There aren’t enough words to describe how surreal it is to watch the Undertaker perform in the ring. I remember watching the Undertaker when the Smackdown! brand led by Dave Batista and Booker T held a 2 day show here in the Philippines. I was there to watch two men, the late Chris Benoit (who battled with Chavo Guerrero that night) and of course the Undertaker, who at that time engaged in a bitter feud with Mr. Kennedy. Watching his entrance from the cheap seats was spine chilling. Undertaker won of course and that night he saved Batista from a beat down by Booker T, Fit Finlay and William Regal.
Fast forward to about 11 years later, he was still performing by this time he had been with the WWE for 26 years. In the world of theatrics and entertainment such as pro wrestling, lasting for 26 years in one company is amazing. Who would have thought that a gimmick that started out as an indestructible zombie or western mortician turned out to be one of the most captivating characters in wrestling history?
The Undertaker, real name Mark William Calaway made his professional wrestling debut in 1984 as Mean Mark Callous, he wrestled in World Class Championship Wrestling, New Japan Pro Wrestling and World Championship Wrestling before ending up with the World Wrestling Federation (now known as the WWE). He made his WWE debut on the 1991 Survivor Series PPV, teaming up with the villainous Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase’s Million Dollar Team against Dusty Rhode’s The Dream Team. Little did we know that this silly gimmick would be a staple in Professional Wrestling.
From that point on, the Undertaker (or Taker) won several WWE Titles, Tag Titles and feuded with the likes of Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior, Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts, Yokozuna, Kamala, King Kong Bundy, Giant Gonzales, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Mankind, CM Punk, Kurt Angle, Diamond Dallas Page, his storyline brother Kane, John Cena and Brock Lesnar to name a few. He also participated in a lot of gimmick matches such as the Biker Chain Match, the Hell in a Cell, Steel Cage Match, Hell in the Cell, Ladder Match, Casket Match and the Buried Alive Match.
Through the years, Taker kept the gimmick interesting by adding character depth and some weird ass powers such as conjuring fire, lightning, rising from the dead, teleportation and the power to manipulate or posses someone. Beyond all those silly powers, and different gimmick types or appearances of the Undertaker showed up, we can always count that his matches were very good or amazing. His ability to create drama in the ring, provided fans of this ‘scripted’ spectacle a breathtaking experience. Undertaker was simply amazing in the ring.
Then there was WrestleMania (or Mania), WWE’s premier event. Undertaker provided a lot of memories during Mania. His matches are often the highlight of the night. For most of us wrestling fans, we always look forward to Mania, even if the match card isn’t Mania worthy. The reason we tune in to Mania every year is because of ‘The Streak’. ‘The Streak’ is defined as the Undertaker’s 21 straight victories at WrestleMania if you’re interested then here are his WrestleMania victims.
1. ‘Superfly’ Jimmy Snuka (Mania 7)
2. Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts (Mania 8)
3. Giant Gonzales (Mania 9)
4. King Kong Bundy (Mania 11)
5. Kevin Nash (Mania 12)
6. Psycho Sid (Mania 13, for the WWE Title)*
7. Kane (Mania 14 and Mania 20)
8. Big Boss Man (Mania 15, Hell in a Cell)
9. Triple H (Mania 17, Mania 27 and a Hell in a Cell match at Mania 28)
10. Ric Flair (Mania 18)
11. Big Show and A-Train (Mania 19, Handicap Match)
12. Randy Orton (Mania 21)
13. Mark Henry (Mania 22)
14. Dave Batista (Mania 23 for the World Heavyweight Title)
15. Edge (Mania 24 for the World Heavyweight Title)
16. Shawn Michaels (Mania 25 and Mania 26)
17. CM Punk (Mania 29)
* – The streak was first mentioned
The streak lasted for 21 straight victories which surprisingly ended at Mania 30 against Brock Lesnar. I remember that match, I was in shock, I always thought that Taker would retire undefeated at Mania and that will be his legacy. It was taken away by WWE matchmakers, suddenly Mania was never the same without the Streak.
On April 3rd (April 2nd in the States), Undertaker lost for only the 2nd time in Mania, his once immaculate record of 21-0 now stood at 23-2. After getting speared for the nth time, he jobbed to up and comer Roman Reigns. After the match he left his MMA gloves, his cowboy hat and trenchcoat in the middle of the ring. He broke character and kissed his wife at ringside (he still plays a zombie with dark powers), and perhaps waved his final goodbye to the fans.
At this moment, it was hard for me to write about a man who I grew up watching, whose career was part of my childhood much like those 6 NBA Championship won by the Bulls. Undertaker is like my guest every night when he wrestles or cuts a promo or something. He was WWE’s Icon, their poster boy and their heart and soul. I always remember those matches, the feud, the silly angle, the time you (almost) married Stephanie McMahon because you’re playing a Satan Worshipper, the Higher Power storyline, your run as the Biker Undertaker, the streak and your whole career. Thank you Undertaker, if this was the last match then I’m glad it ended at WrestleMania.