We’ll get right to the point this week. As I’m sure you know, this past Sunday at “Survivor Series 2015” the Undertaker celebrated his 25th anniversary in the WWE. While Michael Cole is going too far with calling Undertaker perhaps the greatest of all time, Undertaker is certainly an all time great. Today, we’re going to take a look at some of the great aspects of Undertaker’s career and why he’s as great as he really is.
Some of these are going to be bigger than others and these are mostly in no order.
First and foremost, there’s the longevity. Undertaker made his WWE debut back in 1990. Think about that for a second. The Ultimate Warrior was the WWF World Champion, Hulk Hogan was feuding with Earthquake, the Legion of Doom had never won the WWF World Tag Team Titles, Jerry Lawler wasn’t with the company yet and Steve Austin hadn’t even debuted in WCW.
The idea that someone can debut as a big star and then main event a major pay per view in the match of the night nearly twenty five years later is unthinkable. Other than Ric Flair, who comes close to doing that in modern wrestling? Austin’s entire career ran about fourteen years from his debut in Texas to his retirement. The Rock’s debut to his most recent match is roughly sixteen and a half years (ignoring his seven and a half years between matches of course). HHH has been going about twenty years in the WWE and is down to about a match a year. This just doesn’t happen and it’s kind of hard to fathom.
Next is something that is a unique skill for Undertaker: his facial expressions. Think back to the sit up at “Wrestlemania XXIX” while CM Punk had him in the Anaconda Vice or the sit up with Brock Lesnar at “Summerslam 2015” where Undertaker laughed at Lesnar’s face. For a different emotion, think of the look on his face when the Tombstones didn’t put Michaels away, or maybe the looks he gave Kane when his younger brother did something really bad. It might be shock or it might be anger, but the looks that Undertaker gives make you feel the emotions that he wants you to feel.
Above all the emotions though, the greatest Undertaker can cause is fear. You can take your Vader, you can take your Brock Lesnar and you can take your Mankind. For my money, a ticked off Undertaker is the scariest thing in wrestling. There’s something about him that lets you know he’s here to cause pain and break things, which are usually people. It’s the most intimidating thing in all of wrestling and Undertaker makes it look so natural.
On top of that, there’s Undertaker’s look in general. He’s big, he’s tall, he’s covered in tattoos and he looks like he’s been dead at least three times. It’s such a perfect look for someone intimidating and in his old days with the longer hair and the deep voice to go along with it, you could barely take your eyes off him. There’s something eerie about the guy and while it’s hard to put your finger on a single definition, there’s never been anyone with that balance to make him look so intimidating.
Sticking with the idea of nature, Undertaker is one of the best portrayed characters of all time. Can you imagine anyone else playing him? It’s one of those situations where you match the perfect person with the perfect gimmick and the whole thing just works. Mark Calaway has just the right demeanor to make the thing work, despite the fact that it’s really one of the sillier characters the company has ever produced.
Getting away from the character aspect of things, we have to look at Undertaker’s in ring abilities. It wasn’t the easiest start for Undertaker’s WWE run but once he started developing a more in depth character and tweaking his in ring style, everything started to change. The Biker Taker years changed things up a lot but eventually fell apart as Undertaker started to get lazy, making for some very dull matches.
Then it all changed as we hit the MMA Cowboy of Death period with Undertaker using more submissions and strikes. This would become his dominant style for the rest of his career and made for another new era. It also allowed Undertaker to extend his career as he could stop using as much brawling and have a bit more fun in the ring. If you need proof of how good this could be, check out his match with Kurt Angle at “No Way Out 2006” in case you haven’t somehow.
That leaves us with the 948lb white elephant in the room and it’s known as the Streak. Just…..yeah. Three World Titles, five wins over Michaels and HHH, a pin over every member of Evolution and multiple matches of the year. That’s a great career for a lot of people and Undertaker did it at the same show.
The Streak became more important than the World Titles in some years with people going after the Streak rather than taking their shots at gold. It became a featured attraction at Wrestlemania and included some of the best matches that we’ve ever seen. The idea that someone could go this long without losing a single match is astounding, but what makes it better is the fact that it took on a life of its own.
Then one day that life came to an end when Lesnar laid Undertaker out with a third F5 and became the ultimate heel. Seeing the reaction of people when the Streak was ended felt like telling a kindergarten class that there is no Santa Claus. It got inside people because it was something that they had known their entire lives. When you have grown men crying and running out of the building, you’ve clearly struck a nerve with some people. The Streak is something that is never going to be duplicated and it would be crazy to try.
I know this felt rushed but Undertaker isn’t someone you can sum up in a few pages. There have been times where he feels like he’s overstayed his welcome, but Undertaker is the one constant in the WWE over the years. He’s right up there with Cena (someone who has been around about half as long as Undertaker and feels like he’s been around forever in his own right) as someone who really has no equal and it’s amazing that he’s still going at this level.
To sum this up as well as I can, when Hulk Hogan was 50 years old, he and Vince McMahon were having a mess of a spectacle (I really hesitate to call that a match) at “Wrestlemania XIX”. Now that Undertaker is 50 years old, he’s had the match of the night at two pay per views in a year. I know it’s not going to last forever, but going this strong at his age just does not happen often. He’s a legend and still great, which can only be described as amazing when you remember that he started in WWE when Randy Orton was a lad of ten.
Remember to follow me on Twitter @kbreviews, check out my website at kbwrestlingreviews.com and pick up my new book of the History of Wrestlemania at Amazon for just $3.99 at:
And check out my Amazon author page with cheap wrestling books at: