When the announcement was made that a “Boneyard Match” would take place between The Undertaker and AJ Styles at WrestleMania 36, many scoffed. Those people probably remember some of WWE’s past misfires when it comes to concepts outside of the pro wrestling ring.
Those groans turned into praise as The Undertaker entered the graveyard via motorcycle to the sounds of Metallica. Most online tweeted their love for the main event of night one as the battle was presented like that of a movie.
There were numerous cinematic elements and horror-like camp which gave fans a chance to enjoy what made The Undertaker stand out in the first place. A hybrid of the “Phenom” with a splash of “American Bad Ass.” WWE’s greatest character was back at his legendary best. The presentation, done in a similar way as what you would see in Lucha Underground or Matt Hardy’s “Broken Universe,” left a lot of viewers wanting more.
Maybe not the cup of tea for traditionalists, but the atmosphere served this situation and Undertaker persona well. So much it got social media wondering if putting Undertaker in these kinds of environments moving forward would allow him to contribute in an effective way and extend his career.
One idea that has caught fire in the hours following the acclaimed piece of work revolved around Undertaker vs. Sting. Was this dream match still possible? It’s a question discussed on the latest edition of the Wrestling Inc. podcast. When looking back at his WCW run and “The Crow” gimmick, Sting would fit right into the “Boneyard Match” construct. Especially, knowing the physical limitations they might have could easily be masked. A type of story-telling that would lend Sting and Undertaker to really formulate something special. Embracing their larger-than-life auras.
Sting is no stranger to these types of unique venues either. Remember that “Graveyard Match” he had with Vampiro. Though for this I’m thinking more in the realm of those incredible promos WCW made for Sting ahead of his match with Hollywood Hogan at Starrcade 1997. That was some of the best hype packages the company ever did. Whether it’s in a “Boneyard,” “Graveyard” or “Clock Tower,” with an open mind, they can do so much as evidenced by what we saw at WrestleMania 36.
The industry is still talking about the match masterpiece. Mick Foley was inspired so much, he pitched himself for the next “Boneyard Match.” Tongue and cheek perhaps, but we know how far back the Hall of Famer’s rivalry with Undertaker goes. Either way, what Syles, Undertaker, producers, editors and everyone else responsible for the success of that WrestleMania match did was open the door to a world of possibilities. Maybe Vince McMahon himself is already thinking about the next one, considering the success. Necessity can indeed breed creativity.
After nearing 30 years and virtually doing everything in WWE, there is only one confrontation fans have been left craving for The Deadman. A run-in with the Icon in paint. Why not give it to the dedicated audience using all the tools at hand? Then I think the character can truly Rest in Peace. That is until the next opportunity comes along because, let’s face it, a pro wrestler never retires. Even the “Dead” ones.
Let me know what your ideas are and what you think on Twitter: @smFISHMAN.