The Date was November 19th 1990, WWE (WWF at the time) was having their annual event Survivor Series and fans witnessed the debut of a legend we know this man as The Undertaker…but it almost didn’t happen. WWE creative team actual had the idea for the man that ended up being The Undertaker to make his debut in WWE as a scientist character named Professor Egg Head. He was going to shave his head and eyebrow and make his first appearance popping out of a giant egg that was sitting on the stage for months. The terrible idea was trashed but since the egg was sitting on stage they had to have some payoff to this giant egg...which ended up being a giant turkey named The Gobblety Gooker. But that name saw the debut of the one of the greatest wrestler of all time.
The early 90s were a time of the cartoony gimmicks, and to be honest, The Undertaker was no exception. A Wild West coffin making creepy guy that came to take souls. He was introduced by Brother Love, who was a televangelist-like character, to be the team of the Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase, who was greedy cruel rich man. The Undertaker came in with a head of steam to team with the million dollar man, only to be eliminated via disqualification. This begin his quarter century of kicking ass in the WWE. When he would win a match, he would put his opponent in a body bag and take them away. A year after his debut he found himself in a battle with the man that made Pro Wrestling what it is today Hulk Hogan, for the WWE title. In which he defeated Hogan for his first title reign in The WWE. Also in the same year he started, what many fans know as “The Streak” when he defeated Superfly Jimmy Snuka at Wrestlemania 7. Taker had quickly become a fan favorite.
With his awe inspiring entrance, creepy-voiced manager Paul Bearer, fantastic athleticism for a big man, and ever evolving character. The Undertaker also became the backstage leader earning the respect of the boys in the back. He is the longest tenured wrestler in the WWE, never being fired, or leaving for greener pastures (WCW) as many did in the mid-90s. He’s worked through many injuries including wearing a flak jacket under his gear to protect his broken ribs, and wearing a face mask to protect his broken face.
As time progressed, society changed. The late 90s begin the attitude era, a time where WWE produced more mature content. And like the true professional that he is, The Undertaker evolved a campy cheesy type gimmick into a very dark and serious character. He led a faction of wrestlers called the ministry of darkness. He attempted to sacrifice Stone Cold Steve Austin at one point. In Early 2000, Taker was sideline with an injury, and upon his return he had a gimmick change. He transformed into a biker. He would ride a motorcycle to the ride. And was more “human”. The “American Badass” gimmick gave him more range as a character. Although loved by fans. People still wanted to see the deadman return. So WWE worked a storyline, were he was in a buried alive match, the owner Vince McMahon at Survivor Series in November of 2003. Where the object of the match to bury your opponent alive. This match was won by McMahon, due to help from Taker’s evil little brother Kane…whom at the time was going on a war path after being unmasked by Triple H early that year. In January 2004, The Undertaker started playing mind games with his brother Kane. And a match ended being set for Wrestlemania 20 between Kane and The Undertaker. This Wrestlemania saw the return of the deadman gimmick.
The following year at Wrestlemania 21, The Undertaker was challenged by The Legend Killer Randy Orton. Orton realized that The Undertaker had not been defeated at Wrestlemania, and being the Legend Killer he went head up with the big dog in the yard. The Undertaker defeated Orton. And it became an annual thing at Wrestlemania for people to try to defeat the streak. Including Shawn Michaels…twice even putting his career on the line…which lead to his retirement. Many failed…one did not. In 2014, Wrestlemania 30. I laid in my bed sick with the Flu and Bronchitis and watch in utter and complete shock as Brock Lesnar became the one in 21-1.
With The Undertaker turning 50 this year, it’s almost safe to assume that he’ll be retiring soon. So the man, the myth, the legend, We thank you Taker for 25 years of destruction