Part One – Introduction
Part Two – John Cena
Part Three – CM Punk
I’ve recapped who others believed should have broken the Undertaker’s undefeated streak at Wrestlemania. We’ve discussed men of controversy and men of the people as the top runners to have broken the most coveted streak in wrestling history. As good as these picks may seem, I believe I have two candidates that would have been great choices to end the Undertaker’s streak. My first choice is a man who’s once faced Undertaker before at a Wrestlemania event. In my opinion, if the result of the match had been altered, then it would have had even greater implications for the conqueror.
However, let me ask you guys a question. Out of all the victims of the streak, who is the one person that was the right man, in the right place and in the right time to break that streak? Who is one person that needed the win over the Undertaker to become the WWE’s next mega star? More importantly, who is the one person with the special credentials and natural ability to justify being given such an honor? That’s right. The streak should have been broken… by Randy Orton.
OK, maybe around Wrestlemania XXX time, Randy Orton didn’t exactly need to break the Undertaker’s streak. However, when he did challenge the Undertaker at Wrestlemania 21, then it would have been perfect for Randy Orton to do the seemingly impossible. Think about it. Randy Orton was around 24-25 years old when he took on the Undertaker at Wrestlemania 21. He’s at the right age to beat the Undertaker, break his streak and elevate himself to being the very next mega star in WWE a lot sooner. He had so many years ahead of him. Now obviously, Randy does end up becoming an all-time great in WWE. However, how incredibly over would Randy have become if he had beaten the Undertaker at Wrestlemania 21? Plus, he’s got all the special credentials needed to support his claim to break the streak. Let’s look at Randy Orton’s character.
He is the son of Hall of Famer “Cowboy” Bob Orton. He has the bloodline of a great WWE legend running through his veins. He was born to be in this business and born to be a star. It also didn’t take long for Randy Orton to make WWE officials realize that he was something special. He was one of the most naturally gifted wrestlers in the WWE and got his first big break as part of Triple H’s Evolution stable. Randy forged his own legacy as the “Legend Killer”, beating legends every week on RAW. He was shown to be tough too. Look no further than his brutal hardcore match with Cactus Jack at Backlash 2004. Randy Orton’s Intercontinental title reign was the longest in seven years and after dropping the title to Edge, he shockingly won the World Heavyweight Championship at Summerslam just a few months later. And he did ALL of this, at the age of 24.
Now obviously WWE hyping Orton this way and putting him over to this degree is not just enough to make a star. It also doesn’t mean that Orton should be the right man to break the streak… which was only at 12-0 before Taker took on Orton. Anyone can be booked to look like a million dollars and can be “given the ball”, but it’s up to the wrestler to run with it. Even though the momentum of the initial Randy Orton face turn after Summerslam couldn’t be maintained, Orton was still able to maintain his position and look of a main eventer. He was still probably the top face on RAW at the start of January. However, with Batista now getting the chance to be the top face, Orton had to take a step back out of the top guy role. With that, Orton was turned back heel, which was perfect for his next challenge.
Randy Orton was the first person to properly acknowledge the streak of the Undertaker and vowed to beat it. Undertaker himself had referenced to it before but this was the first time where the storyline of the match was about somebody trying to break the streak. It became a Wrestlemania tradition. In my opinion, it was the exact right moment for Orton to do what no man had ever done.
Considering Randy Orton was the “legend killer”, there’s no bigger legend for him to beat than the Undertaker. Up until that point in his career, he had beaten the likes of Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair and Mick Foley in matches. However, getting a simple win is one thing. However, beating somebody and effectively “killing” one of the things that made him so great is another. It would be the ultimate kill for Orton and it would be an appropriate means to pass the torch not from the Undertaker, but from Triple H.
Up until that point in WWE, Triple H had been the king of heels in the WWE universe. There was no man more hated than Triple H from both RAW and SmackDown! Fans were sick of the Game being on top, running the show. So with Triple H beaten by Batista, it would make all the sense in the world for Randy Orton to take over as the top heel in the company. And there’s no better way for Orton to garner the heel heat than to beat the Undertaker.
Now obviously at the time, the streak itself wasn’t as beloved by the fans than it would eventually become. However, Randy was the type of character that could shove his win over the Undertaker down your throat every single week. He’s a cocky and arrogant young gun whose ego would be elevated so highly by beating the Undertaker at Wrestlemania.
With Randy’s constant bragging, he could wind the fans right up. However, it’ll also make the fans realize just how great a streak Undertaker had developed. Over time, after noticing that nobody is ever gonna duplicate it, the fans would have missed the streak and wanting Undertaker to be undefeated still. You don’t realize how much you miss something until it is taken away from you. And the streak is no exception…
I’ve spent quite a while going through the reasons for Orton’s big win, but now it’s time to discuss the execution. How does he break the streak? What happens next? And what is the ultimate end-game of all of this?
The Wrestlemania match these two originally had would play out exactly as it did in real life up until Orton countering Undertaker’s chokeslam into the RKO. That spot would be the finish of the match. I must admit, when Taker kicked out of the RKO in real life and went onto win the match, it took away from what was an incredible spot at the time. Yeah we see Orton pull off these “Outta Nowhere” RKOs so frequently nowadays, but this RKO was one of the original instances of Randy pulling off a cool variation of the move. Why couldn’t this be the move that ended the streak? To see Taker simply kick out of the RKO took away from the finisher’s credibility. Especially considering we had never seen a counter like this with the RKO before. If Orton got the pin off the RKO, it would make the moment seem a lot more impactful considering who he beat with it.
The win also gives Orton something else to brag about, as I mentioned before. Nothing helps give a heel credibility than when he has the wins to back it up. Therefore, the next time Orton loses a big match, it helps the victor get over tremendously.
I’m going to try and stick with some of the original incidents in real-life WWE at this time. Therefore, Orton would get sidelined with his injury through his match with World Heavyweight Champion Batista the next night on RAW. Batista does not beat Orton, of course. Triple H could do the run in to cause the DQ, leading into THEIR match at Backlash.
It’s important to note that Undertaker would still be on television around this time, like he was in real-life. Undertaker would just try to put the defeat at Wrestlemania behind him. The draft would play out the same. Randy Orton WOULD still be drafted onto SmackDown! like he was in real life, but he would not appear on WWE television until The Great American Bash. After Batista beats JBL clean to retain the World Championship, Randy drops Batista with the RKO upon his return and holds the World title over him to end the PPV.
Randy would challenge Batista to a title match at Summerslam, but Undertaker would have his own claim at a title shot too. His match with Muhammad Hassan at the Great American Bash was to determine the number one contender for the World Title. So Teddy Long would book himself a tag team match on SmackDown! Randy Orton and JBL would take on Batista and Undertaker. JBL would also be crying and demanding for another title shot himself, so Teddy states that Orton or JBL would get added to the match at Summerslam if anyone of them got the pin or submission. Of course, Orton gets the pin on Batista. This leads to the triple threat World Heavyweight Championship match at Summerslam which Randy Orton wins and becomes World Heavyweight Champion. This also gives Summerslam 2005 a world title match of significant value. That’s not to say the original WWE and world title matches at that PPV were bad, but they were easily over-shadowed by almost every other match on the card. Not to mention none of them could possibly compete with Hulk Hogan vs Shawn Michaels.
Orton’s title reign would continue on and he would face Undertaker in the casket match he and Cowboy Bob Orton faced him in at No Mercy. He would be apart of Team SmackDown! in their Survivor Series match up with RAW. Randy would be the sole survivor for his team and the Undertaker would come out like he did in real-life. Undertaker would challenge Randy Orton one last time at Armageddon for the World title in a Hell in a Cell match. Undertaker… would win.
Keep in mind, when considering the end of the streak, you must also consider how it’ll effect Undertaker. Especially considering that we’re breaking the Undertaker’s streak in 2005. The Dead Man’s still got many years left in the tank. So having him completely white-washed by Randy Orton following his big loss would make Undertaker look like a complete joke. At least if Undertaker beat Randy Orton at Armageddon and won the title off him, it would be a satisfying end to a near year-long program between the two with Undertaker finally getting the win over the man that conquered his streak. It’s a good old Rocky Balboa comeback story which fans love to see but you’re not COMPLETELY burying your future talent at the same time. Randy’s title loss at Armageddon will also play into later events…
The hell Taker would put Randy through would deter the legend killer from invoking his rematch. While this may make him look weak in the short-run, it has great long term implications. Sometimes the toughest of heels has to play the coward once in a while. Orton would then decide to enter the Royal Rumble and vowed to challenge for RAW’s WWE Championship if he won. Coming in at #30, Orton wins the Rumble. He would spitefully eliminate #2 entrant Rey Mysterio last, who was fighting for the memory of Eddie Guerrero. Orton strolls into RAW with a great deal of heel heat and will eventually beat John Cena for the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania 22.
And that’s about it for the first year since Orton broke the streak. His big win at Wrestlemania has led to him accomplishing more and more, even winning both brands’ titles in the span of a couple of months. This is exactly the kind of thing that someone breaking the streak needs to do. He needs to look untouchable and have the credentials to back up his hype. He’s the youngest World Champion in history. In fact, he’s held the World title twice because of this storyline. He’s now a WWE Champion. He’s now a Royal Rumble winner. He’s accomplished all of this… and he’s not even 26 years old yet! It’s how you build your next big star and Orton can use all of these accomplishment to brag about each week like Triple H used to brag about everybody he beat back in the day.
That’s about it for Randy Orton. However, I do have ONE MORE person who I think is a decent pick to have break the streak too. Stay tuned for the final part of the series, where we look at this candidate and see what he’s got.