The Undertaker: How "The Deadman" Has Lasted for 20 Years

'Rowdy' Ross RutherfordSenior Analyst IJanuary 2, 2009

Twenty years ago, the WWE was a very different place. A place of wonder and a place where everyone could turn on the television and see these larger than life, over the top characters fill children's faces with joy.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, wrestling was all about the crazy characters, and when Mark Callaway joined the WWE in 1990 he also was given a silly character to portray.

The Undertaker an "undead" western cowboy. When The Undertaker first appeared, he was a much darker individual than The Deadman we see today. He had a ghostly white face and never spoke a word.

It was during this time that children actually feared The Undertaker.  This would be the first version of many personas Mark Callaway would portray during his seemingly endless tenure with the WWE.

What makes The Undertaker different from all of the other silly gimmick characters from his era? Why has he lasted longer than the others?

It is simple. Over the years, Callaway has reinvented the character he has portrayed for so long. Changing The Undertaker when the act grew stale is a major reason he is still around today. 

Another factor is that The Undertaker was one of the first athletic "Big Men" to perform in the WWE. People had never seen a man of his stature wrestle the way he did.

Before him, you had guys like Andre the Giant, King Kong Bundy, and Big John Studd who all never could do things like The Undertaker does.

Walking on the top rope and soaring through the air are things that smaller wrestlers usually do, but I guess no one ever told Mark that.

The Undertaker has lasted in the business for 20-plus years because his character changes with the times and adapts so well.

Also, Taker has put on fantastic matches with just about anyone, during "The Deadman's" 20 years of service in the WWE.

Other performers from the era of the Original Deadman faded out because they could not adapt. Much like when the dinosaurs were wiped out when the Ice Age occurred. The Undertaker is the mammal to the other silly characters' dinosaur. 

He would do things to people that seemed inhuman, like throwing Mick Foley off the top of the Hell in a Cell at King of the Ring 1998 and staying in character by not checking on Foley, even though he could have been dead. What loyalty Mark showed to his character (but maybe not to Mick).

The Undertaker has always been one of my favorite wrestlers, and when I was young his character captured my imagination and never really scared me as much as he did enchant me.

He was so dark and mysterious and left me wondering what could have possibly happened to this man to make him that way.

His unique character and fantastic ring skills have kept Mark Callaway in the WWE for 20-plus years, even if his character is a bit silly.


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