Will The Undertaker rest in peace at 25 years?
On November 22, 2015, at a WWE Survivor Series, The Undertaker‘s career turned 25. Twenty-five years of absolute spine-chilling moments that cemented the legacy of The Deadman.
Here are the moments and matches that made the legend who he is today to all of his WWE fans:
1. His WWE debut
The moment he walked in, he sent shivers down the spines of his top opponents. His persona was petrifying. On November 22, 1990, the Million Dollar Man, Ted DiBiase introduced him as his surprise tag team partner, accompanied by his manager, Brother Love (who was immediately replaced by infamous Paul Bearer) in the Survivor Series. He was initially supposed to be introduced as Kane, The Undertaker, but due to an error on DiBiase’s part, he was introduced as just The Undertaker. And the rest you can figure out by yourself.
2. The streak begins
During Wresltlemania VII, The Deadman earned his first Wrestlemania victory by defeating Jimmy Snuka. Neither did the fans present at the event nor the WWE management have any idea that they were witnessing the start of the most impressive streak in WWE history. It wasn’t until victory number 13 that they realised the obvious and started building storylines around The Streak. Over the years, many great matches were contended by The Deadman but victory number one will always be special.
3. Undertaker versus Under ‘faker’
In 1994, a new strange Deadman started to haunt WWE. Copying the Phenomenon’s moves and persona, this man was introduced by the same guy who introduced the real Undertaker, Ted DiBiase. Eventually, the two Takers came face to face with our real Taker tombstoning the faker and shutting him inside a casket, never to be seen again.
4. The Reign of Terror
Taker, either alone or with his partners, has been known to carry out the most heart-stopping, spine-chilling acts. In the year 1998, he performed one of the most controversial acts in the history of WWE RAW. He crucified Stone Cold Steve Austin on a satanic cross. It brought distaste among viewers but cemented his image as a deep, dark person.
5. The Undertaker versus Mankind Hell in a Cell
There are matches and then there is the ‘Oh My God’ (OMG) moment in a match. But when the entire match becomes an OMG moment, then that is special. The Undertaker versus Mankind aka Mick Foley, Hell in a Cell is one of those matches. Credit goes to Foley for performing crazy stunts, making this match worthwhile. First, Mankind was tossed from the roof of a 16-foot high cage by The Deadman causing him to crash into the announcer table. This triggered good ol' JR (Jim Ross the WWE commentator) to shout out his signature line for the first time:
“Good God almighty! Good God almighty! That killed him! As God as my witness, he is broken in half!”
Now if that wasn’t enough, Mankind got out of the stretcher, went back up again where The Undertaker choke-slammed him at the top of the cage. The panel broke and Mankind crashed straight down into the ring. Jim Ross shouted,
“Good God, Good God! Will somebody stop the damn match? Enough's enough!”
Many WWE folks, including The Undertaker, believed that Mankind had actually died at that point. The match continued with Taker taking the victory.
6. American Big Evil (Biker Days)
The Undertaker went on a hiatus in 1999 to have a surgery and returned in 2000 in what came to be known as 'Judgement Day' with a new look and persona. He saved The Rock from the assaults of the Mcmahon-Helmsely faction. He looked less demonic and a Kid Rock song was playing in the background. He rode his Harley and became a prominent face for the company. This particular theme was selected by The Undertaker himself, drawing inspiration from his love for bikes. He carried the American Big Evil façade till Survivor Series 2003. Personally, I preferred this personality; it involved less drama and was closer to reality. The real Mark Callaway (Undertaker’s real name) revealed himself during this time. He was regularly talking in the ring and was active in storylines.
7. Buried Alive At Survivor Series 2003
The Undertaker has been involved in many buried alive matches. The 2003 Buried Alive match against Vince Mcmahon, chairman of the WWE gave way to the current Deadman persona of The Undertaker. The match was mostly one-way and The Undertaker almost won when he was about to bury Mr Mcmahon alive. But his (kayfabe) brother Kane showed up and saved Mcmahon, throwing Taker inside the grave burying him under tons of mud, thus handing Mr McMahon the win. The Undertaker went on hiatus and was announced dead by Kane on the following episode of RAW.
8. His Wrestlemania XX return
The Deadman returned from the ‘dead’ at Wrestlemania XX. This was perhaps his most memorable return to the ring. Accompanied by Paul Bearer, Taker stepped out of darkness and presented himself as a figure that had literally seen death and risen from it. There was a deafening ovation at the Madison Square Garden, New York. Taker won the match in less than 10 minutes, avenging Kane and went 12-0 at Mania.
9. Wrestlemania 26, 27 and 28: Shawn Michaels and Triple H
HBK Shawn Michaels wanted to avenge his last year’s Wrestlemania loss. In order to make The Undertaker agree to the match, HBK offered to put his career on the line. In case he was to lose, HBK would retire from WWE, never to return. So it was set. No disqualifications. No count outs. Streak versus Career. The match went on for 25 minutes and ended with Michaels losing to Taker and thus ending his career in WWE. The Deadman probably claimed his most precious soul at Wrestlemania.
The following year, HBK’s best buddy Triple H challenged Taker for a match at Wrestlemania 27. It was a great match with odds favouring Triple H.
Triple H carried the momentum and was about to pin Taker when Taker countered with his Hell’s Gate manoeuvre causing Triple H to tap out. The match took everything out of Taker and he was dragged out of the ring. Nevertheless, he proved that there are no limits when it comes to winning a Wrestlemania match.
A year later, The Undertaker challenged Triple H to a rematch at Mania, promising to avenge the beating he took. It was a Hell in a Cell with Shawn Michaels as special guest referee. The match was billed as an end of an era match. All three superstars put on a great show with Taker winning the match.
10. The Deadman meets The Beast
“One, two, three. The streak…is over” were the shocking words that were uttered by the WWE announcer Michael Cole sending the WWE universe into shock. The fans reaction at Mania was something to be seen. Every superstar of WWE was also shocked at what they had witnessed. Brock Lesnar, the Beast had the honour of ending the streak. Even though Taker got a concussion early into the match, he continued fighting for 30 minutes before Lesnar put his finisher F5 for the third time, ending perhaps the most magnificent streak in sports entertainment. The moment was so shocking that it is ranked above the infamous ‘Montreal Screwjob’ moment.
Lesnar was always an impossible task for Taker, but for a moment WWE fans believed that maybe the Phenom could obliterate him.
The final chapter of The Undertaker’s illustrious career is yet to be written. But the pages are soon coming to an end. Many are speculating that his next Wrestlemania might be his last. If that’s the case The Phenom will deserve a long rest. Even Vince McMahon acknowledges that no man has given more to the business than The Undertaker. The sacrifices he made in 25 years to entertain hardcore WWE fans are unparalleled.
We wait to see how the end will turn out to be and I am sure it will be exciting. Until then, may all of you, Rest in Peace!