EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) _ World Wrestling Entertainment superstar The Undertaker won ownership of the NHL's Phoenix Coyotes on Sunday by defeating CM Punk via pinfall at Wrestlemania 29 in New Jersey's MetLife Stadium.
Undertaker, a four-time WWE Champion, will take over stewardship of the Coyotes starting Monday, finally ending the franchise's years of instability. The victory was his 21st consecutive win at Wrestlemania, and marked the first time an NHL team changed hands as a result of a televised wrestling match.
"Phoenix Coyotes, your destiny is in my hands now," Undertaker said in a statement following the match. "All opposition has been vanquished and the team is mine for eternity. The time to repent for your sins is now and I shall be your redeemer."
The Glendale City Council is expected to contact Undertaker to finalize a lease agreement between the new owner and Jobing.com Arena, which is owned by the city. It is believed that Undertaker would like to face the council at the Bi Lo Center in Greenville, S.C., on next Monday's edition of RAW. However, if tensions escalate, there is the possibility of a meeting at Summer Slam on Aug. 18 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said that Undertaker was one of several prospective buyers that had expressed interest in the team, which has been owned by the league for the last three and a half years. Bettman endorsed The Undertaker as "the best man for the job," and said he anticipates the wrestler's intimidating and no-nonsense management style being a great fit with Coyotes general manager Don Maloney and coach Dave Tippett.
"We said we were exploring everything we could do to resolve the situation, and this bears that out," Bettman said. "I think Don, Dave and Taker will make a championship tag team."
The Urn that Won the Coyotes
The match between Undertaker and Punk was an evenly fought battle, with the marquee stars trading blows and power moves in what could go down as an instant classic. Near the end, Punk clobbered Undertaker with an urn containing the ashes of Undertaker's recently-deceased former manager Paul Bearer and tried for the pin. But Undertaker recovered and finished off Punk with his signature move, the Tombstone Piledriver, to win the match, remain undefeated at Wrestlemania, and take control of an available NHL franchise.
The Coyotes have been entangled in a mess of red tape and red herrings since owner Jerry Moyes sold the team to the NHL after declaring bankruptcy in 2009. The repeated failures to land a buyer, as well as consistently low attendance figures and messy political ties to the publicly-funded arena, made relocation to new and displaced markets such as Seattle, Kansas City, Hamilton, Toronto and Quebec City an open assumption among fans and media for several years. Last season was the Coyotes' most successful since moving to Arizona from Winnipeg in 1996, and ended with their first ever trip to the Western Conference final.
But The Undertaker, who has wrestled out of Death Valley for an incredible 22 years, has vowed to keep the Coyotes in the desert and not ship them off to Parts Unknown.
"Phoenix Coyotes. Wrestlemania 29. The fates have spoken. We shall rise from the dead. Again."
Although this is the first time a person has come to own an NHL team via a wrestling match, unusual transfers of ownership are nothing new to the league. In 1969, Harold Ballard took control of the Toronto Maple Leafs after shooting then-partner John Bassett in a duel following a game of canasta.
This is a parody. Confession: I remember when The Undertaker first joined the then-WWF. I don't think I've watched wrestling since. But he's cool.