April 2nd, 2017 will be a day that will be remembered forever by pro wrestling fans everywhere. Because it will go down in history as the day that arguably the greatest performer to ever work a WWE ring retired.
We here at WNW could never fully express in words what The Undertaker has meant to WWE; it’s fans and the entire Pro Wrestling world in general! But we owe it to him to give it our best shot.
So here are our own tributes to the man who was born Mark William Calaway, but retired as they myth, the legend, the icon and my childhood hero…The Undertaker.
As I write this, tears have begun to flow from my eyes! I don’t wish to go into details but my teen years were an incredibly rough time for me. I was floundering in school academically, and no matter how hard I tried, I just didn’t fit in anywhere. I was bullied to the point of contemplating suicide and to this day I suffer bouts of mild depression. To get through each day, I drew comfort and strength from an unlikely source. I would watch the Undertaker on WWE TV, and I would sit in awe of the Deadman’s power, his mystique, his gimmick of a dark, occultist yet noble warrior.
But most of all I was in awe at his ability to make people suspend their disbelief and believe in the power of the Deadman. It may seem melodramatic, but the honest truth is the Undertaker saved my life.
I did not begin watching WWE until I was ten years old! While I was a pro wrestling fan, my mother would only let me watch WCW (it was the Attitude Era so you can’t blame her). But after WCW folded my mother relented and let me watch WWE as it was the now the only game in town.
Obviously, as a ten-year-old, I was transfixed by what I saw! The Rock spewing out classic catchphrase after catchphrase, Stone Cold kicking arses and drinking beer, Kurt Angle putting on Wrestling clinics and women like Trish and Lita stealing the show from the boys and looking oh so good while doing it.
But the person I was most transfixed by was a certain American Badass! Some people may look down on those years as they did not see the need to Taker to change his gimmick. But as this was my first experience of watching the Undertaker I loved it. He was such a badass riding a motorcycle to the ring and doing MMA style moves in his matches. And his match against Triple H at Wrestlemania 17 remains one of the best matches I have ever seen.
For me and for so many others Wrestlemania is synonyms with The Undertaker! Forget The Streak…just think of how many Mania’s he has performed in. Think about how many classic matches and memories he gave us over 25 years. The man gave his all every Wrestlemania, and he NEVER disappointed the fans…not once!
For my money, The Undertaker character is the single greatest WWE creation. And the storylines that came from it were some of the best written in Pro Wrestling history. The Brothers of Destruction storyline is the longest running and constantly best-written storyline on WWE TV. I’ll fight anyone to the death who says otherwise.
Sorry if this tribute has rambled on a bit, but I am honestly shaken to my core about Undertaker hanging up his boots. Yes, we all know it was happening. Yes, we have been so lucky to have him in WWE for so long. Yes, he’s 52 years old, his body is hurting, and he needs to now think of his health and his family. But that still doesn’t make it any easier. For as long as I am alive, there will never be anyone in the industry that will come close to achieving the same level of respect and iconic status amongst both fans and people within the industry like the Undertaker has had.
For more reasons than any of us could ever possibly articulate, Thank you, Undertaker!
The only constant in this world is change. Nothing ever stays the same, but it doesn't make it any easier when an important mainstay in your life changes or ends. That's what happened to most of us Sunday night at WrestleMania. Not only did The Undertaker lose to a New Era wrestler, but he chose which superstar he wanted to have his last match with. While many people disagree with who Taker faced in his last match, it was his choice, and to respect him, we need to respect his decision.
It was a hard night for many of us because Taker has been part of our lives for twenty-six years, or as long as some fans have been alive. I remember getting up early on Sunday mornings in college so that I could watch a recap show (we didn't have cable, and it was the only wrestling I could get) just so I could get my Taker fix. I've never been a morning person, and college was no exception, but I couldn't miss Taker. I wore a long black trench for years, and really wish I knew where it was right now because I could really use the emotional support of wearing it.
Even though it was more than time Taker hung up his boots, it was almost as if it would never happen. He was such an institution in the WWE, and while most of the big names from that era have retired, it seemed like Taker would always be there for us, forever, no matter what. That was a falsehood we all told each other, especially every WrestleMania when he would return for what we thought would be one last match. Going into WM33 we pretty much knew that was it, but the finality of Taker breaking kayfabe, removing his gloves, folding his coat, removing his hat was heartwrenching. And even though he was still in front of us, it was very much Mark who kissed his wife Michelle before going back to being Taker for those last moments as he raised his fist and sunk into the ramp. All our hearts went with him, but I'm secure in knowing that there won't be any more questions, that Mark can go back to his quiet life without all those questions hanging over him. We will always love him, he knows that. Further, we can watch all his greatest hits whenever we want. Just because there won't be more doesn't mean we cannot love everything he's given us for decades of his life.