Photo courtesy of Amer Hilabi | Getty Images.
Wrestlemania 38 took place this weekend, and on Saturday, the Undertaker was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.
With the event becoming one of the most highest grossing and most-attended events in company history and Undertaker ending his 30-year career, it reminded me how much of an impact the WWE and the Undertaker has had on hundreds of thousands of people — a handful of them being my family.
One of my grandmother’s favorite wrestlers is the Undertaker.
I have memories of playing “WWE Smackdown! vs. Raw 2006” on the PlayStation 2, and my sister being scared of virtual Undertaker’s entrance until the match started.
But just two games prior in 2002 for “WWE Smackdown! Shut Your Mouth,” my sister would be happy to see the same virtual Undertaker’s entrance, but this time, he would come down to the ring on his motorcycle.
It’s interesting that my sister would be happy to see Undertaker riding his motorcycle and dragging people on his motorcycle, yet scared in another game by his theme music and the rolling of his eyes to the back of the head.
That’s the remarkable thing about the Undertaker — he is loved by different generations, and he is loved — or hated — for his different personas.
Undertaker made his WWE debut, then known as WWF, on November 22, 1990 at Survivor Series. He wrestled his final match April 4, 2020 at Wrestlemania 36.
Whether or not Undertaker chooses to wrestle a match again, it’s undeniable that The Undertaker is a once in a generation talent and persona that will never be duplicated again.
These days wrestlers and fans alike use social media regularly.
Many fans and wrestlers also understand that wrestling is not real, but rather scripted, more similar to a tv show or a movie. However, that does not take away from the work and performances that wrestlers do to captivate an audience.
The Undertaker is probably one of the last wrestlers, if ever, to stay in kayfabe, or the act of being in character, the duration of his entire career.
He had two main personas, slightly altering them throughout the years. The first and most well-known gimmick is “the deadman” where he is portrayed as a supernatural being with power.
His entrance music was a gong followed by a funeral march. He would roll his eyes to the back of his head, and during matches he would sit up, as if rising from the dead.
The other gimmick — and my favorite one — was his “biker” gimmick where he would ride his motorcycle to the ring. During this time, Undertaker was shown to be more human, speaking more regularly on the mic, wearing a bandana and sunglasses.
His entrance music was different from the dark tones of his past, having the themes “American Bad Ass” by Kid Rock and “Rollin’” by Limp Bizkit. Despite the gimmick changes, the Undertaker was still loved and adorned by fans and wrestlers alike. People were amazed by his wrestling ability and the performances he put out consistently for so many years.
Other than his personas, Undertaker is probably most known for his performances at Wrestlemania and his record. He is 23- 2 at Wrestlemania, including 21 straight victories.
Brock Lesnar was the first wrestler to beat Undertaker at Wrestlemania 30. Roman Reigns would become the second wrestler to beat Undertaker at Wrestlemania 33.
Losses aside, a match with the Undertaker at the Showcase of the Immortals is one of the most important matches on the Wrestlemania card, similar to the main event or a title match. Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 25 is what many consider to be the greatest match of all-time.
Other wrestlers that Undertaker has defeated at Wrestlemania include Kane (his kayfabe brother, rival, tag team partner) Triple H, Ric Flair, Randy Orton, Batista, Edge, CM Punk and John Cena among others.
Undertaker’s final match was against AJ Styles at Wrestlemania 36. The match was unique because it was a cinematic match. The match took place in 2020, during a time when most of the world was still in lockdown. All things considered, the match was praised and allowed the Undertaker to potentially retire from wrestling on a high note.
The career of the Undertaker is something that will probably never be seen or matched again.
He did not go into Hollywood like The Rock, Batista, or John Cena. He never left WWE to join another wrestling promotion, or try another sport or venture. He stayed loyal to the WWE and CEO Vince McMahon.
Many fans for the first time learned who Mark Calaway is when he’s not in character in the 2020 WWE documentary “Undertaker: The Last Ride.” The documentary is very similar to “The Last Dance” which is the story of how Michael Jordan led the Chicago Bulls of the 1990s.
McMahon, out of all the wrestlers he’s helped create and known for years, is shown to be closest to the Undertaker. McMahon inducted the Undertaker into the WWE Hall of Fame where concluded his speech by saying “Never say never.”