All is right with the WWE again on the Smackdown side of things. The Undertaker is back from another long break and has inserted himself in the title picture. It’s good for Smackdown to have some star power back at the main event level. It was lacking pretty bad with Jack Swagger as your champion and the Big Show as his main competition.
I’m still not ready to crap all over Swagger’s title reign because now that Undertaker is back in the hunt for the title it should get exciting. There’s another reason why Swagger’s title reign is going to get better real soon: Undertaker is at his best when chasing the title.
There are some guys who seem more fun to watch with the title and then they’re guys who are more fun when chasing the title. For example, HHH is better when chasing the title in my opinion. He plays the “cerebral assassin” role much better as a challenger who will do anything to win the title.
Stone Cold Steve Austin was better with the title than without it. I think this stems from the whole dynamic between he and McMahon and their legendary feud from 1998-99.
I’m not saying Undertaker is not a great champion. He has had many title runs and done a heck of a job. He’s one of the greatest WWE superstars of all-time and possibly the best big man in the history of pro wrestling. His character just seems to go to that next level when he is chasing the title. His Dead Man persona just fits chasing the title with his paranormal powers. That’s one reason.
The other reason is we’ve become accustomed to Taker not being champion. Look at Undertaker’s title runs over his legendary career:
*His first title run lasted one week in 1991 when he beat then lost to Hulk Hogan.
*His second title run didn’t come until1997 when he beat Sid at Wrestlemania 13. Taker would lose the title 5 months later.
*His third title reign in 1999 only last one month when he beat and then lost to Steve Austin.
*Taker beat Hogan in 2002 for his fourth title run, only to lose it 2 months later to the Rock.
*His fifth run began at Wrestlemania when he beat Batista for the Heavyweight title. Edge cashed in his Money in the Bank contract and won the title the very next month later.
*Taker would get his revenge on Edge and win the Heavyweight title at the very next Wrestlemania for his sixth run. He lost it 3 months later.
*Taker’s latest title run began in October of 2009 when he beat CM Punk. Y2J won it 4 months later at the Elimination Chamber thanks to Shawn Michaels.
What does all that mean? Due to the short title runs, Taker has never been able to really take off as champion. Guys like Cena, Rock, and Austin had title runs that were almost a year long or even longer. We’re so used to seeing Taker chase the title his whole career so his best moments are found there. That’s the second reason.
Lastly, Taker’s best feuds have been when he is chasing the title (His best feud is with Mankind and no title was involved in that). His feud with Austin on the “Highway to Hell” at Summerslam 1998 was one over the very best that year.His feud with Bret Hart in 1997 is very underrated and produced some terrific matches. His feud with Shawn Michaels at the end of 1997 and beginning of 1998 was very memorable thanks to innovative matches like Hell in the Cell and the return of the Casket Match.
Some may blame the Dead Man character has held him back from having long title runs, which may be true. But it’s his character that has made him a fierce competitor who is very entertaining when the challenger. This is just my opinion.
Good luck, Jack Swagger, Undertaker is coming for you.