The Night the Streak (should have) Ended

As we get to the end of the year, soon we’ll be venturing down the Road to WrestleMania, wondering who will be the next victim of the Undertaker, boosting his streak to 19-0.  It is a fabled number that will never be matched, and quite likely never be ended.  But that’s not to say that it shouldn’t have ended at one point.  Today, we won’t be looking to the speculative future to question who will face Taker at WM XXVII, but rather we look back at the night one storyline made more sense than ever to end the fabled legend.

2004 had been an odd year for Randy Orton.  Beginning as a hated member of Evolution, feuding against Mick Foley, Orton was pushing his Legend Killer gimmick in which he would RKO various WWE veterans.  This changed come August when Orton upset Chris Benoit for Raw’s World Heavyweight championship and quickly did a face turn when he was betrayed by Triple H and Evolution.

But the face turn was done too quickly for Orton and the fans really didn’t buy into it.  Orton had spent over a year being a despised heel, and suddenly he was the rule-abiding good guy.  His reaction was lukewarm and he quickly dropped the title to Triple H the next month and was relegated to the upper midcard, feuding with the likes of Christian.  His biggest moment of the rest of the year was being the winning member of the Survivor Series team (with Benoit, Chris Jericho and Maven), allowing him to become GM for a night.  His tenure led to a three-way cage match that ended up getting the title held up.

But after a talk from Superstar Billy Graham, Orton took Graham’s advice of “do something that’s never been done before” to heart and decided to go after the Undertaker’s 12-0 WrestleMania streak.  It was actually one of the first years where breaking the streak became a central point of Undertaker’s WrestleMania program.  Slowly, Orton began adopting a “by any means necessary” attitude in his obsession to bring down the Undertaker.  By the April 3rd date of the event, Orton had dropped his bland babyface persona completely, adopting the first signs of the ruthlessness he’s now known for.  He had taken out Jake Roberts who had appeared to give Orton advice on fighting Taker, he had used his father Cowboy Bob Orton to blindside the Undertaker, and even RKO’d his “girlfriend” Stacy Keibler to break from any distractions to his target.  The match became “Legend vs. Legend Killer”.  If anyone could beat the Undertaker, it would be Randy Orton.

So, of course, he lost.

But perhaps he shouldn’t have.  Randy Orton was not at the rate of superstardom that he is now – his victory over Undertaker at Mania would definitely have helped not only his standing, but also his heel persona.  Even then, the Undertaker was not at a position where the loss would have damaged him at all, and at that point breaking the streak would likely not have been seen by the fans as a slap in the face to his legacy.  If nothing else, unlike next year’s contender Mark Henry, Orton was a genuine threat to the streak.

Since Orton’s match, each Undertaker WrestleMania program has been specifically about breaking his streak.  Even his two World title matches (against Edge and Batista), the main focus was the streak, rather than the title.  It prevents Undertaker from serving in any lengthy program, and makes the result of his match an inevitability.  No one will break the streak.  I’d stake money on it.

But for one night in 2005, perhaps one man should have.

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