On his Something To Wrestle podcast (h/t Robert Gunier of WrestlingInc.com), WWE producer and booker Bruce Prichard revealed plans for Undertaker's iconic streak to actually end eight years earlier.
According to Prichard, Vince McMahon proposed a plan for Mark Henry to end the streak at WrestleMania 22. McMahon told Prichard that he thought the World's Strongest Man was "ready," but the latter was skeptical at first. Prichard that thought having Henry defeat 'Taker at WrestleMania still wouldn't be enough to "catapult him to the next level," and wasn't sure if Henry "was ready," for such a historic moment.
Prichard said that he later ran the idea by The Undertaker, who also seemed hesitant but was willing to do what Vince wanted. But surprisingly, the WWE chairman flipped the switch and decided to keep the streak going:
"Vince, as we got closer to it, got cold feet I guess and just realized that maybe Mark wasn't ready at that time for it, and I don't know that there was a real solid plan on the other side either to make it work. [Paul] Heyman hated it.
I don't know anybody that was like, 'Wooo hooo! Let's go do this,' other than Vince. Sometimes you just got to try (expletive) on and throw it out there. Sometimes you throw it out there and you need to just throw it the (expletive) away, too, but that's how we got there."
When all was said and done, Undertaker wound up defeating Henry in a Casket match that lasted nine and a half minutes. The World's Strongest Man would continue his main event push over time, so it all worked out just fine for everybody. 'Taker kept his streak in tact for eight more years before losing to Lesnar on the Grandest Stage of Them All in 2014.
Henry was established as a solid mid-card wrestler at this time, but Prichard and co. just didn't think it was the time nor place for The Undertaker's streak to end. Henry wasn't quite solidified as a true main event star at this time, so WWE probably made the right choice to keep the streak in tact for eight more years.
What This Means
It's always interesting to hear these "What could have been" stories in WWE. Though many fans continue to criticize WWE's decision to have Lesnar end the streak, no one can deny that he was at least a worthy superstar to defeat Undertaker - given his strong UFC background and status as one of the world's most marketed athletes.