In professional wrestling, there is a character and a man behind that character. Every character is either a face (good guy) or a heel (bad guy) and the battles between them are adrenalin pumping and legendary for fans across the world. One such character, who has been a face and a heel to the same applause by fans for three decades is the Undertaker.
The man behind the character is Houston born, Mark William Calaway. Staying relevant and keeping the appeal going with fans for 30 years is testament to the hard work put in by this 6.10 feet giant.
It was the 1990 Survivor Series when the world first got a glimpse of the dead man, dressed as a western mortician being led to the ring by his manager, Brother Love.
The sight was mesmerising, bone-chilling and nerve-wracking, as one had never witnessed such a character in WWE before, with most others being your over the top vibrant guys.
I was all of 6 when I saw the Phenom for the first time and was scared to death and at the same time couldn’t control my excitement. Likewise, there would have been plenty more holding a similar sentiment from our generation.
For the better part of the 90s, the signature step of rolling his eyes to the back of his head and the deep voice had become a trademark of the Undertaker and was a fad for us in school.
We would never shy away from uttering the legendary words ‘Rest in Peace’.
His battles with Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Yokozuna, Steve Austin, Kane and the Rock were epic and one for the ages. Every Wrestle Mania was a celebration and the undefeated streak was the cherry on the cake.
In the latter part of 1999, Mark felt that the fans had started finding his Deadman character a bit stale and he had this insatiable need of reinventing his character.
In came the biker dude called the ‘American Bad Ass’ Undertaker who was a 360 turn from the dead man look. He personified this look in the attitude era brilliantly, to an instant fan pop.
On a personal note, I also loved this look and from then till he retired, the Hybrid avatar between the dead man and the biker dude has worked well with fans.
The 4-year Wrestle Mania cycle between 2009 to 2012 was another highlight of the dead man’s career when he retired the great Shawn Michaels and beat his best buddy Triple H twice.
Like all good things come to an end, in 2014 Taker’s undefeated streak at Wrestle Mania ended at the hands of Brock Lesnar and fans across the world were in shock. I was in tears.
This was the start of the end of a flamboyant and astounding career, with Undertaker still going on to wrestle for another 6 years though not very actively.
He finally hung up his boots after his victory in the boneyard match against AJ Styles at the recently concluded Wrestle Mania.
Needless to stay, a 25-2-win record at Wrestle Mania, a 7-time World Heavy Weight Champion, 6-time Tag Team Champion and a Royal Rumble winner are just some of the accolades associated with this GOAT.
What’s more, in his 30-year career he has also always been a locker room leader, always encouraging new talent and guiding the younger lot through thick and thin.
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He is everything the WWE Chairman Vince Mcmahon could ever ask for.
As the man embarks on his last ride into the sunset, the legend in the ring will continue to live forever.
Always a fan!