For Whom The Bell Tolls
I can remember the first time I saw a six foot ten inch wrestler slowly walk down to rine. This man was from Death Valley and scared the living hell out of a 5 year old me. The theme started with a sound of a deep, low bell. It was the Undertaker and wow did he have an impact on my wrestling fandom. At the beginning I was scared, and as I saw him more and more, I became intrigued with the character.
The Undertaker was dressed in black, with long red hair, and pale skin. At this point in the World Wrestling Federation, every character was colorful and full of charisma. The Undertaker on the other hand was dark, gloomy, and had a slow cadence. As Taker has said in interviews, he watched Friday the 13th and other horror films and realized all of the killers(characters) never ran after the person they were going after. Undertaker's character "being dead" also had to no sell a lot of moves as well. For most, the practice of no selling any
one's move is disrespectful and frowned upon. The Taker got over by being that monster that felt no pain.
Early on in the Undertaker's WWE career, he was handed tough opponents. When I say tough opponents, i'm not saying great workers. Undertaker feuded with "Giant" Gonzalez, Kamala, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, and Yokozuna. Yokozuna and Jake "The Snake" were great opponents to wrestle. Jake Roberts was one of the best promos in all of wrestling, and Yokozuna was a mammoth of a man at over 500 pounds. Yokozuna was so athletic for his size and made for a great feud with the Undertaker.
As the years went by the Undertaker had great programs while keeping the fans invested in the gimmick. The Undertaker lived the gimmick for so many years. This was before social media and still during the era of kayfabe. In present day wrestling, the talent use social media for their characters, but also use it for their personal lives as well. The Undertaker always
wore dark clothing and stayed quiet and mysterious when in the public. Taker then started to feel the character was becoming stale.
The Undertaker knew he needed to come up with something different especially during the "Attitude Era". Wrestling at this time was pushing the limits, and becoming more real life in style. So what does the Undertaker become? The "American Bad ass", a character that rides out on a motorcycle, wears jeans and biker gear, and talks more and shows more of Mark Calaway. The thing we didn't realize yet, was one of the key elements that made the Undertaker's career that much more amazing.
Undertaker rarely had a bad match. He was a talent that was "The Bar" for excellence. WWE's main pay per view is Wrestlemania and the Undertaker owned it. Organically, the Undertaker was undefeated at the largest spectacle of the year. Year after year he'd go in and take down great opponents. The Undertaker faced top tier wrestlers like Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair, Edge, Triple H, and C.M. Punk. Taker had wins against all of these hall of fame worthy talents. Then came the night most of us wrestling fans want to forget.
At Wrestlemania 30, The Undertaker's streak was put to the test against Brock Lesnar. Lesnar is large wrestler with a collegiate wrestling background and UFC martial arts experience, Could Brock finally put a one in the loss column of Mr. Wrestlemania? The fans didn't see that happening, other wrestling personalities didn't see that happening, and even the talent in the locker room probably had no clue. Undertaker was really injured and Brock became that one man that could say "I broke the Streak". A lot of questions to this day, are asked about that night. Was Brock the right guy? Should the streak have made it this long? Should the streak have been snapped?
My opinion, the streak should have stayed alive. It was a great attraction for wrestling fans that watched the WWE product. The problem was, after all the years of the Undertaker, would fans still believe this man could take down all the talent he'd face at Wrestlemania?
The Undertaker was the head of the locker room and well respected. He also put a lot of taxing pain on his big frame. As the surgeries piled up, and he continued to age as we all do. He began to slow down and second guess his talent. He's recently had a few miscues with Goldberg, and the tag match between himself and Kane against Triple H and Shawn Michaels. He is still one of the greatest of all time and should be either on the wrestling Mount Rushmore or an honorable mention. I'd like to see the WWE induct the Undertaker into the Hall of Fame. For the Taker, he should be inducted alone. I would like to thank Mark Calaway, The Undertaker, for the time he put into the business and the wrestling memories he gave all of his fans. If this is his retirement as he said in his WWE documentary " The Last Ride' , I wish him a happy and healthy retirement. It's well deserved. #ThankYouTaker