In November 1990, the Survivor Series was still held on Thanksgiving Day. For a few years I was going with my best friend Chris, to his family’s house to watch it on PPV after dinner. That year was no different. In a match pitting the Million Dollar Team vs Dream’s Team was one of the featured bouts. Ted DiBiase had a surprise team member, a man that would be making his WWF (this was pre WWE) debut. A man that was physically intimidating, an entrance that would scare children, a man that wasn’t alive. The Undertaker.
This character on paper has to be the lamest looking gimmick that the company ever put out. An old fashioned gunslinger/deadman/grave digger. He was from beyond the grave. He didn’t talk much, kept his hat on until it was time to fight and would put his opponents broken carcass in a body bag after he gave them the “tombstone.” What was Vince smoking in them days? One thing, money.
Mark Calaway was the man in black for 27 odd years. He wrestled under other names, “Mean”Mark Callus, The Punisher and a few others but none of them took off (yeah, I know I can use some cool insider term here but I am not a wrestling, I am a fan) and when he was presented the idea of this character, he laughed at how absurd it sounded. Mark didn’t just make the best of this situation, he excelled. The character resonated with fans for some reason. There was an appeal on some level that just worked well with Mark.
Over the years, the character changed. He wore a Phantom of The Opera mask, became the American Bad Ass in full biker clothing to Big Evil. No matter what though Mark made it work and in doing so, created a legacy of greatness.
On Sunday, April 2nd at Wrestlemania 33 in Orlando Florida, The Undertaker fought his last match. He went out a fighter. The fighter that he always had been. The last few years have been rough on him. Each mania match would take longer and longer to recover from. Each battle took a little bit more of his soul as well as his body. The Undertaker didn’t just lose to Roman Reigns, he lost to time. If anyone was going to beat time, surely it would be The Deadman but sadly time in undefeated.
The Undertaker fought wars in the ring. The story of your career will live forever. The twists and turns that you took parallel the story of Logan, who ironically or not found his peace on the big screen last month. Your retirement is well earned. You had nothing else to prove to yourself or to us.
When the match was over, The Undertaker laid there, looking up the lights. He walked out with his head held high after leaving his gloves in the ring. Reminiscent of a gunfighter hanging up his guns. He looked back numerous times, long and hard. As if burning the image of the people honoring him and showing him respect for what he did for them over the year into his brain. For it may be the last time he ever sees it.
You will be missed Undertaker. Like I said before, you took something that never would have worked with anyone else and made something great with it.