WWE's decision to have Brock Lesnar end The Undertaker's undefeated streak at WrestleMania XXX has been debated ever since that fateful night back in 2014. "The Deadman" himself has spoken about the decision in recent years, often arguing that Lesnar didn't need the win and that Roman Reigns would've benefitted more had the streak lasted up until their match at WrestleMania 33. He recently told Ariel Helwani, "I don't think Brock needed it... Brock was a major attraction, he was a star. I don't know if it enhanced him anymore... I think it would've been great for Roman. I don't think that it elevated [Brock's] stardom like it could've helped someone else."
Should Roman Reigns have been the one to break The Undertaker's streak? Or would that have only made things worse for his much-maligned run as a top babyface star? Let's talk about it.
The Undertaker's WrestleMania Streak Should Have Been Broken
Starting off, let's all agree that having someone break the streak was the right call. The wrestling business was built off the backs of older generations being able to put over new talent and establish them in the eyes of fans. It's why so many wrestlers live by the phrase, "go out on your back." And after more than two decades, there wasn't a bigger rub in the industry than being the one to put down "The Deadman" at WWE's biggest show of the year.
With the benefit of hindsight, there's an obvious upside to having Reigns be the one to break the streak. He's about to main event his seventh WrestleMania and is nearing a thousand consecutive days as world champion. However you may feel about WWE right now, this era is going to be synonymous with him the same way Hogan is with The Golden Era and Steve Austin & The Rock are with The Attitude Era. He's the undisputed top star in the company (and industry) and will likely be all over the record books whenever he decides to finally hang up his boots.
But you also have to remember that back in 2017 WWE still hadn't quite figured out how to present Reigns. He was already a three-time world champion by that point and while it seemed like fans were finally getting behind him while feuding with Vince McMahon, the WrestleMania 32 main event was almost universally hated. Add in Seth Rollins' return from injury and Dean Ambrose's push as WWE Champion and it was becoming clear that fans had more investment in the other members of The Shield rather than "The Big Dog."
At the time, his match with "The Deadman" at WrestleMania 33 felt less like a "Passing of the Torch" moment and more like WWE's attempt to re-establish Reigns as the top star in the company, regardless of how vocal fans felt about it. And while the reception he got the following night on Raw was pretty noteworthy, it wasn't long before the white-hot vitriol cooled down. One could argue that's because the streak was already over. The genie was out of the bottle. The pain of seeing "The Deadman" lost at WrestleMania had already been felt.
But had Reigns been the one to break the streak, it might've done more harm than help. A noteworthy percentage of the audience likely would've resented Reigns for being the one to earn the accomplishment regardless of what he did for the rest of his career. Fans spent years resenting Lesnar and it's not hard to find people who are still mad about it to this day. That resentment would've been an albatross around Reigns' neck and could've eventually derailed his main event push before "The Tribal Chief" persona ever arrived on TV. It's all hypothetical, but if our current reality proves anything it's that Reigns didn't need to break the streak to reach the pinnacle of the industry. It's almost as if Lesnar did him a favor by doing it first.
It's also worth mentioning that Lesnar breaking the streak wasn't the worst idea when you take his entire second run with the company into consideration. Like "The Deadman" said, Lesnar was already a three-time former world champion, former WrestleMania main eventer and former UFC Heavyweight Champion. He was already a "made man" walking into their match. But just like with Roman's early main event days, WWE's booking for Lesnar felt directionless from 2012-14. He lost to John Cena in his first match back, then pivoted into a woefully forgettable feud with Triple H. Even his SummerSlam match with CM Punk, fun as it was, was undercut by Paul Heyman needing to interfere in order for "The Beast Incarnate" to win.
Having Lesnar beat Undertaker was the first real sign that they wanted to present him as an unstoppable force and set the stage for him squashing Cena for the WWE Championship months later. He's main evented four WrestleManias since then and held the world championship seven times (for 1,156 combined days), all while putting over guys like Reigns, Rollins and Drew McIntyre. Even now, his "Cowboy Brock" presentation is one of the most entertaining things on WWE TV. So even though it felt unnecessary at the time, his WrestleMania XXX win actually helped set the stage for nearly a decade of booking.
But what do you guys think? Did Roman Reigns dodge a bullet by not breaking the streak? Or should he have always been the one to beat "The Phenom?" Let us know your thoughts in the comments!