WWE's Legendary Phenom: A Fan Tribute to the Undertaker's Legacy

Jesus RochaAnalyst IIApril 4, 2012

WWE's Legendary Phenom: A Fan Tribute to the Undertaker's Legacy

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    "...from Death Valley, I give you The Undertaker."

    At the 1990 Survivor Series, the world witnessed the debut of a future legend. The man who walked through those curtains that night became the greatest superstar to ever step foot inside a WWE ring.

    That man's name was Mark Calaway, but he is known to wrestling fans as The Undertaker.

    When The Undertaker was introduced by Ted DiBiase, many people weren't ready for what was about to happen to the wrestling world.

    There stood a man who had a mysterious look to him, almost never took damage from his opponents and walked very slowly.

    As years went by, The Undertaker slowly made an impact on the wrestling business. From having great feuds, great matches, the greatest gimmick and the greatest streak, he slowly gained respect from wrestling fans.

    In the 21 years Taker has been in the WWE, he made the Deadman gimmick legendary. He himself improved his promos, improved his move-set and changed the gimmick itself.

    Throughout his legendary career, Taker won many championships, had many classic matches and has remained undefeated WrestleMania.

    In the last couple of years, many fans have speculated that the Deadman's career may be coming to an end. As we all saw at WrestleMania 28, he still has it after all these years.

    Even after all the surgeries he has had, The Undertaker hasn't lost a step in the ring. And he still manages to have fans on the edge of their seat during his matches.

    Not many wrestlers can say they have great matches at the age of 47. Only a few superstars are able to do that, and The Undertaker is definitely on the top of that list.

    From his debut in the WWE, to his gimmick, to his legendary WrestleMania streak, The Undertaker's career has been through a lot.

    Now I look back to see what makes The Undertaker special. Not only in the WWE, but in the eyes of many wrestling fans, including myself.

The Gimmick

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    The wrestling world is a place that people join to make a name for themselves. The WWE is the company where those up-and-coming wrestlers want to do it.

    Throughout the years, there have been many wrestlers walk out to a WWE ring with a gimmick. From Doink The Clown to a Zombie in the reincarnated ECW, there have been many of them.

    One gimmick that throughout all these years is still popular is The Undertaker's Deadman gimmick.

    If the gimmick were to debut in this new era of the WWE, it probably wouldn't last a year. Back in the day, the gimmick was something never seen before.

    The Undertaker was a wrestler that had a dark look to him; from the wardrobe to his move-set, everything just clicked together.

    In the early stages of his career, The Undertaker never talked; his manager, Paul Bearer, did it all for him. Bearer was one factor that helped the gimmick get over more.

    Without Bearer, The Undertaker may not have had such a successful career. There was something about the two that worked well.

    In the mid-90's, Taker started to change. He started talking more, got rid of Paul Bearer for a short period of time and his ring-skills improved.

    In the late-90's, The Undertaker started to go back to his dark ways and formed the Ministry of Darkness. This is considered the fans' favorite Taker gimmick.

    When Taker suffered an injury in mid-1999, he took time off from the company. Many people got a huge surprise when he returned back to the WWE.

    At the 2000 Judgement Day, during the match between The Rock and Triple H, Taker returned with a new gimmick. No longer was he the Deadman—he became the American Badass.

    His American Badass gimmick changed into his Big Evil gimmick. Not a big change, but enough to change The Undertaker himself.

    The 2000-2003 years of the Undertaker's career aren't that much appreciated by fans, but I enjoyed them. Those years also changed Taker again.

    During those four years, Taker changed his ring-skills. No longer did he have to walk slow and no-sell his opponents' moves.

    Undertaker now had more freedom to do new moves. He was more fast-paced and didn't rely on the Tombstone to finish of his opponent.

    At the 2003 Survivor Series, the Big Evil gimmick was put to rest when Kane help Vince McMahon bury The Undertaker alive. Kane payed the price at WrestleMania XX.

    For the second time, Kane faced The Undertaker at the big stage. And that night, there was nowhere left to run for the little brother.

    The well-known Deadman character returned that night, and has stayed active since then.

    The current version of the Deadman gimmick has elements of the old Deadman era and elements of the American Badass/Big Evil era.

    Everything put together has created a new, faster and improved Undertaker. Even in the new era, the character manages to evolve.

    Back when he first started, Mark Calaway must have doubted The Undertaker gimmick was going to work. Twenty-one years later, the gimmick is basically his life.

    From the slow-moving Deadman to the fast-paced Big Evil, everything turned out for the best.

    Who would have guessed that a man playing a dead person turned out to be a legendary superstar?

The Feuds

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    Every top superstar who has been in the WWE has had their own share of greats feuds. And believe me when I say this: The Undertaker has had a lot of them.

    From fighting his own brother to finishing off a fellow legend in an end of an era match, the Deadman has been through a lot since 1990.

    At the moment, I will just mention three feuds. Believe me, these are just three out of the many The Undertaker has had.

     

    Kane

    The feud that Kane and The Undertaker had together was special. Many people don't give it that much credit, but it is one of the best Taker and Kane have been involved in.

    Two brothers trying to destroy each other became one of the most interesting storylines at the time. It was all thanks to Paul Bearer, who was at the side of Kane.

    Starting in 1997, the feud never seemed to slow down. In 1998, both men had great matches with one another, which includes their WrestleMania 14 encounter.

    After 1998, Taker and Kane feuded every once in a while. This includes their feuds in 2000, 2004 and 2010.

    Undertaker and Kane joined forces every once in a while. Once they feuded, it was like if they weren't family.

    It's crazy to say, even though it's true, but the feud with The Undertaker basically made Kane the legend he is today. It started off the character with a huge bang and is still going strong.

     

    Shawn Michaels

    When two legends step in the ring, only magic can happen. That's exactly what we got when The Undertaker feuded with Shawn Michaels.

    Way before their classic encounters at WrestleMania 25 and 26, Michaels and Taker were beating the crap out of each other.

    Taker's and Michaels' careers alone are awesome. When you look up all the matches these two men had together, it takes wrestling to a new level.

    Their Hell In A Cell and WrestleMania 25/26 matches are some of the best to ever happen in the WWE. No disrespect to everyone else.

    Unlike Michaels, Taker has been wrestling for the WWE for a longer period of time. Mainly due to the fact that Michaels was out from 1998-2002 and his career ended in 2010.

    Awesome is one way of describing this battle between light and darkness.

     

    Jake Roberts

    At this point, many other people would have given the spotlight to someone else. Well, that isn't happening here.

    By the summer of 1991, The Undertaker had only been in the WWE for almost a year. By SummerSlam of that year, Taker found a new friend.

    That man was Jake "The Snake" Roberts.

    Both men formed an alliance to take down Randy Savage, The Ultimate Warrior and anyone else that was in their way.

    During Roberts' feud with Savage, Undertaker prevented an attack Roberts was planning to do. This caused major tension between the team.

    It all climaxed when Roberts decided that Taker was weak and attacked him, along with Paul Bearer. The feud ended at WrestleMania VIII, which Taker won.

    The reason why this feud is being mentioned is Roberts helped change and make The Undertaker. Sounds crazy, but it's my opinion.

    Undertaker went from being a heel to a wrestler people loved. Roberts was the perfect heel for the feud, so everything clicked.

    Roberts helped Taker get over with the crowd in 1992. Not many people give the feud that much attention, but that's why I mentioned it.

     

    Overall

    Kane, Shawn Michaels and Jake Roberts are just three out of many people The Undertaker has feuded with. I just scratched the surface of the list.

    People like Stone Cold Steve Austin, Triple H, The Rock, Edge, Batista and Randy Orton, among others, have shared the spotlight with the Deadman.

    If you have the time, look up the matches The Undertaker had with those men. You will not be disappointed.

The Matches

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    The list naming every superstar The Undertaker has fought since 1990 is pretty long. There is another list just as special.

    That list being none other than the one where it mentions every awesome match Taker has been in.

    Every wrestling fan has narrowed down the greatest Undertaker match to be the one where he faced Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 25.

    Usually, some people can't choose between that match and the one at WrestleMania 26. I loved those matches and consider them great, but there are many others.

    Just recently, Taker had an awesome match with Triple H at WrestleMania 28. They had a great match the year before at WrestleMania 27 as well.

    Those four matches are always mentioned when someone asks them what are some of the best Undertaker matches. Where is the originality?

    Undertaker has been in the WWE since 1990, and those are the main matches people mention? Come on.

    At WrestleMania 14, Taker faced his brother, Kane. At the 2006 No Way Out, Taker faced Kurt Angle.

    At the 1998 SummerSlam, Taker faced Stone Cold Steve Austin. At the 1998 King of the Ring, Taker faced Mankind.

    At the 2002 No Mercy, Taker faced Brock Lesnar. At the 2006 Armageddon, Taker faced Randy Orton.

    At the 2008 SummerSlam, Taker faced Edge. At the 2010 Royal Rumble, Taker faced Rey Mysterio.

    At WrestleMania 23, Taker faced Batista. At the 1997 SummerSlam, Taker faced Bret Hart.

    The list goes on and on.

    The Undertaker even had other great matches at different points in time with the men I mentioned. Those aren't the only great matches Taker had with them.

    Undertaker is not a small man, so it's surprising to know a man his size has had these many great matches.

    The matches are mentioned are must-see, and there are many others that I left out.

    Enjoy watching them, but not yet. Keep reading first, then go watch them.

My Appreciation Towards the Undertaker

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    Wrestling fans all have that one superstar that they love no matter what. Some top favorites include Shawn Michaels, Stone Cold Steve Austin and of course, The Undertaker.

    Ever since I started watching WWE programming, The Undertaker was always my favorite. There was something about him that set him apart from the other superstars.

    I don't think I have ever said this before, but The Undertaker is the main reason why I even watch wrestling. Whether it is the WWE, or even TNA, especially WCW in the late-90's, Taker was the reason for all of it.

    In 1999, Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock were the top favorites in the WWE. I never liked to be part of those fans that always chose them, so I decided to different.

    During that year, Taker was still playing his Ministry of Darkness character. I thought the gimmick was pretty cool, but I never knew much about his past.

    The following year, he turned into the American Badass, later switching it to Big Evil. I have always heard and read fans dislike this character, but I liked it.

    I never complained about the change. It would have been boring to see the Deadman gimmick go on for too long.

    In 2004, when the Deadman gimmick was brought back, I was excited. Not only did Taker bring back his old gimmick, but he brought Paul Bearer back with him.

    Bearer didn't stay long with him in 2004, but that short period of time was fun. Seeing him again in 2010 was just as awesome.

    Loving the Undertaker gimmick is one thing, but it's also the man behind the gimmick that makes it all work. Mark Calaway has done a great job with the gimmick since 1990.

    Staying in character for all these years must be hard for the man. The part that I love is that Taker takes time to show appreciation for his fans.

    As you can see in the video, Taker took time to break character and make a young fan's wish come true. Nothing gets better than that.

    Since 1999, wrestling has been in my life, and it's all thanks to one man. All it took was one man named The Undertaker to make me love wrestling.

    I don't think wrestling will be the same to me once The Undertaker retires. The wrestling world will be missing a huge gap.

The Legendary WrestleMania Streak

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    Every year since 1985, the WWE has held their WrestleMania pay-per-view and promote it as their biggest event of the year.

    That night, many superstars go to the ring and try to have the greatest match possible. Many succeed, while others don't quite get to the great match status.

    The event has been center stage for great matches like Randy Savage vs. The Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania VII, Shawn Michaels vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin at WrestleMania 14 and other classics.

    Though no one can deny that WrestleMania is the biggest show of the year, there is one thing just as big. That thing being The Undertaker's undefeated streak.

    At WrestleMania VII, Taker's streak began when he defeated "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka. As years passed, Taker defeated legends such as Diesel, Kane, Shawn Michaels, Edge and Triple H.

    The streak being on the line became a tradition for the big event. Taker only missed two WrestleManias, but has been involved in every other 'Mania.

    Wrestling fans have stated that the streak is more important than any other match on the card. Some even say that it is bigger than the championship matches.

    Do I agree with those fans? Of course I do. A WrestleMania without an Undertaker match just isn't the same.

    For the past four years, The Undertaker's streak has been on the line in a saga between two legends: Shawn Michaels and Triple H.

    The two matches Taker had with Shawn Michaels are considered classics. His encounter with Michaels at WrestleMania 25 is considered the greatest WrestleMania match of all-time.

    Their second match the following year at WrestleMania 26 was great, and it was an awesome way to put the feud to an end. That night, Taker ended Micheal's career to become 18-0.

    At WrestleMania 17, The Undertaker and Triple H had their first match at the event. The match itself was pretty good, but it was their second and third encounters that caught the attention of many fans.

    WrestleMania 27 was the night Triple H was out for revenge after Taker ended the career of his best friend the year before. It was the first time Taker won the match, but was unable to walk out without assistance.

    WrestleMania 28 marked the third encounter between both men, and this time, it was the Deadman who was out for revenge. To add more drama to the match, it took place inside a Hell In A Cell.

    The match was round three between Taker and HHH, it took place inside a steel cage, and it had Shawn Michaels as the special guest referee. Everything became full-circle.

    Taker had his revenge when he defeated HHH to become 20-0. Undertaker staggered a few times after the match, but was able to walk out on his own, unlike the year before.

    To show respect to his opponent, Undertaker helped Shawn Michaels carry Triple H to the back; he took a sledgehammer to the face, followed by a Tombstone.

    The streak began in 1991 after Jimmy Snuka took a Tombstone Piledriver. Everything afterward is history.

    Jake Roberts, Giant Gonzalez, King Kong Bundy, Diesel, Psycho Sid, Kane, Big Bossman, Triple H, Ric Flair, A-Train, Big Show, Randy Orton, Mark Henry, Batista, Edge and Shawn Michaels all fell to The Undertaker.

    Though the WrestleMania matches The Undertaker had weren't all good, they all are a part of a streak that will never again be duplicated.

    Every wrestler who fell to the streak holds a special place in it.

    From Psycho Sid losing his WWE Championship, to Kane fighting his brother, to the saga Shawn Michaels and Triple had with the Deadman, they all added something to The Undertaker's legendary streak.

    Never again will a superstar come close to being 20-0 at WrestleMania. Never.

    Long live The Undertaker!