowd reaction if I was running WWE. Would the fans boo The Undertaker for doing that? They might and that’s why I wouldn’t do it. The image of The Undertaker getting booed at a WrestleMania for supporting Reigns is not something that loyal Undertaker fans are going to want to see.
I feel like this is the scenario that’s most likely to happen. I don’t agree with it, so the final two scenarios are here to present Reigns in a different light.
Scenario #3 – Undertaker wins clean, Reigns attacks after match and turns heel:
Selling is so important in professional wrestling. It’s more important than having cool moves. Selling involves more than just grabbing your knee to react to a move or acting like your back is hurting more than it is. A big part of selling is facial expressions. When a wrestler shows frustration on their face because they can’t put away an opponent, that’s very important in the story of the match.
In this scenario, I would tell Reigns he must show a lot of confidence in the early part of the match. Later in the match, have that confidence turn to frustration when he can’t put Undertaker away. No matter what Reigns tries, have Undertaker find ways to counter him, kick out of signature spots and keep fighting back. After a near-fall by Reigns, have Undertaker do his famous throat slash gesture to pop the crowd while also angering Reigns. That could lead to Reigns making some mistake, Undertaker catches him, hits a Tombstone and covers for the win.
Book the match in a way where Reigns is on offense for 80 percent of it, but it was his mistake that cost him the win. The announcers can say it was the veteran Undertaker outsmarting his younger opponent.
After the match is over, both guys are down on the mat selling exhaustion. Reigns can roll out of the ring to make it seem like he is giving Undertaker the spotlight. Instead, Reigns goes back in the ring with a steel chair and have him destroy Undertaker with it. A referee can try to stop Reigns, but have Reigns do something uncharacteristic like hitting the ref with a chair shot to the back. The announcers can say that Reigns has lost his mind.
Reigns can continue the assault outside the ring with a Powerbomb through an announce table. The scene should end with Undertaker getting taken away on a stretcher while Reigns can “celebrate” his actions in the ring by proclaiming that he was right and that is his yard after all.
The next night on Raw, Reigns can brag about how he said it was going to be The Undertaker’s last WrestleMania and even though he lost the match, he won the war. The crowd would hate him more than anybody on either brand. It would be easy to get heat from that point forward.
With guys like Rollins and Balor healthy again, there are faces for Reigns to feud with on Raw. AJ Styles could also be moved to Raw as a face and another familiar rival for Reigns.
Why WWE Should Do It: Having a wrestler turn heel after a big loss is the best way for a guy to turn. It gives them motivation to try something different because what they were doing in the past wasn’t working. A lot of fans are booing Reigns anyway, so why not embrace the crowd reactions by putting him in a role where WWE wants the fans to boo? It would work easily while also generating a lot of interest in Raw to see what Reigns might do next.
Another reason to do it is that the rematch would be a big deal whenever they decided to do it. SummerSlam, perhaps? It would be one of the most anticipated rematches in a very long time.
Why WWE Shouldn’t Do It: Putting over Undertaker is the wrong move just based on traditional booking since he’s the older wrestler. However, as I said, it makes more sense in this case to have Reigns lose to set up the turn.
Scenario #4 – Reigns wins clean and turns heel after the match:
The next two weeks of build-up for the match would need to be important. WWE needs to do more than just have a short promo in the ring. Do something where they have a major brawl that empties out the locker room to try to keep them apart. Since there’s already the story in place where General Manager Mick Foley is having major issues with Commissioner Stephanie McMahon, she can blame him for the situation unraveling. Use one story to build up another one. Makes sense, right?
When both men are in the ring together, Reigns should talk about how this may be the one and only match he has with The Undertaker because the “old dog” (have Reigns call him that to get heat) doesn’t have a lot left. The Undertaker can reply to that by saying that the “old dog” can still kick ass and will prove to Reigns why it his still his yard. The fans who already hate Reigns will boo him for what he said, while his supporters will want him to win a match that is arguably the biggest of his career.
As mentioned in the other scenarios, I expect that it will be an even match. Reigns can dominate much of it, Undertaker can come back with his signature spots and the crowd will rally behind him. They could even do a ref bump spot where Reigns uses it to his advantage to put Undertaker through a table that would normally lead to a disqualification. With no ref in sight, it would be legal. Just do something shady like that where Reigns takes advantage of a scenario. End the match after about 15 minutes with Reigns hitting two or three Spears to get the job done. The fans would boo the win for sure.
After the match, go for the same handshake offer scenario I mentioned earlier. Have The Undertaker be the one to initiate it. Instead of shaking the hand, Reigns bounces off the ropes and hits a huge Spear. After he takes down Taker, Reigns stands over him and says: “I don’t respect you, old man. This is my yard. I’m THE guy and I don’t care about any of these people.”
Fans would be furious with Reigns. When Undertaker gets back to his feet with the help of the ref, Reigns can be on the apron looking back at him. That’s when Reigns goes back in the ring to hit another Spear. Crowd boos Reigns even more. Post-match, Undertaker gets helped to the back while the announcers question if we’ll ever see him again.
The next night on Raw, spend three hours promoting that Reigns will speak in the main event. Reigns can talk about how he never respected Undertaker. He can claim that the only reason he wanted the match was so he could prove that he was the biggest dog in the yard. Have him say that he could have continued the attack even more, but wanted people to believe that the Deadman could come back again.
Reigns can also deliver a line like this: “And if the Deadman returns, I’ll make him rest in peace… for good.” Imagine the boos for that? It would be amazing.
After his speech about beating Undertaker, Reigns can brag about how there’s nobody on Raw who can beat him. Cue Finn Balor making his television return as a face against heel Reigns. A new rivalry begins to end Raw.
Why WWE Should Do It:
The fans have been booing Reigns for two years. That’s why WWE should turn him heel. It doesn’t have to last a year or longer. It can be eight months. Just give it a try to see what happens.
There needs to be some big angle at WrestleMania. The WWE product is stale in a lot of ways. If they just have matches with Wrestler A beating Wrestling B in every match, that’s boring. Do something more on the biggest stage. A heel turn by Reigns would be the talk of the show while also giving people a reason to tune in for Raw. Fans who hate him will want to see him get his ass kicked, while his supporters may like his new attitude as well. His reactions will likely be louder too.
Reigns is the younger wrestler, so he should win. Losing to The Undertaker may not hurt him too much, but beating him would do a lot for Reigns as well. After all, only one guy has beat Undertaker at WrestleMania and that’s Brock Lesnar.
In addition to that, Reigns vs. Lesnar is a money feud that WWE can do. The rumors are they want to do it at WrestleMania 34. If that’s the case, then turning Reigns into a monster heel is the smart thing for them to do. Lesnar may be booked as a heel sometimes, but fans like cheering for him and chanting “Suplex City” as well.
The best solution may be to move Reigns to Smackdown, have him win the Rumble and come back to Raw by challenging Lesnar at WrestleMania 34. It would make sense for Reigns since beating Lesnar is one of the few things he hasn’t done.
Why WWE Shouldn’t Do It: With John Cena working as a part-time wrestler going forward, Vince McMahon likely wants somebody to fill that role as the top guy. That’s why he has pushed Reigns as a face for the last two years despite all of the boos. Reigns is hated by a lot of people, but he’s still a favorite for a lot of kids out there. He also does well when it comes to merchandise sales, so I can see why Vince would be reluctant to turn him.
Out of the four scenarios I presented, I think Scenario No. 2 with Reigns winning clean and Undertaker raising his hand is what WWE is going to do. It may not go exactly like that, but I think it will be close. It’s not what I would do, though.
I think Scenario No. 4 would be the best move because having Reigns beat Undertaker is going to lead to a lot of hate from the WWE Universe. By adding to that with an attack post-match, as well as a cocky promo on Raw, it would work so well. We have seen Reigns as the face that people don’t like already. Let’s see what he can do as a heel because it might be the best thing for him in the long term.
As I said, this match is very important in terms of setting up storylines for the rest of the year. If it’s just a match where one guy wins and loses, that’s boring. There needs to be a story that comes out of the match which plays off the obvious reactions of the crowd. Nobody is loved more than Undertaker right now, so WWE needs to use that to their advantage in positioning Reigns in the right way.
What do you think? Let me know your thoughts by sending me a message on Twitter @johnreport or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org as well.