Retirement is now impossible, apparently, if it was even a thing in wrestling in the first place.
The critical praise heaped on the Boneyard Match at WrestleMania 36 compelled many sadists to project another decade of destruction for the Phenom. He can do tonnes more of these, they said with relish. How much more Undertaker do you people want? He's been in WWE for 30 years. His original set of hips belong in his bloody urn, man. He has other interests, you know.
He wants to save the tigers, and you're trying to book him in more cinematic matches, shooting him from different angles, again and again and again and again! Jimminy Jillickers, can't you let an old cop retire in peace?
He's probably delighted at this development. Wrestlers pure hate retiring. It's a money thing. It's a limelight thing. It's a professional pride thing laced with a tragic pathos: when the body is in decline and the performances suffer as a result, this only strengthens the resolve to atone. But atonement is impossible. It's a depressing cycle of dire matches in which legends fade before your very eyes - often in Saudi Arabia sweating like Triple H on a Thursday afternoon.
Were interventions possible, these are the save points for entire legacies...
10. The Undertaker - WWE Extreme Rules 2019
The Undertaker is very much trapped in that paradox: he can't go anymore, but wants to go one more time to go out on his sword.
He doesn't want to tarnish the legacy he has already tarnished irrevocably with years' worth of performances that have ranged from plodding to disastrous to career-threatening. He wants "one last ride" to reverse a narrative that is threatening to pour soil on his legend. The thing is, he got it right and went out with pride last year. Or else he would have, had he actually went out, and not felt emboldened to do yet another WrestleMania. "It" of course was his fantastic performance at Extreme Rules.
A wild convergence of factors resulted in his best night in five painful years: a hot crowd thrilled by this rare offseason appearance; an unexplored, fresh, complementary tag dynamic with Roman Reigns; smoke; mirrors; a heel, in Shane McMahon, begging for a hand to be clasped 'round his throat. 'Taker was great in the match, relishing the limited role and the roar of the crowd that willed him into it from the apron.
There's an episode of Seinfeld where Jerry teaches George an old showman's trick to avoid embarrassing himself:e should abruptly end on an unplanned high note.
This is the key to the Last Ride.
He didn't do it after Extreme Rules, so the next time he goes five minutes without embarrassing himself, he should take inspiration from George Costanza and just call an audible.