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One of the most common themes on wrestling websites these days are columnists who love to tell you, the readers, which wrestlers' matches they can't afford to miss (seeming anything involving RVD, Tajiri, or Angle, among others) and those who now seem to be involved in "bathroom break" matches. Amazingly enough only one wrestler falls into that category, The Undertaker. Ever since Wrestlemania, if not before, everyone who can bang out words on a keyboard have been calling for the American Badass to hang up the boots, labeling his matches snoozefests, boring, or crap. They cite his "unwillingness" to sell, his diminished repetoire in the ring, and the fact that he gets the duke more often than not. Now I feel that it's time for someone to rise up from the grave and defend the dead man.

Let me preface the rest of this column by stating that I am biased towards the Undertaker. I've been a fan of his since I started watching wrestling back in the summer of 1994. Since then, through the Rocks, Austins, Angles, Goldbergs, and NWO's, the Undertaker has always been the one guy who, even today, can make me mark out like the child that first fell in love with his zombie-like persona. Having said that, let's move on.

First, there's the workrate issue. The complaints seem to be with his lack of various moves. To that I say, when has he ever used more than 6-10 different moves? He punches, kicks, uses the old school off the top arm wringer, a big boot, a flying clothesline, leaping (of sorts) DDT, chokeslam, and now the Last Ride in place of the Tombstone. Two points spring to mind; first, these are just as many moves as the Rock, Austin, or even Jericho will use in a normal match, but because we have been treated to many Benoit, RVD, and Angle matches lately, it is now expected to use a million and a half moves in every match. 'Taker uses no fewer moves than he used back in the early 90's, but now he is "limited" My second point goes back to the first one, as people like to point out that he punches and kicks and moves too slowly. In that case, honestly, what do you call anything Nash did since he started wrestling? It is kind of expected that you slow down after at least a decade in the business; look at Page. But the fact remains that the Undertaker gets crapped on more than any wrestler in the WWF today. Why is that?

Maybe it is because, as they say, the Undertaker won't sell for anybody. To that I say, look at the man's career. Up until about '98, his whole gimmick was that he wouldn't sell for anybody, unless some gang of men descended upon him, and nobody blinked. Now, he, based on his storyline, is supposed to be in a blinding rage towards DDP, and, by proxy, the rest of the federation. Now I'm not sure about you, but if some man was hitting on my wife and I then got into a fight with him, I'd bet that the adrenaline would be pumping through my body so great that I wouldn't feel anything short of a baseball bat. Plus, I hate DDP, so seeing him get his ass kicked regularly doesn't bug me all that much. Besides, isn't the Undertaker not selling a punch or kick not quite as bad as Shane McMahon, a non wrestler taking a punch from the Rock or Angle and coming right back. Isn't not selling a slam better than McMahon taking a Clothesline from Hell, Bradshaw's finisher, and being able to get up and still interfere withing two minutes?

How about the critic's main point, that the Undertaker is in way to high profile of matches and doesn't put anyone over. To that I will split that argument into two pieces. First, the high-profile thing. First of all, in today's sports entertainment world I do not consider holding either of the tag team titles to be all that spectacular. I mean, let's take a look at the teams who held the tag titles in both federations the past year or so. For simplicity I will not really look at the so-called "super teams" like Austin and HHH. Dudleys? In the alliance, treading water. APA? The enforcers of WWF mid-carders everywhere. Hardyz? Matt's fighting with Hurricane Helmes over the Euro strap, Jeff's got his own issues with RVD. E&C? Edge is the IC champ, while Christian is in the process of splitting with him. Filthy Animals? Not even in the WWF. Same thing for Nash, which throws out his team w/ DDP. O'Haire & Palumbo? Don't have the image that they can beat the brothers of destruction, even before they got squashed. So, by my logic, there's no team better right now, which means that whoever can upend them for the straps is going to get a major rub. This also holds true for anyone who can upend the Taker in 1 on 1, which leads into the next point of criticism, which is that he doesn't put anyone over. First off, you put in 10 solid years as one of the top babyfaces year after year, and it better damn well take a major star to put him down. Even today, when his music hits, who gets the biggest face pops? You have Rock, Angle, maybe RVD (though not yet) and the Undertaker. When "Rollin'" hits, the place erupts. A guy that over shouldn't have to lose much. Rock doesn't lose much. Neither do HHH or Austin, but nobody complains. Why can't we talk about X-Pac, who doesn't garner enough heat to deserve a win, much less two lightweight belts?

I'll make this final point to all you Taker bashers out there; be patient. It is no secret that the man is going to retire soon, so let him have his farewell tour. Until then, let's let all of this pointless and misguided criticism Rest In Peace.


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