For the better part of the past 20 years, we all have grown to all either love or loathe the Undertaker. With the exception of his "American Badass" gimmick for a few years, he's always been spooking around quietly onscreen.
Because of this, we haven't gotten to know the man that has made this gimmick thrive, Mark Calaway, as much as we know many other legends; legends that have been able to show more personality, like the Rock for instance.
Calaway began as both a high school basketball player and wrestler for Waltrip High School in Houston, Texas. His high school basketball coach was upset he would "waste his time" with wrestling because he was so good at basketball. Calloway was forced to wear a mask (known as "The Texas Red") while wrestling at one point, so he wouldn't upset his basketball coach.
He even received scholarship offers from numerous colleges for his basketball prowess.
Despite all the success in basketball, he decided to use his nearly seven-foot frame for his real passion and love: professional wrestling.
I think that worked out pretty well for him!
After being discovered in wrestling by Fritz Von Erich and Don Jardine (also known as the "Spoiler"), Calaway would eventually move on to bigger and things with the then WWF.
He would debut a quickly tweaked "Cain the Undertaker" gimmick at the 1990 Survivor Series.
At the time, wrestling experts panned this gimmick, saying that it would last a year at the very most. However, the experts were dead wrong.
Calaway made this gimmick click. He won gimmick of the year five years in a row. This was in a time that many different gimmicks were experimented and would almost always fail. This is a testament to Calloway's ability to put over a supernatural type gimmick.
Calaway would begin to earn recognition, not only for his onscreen work, but backstage as well. There is no doubt he wouldn't have gotten as far as he has today without the respect from his peers.
He has always been known to take young guys under his wing. Just ask guys like Chris Jericho, Mick Foley, Ric Flair and many others who have written books and mentioned Calloway's positive influence backstage.
His loyalty to the WWE is also legendary. He hasn't left since entering the WWE. Of course he's had injuries, but he's never left the WWE to pursue something else.
How many wrestlers can claim both similar longevity and success? Very few, if any.
The point of this article being, Mark Calaway is more than a Hall of Fame WWE Superstar; he is a Hall of Fame person. And that is a truly rare combination.
As always, thanks for reading!