In life, there are moments — some tragic, some life altering, others historical — that will stay with you forever.
I can’t tell you how many times in my life I’ve heard people describe what they were doing — often in painstaking detail — when John F. Kennedy was assassinated, or when Elvis died.
In my own life, I have some of those moments, some I’ll cherish, others I wish I didn’t have. For instance, I’ll never forget the moment I was informed of my brother’s death, killed in a car accident and gone at the young age of 26. Nor will I forget where I was when I first learned of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in the United States. I took a call that morning, asking me if I was watching television as a plane had struck a building in New York City.
It’s rare to experience a moment like that that isn’t reality. I can honestly say that I experienced one such moment while watching WrestleMania XXX with my good pal, Ben, on Sunday.
What transpired in just three short seconds will live with me for the rest of my time. That is precisely how long it took for 21 years of mystique, triumph, lore — downright magic — to come to a stunning and inexplicable halt.
One. Two. Three.
Not just from me, and Benny, but from the world (at least as we pro wrestling fans know it). That included the man who had just ended The Undertaker’s seeminly unbreakable streak at 21 straight wins. Brock Lesnar, the man who slayed the beast, sat confused, on the canvas, seemingly oblivious to what he had just done. Perhaps he was overcome with the emotion of ending such a monumental and significant part of wrestling lore. In many ways, the streak had become bigger than WrestleMania itself.
Stunned, too, was Lesnar’s manager Paul Heyman, the referee who had just put the finishing touches on more than two decades of perfect and the commentating crew, charged with explaining what had just transpired.
But more notable than any of that was the stunned silence that gripped some 80,000 souls who had just witness a historic moment none was wishing for.
What in reality was likely less than a dozen seconds felt like an eternity, the entire wrestling world trying to register what it had just been witness to.
The moments that followed were some of the saddest and most uneasy I’ve ever encountered as a fan of this great business. I’ve seen men seriously injured, bloodied, even paralyzed, and yet this moment stands right near the top as one of the most jaw-dropping and inexplicable in history.
Perhaps as time moves on, the questions that hang for some many will be answered. Or perhaps they won’t. Maybe it was simply time. Perhaps, as Heyman said before this match, one loss changes nothing, since no one will ever again challenge that epic 21-match winning streak.
When the book closes on the Undertaker’s career, whether that was at WrestleMania or at some WrestleMania down the road, no one will ever forget the incredible, larger-than-life streak he amassed in establishing himself as the greatest performer on the greatest stage of all time.
And, like JFK’s assassination, or 9/11, few, if any will forget where they were the night “the streak” was snapped.
Thank you, Taker. Thank you, WWE.