Evolution: The Phenom Known as The Undertaker
We got an hour before RAW, and at this point, we now know that Rated RKO has returned to the top of the mountain.
The Instant Classic has become an Instant Champion, and Santina still owes The Great Khali a kiss.
But it's business before pleasure on every planet.
With that said, it's time to focus on the next edition of Evolution.
So far, we've gone through the careers of Edge, John Cena, Chris Jericho, and Rey Mysterio.
But now, it's time for us to go further.
It's time to go back before the days of Y2J—the Rated R Superstar, the Mysterious Maestro of 619 or the Chain Gang Commander for that matter.
We go back to the times of the man who owns, arguably, the biggest and best streak in professional sports.
We go back to the times of the man who is dubbed the purest striker in professional wrestling.
We go back to the beginning of one of the most illustrious careers of one Hall of Famer who has made his impact on the WWE for over two decades.
Outside the ring, he is Mark Calaway, but in the ring...he's The Undertaker.
The Undertaker as WCCW's Texas Red and WCW's
In 1984, Mark Calaway made his professional wrestling debut in World Class Championship Wrestling.
You wouldn't know by first view, but two of those guys are still currently in the WWE: Calaway and Teddy Long. Long got closely acquainted with Calaway as a member of The Skyscrapers.
But before then, there was a little history in between WCCW and WCW.
The USWA became a second home for Calaway as he went on to become the USWA Unified World Heavyweight Champion on April Fool's Day 1989, and won the WCWA Texas Heavyweight Championship on October 5th of the same year.
After those stints, WCW became the next stop for Calaway.
Alongside Dan Spivey, and with Teddy Long as their handler, Calaway, now known as "Mean" Mark Callous—The Skyscrapers got placed in a feud with Hawk and Animal, The Road Warriors.
Unfortunately, Calaway's tenure with WCW was, like Steve Austin, only a meager stepping stone to bigger and better things.
Following a match against Sting in 1990, WCW decided to part ways with Calaway. And, after a brief stint in New Japan, Calaway was officially WWF/E bound.
This is where the Legend officially began...
The Arrival of Cain the Undertaker
Though he made an appearance on WWE Superstars, Calaway made his official arrival to the WWF/E at the 1990 Survivor Series where he was introduced by Ted DiBiase, Sr. as Cain The Undertaker.
He was first placed under the wing of Brother Love, but following Survivor Series, he found a perfect handler in Paul Bearer.
This was also the first time the urn was introduced as well.
His earliest storied rivalries consisted of The Ultimate Warrior, Randy "Macho Man" Savage and "The Immortal" Hulk Hogan.
Even on a portion of WWF Superstars, he placed Ultimate Warrior in a casket before walking away.
The streak started at WrestleMania VII when he easily dispatched of "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka.
That same year, he defeated Hogan to win his first WWF Championship but lost it to Hogan at Tuesday in Texas.
When WrestleMania VIII came around, he defeated Jake "The Snake" Roberts to go 2-0 at WrestleMania.
Harvey Wippleman then became the primary target of The Phenom.
Wippleman and his band of Monsters started getting dispatched by The Undertaker.
In the process, he introduced the WWF to The Casket Match. Kamala became the first victim and lost the match.
Giant Gonzales was next when he lost to Undertaker in WrestleMania IX and again in a "Rest In Peace" Match at Summerslam.
But unfortunately, the Hunter became The Hunted at the 1994 Royal Rumble.
Thanks to an arsenal of villains from his past, Taker lost the second Casket Match to WWF Champion Yokozuna.
But Undertaker appeared on the screen warning that "his spirit will never die."
At Summerslam '94, The Undertaker returned to dispatch of The Million Dollar Undertaker, and after three Tombstones, he did just that.
He then went back to tie up loose ends when he defeated Yokozuna in yet another Casket Match, and defeated King Kong Bundy (despite interference from Kama) at WrestleMania XI.
Following another brief hiatus, Taker returned in 1995 to start a war with Kevin Nash aka Diesel.
Thanks to Big Daddy Cool, Taker was unable to defeat Bret Hart for the WWF Championship.
Thanks to Undertaker, Diesel was unable to defeat Hart.
The two settled their differences at WrestleMania XII where The Deadman defeated Big Daddy Cool to continue his undefeated streak.
The Birth of the Brothers of Destruction
Following the double cross of Paul Bearer, The Undertaker began to focus on the WWF Championship.
And at WrestleMania 13: Heat, he accomplished this feat when he claimed his first WWF Championship at WrestleMania by defeating the maniacal Sycho Sid.
But, like always, someone was out to keep him down.
Paul Bearer gave Taker a choice of rejoining forces or having his "darkest" secret revealed by him. When Taker decided against the offer, Bearer came out and confessed that Undertaker "killed" his parents as well as his brother, Kane.
When he confronted Bearer about the confession, Taker was told that his brother was alive and is coming to confront him.
Thanks to Shawn Michaels, Taker lost the WWF Championship at Summerslam: Hart & Soul.
Though HBK claimed it as an accident, Taker took it personal and made it his business to take down Michaels, who was aligned with Triple H and Chyna as D-Generation X.
At In Your House: Badd Blood, two major occurrences led to anarchy in the WWE.
The month before, Shawn Michaels and Undertaker battled at Ground Zero, but the war was not over.
Undertaker and Michaels would then meet up at Badd Blood in the first ever Hell in a Cell Match.
It was during this match that Undertaker came face to face with his estranged brother Kane. Kane would come in along with Tombstone, his brother, costing him the match.
Over the next few months, Undertaker was tormented between fighting his brother and keeping his oath to himself.
Following The Royal Rumble, things changed.
Kane once again attacked his brother, stuffed him in a casket, and set the casket on fire.
Kane and Paul Bearer thought that it was over...but when they opened the casket, Taker was gone.
A few months later, Taker returned to defeat his brother at WrestleMania XIV and again at Unforgiven in the first ever Inferno Match.
After a few months of anarchy involving Kane and Stone Cold Steve Austin, Undertaker culminated the war with a loss to Steve Austin in another installment of the Buried Alive Match.
But in the final stretch of the war, The Ministry of Darkness was born...
The Ministry of Darkness
When The Ministry was formed in late 1998, it was just a small project.
But when 1999 came around, it became bigger than anyone expected.
The Acolytes ran interference along with Mideon & Viscera, and made things very difficult for Mr. McMahon and his family.
Following a Dark Wedding between Stephanie McMahon and Undertaker, in which Stone Cold saved the Billion Dollar Princess, it was revealed that it was Vince who orchestrated the entire Dark Ceremony.
At WrestleMania XV, Undertaker defeated Big Boss Man to continue his undefeated streak.
But the Corporate Ministry, as it was called, was beginning to become destroyed.
After the dissolution, Undertaker walked away when he was told by Vince McMahon that he didn't see him winning the championship in this lifetime again.
So the Undertaker decided to walk away rather than stay under the Iron Rule of Mr. McMahon.
What came back from that hiatus was purely...Bad Ass.
The Evolution of The Undertaker: American Bad Ass & Big Evil
In 2000, The Rock was embroiled in a war with The McMahon-Helsmley Regime, and at Judgment Day, The Deadman returned...with the help of Kid Rock's new song, "American Bad Ass" and dropped Triple H with a thunderous chokeslam.
Along with the match, a new catch phrase was born by The American Bad Ass:
"I'll make ya famous!"
After dealing with the last of The Regime and Triple H at WrestleMania X-7, Undertaker focused his attention on the new faction of the WWF—The Two Man Power Trip of Triple H and Stone Cold Steve Austin.
But he needed some backup in this war, so he once again joined forces with his brother Kane to form The Brothers of Destruction.
When the WWE was "invaded" by The WCW-ECW Alliance, Taker and his wife, Sara, were involved in a storyline with Diamond Dallas Page.
After dispatching DDP, and following the elimination of The Alliance, Taker returned with a new look and a new attitude simply dubbed as Big Evil.
Among the victims of Big Evil were: The Rock, Jim Ross, RVD, and Tough Enough Winner Maven.
At WrestleMania X-8, he was already embroiled in a war with Ric Flair, which culminated with his 10th victory at WrestleMania.
The feud included a bloody assault on Flair's son, David, at a wrestling school in North Carolina.
After winning the No. 1 Contender's Match at Backlash over Stone Cold Steve Austin, he cost Triple H the WWF Undisputed Championship against Hulk Hogan.
The next month at Judgment Day, he defeated Hogan to become the champion for the fourth time. In the process, he was able to propel Jeff Hardy and John Cena to super stardom.
After losing a Triple Threat Match at Vengeance to The Rock, he was sent to SmackDown to lock horns with new WWF Undisputed Champion, Brock Lesnar a few months later.
After being denied not once but twice, he challenged Vince McMahon to a match at Survivor Series...but it was a Buried Alive Match.
Thanks to interference from Kane, McMahon survived the war and Undertaker was gone from the WWE once again.
At the turn of the new year, during the Royal Rumble, Kane started receiving ominous messages from beyond the grave.
And at WrestleMania XX, The Undertaker returned to his dark ways, defeated Kane and began his climb back to the top of the mountain.
The Return of The Darkside
Following his victory at The Great American Bash over The Dudley Boyz, and encasing his former handler in cement, The Undertaker was involved with a brief war with JBL and Heidenreich.
Despite not laying claim to the WWE Championship, Undertaker did manage to defeat Heidenreich in a Casket Match at The Royal Rumble a few months later.
But when it came time for WrestleMania, there was a new challenger to the Streak.
Randy Orton was told by "Superstar" Billy Graham that "he would have to go out and grasp history to make history."
With that, Orton became the latest man to challenge The Undertaker at WrestleMania.
But as good as he was, he was unable to defeat The Deadman following Taker's reversal of Orton's attempt at the Tombstone Piledriver.
After a short hiatus from the ring, The Undertaker returned at the 2006 Royal Rumble to challenge Kurt Angle for the World Heavyweight Championship.
But, thanks to Mark Henry, Taker lost the match at No Way Out. He then went into WrestleMania 22 and defeated Mark Henry in a Casket Match to improve to 14-0.
But unfortunately, it had been a while since the Deadman was able to hoist gold in the WWE.
And after story lines with The Big Show, The Great Khali and Mr. Kennedy, Undertaker once again focused on reclaiming the gold. And at the Royal Rumble his road to the top officially started...
The Return of The Dark Ages of WWE
At the 2007 Royal Rumble, The Undertaker outlasted 29 other men, including Shawn Michaels, to become the first man to win the Rumble entering at No. 30.
With that, he could either face the WWE Champion (John Cena), ECW Champion (Bobby Lashley), or World Heavyweight Champion (Batista).
After choosing Batista, the two were officially set on a collision course for WrestleMania 23.
The two battled back and forth, but in the end, not even the mighty Batista could contain the ominous powers of The Phenom on the Grandest Stage of Them All.
Undertaker won the World Title and improved to 15-0.
Following a set of brutal matches, Undertaker's reign became short lived thanks to Mark Henry.
Once again, Undertaker was ambushed and decimated.
Edge capitalized on the situation, cashed in on the MITB Briefcase, and defeated Undertaker to become World Heavyweight Champion.
After another hiatus, Taker returned at Unforgiven to defeat Henry and gain redemption.
In the process of this anarchy, Undertaker showed his submission prowess with the introduction of Hells Gates/Darkness Falls.
The maneuver involved a triangle choke, and in the process of the hold, several superstars would go limp, pass out, and spit up blood.
After being denied once again, The Deadman unleashed hell on anyone who would get in his path back to the World Title.
At No Way Out in 2008, he outlasted five other men and the Elimination Chamber to earn his shot at Edge and the gold at WrestleMania 24.
And once again, The Deadman's Streak was on the line...
The Birth of Hells Gates
At WrestleMania 24, The Undertaker locked in Hells Gates and defeated Edge to win his second straight World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania.
The two battled several more times leading into One Night Stand where he was banished by Edge's wife and SmackDown GM Vickie Guerrero.
But The Deadman returned at Summerslam to defeat Edge and drive him straight to hell via chokeslam through the ring.
Following SS, he was placed in a story line with Big Show for the remainder of the year.
After coming up short of the WWE Championship at the 2009 Elimination Chamber Match at No Way Out, Undertaker was approached by a new challenger to his undefeated streak.
And it was arguably the biggest match in the history of WrestleMania.
The Streak Continues...
After defeating JBL and Vladimir Kozlov, Shawn Michaels earned the right to face The Undertaker at the 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania.
Over the next few weeks it looked as if The Streak would come to an end.
Translation: The mind games were being played by Michaels, not Taker.
So when it was time to deliver, Shawn came up short of his goal when Undertaker turned a moonsault into a second Tombstone Piledriver.
Despite what many were expecting, The Phenom defeated HBK to go 17-0 at WrestleMania—this time at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas.
To say the least, this was indeed and arguably the best match in WrestleMania history.
I know most will say Hogan-Andre was good, as well as Savage-Steamboat, but this is at good third if not the best.
The Future of The Deadman...
So let's do the rundown, shall we?
Just how good is the Demon of Death Valley?
Seven-Time Tag Team Champion (One in WCW, Six in WWE)
Former WWE Hardcore Champion
Two-Time World Heavyweight Champion
Four-Time WWF/E Champion
2007 Royal Rumble Winner
Does this make him Hall of Fame Worthy?
You bet your living, breathing ass it does!
What does the future hold?
I would say one more run as The Man would be a good start.
I would say that finishing undefeated at WrestleMania would work.
But most of all, they have to do something so over the top for The Deadman that it makes him a first ballot winner right before his final match with the WWE.
Either way, he has my vote for Hall of Fame.
As for Mr. Calaway, I hope that the next time he comes to Loveland he can drop through the Budweiser Events Center and take a photo with the Operations Crew.
You know, since he'll be going to Colorado Springs anyway.
Sorry if this didn't do justice to The Deadman.
I promise to do better next time.