On October 20, 1996, Mankind and The Undertaker debuted a new match type at an In Your House event bearing the match's name. The Buried Alive match was intended to continue the feud between Mankind and Undertaker, raising the stakes between the two men. While Taker would win the match, he would be ganged up on and buried at the end of the match anyway.
Since then, there have been five Buried Alive matches, all of which featured The Undertaker. This isn’t surprising given the chemistry the stipulation has with his character. More than 20 years since the match debuted, there is a reasonable debate on both sides to justify whether the match should be renewed. Here are five of each.
10 Should: There Hasn't Been One In Almost A Decade
Absence makes the heart grow fonder. That’s how the adage goes anyway, and it is true more often than not. The last Buried Alive match in WWE took place between Kane and The Undertaker at Bragging Rights in October 2010.
With the WWE currently cycling long gone ideas, this match is bound to surface sooner or later. Many fans can’t even remember the last Buried Alive match which occurred. With one not happening for so long, many fans want to experience the thrill live rather than watching old footage on the WWE Network.
9 Shouldn't: Real Dangers
Understanding that wrestling is fake and that there is preparation taken to allow the loser of this match to safely breathe and escape the grave, there is a real potential for danger in allowing another human being to cover you in the actual amount of dirt required to fill a grave.
While this is absolutely mitigated, accidents happen. There is no reason to place performers under the potential harm which could come from being buried alive on national television. This is probably a given negative which anyone would understand, but it’s still a solid argument to keep the stipulation off of programming.
8 Should: The Undertaker Is Still Alive
This may not seem huge, but it is. The Deadman certainly isn’t required to participate in every Buried Alive match. The stipulation is certainly capable of continuing without him, but he’s still active right now. He’s been involved in all five to this point. Why not add another?
In truth, The Undertaker’s history with this match gives him a claim to the variant. If there is anything in WWE that Taker owns, it is the Buried Alive match. Given how many times he has used the stipulation to set up a character change, it would be the perfect match for him to end his career on for good whenever he ultimately decides to retire.
7 Shouldn't: The Current Roster Doesn't Fit
Outside of The Undertaker, there aren’t many current superstars who could fit into a Buried Alive match. Kane would certainly be an option, but opposite The Phenom, we would simply get a rehash of something that has been done.
In truth, the atmosphere of the match only truly fits darker characters. Aleister Black or Bray Wyatt could easily fit into the match. Storylines such as the Erick Rowan and Roman Reigns angle could have lent to a proper buildup. Outside of situations such as those, there isn’t much on the current product which could lend credibility.
6 Should: Lack of Match Type Diversity
This one is a given. What do you see when you tune in to WWE programming today? Singles competition. There is an occasional ladder match or themed matches during their designated pay per view, but there isn’t a healthy amount of diversity which was seen in the 90s.
Fans want more diversity. Matches that go outside of what is typically seen may not be the best things that happen, but they break outside of what is expected and show fans that WWE is trying new things. This match and many others could fill the void that leaves big shows like Wrestlemania feeling void.
5 Shouldn't: Awkward Angles
Go back and watch any Buried Alive match which has occurred, and you’ll notice that the location of the grave is not anywhere near the ring. Given that the presentation is centered around the wrestling ring, this immediately forces attention to a location in the arena where it wasn’t designed to go.
While cameras can largely alleviate this issue for viewers at home, live audiences might be left watching most of the match on the entrance screen. Fans who have paid money to attend an event would likely prefer to avoid having to view said event in such a manner, diminishing the value of their attendance.
4 Should: It isn’t played out
It’s already been stated, but once again, there have only been five Buried Alive matches in WWE history. Let that sink in. To drive the situation home, three of them involved championship gold, and all featured high-profile names. Intentionally or not, this match type has been protected.
Part of how seldom this match has been used is likely due to the materials required and the preparation needed, but, as we can clearly see, something which hasn’t been done too much is typically well-received. Fans want to see different things.
3 Shouldn't: It's Unrealistic
Professional wrestlers are doing their job. They might love it, but they are employed by WWE to put on performances. We can’t think of anywhere in the world where an employer would realistically sign off on one employee burying another employee alive to settle a dispute.
The entire premise of the Buried Alive match is unrealistic. Not only would an employer avoid the liability, no one in their right mind would agree to such. The unrealistic nature is further fueled by the action in each of these matches. Watching someone slowly succumb to lying in a hole while another person covers them in dirt is a bit hard to get behind and creates a lackluster experience.
2 Should: Ratings
WWE is continuously struggling to hold and build its audience. For all the reasons to bring this stipulation backlisted, none shines more than the all-important ratings bump. In truth, all of the reasons given to bring this match back lend to how ratings would increase.
This argument isn’t exclusive to the Buried Alive match. Advertising something new and different is a draw. We see that in current programming when a legend is booked in order to increase viewership. Bringing The Undertaker into a feud with a younger talent that culminates in a Buried Alive match has a lot of appeal which could generate some serious ratings over a given period of time.
1 Shouldn't: Poor Message
The biggest difference between WWE today and the promotion when the Buried Alive match debuted is its awareness of the message it sends out. The PG Era is a far cry from the Attitude Era, largely due to the intentional toning down of the product which is presented, in recognition of the younger viewing audience.
The thought of WWE agreeing to send out the message that burying another human being is acceptable or in any way entertaining is unlikely at best. More than any other reason on this list, the transition to a PG product is the biggest hindrance to a Buried Alive match ever taking place again.