I’ve been watching wrestling for 27 years, my entire life. I’ve seen superstars come and go for various reasons. Some of them have (sadly) passed away, some have faded into obscurity, some chose different career paths, and some have simply chosen to live out of the spotlight.
In the often fluctuating world of wrestling, a constant is a rare and special thing.
The one constant in the WWE has always been the Undertaker.
I remember being two years old and seeing him for the very first time at Survivor Series. It was this weird mixture of astonishment and thinking he was the creepiest guy I’ve ever seen. From that moment, I was hooked! He wasn’t the biggest guy, or a high flyer, but he was so different from anyone else that my dad and I had ever seen before. In addition to his wrestling abilities and style, his whole aesthetic was (and still is) what drew me to him as a superstar. At two years old I hardly had the vocabulary to describe what I thought he was but dark and ominous are two words I would definitely choose now.
His music was haunting, his manager had a sinister aura, and he was so somber compared to the bright super hero images around him. He had personality but it wasn’t in the same sense as someone like the Ultimate Warrior or Randy Savage. I wouldn’t say he was muted, I would say that he was restrained and dignified in a sense. Everything he did was with purpose but he also had the ability to think on his toes and adjust his plan accordingly. Calculated is another description that fits the Undertaker perfectly.
Even with the different manifestations of the Undertaker, his core remained the same.
If anyone were to list of their top wrestling matches of all time, I can guarantee you that there is a sprinkling of matches involving the Phenom in there. The Undertaker possesses this unique combination of being a striker, somewhat acrobatic, and (in recent years) fully utilizing submission holds. I don’t even know if that is a thing but I don’t care, it’s how I am describing him. His matches are this elaborate symphony of movement carried out in the squared circle, I don’t even really care who he faces because I know that I get to see the Undertaker in the ring. The man could wrestle a wet mop and I’d still be just as excited, I think he’s that good.
What is most prolific about this man is his Wrestlemania streak, something that is unparalleled in any sport. Seeing him at the biggest event of the calendar year felt more exciting than Christmas to me. When I plunked down on the couch with my drink and snack to watch him, I knew I was going to get to see something special. It didn’t matter if his matches fell at the beginning or middle of the card to me, his matches were always the main event. When his streak was ended by Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania XXX, my heart broke along with the heart of every other wrestling fan. The streak was sacred to fans and Lesnar took that away from us.
I remember feeling my heart drop to the pit of my stomach, I was absolutely crushed. The impact of the Undertaker’s loss was immediately felt by every person that was in attendance and watching at home. It was palpable. With that being said, it was everything that you would want from an Undertaker match. It had this exhilarating, tense, excitement surrounding it. I wasn’t in attendance but you could, without a doubt, hear a pin drop in that place.
Some people just don’t understand why he is held in such high regard and I feel sorry for them. You have to have respect for someone who has selflessly given themselves to fans for a quarter of a century. We’ve seen him fight harder than anyone and be carted out of the arena, literally carted out to receive medical attention. We cheer him when he wins and we cheer even harder when he loses. The Undertaker is the only wrestler that I grew up with (from infancy) that is still around today and actively competing. The day that he hangs up his boots will be a sad day for myself, other fans, and wrestling as a whole.
I am so incredibly appreciative to Mark Callaway for giving me memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life as a wrestling fan. He has provided countless hours of entertainment and sacrificed so much to make sure that every fan, in person and at home, got their money’s worth and enjoyed every single second of it.
He is more than a myth, that man is a legend.
He is a phenom, he is the dead man, he is the Undertaker.
Thank you Taker.