I’m sitting here with my girlfriend at five on a monday morning watching the end of Wrestlemania 33 and after getting through a five hour show plus a two hour pre show it finally comes to this, the icon known as the Undertaker is finally hanging up the gloves after losing to the most hated man in the WWE right now, Roman Reigns and bring the Undertaker Wrestlemania streak to 23 and 2.
He pulls off his gloves, takes of his jacket, folds it up and leaves it on the mat and then takes of his iconic hat and places it on the jacket before he exits the ring and kissed his wife Michelle before walking up the ramp and taking one last undertaker pose before descending bellow the stage.
The all to familiar gongs echo through a dark citrus bowl as Wrestlemania 33 comes to a close.
It’ seems official for now, the Undertaker has finally retired after 27 years within the WWE and going out at the show he made famous, Wrestlemania.
I don’t know what to think, both me and my girlfriend are in tears and it’s not just because of the lack of sleep and 7 cans of beer but because of the thought of how iconic the Undertaker is and how important he is.
We both go to bed and before we go to sleep my girlfriend starts asking me question about him, when did you first watch him? Why’s he your favourite? And that got me thinking about why The Dead Man is the performer I connected to.
I remember I was given a VHS tape when I was 9 years old and it was a pro wrestling tape, Monday night raw 1999.
The only real memory I have of that tape was a giant 7 foot figure called the Big show walking to the ring but it wasn’t him that stood it, it wasn’t his giant “Larger than life” persona that caught my attention it was the man walking beside him and his name was The Undertaker.
It was the mystery of this person, his weird clothes and his weird tattoos and the fact that the commentator kept referring to him as The Dead Man and in my head I kept questioning whether he was really dead. How can someone be dead and be walking into a wrestling ring for a fight? Is this man a zombie?
A month later I get another VHS tape and it was Unforgiven and the main event, a six pack challenge featuring The Rock, Triple H, Mankind, Big Show, Kane and replacing the Undertaker is the British Bulldog, “replacing?” I thought “why they replacing that guy for?” I just kept asking myself where’s that guy gone.
The commentators kept referencing to the fact that “The dead man” had walked out on Monday night raw the previous week.
For the next couple of months I keep receiving these VHS tapes of new wwf shows and on each one there is no Undertaker, he just doesn’t seem to be popping up anywhere and I want to no why, where the hell has this man disappeared to?
It was around June the following year and i’m sitting around a friends house watching Judgement day 2000 with The Rock and Triple H headlining the show for the wwf championship in a 60 minute iron man match.
Towards the end of the match Triple H, The New age Outlaws and the McMahons start attacking The Rock and then this weird music starts playing and then a gong and “The Dead Mans” and everything different now the Undertaker comes speeding to the ring on a bike to rock and roll music and for the next three years he was the American Badass and I became obsessed, I didn’t watch any WWF show unless the American Badass was on the show.
And over those three years he changed, he become a bad guy and then a good guy again, he teamed with his brother kane and feuded and he became “Big Evil” but he was still the “American Badass” he was still “The Dead Man”.
I spend months and months running home from school from gangs of kids just so I can get home and feel safe and watch an Undertaker match.
And then it all changed, again.
2003 at the Survivor series, 13 years in the making and he’s facing Vince McMahon in a buried alive match and it all look all but over for the boss, taker has at the grave site and is ready to put the owner to rest until his brother, Kane comes out and knocking Taker into the grave so the boss can pour a ton of dirt on to the dead man.
And then Wrestlemania 20 at Madison Square Garden and he’s facing his brother Kane.
I ran home from school with a copy of the show, I put it on and skip forward just looking for this match and I find it and sit back and watch.
Kane comes out first and he stands in the ring and it all goes black and this voice then echos through out the arena and it’s Paul Bearer, Urn and all and he’s walking to the ring followed but hooded figures carrying flamed torches and then the gong hits and out he comes wearing the long coat and the black hat and he makes his way to the ring with his music blearing out through out the arena and he gets in the ring takes of the coat and the hat and rolls his eyes into the back of his head, this is the Undertaker I was waiting to see after all these years, the Dead man, the Phenom.
For the next 13 years he remains sporting the Black coat and the black hat and notching up Wrestlemania win and win, facing Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 25 in one of the best matches I’ve ever sat through and then facing HBK again the following year ending Michaels career.
And then wrestlemania 30, Brock Lesnar is the man he’s set to face.
The match wasn’t the best, the Undertaker looked disgruntled and unprepared, it wasn’t the Undertaker from before and I was sad watching it and then it happened, Brock hits him with an F5 and then gets the pin handing Taker his first lost at Wrestlemania after notching up 21 straight wins.
I was shocked after the match, I don’t think anybody ever expected it to happen and the faces inside the stadium shows you what him losing at mania means to everyone and to Wrestlemania.
Hearing the news after his loss that he collapsed after getting backstage brings shock to everyone and that’s when the question start to come up, how long can this man go on for and when will it end, and I can’t help ask the questions myself.
But our questions were answered and he was back the following year to face up and comer Bray Wyatt and Taker looks great, better than the year before and picking up another mania win.
Over the course of 2015 he came and went, getting into a feud with Brock and even facing him inside Hell In A Cell and even facing and beating Shane McMahon at Wrestlemania 26 inside the Cell.
and then it all came down to Wrestlemania 33 and we all heard the rumors going in, is this the match that will finally end the Undertaker career and it was, Roman delivers a spear and it’s over and the Undertaker is done.
There’s so much I could over with his Career from before his WWF/E career, his entire Wrestlemania streak, his feuds with Kane, Mankind, Triple H and Shawn Michaels even his entrance alone which would send shivers down my spine during the right moment but there is 27 years of career to cover so it’s best saving it for another blog on another day.
I hate over used terms in the wrestling business like the best ever, the greatest ever, greatest ever superstar and future hall of famer but the Undertaker truly was the best, atleast to me anyway and it’s personal, it truly is, if you were a young kid whos never watched wrestling before and you see this unique performer appearing on your t.v screen wearing black and claiming to be a dead guy how can you not find yourself becoming a fan.
Taker was the reason I became a wrestling fan and he’s the reason why I remain a fan today.
My opinions of the business change everyday and my feelings towards the performers change every hour but my opinion towards the dead man doesn’t change and yeah I know the man had some shit performances and had to wrestle against of the worst performances the business had to off and some storylines the man had to go through that we could speak less off, but we all we know that it doesn’t matter because it’s the Undertaker.
I don’t know who the greatest of all time is and I don’t really care because the Undertaker will always be the greatest.