The Undertaker, or “The Dead Man,” as he so affectionately came to be known by his legions of fans, is the stuff of legend. His run in the industry is perhaps unparalleled and his legacy as The Undertaker and “The Dead Man” will undoubtedly live on forever.
It was in 1990 that The Undertaker premiered in WWE. Before the rise of the Undertaker though, Mark William Calaway wrestled for three years in different territories. It was when he landed in “New York,” as WWE is often referenced as – alluding back to its place in the old NWA territory division – and it was on that platform that the character was finally unleashed.
He has since retired and although he still serves as an ambassador for WWE, his in-ring contributions ended after his final battle (a victorious one) against AJ Styles at WrestleMania 36 came to an end…the final bell ringing quite ominously. He since retired officially at the following Survivor Series in quite the theatric event.
He has been a tad critical of the character, he admitting that sometimes he could feel a tad boxed in, in reference to having to stay in that character, and yes, even while traveling from town to town. It also limited what he was able to do as a wrestler and the type of stories he was able to tell during his 30 years with the company.
As stated though, he still acts as ambassador for WWE and it was while appearing on WWE’s The Bump after the pre-sale party for WrestleMania 38 in Dallas, Texas, that he made the following statements:
“It’s different, It’s fun. That Undertaker character, obviously it’s served me really well but it’s also time to put that away and be able to still use the 30 years that I’ve been on WWE TV and still do things like that.
It was fun to get out there and….as great as the character was and everything that we got to do, you’re kind of boxed into what I could and couldn’t do, right? So, now that it’s off, this is what’s left.”
Taker did have a wee bit of a break from the character during the late Attitude Era and early Ruthless Aggression era when he had a run as the American Badass – a biker – but he still carried with him the stigma attached to that Undertaker character, so it wasn’t all that much of a departure.
The fans and the company made it clear that it was the “Dead Man” that they wanted, and he made his return to the character in 2004. Interestingly enough, his last match with AJ Styles showed taker in that American Badass character one last time.
*Thanks to itrwrestling.com for the quote.