Wrestlemania XXXI Preview – The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt

It’s a hell of a task to ask one wrestler to carry a feud entirely by himself for nearly two months, yet that is exactly what Bray Wyatt has done leading up to Wrestlemania. The Eater of Worlds has regained his promo magic, which had slipped into meaningless drivel for a very long time (arguably since his feud with John Cena).

When the rumors first surfaced that The Undertaker would not return to television until Wrestlemania, I wondered whether Wyatt could carry the program all alone. Not only has Wyatt driven the feud wonderfully, but he’s done so well that I’m not sure it would have been any better with Taker around. Don’t get me wrong, I love The Deadman, but the mystique that has evolved around his nearly 365-day absence has benefitted the rivalry more than it has harmed it.

Wyatt is perhaps the best opponent for Undertaker in quite some time, simply because their characters aren’t entirely dissimilar. They both rely on a great deal of theatrics, which can come across as hokey in the wrong feud. Take, for example, Wyatt’s program with Chris Jericho, or his endlessly meandering promos about Dean Ambrose.

For his part, Taker also works better in a match-up like this one. Everybody remembers last year’s match with Brock Lesnar — for extremely obvious reasons — but do you remember any of the build? Yeah, me either. The only moment that sticks out in my mind is Undertaker creeping up behind Paul Heyman in the ring on an episode of Main Event. Not exactly the kind of feud-defining moment you’d hope for.

Part of that revolves around the idea that it would be patently ridiculous for Lesnar to fear Undertaker, or even take him all that seriously. That was a good portion of the point of the rivalry in the first place — Lesnar wasn’t afraid of Taker’s parlor games, and he wasn’t afraid of him in the ring either — but that doesn’t mean it made for compelling television.

All this is leading to the question of what will happen when Wyatt and Taker face off in the ring on Sunday. The Deadman will need to prove that last year was an aberration, and that he can still go in the ring. Wyatt’s role is to ensure that his mystical presence matches — or is at least on a comparable level — with Taker.

Both of these are lofty goals, but both men are capable of reaching them. If they do, Undertaker and Wyatt could have one hell of a match. (Even if not, the entrances alone should be worth the price of admission.) As for the question of who should win, I’m always a fan of pushing young talent, but I think that can be done here without harming Wyatt.

I know, I know, that’s what we said about Wyatt and Cena, or Wyatt and Jericho for that matter. The Undertaker is different. Taker is a once-a-year special attraction, and I would very much disagree with the decision to have him lose two years in a row. What would have been the point of his 21-0 streak if he followed it up with consecutive losses? How much less meaningful would that make Lesnar’s stunning win at Wrestlemania XXX?

There are more uncertainties surrounding this match than perhaps any other, largely because no one has any idea how Undertaker is going to look. Despite his lackluster performance last year, The Deadman has such an extensive recent track record of legendary Wrestlemania matches that it would be downright foolish to expect him to underwhelm two years in a row.

(On a bonus side note, I’m very intrigued to see how WWE does the entrances for these men. Both wrestlers’ gimmicks rely heavily on darkness, and seeing as their match will take place just before sundown — at the very latest — I can’t wait to see how WWE handles daylight entrances for their two darkest Superstars.)