The Undertaker has had one of the most remarkable careers in WWE history. However, the past two years have suggested that he truly is winding down after nearly three decades with the organization. From the loss to Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 33 that seemed as though it represented a passing of the torch, The Deadman went on to an unusual program with John Cena the year following that was never officially announced for the show and was worked as quick squash to protect The Phenom.
His matches at following international shows ranged from forgettable to actively bad, all seeming to suggest that he doesn’t have a traditionally good wrestling performance left in him. Moreover, he has dropped some of his more devout kayfabe tendencies—including speaking up in more WWE documentary projects—agreed to speak at Starrcast 2, and further developed his presence on social media.
The Undertaker is still rumored for upcoming international dates and hasn’t formally announced anything about retirement. With his presumably limited time left in the ring, this article looks at ten opponents he’ll hopefully work with.
Booking The Undertaker is tricky nowadays. He needs to be paired with a top tier star in order to create any doubt as to who will win the match. Additionally, he needs to be booked with someone who can perform in the ring at such a level to work around his physical limitations and bump up his offense in an entertaining fashion.
Daniel Bryan is one of the most talented stars in the company. While he lacks the physical size it takes to look like an ideal opponent for The Undertaker on paper, his technical precision and high-speed offense that has grown increasingly brutal as a heel make him a fine match for The Deadman.
In his original WWE run, Drew McIntyre was a largely forgettable star. He was taller than most of his peers but didn’t exactly have the presence or sheer size to register as a monster on the WWE landscape. He was a competent yet unremarkable worker. A departure from WWE and stint traveling across smaller promotions did wonders for McIntyre as he developed his in-ring game and charisma, besides getting a more grizzled look that bolstered his credibility.
As such, McIntyre combines the talent to pull a reasonably good match out of The Undertaker combined with the size and look to be a believable threat to him.
There’s a way of pitching Baron Corbin as a credible threat to The Undertaker given his size and accolades like having retired Kurt Angle and won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. However, what might be all the more appealing is the notion of The Phenom utterly squashing Corbin.
When WWE announced Corbin would face Angle in his retirement match at WrestleMania 35, the biggest hope hardcore fans held out for was that it meant Angle would at least win his last match—and probably in decisive fashion for a feel-good moment. Though Angle didn’t get that moment, maybe The Undertaker could by quickly dismantling and Tombstoning the unpopular star.
One of the most memorable matches from WrestleMania 34 saw Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon battle Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. The bout was memorable for being Bryan’s comeback match in addition to blowing off the longstanding rivalry between McMahon and Owens (and to a lesser, but still significant extent, Zayn). Folks remember McMahon playing the face in peril with the added intrigue that he was actually struggling with diverticulitis at the time of the match. They remember, too, Bryan’s inspired performance.
The real star of the match, however, may have been Zayn, who bumped like a champ every step of the way against his opponents, having leaned up into McMahon’s Coast to Coast as well as ultimately having tapped out to Bryan in selfless fashion. Performances like this one thoroughly reinforce Zayn’s ability to serve other wrestler's interests. He’d be a perfect foil for The Undertaker at this stage of his career.
Whereas some consideration as to Undertaker opponents should go to guys who can deliver a quality match with him, there is also some merit to considering talent who can offer a spectacle. After all, a big segment of The Undertaker’s career was devoted to battling giants like Kane, Brock Lesnar, Kamala, The Great Khali, The Giant Gonzales, Vader, Mabel, and Diesel. No, not all of these feuds led to great matches, but they did add to The Dead Man’s mystique and shored up his spot as an all-time great.
Braun Strowman isn’t a wizard between the ropes, but there are ways in which he feels like today’s answer to The Undertaker character, as a big man with mystique who isn’t necessarily centered on a world title picture. Strowman vs. The Undertaker could be a fun story and—particularly if the match is kept short and low impact—could be entertaining enough.
Samoa Joe has made a go of it in the WWE based on exceeding expectations and more often than not delivering excellent storylines rooted in the intensity of his performance. His signature stiff style isn’t necessarily the best fit for The Undertaker at this point, but he could generate a lot of buzz with The Deadman.
Joe’s ability to play the ruthless villain, as demonstrated by choking out Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman, violently attacking Seth Rollins, and going after AJ Styles’s wife would make him a worthy villain ready to go toe to toe with The Phenom. That’s particularly true when it comes to mind games.
While mild-mannered face Finn Balor may not seem like the best fit to rival The Undertaker, his Demon alter-ego would have a lot of potential going against The Dead Man. In his body paint and with his dramatic entrances, The Demon has proven unbeatable on the main roster thus far, and his dark undertones would be a good fit opposite The Phenom.
Would The Undertaker have the answer to defeating The Demon, or would The Demon persona allow Balor to overcome The Deadman? Either way, this could be a fun story, right in the traditional Undertaker wheelhouse, and give Balor the rub of at least being competitive with this legend.
The Undertaker has dark underpinnings to his character. The original concept of his identity was shaped around literally being undead—a theme that the character returned to throughout his career. Additionally, he went very dark at the front end of the Attitude Era as the leader of the Ministry of Darkness, and the entire arc of his story with Kane was littered with supernatural elements.
Aleister Black hasn’t gone to the extremes of The Deadman character, but his entrance and look have been inflicted with a sinister tone. So, as a personality, Black would be a natural enough fit to challenge The Undertaker and try to take the torch from him at this stage. Moreover, his fast-paced style, highlighted by his striking offense and aerial maneuvers would add needed action to an Undertaker match.
Walter has offered a unique spectacle abroad, and most recently as a signee of the NXT UK brand. Yes, he’s a big man, but he also represents a certain old school aesthetic. He’s strong, but not visibly ripped in the style of the day. His offense is brutal, but not in the sense of doing big dangerous spots, but rather working stiff and snug.
Rumor has it that Walter was hesitant to sign with the WWE because he wasn’t interested in the schedule that comes with the company or how much time he’d have to spend away from home. The innovation of the NXT UK brand set up a natural entry point, and now that he’s working under the WWE umbrella, it seems more feasible he might eventually move up to the main roster. If so, Walter would offer exactly the sort of formidable, intimidate opponent who could pose a very genuine threat to The Undertaker without forcing The Phenom to necessarily take many big bumps or work spots that his body isn’t up for.
There is a natural drive to want to see The Undertaker work his final stretch in the ring under circumstances that will result in good matches. Nonetheless, he’s also an all-time legend, and there is some intrigue attached to him working names of comparable stature.
The idea of Sting facing The Undertaker was a dream match dating back to the 1990s and the heat of the Monday Night War. Many fans predicted it would happen when Sting finally signed with them in 2014, but it wasn’t in the cards as The Icon only worked a small handful of matches centered on programs with Triple H and Seth Rollins.
Sting is officially retired but has indicated he would come back to work with The Undertaker. This match could still work as a draw, especially for Monday Night War era fans. If this match were kept short and plotted in such a way to cover for each man’s physical limitations, it could work reasonably well bell-to-bell.