This coming weekend, at WWE’s first-ever two night, no-fans WrestleMania, AJ Styles will take on The Undertaker in what WWE has promoted as a “Boneyard” match. What exactly is a Boneyard match? On a recent Mixer stream, Styles — one of the only people “in the know” — described it as a kind of street fight…but in a graveyard. That certainly fits Undertaker’s theme and, likely, the “fish out of water” angle they may be trying to evoke with The Phenomenal One taking on Aleister Black and Taker.
Nevertheless, the truth is nowhere near as fun as what many thought WWE’s first-ever Boneyard match could be, especially since they’re replaying the hits following the introduction of Undertaker’s Graveyard prior to WrestleMania 28. So, in the spirit of playing things by ear, and improving a whole hell of a lot like WWE itself is right now, here are five things a Boneyard match could or should be instead:
A Literal Boneyard
The most commonly used “real world” meaning for a “Boneyard” is a staging/retirement area for military airplanes, the largest of which is in Tucson, Arizona. Now, Tucson is more than a skip away from WWE’s Performance Center in Florida, but with rumors abounding that Cena and The Fiend are having a match in an abandoned warehouse, nothing seems off the table this year. Certainly, leaning into the cinematic angles of Undertaker’s character fits, and there are more than a few interesting props that can be found among abandoned military hardware.
Imagine all the good spots you could get out of AJ and Undertaker running around abandoned, skeletal airplanes: throwing seats at each other, smashing through cockpits, jumping off wings. Why steal the name of a real thing if you don’t intend to use it, after all? Fly AJ and Taker out to duke it in the desert and, I don’t know, have Taker wrap AJ up in spent shells before abandoning him to the elements or something. It, of course, helps that there’s a thematically appropriate, and recently restored plane perfect for the job, too:
The Lion King‘s Elephant Graveyard
This is where my mind went first, and it’s also the closest to what we’re actually going to get. The scariest part of Disney’s The Lion King — a barren wasteland of an elephant graveyard — is also the most memorable. If WWE wants to go the distance and make Undertaker an imposing figure of theatricality and foreboding, there are few more striking things than calcified bones and tusks strewn about. Agile and light Styles flying through the maze of bones as The Master of Pain pursues just happens to work really well for a wrestling match, too. Maybe Roman Reigns can send in some hyena-like dogs in his stead.
If no fans or wrestlers are going to be taking up the seats at ‘Mania this year, WWE might as well put them to use for something else: skeletons. I propose that Vince McMahon calls up Party City, throws some nonsense about having “$0.5 billion” cash-on-hand into the mix, and lands them as a sponsor solely for the purpose of acquiring hundreds of decorative skeletons. With some smoke machines, lighting, and special effects on hand, the appearance of dozens of expressionless skeletal faces in the audience, staring blankly on as Undertaker (inevitably) bests Styles could be actually scary instead of as silly as it sounds. There’s the added benefit that WWE buying up the world’s supply of skeleton toys also keeps them out of the hands of COVID-19 fearmongers, too.
This one is for my Sirius XM fans who might be familiar with Ozzy Osbourne’s bespoke radio channel, Ozzy’s Boneyard. Featuring the likes of Black Sabbath, Metallica, Motorhead, and Iron Maiden, this Boneyard happens to fit Undertaker’s aesthetic perfectly. With a suspicion that many WWE fans also like Ozzy (I do, at least) there are plenty of opportunities for the solo Michael Cole to be joined by one of Boneyard‘s DJs, or Ozzy himself (we’re wishing him all the best), for commentary duty. It would probably be more understandable than half the stuff Jerry Lawler says today, anyways.
Last but not least, WWE could just say “f*ck it” and do the bare minimum…literally strip the match down to its bones. Take the mat off the ring, uncover the turnbuckles, empty the audience seats, take away the commentary and referee and just let two men go at it for a few minutes. There won’t be any glitz and glam to hide the performer’s aging or kayfabe here, and they’d need to work the match quickly to make it believable, but a surprisingly spartan, raw match in the middle of Triple H’s usually pristine Performance Center could work with the right attention to detail.
Of course, WWE is unlikely to have done any of these things at the pre-taped ‘Mania match due April 4-5, instead resting on the laurels of two of the most accomplished wrestlers in the company, but it sure is fun to dream, right? Either way, I’m looking forward to what might just be the most strange, silly, yet endearing match of the least predictable Mania of all time.
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