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Posted in: Oliver's Twist
Oliver's Twist: The Millstone of The Streak
By Oliver
Apr 8, 2014 - 11:00:00 AM

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Ladies and gentlemen, the winner of this match….Brock Lesnar

Even watching it when I know the result, those words still have the power they had when I first heard them. Words I never expected to hear on Monday morning – in fact, words I don’t think anybody expected to hear during WrestleMania ever. Eighteen men had tried to defeat the Deadman at WrestleMania, some had even had multiple attempts at doing it, but none had succeeded. It took a beast to do it, not a man, not a superstar, but a beast.

I was shocked. Utterly, completely shocked. I suppose, in terms of me being a fan, I never noticed The Streak when I started watching WWF because it wasn’t mentioned and I was a child – victims seven, eight and nine fell during my first flirt with being a wrestling fan between age 11 and 14, and by the time I came back The Streak was only a year away from becoming something as Randy Orton looked to make a name for himself at WrestleMania 21. My point being, as a fan, I’ve not really known a time when The Streak hasn’t existed. There have been more editions of the premiere event in the WWE calendar that have passed my eyes with The Streak as a feature than there have without it. It was the one wrestling constant that I had – champions could come and go, old favourites would retire and new favourites come of age but I’d always had The Streak, and I’d always had The Undertaker at Mania.

That was the person that went in to WrestleMania XXX – the fan who had always had The Streak. I never expected it to end, least of all in the way it did. When Brock hit the third F5, I was kind of like ‘well, OK, this is a bit of an overkill but hey, it’s Taker’s one showing a year so why not have another finisher kick ouSHIT. Lesnar. What. Shit. Holy. Oh. My. Goodness.’ It was that sort of unexpected. The match itself was dire, undoubtedly the worst on the card (yup, I preferred the Divas Fatal Fourteen Way – it was better than this the moment Aksana hit a picture perfect spinebuster) with Taker spending half of the match on his arse and the other half moving around like the broken 50 year old man he is. The memory of The Streak breaking will live longer than the memory of the match, especially after that standing ovation from the announce teams and the long Charlie Brown walk Taker took up the WrestleMania ramp:

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Sorry, that was just an excuse to include my favourite bit of my second favourite TV show in a column


I mean, come on, Taker hasn’t even retired yet and they’re pulling out their serious faces and thank you Taker hashtags. It’s not like the guy is finished. Yet.

That’s part of the problem with The Streak, though – WWE have built Taker up over the past five years to only be The Streak. It’s become his one thing – he’ll turn up once a year to defend his history, his one meaningful input into WWE. Look at the build throughout the recent years, and you can see this – it’s become bigger than the performer himself, to the point where we’ve had to watch him put his deteriorating body on the line year after year to prolong it, adding another victim to his record. Did 21-0 mean that much compared to 20-0? What was the purpose served by the match with Punk last year, if not just to get one more person on that list? There was no reason for that feud to happen and, unlike in the years before which had a rich history backing them up, it was essentially a feud that did nothing for either man. Suddenly, a man who should rightly be seen as a wrestling legend based on his lengthy achievement list alongside the longevity it has taken him to have a 30 year career, from Skyscraper to Deadman, has been reduced to a slowly increasing number. A seven time WWE Champion, a man who has achieved nearly everything the business had to offer and has been at the top of the company for nearly 25 years, has been diminished to a statistic in recent years. Taker was and is so much more than just a number – he’s a once in a lifetime superstar, and The Streak had become a millstone around his neck.

That millstone, though, has now been lifted.

And do you know what? With the dust settled, with all the shock of it gone and in the cold light of day – it was the right time and the right person. The right time because if not now, when? Will Taker be able to hold his body together for another year? Is he going to have even more surgeries to patch himself together and roll himself out next February? Or would he rather have some time entirely free of commitment to fully refresh himself and not collect his Hall of Fame ring in a wheelchair? For what it’s worth, I’m firmly a believer that The Undertaker will enter the Hall of Fame sooner rather than later, but not before he has one final goodbye – whether that be going 22 and 1 against someone or a Raw send-off to rival that given to Shawn Michaels’, I don’t know, but I doubt we will see him walking out the night before a WrestleMania when he still feels he has something to give.

Alongside that, you have to believe that there is now doubt surrounding The Undertaker and WrestleMania. If he comes back next year, does he go after Lesnar to avenge this loss? Or does he turn his eyes towards a different foe, knowing that the physical Beast Incarnate, some 13 years his junior, is simply too powerful for him? Either way, there is now the option of having Taker lose at WrestleMania – it’s back on the table again. Whilst it may have been in doubt ten years ago, there was no doubt in my mind from five years ago until now that Taker would ever be beaten at Mania. Don’t get me wrong, I thought it should happen, but I didn’t think it would. Now that it has happened, though – it’s no longer a big deal, is it? It’s just The Undertaker. He’s not some kind of invincible WrestleMania monster – he’s someone with a vulnerability. He shouldn’t come out and take loss after loss at WrestleMania, but now they can use him to make a guy famous without the pressure of it crushing them.

And that, truly, is why Brock had to become the 1 in 21 and 1. See, Lesnar is a guy who can absorb the heat. Undoubtedly, since he returned, he has been one of the top heels in the company, but this cements it. Sensibly, WWE did not choose to do what I, and many others, have thought would be the best way to go by letting that first defeat fall on the shoulders of someone young and fresh – it took me time to see it, and a lot of questioning after Lesnar won, but if you put that around the neck of a Reigns or a Wyatt it’s a hefty weight. The millstone of The Streak might just have pulled down their shoulders and sunk them before they even learned how to fully swim. Even those two names, unarguably the two biggest fresh faces of the past 18 months and two people who WWE are clearly invested in setting up to be the stars of tomorrow couldn’t carry that weight for the next ten or so years. Punk could have done last year, but truly it would have left WWE in the lurch, them knowing he was immediately set to take time off after the big show. But Lesnar? Lesnar has the shoulders of an ox. He’s a proven heel draw for the company, and all this does is elevate him even more. He can carry that stone, likely on one of his massive shoulders whilst running up and down the hills surrounding his Minnesota home. Becoming the 1 in 21 and 1 is merely another achievement for him – it doesn’t make him a star, but it does make him a bigger star.

That’s where the value of this result comes in to WWE – not only have they allowed one of their most valuable commodities an opportunity to walk away if he so wishes, before the rigours of the business take an irreparable toll on his body, but they’ve elevated someone who was already at the top end of the spectrum within the company. There was always money in The Streak – that’s what we’d been led to believe Vince McMahon was sat repeating, George Bluth-like, in the Stanford offices of WWE. And somehow, they managed to find a way to continue to keep that money making entity whilst ending The Streak. The transference of that power, that money making ability, onto the shoulders of Brock Lesnar is a sensible booking decision. It could have killed Taker had he had to go on with it dragging him down. It could have stuck a knife in a nascent career of a future top tier talent had it rested across an up and comers shoulders. But it’s not going to kill Brock Lesnar.

****


One final important note, something I haven’t found a suitable place to drop in through writing the above – in breaking The Streak, WWE have not killed The Streak. The Streak remains a thing, a great, glorious thing that should be celebrated. Whether it was the intention from day one, or whether it was stumbled into and then made into The Streak, it is a hell of an achievement. But it remains an important part of WWEs history. If there is a single promo involving Lesnar that doesn’t refer to him as being the person that ended The Streak, I will be surprised. It will always be there, an integral part of WWE even now it is gone. It’s worth remembering that – if you mourn the loss of The Streak, you shouldn’t. It’s always going to be present.

Was Brock Lesnar the right choice? Or should someone else have broken The Streak? Leave me a comment below, or drop me a Tweet (@MrOlliB) or an email using the link at the top of the page. Until we twist again, stay safe when crossing the road and drink more hot chocolate! Selamat Tinggal!

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