It’s very rare in wrestling that anything last forever there have been numerous legends that have captivated wrestling fans for years. However nobody has have ever been on top of their game and dominate for over 25 years it’s The “Phenom “The Deadman” The Undertaker.
The Undertaker legendary career had a brief stint at WCW but he really started his career in the WWF at the time Nov 20 1990 at Survivor Series. He was the mystery partner of the Ted Dibiase’s Million Dollar team he eliminated Koko B Ware with the Tombstone Pile, in addition he also eliminated Dusty Rhodes but Undertaker was counted out. Therefore this Sunday marks his 25th year anniversary which is an unbelievable achievement I believe it’s the perfect time to reflect on the Undertaker timeless career.
The early years
At first The Undertaker was introduced with Brother Love as his manager but it’s wasn’t a good fit that is why the company made a switch with Paul Bearer instead. It’s one of the best moves the company did because aligning Bearer with The Undertaker was the perfect fit and they both had an amazing chemistry together. Both were very creepy together Paul Bearer had make up that made him look like a ghost and he worked at morgue it was a match made in heaven with “The Dead Man”. Paul Bearer would always carry an urn this would provide The Undertaker with strength when he was getting beaten to ultimately get his second wind to defeat his opponents. Early on in his career when he was a heel he would place his opponents in body bags and carry them to the back.
The Undertaker made history when he appeared in his first WrestleMania appearance at WrestleMania VII in 1991, when he made quick work over Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka. This started the legendary WrestleMania streak which I will get more in depth later on. Later that year Undertaker had significant feuds with big names in the company such as Ultimate Warrior, Randy Savage, Sid Justice, Sgt. Slaughter, and Hulk Hogan. The Undertaker made a significant impact when he defeated the big star in wrestling in the 80’s in Hulk Hogan for the WWF title at Survivor Series. This was a vital moment for his young career and this would lead to much more success in the future.
During the years of 1992-94 Undertaker had feuds with big man such as Kamala, Giant González and Yokozuna. I remember it to this day the 1994 Royal Rumble was my very first PPV watching it live on PPV and I recall the casket match that involved Yokozuna against The Undertaker. This match was very entertaining and I remember the entire locker room coming out to assist Yokozuna to victory. Then when The Undertaker appeared on the screen in the coffin that officially gave me nightmares as a kid and I hated the dark and coffins because of The Undertaker.
The lord of darkness
I found during this time is when is character really took off in my opinion. During 1995 Summer Slam fans saw a unique match it was The Undertaker vs. The fake Undertaker. I really liked Taker’s unique grey mask at the time and I enjoyed his feuds with Diesel and Bret Hart. I believe the feud that really put Taker on the map was his epic feud with Mankind. Mankind interfered in his matches a couple times to create bad blood between the two.
This feud escalated to a whole new level with a first ever Boiler Room Brawl match this was absolutely crazy. The two were literally beat the living hell out of each other backstage in the Boiler Room and all way the back to the ring. Both men were weak during the match as expected a turning point was when the Undertaker reached for the urn and Paul Bearer betrayed him, by striking him over the head with it which led to Mankind getting the win via the Mandible Claw.
Then Mankind and Undertaker took it to a whole new level with another first ever Buried Alive match, which was the main event of In Your House Buried Alive in 1996. That match itself was a compelling match and Undertaker defeated Mankind but Mankind had the last laugh because several wrestlers came to attack The Undertaker and buried the Undertaker alive. Then The Undertaker had the iconic moment of lighting hitting and then his hand raised one from the grave.
Introduction of Kane/Hell In A Cell Match
There has been a lot of quality story-lines throughout the years of wrestling but nothing can ever compare to The Undertaker finding out about his long lost brother Kane. Paul Bearer warned Undertaker and told him that he burned their funeral house business down as a child and he killed his parents but Kane survived. Then at Bad Blood In Your House 1997 it was Shawn Michaels taking on The Undertaker in the first ever Hell In A Cell match.
Towards the end of the match fans saw the official debut of Kane and Undertaker’s reaction was priceless Kane ripped the door literally off. Kane came face to face with his brother and then they battled each other than Kane dropped the Undertaker with his own finishing move a Tombstone Piledriver and he put Michaels on top of him for the win. This was the birth of a long historic feud with Kane against his brother.
The Undertaker took on Shawn Michaels in a Casket Match at Royal Rumble Kane interfered and lit the casket on fire leading to Michaels picking up the win. Then the Undertaker wasn’t seen for two months which led to a match at WrestleMania 14. This was the first encounter between the two it was very intriguing because most of the match Undertaker was getting dominated by his younger brother.
It took Taker to hit three Tombstone Piledrivers on Kane in order to get the pin fall. Then the two brothers had an unforgettable rematch in a first ever Inferno match. The objective was to put your opponent on fire now both Kane and Undertaker were cautious because they didn’t want to be set on fire regardless it was insane match and Kane was set on fire by default.
Then at the King of the Ring 1998 the most infamous and talked about match to this day happened. The Undertaker took on one of his most heated rivals Mankind in the craziest Hell In A Cell match that has ever happened in the company’s history. I still remember this match like it was yesterday when Undertaker threw off Mankind off the Hell In A Cell I was damn Mankind is dead plus with Jim Ross commentary it made it legendary. This match just proved how tough Mankind really was to take additional punishment and not stop the match immediately. For his troubles Mankind got Chokeslamed through the top of the cell which broke and Mankind fell to the ring and his head hit on a steel chair with vicious impact.
The Ministry of Darkness
I believe this was his best character gimmick through his evolution over the years in my opinion. Around January 1999 this was the darkest time during the Undertaker career he created a faction known as The Ministry of Darkness. He often claimed to be invoking and taking orders from a “Higher Power”. Undertaker appeared in a hooded black robe and sat on a throne that was specially designed into his character symbol. With the help of his minions, he often performed sacrifices on select WWE superstars, using various incantations and magic words with intent to extract out the dark side of the superstars in question so he could recruit them into his Ministry.
The completed Ministry of Darkness consisted of The Brood (Edge, Christian and Gangrel), The Acolytes (Bradshaw and Faarooq), Mideon, and Viscera. As part of the angle, The Undertaker expressed a desire to take control of the World Wrestling Federation, displacing its owner, Vince McMahon. These ambitions culminated into a rivalry between The Ministry and The Corporation, ultimately resulting in a match between Undertaker and Corporation enforcer the Big Boss Man. The two faced off in a Hell in a Cell match at WrestleMania XV, which Undertaker won. At Backlash, Undertaker defeated a Corporation member Ken Shamrock after interference from his own Ministry member Bradshaw.
Things really heated up when the Undertaker kidnapped Stephanie McMahon, forcing Vince McMahon to enter into a reluctant alliance with his long-time nemesis Stone Cold Steve Austin. The Undertaker attempted to marry Stephanie and he put her on a cross in a unique dark ceremony conducted by Paul Bearer, but Austin was able to rescue her. At the Over the Edge PPV, The Undertaker defeated Austin for his third WWF Championship with help from Shane McMahon, as the special referee. The Ministry eventually merged with Shane McMahon’s Corporation alliance to form the Corporate Ministry. The Undertaker later revealed that Vince McMahon had been his “Higher Power” all along.
The Undertaker made his long awaited return back at Judgement Day back in May 2000, with his theme song courtesy of Limp Bizkit song Rolling it was a natural fit. The Undertaker returned as a face to take out everybody from the McMahon-Helmsley faction. He also targeted their leader, WWF Champion Triple H. At the King of the Ring pay-per-view, the Undertaker teamed up with The Rock and Kane to defeat the team of Triple H, Shane McMahon, and Vince McMahon.
Afterward, he was booked to team with Kane to contend for the WWF Tag Team Championship. They defeated Edge and Christian, earning the right to face them the following week for the tag title, which Edge and Christian retained. Kane betrayed the Undertaker by giving him two Chokeslams with the second one putting the Undertaker through the ring, on RAW. This incident led to another match between the two at Summer Slam, which ended in a no contest as Kane ran from the ring area after the Undertaker removed Kane’s mask.
Return of The Deadman
I believe WWE booked The Undertaker return absolutely perfect in my opinion he was brought back in a storyline leading up to WrestleMania XX, Kane was being haunted by vignettes proclaiming the Undertaker’s return. The first was during the Royal Rumble when the Undertaker’s bells tolled, distracting Kane and allowing Booker T to eliminate him. He was accompanied by Paul Bearer; the Undertaker returned as a hybrid version of “The Deadman” at WrestleMania XX and defeated Kane.
Then three months later, The Dudley Boyz kidnapped Bearer on Paul Heyman’s orders. Thus, Heyman “took control” of Undertaker on SmackDown, Undertaker attacked Rob Van Dam and John Cena. At The Great American Bash, Undertaker fought a handicap match against the Dudley Boyz, with the stipulation that if he did not lie down and purposely lose, Heyman would bury Paul Bearer in cement. The Undertaker won and he stopped Heyman from burying Bearer, but, after he claimed he had no use for Bearer, buried him himself.
I felt that his best matches and feuds involved JBL and Randy Orton since his return during this period because they had the best chemistry with each other in my opinion. I was there live in Toronto at SummerSlam in 2004 it was a quality match that ended in a DQ when Undertaker gave a ChokeSlam to JBL through the roof of his limbo.
Randy Orton challenged the Undertaker to a match at WrestleMania 21, and claimed that he would end his WrestleMania winning streak. I am going to lie to be perfectly honest I thought that Orton should have ended the streak because it was the perfect timing with his Legend Killer gimmick. However it didn’t go according to plan Randy lost and the Undertaker improved his WrestleMania record to 13–0. After a two-month hiatus, Undertaker returned on SmackDown but he lost to JBL, thanks to interference from Randy Orton. At The Great American Bash, the Undertaker became the number one contender to the World Heavyweight Championship, a position that JBL felt he should have.
As part of the feud, on the following SmackDown the Undertaker lost the number-one contender-ship to JBL, once again due to interference from Orton. With this, the Undertaker resumed his feud with Orton. At Summer Slam, Orton defeated the Undertaker in a WrestleMania rematch. The storyline intensified as the two taunted each other with caskets, leading to a handicap-casket match at No Mercy, in which the Undertaker lost to Randy and his father “Cowboy” Bob Orton. After the match, the Orton’s poured gasoline on the casket and set it on fire. When the charred casket was opened, however, the Undertaker had once again vanished. He returned at the Survivor Series, emerging from a burning casket. The Undertaker returned to SmackDown in early December to haunt Orton and set up a Hell in a Cell match at Armageddon. After winning the match, The Undertaker took a brief hiatus from wrestling.
Check out The Undertaker impressive championships and his achievement however titles never indicated his true greatness, like most other HOF wrestlers which is unbelievable.
Championships and Accolades
WWF (World Heavyweight)/Undisputed Championship (4 time)
World Heavyweight Championship 3 times
WWF Hardcore Championship (1 time)
WWF Tag Team Championship (6 times) – with Stone Cold Steve Austin (1), Big Show (2 time), The Rock (1 time) and Kane (2 times)
WCW Tag Team Championship 1 Time – with Kane
Royal Rumble 2007
To this day The Undertaker is still going strong for 50 years old he looks amazing unfortunately there is a saying all good things must come to an end. This held true back in 2014 at WrestleMania 30, when the wrestling world was shocked when Lesnar ended the most important record in wrestling today Undertaker WrestleMania undefeated streak at 21-1. The Undertaker looks to celebrate his 25 year anniversary with the WWE this Sunday against the Wyatt Family with a win.
Overall when it’s all set and done whatever the Undertaker decides to retire he will be a first ballot WWE HOF and he will have his own wing in the HOF in my opinion. It is difficult to summarize what The Undertaker means to the wrestling industry and to all the fans because he has been an influential figure throughout his legendary career. One word to describe The Undertaker career is revolutionary because over the 25 years of his career, he was able to evolve and adapt with the times to stay relevant and fresh with the fans which a lot of wrestlers still struggle to this currently day with.
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