Archive for August, 2011

In the web-obsessed age that we live in, where criticism flows like whiskey in Ireland, wrestling fans, and more specifically, WWE fans, can be a cold, stubborn, and demanding bunch. It seems that everyone over the age of 16 with half a brain and all the time in the world thinks they have what it takes to skyrocket the company’s popularity back to “the golden era” and draw better TV ratings and PPV buy-rates.

“This is what creative should do….”

“The angle should play out like this….”

“INSERT NAME HERE should go over, and here’s why….”

Everybody’s an expert, from the dirt-sheet writers who are simply website owners looking for traffic to those that visit them and proclaim what they read as the utmost truth. Personally, I take a lot of it with a grain of salt until I actually see certain events play across my TV, but it seems as though everyone has the “next great storyline” that the WWE should concoct, even if it means ripping off some old WCW angle from years ago or just recycling something else that’s been done before.

Sometimes, though, it’s the most simple idea that could generate mass attention that equals to a mountain of cash for everyone involved.

I don’t pass myself off as any wrestling expert – frankly, there’s no such thing – but as a fiercely loyal viewer and consumer for over 20 years, I believe I have a certain eye for the industry that perhaps many others don’t. Add to that the fact that I’m a writer by trade, and you’ve got a guy who lives his life frame by frame and believes that everyday society is just one big movie in itself. I’m a storyteller, and it’s the only thing I’m qualified to do.

That all being said, and at the risk of being forced to enjoy the taste of my own foot, I DO have a WWE storyline in mind that strictly as a fan, I would love to witness and would gladly part with my cash to see play out on PPV. It’s something that, to be honest, I’m surprised to see hasn’t been done or even discussed before. That’s because it’s so simple in premise, I’m shocked that the great, almighty Vince McMahon hasn’t even come up with it yet.

So, I pose the question to you, fellow die-hards….

What would happen, if the winner of the Royal Rumble chose NOT to go after the World Heavyweight Title or the WWE Championship at WrestleMania, but instead wanted to make history by defeating The Undertaker before the Phenom’s legendary winning streak becomes a golden 20-0?

Titles come and titles go, but the opportunity to shatter a man’s legacy before it becomes absolutely perfect comes around only once.

For over 20 years, the Rumble has been synonymous with a big-time title match at WrestleMania, be it Raw’s WWE Championship or Smackdown’s World Heavyweight Title. For some wrestlers, the path from the 30-man battle royal to the biggest show of the year paid off in spades and they walked out as Champion. For others, they went the distance, but didn’t get the job done.

My idea is to break away from that formula as the Undertaker looks to make history at WrestleMania 28, taking place next April in Miami, where his current 19-0 record could become a picture-perfect 20-0. It’s long been rumored that after it’s said and done, Mania could be the last we’ll ever see of the Deadman in the ring again, and Mark Calaway will be retired. If that’s the case, then I’d like to think his last match could be part one of a double main event, since The Rock vs John Cena has already been locked in for months.

So, when it comes to picking the man leading a lone crusade to topple the Undertaker on the biggest stage of them all, exactly who should the Phenom’s last opponent be? Some impressive talent who the office is really getting behind? A name from Taker’s long past, like maybe Mick Foley or even Stone Cold Steve Austin?

No, for the purpose of this storyline, I’m going with someone who’s only tangled with the Deadman a few times in his own illustrious career and someone who was once a rumored Mania opponent for him in years past.

Chris Jericho.

You can count the number of times on one hand that Y2J has squared off with the Phenom. It’s one of the more surprising things about the WWE environment, considering Taker is the company’s longest-tenured wrestler and Jericho’s own history goes back well over a decade. And yet, I can only think of the World Title triple threat match from Survivor Series 2009 – also involving Big Show – and the two singles matches they had on Smackdown in late 2009/early 2010 as the only recent times that the two have gone at it.

This fact kills any argument that it isn’t a fresh feud or match. The Shawn Michaels/Undertaker feuds that were a focal point of back-to-back WrestleManias weren’t brand new, as we’d seen those two have some epics in the past, but the Mania matches were heralded as instant classics. We’ve seen Taker tussle with HHH before, too, but that doesn’t take away the fact that his Mania 27 war with The Game was incredible. We’ve only seem Taker and Jericho in the ring on free TV a couple of times, so how big could it get if a real program was attached to it and allowed to build for a few months?

Jericho, much like guys such as The Rock, CM Punk, HBK and HHH, as at home on the microphone. He’s a master with his words and the guy can sell a bag of ice to the Eskimos. With the skills that he has, I know Jericho could make viewers believe he could have a chance at beating The Undertaker at WrestleMania.

With that all being said, what follows is the script – actually, more of a story outline – that I would put into action if I were tasked with booking The Undertaker’s match, last one or not, at WrestleMania 28….

JANUARY 23 – RAW

It’s the last week of TV before the first big PPV of the year, the Royal Rumble, and major hype goes into the Championship matches in addition to the 30-man, over-the-top battle royal itself.

With the main event over, those involved don’t stop fighting after the bell rings, and soon enough, the ring fills with babyfaces and heels from both rosters and the result is a huge brawl that gets the crowd worked up. It’s a preview of things to come this Sunday, as bodies soon start flying over the ropes and the ring becomes less crowded with each ejection.

With just a few faces and heels going at it, the lights suddenly go out, that familiar GONG goes off and the fans go nuts when The Undertaker stands in the middle of the ring. He eyes everyone still in the ring and then starts handing out hard right hands and big boots. Soon, the ring is empty except for the Phenom and the crowd starts chanting UN-DER-TA-KER.

Not seen since his epic match with Triple H at WrestleMania 27, the Deadman takes a microphone and speaks for the first time in almost a year.

“The last time that I was inside this ring, an epic battle had come to an end, two men lay sprawled out on the canvas, and pain had spread to every inch of their bodies. And yet, when all was said and done, only one hand was raised, the streak remained unbroken, and despite his best efforts, the title of Victim #19 belongs to Triple H.

But victory can come with a heavy price. When the bell had rung and the war had ended, eventually one of those two men managed to crawl to their feet and leave the battlefield under their own power. It’s more than a little bit humbling to say that that man was not The Undertaker.

The night after WrestleMania, Triple H stood in this ring and spoke of seeing the vulnerability in my eyes, at a level that no other man has ever seen before. In that match, with every swing of a chair and every ounce of physical destruction, I became, for lack of a better term, more human. That feeling of invincibility that I’ve carried myself with my entire career was replaced with the same pain felt by my opponent, and the others that have stepped into battle with me for over 20 years. I left my yard victorious, but at a brutal, physical cost when my body refused to keep me on my feet and I didn’t leave the Georgia Dome under my own power.

That war opened my eyes.

Since that night, and in my time away, the repercussions of last year’s WrestleMania caused me to face a question that’s been on my mind ever since…..

What happens when dead men become mere mortals?”

With that, the gong goes off and the Deadman leaves the arena as Raw goes off the air.

SMACKDOWN recaps Taker’s promo as the announce team tries to decipher the meaning behind what the Phenom said.

JANUARY 29 – ROYAL RUMBLE

The Rumble is in the home stretch as fans continue to count down the 10-second clock that predates each new arrival. In the ring, Randy Orton and John Cena fight off the likes of Sheamus and Wade Barrett, while others such as Kane and Mark Henry tussle like gorillas in the wild. Rey Mysterio and John Morrison do a little high-flying in trying to eliminate R-Truth and Dolph Ziggler, and it’s not long before they accomplish their task. Almost immediately, Morrison flash-kicks Mysterio to the outside, cementing the fact that the Rumble is indeed every man for himself on the Road to WrestleMania.

Soon, it’s time for #25 to make his presence felt and the fans in the arena count along. The buzzer hits, an agonizing pause gives way to endless possibilities, and the fans go ballistic when a long-absent superstar has finally come back home – Chris Jericho. Those still in the ring look to the entrance and produce that look of shock that only comes with a returning star in the Royal Rumble. Jericho takes a moment to soak in the atmosphere, but walks to the ring with purpose, stone-faced and ready to win at all costs. Seconds after getting in the ring, Y2J dropkicks Sheamus over the top rope and then targets Orton. The Viper tries an RKO, but Jericho pushes him off and hits the Codebreaker. Kane takes the opportunity to try and clothesline Orton out, but Jericho instead dumps both of them out.

After #30 makes his way out, the action whittles down to four men – Jericho, Cena, Morrison and Barrett. Cena tries an AA on Morrison, only for JoMo to land on his feet and kick John in the face. Jericho tussles with former protege Barrett and locks in the Walls of Jericho. Soon, Cena and Jericho are fighting, while Barrett connects with Wasteland on Morrison. Cena has Y2J against the ropes and clotheslines him over the ropes, but Jericho lands on the apron. Cena tries fighting Jericho off, but Y2J hits a low punch and sunset flips over John. Seeing his chance, Barrett levels Cena with a vicious clothesline from behind, knocking him out of the ring and the match. Down to only three men, Barrett stomps Jericho in the corner and rams his shoulder into his gut. Trying a clothesline in the corner, Y2J retaliates and Barrett eats foot. When Jericho tries the Codebreaker, Barrett catches him and maneuvers him into Wasteland. Before he can hit it, Morrison comes out of nowhere with a flying chuck kick that topples Barrett and Chris over the ropes. Jericho manages to hold on, though, and the former Nexus leader is eliminated.

Down to the final pair, Jericho and Morrison glare each other down before trading punches and offense. The action is fast and intense, as Morrison lands several forearms to Y2J and then a jumping calf kick. Going for a hurricanrana, JoMo eats a powerbomb from Jericho, who then tries a Lionsault and gets a gut full of knees. Morrison goes for Starship Pain, but Jericho lifts his legs and pushes John off the turnbuckle. Just as Morrison gets to his feet on the apron, Y2J lands a dropkick off the second rope that connects hard, sending John flying off the apron and enabling Jericho to win the Royal Rumble. The fans erupt, pyro explodes and just before the PPV goes off the air, Jericho looks at the WrestleMania 28 banner, makes a championship belt gesture around his waist, but then a dark grin spreads on his face and Chris seems to be saying “No”. What does he mean by that?

JANUARY 30 – RAW

At the top of the first hour, Jericho’s music hits and he comes to the ring as the announcers wonder which World Champion he’ll choose to face at WrestleMania 28. Picking up a microphone, he takes a moment to soak in the crowd noise before speaking in an intense, serious manner.

“I’ve been away from this ring for almost a year and a half, so I’m not gonna lie – it feels good to be back.

But I didn’t come back for you people. I chose to make the Royal Rumble the night that I returned because I have always been about making an impact and doing things that stand out above everyone else. It’s this quality that adds to the reality that I am indeed the best in the world at what I do.

I had to come back and do something that I’ve never been able to do before, and that’s win the 30-man Royal Rumble, and I did just that. So now, Chris Jericho is confirmed for that elusive main event slot, the world is seemingly my oyster and I have my pick of which Champion I want to face at WrestleMania.

(AUTHOR’S NOTE – I don’t know how the WWE is going to handle the Rumble in January, seeing how Daniel Bryan has stated he’s cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase at Mania for the World Title, whoever the Champion is at the time. I’m not writing that storyline, I’m writing THIS one and I’ll leave the MITB angle to creative.)

I came to this company over 12 years ago and have made a name for myself as someone who takes chances, someone who goes outside the norm and someone who creates history. I’ve done things normal superstars could only dream of – I’ve wrestled in all the major countries around the globe, I’m the first Undisputed Champion in this company’s history, I wrestled my idol, Shawn Michaels, on the biggest stage of the year, I’m a two-time bestselling author, and I’m not only a superstar in this company, but as a rock star all around the world! Making history is what I do, and that’s exactly what I intend to do at WrestleMania.

I want to tell the world, and all of those suits in ‘the office’ that as far as both the WWE Championship and the World Heavyweight Title are concerned, I don’t plan to fight for either of them at WrestleMania.

I’m Chris Jericho, and that fact alone tells me and everyone else that gold will find its way around my waist sooner than later, but right now that’s not my immediate goal. I won the Royal Rumble, and that should give me the right to choose who I face at the biggest show of the year! Titles come and titles go, but the opportunity to shatter a legacy before it becomes absolutely perfect comes around only once in a lifetime.

Which is why I want The Undertaker at WrestleMania!”

The crowd goes nuts, the announcers are shocked and Jericho exits the ring as RAW goes to break.

FEBRUARY 3 – SMACKDOWN

The main event is a match between Jericho and Randy Orton, the man who punted Y2J out of the WWE in September 2010. After a good, 15-minute contest, Jericho takes advantage of some interference and hits the Codebreaker for the win. Jericho takes the mic afterward.

“WHERE’S MY ANSWER?!?”

FEBRUARY 6 – RAW

The show opens with Jericho in the ring, suit and tie on and holding a mic.

“It’s been a week since I announced my intentions for WrestleMania this year. I choose NOT to fight for the WWE Championship, and I choose NOT to fight for the World Heavyweight Title! I’ve already told you all that what I want on the biggest show of the year is a chance to make true history, a chance at doing something no man has ever done, and that’s destroy the streak of The Undertaker before it becomes 20-0! But all I’ve been is ignored so far. I am not leaving this ring until I have the match that I want!”

After a few moments and the fans start to boo, WWE COO Triple H’s music hits and he walks out on the stage.

“Chris, nobody knows better than me what it’s like to want to stand victorious over The Undertaker at WrestleMania. Hell, him and I took each other to Hell and back last year and I still didn’t get the job done.

The Board of Directors knows that you want the Deadman at WrestleMania, and that’s fine with us. We’ll do up the paperwork and make it official from a technical standpoint, but Chris, you know just as much as anyone else that it’s not a bunch of guys in suits that’ll make this match happen. You have to find The Undertaker yourself, Chris, and make your case. You have to stand up to him, get right in his face and convince him that you’re the man who has what it takes to break The Streak.

Two weeks ago, Taker came out on Raw and said that he was questioning himself and his own abilities. He’s never done that before. The question, Chris, is what are you willing to do to capitalize on that?”

SMACKDOWN that week recaps the Jericho/HHH promo on RAW.

FEBRUARY 13 – RAW

In action this week, Jericho is on his way to victory in a singles match when suddenly a loud GONG is heard in the arena. The arena erupts, Jericho is distracted, and it allows his opponent to roll him up and steal the win. Shocked, Jericho is in near-hysterics following the loss and marches to the back.

FEBRUARY 17 – SMACKDOWN

Again in action, Jericho gets back the win against his RAW opponent from four nights prior. Immediately following the match, the GONG is heard again, and this time the lights flicker in the arena. Jericho looks around and is going nuts at ringside. Grabbing a mic, he screams, “WHERE ARE YOU?!?!?” before leaving.

FEBRUARY 19 – ELIMINATION CHAMBER PPV

During the last PPV stop before WrestleMania, Jericho cuts a promo before each Chamber match, addressing the fact that he was making history at WrestleMania by being the first Rumble winner to actually decline his Championship match privilege. The main event is for the World Heavyweight Title inside the Chamber, and following Jericho’s tirade he begins walking up the ramp to leave. Suddenly, a bolt of lightning strikes the stage and lights it on fire, knocking Jericho on his ass as technicians rush to put out the flames.

FEBRUARY 20 – RAW

Jericho comes to the ring, microphone in hand.

“OK, I’ve had enough of this. I know very well that the Deadman does mind games, and he does them very well. But you know what it really shows me? It shows me his fear. It shows me that The Undertaker has to resort to playing tricks and trying to get inside my mind, instead of giving me a straight answer. But hey, Deadman, I’ve seen it all before! These idiots have seen it all before! If you want to do something different, then I suggest you simply walk out to this ring and face me like a man!”

With that, the lights dim, the music plays and out comes The Undertaker as the fans go ballistic. Not taking his eyes off Jericho, Taker soon stands face-to-face with Y2J in the middle of the ring.

“Now do I have your attention?” asks Chris. The Phenom just stares daggers into him.

“Good. Deadman, for weeks now, I’ve been coming out here in front of all these idiots and looking for my match at WrestleMania, but you’ve been avoiding the challenge! I won the Royal Rumble and I told everyone that I wanted to make history, and I did that by turning down a guaranteed World Championship match on the biggest stage of them all. I said what I wanted, and that’s your legacy, Deadman! I want the opportunity to destroy something before it becomes epic – the Streak! I want to be known as the man who prevented absolute perfection when it comes to your WrestleMania winning streak and cripple it before it reaches 20-0!

Deadman, you’ve walked into WrestleMania 19 times before and come out victorious every damn time, but this is the year that Chris Jericho becomes the one, as in 19-1! Nineteen victories, one agonizing defeat. All you have to do is agree to it. So what’s it going to be, Phenom? Will you concede defeat and back down from the man who is the best in the world at what he does, or defend your streak and face ultimate humiliation on the biggest stage in history?”

Taker stares into Jericho’s eyes for a few moments as the fans are getting riled up. He peers out into the audience, looks back at Jericho, puts a microphone to his mouth and says “I ACCEPT!” The crowd goes nuts, and the announcers talk about the blockbuster match just made for WrestleMania 28.

“You just made the biggest mista….” Jericho starts replying.

“I WASN’T FINISHED!” growls the Deadman. “Jericho, you’ve been coming out here, week after week, and trying to get my attention. You’ve accomplished that, because I’m standing right here and our battle at WrestleMania has been made. The lines in the sand have been drawn – it’s the Deadman, the Lord of Darkness against the best in the world at what he does.

You talk about making history, Jericho, and I believe that it’s being made right in this very ring. You see, everyone in this arena and everyone watching at home is seeing something that many have talked about witnessing for years – Y2J, the Ayatollah of Rock n’ Rolla, Chris Jericho squaring off against The Undertaker. You and I have been battling others for years in this company, but for one reason or another, our paths haven’t crossed very often. Jericho, by winning the Royal Rumble and having the nerve to call me out in my own yard, you’ve burned your own path into the darkness, and it leads straight to WrestleMania!

I’ve walked into the biggest stage on Earth and come out victorious 19 times before. Things will be no different this year, other than the number 19 going one notch higher and making the Streak 20-0! Chris Jericho, you may be the best in the world at what you do, but I’m the best in ALL worlds at what I do!”

The fans cheer and Jericho looks a bit unnerved, though trying not to show it. Taker looks like he’s going to leave, but stops and bows his head, like as if he’s wrestling with himself on whether or not to reveal something.

“There’s just one more thing I need to say, and to be quite honest, it’s more than a little humbling to try and reveal. I stood in this ring a few weeks ago and posed the question of ‘What happens when dead men become mere mortals?’. The answer is simple, they become human. They become vulnerable. And the truth is that I have become vulnerable and more human in recent years. The battles have produced many scars, and the wars have taken their toll. Nearly a year ago, I couldn’t leave this ring under my own power, and that sent a message that was powerful and clear to me: I’m not the same Undertaker I used to be. I’m not impervious to pain, and each victory inside this ring comes with a heavy price.

I’ve had a long time to think about where the Deadman lies in the future of the WWE, and my return since last year’s WrestleMania has rejuvenated me to a certain extent. It’s been a very long time since I’ve returned to Death Valley, and I believe that’s what I need to do in order to prevent further damage to my physical self and to my abilities. On April 1st, Chris Jericho, I’m going to unleash Hell on Earth and take my 20th victory, but WrestleMania will be the last time that anyone sees The Undertaker.”

Jericho is shocked, the crowd is speechless and you can almost hear a pin drop in the arena as RAW goes to break.

Smackdown that week, as well as the following week’s RAW recap the promo and the announcers are still trying to wrap their heads around The Undertaker’s claim that Mania 28 will be his last appearance in the WWE. Current superstars and past legends give their take on the Phenom’s final WrestleMania in impressive video packages, and several of them hype Jericho as cunning, manipulative and somebody who just might be able to break the streak.

MARCH 2 – SMACKDOWN

Jericho kicks off the show and it’s the return of the Highlight Reel. His guest is Kane, who Taker defeated twice at WrestleMania. Jericho speaks of these losses suffered by the Big Red Monster, and speaks about the bitter feud he had with the Phenom in late 2010 over the World Heavyweight Title. He notes that Kane helped bury his brother twice before, but he just keeps coming back. Kane says that despite his past actions, there will always be a deep respect that he has for his older brother and questions what Jericho can do to defeat the Deadman at WrestleMania. Chris says that Taker said it himself; he’s vulnerable and more human that he ever has been before, and Jericho will capitalize on that.

A match between he and Kane is set that night. The Big Red Monster throws Y2J around like a rag doll in the opening moments, but Jericho slams Kane’s right arm on the ring steps outside and focuses on it throughout the match. In the end, Kane tries a chokeslam but his arm gives out, and Jericho gets the win with the Codebreaker. Y2J celebrates in the ring, but suddenly, The Undertaker rips through the ring canvas and chokeslams him as the crowd explodes. Jericho rolls from the ring and backs out of the arena as the Phenom taunts him.

Over the next couple of weeks, more video packages hype the match and the fact that it’s Taker’s last battle. Jericho holds more Highlight Reel segments on both Raw and Smackdown with names from Taker’s Mania past:

MARCH 5 – RAW: Jimmy Snuka. Jericho berates him for being Taker’s first victim and brags about pinning Snuka himself at Mania 25. Ends with Jericho attacking Superfly and locking him in the Walls of Jericho.
MARCH 9 – SMACKDOWN: King Kong Bundy. Ends with Jericho smashing a chair over Bundy’s back.
MARCH 12 – RAW: Jake “The Snake” Roberts. Good promo from Jake about Jericho having to be in the right mindset to even match Taker’s intensity in the ring. Ends with the Walls of Jericho on Roberts.
MARCH 16 – SMACKDOWN: Randy Orton. They go over the match he had with Taker at Mania 21 and Jericho noted that he’s one of the elite names that came the absolute closest to beating Taker. Orton says that there’s no way of preparing for the Phenom at Mania and you just have to experience it. Jericho tries attacking but Orton retaliates, and the two have a match later that night that ends in a DQ win for Orton after his own Mania opponent interferes.
MARCH 19 – RAW: Shawn Michaels. Great back and forth between the two details HBK’s attempts to defeat Taker at Mania 25 & 26. The segment ends with HBK telling Jericho, “I’ve tried twice in a row, and I ended up on my back looking up at the lights. What makes you so different, Chris?” To which Y2J replies, “Because unlike you, I have nothing to lose. Not my livelihood, not my manhood and not my storied career. Two years ago, Shawn, you had everything to lose. This year, the tables are turned and it’s The Undertaker that gets everything taken away from him. I am the best in the world at what I do, and at WrestleMania, The Undertaker will know that because I’m ready to go to Hell to prove it to him.”

MARCH 23 – SMACKDOWN

Jericho has a match that he wins and he begins to celebrate. The lights go out, the gong is heard and Taker is standing behind him when the lights come back on. Jericho knows this and instead of running, he slowly turns around and meets the Deadman face to face. After a few moments, he smirks and taunts Taker with his own throat-slashing gesture. The Phenom gets pissed and goes for a chokeslam, but Jericho kicks him down low, flooring Taker. Grabbing a chair, Y2J cracks it over Taker’s back and drops it several more times over his upper body. Jericho leaves the ring and Taker glares at him while leaning on the bottom rope.

MARCH 26 – RAW

On the final RAW before WrestleMania, Jericho and Taker meet in the ring in what’s billed as a “Last Words confrontation”. Jericho comes to the ring in a suit and tie, followed by The Undertaker. What follows is a fantastic, go-home promo between both men that makes a final sell for their war at WrestleMania. (I can’t script everything, and I wouldn’t even want to try, but I’ll try with their last words toward each other down below)

Jericho: “Here’s the reality, Deadman. You’re vulnerable, you’re more human than ever before, and you’re a mere mortal. Yes, you’re bigger than me and you’re stronger than me, but nobody except me has ever had the chance to face you in the state that you’re in. You’ve become what you always strived not to be, and that’s one of us, Deadman. Just a man, and nothing else. I’m prepared to do whatever I have to in order to win on Sunday. I’m telling this to your face because I want you to know what you’re facing when our match at WrestleMania is over. Your legacy, your legend, your streak, and your career is coming to an end, and when that final bell rings, I am going to be the one holding the gun that killed it all.”

Taker: “Make no mistake, Chris Jericho – I don’t underestimate you. I’ve seen, and even felt, your abilities firsthand. I’m not going to deny some of the things that you say; the truth, as I’ve said before, is that with each battle I step into, I’m feeling the pain any normal warrior would feel and the scars just keep adding up. But I am, and never will be, just any mere mortal! Just ask any one of those that make up 19-0 – Jake the Snake, King Kong Bundy, Big Daddy Cool Diesel, my brother Kane, Ric Flair, Randy Orton, Edge, Shawn Michaels, Triple H! They all claimed to have that one little thing nobody else did that would allow them to break the streak, and one by one, they all came crashing down. Jericho, I know you’re going to kill yourself trying, but you will never kill The Undertaker! I’ve said before what I plan to do after this match, Chris Jericho. When WrestleMania comes to an end, I will return to Death Valley. I will find my eternal resting place and I will give my black soul to the Dark Lord to do as he will with it. I’ve made peace with that outcome because it’s a choice that I’ve made, however unpopular it may be. Chris Jericho, at WrestleMania, you will face the beast, the Last Outlaw and the spirit of 19 other souls as YOU become #20! Chris Jericho, at WrestleMania, YOU…………………….AND I………………..WILL REST…… IN…… PEACE!”

Smackdown recaps this segment and then, it’s WrestleMania time!

APRIL 1 – WRESTLEMANIA 28

A lengthy video package plays before the match, going back as far as Taker’s condition following Mania 27 and all the way through to Jericho winning the Rumble and declining a shot at either World Championship. Following the clip, Jericho makes his way to the ring, determined but not overly cocky as he looks to the colossal crowd in Miami. The lights go out, the druids come out and Taker follows suit as the fans go nuts. He stands in the ring across from Jericho, both men not taking their eyes off the other. After a few tense moments, the bell rings.

THE UNDERTAKER VS. CHRIS JERICHO

The match plays almost like Taker’s matches against Orton and HBK in the past; Jericho avoids many high-power moves and counters some of Taker’s arsenal. It’s obvious Jericho has done his homework and brought his “A” game for this one. It’s a game of catch as catch can for the opening minutes, but Jericho runs right into a hard boot when he runs the ropes, and the impact sends him to the outside. Taker hits several right hands and drops Jericho on the ring steps chest-first, followed by the ring apron legdrop across the throat. Back in the ring, Taker hits a backdrop and then picks Jericho up over his head, dropping him with a gorilla press slam for a two-count. Taker further punishes Y2J with several slams and then hits the Old School forearm. Taker tries for a Tombstone, but Jericho hammers his kidneys and hits a neckbreaker. Moments later, Chris has Taker against the ropes and hammers at him, but when he runs at him, the Deadman launches Jericho out of the ring with a backdrop! When Y2J gets to his wobbly feet, the Phenom comes flying over the top with the Air Deadman splash!

Moments later, Taker rips the announce table apart and calls for a chokeslam, gripping Chris and lifting him up. At the last second, Y2J rakes Taker’s eyes and shoves him hard into the steps as the Phenom bangs his knees and flips over them. Jericho works over the knees and gets Taker back in the ring, clipping the Deadman when he gets to his feet. Jericho is in control over the next few minutes, concentrating on the injured body part and reversing Taker’s attempts at various maneuvers. When Taker desperately tries another Tombstone, Jericho even hits a German suplex for a close two-count.

15 MINUTES LATER……

Jericho has gotten control back after Taker’s second wind and has just superplexed Taker off the top rope. Jericho was busted open minutes earlier after Taker booted the ring steps in his face, but the Winnipeg native isn’t down for the count just yet. Y2J groggily goes for a cover, to which Taker kicks out. Punching at Taker’s skull, Jericho throws him to the ropes but the Phenom ducks a clothesline, scoring with his own as he flies off the other ropes. Both men are down but get up moments later, trading punches back and forth. This is turning out to be another classic Undertaker match at WrestleMania, and the emotion is through the roof with the knowledge that this is his last appearance. Taker wins the punch battle and drives several rights into Jericho’s face before dropping him on the turnbuckle with Snake Eyes. Coming off the ropes for a big boot, Jericho ducks and grabs Taker’s legs, locking in the Walls of Jericho. The Deadman yells in anguish as Jericho screams for him to tap, blood caked on his face and looking like a psychopath. After what seems like forever, the Phenom makes it to the ropes, forcing Chris to break the hold. Both men are wobbly on their knees and Jericho makes a mad dash for Taker, who responds with a chokeslam for a close two-count.

A moment later, Jericho tries the Walls again and Taker kicks him off, but when the Deadman comes at him, Y2J connects with the Codebreaker out of nowhere! Jericho makes the cover, and at the last millisecond, Taker kicks out as the fans go nuts. Jericho can’t believe it, but he stays on Taker, bringing down several right hands to Taker’s skull. He tries a running forearm, but Taker drops down and Jericho ends up hitting the ref, who falls out of the ring. Jericho then walks into another Tombstone attempt, but he dropkicks Taker’s knee out from under him. Chris kicks at Taker’s knees and then goes for the Lionsault, but Taker repositions his body so that he grabs Jericho’s head on impact and locks in the Hell’s Gate submission! Y2J squirms and tries to wiggle out of the hold, but after a few moments he’s tapping out. No win for Taker though, as the ref is just coming to on the outside. He lets Jericho go and both men try to get their bearings. The Phenom crawls towards the referee, trying to revive him. Meanwhile, Jericho rolls from the ring and grabs a video camera. When Taker gets to his feet, Jericho smashes it into his skull. The ref comes to his senses and sees Chris covering the Phenom, counting 1………..2…………….Taker kicks out! Jericho is livid.

When Taker is on his knees, Jericho kicks at him and taunts him, making the throat-slashing gesture. He picks Taker up and is going for the Tombstone! After a moment, the Deadman manages to reverse it and connects with the Tombstone himself! He makes the cover and miraculously, Y2J kicks out! Taker can’t believe it!

The two get to their feet and trade punches before Chris kicks Taker’s knee, backing him into the corner and hammering at him. Standing on the second rope, Jericho screams at Taker to stay down and give up, punching and choking him. Suddenly, Taker lifts Chris up and launches him, driving him into the mat with the Last Ride. Taker is too injured to go for the cover, though, and clutches at his knee. Jericho sees this and, after using the ropes to get to his feet, he lunges at the Phenom, looking for another Codebreaker. Thinking quick, Taker manages to hold onto Jericho and spins him around, turning the finisher into another Tombstone and driving him headfirst into the mat! Taker makes the cover, and the ref counts 1…………….2………………………3! The stadium full of people erupt, the announce team puts the match over as an instant classic and both Taker and Jericho are out of it on the mat.

Jericho rolls from the ring and leaves as the gong goes off and Taker’s music hits. He rises up as the fans cheer and looks around, soaking in the adulation. A graphic on the arena screen reads “20-0” in gold and Taker gets to his feet. The music stops, and the Phenom looks around at the crowd, who begin chanting “THANK YOU, TAKER” loudly. Taker nods to them, acknowledging the praise and bowing to one knee in the center of the ring. He does this to each side of the stadium before leaving the ring.

Walking up the entrance, Taker’s music is easily drowned out by the chants and cheers as the 20+ year WWE legend makes his final exit. When he stops near the curtain, the music stops and he does the one arm salute with his back turned. Doing things differently, he then turns around and acknowledges the fans one more time. After a few moments, the stadium lights go out and a lone spotlight is on Taker.

Suddenly, PAUL BEARER walks out with the urn as the fans cheer. He and Taker stare at each other and Paul makes a motion with the urn. Taker turns back to the fans and he seems conflicted on whether he’s made the right decision to return “home”. After a moment, he nods to Bearer, who raises the urn. Taker bows to one knee, raises his arm high and the spotlight goes out. The sudden sound of heavy thunder is heard in the stadium and the spotlight comes back on. Where two people were just standing on the entrance way is a smoking, charred, black mess of steel.

The Undertaker is gone.