Match Point is an on-going series at Last Word on Pro Wrestling, where we look at intriguing matchups in indie wrestling and beyond. They may be dream matches, first-time matchups, or hotly anticipated rematches. Today’s edition dives deep into the upcoming WrestleMania 36 showdown between The Undertaker and AJ Styles.
The Undertaker vs. AJ Styles at WrestleMania 36 may not be considered a “dream match.” This term has been thrown around to such a degree that some argue it has lost meaning. However, this doesn’t change the fact that, until a few years ago, no one would have considered it a possibility. The fact remains that we are a few short weeks away from seeing “The Phenomenal One” test his skill against “The Phenom” of World Wrestling Entertainment.
“He Stole a Beautiful Trophy From Me.”
The feud between The Undertaker and AJ Styles began this past February. At Super ShowDown, Styles was involved in a gauntlet match, the prize being the Tuwaiq Trophy. Styles entered the six-man match at number five. He seized his opportunity against R-Truth, who had previously overcome Erick Rowan, Bobby Lashley, and United States Champion Andrade. R-Truth was weakened, however, which gave Styles the opportunity to tap him out with the Calf Crusher. Styles awaited the final challenger: Rey Mysterio.
Except the masked marvel didn’t make his entrance. Backstage, Mysterio was blindsided by Styles’ comrades, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows of The O.C. Styles took to the mic to be declared the winner. The official began the count to ten; if it was reached, Styles would take home the victory. Suddenly, cameras picked up Gallows and Anderson being attacked backstage by an unseen assailant. The arena went dark and out emerged The Undertaker. Styles mouthed off to “The Deadman,” who planted him with a chokeslam for the pinfall victory. Not only was The Undertaker the surprise entrant, but he won the Tuwaiq Trophy, thwarting Styles’ efforts in the process.
“At Elimination Chamber, He Cost Me a Match.”
Styles’ issues with The Undertaker didn’t end at Super ShowDown. The O.C. set their sights on Aleister Black, who had been dominant since his main roster debut. On the March 2nd episode of RAW, Black faced all three members of The O.C. in separate matches. Despite handing Anderson and Gallows defeats, the former NXT Champion was ultimately pinned by Styles. With this, Black suffered his first pinfall loss on the main roster. This led to Styles taking on Black in a no disqualification match at the following week’s Elimination Chamber event.
As expected, Styles had a fair amount of help from Anderson and Gallows at the event in question. Just as it seemed like Black was on the ropes, the familiar toll sounded and the lights went out again. Once the lights returned, The Undertaker had disposed of Anderson and Gallows. He then caught an airborne Styles with a chokeslam. Just as quickly as he appeared, The Undertaker disappeared. Styles turned around into a Black Mass kick, leading to another loss influenced by “Big Evil” himself. To say that Styles was incensed would be an understatement.
“I Don’t See This Mythical Monster Anymore.”
The next night on RAW, Styles and The O.C. took to the ring to address The Undertaker’s actions. Despite having been laid out by The Undertaker numerous times, Styles saw him as “a broken-down old man.” He believed The Undertaker should have retired years prior and placed the blame at the feet of his wife. Michelle McCool, the real-life wife of The Undertaker, was brought into this now-personal story. Styles accused McCool of being demanding and conniving, even if it meant her husband’s well-being. With that, Styles issued a WrestleMania 36 challenge to The Undertaker.
Granted, the knowledge of The Undertaker and Michelle McCool being married isn’t exactly a well-guarded secret. Any wrestling fan with access to social media will most likely be privy to this. However, with The Undertaker being a character so shrouded in mystique, this added a level of intrigue. Would McCool become involved in some form or fashion? Would this lead to The Undertaker being less of a “Phenom” and more rooted in realism? Regardless, the challenge was laid out. It was just a matter of said challenge being accepted.
“The Lights Can Go Off, but You Can’t Hide.”
The following RAW, emanating from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida, would become the stage for the contract signing. The Undertaker was all-business, marching to the ring and flipping over the nearby table in a show of rage. Instead of confronting his WrestleMania 36 challenger in person, Styles remained backstage. He then instructed Anderson and Gallows, as uncertain as they were, to bring the contract to The Undertaker. Styles already signed his name; it simply needed the signature of “The Deadman.”
The Undertaker signed his name, to be certain, but not without leaving collateral damage behind. He proceeded to lay out Anderson and Gallows at ringside while an incensed Styles watched on. Once The Undertaker penned his name, he stuck the contract in the mouth of the fallen Anderson. From that point, the match was set. At WrestleMania 36, AJ Styles would face his most legendary challenge in WWE. At the biggest professional wrestling event of the year, “The Phenomenal One” would square off with “The Phenom.”
With WrestleMania 36 only a few short weeks away, one has to wonder what to expect from The Undertaker vs. AJ Styles.
It’s not controversial to state that The Undertaker is past his prime. Despite possessing an undeniable presence, heightened by his fabled entrance, his recent matches have been met with criticism. Whether it was against D-Generation X or Goldberg, viewers were puzzled as to why The Undertaker continued to wrestle. Counterarguments have been made, however, that the near 33-year veteran simply needed a fresh challenger. In that respect, few are as reliable as AJ Styles.
Though he is no rookie – at 42 years old, he boasts over 21 years of experience – Styles has been highly regarded for his wrestling acumen. He wrestled competitive matches against everyone from Ricochet to Kevin Owens to Roman Reigns to Brock Lesnar. Furthermore, as a two-time WWE Champion, Styles brings a sense of legitimacy to this feud. If any wrestler can bring another WrestleMania classic out of The Undertaker, it would be “The Phenomenal One.”
Five years ago, few would have paid any mind to the idea of The Undertaker vs. AJ Styles. Now, it will not only take place but it will do so at WWE’s most important show of the year. This WrestleMania 36 match will captivate fans of both wrestlers and perhaps even surprise skeptics.
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world. WWE fan? Check out the WWE Network to fulfill all of your WWE needs!