WWE cancelled their Hall of Fame this year because of obvious reasons, and I was going to do the same too. However, it appears that a new opportunity has arisen from the grave and allowed me to switch up the 2020 HOF, move it to 2021, and instead have a very special edition this year featuring just one man; a deadman! BE WARNED: This is a very, very lengthy read as I try to go through his ENTIRE CAREER, explaining some of the bigger moment, matches and feuds, while also giving my opinion on a lot of it!
Survivor Series 2020 is taking place tonight, and it marks a celebration of THIRTY YEARS of the single greatest character in wrestling history; The Undertaker. It is also being billed as the final farewell… though I’m not 100% certain I quite believe it just yet. Still, 2020 gave us what appeared to be Undertaker’s final match at WrestleMania, finally allowing him to end his career on a high note with an extremely unique and GOOD match with AJ Styles. Following that match, The Undertaker has finally pulled back the curtain and participated in interviews, podcasts and even a 5 part documentary series all seemingly focused on him retiring. Because of all this, I feel now is the right time to FINALLY induct my all time favourite wrestler into my very own Hall of Fame (click here to view previous years)!!!
Late 1986, the 6ft 8″ Basket Ball player decided to take up a new profession; Pro Wrestling. After being convinced by a friend to join him, Mark Calaway paid Buzz Sawyer to train him… though it seems Buzz did little more than take the money, show Mark a couple of moves in his living room, then left town. That didn’t discourage the future legend, and come June 26th 1987, TEXAS RED made his wrestling debut for WCCW, against Bruiser Brody. In what would become a sign of things to come, Texas Red was accompanied to the ring by Percy Pringle III; the future Paul Bearer! Both men have gone on record as saying that the ONLY reason PP3 managed him that night was to show him the way back to the locker room, following the beating Brody was going to give him. While some young wrestlers would have been put off by such a “welcome”, Mark took it in stride, thanked Brody for the match, and continued to grow his immense career.
Following his debut, Mark would go on to wrestle in the CWA (soon to become the USWA) under a couple of different gimmicks; The Master of Pain and The Punisher. During this time he would wrestle another future legend Stone Cold Steve Austin, as well as the already established Jerry “the king” Lawler, winning some titles along the way too!
In 1989, over in WCW, Sid Vicious would suffer a lung injury, putting the Skyscrapers team (Sid Viscous and Dan Spivey) in jeopardy just as they were in a program with the Road Warriors. Jim Cornette put a call to Dutch Mantell, asking if he had anyone who could replace Sid. Dutch, having managed Mark for a time, instantly knew the big Texan was a perfect replacement. With a new name, courtesy of Terry Funk, Mean Mark Callous was born, and immediately put into Sid’s spot in a high profile tag team feud with Hawk and Animal! Unfortunately, Dan Spivey would walk out on the tag team and his job with WCW, leaving Mean Mark without a partner. This would prove to be a blessing in disguise, as now Mean Mark could develop more as a singles star, while gaining knowledge from his brand new manager Paul E Dangerously aka Paul Heyman, who, like Paul Bearer, would go on to have a long history with The Undertaker character! Despite still being fairly green, Mean Mark had great athleticism for a man his size, and was improving with each passing week. Backstage, however, booker Ole Anderson saw nothing in him, so Mark gave his notice and reached out to Vince McMahon and the WWF in a move that could make or break his career. After a short run in Japan as Punisher Dice Morgan, and an even shorter return to USWA, Mark finally signed on the dotted line with Titan Sports, and thus THE UNDERTAKER was born!
“Everybody’s got a price for the Million Dollar Man, so without further ado, I’ll introduce to you now my mystery partner, led to the ring by his manager BROTHER LOVE, weighing in at three hundred and twenty pounds, from DEATH VALLEY, I give you… THE UNDERTAKER!”
It was Survivor Series 1990, 30 long years ago to the day, and the Million Dollar Team had been hyping a mystery partner for weeks. With that introduction from Ted DiBiase, we were introduced to The Undertaker character for the first time on TV (though he did tape some future TV matches prior to his official debut under the name “Kane The Undertaker”). The fans in attendance were in awe and the commentators (Gorilla Monsoon and Roddy Piper) did a fantastic job putting over his sheer size and the fact he looked scary as hell. While in the match for just under 10 minutes, The Undertaker dominated the other team, eliminating Koko B. Ware (with a debuting TOMBSTONE PILEDRIVER) AND Dusty Rhodes, before getting counted out when he continued his assault on the American Dream on the outside. An impressive debut for sure, and his career would only continue skyrocketing from here! As a kid, my first wrestling memory ever was seeing The Undertaker make his debut. I know for sure I didn’t see this show live, or even on a reply back in 1990, so I can only assume they were showing some sort of Undertaker clip on a show sometime around 92 or 93. While cameras at WWF events back in the day would show kids being scared of The Undertaker and crying at the very sight of him, I was captivated, and for all this time he has remained my absolute favourite!
Just over a month later, a huge change to the presentation of The Undertaker would occur, as Brother Love, portrayed by Bruce Prichard, decided to stick to his backstage role full time, this leaving The Undertaker without the all important mouthpiece he needed. Enter Mark Calaway’s first manager from his first ever match; Percy Pringle III! However, the “generic wrestling manager” gimmick of PP3 didn’t suit the gimmick of The Undertaker, so a change was needed. Black hair dye, ghostly white makeup and the name Paul Bearer (a Road Warrior Hawk idea!) were given to him, and they were off to the races! The first few months were nothing but squash matches on TV, but WrestleMania 7 would see The Undertaker defeat “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka, a man who was considered second to only Hulk Hogan in the early to mid 80’s as a babyface. Such a high profile win at WrestleMania helped cement the future legacy of MR WRESTLEMANIA (the REAL one, not the one WWE want you to believe!), and brought about the beginning of THE STREAK!
After WrestleMania, The Undertaker and Paul Bearer were certainly more comfortable in their repetitive roles, and it showed in promos and matches. Undertaker had settled down more in the ring, opting for a much slower, methodical style with only one or two fast paced athletic moves that would shock audiences and his opponents. Sadly this wouldn’t make for FIVE STAR MATCHES or anything, so everything else had to be turned up to 11 to keep fans truly invested. Enter The Ultimate Warrior and Jake Roberts. The Ultimate Warrior was a faced paced, energetic mad man that could get the fans cheering for anything. The perfect yang to Taker’s yin (I think I got those the right way round anyway!). Then to add even more flavour to the feud, Jake Roberts, a methodical and evil character himself, was brought in as a sort of mentor to the still new Undertaker. At first Jake was seemingly trying to HELP Warrior, preparing him for The Undertaker by subjecting him to various trials that produced some memorable segments, before it was revealed he was working with Undertaker the entire time. They would go on to compete against each other in BODY BAG matches, a pre-cursor to casket matches where you had to stuff your opponent into a body bag in order to win. While Undertaker lost to Warrior, the visual of him sitting up while still in the body bag is likely more memorable to people than who won the match.
Survivor Series 1991 rolled around, and to mark The Undertaker’s first anniversary in the company, he would take part in the biggest match of his career; one on one with HULK HOGAN… for the WWF Championship!!! With interference from Ric Flair, and a Tombstone onto a steel chair (which Hogan’s head missed by about a foot, yet he decided to claim Undertaker had injured his neck anyway because… yeah), the match ended with a NEW WWF Champion that shocked many fans. Nobody had entered the company and BEATEN the poster boy for the company for the title in just ONE YEAR. Unfortunately Undertaker would soon lose the title just a few of days later at a special “This Tuesday in Texas” event. While Hogan regained the title, more interference from Flair caused then on-screen WWF President Jack Tunney to vacate the title, and thus NOBODY was champion. The belt would be up for grabs for the first time ever at the Royal Rumble with 30 men competing for it. Ric Flair would ultimately win.
Out of the title picture, Undertaker needed another big match for WrestleMania. For a few months, ever since his title win, the fans had been slowly cheering for Undertaker and Paul Bearer, so in February 1992, it was time to fully turn the duo babyface. Jake Roberts lay in wait backstage behind the curtain with a steel chair, ready to bring it down on Randy Savage as he came back from the ring. However, it would be Miss Elizabeth who came through the curtain first, about to be taken out! Luckily for Miss Elizabeth, the chair was never swung, instead a gloved hand held onto it, preventing Jake Roberts from extracting some revenge on his old rival Macho Man. The hand belonged to The Undertaker, firmly cementing himself as a babyface, and setting up a match between student and teacher at the grandest stage of them all! Personally I really enjoy the Taker/Jake WM match, more so than most people (Undertaker bias and all lol), but yeah, I think its a fun match with great storytelling in it. And speaking of storytelling, Paul Bearer told the story of how Jake was leaving the WWF after this match, and being the wily veteran, changed the finish of the match on the fly in order to keep himself looking “strong” on the way out. The match was supposed to end with a Tombstone in the middle of the ring, but Jake told Taker to do it on the outside, then roll him in and cover him. Obviously a Tombstone on the FLOOR would be considered way more devastating, and this give the character of Jake Roberts an “excuse” as to why he lost. The Undertaker, still being fairly new to the business, did as Jake asked, and was yelled at by Vince McMahon upon his return to the backstage area. However, Undertaker never gave up Jake, and instead just apologised for screwing up the finish.
After WrestleMania 8, The Undertaker would feud with manager Harvey Wippleman, facing numerous wrestlers that he managed. Most notably were Kamala for the first ever CASKET MATCH (or Coffin Match as they originally billed it as), and then Giant Gonzales for one of the worst matches Undertaker was subjected to at WrestleMania (and then Summerslam in a rematch…). During this time period, WWF Raw made its debut on prime time, and the main event featured none other than The Undertaker, showing us that the company still viewed him as a big star and one of the cornerstones of the company at the time. Moving into 1994, Undertaker would be back fighting for the WWF Championship, this time facing the mammoth 500lb+ Yokozuna in a casket match at the Royal Rumble. Despite his size, Yokozuna could actually move and wrestle, unlike Gonzales, allowing Undertaker to be able to have fun matches again. While it looked as though the Dead Man was going to win his 2nd WWF title, numerous heel wrestlers ran out from the back to attack The Undertaker! After taking a beating from them all, he was finally rolled into the casket and Yokozuna was declared the winner. That wouldn’t be the end of it though, as some mysterious smoke began to bellow out of the Urn, potentially signifying the end of Undertaker. Just as fans thought we had seen the last of him, the lights went out, and we saw INSIDE the casket! Undertaker cut a promo about how he will never REST IN PEACE, then somehow raised up out of the casket and floated up to the heavens (fun fact: Marty Jannetty was dressed up like Undertaker and risen up to the top of the arena for this spot!). Cartoonish? Sure. But things like this seemed to FIT with the Undertaker character, and it certainly left us with something memorable! The Undertaker wouldn’t be seen until SummerSlam of 1994, where he faced off against THE UNDERFAKER (Brian Lee), who Ted DiBiase had brought in and claimed to be the real Undertaker who had once again aligned himself with the Million Dollar Corporation. Undertaker would then continue to feud with DiBiase and the MDC, leading to matches against IRS, THE SUPREME FIGHTING MACHINE Kama, and even King Kong Bundy at WrestleMania.
As I already mentioned, the slow, methodical style of The Undertaker gimmick didn’t exactly lend itself to quality matches. On top of that, most of his opponents were MONSTERS who half of the time couldn’t do much inside the ring. Sure, we had some FUN matches such as the Yokozuna casket matches and some others, but overall even the SUPERTAKERMARK in me can’t point to much from this time period as being genuinely great. So, moving into 1996, it was refreshing to see Undertaker getting to work with BRET HART. Billed as the “Excellence of Execution”, Bret Hart was known for being a fantastic “technical” wrestler who could pull a good match out of just about anyone. So we put Bret Hart in the ring with The Undertaker, who had already began to evolve the character of The Undertaker ever since he return a couple of months prior after having his Orbital Bone SMASHED. Visually, the Phantom of the Opera style mask brought about a new look for the Dead Man, but along with this his in ring work was changing too. He was beginning to sell a little more, rather than taking every shot from opponents and rolling his eyes back like nothing happened, or sitting up from everything. Some of the more athletic moves he was capable of doing were also being added to his moveset, making his matches more exciting and gave them a fresher feel. At the Royal Rumble in 1996, Undertaker was able to show off all of this against Bret Hart with the WWF title on the line, in a lengthy but great match. In the end, a disgruntled Diesel, who just lost out on the Royal Rumble Match to his best friend Shawn, decided to screw Undertaker out of the win, setting up their feud going into WrestleMania. Diesel, another near 7 foot man who had some athleticism, would make for a great opponent, probably better than most people expected. Their WrestleMania 12 match was pretty incredible imo, making it the best Undertaker WrestleMania match up to this point by a considerable margin, and being the best match on that particular WM as well (HBK/Bret 60 Minute Iron Man Match was boring as hell).
The night after, though, is what would turn out to be the biggest moment of 1996 regarding The Undertaker’s career. The debut of MANKIND, portrayed by Mick Foley, saw a new crazy character enter the WWF. He seemingly felt no pain, or if he did, he ENJOYED it. After winning a squash match, nobody thought much else of Mankind that night, until he surprised the world by interfering in the main event and attacking the Dead Man! Over the next few months, Mankind would interfere in Undertaker matches, even costing him the Intercontinental Championship against Goldust. Their first meeting took place at the King of the Ring, where Mankind defeated The Undertaker clean, in the middle of the ring, with the Mandible Claw in one of the most SHOCKING Undertaker defeats to this day (second only to one particular match that we’ll get to…). This solidified Mankind as more than just the “monster of the week” opponent Undertaker would normally vanquish, and instead showed the world that Mankind is here to stay, and is a threat to EVERYONE. They would feud on and off again for 2 years, giving us some of the best Undertaker (and Foley) matches ever, with some unique gimmicks as well such as Boiler Room Brawl, BURIED ALIVE and more. It was at their BRB match where another evolution of the character would take place, when Paul Bearer turned on The Undertaker to side with Mankind. Now Undertaker had to speak for himself more than ever before, allowing him to showcase his mic skills, even if he would still have to be constrained to the character and things like REST IN PEACE a lot of the time. Vader would also join up with Paul Bearer and Mankind to add some variety and keep Undertaker and Mankind from simply wrestling each other at every PPV, and we even had a match with THE EXECUTIONER aka Terry Gordy, which while not a very good match, was still cool to see.
At WrestleMania 13, Undertaker beat Sid in the main event to gain his second WWF Championship. Following his victory, Paul Bearer decided he wanted to manage the Dead Man once again. Undertaker was obviously against this, until Bearer decided to BLACKMAIL him, threatening to reveal a dark secret if Undertaker didn’t do as he said. It worked for a while, until finally The Undertaker snapped. This led to Paul Bearer telling the world about The Undertaker’s past. How The Undertaker burnt down the funeral home his parents worked in, killing them both. Not only that, but his younger brother KANE was there too. Only he didn’t die. “HE’S ALIVE, UNDERTAKER. YOU’RE BROTHER KANE IS ALIVE”. For months, Paul Bearer began to tease the debut of KANE, and finally, at Badd Blood 1997, during the epic Hell in a Cell match against Shawn Michaels (the single greatest match of all time as far as I’m concerned), we saw the single greatest debut (imo) as KANE arrived, ripped off the door to the cell, and Tombstoned his brother, allowing HBK to pick up the win. With Kane on the scene, chaos reigned down on the WWF. The Undertaker refused to fight his own flesh and blood, and so Kane made it his mission to destroy everyone else in the WWF until his brother faced him. It began with the 2 former wrestlers Paul Bearer managed, but no longer needed; Mankind and Vader. Neither man could stand up to Kane. However, as time passed, it seemed that Kane wasn’t quite looking for the same thing Paul Bearer was. Bearer wanted REVENGE on The Undertaker, but Kane now seemingly wanted his family back together. At the 1998 Royal Rumble, in a casket match, The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels battled once again over the WWF Championship. In a repeat of 1994, numerous wrestlers emptied from the locker room to attack The Undertaker. It looked like the end of the Dead Man, until KANE arrived and together the BROTHERS OF DESTRUCTION emptied the ring! This feel good moment wouldn’t last however, as Kane eventually turned on his brother, chokeslamming him into the casket and helping HBK win. From there, Paul Bearer showed up and together, he and Kane SET FIRE TO THE CASKET WITH THE UNDERTAKER IN IT. Another hugely memorable moment from The Undertaker’s lengthy career. Kane and Paul Bearer, despite seemingly achieving their goal, continued on their warpath, destroying everyone in the WWF… until THE UNDERTAKER made his epic return one night on Raw, exploding out of a casket. He explained that he hadn’t been vanquished by Kane; instead he took the time away to explain to his dead parents why he was going to do the one thing he promised to never do… fight his brother! At WrestleMania 14, the first one on one meeting between the brothers (despite Kane having debuted SIX MONTHS PRIOR) took place and it was ALL OUT WAR. A masterclass brawl between two giants. Just like his brother, Kane was able to sit up from most of the offence sent his way, and in a way seemed STRONGER than his brother. He dominated most of the match, and even kicked out of TWO Tombstone Piledrivers, something completely unheard of. A third Tombstone ended the match, but Kane still managed to kick out of 3 and a half, then continued to assault his brother and leave him laying. He lost this battle, but was intent on winning the war still.
In another first for the Dead Man, an INFERNO match was to take place between him and Kane. The ropes surrounding the ring would be set on FIRE, and the winner had to set his opponent on fire. An extremely difficult match to do, between the dangers of being burnt, and the fact the fire took all of the oxygen out of the ring, making it hard for the 2 athletes to breath. They pulled it off though, including a spectacular dive over the flaming ropes onto Kane and Vader by The Undertaker. In the end, Kane’s arm would be set on fire and Undertaker was victorious.
With Kane focused now on Steve Austin and the WWF Championship for a period of time, Undertaker would return to his old rivalry with Mankind. At King of the Ring, they would face off inside the Hell in a Cell, and produce probably the single most memorable match in the HISTORY of professional wrestling. Starting out on top of the cell was certainly unique, but minutes into the match, The Undertaker threw Mankind off the top and he crash landed through the announcers table! A spectacular bump for sure. But the match wasn’t over. Mankind rolled off the stretcher, determined to give the fans the match they deserved, and climbed back up. This time he went THROUGH the cell in a completely unplanned spot, when Undertaker hit a chokeslam and the roof gave in. Foley was broken, battered and beaten, but managed to continue the match for another 10 minutes or so until Undertaker finally put him out of his misery. Later that night, both men interfered in the main event First Blood match between Kane and Austin, resulting in Undertaker “Accidentally” hitting Austin with a chair, causing him to bleed and LOSE the WWF Title! From here we would discover than the Brothers of Destruction were indeed on the same page now, and they wanted to rid the WWF of Stone Cold. Personally for the rest of 1998 and 1999, Undertaker’s character for me wasn’t the best. He was seemingly all over the place, moving from face to heel back to face and heel again. Teaming with Kane, going against Kane, teaming with Austin, going against Austin. Getting back with Paul Bearer. Creating the Ministry of Darkness. Joining forces with the Corporation. Just a massive mess of random angles and storylines imo. However, some fans will claim that the Ministry of Darkness version of Undertaker was the BEST, and hey, more power to ’em!
Towards the end of 1999, The Undertaker suffered multiple injures, taking him out of action until May of 2000. Once he returned, he was no longer the Dead Man. Now he sported a long leather coat, jeans, and rode to the ring on a motorcycle all the while referring to himself as THE AMERICAN BAD ASS. Closer to his real life persona, The Undertaker now had far more range with his character and promos, giving us a brand new side of him. Unfortunately, his in ring ability wasn’t quite up to scratch for a while. He had seemingly put on weight during his absence, and was still adjusting to a brand new style to better suit his new character. He would team up again with Kane for a while, then feud with him, as well as battling the likes of Kurt Angle and Steve Austin for the WWF title before having to take on the INVADING WCW and ECW Alliance in 2001. Following Survivor Series 2001, with the WWF coming out on top against the Alliance, The Undertaker evolved his character once again, turning heel. Sporting a brand new look, almost like the Terminator in T2 with short hair, sunglasses and the bike, The Undertaker would bully smaller wrestlers and try to injure them, all the while holding the Hardcore title for a time. Going into WrestleMania 18, Ric Flair, 50% owner of the company, was having his issues with The Undertaker. Undertaker demanded a match with him, but Flair claimed he was retired. Undertaker would assault Arn Anderson and Flair’s own son David, just to get the Nature Boy to agree. While most fans remember WM 18 for Rock Vs Hogan (and hey, who can blame them?), for me, its all about Ric Flair Vs The Undertaker. They have one hell of a fight, with Flair doing a classic bladejob, and Undertaker looking in better ring shape than he had for years. We even got one of the best cameos of ALL TIME when Arn Anderson appeared out of nowhere to nail Undertaker with his legendary Spinebuster! In the end though, it was Undertaker standing victorious, and taking his Streak at WM to 10-0!
2002 is one of my favourite years ever when it comes to The Undertaker. His heel work early in the year is superb, and it brought about many great matches on TV and PPV. Following WM he would win the WWE Undisputed Title by defeating none other than Hulk Hogan once again. Because of the brand split at the time, Raw and Smackdown had individual PPV’s, so when Raw had one, the next month would be SD. This meant more time in between PPV’s, and as a result we got more TV FEUDS taking place. One of them involved Jeff Hardy and The Undertaker, based around RESPECT. It culminated in a fantastic ladder match, where Jeff Hardy narrowly missed out on becoming champion, but earned the respect of The Undertaker, who raised his hand following the match despite still being a heel. He also feuded with Kurt Angle over on Smackdown (the Champion could appear on both shows), resulting in some classic matches between the two, including one where seemingly Angle was pinned for a 3 count at the exact same time Undertaker tapped out. The match was deemed a draw, and Undertaker retained his title, but Angle wasn’t happy. They would go on to Vengeance and battle over the belt one more time, only with The Rock involved too. The Rock went on to win, and shortly afterwards The Undertaker turned face again. A couple of months later, Undertaker would show up on Smackdown, having left Raw to sign on with Stephanie McMahon’s show. He would debut in a triple threat match, winning it and gaining himself a title shot against the current champion BROCK LESNAR. They had a tremendous feud, with 2 epic PPV matches, one of with was a Hell in a Cell match that almost beat out the first one with Shawn Michaels for me. Brock Lesnar would overcome the challenge of the Dead Man, but man oh man, The Undertaker looked fantastic in both of their matches.
2003 was yet another good year for BIG EVIL, returning at the Royal Rumble only to lose out to Brock in the end. He faced off against Big Show and A-Train at WrestleMania, though it wasn’t too memorable of a match. He then began to feud with the up and coming John Cena, putting on a tremendous match at Vengeance, where the Old Guard was able to pull out a victory, but Cena still came out of it looking better than ever before. Taker would end up getting involved in Vince McMahon’s business towards the end of the year, including another match with Brock Lesnar who had aligned himself with the Chairman. After being screwed out of the title, Vince set up a handicap match between Undertaker and Big Show/Brock Lesnar. If Taker won, he could have any match he wanted. Taker won, and Vince automatically assumed he would face Brock Lesnar again for the title. Oh no. Not Brock Lesnar. VINCE MCMAHON. And not in a singles match. BURIED. ALIVE. At Survivor Series (oh hey that show name keeps coming up, doesn’t it?), Vince Vs The Undertaker too place. The Undertaker battered Vince nearly to death, but in the end, KANE would make his presence known, and helped McMahon bury his own brother alive!
Starting at the Royal Rumble in 2004, The Undertaker would tease his return, not just to the ring, but as THE DEAD MAN. We had to wait until WrestleMania 20, but it was worth it. The eerie voice of Paul Bearer echoed around Madison Square Garden as he too make his return along side the Dead Man. Visually this was yet another change, one that people didn’t like at first, but grew to. He was now very much a mix between the old school Dead Man character and the Big Evil style character, allowing him to merge in ring styles to create something better than ever before. For most of 2004, Undertaker was a special attraction, but still managed to have some great matches on PPV with the likes of JBL and yes, even HEIDENREICH (I love their SVS match and can’t nobody tell me differently!!!). Going into 2005 he started becoming more regular on the show, especially leading into WM for a classic encounter with THE LEGEND KILLER Randy Orton! The two of them feuded for the entire year, finally ending at Armageddon in December, inside Hell in a Cell. That entire series of matches is worth a watch for anyone, as they all hold up tremendously to this day.
Despite being around for 15 years now, The Undertaker was seemingly getting BETTER with age. 2006 saw him have some incredible wrestling matches against Kurt Angle, and up and comer Mr Kennedy as well. 2007 gave Undertaker his first and only Royal Rumble win, leading up to a World Heavyweight Championship bout against Batista at WM. The two men stole the show, with Undertaker famously yelling “FOLLOW THAT” backstage due to his match being placed 4th on the card. Nobody followed it. He and Batista would feud throughout 2007 on and off, as both men would receive injuries putting them out of action for a time. Each match was great, and their storyline also bled into Edge/Batista which then morphed into Edge/Undertaker, resulting in a WM match between those two with not only the title on the line, but STREAK VS STREAK as Edge too was undefeated at this point at WM. 2008 had the Edge feud, which saw Undertaker taking some insane bumps for a man his size and age in a TLC match, which likely shocked EVERYONE. He then feuded with The Big Show, resulting in some of Big Show’s best matches ever to round out the year.
WrestleMania 25 was coming up, and the show needed something special. And oh boy did it deliver. For the first time in 11 years, The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels would battle one on one. Many, many people point to this as the best match ever, or best WM match ever, or just best Taker/Shawn match ever. I disagree personally, but man oh man, the match is definitely incredible. Despite it being 2009, both men put on an absolute clinic, creating more drama in the match than perhaps any other. THAT TOMBSTONE KICK OUT will go down in history for sure. For most of 2009 after this, Undertaker took some time off to rest up. He returned at Summerslam to challenge CM Punk over the WHC. The Undertaker once again gained the title, and in the process had some good matches with Punk. It was also during this time, November to be exact, that I got to see The Undertaker wrestle live for the FIRST TIME EVER. Sheffield Arena. Smackdown taping. The Undertaker Vs Chris Jericho in their first ever single match. Undertaker was also champ. Definitely a dream scenario for me and something I shall never, EVER forgot! On top of that we also got a dark match afterwards with Undertaker defeating CM Punk in a casket match!!!
Going into 2010, HBK was determined to face Undertaker one more time at WM to prove that he COULD end the streak. After costing Taker the WHC, The Undertaker agreed to one more match… on ONE condition. Shawn Michaels’ career would be on the line! WrestleMania 26 would see Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker have yet another classic contest, and in the end, only THE STREAK would survive.
Enter KANE one more time! Yup, they weren’t finished with this story! Apparently, someone had attacked The Undertaker and left him in a VEGETATIVE STATE (yes, this was a real angle…), and being the good brother he is, Kane would find out who did it. He believed Rey Mysterio was responsible, and began to destroy him, until THE UNDERTAKER returned and told the truth; it was Kane! Undertaker tried to gain revenge, but he was no longer as POWERFUL as he used to be. Being in that VEGETATIVE STATE weakened the Dead Man, and as a result Kane could easily get the better of him. At Night of Champions the two had a modern day version of their incredible WM 14 brawl, with Kane coming out on top. Undertaker seemingly was done, until PAUL BEARER returned and gifted him with the power of the urn! A refreshed Undertaker now challenged Kane to a HELL IN A CELL MATCH! Sadly this match was a let down, and we had Paul turning on Taker again for… reasons. The feud would finally end at SVS (that event again…) in another buried alive match. Undertaker was legitimately injured going into this, so it was to be expected that it wouldn’t be all that good, sadly. Kane wins with help of the Nexus group, which was never brought up again.
Roll on 2011, and we got TWO massive returns in one night; Triple H and The Undertaker. Neither speak, yet the segment went on for a good 10 minutes or so of them simply staring each other down, then looking at the WM sign, and agreeing to a match. The fans were going CRAZY for it. Not a word said. Not a punch thrown. And they LOVED IT. Their match at WM is certainly a polarising one, but I love it of course! HHH was out for revenge for his best friend having to retire the year prior, and instead of trying to OUT WRESTLE The Undertaker like HBK did, HHH instead runs full speed ahead and tries to beat Undertaker down with everything he’s got. In the end, Undertaker was victorious, but had to be carried out of the arena while HHH stood tall. One year later and now The Undertaker was the one putting out the challenge for WrestleMania. He needed the rematch to show that he can beat HHH again AND walk out. This time they would fight inside Hell in a Cell, with a special guest referee… Shawn Michaels! Again, the match is very polarising and of course I love it! They put on a great show with tons of great action, while also bringing in some great storytelling. Yes, Shawn’s hammy acting is, well, hammy as hell, but I like it. The finish is tremendous as well, and the image of all 3 standing at the top of the ramp in an embrace will forever be remembered as a top WM moment.
For the next WrestleMania, we had a rather… unique build. The legendary Paul Bearer, real name William Moody, had passed away. During a tribute to him on Raw, CM Punk showed up to attack Kane and The Undertaker, using the Urn as a weapon and even scattering the ashes of Paul Bearer all over THE UNDERTAKER. Many looked at the angle as being in bad taste, but ask any of his friends and even family, and they will tell you differently. They saw it as the ultimate tribute to include him in one more huge storyline. The match between Punk and Taker was another classic contest, better than anything they did in 2009 as well. Undertaker picked up the win, though honestly I wouldn’t have minded if Punk went over. Ah well.
WrestleMania 30. We’re here. Oh yes. The Undertaker and Brock Lesnar. On the surface, this seemed more like a “filler” WM match for Taker. The build was nothing spectacular, and just about everyone expected Taker to win. And then it happened. The 3rd F-5 of the match. 1. 2. 3. THE STREAK IS OVER. 21-1. It was such an odd feeling to see as a fan. I’ve never MET The Undertaker. I know the business is “fake”. Winners and Losers are predetermined. Its ENTERTAINMENT. And yet, when The Undertaker lost this match at WrestleMania, I felt empty inside. Like there was nothing left. I had no energy. I was spent. I couldn’t believe it. And neither could anyone else, it seemed. The match itself isn’t considered anything special, and I can understand why. Finish aside, The Undertaker suffered a pretty bad concision at some point in the match and remember nothing of it. Perhaps not the best way to end THE STREAK, but ever a company guy, The Undertaker did what he was asked.
After this, unfortunately The Undertaker’s career would take a bit of a down fall. He returned a year later to beat Bray Wyatt at WM, but it wasn’t anything special. It wouldn’t be until a few months later when Taker cost Lesnar the title that things picked up again, if only temporarily. Taker and Lesnar had a great match at Summerslam that year, albeit with a dumb ending. Their long rivalry finally ended at Hell in a Cell (the PPV and Match lol), where they put on another fantastic match 13 years after their original one. Lesnar got the better of Undertaker, and it seemed like this could be it for the Dead Man. Nah! The Wyatt Family had a short feud with the Brothers of Destruction, but nothing worth talking about. WrestleMania 32, and Taker would defeat Shane McMahon inside Hell in a Cell in a match seemingly only I love, but oh well! The next year saw Undertaker and Roman Reigns with Reigns becoming the second man to ever beat Undertaker at WM. From here, Undertaker was looking old and out of shape, yet continued on trying to have that ONE last great match. Goldberg, HHH, even an out of retirement HBK couldn’t help him. Eventually at WrestleMania 36 just this year, The Undertaker got his wish. Against AJ Styles, The Undertaker put on an incredible showing in one of the most unique matches to ever happen; the Boneyard Match. With the lack of a crowd due to Covid-19, they turned this gimmick match into a “cinematic” match, looking more like a movie. While the Cena/Bray cinematic match didn’t do well, this one DID. Once that match was finished, Mark Calaway has opened up more about his life and career than ever before. A 5 part documentary series followed him around for a couple of years, all building up to him having a potential final match. He has done podcasts, interviews and more. He has multiple social media accounts. A man than for 30 years did his best to keep KAYFABE has now broken it, in what appears to be a sign of true retirement.
Personally, with his 30th Anniversary as The Undertaker taking place tonight at Survivor Series, I hope The Undertaker does indeed have his final farewell. Could he still make the odd appearance from time to time? Sure! The man is a LEGEND. But another match? I think its time to hang it up for good now.
And so it is without a shadow of a doubt, my absolute honour to induct THE UNDERTAKER into my very own Hall of Fame. Sure, it doesn’t mean anything to anyone else, but it means it to ME. The entire reason I became a wrestling fan is because of The Undertaker. I have had more fun than I can possibly remember as a result of wrestling, from watching it on TV, online, live in the area, alone, with friends etc etc. I have met some amazing people online that I’ve been talking to for almost 15 years now because of wrestling. While I don’t watch the current product (aside from SVS tonight because of course), I still watch some form of wrestling on a regular basis and discuss it on a daily basis. I may never get “into” modern wrestling again, but my love for the business, like my love for The Undertaker, will never. REST. IN. PEACE.