Here at Wrestling’s Dirty Deeds, we want to celebrate and embrace 25 years of arguably one of the WWE’s most premier performers…Mark Callaway, better known to millions as The Undertaker. Now is the time to look back, embrace and celebrate the man…
After suffering yet another severe injury in the later part of 2010, The Undertaker disappeared to allow himself time to recuperate but he soon returned following a series of vignettes at the 2011 Royal Rumble, indicating towards 2-21-11. On that date, The Undertaker made his return to RAW before he was quickly interrupted by an also returning Triple H. No words were spoken, but the challenge was set for WrestleMania 27. They collided in a No Holds Barred match, which The Undertaker eventually won but the battle was truly taken to him by Triple H – The Undertaker left the match a broken man, physically exhausted and beaten down by Triple H – we witnessed a rare sight of The Undertaker being taken out on a stretcher and being attended to my medical staff. The man was no longer the man we knew, and he once again disappeared, not to be seen again until January 2012…
The Undertaker eventually returned to the WWE in January 2012 to confront Triple H, and continually challenge him to a rematch for WrestleMania 28 to which Triple H continually refused until he was accused of cowardliness and living in the shadow of Shawn Michaels, to which Triple H accepted the challenge and they faced off in another brutal battle at WrestleMania 28, this time inside Hell in a Cell, dubbed End of an Era which despite the best efforts by both Triple H and guest referee Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker was victorious, and walked out with his streak at 20-0. He wasn’t gone from our screens for long, he made a brief appearance on Episode 1000 of Monday Night RAW to aid his brother Kane and take out various WWE superstars. It wouldn’t have being right for him not to be there, the man who competed on Episode 1 to be there on Episode 1000 was very symbolic and fitting tribute to The Undertaker. After this, he disappeared from our screens once again until March 2013.
He eventually returned on the episode of Old School RAW, where his opponent that evening for WrestleMania 29 was determined to be CM Punk, and this match was given real depth following the sudden death of Paul Bearer. After weeks of Punk and Paul Heyman mocking The Undertaker and Paul Bearer, Taker eventually picked up the win at WrestleMania 29 in an emotionally charged match, which seen him become emotional when paying tribute to Paul Bearer. Bearer, was arguably one of the key figures in the early days of The Undertaker and there is no doubt he wouldn’t have being as much of a success that he was without the presence of Paul Bearer. They worked fantastically well together and bought so much to their characters when together that it seemed right, sadly this is something we shall not see again.
He didn’t disappear straight away after WrestleMania, he appeared at the RAW and SmackDown! tapings in London, England a couple of weeks later working with Team Hell No to deal with The Shield. The first night, a six-man tag won by The Shield, the next one-on-one with Dean Ambrose of which he won only to then be taken out by The Shield. Myself and fellow editor Lucas were present at both nights, and I remember the goosebumps vividly watching him in the ring, something I’d never think that I would see again. After this, he disappeared once again and wasn’t seen until the lead up to WrestleMania 30 in 2014, a true defining moment for The Undertaker.
He returned in late February 2014, to confront “The Beast” Brock Lesnar to a match at WrestleMania 30 and for the weeks leading up to Mania continually dominated and decimated Lesnar to the point it looked like the streak was unlikely to end. However, in one of the most shocking moments in WWE history, Lesnar defeated The Undertaker at WrestleMania to make the streak 21-1. The match itself was pretty dire, in part down to the severe concussion The Undertaker suffered in the first few minutes of the match but he continually looked out of pace with Lesnar, and that he was effectively being dragged around the ring. After the dust settled, The Undertaker was truly a broken man and he vanished from WWE television for over a year.
At WWE Fastlane 2015, Bray Wyatt issued a WrestleMania 31 challenge to The Undertaker, which were later accepted through a series of vignettes and he made his return to the WWE at WrestleMania 31, defeating Bray Wyatt in an intense but slightly awkward match up. The role of The Undertaker was certainly diminished in this feud, as it was solely carried for several weeks by Wyatt alone through his own intriguing character. He disappeared shortly after WrestleMania 31, but returned a few short months later to resume his feud with Brock Lesnar which culminated in a mediocre battle at SummerSlam 2015 which The Undertaker won but was followed by a truly epic Hell in a Cell match, where both men put on probably the best HIAC match in years. Lesnar won the match, bringing a close to their long and enduring feud, it was arguably the defining feud of his later career.
But it wasn’t the match which was the eye opening moment, it was after the match when an exhausted Undertaker was faced with all four members of the Wyatt family, who proceeded to obliterate The Undertaker. Over the next couple of weeks, The Wyatt’s continually taunted The Undertaker and his brother Kane but it was on 9 November 2015 episode of RAW from Manchester, England were Kane and The Undertaker returned and took out the Wyatt’s. Myself and Lucas were once again their live in person for this match, and the goosebumps I got from seeing him again was incredible but the ovation he received made the building shake, it was tremendous and an exhilarating moment. The stage is now set for The Undertaker and Kane to face two members of the Wyatt Family at Survivor Series, which conveniently to the day marks 25 years of The Undertaker.
There is no disputing that The Undertaker has left an incredible and lasting legacy throughout his 25 years in the WWE, but it is truly in his later years where he has shone through with a whole series of epic matches and feuds. But as of late, he has shown that there is a lot of fire left in the tank and he can continue to add something to the WWE product if he is used correctly. Forget about pitting him against part-timers, put him up against a superstar like Wade Barrett or Kevin Owens who would truly benefit from a program with him. He is now in the position were he doesn’t need to win, because his presence makes him the winner but giving the win to another up and coming superstar gives them something credible to build their momentum on. If this is to be The Undertaker’s final run in the WWE, thank you for the memories but if it isn’t, we look forward to many more in years to come.
Image Credit: The Undertaker’s Undefeated Streak Facebook Page